Alien Contraption
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These reviews from a different time in a similar band

Review #1

Kenneth Norton
High Wire Daze Magazine

There's an endearing charm about The Users that render them user friendly indeed. Maybe it's the excellent musicians or memorable tunes. Or perhaps it's their penchant for long ass jams that possess the excitement of being at a really intense live show. This is psychedelic music with a tinge of the blues that will make you want to burn that incense and have Grateful Dead-like head trips. The first song Comin Down, hooks the listener into the mood and ten more groovin' tracks follow, highlights being Loveless Lie, Vodka Wisconsin Orgy, YBIF, and their jammin' cover of the Bob Dylan song As I Went Out One Morning. Friendly is one far out record, dude. So buy it and chill.

Review #2

Mauxa
Skratch Magazine
August 1998 issue #30

This record feels like stepping into a time machine and experiencing a psychedelic, hard blues, rock and roll mind fuck. Heavy mind altering substances and a hallucination that you've got the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Syd Barret, Jimi Hendrix, T.Rex, The Who, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan all sitting in your living room. Of course, those of you who are narrow minded about music (punk, ska hard-core, or silence), or simply uneducated about the past, will run away screaming like they've just seen a ghost. Take a bong hit (or something), kick back and think about a different era! It will also help you sit through the over indulgent Jam Time which is over 10 minutes long. All the material is original except one track, a great cover of Bob Dylan's As I Went Out One Morning. The j-card has a disclaimer stating "any similarities of songs to others, either living or dead, is purely coincidental due to massive influences". The guitar work is both Hendrix-heavy, and is sometimes simply acoustic. Extra cool tracks include the trippy beats and humorous lyrics of Vodka Wisconsin Orgy, the very bluesy Coming Down, and the dark, depressing, methadone laced Jelly Time.

Review #3

Aaron J Proehler
Tail Spin Magazine

The Users were apparently childhood buddies who formed a garage band for kicks, just like hundreds of similar garage bands have formed across the country for well over forty years now. The difference is that the Users resurrected their adolescent fantasies and reformed the band in 1995. The trio, Mike Monsalve, Alan Ewald, and Rick Johnson churn out vaguely psychedelic blues-rock that's heavy on the jamming and solos and light on hooks and catchy songwriting. They seem to be aiming for Syd Barret-era Pink Floyd but the result is more often like Crazy Horse with a lot wah-wah pedal-they can improvise passably together as a result of playing together for so long, but the music produced by the improvisation isn't too compelling in its own right. Just last night I was listening to Can's Cannibalism I and marveling at the striking music produced by that band's improvisational ethic; by comparison (I know, it's unfair) the Users can only reorder the same squealy psychedelic guitar cliches that have been floating around since 1967. They even cover a song off of Dylan's John Wesley Harding. As I Went Out One Morning just like Hendrix. I get he feeling that this might make more sense if you were tripping on acid and watching the Users jam on the back of a flatbed truck in a Hills parking lot on the Fourth of July, or hanging out in the band's basement and sucking down beers and joints like M&M's.

Review #4

Author Unknown
Aiding and Abetting Magazine
Click here to visit the site
Click here to read original review
(which is the same as this review)

So I'm sitting here listening to these thick guitar rock tunes and wondering "How the hell do these songs last for five to ten minutes?" That's what I get for sneaking a look at the track times, I guess. The main answer would seem to be that these folks follow the Neil Young approach to writing songs. Because the solos don't sound overly long, and there's always a chorus, verse or bridge right around the corner. It's just that sometimes the corner is further away than I thought. And apart from structure, the Users don't sound much like Neil Young. More like the Doors playing Deep Purple. Of course, that would also explain the length of the songs. In any case, there's very much that seventies excess trying to get back to the sixties vibe going on. And I can't say I don't like it. Because I do. For no particular good reason, really, but when I throw the songs against the wall, they stick. It's as good a test as any, you know.

