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Under Da Influence
Under Da Influence
Dog Day

San Francisco duo Big Quint and Dig--a.k.a. Under Da Influence--are already earning attention on the local hardcore hip-hop scene. The single "Tennis Skirts," included on the pair's new album, has garnered modest exposure on Bay Area stations. An anachronistic outing, "Tennis Skirts" recalls the Miami sound machine built by Luke years ago, except not so heavy on the bass. "All I Think About" packs more flavor, thanks to a hooky chorus and slinky Sly-styled bottom. "Brotha Love" cruises the shopworn theme of loyalty. From top to bottom, Quint and Dig deliver their raps so quickly that at times they get too hectic to follow. They are more interesting when they slow down. Under Da Influence's rhyme skills are fair to middling, but the rappers make the most of what abilities they do have. Ironically, the cut that stuck out the most is the all-instrumental "Laid Made." (Nicky Baxter)


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Penelope Houston
Cut You
Reprise

San Francisco's best acoustic act at long last graduates to the big labels after a series of outstanding indie and self-produced releases (especially Birdboys on Subterranean and the knockout live album On Borrowed Time: Live in Frisco). The cover art is not very threatening (the Pen, not as mighty as her switchblade), but Houston's seriously threatening growl lands solidly on her version of Virginia Dare's "Scratch." Of the older songs redone for harder rock, "White Out" and "Harry Dean," her familiar favorite about the film Paris, Texas, are outstanding--both sound crisper and fuller in 24-track, with the flamenco accents on the latter as punched up as solid rock as the big-beat drums. Still, as the lyric goes on my favorite favorite "Waiting Room": "I can be quiet too." I like her best like that, quiet and haunting, better than her newer so-so forays into altie-rock, "Secret Sign" and "Fuzzy Throne," and her sentimental journey to Iggy-style punk on "Ride" and "Glad I'm a Girl" (Richard von Busack)


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Face Plant
Face Plant
Self-released

Metal so heavy, it should come with its own hernia belt. Face Plant's take on the often-reviled format is competent and skillful. Jeff Bartkowski's vocals are clean and sculpted. Russell Pettit and Bartkowski form a potent guitar force that frees up possibilities for fretboard explorations. I wasn't down with the stock Bon Jovi-esque ballad, "X," but headbangers get their spinal cord cracked with "I Love to Be Hated" and "My Point of View." Most of Face Plant's lyrics deal with the some of the usual personal complaints--being laid to waste or misunderstood--as well as some societal ones like homelessness. (Todd S. Inoue)


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Madface
Black Attracts Heat
Cornfield

Milpitas may strike some as an unlikely town for reality rap, but on Black Attracts Heat, Madface represents the "M" with authority. Tay Mac and Halfbreed disclaim the "gangsta" noose; they prefer the term "street-life" rappers. Whatever; with Heat packing numbers like "Niggas That Live by the Trigga," "Who's F---in' Who" and "Memory Of R.I.P," there's enough action to do Compton proud. Using the minimalist approach--canned drums, P-funked keyboards and a little turntable trickery--the two word-whirlers spin tales about the trials and tribulations confronting the black man in America, Milpitas. In their minds, guns and police brutality are as much a problem here as in the South Bronx. I'll say one thing for Tay and Halfbreed, they'd give KRS-One a run for his money in the self-confidence department. These cuts illustrate that there are more facts than boasts informing the duo's hard blowing. And, like KRS, Madface has something approximating a social conscience. (NB)

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From the March 28-April 3, 1996 issue of Metro

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