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I Get Wet
Andrew W.K.
Island Records

Imagine, if you will, a world where Al Jourgensen of Ministry listened to Sammy Hagar more than Black Sabbath and really liked to go to keg parties (but only on the weekends). Scary thought, isn't it? Even more frightening is the fact that Andrew W.K. also glimpsed the nightmare reality I just described and thought it was great. So great, in fact, that he wrote I Get Wet in its honor. Song titles and subject matter run the frat-boy gamut -- nine songs about partying ("It's Time to Party," "Party 'Til You Puke," etc.), and three songs about chicks ("Girls Own Love," "She Is Beautiful," and "Take It Off"). Andrew sings these Kappa Delta lyrics in Ministry fashion, and then backs it up with incomprehensibly bad metal riffing, the likes of which I have not heard since Winger.

I Get Wet is an album made for sporting-event intermissions, not rock radio.

-- Brandon S. Laney

Exploded View
Granfaloon Bus
Future Farmer Recordings

This album turned up in my P.O. Box last November and I haven't yet shelved it with the rest of my CDs. It has sat happily on my desk and in my stereo, in heavy rotation, all winter.

Until now, I haven't recommended it to anyone. I haven't even played it for anyone. And that's unusual. I talk a lot and I talk about music most. But with Exploded View, somehow, I've sensed that most people won't understand. It's the approach I've wished Zappa fans would take: Keep your favorite weirdness between you and it. And Granfaloon Bus is weird.

The press release calls it "slanted folkpop" and "psychedelic country." Both labels are accurate enough. Exploded View is largely acoustic, hummable and filled with waltzes and extended riffs on simple melodies. I hear early Neil Young backed by a down tempo. Notes often arrive so slowly that the melody threatens to collapse. Then, the song persists like an old, bad habit -- kind of discouraged and with a mind of its own. Trumpets, violins and pedal-steel guitars pass through and sometimes play just one spectral line before disappearing.

Felix Costanza doesn't quite sing, but neither does he feel the words like Dylan nor talk them like Lou Reed. He mutters. And when the band backs him up, the ahhh-ahs tend to be a little off-key.

The lyrics comprise vague anecdotes of cruel women, hard luck and drinking. But it's not traditional Tear-in-My-Beer Americana. It's slurred and nasty.

-- Peter Jacoby

Echobrain
Echobrain
Surfdog/Chophouse

Echobrain is the new band of Metallica's ex-bassist Jason Newsted, but if you're looking for metal here, you're in the wrong place. Don't get me wrong, the songs on this album are heavy, but you may have to listen a few times to realize it.

See, these guys are tricky -- they lure you in with heretofore unheard-of heavy-music tactics like harmony, humor and a groove. What Newsted brings to this album is not over-amplified bass work, but instead a free-flowing (albeit structured) bottom end. In collaboration with Brian Sagrafena's John-Bonham-in-a-jazz-band drumming, Newsted grounds the songs with an inherent heaviness and that all-important aforementioned groove.

Lead singer/guitarist Dylan Donkin comes off like an intensely laid-back (but no less lovelorn) Jeff Buckley on songs like the reflective "Ghosts" and the heartache of "I Drank You." Alternately, Donkin can seem like a less internal, more bemused, Chris Cornell on tracks like the anti-televangelist speech "Spoonfed" and the hallucinogenic dirge "The Feeling Is Over."

What Echobrain's dynamic delivers is the kind of rock'n'roll record that leaves its listener feeling cooler than they probably are.

-- Brandon S. Laney

Provision, Fiction and Gear
Moth
Virgin

On Provision, Fiction and Gear, Moth has tapped into the heart of the chronic hangover and distilled that day-after malaise into 12 regretful, occasionally delusional, often nostalgic rock songs. They use the kind of dissonant guitar work you'd expect to hear from the likes of the late, great Far to simulate that "what-the-hell-have-I-done" vibe, and give it pop proficiency. "I See Sound" begins with a folksy acoustic intro that's tantamount to that first beer of the evening, but soon builds to a Billy Corganstyle axe squall that could be equated to the strip tease you attempt after your seventh. By the time "Cocaine Star" barrels through a blow-induced rockstar homicide fantasy with lead singer, Brad Stenz, occasionally screaming about the white stuff, you're probably starting a fight with a guy over his scarf. To cap the album, Moth jettisons the sonics on "Not Really," a George Harrisonstyle aural aspirin for the memories of your drunken folly the night before.

-- Brandon S. Laney

  • Reviews of the latest CDs from Andrew W.K., Granfaloon Bus, Echobrain and Moth.

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