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March 2007 Reviews by

A Cat Called Cricket
Angel Reaction
Autistic Retards

Autovein
Avey Tare

Kathie Baillie
Lou Barlow*
Bittle and Lig

The Blow
Condoleezza Rice Worships The Devil

Dateline: To Catch A Predator
Ditchflowers

Dreadful Yawns
Everthus The Deadbeats
Golden Bear
Ed Gray
Kemp Harris
Hotpipes
Julias Airwave

Rose Kemp

LA JR
Les Sans Culottes

Let's Go Sailing*
Luxury Liners

Milenasong
Money Brings Out The Shit In People

Of God and Science*
Old Men Old Women

The One AM Radio
Yoko Ono*
Other Men*
Pola
President Shitty
Radical Face
*
Rectumophobia

Red Button
Retconned
Snatches of Pink
Sorijev
Spring
Story of the Sea

Maria Taylor
Vocokesh
Walt Dismal

Win Not
YouTube.com

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received

RATING SYSTEM:
= UNBELIEVABLY INCREDIBLE
= EXCELLENT
= VERY GOOD
= GOOD
= FAIR
= SHITTY

A Cat Called Cricket - Here Comes Another Melody (CD, Beechfields, Pop)
Fresh, genuine, and real. Baltimore, Maryland's A Cat Called Cricket is a band that creates pop music that is unique and fulfilling. The folks in this band (two guys and two girls) write and record soft, melodic pop featuring a heavy dose of cellos. The band is driven by the songwriting skills of Alex Champagne, but the music is arranged and performed by the entire band. Champagne's voice and melodies recall Emitt Rhodes at times. His vocals are pure and sincere...and the overall sound of the band is inspired and rather organic. If you're looking for the loudest and weirdest band of the month, you probably won't be too impressed with this album. But if, however, you are seeking music that makes a real impression and comes straight from the heart...Here Comes Another Melody might just be your favorite new disc. Nifty keepers include "Seasons Never Change," "Nothing," "Ripping Up Our Roots" (our favorite), and "Everything." Really nice. (Rating: 5)

ANGEL REACTION

Every time a
Child is born
Angels in the sky
Launch hand grenades
At us.

(Rating: 1)

AUTISTIC RETARDS

No one is
Mentally retarded
Anymore.
Now they are
Autistic.

(Rating: 1)

Autovein - Bullets and Bruises (CD, Outlook Music, Rock)
If you want to get in on a big band before they get big...get hold of a copy of Autovein's Bullets and Bruises. Our guess is that--judging by the sound of these tunes--this band is going to be hugely successful. Produced by GGGarth Richardson, the album features big thick production values...and perfectly captures this band's hard rock sound. So many modern rock bands sound like carbon copies of one another. Perhaps this is why the guys in Autovein are so refreshing. Instead of rehashing the same old twenty-first century approach to rock (i.e., turn all the way up and play mindless dribble into oblivion), the fellows in this band have the good sense to present a surprising amount of variety in their tunes. Sure, the band rocks hard...but they add enough softer moments and interesting intermissions that you don't get tired of their sound. Kickass rockers include "Bullet Is An Angel," "Quitter," "Save Me," "Useless," and "Head High." Loud, harsh, and catchy. (Rating: 4++++)

Avey Tare - Pullhair Rubeye (CD, Paw Tracks, Experimental)
This is a truly odd, obscure, and peculiar CD...so if you're searching for catchy, easy pop tunes...you certainly won't find them here. Avey Tare is the duo of Dave Portner and Kria Brekkan. The two recorded Pullhair Rubeye in their practice space in Brooklyn. The result...is a collection of compositions that sound something like the animal rustlings of the forest played backwards. Peculiar and abstract, many will assume that these pieces are nothing more than spontaneous accidents. With a bit of concentration, however, listeners may very well find more than first meets the ears on this album. Portner and Brekkan aren't trying to reach a wide audience or even please underground fans. This is a pure artistic effort in which these individuals are following their creative urges. We rarely hear CDs with so little regard for commercial potential. This is a weird spin to say the least. This album features dreamy hypnotic pieces that are bound to simultaneously confuse and calm the listener... (Rating: 4++++++++++++++)

Kathie Baillee - Love's Funny That Way (CD, Aspirion, Country/pop)
Nice, smooth modern country pop that sounds something like a cross between Shania Twain and Bonnie Raitt. Baillee is no newcomer to the world of country music. She has been a background singer for a variety of artists including Dan Seals, Lynn Anderson, and Randy Travis and was previously the lead vocalist in the band Baillie and the Boys. Love's Funny That Way is, however, her first solo album. While mostly a collection of cover tunes, Baillee co-wrote three of these songs...thus adding her own personal touch. These tracks are slick, melodic, and accessible...and should appeal to a wide cross section of country music fans. Baillee has obviously paid her dues...and this album surely paves the way for what will be a solid and rewarding solo career. Top picks: "Love's Funny That Way," "Never Knew Lonely" (a duet with Vince Gill), "Anchor Me," "Come to Me." (Rating: 4++++)

