Carstensen Online Reviews
"Because all zines need review columns!"

Thursday, Feb. 19th - With the Showgirls project, and the subsequent bender i went on, i haven't really gotten around to any reviews, or listening to much of anything (well, that's not true, but we'll address that soon). In fact, i'm *still* not quite done, as i have some revisions to make, spelling to be checked, and a whole mess of time code problems from working from two different media. Blah blah blah. In short, instead of new reviews, i instead thought of what i believe will be a very revolutionary twist on record reviewing. I've included it below. Enjoy, and discuss your thoughts on this new feature if you'd like.

Okay, so imagine a movie, one that your weird uncle has actually seen, and maybe he owns a copy of it on VHS that he bought at a video store that was going out of business back in 1989. The movie came out, say, in 1968. Maybe Roman Polanski directed it. It's a spaghetti western, but the heavy is actually the undead skeleton of a slain Mexican peyote kingpin who lives in abandoned garage. In the desert. Anyway, if that movie actually existed (and maybe it does), this EP is the soundtrack. The Giraffes return somewhat to their epic surf-rock origins, but keep their theatrical lyrical sense. Drew plays a mean accordian. Aaron looked like a late 19th Century congressman when they performed the set live. "On Lover's Lane" is both the hit and the epic, and will fit seamlessly into their future sets, if they got the nuts. Even if they don't, they've written and recorded the perfect disc to play when you finally spring for that piano-dancing bordello girl, then shoot her sleezy boyfriend and grab his gold.
Rating: 9.8
Have i listened to it since i reviewed it? Yes

The SPRAWL - (Demo)
I have no idea who The SPRAWL are, or where they're from. Someone must've given Josh this demo while at J.'s studio. So, i can say whatever i want about this band, without any fear of reprisals. Exciting! I'm listening to it right now, actually, and it's very mellow, Luna-like. I haven't paid much attention to the lyrics, but none of them have jutted out in any embarrassing fashion. The voices are smooth and the instrumentation (electric piano, simple drumming, echo-y guitar) goes down nicely. I bet they'd be good to see at Pete's Candy Store on a winter weekday evening. Wait, it just took a strange synth turn, and the lyrics just mentioned Taos, which is a very upscale arteest town in New Mexico. Huh, so they're not just a mellow band after all! Ah, i'm still digging it. Nice work, whoever you are.
Rating: Very Fine
Have i listened to it since i reviewed it? No

Booby Trap - (Demo)
Did it really take this long for there to be an all-girl named "Booby Trap?" And why don't they have show listings on their website? Anyway, i saw them a while back at a Hissyfits show, and i like them, even though they were a little rough around the edges (and were when this was recorded). We all know the all-girl band who have just started out, but write good songs and show promise. Hell, you probably meet one of those per year. You know the type, klutzy but melodic guitar twang, diffident drumming, all the songs are about 40 seconds too long, lots of good looking friends. But, if we're still talking about them by this summer, my bet is they'll be a great band; they're a good one now. Stay tuned ...
Rating: 34B
Have i listened to it since i reviewed it? No

DJ KAYSLAY - Player Hater Eliminator (bootleg mix tape)
Our paths cross again, Mr. KaySlay. You may recall the snowy Sunday when Slay and his crew were filming right outside on my little Freeman St. Anyway, he now re-enters my life in the form of this mixtape (i think it's c. 1999) of his i bought at the Greenpoint Salvation Army for 99 cents. And there's some really good stuff on here too (Jay-Z, Nas, Slick Rick). At least it sounds good to my white ears, even though the tape quality is really substandard and it sounds like it was recorded underwater. There's also freestyles where 4 guys rap over each other at once, but actually those are my favorites. Nonetheless, if Slay does break through, this thing is going straight on Ebay.
Rating: 40 oz.
Have i listened to it since i reviewed it? A shitload

Somewhere there's an alternate universe, and in that alternate universe there's an alternate Poland. And, in that alternate Poland, they still polka (otherwise it wouldn'be a Poland at all, no matter what sort of universe you are talking about). And they still imbibe plenty of sausages and brooskis, and all manors of hooch. And they dance merrily with their voluptuous corsetted wives. Only in that alternate universe, they don't use the music and earthly pleasures to escape the bleakness and poor weather and ennui of their environs (or am i starting to get confused with Greenpoint?) but instead use these things to embrace, in a very beautiful way, all these complicated and fitful feelings. Not wallowing of course, just accepting. So Long is the soundtrack to that celebration. One of these days, i'll stop being so blown away when a friend (or group of friends) makes such a good recording, or write songs as good as "Home" and "When I Was Young" on this EP. But, between So Long and that damn Giraffes EP, that day still seems a long way off. This thing is great.
Rating: GREAT
Have i listened to it since i reviewed it? Yes

