SpiderbaitSpiderbait
Tonight Alright
(Interscope)
  ½


Spiderbait is a schizophrenic Australian rock trio that has turned some ears for their punky cover of the '70s "blam-a-lam" hit "Black Betty" (which appeared in the movie Without a Paddle.)

Why "schizophrenic"?

Much like classic alternative rock act Sonic Youth, Spiderbait features both a female and male lead vocalist (though Spiderbait divides their material more evenly between the two). Tonight Alright alternates between the fuzzed-out, '70s bar band-esque vocals of drummer Mark Maher and the Blondie-through-a-distortion pedal vocals of bassist Janet English. The album is sequenced so the two trade off the microphone almost every other song.

Regardless of who's singing, Damian Whittey keeps up a heavy stomp rock feedback loop on the guitar, and Maher slaps out potent "Shoot To Thrill" power beats on the drums. They're like a '70s hard rock band who discovered The Ramones.

But when Maher sings on the opening track "Take Me Back" or the scratchy, thumping powerthrill version of "Black Betty," his voice seems too far away, inconsequential to the riffage. When English takes the mike, however, Tonight Alright truly comes alive.

While musically the "sound" is more or less the same, it's still like a different band when English sings, and her tracks, “Live in a Box,” “F***** Awesome” and “Cow” are the key, exciting moments on Tonight Alright.

If you like fuzztone, crunchy powerhouse rock with lots of distortion but a strong pop sense (the choruses of “F***** Awesome” sound like a Garbage hit single), check this one out. For more information, check their Web site at www.spiderbaitmusic.com.

 

The FutureheadsThe Futureheads
The Futureheads
(Sire)
 


With a name like The Futureheads, you'd think these guys must be into experimental futuristic music.

Not so.

The Futureheads are something of a throwback act who will appeal to fans of post-punk new wave '80s music. Listening to this disc you can't help but relive the skinny tie days when M and XTC were pushing the boundaries of catchy, manic pop, and album covers all seemed dominated by stripes and checkerboard patterns.

The Futureheads is full of tight, angular guitar lines, tautly British vocals and percussive energy. While they sometimes rely too much on repetitive riffs, the bassline to the disc's first single, "Decent Days and Nights," will lodge in your head for days, and their spirited cover of "Hounds of Love" will thrill Kate Bush fans.

What The Rentals did for '80s nostalgia in the '90s, The Futureheads are handling in the '00s.

For more information, check their Web site at www.thefutureheads.com, and catch them live at The Double Door in Chicago on March 1.