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A Jury of Their Peers 

We asked two local musicians to sound off on the latest and greatest from their fellow practitioners.

Wednesday, Mar 17 2004
We know you're tired of hearing snarky music writers rip apart the local music scene. That's why we asked snarky musicians to rip apart the local music scene. Understanding full well that they may never get a free beer in this town again, Ajax Green (guitarist for now-defunct country rockers Granfaloon Bus and heavy metallers Thunderbleed AKA Blind Vengeance, as well as grand poobah of the Internet listserv SF Indie) and MC Chunx of Gravy Train!!!! (Oakland's spazzy rap-punk bitches) took our blindfolded taste test. They listened to an unmarked CD full of the some of the "best" local artists and provided us with their expert opinions.

Matmos -- "Stars and Stripes Forever"

(Björk's favorite technotronic duo reworks John Philip Sousa.)

GREEN: This sounds like what a marching band will sound like in 10 years, when, instead of tubas and big bass drums, the kids are carrying laptops around. Sorry, I meant to say "craptops." Marching band music is retarded anyway. This song is an insult to retarded people.

CHUNX: Disneyland Electrical Parade goes no wave? I get mad when something starts to remind me of my childhood and then gets all experimental on my ass.

Preston School of Industry -- "Get Your Crayons Out!"

(Former Pavement guy makes rambling post-punk with the members of Wilco.)

GREEN: This isn't so bad. I appreciate stupid guitar playing as much as the next guy. Two chords and a squiggly guitar -- I could listen to that for a while (probably two and a half minutes). It reminds me of when Robert Fripp used to get weird on Brian Eno records.

CHUNX: Not offensive, and I liked the psychedelic guitar part at the end. I can picture couples in ringer T's driving cross-country and totally feeling it, then stopping at a motel to have vanilla sex. Not my bag, but not a total drag.

Joanna Newsom -- "Cassiopeia"

(Pixie-voiced chanteuse plucks a harp, sings of flying turkeys.)

GREEN: I am getting tired of hearing nonsingers sing. I guess we have Bob Dylan to blame for that: "I've got something to say! It doesn't matter how grating my voice is!" Is that a kid singing? What's up with the harp? If this is the music they play in heaven then I want to go to hell. I hope it's not Joanna Newsom because I really wanted to like her.

The Cuts - "How Can I Get Through"

(Jangly, snotty '60s-style rock.)

GREEN: This sounds like a Television song. I have no problem with people continuing to write Television songs; hell, Television only wrote, like, 20 good Television songs; there is lots of room for more!

CHUNX: Killer single, and I will put my balls on the line and say that the vocal harmonies totally slay a bitch. I'm a puss-fag at heart, and la la las always get me. Still, though -- there's something about this band that's a little scheisty!

Film School -- "Demo Song"

(My Bloody Valentine fans now sound like Cure fans.)

GREEN: Hey, it's that robot drum beat again! I love that. That spacey reverb guitar has to go, though, only [U2's] The Edge can get away with that, I'm afraid. Is this the Cure? Because it's making me depressed. I don't need help getting depressed! Label this "for teenagers only."

CHUNX: Lately, the Cure depresses me, so

it only makes sense that a Cure knockoff would make me want to set myself on fire. I'm going celibate so I don't accidentally fuck him. (Note to dude: You can still approach me at a party and try me. I'm newly single and always wasted!)

MC Lars Horris -- "Rapbeth (Foul Is Fair)"

(Stanford nerd busting rhymes about William S., dog.)

GREEN: Wow, it only took me two seconds to hate this. It's some undergrad student rapping about Shakespeare? And a shout-out to the Spice Girls? I love a good novelty song, but this is just boring. I would rather fold my socks than listen to this again.

CHUNX: Raps about Shakespeare? Some may say hipster-intellectual, I say a cheap bid for brainer poon! He's whiter than John Tesh in a snowstorm and horny as hell! Good luck, dude!

Train -- "All American Girl"

(KFOG favorite name-checks Patrick Swayze.)

GREEN: This is overproduced happy music. I like happy music, but if you slick something up enough you wipe all the soul out of it. I would like to hear this song as the theme to a bad TV show that I love. If one of my friends played me this, I would make fun of them forever.

CHUNX: Sounds like a major label, Barenaked Ladies kind of quirky/smart dude radio hit. Talkin' 'bout those good ol' American girls. I can't be mad at it, because I'd much prefer hearing this to shit like Staind as I try to squeeze into jeans in the Nordstrom Juniors dressing room.