Review #5

Alex Green
Campus Cirlce vol 8 #2 Sept 2nd 1998

Hard blues, prison ballads, and backwater jazz are tough genres to sell because traditionally they are dark in spirit and can convey a tremendous sadness. Santa Barbara?s (sic) The Users, however, have found a way to play the aforementioned genres in such a fresh and novel way it shines with an surprising appeal. The cool thing about The Users is that it is such a loose, personable outfit; everyone of the 11 (sic) originals on Friendly has an inviting feel. The opener Comin? Down is a cool psychedelic groove, Loveless Lies is a horny jam, and the reshuffling of Bob Dylan?s As I Went Out One morning is an inspired and truly original reading. The Users have a uncanny ability to huddle together jangley guitars, dark blues jams, smooth vocals, beer-soaked improvisations and turn them into cohesive, deeply listenable songs. The dark and turbulent Vodka Wisconsin Orgy is perhaps one of the best examples, combining the humor of Camper Van Beethoven and the instrumental meandering of The Grateful Dead in what amounts to a flawless and strange modern folk song. Friendly pulls no punches -- It goes where it wants to go and pushes it as far as it can. The thing is no matter how far it seems to goes, it always finds it?s way back to the center of things. The Users are not only an innovative outfit, they aren?t afraid to try things more than once, and riendly is the kind of record that deserves to be played over and over again

Review #6
Ken
Flipside Magazine number 114. September/October

Hippie garbage. Dreamy pot induced vocals over bargain basement Santana/fake jazz meanderings. A good portion of the "songs" on this eleven-track cruel joke last well over five minutes, complete with a cover of Bob Dylans "As I Went Out This Morning". (sic) Five will get you ten he sues these dirtbags. The jokes on you. you stupid punk rockers. Hippies never went away. Wow. Bum my trip

Review #7

Sal Scheibe
Rawd 42 publications

Hhhmmmmm....yep, 'friendly' they are. A buoyant, three chord style of alternative rock. Simple, yet effective because they have their own sound. Is that still possible? Don't get me wrong, The Users' music is very familiar sounding but they somehow manage to give that poppy but heavy alternative style their own sound. Musically, The Users don't break and new ground, and they tend to tread lightly at times but it's the odd combination of a light sounding style mixed with dark, somewhat depressing vocals. Wait, I take back the 'light' part. Hhhhmmm....this band is deceptively simple sounding but they have moments of almost greatness. Cool A very live feel to the drums and guitar sound and this is a good thing. When you're in an era of over produced digital sounds, that live feel is often a nice change for the ears. The songs are loooooong but that's o.k, because the songs are also good. A very unusual band in a familiar sounding way. Let me explain... you get the feeling you've heard lots of bands with this style but on a closer listen, no you haven't because the Users have a tendency to make well-known sounds sound odd. The music is strangely disjointed, somewhat unnatural and they're most likely a bunch of weirdos but hey, normal sucks anyway. They started off sounding like a standard three chord bar band, then they went and freaked me out.... I really like them.

Review #8

Author Unknown
from
The Angry Thorearuan (issue #22)
Click here to visit

The weirdness that permeates this band's offering is highly reminscent of HAWKWIND and early 1920's Alice Cooper, what with the bizarre guitars, dark overtones and greatly extended jams that do not lapse into mendacity. THE USERS is a band that is outrageous in a sublime yet slightly scary manner, which is not all bad.

Review #9

Neil Callahan
Sorted Magazine, Ireland

The Users are Americans stuck in a time warp. Their songs are reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, although they claim Pink Floyd as more of an influence. However, this band doesn't even approach the footslopes of those legends. It starts promisingly with 'Comin' Down' having enough moments to call it an above average song, but 'Loveless Life' is poor and 'Jam Time' is self-indulgent trash. 'The Meld' on the other hand is a melody of beauty and an instrumental to be proud of. 'Vodka Wisconsin Orgy' is poor and the less said of 'Meyoh-Myeoh' the better. 'Bone Picker' sounds like Joy Division warbling and fails to excite. 'YBIF' is just dreadful toned-down Marilyn Manson. The other songs lack originality and have been done far better. If The Users want to make a living out of music they should consider becoming a cover band.

Review #10

J.P.
Potpurri & Roses Volume 1, issue 6 April/May 1999

Oh no! Not another jam band. If The Users took out the jams, they might have something going. Or if they had more songs like track 9, "Bone picker", which has ultra-raw power and great lyrical imagery intertwined with melody, reminiscent of the pioneers of punk rock. Great track. Otherwise, they're style relies heavily on guitar dominated classic rock and old skool, slow metal influences. There is also a Dylan cover ("As I went out one morning") thrown in for good measure.

