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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Ray Gradys

Die Mindless Fools EP

Review by Gary Hill

I suppose if you are used to listening to punk rock you'll know that “parental discretion is advised.” Just in case, though, I felt it appropriate to mention. I didn't count how many “f bombs” were dropped on this EP, but it has to be a big number. As I said, it's to be expected with punk, but worth bringing up before you buy this and play it in front of your kids.

This disc is a short, but killer slice of punk rock that combines more old school pure punk and hardcore leanings, but also manages to make this reviewer think of early Rush at times. It's a great disc for fans of that genre. I personally can't stand emo, and these guys don't go in that direction. Instead they keep it, lean, mean and raw – the way punk should be played. They manage to pull enough different tempos and sounds into the mix to keep this from feeling monolithic, though. That's not always something punk rockers are very good at. Is The Ray Gradys the best punk band I've ever heard? Nope, I'd have to chalk that up to The Dead Boys or The Ramones, but these guys are darn good and a breath of fresh air in this world of emo pop punk garbage. For more information check out the band's website at http://www.myspace.com/theraygradys.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Next Time We'll Be Macgyver
After a short sound bite drums take the track. The group then launch into a tasty, frantic punk jam that even has a little bit of early Rush in the sound. This instrumental is short (just over a minute and a half) but very fun. It's a great starter. It ends with a piece of Barney Fife.
Life of Mediocrity
The sound bites continue with a “and now we are pleased to bring you our featured presentation” sound clip. This gives way to a bouncing, fast paced punker that's another cool piece of music. It leans heavily on old school punk, but a riff here and there bring in some serious metal, too. A sound clip of HAL from the 2001 films ends this.
Capitalist's Curse
Backwards tracked percussion leads the festivities off here and we get another fast paced punker that really feels a lot like early Rush a lot of the time. They drop it way down at the end and seem to be ready to launch into a slow blues, but instead the track ends.
Tomorrow
Leading off with another sound clip, this one an answering machine message saying that the band would “always be in the basement because that's where you belong.” Interestingly enough, this one (although still rooted firmly in old school punk) reminds me a bit of Cheap Trick. It's based a bit on the song “Tomorrow” from Annie. They throw in a cool little riff followed by an echoey sound bite to end it.
When the Dead Can Drive
A bouncy, rather staccato jam serves to begin the cut. They drop it to a hardcore type jam from there. Still, it's laced with some old rock and roll sounds in the process. I like the digs at “American Idol” and reality TV a lot. They turn in another Rush-like segment later in this cut. It's probably my favorite on the disc.
Negative Motherf***er
An odd little playful intro gives way to another raw hardcore jam. This is another fun one and probably the fastest track on show here. We manage to get treated to another Rushish jam here.
Chinese Rock
Here they tackle the classic Ramones jam and do a great rendition of the track as a proclaimed tribute to Dee Dee Ramone. It's a nice way to end a very strong disc. Dee Dee would be proud.
 
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