Week’s releases disappoint

Bad Ronald
Bad Ronald
Reprise Records
1.5 hatchets

Bad Ronald lives up to its name. The band is bad, and not in the Michael Jackson sense.

Attempting to fuse rap with rock beats, Bad Ronald looks to get “dat ass” on “da floor” with a party-oriented style of rap that is anything but original. The group’s new elf-titled release cops from nearly every popular emcee’s style and Sugar Ray’s attitude. Bad Ronald sorely lacks originality. In order to make up for this inherent banality, Bad Ronald attempts to attach a “raw perspective” to each song, but it only has the effect of disgusting the listener.

The obstinate and superficial references to kegs and pot in the albums’ current radio single “Let’s Begin” are a mere sampling of the senseless-meathead quality of Bad Ronald’s self-titled album. Despite having the mouth of a sailor, even this listener found himself ready to heave over the side after the listening to the lyrics of “I Need Love.” Its unnecessary and altogether explicit sexual references will certainly astound innocent listeners hoping to hear a remake of one of LL Cool J’s finest.

And yet it is obvious where Bad Ronald finds its fan base: among meatheads looking to have a hearty laugh at Bad Ronald’s potty mouth lyrics and phony hedonism.

Bad Ronald is in stores now.

Billy and Liza
It’s About Time
2.5 Hatchets

Do you like Granola? Well Billy and Liza do; that’s for sure. They probably also enjoy corduroy, the barefoot lifestyle and patchouli as deodorant.

From Telluride, Co., Billy and Liza started playing local bars circa 1990, and it appears they have not come very far. Blending folkish country hooks, a la Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, with rhythms of the Phish variety, this duo holds the essential qualities that any jam-band enthusiast would enjoy.

But in terms of talent, Billy and Liza are more than suspect. While Billy can hold down a decent rhythm guitar, his voice is mediocre and eerily similar to that of Jimmy Buffet. Liza’s voice lacks any engaging qualities, and the tracks featuring her on the electric guitar definitely miss their mark.
The lyrical content of It’s About Time revolves around the old stalwarts: barstools, hanging out and sweet and tender lovin’. The song “happiness”, a bluesy self-help guide to those of folks who look to people with guitars for advice, is painfully old hat.

If the two artists had their way, Telluride would soon replace the tiny island of Key West as the marketing capital of the laid back lifestyle. But It’s About Time is certainly not the album to lead the offensive.

It’s About Time is in stores Tuesday.

Return to Central
Spin Art
2 Hatchets

The nameless band that plays techno tracks laced with female melodies – which are found on many car commercials – is no longer nameless. The name is Bis, but it might have been better had the group remained nameless.

Return to Central is a techno album laced with meaningless lyrics, a cinematic sense of urgency and a desperate stab at hipness. This Glasgow, Scotland trio, a formidable teen powerhouse in the United Kingdom in the mid-’90s, has toured with notable groups including Shonen Knife, The Foo Fighters, Super Fuzzy Animals and Rocket From the Crypt.

Despite the credibility of its touring partners, Bis simply does not get the job done. The audio onslaught of samples, tired techno beats and digital oddities are entirely European, and this particular ugly American simply doesn’t get it. Themes of robotics and space should be relegated to science-fiction movies, not quasi-dance records.

Bis, who can be heard scoring the Cartoon Network’s “Powerpuff Girls,” should not leave the confines of Urban Outfitter’s stereo system. The record’s feel is like trying on a “vintage” T-shirt in a “less-is-more” dressing room while a trite beat punctures your eardrum. And one more thing . play an instrument for god’s sakes.

Return to Central is in stores Tuesday.

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