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[whitespace] The Fs Stop Here

Funk, hip-hop, jam band and metal fuel first release from Triple Forte Records

By David Espinoza

THE STORY BEHIND Triple Forte Records' name isn't what you might expect. The last names of the three UCSC students/rock entrepreneurs who started the label all begin with F: Lynz Floren, Nicolas Fournier and Ben Fields. Triple Forte Records, get it? If that's not too exciting, their first full-length album, Rocksluts: The CD, and minidisc sampler, Damn That's Loud!, should do the trick.

Recorded live at Porter College last year as a benefit for the HIV Prevention Program, Rocksluts: The CD compilation has nine tracks (13 if you include the 10-second spoken interludes) and features local stalwarts like Oliver Brown, Hate Mail Express, Estradasphere and the Automatones. Mr. Brown, the only ukulele singer/songwriter on the CD, steals the show with the adorable "Innuendo and Out the Other," in which he spins sexual puns better than TV's Will & Grace.

The rest of the album weighs in at about an 8 with a little bit of funk, experimental nonsense, hip-hop, jam band and metal to make everyone happy. Estradasphere offers the strangest (but thankfully coherent) concoction with the acoustic Harladic Tendencies. It's about time someone put their music to film or, better yet, put film to their music. Sonic Youth-meets-Television incarnates the Automatones are easily the most innovative of bands on the album, at least in the college rock tradition, with the pogo danceable "It's About Time."

While Rocksluts draws strength from having some of the better established acts in town, the five-track Damn That's Loud! sampler minidisc is the true test for the label as it features strictly Triple Forte Recording artists Tenth of Always, the Thrill and Tracer Bullet. If you can forget vocalist Ashkon Davaran's deplorable attempt at rhyming on the Rocksluts comp, the two tracks from his regular power-punk crew the Thrill work well. J Mascis' ghost must be a regular guest in their guitarist's dreams because the Dinosaur Jr. influence is palpable enough to squeeze on "It's Just You." And yes, J Mascis technically isn't dead but it's hard to tell sometimes. Quintet Tracer Bullet paints a mournful and melodic indie rocker picture on "Collapse of the Center" but it's Tenth of Always who are the keepers.

On the final track, "Earthquake," the bright-red-haired lead singer Faith drives a stake through the heart with gusto and melodrama: "Don't treat me like an earthquake, I'm a mess, I'm a wreck, my heart and my body aches." The lead guitars make the lyrical cliches forgivable, though we'll have to wait and see if it works for more than one song when their full-length album After Hours drops March 28 at the Four-Eighteen Project.

Speaking of Tenth of Always, regular concert buddies Lesterjett have a two-song CD single out. Even if you don't compare Lesterjett to all the sloppy low-fi bands in town, it still comes off as incredibly cosmopolitan--a band that would fit right in in a big city. Without being shallow or blatantly corporate, Lesterjett is all spit 'n' polish, with vocal harmonies, guitar solos and pop songwriting talent that brings to mind a less pretentious Urge Overkill in style. The first track, "Let It Go," is a four-minute, 30-something-second love song in the vein of Jellyfish (if anyone remembers the early '90s SF-based band) or a softer Weezer (for those who don't). Like fellow UCSC music major graduates Estradasphere, Lesterjett has clearly been schooled in music from other cultures as it busts out a Mexican folklorico on track 2 complete with violins and yodeling.

Personally, I'll be more impressed when they can do a norteña.

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From the March 6-13, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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