THE LEGENDARY STARDUST COWBOY
Step aside Hasil, here comes the Ledge.
With David Bowie's Mojo-penned appreciation of Norman Carl Odam, a.k.a. the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, still fresh in the public mind (he also covered the songwriter's "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship" on Heathen), now's the time to rediscover the artist that liner-notes man Jud Cost describes as "the man who made Hasil Adkins cross over to the other side of the street" with his 1968 outsider-rock classic "Paralyzed."
Backed up by the Altamont Boys (featuring Klaus Flouride, formerly of the Dead Kennedys) the Ledge taps equally into the country-trashabilly mainline and the Demerol I.V. drip. Manifestos "Play My Guitar" and "All Night Cowboy" comprise fecund grooves and hot licks lapping at the singer's cracked high lonesome gimp wail. In contrast, the minimalist surf-rock number "Gears in the Sun" is so halting it defies all attempts to dance to it, while the chicken-scratch funk of "Slide Rule" extols the virtues of, ah, slide rules (Daniel Johnston ain't got nothin' on this guy). And what is apparently a first-take rendition of "Space Oddity"—complete with Odam rolling his r's ("grrrround contrrrrol to Majorrrr Tom") like a soused Scotty—repays Bowie's acknowledgment with far greater naive verve than the Thin White Duke could've ever envisioned.
In short, while nothing could ever approach the "Paralyzed" level of bugle-blatting, Tourette's-spouting, atonal/ arrhythmic aural dementia, there's enough on this lucky-13 slab to keep the neighbors up all night wondering if you're a meth tweaker obsessively rearranging the furniture. As the saying goes, get behind the Ledge—before the Ledge gets past you. FRED MILLS
Well-executed but ultimately aimless effort from NoCal garage punkers.
I recently asked Christopher Applegren of Oakland combo the Pattern what happens when rock 'n' roll gets tired of itself. Although he didn't answer the question when it was posed, his band's first full-length can be taken as a reply in 12 tracks: If rock is growing weary of its reinvented wheels, it seems the news has yet to reach the Bay Area. Applegren's short, punchy, hook-laden vocals curl up violently and snottily at the end of his phrases while the rest of the band bends, pounds, and thumps their fuzzed-out riffs and raved-up rhythms. Real Feelness takes the swagger of late-'60s garage punk, the stomp of British Invasion blues, and the cheap sex of gritty Southern rock—but it doesn't actually take any of them anywhere they haven't already been. "Fragile Awareness" is one of those textbook chugging, wak-waka-waka, bottom-end sing-alongs complete with "woo-hoos" and the self- effacing echo of lines like, "You didn't want mine didya/ Didya, didya, didya?" Similarly, "She's a Libra" is a maddening circle of simplistic matchmaking: gratuitous F-words, pop formulas, and nagging bass lines. While it's certain that Real Feelness will please the Mudhoney/MC5/ Mooney Suzuki-minded masses, I'm reaching for the snooze button as we speak. It's not that I don't appreciate where these songs are coming from, I'm just anxious for someone to take them to a better place already. Wake me when we get there. LAURA CASSIDY
The Complete Recordings
Short-lived but influential Athens undergrounders get compiled.
"I-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi —I am a PERSON," goes the greatest chorus you've never heard. "I speak to you/I am a person/I am a person, and that is enough!" The year is 1982; the singer is Linda Hopper, a student in Athens, Ga., and the twangy, Pylon-style bass riff is played by Lynda Stipe, whose brother, Michael, you may have heard of. "Person" is one of four excellent, bite-sized songs on their band Oh-OK's Wow Mini-Album, a 7-inch that lasts seven minutes; a year later, six more songs would be issued as Furthermore What, which featured the guitar of Matthew Sweet, whom you also may have heard of. But there was furthermore nothing; the band broke up, and that was the last anyone heard of Oh-OK. Until now. The Complete Recordings is just what it says: both the band's EPs, plus 13 live and demo tracks, compiled with love. Demonstrating songwriting smarts and a supple sound that superceded 99 percent of the Olympia outfits that followed in its footsteps (Oh-OK's truncated cover of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" is pretty electric, too), this music didn't change the world then and it won't now. But it still sounds fantastic, and that is enough. MICHAELANGELO MATOS