Teacher’s pets

Sacramento bands blow the curve in this quarter’s Local-CD Roundup

Don’t forget to turn in your class project! Send your band’s new CD to Local-CD Roundup, Sacramento News & Review, 1015 20th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Dear students:

I know you hate school. You’re all rock stars, after all, and there are so few good drugs and surprisingly little hot groupie sex in academia these days. But soon you’ll all be on winter break and back to your cocaine-induced orgies, so there’s that to look forward to.

But I digress. I’ve received a stack of CDs this quarter, and they are, on the whole, quite good. Didley Squat’s new EP, Burning Alive Making a Living, is solidly in line with the aesthetic the band introduced on its debut. This is post-new-wave rock (a punkier Talking Heads, perhaps?). My only real quibble is that the production and mix don’t seem particularly strong; David Mohr’s vocals get lost from time to time, and the guitars and keys are often out of balance. How I’d love to hear this band being shepherded by a producer who could handle its particular sound

One such producer could be Alex Newport, the producer of Brilliant Red Lights’ new full-length, Touch Like You Want It. This thumping, loud, post-punk-influenced project proves once again that Brilliant Red Lights are one of the area’s hottest young bands. At times, I found myself wanting the post-punk influences to overcome the pop-punk influences, but that’s a small sticking point for an otherwise excellent release. Plus, I’m an aficionado of album opening lines, and Brilliant Red Lights have a good one: “Let’s get false ’til we don’t need cities.” I don’t get it, and that’s why I like it! Grade: A-.

From the pop front comes Keith Pyle’s new CD, Peace and Quiet. It’s a fine release, a collection of solid pop songs that show a debt to the songwriting of both Elvis Costello and our own Kevin Seconds. Furthermore, the release was produced by Dave Middleton, a local producer whose sense of arrangement and musicianship continues to impress me. It doesn’t break any major ground, but it’s definitely listenable. Again, a solid B here.

Quite a bit more quirky is the Kimberly Trip’s new release, You’ll Get Nothing … and LIKE It! This one finds the Kimberly Trip’s music tilting toward more aggressive sounds. I maintain that this band is tailor-made for any John Hughes film soundtrack (hence, to my ears, they always sound nostalgic). When playing quirky high-school pop music with a bit of a distorto edge, the band members are consistent performers and musicians. I’ll give it a C+, only because I find the late-1980s shtick to be getting a bit tired.

On the metal front, Endeverafter’s self-titled release is heavy rock with a late-’70s and early-’80s flavor. At times, the disc really wishes it was part of Van Halen’s first album—right down to the rhythms, beats, vocal posturing and absurdly long guitar solos. This is a band that could be good, if it used its influences to develop its own unique sound. As it stands, it’s just too derivative (even if it’s good derivative). It gets a bonus point for commitment, though. Grade: C+.

In the folk/roots department comes what was, for me, a tie with Brilliant Red Lights for best of the quarter: Scott Rodell’s Days on End. It’s a roots release with some interesting moments of electric guitar and Beach Boys-influenced melodies, as well as some heavy periods. Rodell successfully pulls together his influences into something that doesn’t much sound like any one of them. This is an upbeat album and one worth a listen. There are a few moments where it slips into cliché, but on the whole, it’s working. Grade: A-.

Apparently, it was a busier quarter than I initially thought. Perhaps the lack of drugs and groupie sex is giving everyone a better work ethic. Or maybe I just don’t know what’s really going on when my back is turned.

Have a great break, and I’ll see you all in ’06.

Best, Professor K