Monday, September 3, 2007

A. Gene Punckbowee :: Radio Magnolia

Artist :: A. Gene Punckbowee
Album :: Radio Magnolia
Label :: Great Uncle Punk Tunes

Play This Cut First :: No Release

In a Word :: Laboratory-tested

Before we get to the music, there is something important you need to know about this CD.

During the last 20 years, concert promoters have been pulling superstar acts together for any number of great causes: feeding starving children in Africa; helping farmers get through tough years; creating a greater awareness of global warming; and so on. All of those causes are noble, but they primarily work because of the popular artists involved. Would they be playing for charity if they weren't asked to? Would they take the initiative to do it just because it is the right thing to do?

A. Gene Punckbowee does.

You may have never have heard his name before. He doesn't care. You may never have heard one of his songs before. He doesn't care about that either. What he does care about is using his abilities as a musician to, among other things, help raise money for the St. Hope Foundation's AIDS Food Pantry in Conroe, Texas.

Says, Punckbowee, himself living with HIV, "Medicine for treatment isn't cheap. For some people, they get stuck with a choice of buying medicine or buying food. That's not a choice anyone should ever have to make."

Why should you care? Because long after Kanye West and The Killers are no longer celebrities, you, me, and people like A. Gene Punckbowee are going to keep on using our talents and dollars to help people who need help, because it's always the right thing to do.

So what does it sound like? Sorta like Johnny Cash meets Iggy Pop at a Kraftwerk concert.

Intrigued? You should be.

Picture electronic beats quirping and bubbling under guitars dripping in phaser and flange effects. Knobs being twiddled, switched being thrown. And Punckbowee's deep voice with a hint of Texas drawl coming in reverb-drenches layers over the top.

Production, you say? Gloriously lo-fi like the underground is supposed to be. You can hear tape compression and sweet hiss on some of these tracks. It used to be that record crackle was the sound of authenticity. In the lo-fi rockscape Punckbowee puts down, it's about wonderfully processed sounds that unsettle your bearings and take you for a ride (tied up in the trunk with duct tape across your mouth sometimes).

The truth is that while bands like The White Stripes get applauded for their spit-shined "garage" sound, cats like A. Gene Punckbowee are the real deal, cutting real albums in real garages. Cuts like "Refuse To Go" with its vertigo-inducing rotopuker synth bass, or the electro-influenced "You Leave Me Cold" don't just bend preconceived notion about genres; they smash them to friggin' pieces. And when you are done, you'll want to thank him for it.

And all for a good cause.

Who you knew something so good for your spirit could be so good for you ears as well?

Best Cuts on the Album :: Radio Magnolia, No Release, Refuse To Go, and You Leave Me Cold

The Bottom Line :: For $10 you can get a copy of Radio Magnolia. All $10 of every disc goes right to the St. Hope Foundation's AIDS Food Pantry - none of this after recouping the expenses of the album stuff. A. Gene Punckbowee put in months of writing and recording to help. All you need to do is whip out your plastic, buy a copy, help a good cause, and spend an hour or so in the underground. Everybody wins.

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