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March 2006 Pork Chopper Cheeseheaded Pointy Reviews by
|Acid House Kings*
The Capstan Shafts
The Choir Boys
The Cincinnati Reds
The Essex Green*
Livid In India
Lauren K. Newman
|Plastic Yesyes Brand|
Seven Mile Journey
Street Drum Corps
Additional Items Received
= VERY GOOD
March 2006 Comment
Bring Back Pee-Wee Herman
Funny how fickle the public can be. One minute you're on top of the world...and then all of a sudden you're not. When we first caught a glimpse of Pee-Wee Herman's act we almost couldn't believe what we were seeing and hearing. It was like watching Mr. Rogers on acid. The man was so original and far out that we figured he would always be an underground obscurity. When his career took off and propelled him into hosting a children's show...we were bewildered. It was great, to be certain...but from the very beginning Pee-Wee seemed far too bizarre for adults...much less children. In any event, Pee-Wee's career went up, up, UP...and before any of us knew what was happening he was a major celebrity and had everyone eating out of his hands. His television show even won an amazing 22 Emmy Awards (and he deserved every one of them). Paul Reubens created a unique body of work that has yet to be rivaled by anyone at any time. The Pee-Wee's Playhouse DVD sets continue to sell well despite the fact that networks are still reluctant to air the show because of silly scandals. And Paul created what is perhaps the best Christmas special of all time...yet it is rarely shown during the holidays. It is truly depressing that people condemned this genius of a man because of something as ridiculous as going to an adult movie theater. So what? Who hasn't gone to an adult theater at some point in their life...? Invading his home years later in the hopes of trying to find child pornography was even more hateful and absurd. The claim was never substantiated, but the story itself was enough to damage Paul's career even more. Ignorant and shallow people love a witch hunt. Unfortunately, Paul Reubens became the strangest witch ever to be hunted. The saddest part of it all...is that Pee-Wee Herman fans across the globe are now deprived of one of the funniest acts EVER. We respect Paul Reubens for what he was and is...possibly the greatest living comedian and one of the truly unique personalities of our time. We are hoping Paul will overcome all of the absurd and incredible unfairness and bring his character back to life. We miss Pee-Wee. Please, PLEASE...Pee-Wee COME BACK.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
House Kings - Do What You Wanna Do (CD,
More absolutely beautiful soothing underground pop from Acid House Kings. This band has an immediately recognizable sound and style. The songs are direct and to the point...and feature some of the most focused and incredible vocals you are likely to find anywhere on earth. This EP features six tracks: "Do What You Wanna Do," "Come Josephine," This Heart Is a Stone," "Drama Inside," "The Camera," and "Keep Your Love." Our only complaint...is that this isn't a full-length CD. This disc leaves the listener wanting more, more, MORE... (Rating: 5++)
Allin - Terror in America: Live 1993
(DVD, Music Video Distributors)
After being released from prison and recording his final album with The Murder Junkies in 1993, GG Allin hit the road again to abuse himself and his fans. This DVD features concert footage from three concerts: Ashbury Park, NJ (April 25, 1993), Austin, TX (May 18, 1993), and Atlanta, GA (May 15, 1993). The Ashbury Park show is the best in terms of quality. The video and sound are both impressive (particularly when compared to many other DVD releases). GG gets so bloody during this show that it is almost difficult to watch. The Atlanta show is more typical GG...questionable sound and video...a much more sloppy performance in which GG wears nothing but an American flag covering his crotch. The Austin show is the real treat here, probably due to the fact that the crowd is much more lively and interactive. So much so that much of the concert turns into a screaming and fighting match between GG and his "fans." Our favorite part of the show is when GG sets fire to his "crotch flag"...putting it out at the last minute before it (presumably) would have done damage to his not-so-private parts. There are some extras that present the more "human side" of the man. GG fans will love this. Others will, of course, hate it. And that was, of course, always GG's main goal anyway...to elicit hate. (Rating: 4++++)
- Songs From the Year of Our Demise (CD, Pattern
The first full-length solo album from Jon Auer (best known as a member of The Posies and Big Star...both of which are still in existence). About five years in the making, this album presents fifteen intelligent, well-crafted pop tunes with real staying power. In an age of throwaway pop, Jon's music easily stands out from the pack and holds up to many repeated spins. This man has had exceedingly diverse and intriguing twists and turns in his career thus far...and this just may be the album that will boost his career several notches. Pensive, mature, thoughtful, and above all melodic...these tunes showcase a man whose music is obviously central in his life. Clearly connected compositions include "Six Feet Under," "Four Letter Word," "Josephine," and "Wicked World." Rewarding and fulfilling. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)
Black - Autumn Days (CD, Cheap Lullaby, Soft pop)
The fourth album from Gus Black (the first two were released under the name Gus). Black writes and records soft, pensive, understated pop tunes that recall the music of pop icon Donovan (the vocals are particularly similar at times). Despite the fact that Black is still an underground performer, he has already had his songs featured on the television shows One Tree Hill, Smallville, Felicity, and Alias. This might not be so impressive were it not for the fact that this man's songs are not necessarily commercial sounding. His soft, subdued style of singing and playing brings to mind underground sensation Sufjan Stevens. Songs are the main focus of Autumn Days...but the arrangements are an integral part of the overall effectiveness of the music. Thought provoking and subtle, this album is bound to please fans and bring in many more. Pleasing soft pop tracks include "Don't Go Tellin' the Whole World," "Weekend Soldier" (a real standout track), "Certain Kind of Light," and "Autumn Days." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)
Francoiz Breut - Une Saison Volee (Import CD, Green
UFOs, Progressive French pop)
Unlike other underground artists, France's Francoiz Breut interprets songs written by others. But don't expect the kind of horrid dribble spewed out by American Idol wannabes. Breut has good sense and good taste. Une Saison Volee features fifteen cool tracks you most likely have never heard before. Francoiz is a vocalist with true presence. She is completely focused in her delivery. The arrangements are appropriate and tasteful. This album creates a true and definite atmosphere. Destined to be a favorite among fans of the underground, Francoiz Breut is an intoxicating breath of fresh air. Top picks: "La Certitude," "Le Ravin," "Sur le Balcon," and "Le Premier Bonheur du Jour." Beautiful and cerebral. (Rating: 5)
You got a new job.
