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By Michael Henningsen, Noah Masterson

JUNE 21, 1999: 

The Pet Peeves The Pet Peeves EP (Discos Yuckybus)

Live, the Pet Peeves have always come across as a Screeching Weasel/Ramones-inspired pop punk outfit: hardly innovative, but a lot of fun. On record, however, a host of other influences are present, rendering the Peeves' sound a bit more diverse and infinitely listenable.

Their self-titled, four-song vinyl EP contains the best samplings from their repertoire. The platter kicks off with a sample from Tarantino's From Dusk Til Dawn, then breaks into "Death by Stereo," a song that has nothing to do with the movie. It's a breakneck rocker, with the requisite chants, stops and starts, and brings to mind early Circle Jerks or Black Flag (Brian Action's voice sounds much like Keith Morris'). Next up is the optimistic love song "Red Light/Green Light," which toys with the Peeves' melodic side, complete with rolling bass line and ooh-ooh-oohs.

The B-side reveals the band's obvious influence by (and friendship with) the Crumbs. "Heartstrung," sung by guitarist Mike Seville, is a dual-guitar attack that is at once both fierce and catchy. Finally, "Panic on the Titanic," -- co-penned by the Crumbs' Raf Classic -- is full of sharp hooks and catchy choruses: a punk rock classic.

With more drummers than Spinal Tap and membership in a genre that has been played to death for the last 15 years, the Pet Peeves have beaten the odds. This is a tasty feast, more fun than a backyard barbecue, a foot-stompin', head-bobbin' good time. (NM)

Fatso Beefmaster (Science Project)

Fatso. They're disgusting, crude, lewd, distasteful and a goddamned heavy metal powerhouse. What's not to love? Like the Mentors of days gone by, Fatso's music is decidedly tongue-in-cheek, but unlike the Mentors, Fatso are anything but silly. The rock, at least, is to be taken very seriously. The twin guitar assault brought on by Rob Smith and Christian Horstmann originates somewhere in the Ninth Circle of Hell and careens toward your forehead with pinpoint accuracy. And as a rhythm section, bassist Zippy and drummer Adam Tillie score big pummeling points for guiding the songs down the heavy track like a big, coal-burning locomotive.

With titles like "Panty Raid," "Cavity Search," "Sex Offender" and, simply, "BBQ," the uninitiated might be apt to think Fatso are a big fat joke. But complex and well-crafted arrangements -- not to mention the fact that Zippy's got a better ear for brief, howling moments of dissonance than any bass player I can think of -- add up to hulking songs that pound and please from start to finish. Sure, Smith's lyrics are questionable at times, but they provide an element of humor that is sadly lacking in a lot of what passes for metal these days. The point is that you're supposed to laugh a little -- that's what makes Beefmaster a masterpiece. Fatso deserve heavyhanded accolades for not taking themselves so seriously that they get mired in the embarrassing struggle for respect of intellect that ruined heavy metal. Their playing is smart, to-the-point and as heavy as it gets, just as it should be.

Drink too much, overeat, leave empty pizza boxes strewn about the living room and listen to Beefmaster. Fatso make it OK to be the real you. Long live the new sloth! (MH)

Ottmar Liebert Innamorare (Epic)

While lovers of guitar music anxiously await Ottmar Liebert's reawakening to the mindset that gave us Nouveau Flamenco more than a decade ago, Liebert himself continues to meander about in a quagmire of flamenco-lite. Innamorare is a masturbatory effort that, for purists, further solidifies Liebert's status as the ultimate New Age wanker. Even for those with some affection for nouveau flamenco, Liebert's latest will likely come off as watered down and mostly devoid of soul. Musically, Innamorare is the cultural equivalent of Santa Fe's ubiquitous howling coyote.

Liebert's longtime band, Luna Negra, are quite capable of creating lush soundscapes, but Liebert's jazz-fusion background as a guitarist somehow doesn't jive with the Spanish music backdrops. Instead, his technically sound passages seem forced and, at times, horribly out of place. Nouveau Flamenco, for its time, hinted at brilliant things to come from Liebert. But so far, he hasn't managed to live up to his obvious potential. (MH)

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