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November 2006 Chattanooga Choo Choo Reviews by

Assholes Vote
Asteroid #4
Atomic Bitchwax
Badly Drawn Boy
Blue Van

Lindsay Buckingham
Castle Project
Chattanooga Cuckoo
Chelsea Smiles
Donal Clancy

Lloyd Cole*
Dark Freedom

Ronnie Day
Dead Voices On Air*
Exploding Hearts
Finn's Motel
Giant Question
Good Mornings
Greedy & Self-Centered

Humpy Dumpy
Jack and Bitch

Linus of Hollywood*
Ray Mason Band*
Paul McCartney

Jeremy Messersmith*

Nekkid Hell
Neo Nouveau
Peter and the Wolf*
Polly Panic
Possible Selves
Primordial Undermind
Red Heart the Ticker
Rock and Roll Is For Assholes
J.P. Shilo
Six Parts Seven
Starflyer 59
Successful Failures

Summer Wardrobe
Kim Taylor*
Terra Diablo

Natalie Walker
Why Jesus Can't Love All The Little Children Of The World Anymore


*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


What do assholes do?

Assholes vote.

(Rating: 1)

Asteroid #4 - An Amazing Dream (CD, Rainbow Quartz, Pop)
Sixties influenced pop in the same general vein as Outrageous Cherry. The reverb-drenched pop tunes on An Amazing Dream draw heavily from 1960s pop, but they are infused with modern technology and personal style. The band peppers their tunes with snippets of psychedelia...making the songs flow by like a well-channeled dream. By playing the game their own way, this Philadelphia-based trio manages to entertain and mesmerize. Nifty cuts include "Take Me Down," "To Be In Your Eyes," and "Into the Meadow." (Rating: 4++++)

Atomic Bitchwax - Boxriff (CD + DVD, MeteorCity, Rock)
Hard stoner rock with totally groovy rhythms. The three guys in Atomic Bitchwax return with another blistering set of tunes featuring their intensely propelled tunes and wonderfully cerebral lead guitar. Boxriff features four new tracks recorded by legendary producer Jack Endino...plus an entire live set performed at the Sunset Tavern in Seattle, Washington in November of 2005. The new tracks are great...but even more impressive are the live tracks. Atomic Bitchwax just may be a band that shines brightest in concert. This blistering thirteen track concert really shows what these guys are capable of (in addition to the audio disc, this set also includes a video disc). Thus far in their career, these guys have not received the attention they so surely and certainly deserve. This just may be the disc that propels the band into the limelight. The four new Endino produced studio tracks are "STD," "So Come On," "Turn Me On," and "Kiss the Sun." Another killer release from a vastly underrated band. (Rating: 5++)

Badly Drawn Boy - Born in the U.K. (CD, Astralwerks, Progressive pop)
Britain's Damon Gough is one of our favorite constants in the world of pop music. The man manages to come up with consistently entertaining albums and he seems to always be wearing a knitted cap. Apparently titled as a humorous response to Born in the U.S.A., the Born in the U.K. album fortunately bears no resemblance to The Boss's shitty release other than the name. The fifth album from Badly Drawn Boy seems to have been crafted from the same fabric that spawned One Plus One Is One. These melodic orchestrated pop tunes are simultaneously glossy and personal. The disc includes a hefty lyric booklet that allows the listener to read along...which is fortunate, because Damon has defined poetic sensibilities that are intriguing. Will this be another artistic success...and commercial flop...? Hard to say. We have not yet been let down by this young man and his music...and Born in the U.K. is another welcome addition to his impressive catalog. Soothing, intellectual pop tracks include "(Swimming Pool) Born in the U.K.," "Nothing's Gonna Change Your Mind," "Promises" (our favorite), and "One Last Dance." (Rating: 5+)

Blue Van - Dear Independence (CD, TVT, Pop/rock)
The second full-length release from Denmark's Blue Van. These guys have quickly made a name for themselves by providing the public with direct, catchy, modern, catchy garage rock. Dear Independence was cut from the same fabric that spawned the band's debut album (The Art of Rolling). The disc features twelve slick, upbeat cuts that are driven by infectious rhythms and off-the-cuff vocals. The band spent a bit more time on arrangements this time around which may make this album a bigger hit with a larger crowd. It's amazing how American these guys sound...listening to this album, you'd never guess they are from Denmark. Our favorite cuts this time around are "The Odyssey," "Goldmind," "Keep Me Running," and "White Dominos." Recommended for fans of The Strokes. (Rating: 5)

