There's a big, blue, flaming, upraised middle finger gracing the CD artwork of Grand Fury, the second album from half-LA, half-Riverside rock & soul band the BellRays. It's a cliché, to be sure—especially now, when there's a new, freshly photocopied aggro band around every turn of the radio dial, each of them finger-popping as compensation for their music's lack of anything truly anti-authoritarian. But the BellRays feature the Bird right on GrandFury's cover, instead of hiding it inside the liner notes. This may keep their album out of the Wal-Mart bins, but it's not as if they'd really care—for the BellRays take smack from nobody. They're a furious band of DIY-ers, full of brash, punchy-crunchy Stooges-cum-Sabbath stomp and fronted by a holy-roller howler named Lisa Kekaula, a woman whose pulverizing pipes make her sound like a rebellious outcast from a Southern Baptist choir—scary, like the devil herself. She plays up this outsider role well (good sample line: "If there's one thing that I can't stand/It's living like a freak in this freaked-up land"), and her brand of pissy venting easily wallops the Kid Dursts of the world (more good sample lines: "Stupid fuckin' people lie through their teeth!/Then get to be president!/Stupid fuckin' people make life hard!/ Till a man don't wanna live!"; "My daddy was a Nazi, and my mama was a Jew!/I'm so fucked up I don't know what to do!"; "Now I got a notion to piss in your ocean!/To tear your playhouse down!/To kick your ass and slap your face while the world goes spinning round!"). Kekaula spews vitriol over a three-piece that crashes, burns and melts unto itself, a simmer-to-boil unit that pauses just long enough between songs for you to catch your breath. And then just when you're rested, Kekaula tells you that you had best get your ass in gear: "Where we going? We're going to the next millennium! Don't be laughing! This is serious shit! We are movin' on! Movin' on! To the next millennium! Can I get an amen?" Amen, sista! (Rich Kane)
THE BELLRAYS PERFORM WITH THE MONKEYWRENCH (FEATURING MARK ARM AND STEVE TURNER OF MUDHONEY) AND FLASH EXPRESS AT CLUB MESA, 843 W. 19TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 642-6634. FRI., 9 P.M. CALL FOR COVER. 21+.
RONI SIZE/REPRAZENT IN THE MODE ISLAND
Not content with repeating the same seminal drum & bass work of their 1997 New Forms debut, the Bristol-based collective Roni Size/Reprazent have cranked up the BPM for their new In the Mode album, crafting a piece that's more hip-hopped and frantic. Though masterminded by Size, his co-producers—Krust, Suv and Die—each provide their own specialties in the form of surging bass lines, crunchy electro effects and catchy riffs. Delegated to a supporting position on New Forms, vocalists Onalee and Dynamite MC are brought more upfront this time as Dynamite takes control with the opening "Railing Pt. 2," which continues where "Railing," his only featured song on New Forms, left off. The track's teasing lead tricks you into believing that you're about to hear a rehash of the previous album, only to have that idea shot down with such hard-edged, menacing songs as Dynamite's "Who Told You," the disc's first single. Previously limited largely to "mmmm"s and the occasional lyrics, Onalee—the group's lone female—showcases her soulful croonings in the poppy "Lucky Pressure." In the Mode isn't only about Reprazent members getting into the groove, though, because it's laced with guest artists. Method Man brings in some street flava with "Ghetto Celebrity," Rahzel of the Roots beat boxes—scratches and all—on "In Tune With the Sound," and Zack de la Rocha rants about critics trying to crush him like Salman Rushdie in the way-too-long (seven and a half minutes!) "Centre of the Storm." Despite that bit of self-indulgence, In the Mode manages to fulfill its ultimate rump-and-head-shaking purpose. (Anna Barr)
Check out this week's featured ad for Entertainment