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March 3, 1998

Con Art,
Smart Went Crazy (Dischord Records), 1997.
9 out of 10

I'm not really sure how to start off this review... I put this on and I was immediately impressed by Smart Went Crazy's structure. They are extremely tight, and it has been a long time since I've heard an album this well put together. In this sense it reminds me of Sonic Youth's earlier albums because the whole thing goes together so well. There is no awkward positioning of songs, the whole album just flows. I was also reminded of the Velvet Underground's second album, White Ligh/ White Heat, and upon examination there are many similarities. Smart Went Crazy has a cellist and the Velvet Underground had a violist. Also like the Velvet Underground, Smart Went Crazy consists of gifted musicians who, unlike most nowadays, play original music. I don't know who to compare them to and that is a good thing. Maybe a weird combination of Fugazi and The Velvet Underground, but that's a stretch. This is not to say that they are without their flaws. As apt as this album is musically, it is inapt lyrically. I usually don't pay that much attention to lyrics, but these lyrics are remarkably silly and pretentious. The music is so tight, though, that it redeems itself. This is one of the albums that, as of late, I will find myself craving and when it comes on it actually lives up to the expectations that I have built up for it in my mind. Basically, a really good job. I can't wait to hear more from these guys.

Write to Dischord Records: 3819 Beecher St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007.

-- Matt Kessler


Plastic Soul Impalement,
Training for Utopia (Tooth and Nail), 1998.
3 out of 10

This is really bad! Typical boring Christian hardcore from Tooth and Nail. Again. Although really fierce (judging from their music they are followers of the In the Hands of An Angry God school of thought), all this does is compel me to get an Advil and go to sleep. Actually, listening to this just makes me want to turn it off. They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but maybe this is an exception because after seeing the picture of the Ken doll with a bullet hole through it, I had no doubt what this would sound like. And I was right. If I was going to make a documentary of a migraine, I would have this playing in the background. Really, this album (like this statement) has been made a million times before and it will be made a million times again.

Write Tooth and Nail at PO Box 12698, Seattle, WA 98111-4698.

-- Matt Kessler


Conglomerate International,
Frodus (Tooth and Nail) 1997.
5 out of 10

This is much better than anything I would expect from Tooth and Nail. That's not to say that it's good. It's above average hardcore with odd ambient breaks from hardcore guys who want to be Devo or Man Or Astroman? Not musically, just as far as shtick goes. As I said above, amongst the boring hardcore there are these ambient breaks which makes this album warm to my heart. Still not great though. Here Tooth and Nail might have made a mistake because the people who like most of Tooth and Nail's other stuff will probably not like this, but the people who might like this will probably be scared off because it's on Tooth and Nail. Definitely above average, but definitely not beyond average.

Write Tooth and Nail at PO Box 12698, Seattle, WA 98111-4698.

-- Matt Kessler


Crustaceans,
Crustaceans (TriTone), 1997.

If you've ever wondered what comes out of Florida besides oranges and reluctant spring breakers returning to the university grind, you've got to check out Crustaceans. Samantha Jones, Brian "Sparky" Sparks and Karl Bullock offer up a jazzy-pop sound that gives an impression of diverse influences -- imagine the husky voice of Stevie Nicks backed by Led Zeppelin. Weird. Different. Way cool.

What's especially kick-ass about this trio from Gainesville is their mutable capability. Jones may be on bass while Sparks is on drums and Bullock's on lead on one track -- but the next cut has Jones on drums with Sparks on lead and Bullock on bass. The sound on this CD changes from a cultured pop to bluesy moan to an alternative rock tune as fast as the band members can change instruments. The result is a unique experience. If your everyday music menu has lost its appeal -- crack open Crustaceans. I recommend a bib -- this music's juicy.

For more information on Crustaceans, write to: TriTone Management, P.O. Box 14872, Gainesville, FL 32604. Or call (352) 377-8978; Email: tritone@purplefrog.com; Website: http://www.purplefrog.com/~tritone

-- Merry Roach


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