November 9, 2009

Powerman 5000 - Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere

Every time a new Powerman 5000 album arrives, I stop and think: "those guys are still around?" Do not get me wrong, I love these guys but you could hardly call them prolific. On the other side of that coin, whenever a new album arrives the always manage to knock it out of the park. None of them are really reach the land of the classic, but they are always eminently listenable and invite you back time and time again. Not only that, they all tend to have different sounds while always coming from the same distinct voice.

Speaking of that distinct voice, I wonder when Powerman 500o will finally admit it is really just the Spider show? It seems there is significant turnover with the bands lineup in between each album. Why this seems to happen so often I do not know. Although, I will hazard a guess that it has to do with Spider's desire to head in different directions and not replicate what he has done before.

The desire not to repeat himself goes all the way back to what is arguably their biggest album. Tonight the Stars Revolt! That was released in 1999. The followup was slated for Summer 2001, but mere weeks before it was to come out Spider decided he did not want the follow up to sound so similar. The album, Anyone for Doomsday?, was canceled. A few of the band members left and they went back to the drawing board, releasing Transform in 2003. The album is a solid hard rock album and very different than what came before it.


Here we are in 2009 and Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere is here. It is step up from 2006's Destroy What You Enjoy (which was very much in the same vein as Transform). This new album strikes me as a cross between their current run of straight up hard rock and their electronic influenced past. At the same time it sounds fresh and just begs to be turned up loud!

The album opens with "Intelligent Creatures." It is brief intro of tones that sound like they are straight out of an old school Italian horror movie. This gives way to guitar noises and some rapid fire drums as we kick into the hard rocking "Show Me What You Go," a song that begs for audience participation. I can almost see the crowd bouncing to this one with hands raised high.

Next up is another rocker with perhaps a little more electro-influence, "Super Villain." This is a mid-tempo track that would probably play well with "Heroes and Villains," which appeared as a live track on Destroy What You Enjoy.

Among my favorite songs is "V is for Vampire." There is something about the beat, the pace, the vocal rhythm, that is just so inviting. It is very much like being drawn in by a vampire. Rock your head, sing along, and enjoy.

Other highlights include "Get Your Bones" and "Make Us Insane" before heading into the closing tune that hearkens back to the day of Mega! Kung Fu Radio. The song is called "Horror Show" and features Spider doing his back of the throat, laid back, rapping style that only peeks out once in a while.

Again, Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere is not a classic album, but it still features Spider doing his thing. No one really sounds like him. His music is never really all that serious and seems to be geared towards the live show, or at least for playing at parties.

I must admit to having a real soft spot for Powerman 5000. I cannot help but feel they should be bigger than they are. It hurts that they do not seem to get any promotion. I mean, when I am surprised each time a new album drops, what can that say for band visibility? Perhaps the final words of the album are a legitimate cry for help? Listen to the album and let me know what you think.

As for Somewhere on the Other Side of Nowhere? Do yourself a favor, pick up a copy, turn the volume up, and enjoy.



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