Review #11

Author Unknown
Acid Attack Music
an online ezine
Click Here to visit website

OK, so first off, I'd read all the NG reports on how good this is, so when I feasted my hands upon the disc, I was a little excited to say the least, sweaty palms, a dry mouth and more......... I was not to be disappointed neither this is first class guitar psych, a band who'd known each other for a number of years before reaching out to other parts of the US, and finally getting their trip together and get this released. The 11 tracks (60 minutes), of which 10 are self composed and a great Garage sounding cover of Dylan's "As I went out one morning". The music is basement guitar led rock, some top tunes rolled around the disc, opener Commin down is a excellent guitar hyped tune. I know there are going to be the Reed/Pop/Cope comparison's but who really cares, last track YBIF is a late nite Dancer!!......... do yourself a favor, If you get of on guitar rock, buy this.

Review #12

Matt Currie
181.4 Degrees from the Norm
read original review here

It was a laid back, slow moving Sunday afternoon when I first listened to The Users "Friendly" CD. Friendly it is and probably the most appropriate musical accompaniment to wind down to after a couple of nights out.

The albums' mellowness is most likely due to stem from the easily distinguishable influence of progressive rock groups from the 70's, that was left on this band. Melodies that could have easily been written by Pink Floyd surprisingly emerge from time to time throughout the album.

It's an enjoyably reminiscent trip through rock's recent by-gone past. And probably the first of many slightly left of center releases from the newly formed Bloody Daggre Records.

Little Bag of Hope Reviews

Review #1

Federico Marongiu
Music Extreme Magazine
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)
www.musicextreme.com

This is pure rock!! This band delivers here fourteen songs with rocking riffs and some seventies influences. I caqn hear some southern rock influences in some of the parts. Here all the guitars sound loud and with no too much distrtion. Palms here go to the vocalist who mades a lot of variations making each of the songs memorable. There are choruses that have enough hooks to let the song in your memory long after it has finished. The lyrics have a lot of sense of humour in them and that is essential in The Users music. I liked a lot the vocal lines that reminds me to some seventies or even late sixties band but with a much more modern sound. Here is a bit of fresh air in the rock and roll world and with the help of some talented producer this band can go easily into the charts.

Review #2

July 20, 2004
Reviewer: B. L. Milavetz (Lancaster, CA) (from Amazon.com)

This CD is truly amazing....,
This CD is the kind you never want to take out of rotation in your car. I have had this CD for more than a year now and I still listen to it more than any other CD I own I have bought before or since... I have known these guys for years and this CD really captures the intensity of the way they play live..

The band has a completely unique sound... They are incredible musicians and their love of music of all varieties allows them to play the best aspects of all styles but the band goes beyond the boundaries of their influences... Fate has brought these musicians together for a purpose and I strongly feel that these guys should have a major audience... They are the next big thing in music if they ever get heard by the right person..

Mike Monsalve plays a fast and furious bass that almost no other bass player in music could hope to keep up with... Mike Watt, Flea and Les Claypool could take lessons here.... He is really in a class by himself...

This band was at one point a four piece named the Users with Mike's brother Marty playing guitar along with Alan Ewald... With arty now living too far away to be an active member of the band, Alan Ewald is playing twice as fast to get Marty's licks in there as well and keep up with Mike... Rick Johnson is a great drummer and the glue holding the music together. There is no stopping these guys. Bands play together for decades and never get as tight as these guys are playing together. This is a garage band that has played together for 20 years which is one reason how they have pulled magic out of nowhere for this CD.

Magic is everywhere here. The songs on this CD are amazing and I don't need a list to know their names and order because I can flip tracks in my head on this one from listening to it so much...

