[The "Lost Issue" -- early 1990s. Never published]
CHRIS BALD 96 "Uglified" EP

Chris has been a mainstay of the D.C. punk community since the early 1980s, playing in such fabulous bands as FAITH, EMBRACE and IGNITION. I definitely expected a lot from this EP, and was unfortunately disappointed. It is mainly mid-tempo emocore, lacking any real cohesiveness. It flounders. I had the same complaints about IGNITION's first EP, and they eventually progressed to become one of my favorite bands. Perhaps CHRIS BALD 96 will do the same. [MICKEY]
CRINGER "Time For A Little Something..." EP

Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin grace the cover of this endeavor, and it gets better from there. These East Baysters, who did three or four other records before this, kick out delightfully tuneful hardcore which makes me smile with each listen. Great production. Great lyrics. Great music. Great! Their best release yet! ('Though their all-time greatest song is still the cover of Pooh's "Cottleston Pie"!) (Vinyl Communications) [MICKEY]

Fuel had caused quite a stir on the West coast, and it's easy to hear why. Few artists in the underground scene display as much sincerity and integrity as Fuel seems to in their lyrics. Fuel plants the seed of thought in their audience by delving into such topics such as religion, apathy and personal pacification in an eloquent, thought-out manner. Over a backdrop of melodious hardcore, the diversity, complexity and enjoyment is endless. I hope others follow their example of dedication and conviction. (Rough Trade) [MICKEY]

I saw an ad for this record in Maximum Rock 'N Roll, where the band's sound was described as melodious hardcore. With my tastes further moving away from thrash/dirge/blender shit, I decided to send away for it. I admit that I had preconceptions of hearing something like the DESCENDENTS or BAD RELIGION, but I ended up getting forgettable, slower three to four chord hardcore. Listening to this band, out of the D.C. area, was an ordeal. (Sunspot Records) [MICKEY]

JAWBOX is a new band whose overnight popularity made me wonder are they really that good, or did having Jay Robbins, of the now-defunct GOVERNMENT ISSUE, front the band and being connected to Dischord throw them into the limelight? When I heard this EP, it became apparent that it was a little of both. Jawbox has a melodic sound with a strong post-punk feel. Kim Colleta provides a nice bass sound (it's great to see woman play important roles in the male-dominated scene!) and Jay has made a successful switch from bass to guitar, but his vocals are rather emotionless. A good effort overall, but not earthshaking. (DeSoto Records) [MICKEY]
SHUDDER TO THINK "Funeral at the Movies" EP

SHUDDER TO THINK won me over when I first heard their debut EP, "It Was Arson." Since then, they have progressed admirably, both musically and lyrically. The poetic lyrics are sung in the band's trademark floating, ethereal manner, with falsettos and bizarre notes being hit throughout the album, and I actually felt the complex, layered guitar in my stomach. Powerful and thoughtful, some songs on this release are actually beautiful. This record sounds especially pleasant on CD, where Dischord packages it to include "Ten Spot," one of last year's best releases. (Dischord Records) [MICKEY]

Pop-punk is the bill of fare, and it's no wonder, considering this band in¬cludes Dave Smalley (ex-ALL) and Ed Urlick and Dave Naz (both from CHEMICAL PEOPLE). Years back, when bands like the aforementioned, BIG DRILL CAR and the DOUGHBOYS, hit the scene, the sound was fresh, original and exciting. Now that the sound been done so much, DOWN BY LAW offers nothing new. But their sound is really pretty nice. There's a strong CHEMICAL PEOPLE sound, but I like this more, as Smalley (in prime form) provides an excellent vocal dimension which CHEMICAL PEOPLE is sorely missing. It's not the greatest band in which the musicians have been involved in, and maybe their next release will be better. But the talent's there, and this record will grow on you. (Epitaph Records) [MICKEY]
SCRAM "Kingsessing Trails" LP

Many of you may remember SCRAM, a hardcore/reggae trio which tore up the Philadelphia underground music scene in the mid-1980s (BYO Records released their "Stand Up" LP back then). They've since acquired a percussionist, two seasoned jazz horn players and a whole new sound. SCRAM has thrown the sounds of punk, reggae, salsa, calypso, jazz, Motown and big-band swing into a blender and have ended up with an amazing mix - highly danceable and lots of fun. Though staying true to their punk days by speaking out on social and global matters, SCRAM could be considered "commercialized." Whatever. But all I can say is that this release will be blasted out of my car speakers for some time to come. (self-released) [MICKEY]
Copyright 2007