Lou Barlow - Mirror the Eye (CD EP, Acuarela, Progressive pop)
This EP features the merging of one of our top favorite artists (Lou Barlow) with one of our top favorite labels (Acuarela). Barlow is known by many for his work with the bands Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, The New Folk Implosion, Sentridoh, and Lou's Wasted Pieces. Mirror the Eye is the second disc to be released under Lou's own name (following the 2005 release of his first solo outing Emoh). This EP features five tracks: "Yawning Blue Messiah," "Faith Defies the Night," "You're a Goat," "My Surrender," and "Mirror the Eye." We have been impressed by everything that we have heard from Mr. Barlow thus far...and Mirror the Eye is no exception to the rule. Although he has been recording for quite some time now, Lou's music continues to be both memorable and inspired. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

BITTLE AND LIG

When I was bittle
I wanted to be lig.
Now that I am lig
I want to be
Bittle.

(Rating: 1)

The Blow - Poor Aim: Love Songs (CD, K, Pop)
This is a reissue of a limited edition EP from 2004 (only 1,000 were originally pressed) that not only features the original seven tracks but also includes seven remixes by fans and friends of the band. This reissue was probably prompted by the band's full-length 2006 release Paper Television. We never heard the original Poor Aim EP...so all of this music is brand new to our ears. The Blow is Jona Bechtolt and Khaela Maricich...two individuals whose original objective was to create music that was both commercial and personally rewarding. This band's music might be a straight shot at pop were it not for the odd instrumentation and bizarre electronic arrangements. What they seem to be doing here is creating basic pop using unconventional sounds and methods. The idea works surprisingly well. Not only are the tunes on this CD accessible and appealing...but they are also artistically credible compositions. Smooth, hummable, and danceable tracks include "Hey Boy," "Knowing the Things That I Know," and "The Love That I Crave" (our favorite). Delightful and just slightly sinister. (Rating: 5)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE WORSHIPS THE DEVIL

When she's hidden away
In her own safe and private space
Condoleezza Rice
Worships the goddamn
Devil
And masturbates.

(Rating: 1)

Dateline: To Catch A Predator (Pathetic television show crap)
As an explanatory note for folks outside the U.S.A., Dateline is an American news (term used loosely) program that has recently begun a special series entitled To Catch A Predator. The idea is simple...a "decoy" child chats with a predator on the Internet and then tricks them into coming to a house for a meeting...at which time the predator is secretly filmed for inclusion in the television show. Asshole host Chris Hansen (what a cheeseball) scolds the person mercilessly like a nigger mammy pretending to be the Morality Police...at which time the predator leaves the home only to be promptly arrested by the police. There are so many things wrong with this program...where do we begin...? First, does the term "entrapment" come to mind...? What are they going to do next...lay out lines of cocaine in public places and then arrest people who come up to take a snort? Molesting children is wrong, we all know that...but everyone obsesses about the goddamn subject so much now that all it does is create more and more predators. Take this show for example. You don't think they are merely exposing the bad guys in order to do the right thing, do you...? Of course not. The show is all about RATINGS. Ratings are so important, in fact...that they don't mind including lengthy detailed excerpts from each predator's chat...much of which is so filthy and explicit that it actually is pornography. You can bet that this draws in plenty of viewers (because that's all that matters). Of course, the program gives shallow idiots the false impression that it is helping society by shining the spotlight on those terrible sinners who deserve to be publicly humiliated and sent to jail. But in actuality the program is promoting the idea of having sex with children. Something else that troubles us is the fact that the child decoy is often suggestive and flirts with the predator in order to trick them into chatting dirty and coming over for a meeting. How about if we have a decoy in chat rooms offer to give away money to people...and then when they show up to take the money we scold them, film them, and throw them in jail. There is another serious problem with the decoys the program uses...they are not minors. Therefore, if someone shows up to have sex with the decoy...they are not technically breaking the law because the person is not a minor in the first place (!). Dateline represents what is wrong in America today...people are way too focused on retribution. Instead of trying to help people with their obsessive problems in reasonable, rational ways...everyone just wants to see those horrible villains get their just rewards. Sad, very sad. It's just another example of how screwed up and pathetic our society is. Instead of trying to help people who obviously need help...we spank them as hard as we can and sometimes even kill them...for the plain and simple fact that we like to see people get punished. (Rating: 1)

Ditchflowers - Carried Away (CD, Sunshine Drenchy, Pop)
For an unknown band, the folks in Largo, Florida's Ditchflowers have a remarkably slick, professional, and commercial sound. You won't find any noisy experiments here or any artists indulging in mindless creativity. Carried Away is an exercise in pure accessible pop. That might be a bad thing...were it not for the effective songwriting skills of bandleader Ed Woltil. Ed's style reminds us of a great many artists, but immediate similarities to Neil Innes and Neil Finn come to mind first. What may scare some underground fans away from this CD is the fact that the overall sound is very similar to albums released by major labels...lots of overdubs, precise and articulate mixes, etc. True, this is in many ways a bit more slick than necessary, but songs are what count...and songs are what make Ditchflowers stand out from the pack. Super catchy mid-tempo upbeat tracks include "My Next Life," "All the Time in the World," "New Skin" (our favorite), and "Spend My Life." Truly memorable stuff. (Rating: 5)

