(Angry Burro Records)
It's an age-old conundrum: How can a band that's built for the stage manage to sound great on disc? With its latest disc, Bop Skizzum, which has been dishing out soul-and-jazz-influenced dance music in these parts since 1999, makes a bold attempt to achieve the latter, but it can't quite crack the code.
The best thing about Skizzum is the group's horn section, highlighted by trumpeter Joe Ferrone and (especially) saxophonist Serafin Sanchez, who's got bona fide jazz credentials: He's gigged with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and several other local ensembles. The brass shines on the vigorous title track and "A Jam," on which Ferrone and Sanchez handle dirty grooves with cheeky enthusiasm. Yet the permanency of plastic can't help but expose the secondhand nature of material like the Chili Peppers-inspired "Great Skizzum" -- its cries of "revolution!" are neither red nor hot enough to seem convincing -- and "Leap," which concludes with vocalist Andy Guerrero doing an overt Dave Matthews impression to the tremendous regret of me.
Some of this stuff would no doubt sound swell if it were played live in a club filled with sweaty patrons on an intravenous Jägermeister drip. Under less intoxicating circumstances, it's not nearly so worth Waiting For (www.bop-skizzum.com). -- Michael Roberts
Gross National Product
While Ion's debut full-length may evoke comparisons to the bandmembers' previous projects, this effort holds its own. Former Dropsound frontman Noe DeLeon's raw and grimy yet strong and melodic vocals complete a perfect circle comprising guitarists Todd Schlafer (ex-Rocket Ajax) and Nik Lawhorn (Synthetic Delusion); former Blister 66-er Joe Sego, now Ion's bassist-slash-programmer; and the act's latest drummer, Jeff Gust (proving the third timekeeper's the charm).
There's no slow seduction on Product. It's all hard, angry sex up against the wall: If you like your music rough and dirty, Ion's got the goods. Panteric bass lines copulate with grungy, gritty guitars; processed vocals and slick samples intermingle for an orgiastic affair worthy of a Trojan commercial directed by Stanley Kubrick. Produced by Ulrich Wild (Deftones, Powerman 5000), Coal Chamber's Mike Cox and Orgy's Paige Haley, the entire album sounds primed for radio and ready to join the Billboard ranks.
With such an impressive pedigree, this disc ran the risk of disappointing local fans eagerly anticipating its release. Fortunately, it doesn't -- though eight songs hardly seems like enough after waiting so patiently. With a Gross National Product like this on the books, even Dubya should have no trouble balancing the budget. -- Catalina Soltero