Citizens Here & Abroad -- "The Voices"

(Hushed vocals! Chugging guitars! Plinking xylophone! Wait, xylophone?)

GREEN: This sounds like a female version of the Strokes, with a little "Total Eclipse of the Heart" melodrama thrown in.

CHUNX: This is the kind of music I would listen to in high school because I always wanted to sit and contemplate shit. But now I'm through with thinking and I just want to hear bubblegum jams and dumb epic rock while I play with myself and watch Fear Factor.

Deerhoof -- "Gigadence"

(Lullaby for the truly deranged or clang, clang, buzz, chirp, chirp.)

CHUNX: If someone turned this on during coitus, I would pee all over myself and the other person, and then throw myself out the window. Too scary!

GREEN: Wow, cool, this is weird. Oh wait, it's Deerhoof, isn't it! It's got that Deerhoof "signature sound," ha ha. I especially like the Phantom of the Opera organ.

Gift of Gab -- "Rat Race"

(Blackalicious MC goes so(u)lo, navigating the daily grind.)

GREEN: I don't like this kind of hip hop: it's too slow and it doesn't go anywhere, just circling around the same groove for three minutes. The stoners will like it, though, I'm sure.

CHUNX: Before we started Gravy Train!!!!, I kinda wanted to sound like this -- legitimate in some way. Talking about things that made sense. Obviously we abandoned all that, but I still appreciate it from other groups.

Coachwhips - "Thee Alarm"

(Distorto punk, sounds like the best album ever made by malfunctioning animatronic monkeys.)

CHUNX: Dear Garage Rock Revival, I want my Drags, Gories, and Headcoats back. People are molesting your genre! And recording it! Screw R. Kelly, where is this band's trial?

GREEN: I am over-Dwyered. I have reached my max capacity for [Coachwhips singer/guitarist John] Dwyer and can no longer comment objectively on his records. And no, he didn't sleep with my girlfriend, so shut up.

The Pleased -- "We Are the Doctor"

(Altrock seemingly designed to make people think the Strokes have a new, crappy album out.)

CHUNX: Car commercial ready. All aboard the Saturn and past a dreamlike high school prom scene. Destination: Boredsville


GREEN: Is this Radiohead? I'm bored. Can we hear that Deerhoof track again? It's weird!

John Vanderslice -- "Pale Horse"

(Local studio whiz attempts to raise Ian Curtis and David Bowie from the dead, literally and metaphorically.)

CHUNX: Medieval and uneven. If these guys have beards, I will excuse it.

GREEN: This sounds like my good buddy John Vanderslice. I love the way his records sound -- they are three-dimensional.

Mark Farina (featuring Sean Hayes) -- "Dream Machine"

(House DJ Farina scores KCRW hit with the help of singer/songwriter Hayes.)

GREEN: Hmm. Not much going on here. The singer sounds like James Taylor. I would skip this song in favor of "Fire and Rain."

CHUNX: ....

Grateful Dead -- "Black Peter"

(Bunch of hairy guys playing country music, sort of.)

CHUNX: I think I might be pretty into this guy sexually. I want him to write a song about me. He could call it "Spread Eagle Slutbag," and it would still be pretty and sweet, probably.

GREEN: Ha ha, this is the Grateful Dead! You can't fool me. I like this song -- it was recorded a few days before Jerry lost his voice for good, and he spares you that incessant, terrible guitar noodling of his, thank God.

Top 10 Bay Area Music Scene Urban Legends

1.The barrel of peanuts at the Eagle Tavern is used as a cum bucket when they shoot pornos there.

2. The Great American Music Hall is haunted.

3. Metallica formed over a brisket at Tommy's Joint. (Also, many years later, the group tried to sue Canadian rockers Unfaith over the use of the E and F chords.)

4. At the height of the O'Farrell Theater's fame, employees from the strip club and neighboring Great American Music Hall swapped free entries. One night, Marilyn Chambers "jammed" with Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia.

5. Bill Graham held the first rock concerts at the Fillmore.

6. American Music Club's Mark Eitzel has his hat superglued on.

7. Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick named her first daughter "God."

8. Chris Isaak's schlong is so big he needs to have his jeans tailored.

9. When a famous indie singer/songwriter did a live show in town several years ago, she was paid in $20 bills. She then proceeded to shoot some smack and bleed and vomit on those bills. And then the club realized it had overpaid her and needed to take back some of the soiled cash.

10. When the Grateful Dead toured, the band always stayed in Room 420.

About The Author

Dan Strachota


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