Dreadful Yawns - Early (CD, Exit Stencil Recordings, Soft pop)
This band has been through plenty of changes in the past few years. These changes have involved shifting from one label to another and a revolving band line-up. Rather than give up or burn out, bandleader Ben Gmetro seems determined to stay focused and head toward the future. And that's a good thing because...Early is a resounding success. Despite some setbacks during the recording of the album, Gmetro has managed to come up with a cool and impressively consisting sounding album. These compositions are extremely smooth and calming. The arrangements are mostly sparse and subtle...and the vocals warm and absorbing. And while the tunes are definitely soft and mellow...the music still manages to have amazing power as a result of the wonderfully exacting melodies. The only thing that may be a problem for some folks is the cover...the super soft almost illegible text definitely grates on the nerves (!). That being a minor point, of course...Early is a wonderfully entertaining album. Our favorite tracks include "You've Been Recorded," "Candles" (our favorite), "We Go Up," and "End of Summer." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Everthus The Deadbeats - Addicts Stuck in Traffic (CD, Standard Recording Company, Progressive pop/rock)
Oddball progressive pop/rock that goes all over the place. As is the case with most underground bands, all of the folks in Everthus the Deadbeats have other jobs. It could be the variety in each of their separate lives that gives their music such a far reaching array of influences. Addicts Stuck in Traffic is a strange spin. Instead of using traditional song structures, the members of this band have a tendency to dive unflinchingly into the chaotic ocean waters. At times the band's music is rather smooth and soothing...while at other times things get downright strange. Although this band doesn't sound too much like anyone else, we can hear possible influences from bands like Pere Ubu, early Gang of Four, and even Hawkwind at times. This is a short CD clocking in at just over 28 minutes. Key tracks include "Blackout," "She," and "Some Terrys." Quite odd at times. (Rating: 4++++)

Golden Bear - To the Farthest Star (CD, C-Side, Pop)
The folks in Golden Bear impressed quite a few people with their 2006 debut album. Instead of resting on their laurels, the band went to work almost immediately on this, their sophomore release. This band's tunes recall a variety of artists including but not limited to early Kinks, Sneakers, Claudia Malibu, and Let's Active. While the band's alternative guitar pop will no doubt appeal to underground pop fans, the tunes are probably a bit too odd and peculiar for the average listener. And that is a plus for the band, or course, because too many modern pop bands tend to play it way too safe most of the time. Chief singer/songwriter Chris Gregory has a nice warm voice that really makes these tunes come to life. Folks who loved the band's debut will no doubt have the same reaction to this album. To the Farthest Star is yet another shot in the right direction. Kickass pop tracks include "Galaxy Queen," "Darkness Sets In," "Stars and Women," and "New Day." (Rating: 5+)

Ed Gray - The Late Gray Ed Great (CD, Hot Potato, Folk/pop)
At a point in time when there are so many pretentious and phony singer/songwriters on the planet...the music of Ed Gray comes across as a cool and sincere blast of fresh air. Based in Iowa City, Iowa, Mr. Gray obviously writes and records first and foremost as an emotional outlet. His songs are direct and personal...notably void of the wealth of overdubs and effects that normally trash the sound of many modern artists' work. Ed's music incorporates elements of folk, Americana, and soft pop. The vocals and instruments are particularly appealing because of the slight flaws that seem to have been purposely left in these tracks...thereby giving the album an impressively warm and inviting sound. In a world where most everything seems to fit neatly into categories...this CD stands out because of the intent behind the music. Top picks: "Baby Bird," "You Have Me at a Disadvantage, Sir," "The Brambling Broad Side." (Rating: 5)

Kemp Harris - Edenton (Independently released CD, Bluesy pop)
Kemp Harris is the real thing. Spin this disc a time or two...and you'll be a believer too. Harris titled this album after his home town of Edenton, North Carolina. He pours his heart and soul into his music...and the result is some surprisingly realistic and mature bluesy pop tunes with a difference. The album features original tracks and cover tunes...with the most obvious constant being Kemp's deep and seductive voice. Harris has the potential to catch on in a big way in the years ahead. His music combines just the right amount of accessible elements with his own original personality. Smooth, slick, and soulful...Edenton proves that Kemp is surely on the road to somewhere. Killer cuts include "Sometimes," "Tryin Times," "Mother Earth," and "Edenton." (Rating: 5)

