Clearing conscience of guilty pleasures

Sometimes I embarrass even myself, and that’s not easy to do when you’re the Steve Guttenberg of rock critics.

Like a dog rolling in a meadow muffin, I’m occasionally drawn to some truly repellent stuff.

I know this. And I feel bad. So I need to clear my conscience from time to time and confess to some of my guiltiest pleasures. Here are some of my current, blush-worthy favorites:

Supagroup, “Fire For Hire” (Foodchain): This is full on, ’70s-style mustache rock, dude, so much so, that it could make a grapefruit sprout a mullet with its mere presence. Loud as mating alley cats, dumb as this column and as essential as beer, “Fire” is randy riff rock that’ll kill your brain faster than a steady diet of paint chips and Dane Cook flicks.

Aly and AJ, “Insomniatic” (Hollywood): A co-worker introduced me to these two impossibly sunny sisters, which is kind of like plying a third-grader with narcotics and a wheelbarrow full of glass shards: not exactly helpful, my man.

Teen pop is its own drug, however, a warm and welcoming analgesic, and these two precocious gals get the endorphins flowing with radiant melodies, soft-scrubbed beats and über daft lyrics suggestive of Hilary Duff, sans a cerebral cortex — they’ve actually penned a song called “Like, Whoa.”

Still, sample the bittersweet pop pixie stick that is “Potential Break-Up Song,” and you won’t be able to get that one out of your head without a hacksaw.

Tommie Sunshine, “Ultra Rock Remixed” (Ultra): Sometimes I wonder if I shoved a little old lady into a leaf mulcher or deep-fried a pile of baby seals in a past life. These moments usually occur right about the time I’m subjected to a compilation of hopeless hacks like P.O.D., Good Charlotte and The Hush Sound.

But alas, Tommie Sunshine turns deadweight into dance floor nirvana for lots of treacly fun on this two-disc set. Arming booger-eaters like Mindless Self Indulgence with Day-Glo synth and woolly mammoth beats eases the pain, while plenty of decent bands get reworked here, too — The Sounds, The Gossip, Gang of Four. Tommie deserves the most credit, though, for making Hellogoodbye a band that you can listen to without tossing your Eggos.

Municipal Waste, “The Art of Partying” (Earache): Save money on a lobotomy and watch your flesh turn to denim as this band revisits thrash metal’s goony glory days, back when Anthrax used to wear those embarrassing, Jimmy Buffett-style Bermuda shorts and play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle guitars while M.O.D. sang about such hot-button issues as shark attacks and large women in spandex.

This bunch sound more like D.R.I. than D.R.I. has in about 15 years, tearing through such edifying, tongue-in-cheek rippers as “Sadistic Magician” and “Lunch Hall Food Fight.” Derivative? Yup. Does it matter when you’re beer-bonging Pabst Blue Ribbon in a leather codpiece? Not so much.

Jason Bracelin’s “Sounding Off” column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com.

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