RADIO WITH GUTS, A: Beat Heart Sweet Stereo: CD

I was charged to get this. I still like to dork out to a vast majority of The Connie Dungs catalog (which all three members of this band were in). The lyrics could be a little self-depreciating, but I can’t deny that their CDs play like a darker, smarter, less pretend-shocking Queers. Easy-to-digest sadness would be one way to put it, like hard candy in the shapes of skulls instead of hearts. A Radio With Guts is fronted by the distinctive, old cartoon/ bottle of whisky wavering voice of Brandon Dung. (Like, say, if Huckleberry Hound was doing a Muddy Waters impression, which is not a bad thing in my book.) Getting to the point – I didn’t expect to say this – but I really don’t like this album and have a hard time listening to it all the way through each time I’ve sat down to listen to it carefully. It’s vastly more “singer/song writer”ly, and like later Replacements albums became little more than Paul Westerberg solo projects with instrumental accompaniment, it’d probably be okay if I didn’t have any earlier work to compare it to. It seems that Brandon’s found about ten different effects pedals for his voice – from watery to scratchy to warbling – and every single beat and strum is controlled by the tempo of the voice. I just don’t find it compelling. Sure, it’s recorded really well, but the songs themselves aren’t that catchy and, against my best efforts, I just want the album to end.

 –todd (Stardumb, PO Box 21145, 3001 AC Rotterdam, The Netherlands; ))