Hotpipes - Hotpipes (Independently released CD, Pop/rock)
On the first spin we couldn't decide what to make of Nashville's Hotpipes. But by the fourth of fifth go-round...we were hooked. These guys are really good. The band's music occasionally reminds us of The Chainsaw Kittens, early David Bowie, and The Holy Ghost. But most of the time Hotpipes sound just like...Hotpipes. This independently released CD features eleven smart, intricate, puzzling pop/rock tunes. This is the band's second full-length disc...and it's a keeper. The playing is vibrant and focused...and the arrangements fit the songs perfectly. Add in some particularly flavorful vocals...and you've got a band with a unique approach to modern pop/rock. There ain't a bad seed on this sucker, but our own particular favorites include "If..Don't..," "Women of the World Agree," "So Bored," and "Love in 3's." Excellent sound quality throughout. Neat stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Julias Airwave - The City The Forest (CD, Sickroom, Progressive pop)
Intriguing progressive pop. Julias Airwave consists of songwriter Rick Colado and his bandmates Chris Gibson, Mark Hubbard, and Jeff Mehlhoff. Colado's tunes tread that fine line that exists between soft accessible pop and progressive improvisation. The City The Forest is the band's second full length, following 2004's Dragons Are the New Pink. What sets this band apart from others first and foremost is the classically tinged piano. The tunes on this album have a nice, sweeping, flowing quality that is dreamy and soothing. In many cases such an approach might be obnoxious and insincere...but on this album these guys manage to retain their musical integrity from start to finish because the songs seems to come straight from the heart. The folks at Sickroom seem to be extending their boundaries in terms of the types and styles of music they are supporting. And, as such, they are finding more and more oddly appealing gems hidden in the haystacks. This is most certainly one of them. Nifty soft pop tracks include "In The City," "Nanner1," "Broken Bells," "Shipwreck," and "Every Little Bit Helps." (Rating: 5+)

Rose Kemp - A Hand Full of Hurricanes (CD, One Little Indian, Pop)
Like some other reviewers, our first reaction to Britain's Rose Kemp was that she sounds very much like PJ Harvey. Considering the fact that we were big fans of Harvey's early work but very unimpressed with her later recordings, it is fortunate indeed that Ms. Kemp's music incorporates some of the best elements that made PJ's early music so appealing. It is certainly worth noting that Rose is the daughter of Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp (of the eternal babysue favorite Steeleye Span). So...some might be thinking..."Why isn't Ms. Kemp continuing in the grand tradition of her parents?" Fortunately for Kemp and her parents and her listeners...she apparently isn't trying to make music to suit other people. Instead, she is writing and recording music that comes from her soul. And it just so happens...that her internal instincts cause her to create slightly bluesy and occasionally rather abrasive underground rock. What is perhaps most intriguing about Rose's music is the fact that musical elements from her parents do occasionally bleed into the landscape (check out some of the softer moments and, in particular, the harmonies in "Tiny Flower"). Unlike most celebrity children, if Rose ends up being a big success...it won't be because of her famous parents. It will be, instead, because she is creating seriously substantial music on her own. Eleven nifty tracks here, including "Little One," "Morning Music," "Metal Bird," and "Sister Sleep." Great stuff... (Rating: 5+)

LA JR - Dos Casas (CD, Acuarela, Progressive)
Previously known as JR, the band now known as LA JR consists of Francisco Deborja, Frank Rudow, and Rafael Martinez del Pozo. Dos Casas is a peculiar album featuring obscure, subtle progressive compositions that are difficult to describe. These three fellows write and record music that is dreamy and slightly psychedelic. Some of these tracks sound almost normal...while others are strangely bizarre, jazz-like, and haunting. One thing is certain. When spinning Dos Casas you can never guess exactly what will come next. In some ways the tracks on this album recall some of the more subdued progressive artists from the 1970s...while in other ways the overall sound is very current. Perplexing and unpredictable...LA JR is a band on its own obtuse musical mission. Our favorite cuts are "Perro," "Un Lado Util," "Wan Yo," and "Arrebato." Exotic and absorbing. (Rating: 5+)

Les Sans Culottes - Le Weekender (CD, Vibratone, Pop)
This band is best known for the fact that they are an American band that sings in French. Because of their humorous approach to music, many may mistake Les Sans Culottes as a joke band or a novelty act. But nothing could be further from the truth. Actually and in fact, listening to the band's music...they sound very much like an authentic modern French pop band. And the best part...is that there is meat beneath the surface. Le Weekender presents more of the upbeat, catchy pop tunes that the band is known for. After two or three songs spin past, you begin to realize that it doesn't really matter what language you're using...as long as the intent is right and the music is good. We've been impressed with everything we have yet to hear from these folks...and Le Weekender is yet another bull's eye to add to the list. Thirteen show stoppers including "Merci Beaucoup," "Les Enfants Terribles," and "Medications Dans Une Crise." Simultaneously funny and genuinely entertaining. (Rating: 5+)

