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+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
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+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
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The Washdown
The Washdown

I was just about to write something about how sick I am of shitty music. I was all red-faced, pumped-up and ready to roar and rip the music world apart. Then The Washdown's new EP just had to show up like a bomb disguised as a stuffed bunny, ready to blow my plan to the mini-bits of worthless fuzz. So innocently, the CD waited patiently, all wrapped up cozy and cuddly in its bubbly package at the base of my apartment building steps.

"Open me, play me," the package seemed to call out in a sweet, unassuming voice. If it had a body, it would've had its two hands locked and dangling behind its back, one leg bent to kick casually to-and-fro while looking down bashfully and whistling. "Take me home," the package said. "Puleeeeez." That little devil messed my whole plan to splatters. Yeah, you know where this is going, I ripped it open, slapped it on and, dammit, I loved it. Bye-bye "I'm bitter, bored and restless in the music world" — I been blindsided.

The Washdown are good, real good. Sounds like their operation is headquartered in some garage in Florida, where they craft catchy and dangerous hooks, screeching, desperate yelps, and an energy that gets under your skin and infects you like the bug.

This six-song EP is all the things good edgy punk-rock is — mean, frantic and full of energy. I could compare the band to a dozen of rock, garage punk and post-punk acts, but I won't, because that's not why I like them. If comparisons were all I could offer to argue The Washdown's worth, I don't think they'd be worth discussing in the first place. They may have a few things in common with a number of bands from the '60s garage days and the '80s artsy and aggressive post-punk era. But it's obvious they sacrificed something of themselves along the way to attain such power and attraction in their sound; otherwise they'd be plain blah-blah-blah.

The record opens with a slow, impending fuzzy build-up of a single riff before breaking into "Shot in the Mouth," a spastic, snapping and erratic number driven by that chord that's the center of all ska songs — you know, the upbeat one. My favorite song — the key force behind shattering my intended it's-been-said-a-gazillion-times rant — is, no question, "It Must Be True." Here, the previously strained, on-the-verge-of-cracking vocals descend to a quiet, sneering speak-singing atop this amazing infectious, racing guitar riff, bah-da-bah's, and exhilarating chorus-verse stop-start changes.

Infiltrated by an excellent Rancid-style bass line, spine-chilling guitar slides and an angry, disillusioned attitude, "The Worst Dressed Up in Class" exudes a punk rock spirit and a dark, hard-rocking might. The EP isn't some artsy, intensely deep piece of work to pick apart and examine beneath the microscope through the eye of a musicologist; this is pure punk rock 'n' roll, spirit, attitude and all. It's for blasting in your car, hanging out with friends, kicking off a Friday night. And pulling people like me out of a disgruntled stupor. Damn that whistling bunny package.

by Jenny Tatone

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