By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
Yeah, Primus Sucks. There are bumper stickers, T-shirts, even www.primussucks.com to support this stupid battle cry, and the band could suck harder than an atomic horse leech before some of its longstanding faithful would bitch about it. Just be forewarned, hardcore believers: There's very little fresh or surprising to rejoice about on AntiPop, the Bay Area prog-punk trio's seventh full-length CD to date. You'll find the usual breakneck tempos, bass-slapping monsterisms, bratty-ass scatological lyrics and cheerful pretensions of Seventies art metal. But who gives a rat's patsy? Such formulaic hijinx have always been the band's bread and marmalade. Why settle for more?
When frontman Les Claypool resorts to Hollywood Squares-style celebrity cameos -- employing South Park's co-creator Matt Stone and Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst among countless others -- to get his Primal vision across, one can assume that, idea-wise, the bass dude's cruisin' on fumes. James Hetfield of Metallica (for whom Claypool once auditioned) lends a few crunchy guitar licks to this bloated charade. Ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland keeps functional time in spots, and Martina Topley Bird of Tricky fame spouts off from the ethereal periphery. Even national treasure Tom Waits plays mellotron and sings on "Coattails of a Dead Man [267K aiff]" -- no doubt returning the favor for Claypool's guest appearance on Mule Variations. Too bad the skeletal waltz comes off as embarrassing filler, some throwaway chunk of Swordfishtrombones with freezer burn.
This underwhelming blast of plain, adolescent obnoxiousness reeks of big-money desperation. It adds up to little more than a circle jerk for skate thrashers -- which has, in the past, always been the selling point of Primus. Still, the album's title offers an empty promise of something different -- say, white-noise variations, chainsaws grinding through sheet metal, anything. If pop music's function is to opiate the childish masses, after all, AntiPop's might be to get those kiddie sleepwalkers to wake the hell up.
Keep dreamin', Morpheus. AntiPop is just more predictable slop headed for FM rotation, beginning with " Electric Uncle Sam [259K aiff]," a fist-pumping anthem that finds Claypool sounding like a spent "Weird" Al. Fans of King Crimson and Frank Zappa should prog for sustenance elsewhere or grimace their way through the idiotic, Durst-produced "Laquerhead" and the insipid "Mama Didn't Raise No Fool" before acknowledging the obvious: This here mess ain't exactly a wank for the ages. "Power Mad" denigrates Kosovo into a historical cartoon, while " Eclectic Electric [256K aiff]" steals shamelessly from Pink Floyd's The Wall. Claypool's heist of a grubby, bog-dwelling persona attempts to emulate Roger Waters's pudding-for-meat spiel with his own long-winded advice to babies: Don't stare into the sun. Thanks, dude. The babies are grateful -- including my inner catatonic child. -- John La Briola
The musical swingers out there probably won't be down with this platter, for the simple reason that it sounds so dated. In fact, throw a cover of "Parchment Farm" or "Louie, Louie" on here, and the average trend-hopper would probably mistake Whatcha' Doin' for one of their parent's old LPs. Which is just fine, really, because the Go is about as interested in creating new sounds as the Ramones were twenty years ago, and the Music Machine twenty years before that, and Willie Dixon twenty years before that. In other words, the band could give two shits about whether it's featured on Spin's Hit List or not. Rather, these Detroit-based roughnecks are merely interested in crafting pure, nearly perfect gut-bucket rock and roll -- and with Doin', they've succeeded. Of course, being from Detroit Rock City, comparisons to the MC5 and the Stooges are inevitable, and admittedly, you'll find elements of both buried in the disc's twelve tracks. But unlike most of the Motor City boosters on the scene right now (and there are plenty of them), these guys have actually taken the time to listen to their idols. Go guitarist John White, in particular, seems to have a real hard-on for James Williamson's corrosive guitar leads. And singer Bobby Harlowe's white-boy soul squawk is right up there with the late, great Rob Tyner's. The sonic scrap heap the combo pulls from doesn't end there, either: By record's end, T-Rex ("Summer Sun Blues [237K aiff]"), the Velvet Underground ("You Can Get High"), the Heartbreakers ("But You Don't Know") and even David Bowie (" Keep On Trash [240K aiff]") get the nod in this cornucopia of rock and roll. And if it's all been done before, so be it. There are plenty of Aphex Twin discs out there for the, ahem, thrill-seekers. But if you're looking for a timeless grassroots party record, you owe it to yourself to give this a whirl. -- Brad Jones
At the Drive In
The supercharged energy of At the Drive In's second release, Vaya, can make you feel like a spackled june bug on the windshield of an eighteen-wheeler negotiating a mountain pass. The changes on this release are as sharp and quick as curves on a switchback -- and after recovering from one, you have a fraction of a second to assess the situation before heading toward the next bend.