and Kevin Dean, Surfrider Prez


Need New Body sounds like a down-home jug band collaborating with that weird science teacher you had in middle school. You know – the one who listened to Dr. Demento and kept all types of insects in goldfish bowls around his classroom?

To call them eccentric would be understatement. To call them anachronistic would be only half right. Yes, they often come off as vaudevillian with their heavy use of the banjo and bicycle wheel, but as the first track on UFO showcases, they also bring a large amount of experimental electronics into the works.

Unfortunately, more than half the magic that is Need New Body is captured in the live show. The singer flops around, orange hair barely covering his haggard tattoos. Clapping and crashing and cracking sounds pour out from the swirling mass of bodies, engulfing the crowd in a wash of sound. This is all lost on disc, leaving NNB sounding like Primus with yet another layer of sanity peeled away in a modestly unsuccessful (and needless) attempt to stay musically viable.

As disparaging as this all may sound, UFO abducts particularly bright and entrancing minutes. Explosions of sound syncopated by staccato vocal bursts, strings of lyrics that (hopefully) mean nothing, are as elating to listen to as they must have been to steal from the ETs that designed it.

A couple of the ballads amount to solid efforts as well, really only faulted by the lack of coherence they abstractly thrust upon the album. This isn’t a bad second outing, NNB’s follow up to 2001’s superb s/t release, but it is disappointing to see the same mistakes from the first album repeated two years later.

There are certain bands that are simply too brilliant to have their essence captured on media, and Need New Body have entrenched themselves firmly at the top of that list.

– James Hush


The Dismemberment Plan
A People’s History of the Dismemberment Plan
* 1/2

The Dismemberment Plan announced their inevitable breakup months ago, and nobody really cared except for the few fans who followed the band’s every move during its 11-year, 4-album meander.

So, when lead singer Travis Morrison wanted to put out one last album before splitting, he decided to let his fans do all of the actual work – which is either creatively socialist or creatively lazy. Morrison posted a selection of the DC-based band’s songs online and announced that it would begin selecting remixes for next and last album, aptly titled A People’s History of The Dismemberment Plan.

Sound interesting? Actually, it’s about as off the mark and way into left field as the idiot who gave this band the genre “aggressive punk funk.”

The album starts off with a bizarre, stoned-out mangling of “The Face of the Earth,” a track off 2001’s Change. A fellow named Parae, who was quoted as saying he hadn’t even heard of TDP until his remix was accepted, is behind this headache of a flop.

Three tracks later, you’ll start nodding your head to Change’s “Following Through,” until you realize that the remix is nothing more than a bad beat tucked underneath a sped up chorus and a bass line that belongs on a Dave Mathews cd.

Not all of the creations sound like the workings of novices. “The City” lends a smooth trumpet section that floats effortlessly over Morrison’s voice, while “The Jitters” catapults into frenzied hyperactivity and electronic delight.

While it’s admirable that TDP left their fans with a finale more original than most disbanding outfits, one less experimental and well rounded might’ve left them with more fans.

– Kevin Dean


Al Haca Soundsystem
1/2 star

Is there a Stefan Betke museum somewhere in Germany? Maybe there is a certain age at which every young German lad hears “1” by Pole and decides that it is his constitutional right to make electronic dub? Maybe they even teach a class in high school on how to set your reverb just right in order to bring out an authentic Jamaican style sound…

Well if that is true, the members of Al Haca Soundsystem probably failed that class. The electronic “dub” on this disc is often little more than boring house beats with a weak delay reverb on the snare. Most of the tracks don’t even bother to have a catchy bassline. On the rare occasion that the production isn’t terrible, it is buried under what can only be described as the weakest MCing since the freestyle battle at the Rat (courtesy of guests like Sizzla, He-Man, Ras MC-Tweed and more).

Half the MCs on this disc sound like they are reading a part for a Charles Dickens audio book through a thick reverb.

Perhaps it should be explained to these guys that having a Jamaican accent doesn’t make you exciting. German electronic musicians, pay attention: if you are making dub, your production should be good enough to stand without vocals, and if it is that good, you should tell your vocalists to go work on a ragga jungle track.

By the way, if you can’t hack it (e.g. Al Haca), stick to the krautrock. When was the last time you heard a bad krautrock band that was actually German?

– James Hush