Sunday, April 18, 2010

Volcano Suns - Bumper Crop

Hello dear readers,
Welcome to another edition of Sounds from the Cave. As I write this, a volcano in Iceland is spewing huge clouds of ash and disrupting air travel all over Europe. In honor of this glorious event, I have chosen an album by 80's Boston band, the Volcano Suns. These guys formed out of the ashes (ha!) of another great band, Mission of Burma. Like a lot of other indie groups of the era, the Volcano Suns combined catchy melodies with loud, distorted guitars. They did it better than most, though, and had a sense of humor to boot. But what really separated this band from the rest of the pack was the fact that they had a singing drummer. This is remarkable because singing drummers are almost always a huge liability; two examples that immediately come to mind are Night Ranger and Phil Collins-era Genesis. In both of these cases, the drummers were so busy singing that they were unable to fully rock out on the drums, thereby causing them to play limp-wristed power ballads. This was not the case with the Volcano Suns--these guys played kick-ass, balls-to-the-wall rock n' roll. (That's right, I said "balls-to-the-wall.") So they broke the mold, so to speak.
The other thing that distinguished this band was their propensity for butt-ugly album covers, as evidenced by the image above. Just look at that eyesore--you're likely to burn your retinas before you even get the record out of its jacket. With album art like that, it's no wonder these guys never made it big. And on that note, I'll leave you with a question: What is the ugliest cover you've ever seen on an otherwise great album? While you're pondering that, here's a selection from Bumper Crop:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Against Carrot Cake

Hello friends,
Once in a while you come across something that you had previously accepted as a normal part of everyday life, only to realize that it is completely worthless and does not even deserve to exist. I'm talking, of course, about carrot cake. It's not that it tastes bad, it's just that it is totally mediocre and undeserving of its popularity. Why it is on the shelves of nearly every grocery store is beyond me. I suppose you could say that carrot cake is the Lyle Lovett of the dessert world, but I think it's about time we stop picking on that poor guy. So let's just cut to the chase and list the reasons why this stuff is so awful.
First of all, it shouldn't be called carrot cake. It is basically just spice cake with a few flecks of carrot mixed in. The carrots add absolutely nothing to its character; they're just there because spice cake would sound too boring. People will try to convince you that the carrots make it moist, but you could easily substitute a million other things (e.g. applesauce, vegetable oil) to achieve the same effect. And there isn't the faintest hint of carrot flavor in this cake.
Second, nobody actually likes carrot cake. Oh, they may say they like it, but they're fooling themselves. What people actually like is the cream cheese frosting. Hell, I'd eat a piece of cardboard if it had cream cheese frosting on it. That stuff is like crack cocaine. But just try to offer someone a piece of homemade carrot cake without any frosting and you'll just get a blank stare. Nobody would even consider eating it.
Whew! I'm glad I got that off my chest. Next week: zucchini bread!