Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bluetip - Dischord No. 101 @ 256kbps

This, the debut CD from Washington DC's BLUETIP, is their best. The songs are upbeat, the guitar-playing is at turns intricate and heavy, and the melodies are great. The album starts off with the classic opening line "F--- this sh--!" and rarely lets up from there.
One needn't know it to enjoy the CD, but BLUETIP are part of a small nexus of other DC hardcore bands: SWIZ, FURY, and SWEETBELLY FREAKDOWN, for example. In fact, BLUETIP are essentially DC hardcore band SWIZ minus that band's vocalist, Shawn Brown. SWIZ lead guitarist Jason Farrell [who is also a graphic designer in real life, and has designed all of BLUETIP's album covers, logos, etc.] steps up to the plate as vocalist for this and all other BLUETIP albums; his vocals are mature, melodic, and reveal a surprising, Cher-like, Virginian drawl that actually works quite well with the music [Check out how he sings the last few lines of "Texas 10 West" to see what I mean]. The band's sound has moved out of the hardcore territory inhabited by SWIZ and is informed by the success of Dischord bands FUGAZI, JAWBOX, and SHUDDER TO THINK. In fact, Ian MacKaye of FUGAZI produced BLUETIP's "Dischord No. 101" here--and it shows. The same high-pitched, wailing, dissonant, atonal guitar work that is so often encountered in FUGAZI can also be heard here, but it's constantly tempered by solid power-chord riffing, acknowledging the band's hardcore roots. The dugga-dugga factor Farrell played up when in SWIZ is gone for the most, part, though, and is replaced with rapid down-stroking. "Dischord No. 101" is probably the strongest release to come out of Dischord's late 1990s catalogue. But while SHUDDER TO THINK and JAWBOX left Dischord to go onto major labels, BLUETIP never took off, though they very well could have; they're just as good as those two bands, and far superior to most of the stuff Dischord was releasing at the time of this LP.
The songs "Precious," "Nickelback," "Texas 10 West," and "Gainer" are the real barnstormers on this album, but even the quieter ones don't bore. My only complaint about the album is that, like a lot of Dischord releases from the 1990s, it is recorded at low-ish volume, so that you have to turn it up sort of high just to hear it at a decent volume. That is, while most CDs I can hear just fine at let's say volume 5 [on the 1 - 10 scale], most Dischord CDs from this period I have to crank up an extra few notches to hear adequately. This is true with FUGAZI's "Repeater" and with NATION OF ULYSSES' "13 Point Program" albums as well. This is just a minor complaint, but I'm an audiophile so things like this jump out at me every now and then. If you like post-hardcore rock in the vein of QUICKSAND, SEAWEED, JAWBOX, FUGAZI, etc., then you simply can't go wrong with this.
~~ Oliver Sheppard, US

Tracks
nickelback - past tense - precious - if i ever sleep again - 3x2 slow - sacred heart of the highway - texas 10 west - sweet superior - l.m.n.o.p. - maddep out - gainer - tangle - with the lords as my witness.

** year - 1996
** Label - Dischord Recs.
** Home-page - n/a
** Buy - Dischord Recs.

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