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Rage against the machine

Quintaine Americana could be the future of rock

by Joe Longone

[Quintaine Americana] When the sun goes down, the faint cries of thousands of bands rise up into the night, warning of a new apocalyptic underground. As the earth crumbles around the feet of commercial radio stations, mainstream publications, and the millions who'll contemplate spending fifty bucks to catch Styx in concert, music groups like Quintaine Americana continue to seethe and smolder like an awakening volcano . . . until the time is right.

"I'm not a violent person," says the group's guitarist/vocalist Rob Dixon. But these words echo false when you listen to this Boston trio's debut disc, Needles (Cherry Disc), or when you see them live. Violence is what they're all about -- not the petty furor of a downtown drunk, or hormone-laced frat boy, but an active rage against an America that is cheapened by mass merchandising and the soulless for their lack of wanting anything better. The band paint a dim picture in their lyrics of a land dotted by boarded-up stores and trailer parks. Through their vision, we see the world's greatest nation populated by hicks and whores (anyone ready to sell themselves short).

Much of what has made Quintaine Americana who they are can be drawn back to Dixon's and drummer Jason King's childhoods, growing up in Mississippi.

"We came from a place of very little hope," Dixon says. "If you live in the South, you either get married or end up in jail. When I was a teenager, I had two things that preoccupied my time, music and thoughts of leaving Mississippi. I started my first band down there; we quickly learned that we were safe from pissing off the townsfolk as long as we kept playing Steppenwolf and Lynyrd Skynyrd."

Dixon and King finally escaped to Boston in 1988. They became friends with bassist Marc Schlesicher and formed a band in 1993. In the three years that followed they gained a loyal following by playing for next to nothing in an overcrowded bar scene. Attention came quickly when they won last year's Noise readers' poll for best live band in Boston. They were signed to Cherry Disc and almost won last year's WBCN Rumble.

Quintaine Americana's music is lead heavy, yet rhythmic. Their messages are universally condemning but not without shades of truth -- this could be the future of rock. While they wait for their chance to explode on to the American music scene, you can capture their all-out attack of the senses next Thursday, April 24, at Ralph's.

Bob comes clean

Live and Let Live (self-release) is as commercial as Bob Jordan is likely to get. The latest tape from this local wildman of folk is a cleaned-up version of his greatest hits. Selections from his past two tapes (I'm Better Now and Don't Listen to Me) along with a number of covers by fellow musical strangemen make up most of what's contained on this direct-to-DAT live recording. What's left off the new release is the random bits of noise and low-tech hum that marred his other releases.

Jordan displays his typical weirdness with "1'8 ohm chant -- 60 cycle hymn" and "Invocation," but soon the music settles in on some crystal-clear performances. Fans of his past tapes will recognize numbers like "Petites riens," "Sea Home," "Turn Around," and "Don't Listen to Me." Debut compositions, "The Ice-Breaker," "Go Move Shift," and "If Not You," contain the same cockeyed brilliance this veteran performer is known for.

The spirit of Arthur Lee (Love) makes its presence known on the cover songs "Live and Let Live" and "Alone Again Or." Jordan has contributed to Lee's defense fund -- the famed guitarist is one of the latest casualties of California's three-strikes law. Material by Michael Hurley, Ewan Maccoll, Frazer Debolt, and Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) are also interpreted with passion and humor.


Local musician Bob Swanson has again picked up the guitar to lead a new comedy/musical outfit this time called Turtlehead. Many area rockers will remember Swanson from the days when he sang and played the guitar with the Dialtones (in the '80s). In recent years, he has been the drummer of Providence's Big Nazo. That strange muppet-like performance troupe are taking a few months off, and Swanson and fellow Nazo, Kieth Monslow, have put together a side project just for laughs. Munslow will play the accordion, while Andy Celley (keyboards), Dave Martel (bass), and Glen Auburn (drums) fill out the band.

Turtlehead plan to inject humor into everything they do. You can check out this funny crew when they play the Firehouse Cafe next Friday, April 18.

Best Music Poll update

This is the final week to vote in the 1997 Worcester Phoenix Best Music Poll. You'll find a ballot on page 23. Or you can vote in person at upcoming Best Music Poll Ballot Nights. On Friday, April 18, Phoenix contributer Mark Edmonds will blitz Framingham's blues clubs, distributing and collecting ballots at the Blue Buffalo, Chicken Bone Saloon, and Mugs Away Pub. Also look for us to turn up at the Palladium, in Worcester, next Thursday. All ballots must be at our office by 5 p.m. next Friday (April 25). Results will be announced in the May 23 edition of the Worcester Phoenix.

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