By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
While the group may be billed as acid-jazz (the lineup features both a rapper/MC and a DJ who provides intros to most of the tunes), the result is more old school than new. The key references are easy to spot, notably Tower of Power and the Jazz Crusaders. Fact is, Liquid Soul has many of those bands' strengths - stellar playing, tightfisted arrangements - but also has a few of their weaknesses, namely, a bit more discipline than soul. Still, there ain't nothin' like the real thing and, from beginning to end, this is tough, meat 'n' potatoes playing that doesn't let up. (Michael Lipton)
BLOOD FOR BLOOD
Revenge on Society (Victory)
If you thought pretty boys Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were the embodiment of class anger in the Oscar-winning film Good Will Hunting, boy, did Hollywood pull the wool over your eyes, because the resentment seething from Blood for Blood's new Revenge on Society is the real tale of Boston's mean streets.
Though BFB recycle that simplistic brand of three-chord punk as common as shorn heads and nose rings, these prophets of hard times straight outta Southy use their limited musicianship to forge a rough 'n' tumble dynamic: retro-decrescendo vocal choruses, tempos sashaying between slowcore and 2/4 double-time, even plaintive guitar counterpoint to the thrusting riffage and chunky bottom. By God, this urban caveman punk is so primitive it's fresh.
BFB's standard-issue rebellion might be a bit quaint, but lead singer Erick Medina puts it in perspective midway through the album with "This isn't about your fantasy/This is about my fuckin' reality." Okay, so it's trite, but I still get gooseflesh hearing heartfelt lines like "The world's going to hell in a handbasket" from the title track, the ferocious "You ain't nothing but an image and a liar" in "Ya' Still a Fake Paper Gangster" and "I've lost my way/
Y'know my time is almost done" from elegiac slo-burner "Shut My Eyes Forever," the last song before the fade-away symphony of busted heads and broken bottles in "Last Call" that closes the album. But what really drives home BFB's blue-collar blues is the preface in "All Fucked Up" of a cold one being knocked back, the can crinkling up as Lind softly and warm-buzzedly confides, "This shit's gonna be the death of me."
To declare Blood for Blood the anti-sellouts of the punk world would be going too far. After all, can anyone truly resist the allure of filthy lucre? Hell, maybe a little financial stability would ease the bitterness of this band's wrong-side-o'-the-trax sour grapes . . . But enough of this fruitless speculation. Blood for Blood are but the latest testament to the decades-old wisdom that unfocused rage, crappy instruments and fine malt lyrics still make for better hardcore. (Andrew Lentz)
Deserter's Songs (V2)
Ever since 1991's Yerself Is Steam was unleashed on an unsuspecting public, New York's Mercury Rev has consistently served up some seriously tripped-out shit. Thanks to collaborative connections with the Flaming Lips (Dave Fridmann produced a couple of their records, while Jonathan Donahue once served as their lead guitarist), Mercury Rev quickly developed a reputation for picking up where the Lips' psychedelically skewed pop left off; if the Flaming Lips could break your heart, then Mercury Rev could definitely warp your mind.
So it somehow figures, what with the Lips pushing the boundaries of weirdness on their recent four-CDs-played-simultaneously project, that Mercury Rev should now release the most coherent, pop-oriented record of their synapse-frying career. Now, before all you freaks out there droop your shoulders and go "awwww," be advised that the nearly impenetrable sonic layers you dug on 1995's epic See You on the Other Side are still very much in the house. This time around, however, the army of Mellotrons, flutes, harpsichords, clavinets and processed guitars have been pressed into the service of three- and four-minute tracks, most of which are more than a little reminiscent of such mid-tempo, mid-'70s classics as "Mind Games" or "All the Young Dudes."
There's definitely something of a rustic, sepia-toned flavor to Deserter's Songs as well. Mid-Hudson Valley neighbors Levon Helm and Garth Hudson stop by for a front-porch jam on "Opus 40" and "Hudson Line," while the brief instrumentals "I Collect Coins" and "The Happy End (The Drunk Room)" are creepy as hell, in a dusty music box sorta way. Frankly, the whole record is pretty unsettling; "Holes," "Goddess on a Hiway" and "The Funny Bird," the three finest songs, offer gorgeous melodies that never quite cushion the sting of some seriously pessimistic lyrics. It's a bummer, sure, but it's a beautiful one. (Dan Epstein)