You won the lottery.
You made it through surgery.
Buzzcocks - Flat-Pack Philosophy (CD,
Cooking Vinyl, Pop/rock)
The legendary Buzzcocks return with their eighth studio album. The last couple of CDs from Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle were decent but certainly didn't match the brilliance of their earlier recordings. Flat-Pack Philosophy isn't perfect...but this is the best the band has sounded in years. The album features fourteen tracks that flash by in a mere 36 minutes. Shelley's voice still sounds great and he has come up with some intriguing melodic twists this time around. As is almost always the case with Buzzocks albums, you have to be near your CD player or the remote...so you can skip over Diggle's tunes. They're not terrible...but compared to Shelley's songs, they just don't seem that interesting. Pete's tunes are and always have been the real meat of the Buzzcocks. Thank God the man is still cultivating his craft. Neat tunes include "Flat-Pack Philosophy," "Wish I Never Loved You," "I Don't Exist," "Dreamin'," and "I've Had Enough." (Rating: 5+)
The Capstan Shafts - Euridice Proudhon (CD, Kittridge,
Lo fi pop)
We don't know a lot about this band (the CD came alone in an envelope with no accompanying information)...but we do know one thing. When the music is this good, who needs facts and explanations...? On the confusingly titled Euridice Proudhon, the music speaks for itself. Dean Wells (the man behind The Capstan Shafts) is an apparently rather prolific fellow whose music is reminiscent of Robert Pollard. This album features twenty-two unusual lo fi pop tunes that are intelligent and seemingly influenced by British bands of the past few decades. Dean's voice is focused and credible...and his lyrics are light years beyond what we are accustomed to hearing. Destined to be a cult classic, Euridice Proudhon is a cool and intriguing spin. Includes "Everyone Plants Trees," "Magical Dance Number Scene," "Aching Tiny Everywheres" (great song title there), "Hip/Misguided" and more... (Rating: 5)
The Choir Boys - The Choir Boys With Strings (CD, pfMENTUM,
Anyone who is familiar with Jeff Kaiser, Andrew Pask, G.E. Stinson, and Steuart Liebig will have a good idea of what to expect from The Choir Boys. These four underground kings of improvisation got together and recorded two lengthy pieces at the Ventura College Theatre in California on October 5, 2005. Thus, The Choir Boys With Strings was born. Atmospheric electronics collide with elements of modern classical and modern jazz and rock to create heady and confusing music that will only appeal to a small, eclectic segment of listeners. Similar in intent and scope to early Tangerine Dream, The Choir Boys With Strings is an audio experience in which anything can and does happen. Despite the fact that the album features two continuous pieces "track numbers have been added for convenience." Cool, creative, and ultimately obtuse...this album is creative, engaging, and thoroughly unpredictable. (Rating: 5+)
The Cincinnati Reds - You Take the High Art and I'll Take the Low Art (CD,
Tokyo Rose, Pop)
Much will undoubtedly be made about this album's cover art. These four young ladies in The Cincinnati Reds appear on the front and back CD cover totally nude. We can't help but wonder what other all-female band has taken such a bold step...? Considering the shock/jolt effect of the cover art, you would expect the music to suck...but it doesn't. Actually and in fact, these ladies record credible underground pop that is rather neat and unpredictable. The melodies are strong and catchy and the lyrics are exceptionally thought provoking. Moody and mature tracks include "Movies," "Watch," "Duex," "My," and "Sometimes." Intriguing. Hopefully the cover won't cause folks to dismiss the music. (Rating: 5+)
Clark - Hand on the Stove (CD, Pommer
Instantly pleasing accessible modern pop. Liz Clark is on a positive career path going straight UP. She has an image and sound that are both very current and should appeal to a broad range of listeners. Hand on the Stove features ten smooth radio-friendly pop tunes that come straight from the heart. The arrangements are finely tuned and appropriate...but it is the songs themselves that make this album such a treat. Clark has a soothing friendly voice that really warms up the mix. At times her music is slightly reminiscent of Suzanne Vega. This is an extraordinarily strong album from an up-and-coming artist who is certain to make an indelible mark on the public in the years to come. Truly rewarding tracks include "Who's Your Angel," "Encore," "Soft Side," and "I Need You." (Rating: 5+)
Conky this Conky that.
Conky, Conky, Conky cat.
Conky me, Conky you.
Conky Ted and Tammy too.
Conky is as Conky does.
