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Golden Smog
Weird Tales

It's obvious that Golden Smog intends to show listeners a good time. The perky Brit-poppy vocals and crashing rock pulse set the tone for this infectious 15-pack set. Vocalist Craig Johnson's keening, nasally twang exudes wounded pride as he sings about friends welcoming him "with broken arms/They don't mean any harm." Smog is something of a supergroup, boasting members from Wilco (Jeff Tweedy), Soul Asylum (Dan Murphy) and Big Star (Jody Stephens), among others. Johnson, Tweedy and Jayhawk Gary Louris divvy up the vocals; they are equally fine stylists. "Until You Came Along" is a beery sing-along shot through with self-deprecating Dylan-esque humor. Throughout, guitarists Gary Louris, Marc Perlman and Tweedy reel off hybrid licks that can tug at your gut or soothe your soul. (Nicky Baxter)

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Violence Is Golden

Spitkiss offers dark, industrial-style metal with themes of pain and suffering. Like many in its genre, the band has been influenced by Ministry, but Spitkiss takes a somewhat more romantic road, using piano melodies ("Deeper Scratch," "Buddhist Camp Song") and prowling guitar music ("Not Yet," "Hard Head"). Given time, Spitkiss' tumultuous lyrics could embody the same deep angst found in Nine Inch Nails songs; regardless, crafty electronics and eerie sound effects combine effectively with Adam Bannister's harsh, quivering voice. Sometimes poetic, sometimes crass, songs like "Flinch" reveal a stark sense of isolation: "Hear me, I'm not the only one/You seem to think I can be undone/Tie me, you always pull me down/Go on, I'll forget about now." (Sarah Quelland)

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From the December 31, 1998-January 6, 1999 issue of Metro.

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