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Issue: February 1995

Information Highway Revisited (float)

The New Bomb Turks

There cart be endless discussions about what makes music punk or not punk and all of them can contain part of the truth.

But one thing's certain: The surest way to make a good, successful punk rock record is to be totally honest in the music, the lyrics and the performance.

Honesty is the key to The New Bomb Turks' new album, Information Highway Revisited. Jim Weber's guitar is razor sharp in its bludgeoning attack, drummer Bill Randt bangs the simplistic, derivative parts with precision, bassist Matt Reber underpins the music by playing the root of the chords and vocalist Eric Davidson screams the angst-spurred lyrics in a struggle of passion over technique. There is nothing new here, but there is something rare present. Information Highway Revisited carries kryptonite, the kind that makes regular punk music superhuman.

"I'm always on the edge of my seat/ The lines across my ass are six inches deep/My coffee never has enough caffeine/I'd shut my mouth if my teeth weren't chattering," Davidson describes his mind-state on "Fingernail Chomp." With that as a reference point, we hear about a new "dance" called The Anal Swipe ("T.A.S."), we learn about the pain of being a loner ("Brother Orson Welles") and the effects of your upbringing ("[Gotta Gotta] Sinking Feeling," "Id Slips In," "Lyin' on Our Backs," the very high-octane "Straight-on Chaser"). Occasionally the lyrics get banal, perhaps to complete the honest survey of Davidson's occasionally banal mind.

Three cuts stand out on this invigorating, alive record: the unnamed bonus track at the end of the album, "Apocalyptic Dipstick" and "Bullish on Bullsh**."That last track is an attempt to describe the blues for modern-day punks and like the best of the classic blues, it is cathartic and infused with pathos. Folk singers with a social agenda are in the Turks' sights on "Apocalyptic Dipstick," which derides them not for their mission but for their naiveté and idealism.

The bonus track (which pops up at 8 on the last track) may, in essence, be the title track, with its Dylan-like delivery and relaxed pace. For all of The New Bomb Turks' crass language, cynicism and anger, this bonus track betrays them for the positive communicators that they really are. It's a love note to fellow "hopeless cases" who hold hopes and dreams of making it someday. Davidson even overtly states his solidarity with those like-minded, deadbeat listeners.

The bonus attribute of Information Highway Revisited is its sound mix, the cleanest, hardest hitting layering of high-end vocals and roaring guitars this reviewer has ever heard.

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