Conky is and
Daturah - Daturah (CD, Graveface,
Discovered by Graveface label owner Ryan Manon, Germany's Daturah is a decidedly non-commercial five piece band whose music is multi-faceted and moody. This, the band's self-titled debut album, contains three lengthy tracks clocking in at just over 44 minutes. These three tunes ("Shoal," "Warmachines," "Lovelight") might be best described as modern progressive instrumental shoegazer-inspired drone. The band creates environments and moods with their music...and they do so with compelling authority. This is the kind of thing folks either love or hate. If you're looking for easy catchy tunes, you won't find them here. Daturah is a purely artistic endeavor. Reminiscent of bands we have heard on North Carolina's Silber label... (Rating: 4++++)
Edwards - Carolyn Edwards (CD, A True Classical, Soft pop)
The first solo CD from Carolyn Edwards, best known as a member in the bands The Negro Problem, Spindle, and 3D Picnic. Ms. Edwards' seasoned efforts working with her previous bands has certainly helped her to refine and focus her sound. This is a short album clocking in at just over 37 minutes...but no time is wasted as Carolyn presents soft, soothing, pensive pop that is unique and immediately effective. Her unorthodox approach to songwriting may not be apparent at first. But upon closer inspection, the listener is likely to notice all kinds of subtle intricacies that make this music more substantial and effective than mere generic slop pop. Ms. Edwards music blends mature knowledge with childlike innocence...creating a soothing and intoxicating environment. Eleven killer tracks here including "Lunacy," "Lazy," "Wrestling Match," and "Beauty Wasted." Psychologically rewarding...and highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)
Electropolis - Electropolis (CD, Innova
Recordings, Experimental jazz/dub)
Experimental free form spacey jazz played over dub-ish rhythms. Electropolis is Kelly Rossum, Michael Ferrier, Michael O'Brien, and Steve Roehm. Together, these four gentlemen create unpredictable trippy jazz that is similar in style and scope to Great Britain's The Grassy Knoll. What sets these guys apart from other modern improvisational units is that they do not use guitars (replaced, for the most part, by electrosax and electrotrumpet). These eleven tracks are groove-oriented and smooth. While there's a lot of experimentation going on, the end result is an album that glides by freely. Nifty cuts include "Scorched," "Recliner," "Ouch Not Again," and "The Little Red Blinking Light." Cool and utterly absorbing. (Rating: 5+)
The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea (CD, Merge,
The Essex Green is a thoroughly mindblowing pop band. The band's main songwriters (Chris Ziter, Sasha Bell, and Jeff Baron) write effervescent tunes that are a totally upbeat experience. These folks' songs are in the same general vein as The New Pornographers but much more sparse and direct. Cannibal Sea spins like a modern day collection of classic pop tracks from the past that you have never heard until now. The band's straightforward approach makes their music sound spontaneous and ultimately inspired. It's hard not to love songs like "Don't Know Why (You Stay)," "Penny & Jack," "Cardinal Points," and "Elsinore." In the world of The Essex Green...songs are what matter most. Lovingly created with acute attention to detail, Cannibal Sea will easily end up being one of our favorite albums in 2006. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)
- Hangover Heights Part 2 (CD, In
Music We Trust, Pop)
Instantly lovable happy pop music. Though the band has only released three releases since forming in the late 1990s, based on the tunes on Hangover Heights Part 2 we have come to the conclusion that the guys in 44 Long are apparently more concerned with quality than quantity. Anyone who ever appreciated The Beatles, Badfinger, and Gram Parsons is likely to get a big kick out of this album. This band's guitar-based feelgood pop is hummable, catchy...and delivered with real sincerity. Lead singer/songwriter Brian Berg injects his tunes with intriguing chord progressions and lyrics that seem to come straight from the heart The slight hints of classic country add extra zest. This eleven track album is purely entertaining...presenting real music for real people. Top picks: "Ever Find A Way?", "All the Way," "You Let Them Win," and "Everybody Has a Way." Apparently Mr. Berg really likes the word "way" (!). (Rating: 5++)
Diamonds - There Should Be More Dancing
(CD, Deep Elm, Pop/rock)
Herky jerky spastic nervous pop rock from Great Britain's Free Diamonds. This band's vocals are so over-the-top that at times they border on musical comedy. The guitars are jagged...slightly reminiscent of guitars found on Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby. The guys in Free Diamonds are rockers to be sure...but their brand of rock is just plain crazy and weird. Coming up with any comparisons and possible influences is difficult because of the skewed nature of the tunes on There Should Be More Dancing. Entertainment is the ultimate goal...and, as such, these guys succeed with brimming gusto. Classy bizarre tracks include "International Gathering of Champions," "Blind Boys," "Land of Giants," and "Don't You Understand?" Strangely enough, these tunes actually are danceable. Hard rocking...and goofy...stuff (!). Should appeal to folks with an odd sense of humor. (Rating: 5)
Garcia - The Desperate Ones (CD, Yer Bird, Soft pop)
We probably shouldn't have read the press release while spinning this album...because as a result we couldn't get the idea out of our heads that Nic Garcia sounds something like a cross between Leonard Cohen and Sufjan Stevens. However we got the idea, any comparisons to these two artists are most certainly complimentary. Nic Garcia's nice, understated personal tunes feature sparse arrangements and wonderfully breathy, subdued vocals. This young man writes tunes that seem to come straight from his soul...and his delivery is top-notch. Classy tracks include "In the Time of the Wolf," "Their Crimes," "Kiss the Highway," and "Onward." Cool stuff. (Rating: 4++++)
