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Uber Cool Kung Fu
3
Omega Point Records
www.omegapointrecords.com


First thing before I start with this album: Omega Point Records makes the best press sheets IN THE INDUSTRY. Their full-color layouts are professionally arranged and eye-catching. They're also one page. That's a big deal. Reviewers at Hybrid don't give a shit about what Rolling Stone or Spin said about your album, so we really don't need to wade through all of that tripe. We want a brief synopsis so we know which reviewer to send the album to. Short. Sweet. Noticeable.

Oddities like fly masks and "Dear Satan" letters are also appreciated because we don't get to laugh much.

Okay, so has this band been locked in a time capsule for the last 20 years? There's some meaty synth-pop-dance in here for anyone still playing their Tears For Fears records. I've been waffling as to whether this deserves the "Must Hear Music" brand, since it sounds too much like the period that influenced it and I like to reserve that mark for bands that are not only great musicians, but wildly original as well. However, this is a damn good record regardless and I'll just let it stand at that. "Letting Go", "Stained" and "Last Rights" will have you feeling as hopeless and nihilistic as watching Less Than Zero every night for a week, straight. (Really, who among us thought that watching Robert Downey, Jr. turn into his crack dealer's whore was just prep work for his time as a real-life prison bitch?) On that note, the song "Hollywood Kills" is a succinct synopsis of the sorts of declines typified by Downey's self destruction.

Production and instrumentals on this album are first rate, and the singer has a pretty decent voice, but I think they probably could have made him sound a little less nasal. Occasionally, he sounds like he's singing with his nose pinched, but it's not that noticeable. Lyrics are resignedly depressing and thought-provoking, mostly about how "The Machine", in its various guises, chews us up and spits us out.

This is the sort of album that kids of my generation would listen to in their room with the blinds drawn as they contemplated how distant they had become from their own lives and families; how much of a blur life was and how would they ever find their place in the world. This country changed much more in the '80s than most people realize, and I think that is because so much of the experience occurred in virtual isolation. Much is written about the social and sexual revolutions of the '60s and '70s, but the '80s was when every man became an island; where communion seemed only to occur between bands and their listeners (largely via the one-way witnessing of MTV) -one of the few common grounds of experience available during the "Me Revolution."

-JD

Track Listing:
1. Feel Nothing
2. Hollywood Kills
3. Letting Go
4. Drag Queen
5. Tonite
6. Killing Game
7. Stained
8. Last Rites
9. The Slow Grind
10. Down


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Mike Doughty



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