Let's Go Sailing - The Chaos In Order (Independently released CD, Pop)
There seems to be a growing number of underground female progressive popsters popping up all over the globe lately. This could represent a growing tendency for women to prove themselves artistically. Long gone are the days when all women in music were either country crooners or cutesy popsters. Let's Go Sailing is an appropriate band name for this project. The light, airy tracks on The Chaos In Order flow by effortlessly like waves. The band is driven by the songwriting talents of Shana Levy, a young lady with a remarkable gift for matching memorable melodies with intriguing lyrics. What strikes us most about these tunes is how personal and sincere they sound. Rather than being an album created to make money, this CD was obviously a vehicle for Levy to convey her feelings and emotions to her listeners. Genuinely friendly tracks include "Sideways," "All I Want From You is Love," "We Get Along," and "Come Home Safely." Good solid stuff. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Luxury Liners - Nonetheless (CD, Litterbug, Pop)
Our first reaction to Nonetheless was that it sounded way, way, way, way, WAY too much like The Lemonheads. And indeed it does. So much so, in fact, that if you didn't know who it was you might actually mistake this band for The Lemonheads. But after spinning the CD a couple of times we came to the conclusion that...since Evan Dando isn't releasing so much music these days...we can certainly appreciate the sound of Luxury Liners. This Nashville-based trio writes and records remarkably memorable guitar pop that is an almost perfect cross between the previously mentioned band and early Elvis Costello. The tunes are immediately catchy and brimming over the edges with mind-sticking hooks. They may not be the most original sounding band in the world...but their music is certainly warm, inviting, and totally entertaining. Top picks: "Circles," "Fallen Star," "Crash and Burn," "The Cards You Dealt Me." (Rating: 4++++)

Milenasong - Seven Sisters (CD, Monika Enterprise, Obtuse pop)
There seems to be an intriguing new undercurrent of female recording artists emerging in the twenty-first century who are pushing the boundaries of what home taping artists are capable of producing. Sweden's Cake On Cake is a good example of this new hotbed of talent. The young lady who calls herself Milenasong creates music that is slightly similar to Cake On Cake...except it is more moody and obtuse. She began recording on her four track recorder several years ago and distributed her music to the world through a series of limited edition CDs. Word-of-mouth eventually caused her to be picked up by Berlin's Monika Enterprise...who have now released her first proper studio album. Seven Sisters is a peculiar collection of tunes...soft in nature, yet thought-provoking and mature. Far from a commercial endeavor, this album features songs that are full of pure artistic expression. The more we hear this...the better it sounds. Classy tracks include "Sara," "Thirty," "Love Feel You Do," and "All This Beautiful Light." Intriguing. (Rating: 5+)

MONEY BRINGS OUT THE SHIT IN PEOPLE

Money should be
Packaged, marketed,
And sold as a
Laxative.

(Rating: 1)

Of God and Science - Of God and Science (CD, Detach, Pop)
Thank God there are still underground pop bands around that rely on real drums and real guitars. When the introductory throbbing beat to the opening track began, we had a feeling we were going to be very impressed with this band's music. The fellows in Of God and Science are based in Albuquerque, New Mexico where they also help manage and run the Detach Records label. The band's tunes are guitar oriented underground pop with unusual shifting melodies and moody arrangements. A word of warning. This band's songs will not clobber you over the head the first time you hear them. Instead of instantly catchy feelgood pop, these fellows write unpredictable mature guitar pop that is difficult to describe and difficult to compare to other bands. The subtle beauty of the band's melodies will surely grow on you over time. Excellent dreamy vocals merge with articulately crafted guitars to create a rather intoxicating sound indeed. This 40 minute album features eight killer tracks including "5'7"," "A Lesson In Decay," "Into the Light," and "Drift Alone." Great stuff we will be spinning again and again and again. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

OLD MEN OLD WOMEN

All old men
Look just like
Old women.

(Rating: 1)

