Shank Obligatory Record Evaluation Section
AND THEN THERE WERE S.O.R.E.S.
FASCIST FASCIST by FASCIST FASCIST
Like any genre that's based on tightly knit scenes, hardcore punk has become less about energy and more about demonstrating a fealty to a certain orthodoxy. You go to the shows to watch performers play music - which matches a narrow set of criteria - to a group of people dressed like you. For me, the excitment of seeing some mohawked acne-case shout "This one's called 'Shitstains On My Longjohns'! Ok! One Two Three Four!" while people chuck beer bottles at the stage dried up sometime in 1993. Old bitter burnout? Sure. But that just accentuates the greatness of this record by Baltimore's own Fascist Fascist. Sure it's doctrinaire: all the songs are fast and loud and under 3 minutes long, the guitar is distorted chunky power chords up and down the neck, and the tempos turn on a dime. But there's something about it, like all great punk, that rises above. Partly it's the song titles, all of which totally rule (my favorite being "Working Women Are Pissed Too But I Still Love D. Boon", a standout song too). Partly it's the vocals which avoid cliche while still conveying contempt, and partly it's that you can tell this music is performed by people who can really play but chose this style because they really like it and can do something with it. I hear vocalist Ellie has left the band, and that's a shame. But buy this record anyway, play it loud, and piss off the jerks.
CRIPPLE CROW by DEVENDRA BANHART
On to the next... When I told Benn that the second review was gonna be "that annoying creep from SF" he said, "You can't review your own record in the Shank!" I pointed out that there were two errors in that statement. One, I don't have a record out, and two, I may be annoying, but I'm no creep. He knew I was talking Devendra Banhart anyway. Cripple Crow is one of those records that completely justifies any and all the awful things people say about art school graduates. Self-important sensitivity is not artistry, no matter how kooky you make your cover art. Also, Nick Drake and Elliot Smith killed themselves to spare the world any more records like this. I wish Banhart had gotten the memo. Also, I've got to agree with Benn - there's a song on here about fucking little boys. That's not artistry either. I know it's probably one of those "inhabiting a character songs", but that doesn't change that it's a pretentious attempt at taboo-breaking to add some edge to this warm fart of a record.