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School of Rock Criticism 

Young audiences review new local releases

In Michael Patrick Welch's music writing class at Alice Harte Elementary, students work on their writing skills by critiquing CDs released by local bands. Students in grades three to eight meet four times a week to listen to the latest releases and formulate reviews. Welch hatched the idea at Cohen High School in 2003 (see Gambit Weekly, "Summer School of Rock," Sept. 12 p. 33). A writer and musician himself, Welch exposes students to a variety of musical genres, generally ones that they are not already familiar with and helps them express their responses. He finds that his rookie critics are no pushovers. Here, students from Alice Harte issue their reviews of new music. For more about the class visit, the Web site http:://



Dirty Dozen Brass Band
What's Going On?
(Shout! Factory)

In song one they say, "What's going on?" too much. This song is mostly instrumental; it's very rough and sounds like a bunch of 40-year-olds trying to rap with a mixture of jazz. Song two sounds like a 20-year-old lady singing a mixture of R&B and gospel. This also sounds a little bit like my cousin. Song three is a mixture of jazz and blues. It's very slow, but then the dynamics shifted and got a little rougher. Song five sounds like an old person is singing. It has high fidelity. It sounds like one of those songs at a ball for rich people. -- Adam Delery

Drums 'n' Tuba
Battles Ole
(Righteous Babe Records)

Song one sounds like a horror movie song, then it starts to rock, then it's soft. It has kind of a rough beat. The singer's voice is very loud and wild. When I close my eyes, I imagine aliens and zombies. It starts to sound like a radio breaking up, and then a drum and guitar start playing. The beginning (of song two) sounds like someone saying "help" over and over again, then it starts getting quiet. Then you can hear something like a dead cat meowing. Then there's a sort of beeping rapidly. After that there is a long kind of yelling thing going on and then the singer comes in; his voice is very rough. I think people would buy this record because it's mysterious, weird and cool. -- Ethan Benton

I do not like song one because it sounds like people putting together sounds. It has a lot of dynamics. I do not like his voice. I do not like song two because it is like song one in that it goes from high sounds to low sounds. It sounds like a robot and like the person singing is too close to the microphone. Song three sounds like a chicken clucking. I like it. It sounds like a DJ scratching or like a girl screaming on Halloween night. I like song four; it has a trumpet. It sounds like the power is going out. It sounds like someone is going to rehearsal. People should buy this CD because it sounds like technology from the future. It is really cool. -- Sophia Marathonitis

Stanton Moore Trio

I wish there were words. The guitar sounds like a girl. You call this funk; I wish it had more funk. It sounds like Ray Charles and B.B. King mixed together. I think they are not the only band with this music. Number four is kind of fun, but it isn't, so don't buy it. I wouldn't. But it's up to you. -- Christopher Wilson

I don't like it because I think they need a singer and a different person to play the drums. They need different band players. The drums get worse and worse. It sounds like bad jazz music to me. They don't have enough rhythm in the music. Don't buy it. -- Jasmine Nevil

Mute Math
(Teleprompt/Warner Bros.)

Song number one sounds like rock because they are playing the drums very hard. His voice sounds good because it is loud and he is happy. I like the quiet part and the buzzing sound, but this sounds like cars crashing into each other. I do not like song two because I do not understand the words. His voice sounds bad; he sounds like he is sick. At the end it sounds like a scary movie. Song three just sounds like animals going crazy. This whole CD sounds bad because he sounds like someone is killing him. They don't change the ending of the songs; it all sounds like the same thing. This would be a waste of your money. It sounds like they have problems and do not know how to play or sing because it sounds like plates falling off the shelf. I don't think you should buy it. -- Ishmael Jackson

I like it because the guy that's singing has a nice voice and he picked the right song that is good for him to sing. I also like the band. I never really like rock, but when I heard this one I think I changed my mind. I like number two when it had like a sneak sound, and number four because it sounds like a spooky house. I also like when the band is low and it raises and raises until it gets loud. Number three I'm not feeling too much because he sounds like he just woke up. But I really, really like the other ones. I think people should buy this CD because it is a nice band for a parade or a party, and he has a nice voice. -- Quinton Martin

Hazard County Girls
Divine Armour

I like this because it is rock and there are girls singing it. It makes me feel like I want to dance. It sounds really spooky like Halloween. It sounds like someone is going to get you. It makes me feel like something bad is going to happen to me. I like it. -- Sophia Marathonitis

I don't like it because it doesn't sound like girls. It sounds like vampire music. It sounds like men using their muscles because girls are weak. Song three sounds like girls because they are singing softer. I like it and don't like it, because number three sounded like girls instead of men. -- John Heim

This sounds like aliens started a rock band. It's badly recorded and I cannot understand what she's singing. Its musicians play good, especially the guitarist. Number two is recorded better and I can understand better. Now they sound like demons. I like the timbres; they are smooth and rough at the same time. Song three sounds like techno and rock mixed. It sounds like brainwashing. I like this album because I like rock and techno and goth stuff. -- Ethan Benton

Lonesome Travelers
Lonesome Travelers
(New West)

I don't like song one because it sounds like country rock and the vocals sound silly. The vocals sound like a donkey. It sounds like a clown riding a horse. Song four sounds like a sad man trying to sing a song to cheer himself up. Sounds like somebody saying goodbye to an old friend because they feel sad deep down. Song eight sounds like a song from good memories. Sounds like people on an open road who had to sing a song so they wouldn't be bored. Sounds like this is the end for them. -- Jabril Parker

Fatter than Albert
Erin's Runaway Imagination

The first song is bogus! The vocals and instrumentation were very noisy and loud. It was too fast. The vocals sound like a 54-year-old screaming because she is about to get hit by a bus. My personal opinion is that they need to practice more. I think they should put a little rap and urban in it. Their music is very annoying because the vocals and are smushed together. It sounds like a bunch of pots crashing together. It would take a Tylenol the size of a shoe to make my headache stop. The only word I would use to describe it is "Ewww." Number seven was okay because it was slower and didn't have that much singing. It still sounds like monkeys in a tree fighting over a banana. -- Matranise Fontenberry

I can't hear a word they said. It gave me a headache. Song two sounded like someone died at the end. They used flute and sax and I think my ears started bleeding. This reminds me of horror movies; I would change the speed of the movie. I think a lot of people can do better. It sounds like the singer is choking on a cough drop. Stop it! Stop it! Please! It's killing me! Song seven was slower than the others but they shouldn't have added the lyrics. I don't like this music because it went too fast. Simon Cowell would curse them out on American Idol. -- Brandon Nevil

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