Grogshow - Grogshow (CD, Future
Appletree, Progressive pop)
Grogshow is the band that could...or perhaps should...have been. Grogshow was Marc Kisting (guitar, vocal) and Al Hennagir (drums)...two fellows whose career was cut short due to Kisting's early and untimely death in 1996. The two recorded the eight tunes on this album in the mid-1990s as the starting point for their career. Had Marc lived, it is likely that he and Hennagir would have become underground cult celebrities at the very least. These tunes were remastered in 2005 by Matt Trimble and Pat Stolley (the same folks who recorded the songs the first time around). For every person who makes it in the music business...there are thousands upon thousands of others who are equally talented but just don't get a lucky break. Kisting was one of these. His legacy and music live on because of the thoughtfulness of those who knew him. All proceeds from the sale of this disc are being donated to the Leukemia Research Foundation. (Rating: 5)
Hank III - Straight to Hell (Advance double CD, Conqueroo,
Being the son of Hank Williams, Jr. and the grandson of Hank Williams, Hank III has his work cut out for him in order to carve out his own niche in the music world. But based on Straight to Hell, Hank seems up for the task. This double disc set features a whopping helping of tracks recorded on a Korg D-1600 recorder. Disc One is the real album proper...featuring thirteen tracks that range from traditional country to redneck country pop to alternative rock. While purists may be confused by the odd clashing of styles in Hank III's music, this young man's tunes actually succeed on many levels. He's got a damn good voice that sounds very much like his father. Cool toe tappers include "Satan Is Real," "Straight To Hell," "Low Down," and "Not Everybody Likes Us." Disc Two is an experimental hodge-podge of songs and ideas...not as smooth and easily digestible as the first disc, but still interesting nonetheless. Hank III is bound to confuse fans...and for that we have to give him a THUMBS UP. (Rating: 4++++)
Happies - If We Were Really Here (CD,
Gliding melodic feelgood pop presented with thick fuzzy guitars and wonderfully ethereal vocals. The fellows in Salt Lake City-based The Happies write and record soothing hummable pop music in the same general vein as bands like The Lassie Foundation, The Hang Ups, and The Shoes (three of the greatest pop bands of all time). The songs seem deceptively simple at first...but take on layers upon layers of depth upon closer inspection. This thirteen track album features smart unique compositions with intriguing twists and turns. The vocals are, for the most part, extremely hushed and subdued...and the songs have strange reflective moody qualities. Occasionally the band really lets loose with a surprisingly hard rocking sound. Rarely do we hear a new band this good. Thus far these guys seem to have made a mark mainly in their home state of Utah...but word about this album is no doubt going to spread like wildfire. If We Were Really Here is likely to end up being one of the best pop albums of 2006. These guys are doing everything right. Exceptionally rewarding songs include "Everything's Fine, Cover Your Eyes," "Paw Paw," "Learn How To Pray," "Newspaper Friend," and "Spend A Day." (Rating: 5+++)
Helvetia - The Clever North Wind (CD, The Static Cult / Up, Pop)
Helvetia is the latest project created by Jason Albertini, who some folks will recall as a former member of the band Duster. The Clever North Wind is a peculiar collection of fifteen tunes ranging from lo-fi to indie pop with hints of jazz and experimental music. These songs are, for the most part, sparse and understated. Albertini leaves his tunes open-ended so that the listener is able to interpret them any way they see fit. Although these compositions sound strangely familiar, it is difficult indeed to come up with any comparisons and/or possible influences. The band will (appropriately) be opening for Built To Spill during their Spring 2006 tour of the United States. Clever tracks include "Songs of the Ancient," "Gladness," "Statica," and "The Drowning End." Neat stuff. (Rating: 4++++)
Hillstomp - The Woman That Ended The World (Independently released
CD, Hillbilly stomp/country/pop)
We were as impressed as Hell with the last Hillstomp release. The Woman That Ended The World picks up where that album left off. Guitarist/vocalist Henry Kammerer and drummer/vocalist John Johnson record sparse foot-tapping music that could easily appeal to a lot of people. Like the Flat Duo Jets, these guys manage to do a lot using only the bare essentials. Whether they're playing redneck-inspired dance numbers or softer moody blues, these guys manage to stay squarely focused over the course of these eleven tunes. If there is one word to describe Hillstomp that word would probably be...unpretentious. Another thoroughly satisfying album. Features "Poor Black Mattie," "Can't Be Satisfied," "Jackson Parole Board Blues," and "N.E. Portland 3 a.m." (Rating: 5)
Kraftwerk - Minimum - Maximum (Double CD, Astralwerks,
This whopping double disc set features live material recorded in Europe, Japan, and the United States during Kraftwerk's 2004 world tour. A lot of folks tended to dismiss the band's original success as a short-lived novelty...but those folks have been proven wrong by Kraftwerk's impressive and ultimately credible staying power. Despite the fact that these 22 tracks were recorded at different times and in different cities, the sound quality is consistent and superior from start to finish. Most of the hits and essential non-hits are included here..."The Man-Machine," "Autobahn," "Neon Lights," "Radioactivity," "Computer World," "The Robots, "Music Non Stop"... Listening to these discs is like having the band play in your living room. You can hear the audience pop in and out showing their approval...yet these tracks are so slickly recorded that at times one forgets that these are live recordings. One thing is for certain. Kraftwerk is one of the few bands from the last century to survive with their credibility totally intact. (Rating: 5++)
LIVID IN INDIA
Livianne and David are
Livid in India.
