CHISEL, POEM ROCKET 1/26, EMPTY BOTTLE Chisel's new album, 8 A.M. All Day (Gern Blandsten), finds the spunky Washington, D.C., trio delivering hopped-up pop that looks to the early Jam for inspiration but actually suggests a low-rent, impatient, indie-rock Oasis. Hooks abound, but the annoying earnestness of guitarist Ted Leo's vocals and the group's overly spirited bashing--done, I suppose, to convey some sort of urgency--sell the tunes short. Based on their recent debut album, Felix Culpa (PCP), a collection of seemingly every sound the young band's released, it's tough to know what New York's Poem Rocket are all about. With its rough-hewn guitar drones that vaguely recall Bad Moon Rising-era Sonic Youth and late Savage Republic, its purring of pop-inclined vocals, and its hypnotic, repetitive rhythms, the foursome weaves threads of noise into a loose hybrid of tranced-out sonic smack and half-formed pop. Or something like that. r3 LB. THRILL 1/27, LOUNGE AX While calling itself Uncle Green this Atlanta quartet released five albums of unremarkable collegiate pop rock. Their final outing, a 1992 major-label debut, failed to make a commercial impact, so they called it quits. They all wanted to start new bands, but they couldn't find anyone who would venture into a rehearsal room with them. The situation forced them to reform. Not wanting to be viewed as pathetic progress-impaired dorks, they changed the band name to 3 Lb. Thrill--the weight of the average human brain--and had their old buddy Brendan O'Brien, a guy best known for producing records for Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots, secure them a deal on his new Sony Music-distributed label 57. The flaccid result, Vulture, finds Uncle Green, er, I mean 3 Lb. Thrill, playing the same sissy pop, only louder. Supposedly there are sensitive songs about stuff like messed-up relationships, silent victims of profit-minded government regulations, and rape (they're against it), but the band's lyric sheet is really hard to read, so I can't be sure.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lance Mercer.