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Lords Of Altamont | To Hell With | review | rock | Lollipop

The Lords Of Altamont

To Hell With... (Sympathy for the Record Industry)
by Brian Varney

It's albums like this that put rock writers to the test. Contrary to popular opinion, all rock critics/writers/whatever you wanna call 'em are not embittered failed musicians whose sole purpose in life is to find fault with everything they see. Some fit that description, sure, but most of the rockwrite folks I know are passionate, borderline obsessive music lovers who also like to write.

I'm convinced that there are only two types of people in this world: Good and bad. And no matter what group of people you're talking about, both types will be present. The percentages may not be the same in all groups, but good and bad people are everywhere, so stereotyping an entire group as containing only one or the other is not really fair or accurate. Again, I'm not trying to say that there aren't bad rock critics; there are many, and unfortunately it's usually the worst of these that get book deals. However, I like to think that nearly all of the folks writing for the fine mag you now hold in your hands are the good ones. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but the reason I'm doing this shit (aside from the free CDs, natch) is because I love music and I love to write, and I think that I have something to say about the music I love. I'm not a failed musician, I'm not out to insult or degrade everything I hear, and I certainly don't want to unnecessarily hurt anyone's feelings. Because I'm not the sort of person constantly on the lookout for something to be pissed about, I try to assume, until I'm convinced otherwise, that people are good.

This includes musicians. I know a fair number of musicians in my town, and I see how hard most of them work on their music. I wouldn't want to see anyone unfairly slam their bands just to show how witty or clever they are, so I try to keep this in mind when reviewing a CD. On the other hand, this can be taken too far. Rock writing, like all writing, is about being honest. If you're pussy-footing around because you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, you're not doing anybody a favor.

I say all of this by way of introducing The Lords of Altamont. I do not like this CD. Again, I'm not out to slam this band, but I just can't imagine why you'd spend your time and effort making something like this. I assume these guys worked very hard on this album, but to me, there is zero to distinguish it from a million other garage/surf/rockabilly albums released on labels like Estrus, Empty, Crypt, etc. in the '90s. Of course, it might just be that I'm not predisposed to a lot of this stuff, because I'm sure folks could make similar comments about the stoner bands in my collection. However, I knew before I even popped this into the player exactly what it was going to sound like. This isn't always a bad thing (Ramones and Fu Manchu are two examples of good bands who essentially remake the same album over and over), but in a case such as the whole of the garage genre, where songwriting rates pretty far down on the list of important things, it is indeed bad. How many times can you see and hear the same 25-going-on-65 leather-jacketed guys swagger like they think they're Keith Richards or Johnny Thunders? And why would you want to see that more than once? Unless, of course, the band in question is very fucking good, which The Lords of Altamont are not. There must be an audience for this sound or else labels like Sundazed would not be able to stay in business, but clearly I'm not a part of it.
(4450 California Place #303 Long Beach, CA 90807)


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