- Dirt Floor Hotel Part 2 (CD, Velvet
Blue Music, Soft pop)
More beautiful, soft, dreamy pop from Ohio's LN. We've been rather taken with everything we've heard thus far from these guys. On Dirt Floor Hotel Part 2 the band continues with the same soothing concept...writing and recording sparse, pensive, personal music that comes straight from their hearts. True to the claim of the press released that accompanied this disc, the album is "moody, quiet, somber, heart aching and isolated." That pretty much sums it up. LN consists of Gary Murray, Dalton Brand, Casey VanSickle, and Nathan Abel. A purely artistic endeavor, this album has plenty of meat and substance. The tunes are smart and memorable...and they are all delivered with sincere subtlety and real class. One suggestion for the band. We can't help but think that the folks at the television show Ellen might be interested in featuring the band. After all, they were around long before the television show became a runaway success. And the band name is, of course, totally appropriate. The gentlemen in LN deserve more recognition than they have received thus far in their career. Hopefully Dirt Floor Hotel Part 2 will bring in new legions of fans. Classic tracks include "Within your Song," "Lamps of Sleep," "Kisses," and "Ride That Pony Down." Somber and beautiful. (Rating: 5++)
Lovedolls Superstar: Fully
Realized (DVD, Music Video Distributors)
The follow-up to Desperate Teenage Lovedolls. With Bunny Tremelo now deceased, Kitty Karryall (Jennifer Schwartz) and Patch Kelley (Janet Housden) have nothing to do but revive their once successful rock band. After securing replacement guitarist Alexandria (a bleached blond hooker), it doesn't take long for the band to regain their diehard fans...who are so devoted that they quickly begin killing for their idols. Steve McDonald (Rainbow Tramaine) is hilarious as a hippy commune member who goes to the big city...while Jeff McDonald (Carl Celery) plays the fanatical fan who shows up at a riotously funny Brews Springstien show. (Brews sings "Shoot Me In The Dark"...and Carl is happy to oblige.) We don't want to give away any more of the plot here. Suffice to say, Lovedolls Superstar is very much in the vein of John Waters. This is a low budget film with plenty of goofy surprises and intriguing guest appearances. The title song by Redd Kross is absolutely killer, as is the rest of the soundtrack. While this may only be of interest to those who followed underground rock in the mid to late 1980s...this movie is quite simply a hell of a good spin with lots of laughs throughout. (Rating: 5)
Mellowdrone - Box (CD, Columbia
/ Red Ink, Progressive pop)
It's been quite some time since we heard from this band. In 2004, Mellowdrone released a fantastic EP that was immediately embraced by reviewers (including ourselves). Box continues with the same blend of heady progressive pop music. The album is a thick, slickly produced effort in which all sorts of sounds and effects collide. Leader Jonathan Bates is destined to be one of the really big underground stars in the years to come. His songs sound something like a more upbeat, positive, pop version of Nine Inch Nails...or even a more industrialized, dark version of David Bowie. The driving beats on this album are perfect for driving and/or dancing. The melodies and lyrics are inventive and memorable...and Bates has a voice that drives the tunes right into home plate. Kickass tracks like "C'mon Try A Little Bit," "Oh My," "Beautiful Day," and "Bone Marrow" are destined to become cult classics. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)
- Meme (CD, Plug Research,
Soft progressive pop)
An album about relationships from Canada's Milosh. In overall sound and approach, this album reminds us very much of Todd Rundgren's Healing. Milosh uses electronics to create some very human sounding music. His songs are soft and soothing...yet surprisingly provocative. Milosh makes music that is very personal. His vocals are soft and subdued...and the electronics are strangely hypnotic. The album begins by dealing with the issues of breaking up with one girlfriend ("It's Over") and ends with the emotions involved in beginning a new love affair ("Playing With Yen"). Meme doesn't contain any clunkers. All eleven tracks are well thought out and memorable. If you think all electronic artists sound the same, think again. This young man has a sound that is uniquely different. Top picks: "It's Over," "Couldn't Sleep," "The City," "Run Away." (Rating: 5++)
- The Arrivant: Volume One (CD, Kitchen
Sink, Electronic/instrumental), The Arrivant: Volume Two
(CD, Kitchen Sink,
Released simultaneously, The Arrivant: Volume One and The Arrivant: Volume Two are the second and third releases from Moov. Tony Gudwien took a chance by releasing a double CD as a debut album (Tracks)...but the response seemed to be overwhelmingly positive. The Arrivant provides more smooth and inventive instrumental electronics. Instead of going too far in either direction, Gudwien instead provides music that is easy on the ears and mind. So many electronic artists go either the ambient route...or they go too far in the other direction, creating dance club tracks that often drive the home listener to a state of insanity. These tunes draw in listeners while providing just the right amount of artsy creativity to be entertaining. Volume One provides eleven tracks while Volume Two features only four. While the second disc is obviously the more obtuse and peculiar of the two, both discs are inviting and unique...each in its own way. Cool, calculated, and full of invention. (Rating: 5+)
Nebula - Apollo (CD, Liquor
and Poker Music, Rock)
Nebula is one of the leading stoner rock bands in the United States. Formed by Eddie Glass and Ruben Romano after they opted to leave the band Fu Manchu in 1997, the fellows in the band have thus far delivered nothing but home runs. Apollo just may be the slickest Nebula release yet. Produced by Daniel Rey and mastered by Howie Weinberg, the album sports a more focused and refined overall sound and vision. But that doesn't mean the punch is gone by any means. Apollo is, first and foremost, a rock and roll album. The band plays with fury and conviction....and Glass's vocals have never sounded better. The rhythm section is focused...providing a driving foundation for those wonderfully wild, overdriven guitars. Classy cuts include "Orbit," "Fever Frey," "Controlled," "The Eagle Has Landed," and "Wired." Great stuff. (Rating: 5+)
Lauren K. Newman - Postulate I (CD, Greyday,
These days there are countless one-woman bands playing light, airy pop...but how many can you think of who can really rock all by themselves...? Lauren K. Newman (or LKN) is a multi-talented young lady who plays and sings every single thing on Postulate I. Her style of music reminds us of a cross between early PJ Harvey and Ill Ease (more the former than the latter). She began her career with the band StellaMarie before deciding to record and perform using her own name. The tunes on Postulate I are built around solid drumming and intelligent electric guitars. Newman's songs are neither predictable nor conventional...and yet they remain strangely accessible. Thought provoking and mature, this is an extremely impressive collection of tunes from a young lady who is talented and focused. Top picks: "A Formed Supply of Chaos and Harmony," "Long Road Psalm," "Draw the Curtain," "Freeze." (Rating: 5+)
Nourallah - The Best Songs of Faris Nourallah
(Import CD, Green UFOs, Pop)
For folks who are not familiar with this man, this disc will serve as the perfect introduction. For those who are already familiar with his music...this CD quickly reaffirms what many of us have known for some time now. Faris Nourallah is one of the most gifted songwriters on the planet. This CD offers a quick photographic snapshot of Mr. Nourallah's career up to this point. Material is presented from all four studio albums: The Nourallah Brothers, I Love Faris, Problematico, and King of Sweden. Fans of Ray Davies will instantly fall in love with Faris. He is simply...one of the BEST. Killer sincere tracks include "Let's Get Married," "She'd Walk a Mile," and "The Road." Packaged in a beautiful slick digipak sleeve. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)
A penny for your thoughts.