April Long gave me this CD, what, a year ago? So, they've probably already played on Letterman 6 times by now. But, still, a demo is a demo. Do you like Ted Leo? You'll probably like this too. Anthemic, smart, punky, probably fun live. You know, like Ted Leo.
Rating: 7/10ths of a full Ted
Have i listened to it since i reviewed it? No

The KING of FRANCE - (Demo)
So far this is going well, don't you think? Even the stuff i sounded half-dismissive of, i actually do like. But, we're running into the big brick wall here. I saw The KING of FRANCE play after the Vitamen at the Mercury Lounge a coupla weeks ago, and maybe the thing that bothered me about them the most (other than them sucking vigorously) was that *everyone* i talked to that evening A) assumed i loved them, and assumed that because 2) they thought the band sounded like Steely Dan! Harumph! I dare you to point out at what record in the Dan's career they sounded this cutesy/arch/twee/forced/gay. You know, like Jellyfish, or the Beatles. If you heard this CD without seeing them, you would rightly assume the singer makes pouty cutey faces when he sings. They don't have a bassist either, which offends me deeply. At least their keyboard player is talented enough to pull off his end of the deal, but for what? A band that should be writing "IKEA, the Musical." And here's the best part: written with Sharpie on the demo is a warning, "DO NOT COPY". No problem, boys!
Rating: The 2 of France
Have i listened to it since i reviewed it? Actually, it's kinda growing on me ... HA HA HA! Fooled you.

Now this i can get into, a band with *only* a bass player. And, i guess, "rhythm burger."
ARLENE GROCERY New York City Music Sampler
Has anyone noticed that "eclectic" is actually a negative term? Because these days, eclecticism tends to connote badness that defies categorization, rather than badness with a clear origin. "Original" may be the positive term for the definition once associated with "eclectic." But, anyway, this eclectic collection of music was recorded at Arlene's Grocery, which equal parts good and bad news. The good: the sound at Arlene's is always terrific, even when the kick drum is way too loud (which it always is), and that has translated to a CD that sounds almost as good as all of these other demos i've listened to. The bad news of course, is that just as the club is responsible for the sound, they are also on the hook for the bands they book and now charge $7 nightly to see. Bands that all have one thing in common: their musical ambition seems to be to score big with a TV theme song. And i swear that i'm not upset that there's no COVER ME BADD track on here, even though there should be after playing there for free for 3 months. It's just that you shouldn't go into listening to such a thing without expecting a shitty rock gumbo, like an open-entry art show in Denver. Come back, LUXX, come back!
Rating: 70 minutes at the old Spiral
Have i listened to it since i reviewed it? No

Crap Parade

Reviews from Back in the Day

Click HERE to read the full reviews

Blue Öyster Cult
Fire of Unknown Origin
"Thinking Man's Heavy Metal Band", my ass
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Listened to since? Yes
What the Bouchards
are up to lately ...
URGH! A Music War
No one survived. Except for Joan Jett.
Rating: $2
Listened to since? Yes
Hello to you too!
Kalama’s Quartette
Early Hawaiian Classics
Rating: A
Listened to since? Yes
Oops, shoulda gotten the CD ...
The Rolling Stones
England's Newest Hit Makers
They should get that Ron Wood guy.
Rating: 8
Listened to since? Yes
John Cale
Shoulda stuck to producing
Rating: yellow light
Listened to since? I don't believe so
Other "Fears"
Sugar Ray
They do that one song.
Rating: C
Listened to since? No
Hey, i haven't got a link
for everything, you know ...
The Vitamen
demo CD
Almost as good as King Vitaman cereal
Rating: Thumbs Up
Listened to since? Yes, but their newer stuff, a lot more so
Inside joke
The Swell Maps
International Rescue
I guess that Nikki Sudden show sucked.
Rating: 8
Listened to since? Oh, yeah
Swell essay
Sir Mix-A-Lot
Iron Man 12"
I put "I'll Roll You Up" on my Florida mix-tape.
That's saying something ...
Rating: 3 stars
Listened to since? Yes
Mix a lot
7" records
"They're good!"
Fall in Love With The Bad Popes Rating: 6.82
For the Love of Jesus, Chapters 1-3
Vol. 1 - Elmore Willaims Rating: 7.5
Vol. 2 - T-Model Ford Rating: 6.77
Vol. 3 - Frank Roach Rating: 9
All Scars Rating: 3.76
The Ramones - I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
(Original 1975 Demo Version)
Rating: 9
The Dead C vs. Sebadoh Rating: 7.58
Yo La Tengo - Rocket #9 Rating: 8.7
Sounds of American Fast Food Restaurants, Vol. 1
Rating: Negative 1,000,000
Listened to since? No, No, No, Yes, No, Yes, No, Yes, NO!
a.k.a. 45s
Come On
The Come On Story:
NYC 1976-80

