Pure Acid Park
LP - $9.00 | CD - $12.00
The final recording for these indie kings finds them in the studio with Martin Bisi in NYC. Rejoined by original guitarist David Giffen, the additional oomph is highly visible and gives added depth to an already more-than-capable line-up.
"One of punk rock's longest running bands has called it quits. After nine years and seven albums, New York's Alice Donut amicably split up, playing its final show in November. Vocalist Tomas Antona cites financial hardship and a jones to try something new as his reasons for the break up. "After nine years," he says, "it's exciting to do a new project." Though it also features Donut bassist Sissi Schulmeister, Antona's new band, the Mambo Killers, is a few shades different from his previous outfit. "It's industrial-mambo-punk, "Antona says. Donut, whose final LP, Pure Acid Park, was released on Alternative Tentacles last year, was, according to Antona, "hanging by the skin of our teeth financially. I couldn't do (Mambo Killers), Donut and have a job." Donut drummer Steven Moses is currently working on an avant-garde jazz project, although the other members of the band, guitarists Michael Jung and David Giffen, don't have any music plans. Releasing its first record, Donut Comes Alive, in 1988, Alice Donut's out-of-control punk noise, augmented by occasional trombone howls, was a staple of the indie-punk scene for almost a decade. Over the years, Donut lost a guitarist (Richard Marshall) and some of the noise, but gained a stronger sense of melody, best displayed on Pure Acid Park, the band's most critically acclaimed release."
"Tomas Antona told me of this new recording outside an East Village cafe in April. Sans his infamous rain slicker, with bassist/vocalist Sissi Schulmeister, Antona almost slipped by. "Pure Acid Park is the name, and we just finished it," was the extent of the chat, but at least he wasn't lying. This latest Alice Donut incorporates '60s pop-psych, twisted rural instrumentation and a cover of Roxy Erikson's "I Walked with a Zombie" for a fine, if less abusive, follow-up to Untidy Suicides… Antona's voice, apparently still flossed with Steven Tyler's hair extensions, is recognizable like Jello's though Alice Donut has always managed to philosophize with less pretentiousness. Their music has improved with each recording, revealing teamwork in a Bad News Bears vein. Michael Jung's Les Paul channels hooks from every Nuggets compilation in the same mystic hiccup as hardcore/metal. Stephen Moses drums like a seasoned cabbie hell-bent on getting through to someplace five minutes ago. Schulmeister manages the first portion of Erikson's song, and her increased German school girl vocals are welcomed throughout.
Martin Bisi produced Pure Acid Park, and while it's less urbanely thematic than Mule, there's a strong sense of disgust and humor in the same vein as "Big Ass" or "Mrs. Hayes." As usual, it's difficult to separate the innocent from the guilty, but entertaining to try. Stand out tracks include "Millenium," "Insane," "The Unspeakable Pleasure of Being Me" and the Erikson cover. Thought I heard a glockenspiel. Swore a toy piano's unstrung. A slide guitar scares black cats and for the Donutholes who need it, there's mo' better blues. A remarkably twisted vision directed toward a future with dotted eyes. Not disappointing, and I hate rock and roll."
"Look no further for proof that Alice Donut instinctively grasp the anarchic-fun element of rock and roll than their hillbilly-psychedelic version of Roky Erickson's "I Walked with a Zombie." With el-cheapo guitar, cheesy organ, and nursery-rhyme vocals, it's pure New Wave--the last known era in contemporary music when punters and musicians alike had fun. But then, Alice Donut hail from New York's East Village, birthplace of assorted Yippies and Fugs, so it figures somehow.
Don't mistake a goofy neo-hippie persona for slack, though; this band deliver musically (and have done over seven albums in seven years). "The Senator and the Cabin Boy" (now there's a title Fugs Ed Sanders or Tuli Kupferberg might've come up with over doobies) is a tightly wound number constructed from a sproingy guitar riff, perfectly metronomic drumming, a timely trombone solo (the marching-band styling no doubt called for in a "political" song), and some insane yet precise doo-woppy call-and-response guy/gal singing. All this and a false ending too--Alice Donut pay serious attention to detail, in the most song-crafty manner.
They can also crank out the Big Rawk (check the Zep riffs and arena build-up of "Insane"). They have the little gestures (dig the lo-fi Flying Nun pop of "The Unspeakable Pleasure of Being Me"). And just to keep the chemical quotient high, they frolic in the pure acid park of the album's title ("Freaks in Love" sounds like My Bloody Valentine doing a vicious parody of Jane's Addiction). What Alice Donut won't do, however, is allow your attention to wander. Sign me up for the Donut Army."