The first four songs are a rock and roll thrill ride demonstrating what would happen if the music played you.... 'Addicted' has a riff that rocks out and then the bass line of 'Sicko' sets the tone with a song which rocks so artfully and quickly. Just when it seems like it is about is good as it can get it gets better. At the end of 'Sicko' the bar is set very high and the band plays the jaw dropping Hollow Head. This song is probably the best song on the CD though it is too long to probably be a radio hit which is a shame because this is the song that best explains why the Users are so good... Hollow Head which was written almost 20 years ago still sounds beyond the edge of what rock should be able to do. This is a freeform jam song which is constantly evolving and it really shows what the band can do... The guitar is really fast and the bass is so fast it doesn't seem possible and Rick Johnson's phenomenal drumming holds it all together and the madness stays stable and smooth .. This song leaves your heart pounding and blood racing... I wrecked my car once while listening to this song and it was the only time I ever turned it down.... Next is the frenetic 'Kind of Motion' which was a top requested hit on Brazilian alternative radio. The only people on to this band are the people of Brazil. Kind of Motion is different from anything these guys did before or after... It kind of has a sound that makes me feel like falling over but somehow never hitting the ground. Bass and Drums seem to be at war and the guitar holds it together.

Next is a cover of the Pixies, 'wave of mutilation'.. The band does a great job with this song and next is the acoustic anthem 'Let it Go'. 'Review Six' is very artistic noise or very noisy art. 'Letter from Texas' is a song where the bass talents of Mike are showcased. I always like to hear this song and they got a good version for the CD.

'23726' is an instrumental that is like a new Black Sabbath song or something... Next is 'Something New' which is more of a straight forward Rocker. 'Permanent Sleeping' is a great song which was written on a piano by Mike. This is a ballad and is pretty cool and allows your heart the rest necessary for making it thru April Fools Joke which is a great rock and roll song and and a highlight of a great CD. Fast and Furiously the song rocks at the insane pace of first part of the CD. The drums on this song are my favorite part of this song but it is all great. Guitar and Bass are racing and unique on this track too. One of many unique songs on this CD which ends with the ballad 'In Your Face' which leaves you wanting to start over with track one.

One of my favorite recordings of all time and while I am a friend of the band my love of their music is what convinced me to write this review !

By A Customer on June 9, 2002 Format: Audio CD not sure what these guys are using, but what ever it is it sure works!! this is a great album, with catchy tunes, obscure and confusing lyrics and a really great picture on the cover. what ever the story is on these guys is, i'm looking forward to hearing more of it. it's great to hear music played by guys who really enjoy playing together and are not in it just for the money. they sound like some guys i knew growing up who were able to make their dream of playing music together a reality regardless of what life throws at them along the way. here's a "hope" they keep coming up with more of the same. I'm looking forward to the next "bag"

1 review from a live Show

The L.A. Music Scene, an online webzine for the L.A. area.

The Users:
Old fashioned jams done by long time buds.

By: Thyra Lees-Smith

There are only a couple of reasons to take a long drive out of town on a rainy night to see a band either: A) They are the most talented, exciting band in the world and you are dying to see them or B) They are friends of yours. Well I've known The Users for a long, long time. Basically, The Users are 3 guys who have chummed around together since grade school back in the days of Gerald Ford. The fact that they are still able to stand each other at all, let alone play in a band together is noteworthy all by itself. As for what these long term-relationship boys produce, think of it as psychedelic blues/rock heavily stained with influences ranging from the Who and Sex Pistols to the Grateful Dead, Tom Waits and the Cramps. Globs of darkly humorous songs glued together by extended distortion jams. In other words, don't expect to hear these puppies on FM radio anytime this millennium. At Friday Nights show at the Firewater Inn in Agoura The Users lived up to their long standing reputation for substance enhanced music, well appreciated by fans and friends who show up to their gigs (kind of a suburban troop of beer drinking Dead Heads). Though billed as an "acoustic"set, Guitarist Alan Ewald seemed determined to show the enthusiastic crowd just what electronic boxes could actually do to a guitar without built in pickups. Mike Monsalve on bass sets the overall tone with his heavy/depressing grooves performed with the frenetic energy of a 5-year-old A.D.D. patient. Rick Johnson manages to keep it all together with strong, heavy handed drumming that is not overly frilly but fills the gaps in nicely. In a set that contained mostly original songs The Users managed to prove that they still possess that original spark of whatever got them to form a band in the first place. And in today's world of soulless boy bands and 16-year-old models who sing, it's kind of nice to see a band that defies convention and retains a vice like grip on what made rock and roll, rock in the first place.

Bitch's Bottom Line: Rocker's who still rock, dude.