The One AM Radio - This Too Will Pass (CD, Dangerbird, Soft pop)
Soft, mature, moody progressive pop. This release seems to be somewhat of a departure for the Dangerbird label. Rather than noisy obtuse rock, The One AM Radio presents dreamy and articulate pop tracks with a heavy emphasis on production and arrangements. The band is the mostly one man project created by Hrishikesh Hirway...a young man who obviously knows the meaning and value of restraint. While the tracks on This Too Will Pass most definitely have a twenty-first century sound, many of the melodies harken back to classic pop from the past three decades. Hirway's vocals are brilliantly soft and subdued...at times sounding ever-so-slightly like Brian Eno. While Hrishikesh plays most of the instruments, strings and horns provided by guests are notable in that they add just the right amount of extra texture to the music. This album might not grab you by the throat on the first listen...but repeated doses will no doubt have you coming back for more. Nifty, memorable cuts include "The Harvest," "Lest I Forget," "Coming Back," and "Where I'm Headed" (our favorite). Great stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Yoko Ono - Yes, I'm a Witch (CD, Astralwerks, Pop)
We've said it before and we'll say it again. When she is at her peak, Yoko Ono is ten times more creative than any of The Beatles ever were. And that is a fact that, over time, more and more people are beginning to accept. Yes, I'm a Witch sheds light on the fact that more and more artists are finally beginning to take Yoko's music seriously...and its about time. Yes, I'm a Witch is a tribute to Yoko...but it is also much more than that. Rather than being a mere collection of tracks recorded by other artists, the album features a strange and impressive array of artists providing the music...while Yoko herself handles the vocals. What is surprising is how well this idea works. Rather than being a mere rehashing of old material, this album breathes new life into Yoko's tunes...bringing many of them into the world of modern twenty-first century pop. Participating artists include Peaches, Porcupine Tree, Apples In Stereo, Flaming Lips, and Craig Armstrong...and that's just the beginning. This seventeen (!) track album is a truly wild ride. Surprisingly, many of these recordings are as good (sometimes even better) than the original recordings (and that is saying something). Yoko haters will probably always be Yoko haters...but it is reassuring to know that as more and more time passes the genius of this mesmerizing lady becomes more and more apparent. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Other Men - Wake Up Swimming (CD, Robcore, Progressive pop)
During the past couple of years we have become increasingly focused on the music of Rob Crow. Whether releasing music under various band names or using his own name, you can just about always bet that if Crow's name is involved with the project...it will be unique, intriguing, and interesting. Other Men is not a new band but rather a newly formed recreation of the band that was originally created in the early 1990s in San Diego. The members are Travis Nelson (guitar), Manolo Turner (drums), and Rob Crow (bass, vocals). Unlike most bands that reform to churn out their old material, these three guys got together to continue forging ahead toward the future with their sound. Fans of Pinback and Crow's solo albums will be pleased to know that Wake Up Swimming sounds very similar in terms of the overall sound and style. The band's herky jerky rhythms, odd guitar riffs, and unpredictable vocal melodies somehow come off sounding extremely cohesive and catchy. That just may be the real draw of Rob's music. It sounds strange, offbeat, and peculiar...and yet the songs are almost always catchy as hell in their own peculiar way. This obtuse kickass album features eleven tracks including "Other People," "Kind of Off to the Side a Bit," "Indiscriminate Proposals of Little Marcy," and "Bullet Train to Jimbo's." This is the first release on Crow's newly created Robcore label. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Pola - Pola (CD, Ionik, Pop)
Catania, Italy's Pola is a rather odd pop band combining traditional elements with shifting electronic snippets that are sometimes reminiscent of The Lemon of Pink. The band is driven by the songwriting talents of Tazio Iacobacci who was previously in the band Keen Toy. This is a short album clocking in at just under 30 minutes. But in that short amount of time, this band's unusual approach becomes quite obvious. The acoustic guitars and strange electronics combine to create a peculiar modern pop concoction that doesn't sound like the rest. Puzzling and subtle, Pola is an album that may very well appeal to fans of Sweden's Cake On Cake. Clever cuts include "Twenty Years Ago," "Lyrics? No Thanks," "Non Grata," and "A New End." Interesting. (Rating: 4+++++)

PRESIDENT SHITTY

The President is
Shitty.
Physically and mentally
Shitty.

(Rating: 1)

Radical Face - Ghosts (CD, Morr Music, Progressive pop)
Another substantial release from Germany's perpetually intriguing Morr Music. Radical Face is the one man band consisting of Ben Cooper...a young man who is taking an unusual and odd approach to music. Recorded in his own residence in Florida, Ghosts is centered around the theme of ghosts that reside in peoples' homes. While Cooper's music resembles Sufjan Stevens, Harpers Bizarre, and Starflyer 59 at times, he is by no means copying the sound or style of others. Instead, by following his own peculiar instincts, Ben is creating thoroughly engaging music that truly stands on its own in todays' world. While his tunes are, for the most part, soft pop...he weaves all sorts of odd sounds and atmospheres into the mix...which gives these pop tracks another ghostly dimension. We had to spin this little sucker about ten times before we came to conclusions about this CD. We finally realized...that we were truly affected by the music. Colorful, imaginative, and utterly wonderful cuts include "Asleep On a Train," "The Strangest Things," "Wrapped In Piano Strings," and "Winter Is Coming." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

RECTUMOPHOBIA

An abnormal fear
Of assholes.

(Rating: 1)

Red Button - She's About to Cross My Mind (Independently released CD, Pop)
On She's About to Cross My Mind, the guys in Red Button are ripping off 1960s bands like The Beatles and Herman's Hermits in every way imaginable with absolutely no sense of shame and no self respect whatsoever...and it sounds just great. The band is actually the duo consisting of Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg...two fellows who obviously have a mental fixation with British pop groups from the past. What is possibly most interesting about this album is the fact that these guys have managed to capture the idea and energy of the sixties while presenting their material with decidedly twenty-first century production values. The songs sound like old songs...yet the sound quality is top notch and very current. Of course songs are everything...and songs are what make this album such a guilty pleasure. Supremely hummable, upbeat, and happy...we can't help but be knocked out by tracks like "Cruel Girl," "Floating By," "She's Going Down" (our favorite), "Gonna Make You Mine," and "It's No Secret." Very impressive stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Retconned - Unhappenings (CD, Stickfigure, Electronic punk)
Retconned is Jonathan Lukens, an Atlanta musician taking an unconventional approach to music. Electronic punk made its biggest splash from the late 1970s to the 1990s...and now seems to be a mostly forgotten phenomenon. Mr. Lukens is bringing the art form back to life...his tunes recall bands like Suicide, Babyland, and early Ultravox. Unhappenings features appropriately loose analog synthesizers and vocals that are drenched with attitude. Jonathan's songs seem to reveal a general tendency to create distance from society. These obtuse, alienated tracks are experimental...yet they retain enough familiar elements to be quite listenable and entertaining. Peculiar cuts include "Opposed Thumb," "Obvious," "Bring the Jubilee," and "Flags." (Rating: 4++++)

