An Hour with Vitapup

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The first full-length effort from this always-interesting mid-'90s avant-punk band finds Vitapup incorporating elements of almost every conceivable New York downtown scene, including NYHC, early John Lurie-esque "fake jazz," Sonic Youth style white noise, scum rock, spoken word, Beastie Boys-like snotty white-kid rap, and straight-up indie rock. Sonically, the band's talents don't quite match the broad scope of its ambitions, but Melissa York's powerhouse drumming always gives even the least successful tracks a tough edge. The group is at its best on the tunes where bassist/lead vocalist Ray Heatley can freely yell his terse, aggressive, desperate, yet intriguingly poetic lyrics over a muscular, dissonant bassline, a driving jungle beat and Class A Knitting Factory guitar weirdness. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the record is devoted to meandering, underdeveloped experiments that sound more like B-sides and showcases for various band cronies than "real" songs. That said, with 19 tracks, there is a full album's worth of prime Vitapup here, and with a little creative use of the CD player program function, the listener will have him/herself if not an hour, at least 45 good minutes of raw, powerful,and challenging music.

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