Volume 94, Issue 89

Friday, March 9, 2001


DJ emphasizes a need for change - Gears up for fashion show

What's a mustard plug?

Electric Shaman; a bunch of girlfriends

Want a new REM album?

Chambers returns

Want a new REM album?

Josh Joplin Group
Useful Music

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's true, than REM frontman Michael Stipe must be feeling particularly honoured whenever he listens to the Josh Joplin Group.

Based out of San Francisco, the Josh Joplin Group sounds like an REM tribute band on their first effort, Useful Music. A collection of mostly passable but derivative rock tunes, the album, produced by the similarly average Shawn Mullins, is agreeable enough although unlikely to garner the group much success.

It must be said that songwriter/vocalist Josh Joplin possesses a strong voice, but he appears to be doing his best attempt at replicating Stipe's distinctive tenor.

The opening salvo, "Matter," boasts what is probably the strongest hook on the album, but in the context of the CD, that's not saying a lot.

Equally unremarkable tunes include the chugging rocker "Camera One," and the ballad "Dutch Wonderland." Several of the tracks start like they might be something special, before Joplin mires himself in misguided attempts at sounding edgy, like in "Who's Afraid Of Thomas Wolfe," and the frankly embarrassing "Superstar."

Given the difficulty in making it big as a cover band, if Joplin and his bandmates want to be taken seriously, it might behoove them to work on coming up with a more, unique sound the next time around.

–Aaron St. John

Creep Division
Creep Division
Sonic Unyon Records

The new side project from members of Sick Of It All and Good Riddance, Creep Division brings hardcore punk into the present.

Not to be confused with Blink 182-style shopping mall punk, Creep Division hammer out hardcore punk rock complete with screaming vocals and aggressive guitar, all played fast, fast, fast!

The quasi-political lyrics espouse bitterness at small-minded people, conformity and authority. The title track features good, old-fashioned hardcore lyrics "Creep division/ 1,2,3 go!"

Additionally, the song "Snot Nose," points a finger at people who act like they are too busy to learn about the world with lines like, "Ignorance cuts like a knife/ Don't blame us for your sheltered life/ All grown up don't have the time/ For airing out your little mind."

The quality of the vocals lends the same sound to each song, which can be a downfall, causing each song to blend in with the next. However, the catchy bass lines and enunciated lyrics creates a hardcore CD you can actually sing along to.

Slower than some newer hardcore, Creep Division is patterned on classic, old-school hardcore from the golden day of the '80s. This self-titled CD is packed with punk-rock goodness, enough to bring out the troublemaker in anyone.

–Beth Martin

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