OMD "Menace to Society" (Atlantic)
Hip hop has become as ubiquitous in American culture as McDonald's and Coca Cola. The fashion and music of hip hop have left their mark on everything from the designs of Tommy Hilfiger to the chart-topping songs of Everlast and G Love And Special Sauce, whose pop-rap fusion is proving to be quite lucrative. It seems as though everyone from Madison Avenue on down wants to cash in on rap's enormous popularity, and that includes OPM.
Hailing from southern California, OPM is a quartet of skaters who have blended pop melodies with hip hop and reggae rhythms. The resulting tunes are simple, catchy and remarkably like those of Sublime, another southern California reggae-rock band.
The combination of head-bouncing rhythms and goofy, happy-go-lucky lyrics revolving around bongs and skating make "Menace To Sobriety" the ideal party album. Unfortunately that's about all the CD is good for. Anything more than a cursory listen to "Menace%" in the background at a beer-bash, however, and the album will wear thin quickly. OPM's material is monotonous and it's doubtful that the band's sense of humor will appeal to anyone other than middle school students. The foursome doesn't do anything to make the record worth listening to, either musically or lyrically. OPM is destined to be a one-hit wonder. The band's combination of pop and hip hop virtually guarantees that it will score a hit single, but it just doesn't have any staying power. In a year's time, used CD bins across the nation will be littered with this record.
Nomy Lamm and The Need "The Transfused" (Yo Yo Recordings)
America as we know it has crumbled due to some unknown disaster. In its place an even more oppressive and hellish society has risen. In this new empire The Corporation rules. All people are employed as Transfused, the workers who power The Corporations empire by slaving in factories in exchange for breathable air and meager rations. This is the premise of "The Transfused", a punk rock opera set in the grim future.
Nommy Lamm and The Need have put together a rock opera much like Pink Floyd's classic epic "The Wall". At the heart of this musical are the distorted guitar and gothic organ of The Need, a gang of garage punk rockers from the Northwest. The band's rough sound provides a strong base for the dark and twisted story of "The Transfused", and the organ adds a wonderful dramatic element to the music.
Backing up the core trio of The Need are over 20 actor-vocalists. The cast of characters includes The Transfused, the oppressed servants of The Corporation, The Corporate masters and their legion of minions and thugs, and The People's Army, a band of revolutionaries bent on destroying the corporation and liberating The Transfused.
The basic plot of the album is that the workers have been introduced to the ideas of the People's Army via pirate radio and television broadcasts. The People's Army is seeking to organize the workers and bring down the evil empire. The opera then follows the Transfused's struggle over the course of three momentous days.
The opera is not just a morbid tale of the not-so-distant future, however. As the album unfolds, it becomes increasingly obvious that Nomy Lamm and The Need are some shade of anarchist. The Corporation is a purely evil engine driven by greed and maintained by brutal force. The Transfused, in stark contrast, are slaves to a soulless beauraucracy, and their revolt is a heroic struggle. In their songs, The Transfused remind workers that "They own our time and the air we breathe/ remember/but don't forget it's us they need to keep their lies alive".
Surprisingly, the album works well. The story created by Lamm and his cohorts is captivating, and the music and lyrics of the songs create great atmosphere and visuals to bring the story to life. "The Transfused" is a wonderful rock opera, even outdoing its celebrated predecessors, "Tommy"