Boyskout - Another Life (CD, Three Ring, Rock/pop)
Boyskout is an all-female band based in San Francisco, California. Unlike other modern girl groups playing cutesy pop, these ladies play skewed moody rock that recalls bands like early Television, Blondie, and The Cure. The band is led by Georgia native Leslie Satterfield, a lady with a super smooth voice and obvious presence. Satterfield and her bandmates approach music from a somewhat artsy perspective, but their songs are sometimes surprisingly accessible and direct. Being on the ultra hip Three Ring label shouldn't hurt these ladies' career. With label mates like Elephone, Scrabbel, and The Scattered Pages, Boyskout just can't go wrong. Our guess is that Another Life will be most popular with the college crowd, many of whom now seem exceedingly intrigued by music from past decades. Obtuse pop rockers include "Spotlight," "Fantastic," "Blind Eye," and "Lobby Boys." (Rating: 4++++)

Lindsay Buckingham - Under the Skin (CD, Reprise, Progressive pop)
After fourteen years of silence, Fleetwood Mac's Lindsay Buckingham releases a rather peculiar and unexpected solo CD. Rather than a comeback album or a rehashing of familiar ideas and sounds, Buckingham seems to be reinventing his music for the twenty-first century. Such a refreshing change from most old has-been artists who come back after decades in order to milk their aging fans for cash (!). Under the Skin is an unusual collection of modern progressive pop tunes that feature Buckingham's intricate guitar playing and always ultimately satisfying vocals. We wouldn't be surprised if Lindsay has been listening to up-and-coming underground popsters during the past few years...as his new music seems to incorporate a lot of ideas that we hear in albums recorded by folks who are half his age. The good news is that Lindsay Buckingham has immediately reaffirmed his credibility in the world of music. The bad news...is that this is probably a bit too odd for most folks to digest. Thus, it probably (sadly) won't be a big commercial success. But in terms of artistic credibility...Lindsay has hit the bull's eye. Eleven heady tracks including "Not Too Late," "I Am Waiting," "Shut Us Down," "Flying Down Juniper." Great stuff...! (Rating: 5+)

Castle Project - Diaries of a Broken Heart (CD, White Whale, Pop)
Nice free-flowing modern progressive pop. Castle Project is the (mostly) one-man-band consisting of Ryan Ostiguy who was previously in the Spitfires. Diaries of a Broken Heart was created with the assistance of producer/mixer Howard Redekopp (who is probably best known for his work with The New Pornographers and A.C. Newman). Ostiguy writes uncommon, unpredictable pop music that features odd arrangements and strangely calming melodies. The tracks on this album are dreamy and subdued...and the real meat of the music only becomes obvious after several spins. In some ways, these tunes seem similar to the music of Badly Drawn Boy or even very early Genesis. Intricately recorded with fine attention to detail, Diaries of a Broken Heart is a personal collection of tunes with plenty of odd, subtle twists. Our favorite cuts are "Celebrate the End," "Waste," "Away From It," and "What It Takes." Includes a nifty lyric booklet in a beautifully designed digipak sleeve. (Rating: 5+)


Pardon me boys,
Is that the Chattanooga

(Rating: 1)

Cheer-Accident - What Sequel? (CD, Pravda, Progressive pop)
These folks have been around for twelve years...how could we have missed out on Cheer-Accident...until now...? Oh well...better late than never. Being huge fans of 10CC from way back when...we couldn't help but fall in love with What Sequel? The album is absolutely bursting at the seams with Kevin Godley and Lol Creme influences. Complex, heady, and catchy, this band's tunes are extraordinarily creative and unusual. We can't even begin to think of any modern bands whose music sounds anything like this. These guys write classic pop that combines elements from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and the 1990s...all the while sounding very much like a twenty-first century band. The vocals are superbly effective...the arrangements intricate and impeccable...and the songs themselves are instant classics. Nifty tracks include "Keep In Touch," "You Know, You Know," "Simple Life," and "Crazy." Recommended for fans of 10CC and The Beatles. (Rating: 5++)

