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By Michael Henningsen

SEPTEMBER 15, 1997: 

Alibi Rating Scale:
!!!!!= What rating scales are for.
!!!!= If you don't have it, you should.
!!!= Won't ruffle any feathers.
!!= Can't get much worse.
!= Also what rating scales are for, but in a different way.

UV Transmission
UV Transmission 7-inch
(Shag Records)

Clocking in at 4 minutes and 23 seconds, "Pass Her By"--the A-side of UV Transmission's debut single--is something of an enigma. Is it too long? Not long enough? Just right? Those are the questions that ran through my mind as I listened over and over again to the song, trying to anticipate the impending bridge, verse or chorus to no avail. "Pass Her By" is made up of several distinct segments--some of them quite complex--meticulously arranged so that they flow in and out of each other naturally. The beginning of the song is a sort of Brit-pop prologue to the full-throttle ear candy to come. What UV Transmission does best is write individual hooks that fit together miraculously. Any segment of "Pass Her By" could stand on its own as the basis for a new song, but vocalist/guitarist Rob Urias, bassist/ vocalist Matt Dickens, drummer Chris Dickens and guitarist Mike Easton have a collective knack for stringing them all together, resulting--in this case--in 4 solid minutes of pop ecstasy. The twin guitars don't always jibe, but that just serves to add to the overall live feel of the record.

The B-side features "Girl in the Mirror" and "Downtown" both of which hint at the stop-and-go rock of UV's Lookout cousins, The Hi-Fives. Here, Urias' voice becomes the centerpiece. He carries much of the melody and sets the flow, allowing Easton to add texture while the Dickens brothers anchor the rhythm. Neither song is as good as "Pass Her By," but that's why they call it the "B-side."

Overall, UV's debut offers a good representation of the band's music and their formidable songwriting and arranging skills. The sound quality is pretty good, although there are moments that sound just the slightest bit muffled and the chorus effect used on one of the guitars is a little startling at first. But "Pass Her By" is likely to become the replacement for whatever melody you unconsciously hum all the time. !!!1/2

New Wet Kojak
Nasty International
(Touch 'n' Go)

On their sophomore effort, New Wet Kojak serve up 11 3-minute nightmares cleverly disguised as songs. The brainchild of Scott McCloud and Johnny Temple--both of Girls Against Boys--New Wet Kojak is more than just an excuse for the two weirdest songwriting minds in rock to vent their frustrations or present B-list songs that don't appear on GVSB records. Even as GVSB has grown progressively darker, New Wet Kojak is still a very different band. McCloud and Temple, along with drummer Nick Pelliccatto, saxophonist C. Bennington and jack-of-all-trades G. Turner, make the most of sparse instrumentation by fueling these songs with pure, unadulterated horror and mystery. And by turning loose the free-jazz ethic on burlesque music slowed to dangerous tempos, New Wet Kojak create a realm in which anything is possible and everything is attempted.

Nasty International sounds as though it was recorded entirely with overhead microphones in a deserted Brownstone. When McCloud sings, breathes and moans--all of which he does alternately throughout the entire record--you can almost see his wet lips dragging across the windscreen. New Wet Kojak make music that is the equivalent of fucking versus having intercourse. It's intense, wildly unpredictable, yet determined. It undulates with unharnessed passion and out-of-control fury. It can be incredibly gentle and deliciously dangerous, pulsating relent-lessly.

There's a little bit of everything in the mix on Nasty International--strangely manipulated samples, variously effected guitar, organ, piano, feedback and Rolling Stones riffs. And it doesn't sound much like anything you've ever heard, not even the first New Wet Kojak record. Nasty International amounts to a stretch of McCloud and Temple's imaginations, and it's an exercise that delivers on almost every front. Enjoy it naked with a side of hot oil and plenty of candles. !!!!1/2

--Michael Henningsen

Next Week: Madder Rose, The Delta 72

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