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Notes From the Underground
By Arwen Curry

[whitespace] Plunder the Mistletoe:
On new Monkey Magnet CD, SC still sucks for the holidays

OH MY GAWD! THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE again, and the season of festive hypertension has definitely reached its apex. Allow me a few moments to plug this year's best gift idea for the young devout scholar of local underground music. On the shelves of local stores since last week and currently selling like flapjacks, the Santa Cruz Still Sucks!!! CD, Bad Monkey Records' latest release, is impressively recorded, particularly because producer Michael Mechanic has discovered the art of mastering. With fantastic angry cartoon art by Jimbo and James Reitano, the artwork is a cuter variation on the original Santa Cruz Sucks! theme of small-town musical frustration.

The content of the CD fondly reminds me of the first Lookout! and Very Small Records compilations--it exposes the ludicrous and lovely variety of a particular area's underground rather than compiling bands with a similar style. The result is a guarantee that no one will listen to all 27 tracks in order after the first play, but then again, no one will buy it for just one or two songs.

The vitality of the selection surpasses the first comp--P.A.W.N.S. starts off with a fast-paced male/female Biafra-esque song, Fury 66 covers the Cro-Mags, the Exploding Crustaceans sing about Select Cola, Undecided recorded great thrash punk a la "Institutionalized," and Peach Envy and SPFU do various funny things over ska riffs. The list goes on. Local music fans--don't bother hanging on to the receipt.
Arwen Curry

Review: Keepin' It Real

I have always confused Craig's Brother with Your Mother--probably due to the rhyming thing. After finding out they are indeed two different bands (Your Mother's cover songs, particularly "Saved by the bell," rule the punk rock universe), I wasn't sure what to expect from Craig's Brother.

I was surprised. Think emo-tinged vocals overlapping a polished punk sound. While this vinyl didn't really kiss my grits initially (I thought the three separate parts to "Dear Charlotte" a little pretentious), it was rewarding after a few listens. The lead singer, J. Ted Bond, sounded like Lagwagon's vocalist but had better lyrics and phrasing.

I really enjoyed the slow, celestial hook throughout "Lullaby." That song's been engraved in my head for weeks now, along with the suicidal words I received telepathically from Dr. Laura. "Insult to Injury" is a pretty fine rocker featuring some solid guitar from Andy Snyder.

It's clearly evident that a lot of effort was put into this release. Craig's Brother thanks God in the liner notes, which is a rarity for a punk band. A friend of mine is into holy hardcore too--he was beat senseless in the head with a Bible at a Stryper show back in '87. The album is available through Apple Jacks Records, 632 Condor Ave., Ben Lomond, 95005.
Matt Koumaras

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From the December 24-31, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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