Chelsea Smiles - Thirty Six Hours Later (CD, Acetate, Rock)
Fronted by Todd Youth (formerly of D-Generation, Danzig, and Motorhead). Chelsea Smiles, now free from their three year contract with Capitol Records, opted to sign up with the hard-hitting Los Angeles-based Acetate label. Youth is apparently more than a little bit bitter about the ordeal with Capitol, but from the sounds we're hearing on Thirty Six Hours Later it hasn't dampened the band's enthusiasm one bit. Youth and his associates provide hard rock tracks that sound something like a cross between The Damned and Monster Magnet. Thirty Six Hours Later presents twelve hot, blistering rockers played with enthusiasm and style. Considering the overload of volume and energy, it seems rather surprising how many hooks and catchy elements are present in these tracks. Sprinkled among the band's original tunes are impressive covers of the New York Dolls' "Chatterbox" and The Joneses "Pillbox." A non-stop hard rocking experience, this album features fine masculine cuts like "Nothing Wrong," "Heart Attack," "Something's Gotta Give," and "Feelin' To Kill." (Rating: 4++++)

Donal Clancy - Close To Home: A Collection of Irish Tunes Played on Acoustic Guitar (CD, Compass, Instrumental)
A collection of traditional Irish folk tunes played on acoustic guitars by the intricately talented Donal Clancy. Many may already know Mr. Clancy for his previous work in the bands Danu, Solas, and The Eileen Ivers Band. Close To Home is Donal's first solo album...and it's a keeper. If you're into traditional Irish music, this is about as pure as you can get. Instead of complex modern arrangements and unfamiliar reinterpretations, Clancy presents these tunes with a simple and direct focus...as the album features virtually nothing but acoustic guitars (only one track features another artist...some "drones" played by David Power). It takes a true musician to allow his or her playing to exist purely on its own...and therein lies the real beauty of this album. Naked, sparse, and real...Closer To Home features twelve cuts including "The Nomad," "Farewell to Connaught/The Repeal of the Union (Reels)," and "Byrne's/Kitty's Wedding (Hornpipes)." Well done. (Rating: 5+)

Lloyd Cole - Antidepressant (CD, Little Indian, Pop)
Lloyd Cole has had his own special little niche in our music library for years. Rather than becoming a lost icon from the 1980s, Mr. Cole did not let his initial lucky trip into the limelight dictate his career. Instead, he has used his initial success as a diving board...and has continued releasing thoroughly credible and engaging music ever since. The only real difference between Lloyd's music from the past and his newer recordings is the fact that his songs are now more personal, reflective, and subdued. But those deep, engaging vocals remain the true focal point. Mr. Cole still has the ability to write great, meaningful tunes...and his voice has only gotten better over time. For listeners who enjoy escapism in their music, the light, breezy tunes on Antidepressant are just what the doctor ordered. Some of the tunes even sound as if they could have been written by the late great Kirsty MacColl (!). Some folks may think that Lloyd Cole is a leftover hitmaker from the 1980s but nothing could be further from the truth. His new recordings are just as effective and engaging as those he made many years ago. Antidepressant is, in a word, lovely. (Rating: 5+++)


If you love something
Make it stop

(Rating: 1)

Ronnie Day - The Album (Advance CD, The Militia Group, Pop/rock)
The second full-length release from self-made musician Ronnie Day. This young man's music sounds something like a guitar-oriented version of Ben Folds. His tunes are smart and snappy and feature sharp and insightful lyrics. Like Folds, Day uses his real life experiences to fuel his songs. The Album is mainly the result of Ronnie's feelings and reactions to a breakup with his girlfriend of three years. Funny how some of the worst experiences in life seem to yield some of the best music. On the first spin, The Album sounded very much like a lot of other pop releases we have heard of late. Fortunately we had a bit of extra time the day we began spinning this one...and we allowed it to absorb. On the fourth or fifth spin we found that there is a lot more meat here than first meets the ears. This sixteen track album is catchy and uplifting without ever sounding overtly sweet or clever. Cool pop tracks include "Half Moon Bay," "Written At a Rest Stop," "Outside," and "Falling For You." (Rating: 5)

