Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home
You live in Seattle, you go to shows--you probably don't need These Arms Are Snakes' impressive sonic pedigree explained in depth or anything. So here's the CliffsNotes version: One Botch dude plus two Kill Sadie dudes minus Joe Preston (not the Thrones guy) equals the latest incarnation of TAAS. But what they've done in the past (or currently do on the side) has little bearing here. Oxeneers--the Snakes' full-length debut and follow-up to their recent split EP with Harkonen--has just enough Botch action that you know bassist Brian Cook is all up in that piece, but the rest... well, the rest is pretty much a fucking free-for-all. The leadoff triumvirate of "Shit Sisters," "Angela's Secret," and "Big News" is the absolute tits, an ankle-grabbing three-header with Girls Against Boys on top and the Rapture on bottom, and Harkonen (Ben Verellen fills in on drums when usual TAAS ringer Erin Tate is on tour with Minus the Bear) tonguing all the loose bits in between. Elsewhere, space-prog jams ("Gadget Arms") and synthed-out carnival rides ("La Stanza Bianca") provide the backdrop as guitarist Ryan Frederiksen's power-skronk soars somewhere between Fugazi and Cave In while vocalist Steve Snere drinks, fights, and fucks his way through the stream of commerce with a fistful of dollars and a heart full of napalm. The only bum-out is "Your Pearly Whites," a slow jam that doesn't quite live up to the rest of the track listing. Those first three, though? Whew. J. BENNETT
Outta Sight/Outta Mind
The New Zealand bunch--along with last year's batch of white-trash wannabes Jet, Kings of Leon, the Hiss, and that ilk--no doubt seemed a sudden left-field blast to those not paying attention (Hello! Hellacopters). The inevitable hangover from such demographic keg parties is now throbbing, as the follow-up discs from that trend start trickling out. And when you get former Led Zeppelin bassist/current costly producer John Paul Jones to man the knobs, you're harboring some serious arena ambitions.
It's not that this doesn't indeed rock, "Blacken My Thumb" explodes out the gate great. Other boogie punkers ("You Can't Find Me," "Get Up," and "Don't Come Knocking") are shined up with sweet backup vocals. And Jones' production does allow for more fat bottom end than most radio hopefuls, though he might've reined in singer Phil Datsun. The frontman's higher screams miss marks, and the lower croons on the strutting ballads expose an odd doofishness.
For all the credibility stripes--high energy, dabs of '60s garage, mucho Brit press--Velvet Revolver still does this better, like maybe cock rock is best left to the professionals. And they can have it. ERIC DAVIDSON
**** Las Vegas *** Atlantic City ** Reno * Renton