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BLACK VELVET FLAG (Buy CDs by this artist)
Come Recline With Black Velvet Flag (Go-Kart) 1994

Trends may come and trends may go, but shtick springs eternal. This mock-rock trio's gimmick may be a simple one — vintage West Coast hardcore classics reinvented as lounge-music ditties — but the execution (to say nothing of the timing) is pretty darn impeccable. New York's Black Velvet Flag doesn't miss a beat, going so far as to reproduce the cover of The Decline of Western Civilization, picturing singer Fred Stesney doing his best Darby Crash impression (albeit wearing eyeglasses and a tuxedo). Come Recline is actually quite witty the first few times through, teeming as it is with absurdities like a finger-poppin' take on Fear's "I Don't Care About You" (which conjures up images of Stesney shooting his cuffs and pointing out audience members one by one as he croons the title phrase) and a version of Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized" that Vic Damone would be proud to call his own. Ultimately, the album falls somewhere between Dread Zeppelin feebdom and a '90s approximation of Frank Sinatra's late-'60s hipster era, during which Ol' Blue Eyes tried his best to bask in the glow of the summer of love — not that either assessment will keep Black Velvet Flag from the next century's thrift store bargain bins.

[David Sprague]