The Good, the Bad and the Brooklyn Rock Revolution: French Kicks, MF Doom, Allister, LIARS

French Kicks
One Time Bells
The French Kicks’ One Time Bells is comparable to snooping inside a stranger’s closet and finding an obscenely large stash of pop rocks. Just try to shake the loopy hook on “Down Now” out of your head after two listens max – it’s not going to happen. You’ll be craving for this album’s hooks all day long. If you’re big on mental clarity, you’re screwed because they’ll keep popping up like Double Dragon villains.
This quartet, part of Brooklyn’s surging music scene, travels loosely on the nostalgic hills of yesteryear’s melodic jams, visiting the Cure (“Right in Time”) old school Elton John (“Close to Modern”) and the Jesus & Mary Chain (“Crying Just For Show”), with subtle detours into art-punk psychedelia.
Tracks like “1985” and “Where We Went Off” are a passionate make out session with “Sixteen Candles” era innocence, complete with the new wave quirks of an Anthony Michael Hall dance move. Underneath the album’s confectionary surface coating exists a sharp, potent substance – upping the danger factor, and mucho bonus points for having a lead singer, Nick Stumpf, who’s also the drummer. To sum it up, this band has more goods than Publix.
Check them out at

MF Doom
Operation: Doomsday!
Somewhere in a comic book-paneled, hip hop universe, an entire regime of radio alarm clocks are sounding off trying to get Earth’s attention. For over three years they’ve been playing M.F. Doom’s Operation: Doomsday! with growing frustration; this feeling is expressed using emoticons and symbols displayed on their digital red faces. The most popular choice: the letters “wtf.” It is quite a sight.
If the dozing masses only knew that they’re trapped inside a hellish nightmare ruled by King Ja Rule and the eternally lame Cerberus known as Jermaine Dupri. Maybe then they’d wake up, wipe the colossal chunks of sleep out their eyes, slip M.F. Doom into their Discmans and bow down to real hip hop.
This album sounds like it was recorded in an underground lair littered with beat machines, a hydro setup and samplers illegally rigged to televisions playing Cartoon Network. On the first track entitled “Doomsday,” Metal Face Doom lets the rhymes spill like a slot machine that just hit “two milli’.” Over a recurring squeegee scratch, Doom spits hilarious verses like “Get out my face, askin’ bout my case, need toothpaste/Fresher mint, monkey styled ni**a need Dentadent.” The inventiveness of his vocabulary is pure Mrs. Buttersworth goodness.
Several of the beats tread the raw ground of Wu-tang’s first and third albums, and the Rza’s vast influence cannot be denied. Doom’s soulful cut-and-paste production, especially on “Dead Bent” and “Who You Think I Am?” may even owe Wu a couple of metal thumbs.
But with insanely original tracks like “Hey!,” which samples “Scooby-Doo” (pre-movie travesty), and “Tick, Tick” (with M.F. Grimm), there are enough leaps and bounds present to neutralize a Shaolin ambush. This is hip hop that reminds you how fun and loose it can be, but it also has ambitious goals. M.F. Doom has vowed to protect the art form from all corporate record label criminals and rocks a metal mask to conceal his identity – for real.
Do the Milky Way a favor and cop this album, and keep your eyes peeled for Doom’s future earth shattering team up with Madlib AKA the nasal flowed, green powered hero Quasimoto.
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Dead Ends and Girlfriends
0 stars

When I got this CD in the mail from Drive-Thru Records (alongside discs by Homegrown and RxBandits, so I was all siked!!) there was a sticker on it that said “15 melodic pop-punk songs about girls.” Is this a f–ing joke? Do fifteen year olds come back from PacSun, put this music on and actually think that they’re listening to a form of punk rock? Judging from Drive-Thru’s booming record sales, the answer is a gigantic “thumbs up.”
Ten years ago kids would risk their lives every Sunday to stay up past midnight and see bands like the Descendents, the Ramones and the Circle Jerks on a once nifty mainstream show called “120 Minutes.” A mere six hours later they’d come to school with bloodshot eyes and share championed tales of seeing Black Flag’s “TV Party,” or the horrors of being caught, grounded and beaten. Now kids have the Internet and info about the Clash, Bad Brains, Wire and Minor Threat at their manicured little finger tips 247 365.
What gives? People like Mike Watt and Duane Peters busted ass for decades driving $250 vans cross country and back to spread punk rock’s message(s) and create a vital music scene (and still do), and Allister is racking in all their dough? Do you listen to Allister? That’s embarrassing. Pop punk is Chartwells. Major label (MCA) pop punk is Chartwells ten minutes after you’re back in the dorms.
If you have an Allister poster on your wall (probably next to ones of New Found Glory and Blink 182), please don’t shed a tear. I’m sure your saying “But hey bro, some of these songs are catchy. Just listen to “Love Song” or “It’s Just Me” or my favorite “Boysenberry” or the t-total trophy taker “Jacob Thinks I’m Gay.”
Send all viruses and flame mail to Scottie, Johnny, Timmy and Skippy (especially Skippy) at Boycott Drive-Thru Records. Long live Joe Strummer, Mike Ness, Lars Frederiksen and Jack Grisham. RIP Joey, Deedee, Sid and all of the other anti-heroes that fed the scene until the grave.
Allister fans: seek help at

They Threw Us All In a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top

All hail this new dance punk eruption. Brooklyn’s LIARS blast through nine tracks of attention deficit punk rock abstractions like it’s the last level of Galaga. “We’ve got our finger on the pulse of America” screeches 6’6″ Australian vocalist Angus Andrew before the first track frenzies into a guitar seizure. But seriously, bands like LIARS, the Rapture and !!! are the new blood pumping through this country’s rock veins – tap into it again and again.
“Mr Your On Fire Mr” features digital handclaps and some rolling bass lines before the vocals get all synthed out and skinny dip into the 1980s. This album proudly flicks off all sacred musical conventions in the name of fun and unpredictability. And like most rebellious activities, your mood plays a huge factor in the extraction of satisfaction. Take warning: if you put this on jonesing for relaxation, you’ll be trampled and left with a dumbfounded headache.
LIARS recorded this album in a two-day musical binge with producer Steve Revitte of Beastie Boys’ Hello Nasty fame. “Tumbling Walls Buried Me in the Debris with ESG” swipes a beat from ESG’s “UFO” (FYI: you need not heard of ESG to enjoy it) adds drums and advises/demands “leave your work at home and put down the briefcase.”
Lifting an entire song from the musical vaults is an endeavor usually associated with professional thieves and artistically bankrupt hacks like P.Diddy. However, in this case Picasso’s old saying rings with abrasive truth and the LIARS kick out a sonic jam. In fact, the track is the album’s most standout offering – download a taste test and visit for more info.

Hunter Stephenson can be reached at