A penny for your pumps.
A penny for your napkins.
A penny for your hairspray.
Constellations - Crusades (CD, French Kiss / 2024 Records, Rock)
Intelligent, fresh, hard hitting rock played with balls and conviction. Sounding something like a modern hard rock version of early XTC, the third album from Plastic Constellations makes an immediate impression on the senses. These young fellows are tight and focused...and deliver their smart melodic hard rockers with premium style. Using only the basics (guitar, bass, drums, vocals), these guys create a formidable wall of sound. But despite the fact that the songs are loud and rock like holy hell, the melodies and lyrics come through loud and clear. There are tons of bands who can merely turn way up and blow it out...but few who do so with as much style and class as these guys. Songs are the meat of Plastic Constellations...and songs are what make Crusades such a rewarding spin. This is a thinking man's band that will most likely be appreciated mainly by other musicians. Killer tracks include "Phoenix and the Faultline," "Best Things," "Men In Dark Times," "Bring What You Bring." Excellent hard rock. (Rating: 5++)
Plastic Yesyes Brand - Give Meth A Chance (CD, Yessiree, Rock)
This all-Asian band does an interesting take on John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Plastic Ono Band. Plastic Yesyes Brand is a one-joke act. This 78-minute album includes only one song (the title track) that features a single line of text sung throughout the entire album: All we are saying...is give meth a chance... It's a great idea that gets old really, really fast. And yet...there is something really neat and absorbing about this message. What is so wrong with destroying your mind...? Many adults could learn a thing or two from this band. (Rating: 1)
Life is precious.
Life is fair.
Life seeps through your
Robert Pollard -
From A Compound Eye (CD, Merge,
After twenty one years, Robert Pollard finally terminated Guided By Voices. The name may be dead...but the ideas continue on. In true Pollard style, From A Compound Eye features a mind-boggling collection of twenty six tunes that will very likely appeal to fans of Robert's previous band...as well as anyone else who happens to stumble upon his latest creations. Like R. Stevie Moore, Robert Pollard is one of the most prolific songwriters on earth. Whereas most folks burn out or give up, Robert continues to come up with songs that are not only fresh...but ultimately just as vital as material he was writing years and years ago. The perplexing qualities that make this man's music so appealing remain totally intact. Guided By Voices is no longer with us by name...but Robert Pollard will obviously be creating music for many more decades to come. Stellar tracks include "Field Jacket Blues," "The Numbered Head," "Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft," "Payment for the Babies," and "Recovering." There's a lot to take in here...and all of it works. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)
Saloon - Lo-Fi Sounds, Hi-Fi Heart (CD, Darla,
Cool peculiar progressive pop that is slightly reminiscent of 1970s British art ensemble Henry Cow and Sweden's Komeda. Lo-Fi Sounds, Hi-Fi Heart presents all the 7" singles the band released plus compilation tracks and four previously unreleased cuts. This disc offers an intriguing look back...as Saloon is sadly no longer a band. Members have now moved on to other projects (The Projects, Arthur and Martha). This compilation features dreamy, soothing, reflective pop tunes that have virtually nothing in common with current popular music in the United States. That is, of course, a very good thing. Beautifully articulated tracks include "Shopping," "Free Fall," "Girls Are the New Boys," and "I've Found a Way." (Rating: 5++)
Mile Journey - The Journey Studies (CD,
Intelligent, complex, articulate progressive music. Denmark's Seven Mile Journey is a band with a mission...to take their listeners on musical journeys they won't soon forget. Using only the most basic instruments (two guitars, bass, drums)...the fellows in this band manage to create strange and moody musical portraits. The lengthy tracks on The Journey Studies begin, change, and evolve so that by the time each song ends...you almost forget what you were hearing. Very dreamy and slightly surreal, this is modern mood music for folks who really love guitars. Particularly striking tracks include "Through the Alter Ego Justifications" and "The Murderer/Victim Monlogues." Truly inventive. (Rating: 5++)
Soledad Brothers - The Hardest Walk (CD, Alive,
The Soledad Brothers make music that sounds something like The Velvet Underground playing redneck trucker rock. This Detroit-based trio consists of Johnny Walker, Ben Swank, and Oliver Henry (with additional instruments added to this album courtesy of Dechman). These tunes are loose and heavy...yet ultimately melodic and catchy. It's no wonder so many bands and musicians have already marked this band with their stamp of approval. The band's fourth full-length release, The Hardest Walk could easily be the one to step their career up a few notches. These recordings are clean and brimming over the edges with addictive toe-tapping rhythms. Possibly the best Soledad Brothers album to date, this CD features twelve tracks including "Truth or Consequences," "Crooked Crown," "Mean Ol' Toledo," and "True to Zou Zou." (Rating: 5++)
To see you.
