Today we briefly review hot new albums:
AFFECTED VOID: “Void at the Hollywood Bowl"--If the ‘80s mean anything (and they don’t), Affected Void is what it’s all about. The band’s move from Los Angeles to Darien, Conn., has diminished the metal-alloy quality that has been the hallmark of Affected Void, placing them solidly in the aluminum rock category. An overly synthed version of the band’s anthem, “Market Crash Massacre,” is balanced by a driving rendition of “Let’s Get Liquid.” The album was recorded before drum virtuoso Meagan Misanthrope left to join Psychedelic Baguette, giving rise to fears that Affected Void will end up just another Adult Contemporary clone.
NYKY WYKED: “Lyfestile"--Arguably the best white singer since Al Jolson, Wyked has been on a slide since the “Addicted to Misogyny” album. The New York punker scene is not what it was 10 years ago, and Wyked’s recent tonsillectomy has had a devastating effect on his ability to carry simple ballads like “Don’t Need No Sex, Baby.” But when he plugs into classic psycho-punk sounds like “Kill Your Teacher,” he can still make you want to get up and thrash. If you play “The Albert Goldman Suite” backward--a real problem in CD--you can hear the refrain, “John is alive and jamming with Elvis.” Although Wyked is an acquired taste, personally, I dig this album.
PRINCESS: “High on Nothing"--Teen queen Princess is unfortunately back with another--yawn--string of inane diet bubble-gum tunes. Princess (real name Sarah Debra Melissa Robyn Rostenkowsi) has gotten over the legal problems caused when her manager, Davey (Pure Slime) Davis, adopted her. Princess fans will probably flock to her High on Nothing World Tour to hear songs like “Flirts Wear Skirts,” “Only When I Space Out” and “Glad I Got ‘Call Waiting’ Cause God Was on the Line.” All those Princess wanna-be’s are really going to be a bonanza for the curling-iron industry. I have only one thing to say about Her Highness’ music: gag me with a tune.
U-4IA: “From Laramie to Lake Charles"--One might ask why it takes four ponytailed lads from Latvia to reveal what is most American about America. Then again, one might just keep one’s mouth shut and simply listen. This quintessential Riga rock band combines elements of reggae, zydeco and perestroika. Many have noted the strong influence of Hendrix and Morrison on lead singer Bunni. He tries to refute this with his powerful solo, “The ‘60s Stunk.” The album includes tapes of the famous jam session where Hendrix played backup to Kate and Patti Smith’s “God Bless America.” This is juxtaposed with U-4ia’s “Gorby’s Back (And There’s Gonna Be Trouble).” The album may surpass last year’s “Flocked Christmas Tree,” which went double-platinum and threatens to go plutonium.
RALPH FALLBERG: “Workin’ in a Steel Plant in a New Tank Top"--This first album from The Chief since his Concert for the Miserable reflects a moralism tempered by a growing sense of commitment to materialism. Obviously his divorce from debutante Blythe Bliss has not hurt his songwriting skill. “Till Foreign Investors Close Us Down” is certain to connect with people shut out from yuppiedom. The featured duet, “Touch My Guitar,” with backup tambourine player Maggi Scungelini, will only fuel rumors that The Chief has a new boss.
FRESH FRESH ICE-E KOOL: “Walk Like You Got a Problem"--Arguably the best black rap group since the last black rap group. FFI-EK will be heard on boom boxes and over Trans Am sound systems on inner-city streets. But can they cross over with rap anthems like “Beat Your Uzis Into Neck Chains”? Part of the problem is that the brilliant scratch-and-sniff background work of studio master jammer Buddy Glickstein sounds spectacular on CD, fair on tape and like a torture experiment on vinyl.
UB 50 SOON: “BC/DC"--Another boring New Age throwback for those aging boomers. Weird oceanic sounds do not help enliven cuts like “Healing Crystals for a Sick Economy.” Nor does the actual interview with a dolphin really work, even when accompanied by synthesizer on “We Don’t Really Have to Die Ever.” However the sound of one whale clapping, played backward with acoustic guitar, really sets apart the album’s climactic piece, “Singing in the Acid Rain.”