Wall to Walternative

Alternative Common Denominator: Oingo Boingo, a band that allegedly combined humor and eclectic Third World rhythms, but a band that nobody would ever admit to liking, even at gunpoint.

Pluses: These guys try too hard sometimes, but they can get pretty funny. Check out the ridiculous "Dr. Jerome, Love Tub Doctor" or "Yellar," which repeatedly taunts the listener to "admit that yer yellar."

Minuses: Lyrics will make people think they're listening to a comedy album, and we all know how many times those curios get played.

Love/Hate Ratio: The only number on 40 Million you could truly call a love song narrowly misses turning into a celebration of bitch-slapping misogyny as O'Connor enacts both the male and female parts in an epic breakup saga.

Classification: Psychoanalyticalternative.

The Beatles
Anthology 2
Who They Are: A Liverpool, England, foursome.

What They Sing About: Disc one is nothing but love songs. Disc two ditches matters of the heart for character studies of a fool on the hill, an eggman who thinks he's a walrus, people with crazy names like Sgt. Pepper and Mr. Kite, and a guy who reads the daily newspaper and has nothing to say, but it's okay (thanks to good ole recreational drug use).

Classic-Rock Touchstone: These guys rip off everybody from Carl Perkins to Dylan to the Byrds to the Beach Boys. There's even a Bonzo Dog Band sound-alike track.

Alternative Common Denominator: The sticker on the shrink wrap has the word "alternative" in boldface, but it only refers to the "alternative versions" of previously released songs. Even so, the loopy "Tomorrow Never Knows" sounds like a viable Guided by Voices outtake.

Pluses: This band is really quite inventive, even if it has a hard time finishing songs.

Minuses: On the live recordings, the fans keep screaming hysterically at the group to tune its guitars and are routinely ignored. Worse, the member who co-wrote nearly all the songs is deceased, leaving the remaining three to overdub parts on 15-year-old lo-fi demo recordings. Unless his widow unearths tapes of him singing in the shower, this band is history.

Love/Hate Ratio: You'll hit the L-word just about anywhere you spit on disc one.

Classification: If Capitol Records has its way--Beatleternative, natch!

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