CD Review: The Suicide Dolls - Prayers In Parking Lots

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Having been raised on a steady diet of classic rock and having forged my own musical identity with the grunge movement of the 90’s I have come to miss rock and roll.  I feel like I’ve been forgotten.  There is just something missing in a lot of bands today.  Perhaps it’s the fact that genres like “classic rock”, “grunge” and “alternative” don’t actually have anything to do with the sound of the music. They are all just flowery ways of saying ROCK.  In a day and age where bands have pigeonholed themselves into super specific genre’s, bands like The Suicide Dolls are now having to cope with being called rock bands. Prayer’s in Parking Lots revels in the fact that you can’t stick it in a box but never lowers it to being a “genre crossing” experiment.  The punk rock clang bass gives the songs speed and movement, the drums range from a hardcore thump to psychedelic cymbal wash and guitars soar over the rhythm section covering the whole thing in a blanket of buzz saws and dope smoke.  There is an unmistakable intensity and paranoia to the sound of this record.  Prayer’s in Parking Lots is a wild animal that has been backed into a corner which has forced it to lash out.  The guitars at the end of “Drive” go from a melodic single note melody to crushing chords on the verge of massive feedback that are only accented by the near constant crack of the snare drum.  The noise soaked bridge section of “Smash” builds to out of control only to recoil perfectly back into the verse readying to strike at you again.  The explosions of sound you hear on this album do not come from an artsy abstract place but from the hands of people that feel looked over and are trying to grab a hold of your attention at all costs, even if they have to be loud and mean.

Through all this the Suicide Dolls never alienate their audience.  The chorus’s are prevalent and hooky which always gives the listener an anchor when they feel like the song might leave them stranded.  There isn’t a single scream on the album either.  While the singing sometimes goes more towards talking or reciting and isn’t the most melodic part of a song the vocals wouldn’t be considered offensive.  These are things that keep Prayer’s in Parking Lots from being pigeonholed as a “noise rock” or “post hardcore” record.  It may not be pop sensitive in style or subject but it is a pop sensitive structure that they’re building from.

The Suicide Dolls draw from a lot of bands that people now take for granted; The Pixies, Joy Division and Sonic Youth are the first 3 that come to mind.  These bands that once saturated the hearts and minds of rockers everywhere are now going extinct.  Prayers in Parking Lots will force you to remember what it was that drew you to these bands.  Not because it sounds like them, but because it has the same quality you can’t quite put your finger on... because it’s something that can’t be summed up in a 2 word genre.

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CD Review: Skobie Won - Bedlam and Squalor

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Is "space rap" a genre?  If it's not then I am coining it and putting Skobie Won in there.  If it is a genre... than Bedlam and Squalor should be one of its shining stars.  Categorized by a sound that’s bright and vast, it allows you to sink into the album as a whole, but with enough thumps and cracks to blow up a star destroyer.  The balance between a slowly rising tide of synth sounds and drum beats that sound like over clocked Rock'em Sock'em robots is what elevates Bedlam and Squalor above the heard.

Having reviewed 2 Erik Lamb albums, both of which are heavily produced by Skobie Won, I feel like I'm familiar with Skobie's work.  There's a dance music vibe to the beats.  The sounds are reminiscent of Nintendo noise only rounder and clearer.  Listen to it on headphones and you'll be much more captivated by the panning.  Whether it's Bedlam and Squalor or Shoot Everything (Erik Lamb) all three of those statements are true.  Bedlam and Squalor just sounds bigger.  It surrounds you in a ball of neon glowing circuitry and bounces you around a room made completely of subwoofers.

Purposeful is the first word I would use to describe the vocals on this album.  There is a quiet anger in Skobie's voice.  He speaks as if yelling would be too cheap.  He annunciates like he was smacking you with syllables.  There are no tricks in his cadence; it’s the steady barrage that keeps you on your toes.

The beats being what they are Skobie could load his songs with short simple choruses to anesthetize a crowd and keep them moving.  That would be too easy.  Skobie jams lyrics between shout along phrases in his choruses and keeps them spread out so they don't become monotonous.  He also likes to throw Tom Waits references in his lyrics.  If you were to drink a shot of Bourbon for every lyrical reference and sample you’d be good and drunk by the end of the album.

Bedlam and Squalor is enough of beats you know from previous Skobie Won productions to feed your craving but enough improvement on previous techniques to keep from being stagnant.  The strings and guitar sounds in the title track are plenty of evidence of that.  If you keep your ears open you’ll hear things that you wouldn’t expect but will end up falling in love with.