Snatches of Pink - Love Is Dead (CD, 8th House, Pop/rock)
We don't mind admitting up front that we are not the most informed and authoritative folks on the planet when it comes to Snatches of Pink. We remember having heard the band's name for years...but for some reason (possibly because of the band name) we tended to lump them in the generic pop/new wave basket of the 1980s. Our ignorance may be a plus...because we were immediately surprised and impressed with Love Is Dead. Rather than pretentious pop, these guys play genuine bluesy rock that features really great guitars and decidedly loose vocals. The band is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina...which could explain why they apparently haven't lost their spark after all these years. This fifteen track album sounds surprisingly fresh and energetic, giving us the impression that the guys in this band are playing for the right reason...which is to have a good time and entertain others. Top picks: "Rocks," "From the Sun," "The War Room," "Alice." Genuine rock played with guts. (Rating: 4++++)

Sorijev - L'es Faile'e (Independently released CD, Progressive/experimental)
Italy's Sorijev is an interesting band with an interesting approach to music. Instead of sounding like current bands or offering commercial pop, the fellows in this band write and record complex rock that harkens back to some of the more adventurous progressive dinosaur bands of the 1970s...recalling obscure artists like Gentle Giant at times. L'es Faile'e is a lengthy album clocking in at just under 60 minutes. During that time, these folks delve into rock, jazz, pop, and atmospheric electronics. After spinning this album several times...we still weren't sure what to make of it. And that is, of course, quite a compliment indeed. You have to hand it to these musicians. Their music is, first and foremost, a pure form of personal expression. The band consists of Ema (vocals, guitars), Friedrik (guitars, keyboards), and Laivh (drums). For a trio...these folks sure have a mighty BIG sound. Impressive. (Rating: 5)

SPRING

Spring, glorious Spring.
The time when
Everything starts to
Die.

(Rating: 1)

Story of the Sea - Enjoying Fire (CD, Speakerphone, Progressive pop)
Created by members of Minneapolis bands Houston, Manplanet, and The Dames, Story of the Sea is a smart, intelligent, progressive hard rock band with a difference. Enjoying Fire features ten guitar driven pop/rock tracks that sound something like a more hard rocking version of Starflyer 59...although the band's sound is also similar in some ways to Little Brazil. What makes the tunes on this CD such a delight is the variety of sounds and styles. This band's music is sometimes soft and sometimes loud...sometimes simple and direct and sometimes rather complex and odd. Whatever sound or style they're playing, however, the guys in this band manage to make it all sound as simple as pumpkin pie. Unlike many albums that can be summed up and digested in a single spin, Enjoying Fire is one of those albums that gets better and better the more you hear it. Creative rockers include "Karma," "Distillery," "Well Adjusted," "Wish the Wish," and "Free To Go." Great stuff, excellent sound quality throughout. (Rating: 5+)

Maria Taylor - Lynn Teeter Flower (CD, Saddle Creek, Pop)
We have been big fans of Maria Taylor ever since we heard the first release from Azure Ray several years ago. Azure Ray may be gone...but Taylor continues writing, recording, and releasing albums featuring her soft, personal, pensive pop. The tracks on Lynn Teeter Flower were recorded and mixed in a variety of studios in a variety of different cities which may explain the varying array of approaches and styles on the album. The lead track ("A Good Start") had us worried. Although we can understand Maria's desire to tread into the more accessible world of music, this song seems to be the first hint at possibly selling out. There are a couple of other tracks that also suffer because they sound too consciously accessible ("No Stars," "Irish Goodbye"). Fortunately, the remainder of the album still retains the soft and sincere music we are accustomed to hearing from Maria. Our favorites this time around are "Clean Getaway," "No Stars," and "Small Part of Me." While Teeter Flower is a very good album...we have to admit that this is the first time we have been slightly disappointed by Taylor. She hasn't totally caved in for cash yet...but if she continues on this path, the artistic merit of her work may slowly diminish. This is a very good album...but let's just hope the next album is a return to form. (Rating: 4+++)

Vocokesh - ...All This and Hieronymus Bosch (CD, Strange Attractors, Psychedelic/instrumental)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Vocokesh return with their eighth album. The fellows in this band play acid-laced psychedelic music in the same general vein as Steve Hillage, Clearlight Symphony, Amon Duul, and Acid Mothers Temple. The compositions on ...All This and Hieronymus Bosch are improvisational tracks featuring a wealth of trippy guitars and even sitars. What is perhaps most appealing about this album is the fact that...despite all the truly weird passages...it has an overall calming effect on the listener. The music of Vocokesh could perhaps be as equally influenced by 1970s progressive bands as present day modern jazz artists. These spontaneous, free-flowing pieces harken back to the past...while helping to introduce this style of music to a whole new breed of listeners. Nifty mental cuts include "Eddie Makes the Scene," "The Truth Regarding Sunspots," "Standing in the Ruins," and "Vibe #8." (Rating: 5+)

WALT DISMAL

If Walt Disney
Could see
How his corporation
Has transformed into
A greedy army of
Money hungry pigs
He would probably
Throw up all over
Mickey Mouse.