To hear you.
To be near you.
To know you.
Squeal pig squeal.
Squeal about the car.
Squeal pig squeal.
Squeal about the clothing.
Squeal pig squeal.
Squeal about celebrities.
Squeal pig squeal.
Drum Corps - Street Drum Corps (CD/DVD,
Warcon / Fontana, Instrumental)
This band consists of Bobby Alt, Adam Alt, and Frank Zummo...who are members of the bands S.T.U.N., Circus Minor, and The Start (respectively). What sets Street Drum Corps apart from other bands is the fact that...like the band name suggests...this is an all drum band (or at least 99% so). There are virtually no other instruments involved. But rather than just play drums, these guys beat just about anything they can get their hands on...garbage cans, kitchen utensils, pots and pans... In this band, virtually anything can and does become a percussion instrument. This is a short disc clocking in at under 30 minutes...but the package also includes a bonus DVD. A lot of folks probably won't be interested in this project because there are no conventional instruments and/or catchy choruses...but in the end, these guys succeed because they have taken a different path that separates them from the pack. Cool cuts include "Police Beat Introduction," "Rabbit," and "Bang!!" (Rating: 4++++)
Here's the church and
Here's the stable.
Open the doors and
Crawl under the table.
6 - Feels Good (CD, Take 6, Pop/soul)
A uniquely different and incredibly talented six-man group. The fellows in Take 6 are doing things their way...and it's working. These gentlemen have managed to be hugely successful without resorting to the usual rap/hip-hop crap that many of the contemporaries fall prey to. Instead of following current trends and styles, this band is forging ahead with their own uniquely tasteful style of modern soul/pop. What sets the group apart from others is the fact that they present all of their tunes a capella. Amazingly, the tunes come across sounding amazingly full and well-rounded...probably due to the fact that these fellows have superb voices. The guys in Take 6 began in the late 1980s and have been breaking ground ever since. The group's first studio album in four years, Feels Good is a smooth and groovy trip into the world of modern soul. Killer cuts include "Come On," "Wait For The Sunshine," "Just In Time," and "You Can Make It-Go On." (Rating: 5++)
Ships - Paint Lines on Your Glasses Look
Up at the Stars and Play Them as Notes (CD, Minority,
Fluid, artistic, unpredictable progressive pop. Tall Ships is the band consisting of Kyle Conwell (bass, vocals), Steve Kuhn (guitar, vocals), and Keith Andrew (drums). Together, the three play a peculiar and intriguing brand of music that reminds us in many ways of Ticonderoga...but slightly more accessible. The melodies are unusual...and the arrangements are unusually unorthodox. Intent and delivery are what matter most here. These fellows are obviously creating music out of the pure love of doing so. There seems to be no desire to come up with a hit tune or to please the airheaded masses. By following their own peculiar muses...these guys manage to be thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly original. The curious title of this album (Paint Lines on Your Glasses Look Up at the Stars and Play Them as Notes)...somehow gives a good indication of what the music sounds like. Top picks: "Deconstructing Company," "3rd Sound Helium," "Repeat the Pattern," "Post Literate." Great song titles. Smart stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)
Truckfighters - Gravity X (CD, Fuzzorama
/ MeteorCity, Stoner rock)
Wonderfully effective stoner rock. This, the Truckfighters' debut album, was recorded at Sweden's Bombshelter Studios. The band's guitar sound is so thick and intense that they will probably give your speakers difficulty. These guys have an intense hard rocking sound that is similar in sound and scope to Fu Manchu. The rhythms are hard, heavy, and furious...the guitars in constant overdrive...and the vocals full of rebellious marijuana-fueled intent. Gravity X is a damn fine debut from a groovy band that is bound to make a major mental mark on underground rockers. Kickass tracks include "Desert Cruiser," "Freewheelin'," "Manhattan Project," and "Altered State." Great stuff. (Rating: 5+)
Uglyography - Love Boat (CD-R, Steamy
Rather than be beaten down by the exhaustion caused by his former band, Virginia's Matt Thomas chose instead to hole himself up in an old house, record an album, and start his own independent record label. The result is Uglyography's Love Boat. Housed in what just might be the first handmade wooden CD case (featuring hand burned lettering), Love Boat is an impressive and entertaining collection of intelligent underground pop tunes. Thomas makes music the good old-fashioned way. Instead of relying on technology to cover his bases, Matt writes and plays music using mostly traditional instruments...and it's all topped off by some mighty fine sounding real drums. Songs are the ultimate treat here however. Smart, inventive pop tracks include "Keychain and Beads," "Clouds or Nothing," "Going Away Party," and "Catchin Up." Good stuff. (Rating: 5)
States - Retail Detail (Independently
released CD, Progressive pop/rock)
Wildly unpredictable. The fellows in Untied States have a lot more in common with experimental British bands of the 1970s and 1980s than they do with bands in their hometown (Atlanta, Georgia). Retail Detail is a strange and peculiar collection of tunes that can only be described as sounding something like a more abrasive and loud variation of the up-and-coming art pop band Pattern Is Movement (mainly due to some of the peculiar rhythms and time signatures). While the guys in Untied States have a sound, defining that sound is ultimately rather difficult. Because of the vast array of styles and influences, the band ends up sounding like almost no one but themselves. Despite the fact that these musicians are pulling some rather odd punches, as a whole this album is extraordinarily cohesive and spins smoothly. Complex intellectual rockers include "It's Not Goodbye," "Martyrs Have Nothing To Live For," "My Cause Is My Curse," and "Currencies." Intriguing and unique. (Rating: 5+)
I wish I were me.
