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DRIP TANK (Buy CDs by this artist)
Slake (Headhunter/Cargo) 1992
Sprawl (Headhunter/Cargo) 1994

While this San Diego quartet might be best known around Southern California for initiating a live tour of 7-Eleven stores, the band's got no other gimmicks (unless breaking up counts: Drip Tank called it quits in 1995). As one contributor to the city's early-'90s renaissance, the group followed a series of singles and compilation appearances with Slake, an invigorating if uneven debut. The dozen songs' strength includes solid pop dynamics and excellent dual-guitar work by Julie D. and Joel Nowak, but Slake, for all its fun, lacks focus and rambles stylistically. In its best moments, Drip Tank delivers angular punk-pop reminiscent of the Fastbacks and, not surprisingly, local mates like aMINIATURE (whose John Lee assisted in Slake's recording).

Drip Tank burned through a handful of drummers between records, but still managed to prepare an improved, confident effort for Sprawl. On this darker, deeper collection of better-written material, Julie and Joel deliver more complex moods with their sly, sinewy guitar interplay. Drive Like Jehu drummer Mark Trombino's engineering helps-instead of sounding offhand, Drip Tank sounds intense and brooding. The record title was inspired in part by a Sonic Youth song of the same name, and Drip Tank reflects the influence of that group and such related phenomena as Live Skull and Band of Susans. Julie D. left in 1995 to join a promising all-female quartet, Chinchilla, and Drip Tank broke up.

[Mark Woodlief]