TV:616: POISON BLANKET (Elemental)

The Portland band's tightly controlled thesis on fury.

At the dawn of the '90s, heavy metal teetered on the edge of a Darwinian cliff, where there were but two options: evolve or die. Some groups mutated into the rap/rock mutt later classified as NüMetal. Others latched onto the futuristic and gothically evocative possibilities of industrial icons like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails or Skinny Puppy. Portland's TV:616 must be slotted into this latter category--though not without numerous stylistic asterisks.

While the quartet doesn't do much innovating on its full-length debut (who hasn't heard knuckle-dusting power chords linked to cybershock electronics before?), there's a feeling of open-minded exploration here that few hard-rock contemporaries allow themselves to embrace. Most notable is Scott Watkins' voice, an impassioned, warbling caterwaul hugely reminiscent of Robert Smith. The title track crossbreeds his meowing gawthic wail with the fanged Rottweiler bark familiar to fans of all that is heavy, while "One Pig" imagines the Cure after a particularly potent steroid injection. Elsewhere, ebullient melodies give dense bass lines, jackhammer percussion and steel-grinding guitars a most welcome buoyancy.

If there's a flaw in TV:616's dastardly efficient machine, however, it's this: Although Watkins may howl, "Now I've lost control," it's the furthest thing from the truth. Nowhere on Poison Blanket does TV:616 let slip its iron grip on the steering wheel; the band whips around wicked corners without so much as a hint that it might go screaming off the track. It'd be a thrill to see a little more dissolute recklessness and insanity, to watch this machine careen through the noise barrier and explode into glorious, glittering shrapnel that could really cut rock 'n' roll a new face. Like J.G. Ballard's Crash, say, rather than Days of Thunder. But for some, I'd wager the thunder is enough. (JG)

TV:616 celebrates the release of Poison Blanket this Saturday at the Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave., 224-2038. 9 pm. $7+ advance (Fastixx). All ages. Rorschach Test and Dfive9 also perform.


Disintegration never sounded better.

Sometimes you're just too good at what you do. Take the Blow Up. This Seattle trio had its ferociously shattered punk-rock sound so wired, the band transformed itself into a ticking time bomb. As its every song suggests, ultimate destruction was only a matter of time. It wasn't but a couple of weeks after the release of this debut CD that the Blow Up literally blew up, exploding live on stage in a drunken internecine squabble that destroyed the band. They may be gone, but this surviving document to the Blow Up's devastating terror--fat bass lines, doomsday rhythms and lacerating guitar-vocal interplay--should not be forgotten. Go out and get. (SDS)


Straight out of a moldy basement somewhere, straight into your goddamn heart.

These two uncool, dumpy-looking guys have just enough bitter foolishness and talent to turn off-key, cannabis-damaged, six-pack-fueled, basement-level "art" rock into the magical and alienating crap that makes underground rock nerds do cartwheels. Myself included. (There I go.) Sounds like Mike Rep recording a pared-down Cheater Slicks, or, in layman's terms, an anti-White Stripes. My favorite at-the-moment track is "Underage Girl," a plodding tune about the trials and tribulations of rock-club doormen. That's right, we're talking songs about real frustration here, friends. The Resineators speak the truth. (SDS)

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