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The Shocker
Up Your Ass Tray
GoKart Records
www.shockersite.com


Crass and anarchistic, The Shocker have good intentions but fail to really follow through with either the schlock necessary to define them or the good musicianship required to elevate them to a recognizable entity. It is not for a lack of trying, though. Aiming at a less than stellar brand of pop-punk on a massively low-fi scale, it seems they are trying to take the novelty of their band name and turn it into a viable commodity. As clever as the band might be, building a base on just plain witty intentions proves disastrous here, and makes me wish a better band could have grasped the name before them to do something real.

The album's production is crappy; balance is lost and peaks fall flat. It sounds slightly better than The Donnas' first self-titled album which feels like it was recorded in a garage with a tape deck. But at least with that record the infectious energy of the band makes the album enjoyable; here, nothing. The closest the band comes to a decent mix is with the rauchiously palatable "My Life As A Plumber" where things have a hint of connecting.

Talent is mediocre at best; guitars do a passing semblance of creating a good base, but never get it that extra inch into worthwhile territory. Drums also seem half-hearted, but are the most consistently there. Vocals are just plain worthless; it is a sad state when the backing vocals surpass the quality of the main. She sounds like the chick from 4 Non-Blondes, but without the charisma or chops.

Overall, to me it seems there is a lack of direction. The band has this beautiful set-up, and obviously they can't handle the technical end of the spectrum so why not embrace the tongue-in-cheek nature? The entire attitude presented here comes off as a joke anyway, so why not go with it and become that parody of, well, yourself. Prove you can take it with a grain of salt and try again aiming at the lighter side.

-bishop

Track listing:
1) Cash In
2) Pop Narcotic
3) Bad Brain Good Head
4) Smoke Rings (Up Your Ass Tray)
5) My Life As A Plumber
6) Your Problem Now
7) Break In Two
8) Body Count
9) The Wind Beneath The Wings Of The Common Fly
10) On A Scale Of 1 To 10, You're An Eight
11) Good Head Again


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Mike Doughty



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