I wish I were you.
I wish I were fifty bucks
Stuck inside a
Are okay and
Clothes - These Are The Shoes We Wear
(CD, Fractured Discs,
Work Clothes is the husband and wife duo of Jenny Waters and Lee Waters. These Are The Shoes We Wear is a collection of soft, soothing, serene, subdued pop tunes Jenny and Lee recorded during a three year period. This is a short CD clocking in at about 33 minutes...but quality is what counts here, not quantity. During this half hour time period no time is wasted. Jenny and Lee write and record subtle folky soft pop with slight hints of atmospheric psychedelia. The overall vibe is very laidback and restrained. The vocals are exceptional. Jenny and Lee's voices are reminiscent of some of the greatest pop artists from the 1960s. Some of the songs recall Harper's Bizarre in particular...could they perhaps have been an influence...? This is a beautifully intricate album...very personal and genuine. Fans of soft underground pop will instantly fall in love with groovy tunes like "Green French Soaps," "South Bronx," "Working Kids," and "These Are The Shoes We Wear." Killer stuff. (Rating: 5+)
Future - First World Fever (CD, Gold Standard Laboratories,
An unusual blend of hardcore and hard rock, the debut full-length release from Los Angeles-based Year Future is a real trip. Upon first listen, many may mistake the band for another generic group of thrashers. But after reading the lyrics, it becomes obvious that these fellows have a lot more to offer. The songs are loud, abrasive, and angular...while the lyrics offer a wealth of acute social observations. Thought provoking and intelligent, First World Fever provides really hard rock for folks with really good brains. Kickass tracks include "The Hidden Hand," "Lord of the Rungs," "Chained at the Ankles," and "Born Into a Bruise." Modern and inventive. (Rating: 5)
Additional Items Received:
Mary Abraham - The first five
Adair - The destruction of everything is the beginning of something new
Anti-Social Music & The Gena Rowlands Band - The nitrate hymnal
Anterland - Branches
Bancroft - The melophobic solution
Danielle Bollinger - When the broken hearted love again
Danielle Bollinger - Kiss the sky
Bourgeois Gypsies - Blue morning
Burns Out Bright - Burns Out Bright
Shuana Burns - Every thought
Buttless Chaps - Where night holds light
Cahlk - The hyperventilating culture
Gabe Cahil - 1,000 nightbirds
Cholo - Cholo
Cinemechanica - The martial arts
Clearviewkills - Wrap this around your neck
Coolzey - Akstoopid
Correspondents - Warp preparation
Cracker - Greatest hits redux
Cricket Spin - You are my home
Dead Heart Bloom - Dead Heart Bloom
Deaf Pedestrians - Deaf Pedestrians
Destroyer - Destroyer's rubies
J. Dimenna - Awkward buildings
Dogme 95 - The reagle beagle
Down To This - Down To This
Dreamend - Maybe we're making god sad and lonely
Dropgun - Devil music
Catherine Due - Visions and dreams
Everlasting Arms - Everlasting Arms
Ever We Fall - We are but human
Rob Falgiano - Red
Feathers - Feathers
Fightstar - They liked you better when you were dead
Final Start - Final Start
Shane Gamble - Behind the blue
General Migs - Broken Hoof EP
Wilson Gil and the Willful Sinners - American banned
Gist - Diesel city
Granville - Feather & heart
Gray Days Gone - Between the drops
Jonathan Hape - Letters to india
Hundred Hands - Hundred Hands
Casey Holford - All young and beautiful
The Holy Fire - In the name of the world
Honeyhander - Woolly mannerisms
I Am Robot and Proud - The electricity in your house wants to sing
Mike K - A simple story simply told
Kissing Cousins - Kissing Cousins EP
Lafcadio - Sham dubet
La Rocca - Sing song sung EP
The Lashes - Get it
Leaving Rouge - Elsewhere
David Leinweber - Old world folk
Little Klimt and Chofferson - Little Klimt and Chofferson
Love Is Chemicals - Love Is Chemicals
Love Letter Band - Fear not my brothers, fear not my sisters, for i have seen the future...
Bill Madden - Gone
Madrepore - Overblown
Jonah Matranga - There's a lot in here
Larkin McLean - X-rated musical
Monday Morning - Fool's paradise
Movies With Heroes - Nothing here is perfect
Ram - Monopolis
R.B. Reed - Outsider ballads
Josh Rouse - Subtitulo
Sepultura - Dante XXI
Skerlak Dead - A waste of oxygen
Smashup - Being and becoming
So They Say - Antidote for irony
Southern Arts Society - Southern Arts Society
Spain Colored Orange - Hopelessly incapable of standing in the way
Garrison Starr - The sound of you and me
The Sword - Age of winters
13Ghosts - Cicada
Ten Mile Tide - Ten Mile Tide
Three Fantastic - Three Fantastic
Trespassers William - Having
The Unemployed - The Unemployed EP
Sal Valentino - Come out tonight
Various artists - I am the resurrection: a tribute to John Fahey
Various artists - The best of taste of chaos
Various artists - Ace of spades: 2004-2005 series
Peter Walker - Young gravity
Hailey Wojcik - Jealous sees
Whitney Wolanin - Funkology XIII
Wolfmother - Dimensions
Xrayok - Like life
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