Nice record, but why, oh why,
did they have to be named COME ON?
Rating: B
Listened to since? No
Name-change suggestions
The Martinets
Love! Hate!
They sound like The REPLACEMENTS.
In a good way.
Rating: 8
Listened to since? No
martinet (n.)
Freddy D. & The Masters
We Don’t Joke
Rating: eh...
Listened to since? No
Not joking?
Spiral Jetty
Begin Responsibilities
The best '80s band you still
haven’t heard yet.
Rating: 3 stars
Listened to since? No
The original Spiral Jetty
House of Yes: Live at the
House of Blues, etc. etc. etc.

Rating: No
Listened to since? See above
Well, this guy liked it, anyway...
"It's good!"
Thelonious Monk - Thelonious in Action Rating: 4 stars
Duke Ellington, w/Mingus and Roach - Money Jungle Rating: A
Art Tatum - Classic Solos Rating: 8
The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out Rating: B
Listened to since? Yes to all
Jazz, and more
The Gary McFarland Sextet
Point of Departure
TV Jazz
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Listened to since? I don't remember
No telling what happened
to the other 5...

K-Tel's Country Teardrops
There's some cheese in my beer
Rating: Awful
Listened to since? I must confess, no
This explains everything...
Better than Vanilla Fudge
Rating: 8
Listened to since? More than i care to admit
Buy the cover art
Make Way For...
Dionne Warwick
"Walk On By" is a great song, anyway
Rating: B-
Listened to since? Yes to "Walk on By", no to the remainder
Don't ask me what
this has to do with anything.

More Christmas Fun with
The Happy Hamsters
Shit, i wish i hadn't missed
the first batch of Christmas fun!
Rating: Infinity
Listened to since? Ah, i keep forgetting to
Scary hamster
Vanilla Fudge
Spell-bindingly bad
Rating: see above
Listened to since? No
Just plain fudge
is still scarier...

Steely Dan
Pretzel Logic
It's no Gaucho
Rating: A-
Listened to since? Yes
Did someone say 'Pretzels?'
Mishka Shubaly
Thanks for Letting Me Crash
And he cooks you breakfast!
Rating: 4 stars
Listened to since? Yes
Take home Mishka tonight
Sun Ra
Greatest Hits: Easy Listening
for Intergalactic Travel

Still too eccentric for Jazz
Rating: 8
Listened to since? Yes
Loquacious fellow, too...
Baldo Rex
Self-titled and
I Eat Robots, I'm So Sad
Robin LOVES Baldo Rex
Rating: A
Listened to since? No
Hear 'em for yourself
Xmas Music
"It's good!"
Jimmy Smith Cookin’ Christmas Rating: B
The Ventures’ Christmas Album
Rating: Almost as good as the barking dogs singing "Jingle Bells"
Elvis’ Christmas Album Rating: 8
Rhino Records’ Rockin’ Christmas - The ‘60s Rating: 3 French Hens
Listened to since? Yes to all
Music for an
upcoming holiday
King Of Prussia
The Off Season
Album Oriented Rock, made by smart people
Rating: 8
Listened to since? Yes, but not in a while
Buy it today!
The Wharton Tiers Enemble
Twilight of the Computer Age
Hear what ADAT machines do to 6 guitars.
Rating: yellow light
Listened to since? No, but now i kinda feel like it
The Stan Getz Quartet
Getz Au Go Go
Slinky jazz, horrible memories...
Rating: 8
Listened to since? Yes
Where's Stan?
The Flamin’ Groovies
The Goldstar Tapes + More
The good songs were recorded in the drummer's basement.
Rating: 3 stars
Listened to since? No
The Groovies ain't the
only thing flamin'

Bootsy’s Rubber Band
"Bootzilla" 45
Crappy novelty funk c. 1978, still better than anything c. 2000
Rating: Thumbs Up
Listened to since? Yes
See if you can make any sense
of ol' Bootzilla...
5-song EP
Great guitars, strange song-titles
Rating: Buy it!
Listened to since? Wash, yes; this selection, no

Black Sabbath
My copy skips during the intro to "War Pigs"
Rating: 8
Listened to since? Y...Y...Y...Y...Y...
More about the
one-time Sabbath vocalist
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
A record about a robot armadillo tank.
And they say prog-rock sucked...
Rating: EVIL
Listened to since? I can't take that chance
They beg to differ

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