(Rating: 1)

WIN NOT

Winning isn't
Everything and
Everything isn't
Anything.

(Rating: 1)

YouTube.com (A real hit and miss web site)
Even though we had never ever even visited the site, we had pretty much dismissed YouTube.com as a total waste. After all, the only clips we ever heard about or saw through other sources were homemade clips of people acting stupid (something we can easily witness in our everyday lives any old day of the year). Our recent visit to the web site revealed something very interesting. Yes, the site is filled with absolute JUNK...but in addition, we were blown away to find that odd, unusual, and rare clips of some absolutely FANTASTIC musical artists were also on display. In our short time browsing and viewing, we we absolutely thrilled to find such oddities as The Kinks performing "Wonder Boy" (yow!), the original Cockney Rebel playing "Cavaliers" live (double yow!), Donovan playing "Yellow Star" live, Roy Wood performing the criminally overlooked "Whisper In The Night" with the original Electric Light Orchestra lineup, Sufjan Stevens singing "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.", and a wealth of killer T. Rex interviews and clips...and that was just the beginning. Sure, many of the clips are herky jerky and of questionable quality but the thing is...they are THERE for FREE VIEWING. Our guess is that over time copyright laws will kick in and many of these items will be removed...but for the time being, YouTube.com is offering some great stuff if you search for the right things. Of course, considering the fact that 98% of the material is JUNK...we will still have to give this site an overall rating of "3". It'll be interesting to see what the future holds for sites like this... (Rating: 3)

Additional Items Received:

1,2,3,4 - Doctor
A Brokeheart Pro - The kitten next door
Brandon Adamson - Costume drama
Akimbo - Harshing your mellow
A Northern Chorus - The millions too many
Apse - Spirit
Army of Me - Citizen
At Swim Two Birds - Returning to the scene of the crime...
Brittany - Shane
Randy Brown - Dream big
Keith Bryant - Live it slow
Bunny - Play to my own tune
Call Sound Call Noise - Call Sound Call Noise
Gina Catalino - Swept in sound
Cinematics - A strange education
Tammy Cochran - Where i am
Daphne Loves Derby - Good night, witness light
Dash Rip Rock - Hee haw hell
Charley Dush - Breakdown union
Eastern Conference Champions - Eastern Conference Champions
Eyes To Space - From the bureau of robotic affairs
Fall - Reformation
Frog Eyes - Tears of the valedictorian
Glos - Harmonium
Go Find - Stars on the wall
Graboids - Infinite delay
Graduate - Anhedonia
Hide From Cleo - Coffee dreams and acoustic beans
Hiding in Public - What lies ahead
Hourly Radio - History will never hold me
Inevitable Backlash - Sex for safety EP
(International) Noise Conspiracy - Live at oslo jazz festival
John Wilkes Booze 13 - The silver session
Juba Dance - Orange
Kalli - While the city sleeps
Keyboard Cathy - Inspiration
Kids Techno - The devil and salisbury plain
Kind - Visit yourself
Lampshades - Surprise!
Legend of Dutch Savage - All will be good when i'm gone
Andrew Lipke - The way home...
Lisi - Damn it!!
Lord Fyre's Sound System - Soul BBQ
Lord Fyre - Destruction at 2013
LZ Love - My higher ground
Christine Martucci Band - I'm all in
Kevin McCarthy and Beautiful Loser - Hiding in plain sight
Cody McCarver - Peace, love and coondawgs
Maria McKee - Late december
Dave Mehling - How do i make you lonesome
New Atlantic - The streets, the sounds, and the love
Num9 - The glow-worm's resistance
Number 23 - Original motion picture score
Origami Ghosts - Solving my own puzzles...
Panther - Secret lawns
Patchwork - Work and worry
Christine Rachelle - The love i feel
Roark - Break of day
Eldridge Rodriguez - The conspiracy against us
Gena Rowlands Band - Flesh and spirits
Cliff Rubin - Dreamers and children
Saps - C'mon already start a fire
Satellite Program - Adoration in retreat
Scharpling and Wurster - The best of Scharpling and Wurster on the best show on WMFU Vol. 4 - The art of the slap
Sherwood - A different light
Shinyville - No sleep till babylon
Signal Hill Transmission - An empty space
Singular - I finally know what's good for me
Slaraffenland - Private cinema
Songs of Praise & Joy - Songs of Praise & Joy
Leeroy Stagger - Depression river
Judd Starr - Luminiescent
State of Ohio - State of Ohio
Swampdawamp - Swampdawamp
Kelly Sweet - We are one
Tarwater - Spider smile
Greg Theien - Enough thunder
Therefore I Am - Therefore I Am
This Story - Darling, it's war
Two Cow Garage - Three
Unknown Instructors - The master's voice
Utah Carol - Rodeo queen
Anna Wilson - Time changes everything
Wensday - A taste of torch rock
Xactimate - Version 24
Zen Boy & Karma Girl - Who they are and how they came to be!

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