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Album Review

Musically, this album is surprisingly solid. Career provocateur Jello Biafra has assembled a hell of a band behind him, including Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, guitarists Ralph Spight and Kimo Ball, and drummer Jon Weiss. These songs are punk in the acid-fried spirit of riff-heavy acts like Radio Birdman, the MC5, and the Stooges, not Green Day or blink-182. Indeed, songs like "New Feudalism" and "Clean as a Thistle" have more raw power than Iggy & co. were able to muster on the legacy-poisoning The Weirdness. The big problem, of course, remains Biafra himself. His voice is an astonishingly polarizing instrument; for every person who finds his high-pitched barks and ululations captivating, five more run from the room. And it's not just how he says it, it's what he says, too. Some of what he's talking about on this album, like the description of an increasingly high-pressure and low-reward corporate workplace on "Electronic Plantation," is trenchant and could spark real thought in the listener. The same is true of "Three Strikes," which tackles the War on Drugs and the prison industry. But other songs, like "The Terror of Tiny Town" and "Clean as a Thistle," are jabs at the Bush administration and right-wing sexual hypocrisy, released a year after the Bushes left office and the major Republican Party's sexual scandals broke and were settled. What's the point? The Audacity of Hype's cover art suggests that it will be a series of jabs at the Obama administration. That would have been more interesting than re-fighting old battles.


Born: 17 June 1958 in Boulder, CO

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Following the demise of the Dead Kennedys in the wake of the financial and emotional disaster that was their 1986 obscenity trial, vocalist and free-speech icon Jello Biafra launched a solo career, devoting some of his releases to spoken word observations on American culture and politics and others to collaborative efforts with several bands. Biafra was born Eric Boucher in Boulder, Colorado, and began collecting odd records in high school. He moved to San Francisco and took his stage name from the...
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The Audacity of Hype, Jello Biafra
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