Volume 95, Issue 16

Thursday, September 27, 2001
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After all these years, Emo is still breaking hearts

Add some Garlic's to your diet

Disc of the Week

American Analog Set to fun O'clock tonight

Slayer and Karma grade well, but Frenetics flunk

Folds rocks suburbs, Razors piss

Folds rocks suburbs, Razors piss

Ben Folds

Rockin' the Suburbs


Four stars (out of five)

Fear not for pop music – Ben Folds is back and he's returned to the sound which made his former band, Ben Folds Five, a popular phenomenon.

Ever since the expirmental sounds of Fear of Pop, Folds' fans have been anxious to find out what the music man's next solo release will sound like. With Rockin' the Suburbs, he returns to his no-nonsense songwriting style. But the question remains: is he better described as a songwriter or a storyteller?

With titles such as "Zak and Sara," "Fred Jones Part 2," "The Ascent of Stan," "Carrying Cathy," "Losing Lisa" and the lonely opener, "Annie Waits," it's evident this album is not only about feelings and all those mushy things songwriters love to dwell upon, but it's equally a collection of stories about people.

These stories however, are not void of the raw emotion Folds is noted for. "Still Fighting It" tells the tale of lost innocence and a father-son relationship, with lines like "everybody knows it sucks to grow up," that remind us of life's bitter moments, much like Folds' "Brick" back in 1997.

The same sad truths are told in tracks like "Carrying Cathy," a song about an eternally depressed girlfriend, while Fred Jones is the laid-off old man in "Fred Jones Part 2."

Folds doesn't forget life is sweet and that sentiment is most evident on "The Luckiest" – it's a simple ballad accompanied only by piano. Folds sings to his wife with such honesty it may almost be too personal to be made public.

Fortunately, for the rest of the world, "The Luckiest" makes a perfect close to an album full of both wondeful storytelling and solid songwriting.

–Andrea Chiu

Pissing Razors

Where We Come From

Spitfire Records

Two stars (out of five)

Simply put, pissing razors is a metaphor for an excruciating urinary experience.

It is undoubtedly painful, as is listening to the band Pissing Razors' latest album.

For their fourth disc, Where We Come From, the Texas metal outfit have provided political commentary on America, but the message is mostly lost beneath Jason Bragg's hoarse vocals.

What was he screaming? Oh, he said, "to be naive to the almighty dollar." On second thought, perhaps Bragg's vocals do serve a purpose – to mask his tendency for awful lyrics.

The lyrics are mostly saturated with – no surprise here, angst. This theme is completely exhausted on one of the better tracks, "Cursed," in which Bragg, in an obviously profound moment, realizes he's trapped inside himself and cries, "Please take this all away!"

That's not to say the band doesn't have the chops – they can riff like the best of them and have no problems carrying a groove, as indicated on the propulsive "Vengeance is Mine."

The drumming, courtesy of Eddy Garcia, fares better but it isn't until the eighth track that a more complex rhythm is heard, but that song is unfortunately titled, "Opportunidad."

Perhaps the only redeeming quality about Where We Come From is the absurdity of it all – from the lyrics, to the band name and finally, to the cover art containing the image of a blood-splattered victim in an electric chair.

–Brian Wong

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Copyright The Gazette 2001