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
Alpha Motherfuckersis a testament to Turbonegro’s unwavering influence. Nashville Pussy opens with an austere rendition of “The Age of Pamparius.” Finland’s HIM fuzzes out “Rendezvous With Anus”; Ireland’s always-intense Therapy? makes adolescent angst poignant again with “Denim Demon.” Supersuckers add a swaggery, bluesy-punk vibe to “Get It On,” while Norway’s Satyricon turns “I Got Erection” into a black-metal nightmare. “Are You Ready for Some Darkness?” becomes a twisted call-and-response between Bela B. and Denim Girl. There’s freewheeling abandon from Zeke (“Midnight Nambla”) and Queens of the Stone Age (“Back to Dungaree High”). Dwarves and Splittin Wax shred “Hobbit Motherfuckers” into sampled splurch-splots, and Toby Dammit’s trippy atmospherics transform “Prince of the Rodeo.”
Turbonegro cast one of the longest shadows in rock. Deluged with tribute contributions, Germany’s Bitzcore.com plans a second volume for next year, and Alpha suggests that’s not a bad idea: A blazing, balls-out conduit of Turbonegro’s timeless, terminal essence, it more than lives up to the dudes’ example. (Hopeless Records, P.O. Box 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91409; www.hopeless.records) (Skylaire Alfvegren)
SUGARBOMB Bully (RCA)
Polished, ultramelodic prog-pop is hardly synonymous with Texas music, but it’s nonetheless the proud mission of the Fort Worth quintet Sugarbomb. These camp cowboys are mining the ’70s — not the Melrose Avenue ironically cool part of that decade, but the much-maligned art-student rock; both ELO and prime-time Queen cast their bell-bottomed shadows across Bully. Few bands master this style, which demands highly developed songcraft, instrumental dexterity and considerable vocal ability, but on their charmingly crafted sophomore album, Sugarbomb have it down — bouncing chops, banks of phased harmonies, spanky lyrics and oodles of joie de vivre. Even the production flashes period touches, yet remains sufficiently buffed to avoid an overly retro feel.
Sugarbomb are built around flamboyant front man Les Farrington, who’s finally surrounded himself with a bunch of colorful cohorts capable of realizing his grandiose vision. Bully is effectively a filler-free Best of Farrington, compiling his brightest tunes from the last few years (five of which appeared on Sugarbomb’s ’99 debut, Tastes Like Sugar). The standout track, “Motor Mouth,” with its cartoon organ, layered call-and-response vocals and haunted lyrics, epitomizes Sugarbomb’s brassy brilliance.
Bully is similar to the shtick Jellyfish served up some years back — it went over our heads then and, with radio programming at its most conservative, will probably slip under the radar now. (Paul Rogers)
DAVE RALPH Naturalized (Kinetic)
L.A. is on fire with the sounds of trance — uh, excuse me, progressive house. Trance conjures images of Eurotrash, or teens with cheesy visors and kitschy glowsticks; progressive house seeks to provide a face-lift. While for some the re-labeling isn’t much different from changing Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC (to divert attention from “fried”), there is a distinction. The candy ravers might not care, but progressive house is more sophisticated, and Dave Ralph’s Kinetic Records release Naturalized is definitely that.
Having made his name warming up for Sasha in the U.K., Ralph also owns the distinction of mixing Tranceport IIfor Paul Oakenfold’s series, an effort that landed him an opening slot on the superstar DJ’s tour last year, where — according to some fans who caught the Vynyl show here — he may have played a more engaging set than the headliner. His follow-up, Naturalized, a souvenir of the set he performed at the Love Parade massive in Berlin, is a testament to his draw, but it’s the relic of a Ralph who’s turned away from the globe-trotting aspirations that motivate many superstar DJs: He’s currently getting to know his new home — the USA.
With Dave Ralph in the mix, you hear fewer abrasive squelches and bleeps than muted handclaps and ear-pleasing pulses, and his progressively minded crowd responds to sounds from other subgenres like breakbeat and tech-house. Ralph blends his own tracks with others by Fatboy Slim and Laurent Garnier, proving once again that the mix CD is a bankable recipe, perhaps even more so than the summer tour. Ralph was supposed to take part in the canceled Mekka touring festival, but don’t fear — he’s roading it on his own as we speak. (Daniel Siwek)