Sunday, March 01, 2009


16's 'Scott Case' CD -- most appropriate
US album art, ever.

Back in 2007, your host wrote a collection of reviews for eMusic called "Stoner Rock." eMusic had the idea that grab-bags of a dozen reviews were cool and that they could be used to more quickly funnel the music service's subscribers to downloads.

One of the albums I reviewed for "Stoner Rock" was 16's Scott Case.

Republishing (and I'll explain why in a moment):

Cochlea-shattering dB levels, s-l-o-w guitar riffs, bandmembers who look like they walked off the set of Billy Jack (even the [occasional] girls), speaker cabinets stacked until the stage groans under the weight and an aesthetic that prizes atmosphere over catchy tunes: That's stoner rock — a genre that peaked around 2000 and collapsed soon after ...

16 weren't properly heard in their prime. Chalk it up to poor distribution and a mighty sound that didn't exactly fit the style, being far more violent in riff and concussion than the great stoner mean. 16 smoked in an unfastened way, like the guy with an irrational number of burning cigarettes stuffed in his maw on the album cover. If 16 were consumers of trashbag dope, they had to have chased it with trailer park blow-your-teeth-out crank shipped in from [soCal's] Inland Empire. Vocals are insane shouting so it's impossible to tell what the band is on about, but the conviction, or impression that the frontman was about to suffer a collapse, comes across. Riffs pummel on "Red Tool Box" and "Apollo Creed," and while you can't tell if the latter is about a boxer, your ears are given a cauliflower.

The original list on eMusic is here. But the discerning will notice something wrong. It says "dozen" but there are only ten records in this bunch. This is because everything on eMusic serves only to herd the users to buy downloads available on eMusic. If an artist or label takes back permissions on a piece from its catalog, and eMusic must remove it, then it quietly sanitizes its website.

However, the real version still exists in the WayBack machine here.

Anyway, that brings us back to 16. Scott Case was minted around '93-'94 on Pessimiser Records.

In 1996, 16 (or Sixteen), returned with "Drop Out" on the same label.

"Heavy crunching riffs that will leave you on the floor in a stupor smelling the vomit and the cigarettes in the carpet," writes one excitable boy on Amazon.

This good Samaritan and Amazon reseller offers the CD to you for the sum of $101.40. And that's probably 100 dollars more than 16 netted in profit on its first two records.

In the intervening years, 16 would issue more. "Blaze of Incompetence" came next, and then something entitled "Zoloft Smile."

But in 2009 the great wheel of life has turned in such a way that 16's globally ignored but enraged and bleak cursed-out stoner metal is right-on-time for the collapse.

16' current release is "Bridges to Burn," on Relapse. And it is as if the fifteen or sixteen years between it and "Scott Case" never happened. The delivery is exactly the same with only two exceptions: First, the shouted curses and imprecations are discernible without a lyric sheet. And, second, 16's drummer, who was always sneaky with a rock groove, is even better at it now.

And they speak for themselves, giving you the exact flavor of the band, ideal accompaniment for our coming long march of fail.

"Quit! Throw in the towel! Wait for the sequel," rants the CD's first cut, "Throw In the Towel."

"You made me suffer, now we hate each other. You let me down again!" goes the easy-to-remember chorus of "You Let Me Down Again."

"I'm living on nickels and dimes. This is not what I had in mind! What went wrong with you?" 16's singer asks someone, perhaps Uncle Sam, in "What Went Wrong?"

"When you look at your life now, do you like how it turned out? No. When will this end? You missed the boat" -- an anthem for the six hundred thousand tossed out of work in February, "You Missed the Boat."

"Fade away and don't come back ... Wander astray, move into a shack," a new Ogden Nash for 2009 in "Thorn In Your Side."

Best hard rock record for the first quarter, hands down. Seriously.

Unfortunately, is there anyone left to buy it?


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