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How much can one fan of OKOM (Our Kind Of Music) accomplish in just a couple of years? Plenty, if it's Rockzilla, aka photographer Michael Johnson. From 2003 to 2005, rockzilla.net was a chronicle of the alt.country scene from a uniquely Texan perspective. But all good things must end, and Rockzilla has retired from the online 'zine scene.

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The Pasties
Platonica
Soapstar Records

by Scott Snidow
 
     

 

Writing about The Pasties has proven to be an educational experience. For example, did you know that if you do a web search on "the pasties" you will get around 24,000 matches? Furthermore, a large segment of these web sites dealt with a pie like object called a pasty that is similar in content to the southern "pot pie" and seems to be quite popular in the northern Midwest. (Most of the companies seemed to be located in Michigan.) Why, it was several pages before I came across the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word "pasty." Which, when you think of it, is kind of funny that I was that far into the search when the very first entry on the very first page was for www.thepasties.com, the website of the band that I was actually researching.

But there was more of an education than this. What I learned from the Pasties transcends everything I had previously thought of when someone mentioned "alternative" music to me. You see, to me, the label "alternative" is all too often a misnomer. The music that falls under that heading tends to be very patterned and formula-based and very, very trendy. Frequently it wears the mark of the beast that is the modern recording industry, glaring like a neon sign and imbedded on each and every track. Even more often it insults the intelligence of the listener with cute little pop hooks, shallow lyrics, and production glitz. This last reason, more than any, is why I find myself seeking alternatives to "alternative" music when I'm in a mood to rock out.

The first thing that I noticed about The Pasties was that they classify themselves as "alternative." "Joy of joys," I thought, "one to give a quick listen to and put in the pile of CD's that I can find nothing redeeming in." One less review to mess with writing. Platonica was 2/3's of the way onto the dead pile before it even hit the CD player. But it did make it into the player...

Allow me to pause here and share with you a little about myself. Those who know me tend to think of me as a very stubborn individual, very set in my convictions, not easily swayed. My wife often rues these "ways" of mine and is inclined to use such phrases as mule-headed and...well...never mind, let's just stick with mule-headed, to describe me.

Anyway, as I was saying, Platonica did make it to the CD player for the requisite one listen before its condemnation to being merely another lost soul in the world of music reviews. I half listened at first, focusing my attention to one of those other "pasty" websites. Then, quite suddenly I found my attention had shifted from my computer screen to the sounds emanating from the stereo. Here is where my real education began, for what I heard was very good rock and roll blasting forth from my speakers. This was tight, well formulated music. I quickly fumbled for the booklet inserted in the jewel case, opened it, and read the lyrics along with singer. These guys weren't insulting my intelligence with poppy little catch phrases! Quite the opposite. Both the music and the lyrics seem extremely well thought out and masterfully assembled, as though they may actually being trying to appeal to the intelligent, semi-mature listener. What a refreshing option to the music that is generally labeled "alternative." This is a really good album!

One thing that can be said for the Pasties, other than the fact that they can rock, is that they have learned how to get the listener's attention and then to leave them wanting more. The alpha-omega of any performance. The first track on Platonica, the hard rocking and up-tempo "Shameless," grabs the listener like a steel trap. It showcases the combined talents of the band lyrically, musically and vocally, and sets the stage not only for the next track but for the entire record. The album closes with "Number One," which is my favorite cut. This tune finds the band extending themselves to creative limits not normally found in the "pop" world of alternative music, artfully blending acoustic guitar, cello, and electronic feedback to create a symphony of sounds custom-made to leave you wanting more. It is more of a rock anthem than a mere rock song.

If you are wondering about all the tracks that fall between "Shameless" and "Number One," you can rest assured that they are all crafted with the same attention to detail. The Pasties show themselves to be top-notch musicians, with a hand for writing and performing some really fiery and extremely memorable numbers. Great guitar riffs, booming bass lines, spacey keyboards and superb percussion are combined with sometimes light-hearted, often insightful lyrics. In a nutshell, this is one kick-ass band and one really rocking album. I expect we will be hearing much more from The Pasties for years to come.

*If you want to find out where they are playing, learn more about the band, or purchase your copy of Platonica, you can get an eyeful of The Pasties by clicking here.

You can contact Scott Snidow at: scott-at-rockzilla.net

 

 
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