a taste of Louisville

Rough Diamond Uncut Sampler Vol. 1 (Rough Diamond)
Various artists

By Mark Clark

Call it Louisville Music 101.

The Rough Diamond Uncut Sampler Vol. 1 is a 16-track crash course in the local music scene. It's a scintillating collection, remarkable for its diversity and overall quality — a perfect introduction for anyone with a budding interest in local music.

I would say that his album offers something for everyone, but that's not exactly true. If you like polkas, Wayne Newton covers or Gregorian chants, I'm afraid you'll have to keep looking. But if you're into rock 'n' roll, you've come to the right place.

You want guitars-in-your-face rock? Try Hula Hoop's "Dog." You're into post-new-wave modern pop? How 'bout Speaking in Tongues' "Never Say Never?" Hardcore, thrash? Crank up Godhead's "Sickbed" or Drunk Monkey's "Soul" and wait for your ears to begin bleeding.

The single best cut included here is the rain chorus' "Hourglass." It's a melancholy tune with a staggering, almost tribal-sounding backbeat, a moaning guitar motif and an infectious chorus: "Somebody's been drinking from my hourglass/Sipping my precious time away." Simply a wonderful song.

The most exposed cut here is the Velcro Pygmies' "Mona Lisa," which has received a ton of airplay on both of WQMF's frequencies. The Pygs are better than plenty of metal-pop bands that have made it big (like, say, Poison), as their huge regional following might suggest. Their style is High Cheese, their saving grace that they never take themselves too seriously. Listening to a Pygs tune is like visiting Graceland. The whole thing's a little ridiculous, but it's fun. What other band would dare use the rhyme "Mona Lisa/You got me on my knees-a?"

Another of the most popular artists included here is Shattered Reality. The bad news (or good news, depending on your perspective) about this band is that they sound uncannily like Metallica. Personally, if I want to hear something that sounds like Metallica, I'll put on a Metallica album.

The bands themselves selected the songs for this compilation and some of their choices were, to be charitable, eccentric. "Dog," though a fine song, is hardly the tune most likely to interest listeners new to Hula Hoop, for example. And Dr. Smith has many better songs in its repertoire than "Paradise."

Some other notable tracks:

Cherub Scourge offers perhaps their best song, a sneering psuedo-ballad titled "It's Over." I've raved about this band before and will gladly do so again for anyone who's inclined to listen.

LMNOP offers the old-fashioned rocker "Nothing Like Holding Someone." The cut sounds like Mellencamp, from the days when he called himself Johnny Cougar.

Rabbit Manor's "Falling Down" is punchy but surprisingly melodic. I want to hear more from this band. Another track that piques my interest is the Karmadogs' ballistic "Shock the Crown." (It spurs me to involuntary headbanging.) The erratic but sometimes brilliant Stranger Than Fiction offer one of their best tunes with the bluesy "She Said."

So much for today's lesson. Now do your homework: Get this tape. And check out your favorite bands live.