Pimpbot (Pass Out)
It doesn't seem like four years since Pimpbot released its first full-length album, but, yes, it was back in March 2004 that we welcomed the release of "Vertical Lobster." Now, with "Admit One," the band builds on that impressive foundation. Once again the quartet -- Tom Coleman, Eric Lagrimas, Rylan Yee and Fernando "the Love Machine" Pacheco -- step outside the basic rock-club format of guitar, drums, bass, trombone and vocals. Pacheco plays tuba as well as trombone, bassist Yee doubles on keyboards and drummer Lagrimas also plays tenor sax (Coleman and Yee also back Pacheco on the vocals).
The added instruments make the group credible when playing ska as well as when they're rocking hardcore punk. Pacheco presides as the narrator and protagonist in a series of adventures and misadventures -- encountering a transvestite masseuse in a massage parlor, for example.
The foursome looks at relationships from both sides, the good ("Thanks for the Eggs") and the bad ("Apple of My Eye" and another with a title unsuitable to mention in a family newspaper).
"Right Time" takes a subject as old as rock music itself -- that too much of our lives are spent waiting for the good times -- and delivers it in modern style. Pacheco's voice conveys the frustration of waiting, waiting, waiting; the frenetic tempo of the choruses suggests the relief that comes when it's finally time to rock.
The guys' range as writers and social commentators is represented at one end by "Eat My Lyrics," an obscenity-rich rant against "haters that drink haterade," and at the other by the subtle messages conveyed in "CK" and "Baseball." The former is Pimpbot's comment on drunken driving (they're against it); the latter is apparently about an embarrassing male problem.
The Hell Caminos (86)
Rock 'n' roll was denounced as "the devil's music" by self-appointed guardians of public morality more than 50 years ago, and various subgenres of rock are still suspect in some circles. The Hell Caminos respond to that lingering prejudice in aggressive and uncompromising style with "Lust."
The group graduates from the relative obscurity of the local underground scene and makes a significant bid for national recognition. They're not rockabilly in the original meaning of the word (a blend of rock 'n' roll with rural country/"hillbilly" music that flourished in the mid-1950s). And since the neo-rockabilly electric thing was done by the Stray Cats in the early '80s, give thanks on both counts that these guys are not doing either. They're punk rather than any type of country -- one Web site calls it "psychobilly." By any name, they also rock, and from time to time hints of vintage '50s rock percolate through.
The title track echoes the theme of the cover art -- there's love, and there's lust, and the latter emotion can be very destructive. Lead vocalist Michael Camino snarls his way through the lyrics while Handsome Jack's drums take the lead on an instrumental arrangement that suggests a bad end to the lust-based relationship.
The quartet's instrumental skills also come to the fore on "The Cold Light of Dawn." The lyrics share another tale of love gone wrong, and the interplay between Handsome Jack on drums and guitarists Nick Danger and Jesse Atomic suggests the torment of a soul racing at ever-increasing speed in the search for peace. "18" shows that the group has a sense of humor as well.
It can be a challenge for a group to do a good full-length album, let alone one with 17 songs. The Hell Caminos prove equal to the challenge.
, who has covered the local entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Today section on Fridays for the latest reviews. Reach John Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org