Dead Voices On Air - From Labrador to Madagascar (CD, Invisible, Instrumental/progressive)
Mark Spybey is a man with a truly unique history in music. He has played with and/or been involved with a wild array of other artists including (but not limited to) Download, Can, Faust, Mick Harris, Jarboe, Not Breathing, and Pigface. From Labrador to Madagascar is yet another intriguing release from Dead Voices On Air. Unlike other artists whose music easily fits into categories, Spybey seems compelled to record complex progressive pieces that almost defy description. Is this progressive electronic drone...modern classical...ambient noise...or totally experimental...? Genres apparently don't matter to this man, as his music seems to cross boundaries and baffle listeners in the process. This seems to be one of Mark's more experimental albums and, as such, it is probably the best we have heard yet from him. Heady puzzling compositions like "Labrador," "Halv," "Madagascar," and "Sissili Mandjao" are true sonic delights with real depth and obvious imagination. Totally weird music. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Decemberists - The Crane Wife (CD, Capitol, Progressive pop)
Though the Decemberists have apparently made quite a big splash in certain circles...until now we had never even heard of them. Such is the way of life when you live in virtual seclusion and the only music you hear is what is shipped free to your post office box (plus whatever you might find at yard sales). This band is driven by the songwriting talents of Colin Meloy, a rather unconventional young man whose songs are complex and unique. The Crane Wife contains songs that were inspired by a tale of the same name. Meloy's tunes don't follow traditional patterns and they aren't instantly catchy or easily hummable. Instead, his songs are like springboards for his intriguing lyrical escapades. A particular standout track on this album is the lengthy and adventurous "The Island"...which allows the band to stretch out and flex their instrumental muscles. Coming up with comparisons for Decemberists is difficult...although we hear many elements that sound rather similar to some of the more adventurous pop bands in Athens, Georgia. Ten chompalistic tracks here including "The Crane Wife," "The Island," "The Perfect Crime," and "Sons and Daughters." (Rating: 5)

Dwarves - FEFU: The DVD (DVD, Greedy Media / Music Video Distributors)
At this point, we're a bit stumped by Dwarves videos. In fact, if we weren't so impressed by the band's songs...we wouldn't even be reviewing this in the first place. Over the course of the past few years, the rough and seedy Dwarves have managed to transform themselves from a sloppy noise band into a well-oiled intense rocking machine. We were late getting into the band's music...but once we were hooked, we were hooked. Now, after a couple of intensely satisfying studio albums, the band releases this DVD featuring the edited and unedited versions of the video "FEFU" (a fantistic modern rock tune). The video features the band mocking it up for the cameras with The Suicide Girls...all of whom are absolutely thrilled to be rubbing each other all over the place with fake blood. The video is funny...but certainly not shocking. In addition to "FEFU," this disc also includes some interesting footage of the band performing live early and later (from 1985 to 2006) in their career. The band is well known for their violent shocking tendencies...but we are puzzled by the fact that nothing on this disc is shocking in the least. Nudity. Oh my, how perverted and weird. Blood. Wow oh wow. Blood everywhere. How original. Out of control mosh pits...boring, boring, boring. Because we love this band's music so much...we just don't quite get why they seem to continue to try to shock everyone with things as dull as violence and nudity. On one hand, we appreciate the fact that there still are bands like this out there who give clueless people something to think about. But these guys write such great songs...they really don't need to be doing this kind of thing at this point in their career. So...while this disc does have some interesting sections...overall, it just doesn't hold up to repeated viewings... Sorry, Dwarves...we'll be waiting for the next studio album. (Rating: 3+)

Exploding Hearts - Shattered (CD, Dirtnap, Pop/rock)
A sad reminder of a band whose career ended before it had really begun. Though they only released one album (Guitar Romantic), the guys in Exploding Hearts obviously made quite an impression on a lot of folks in the world of underground rock and pop. That was before three of the four band members were tragically killed in an accident in 2003. Because the band was a big success for Dirtnap, the folks at the Portland-based label compiled this collection of singles, demos, alternative takes of tracks from Guitar Romantic, and unreleased recordings. To be a collection of tracks from a variety of sources, Shattered is surprisingly cohesive. These four guys sure had a lot of spunk. Their tunes drew inspiration from bands from the early- to mid-1970s...loud, fuzzy guitars, a vocalist with an attitude, and purely driven rhythms. Shattered is so catchy and upbeat...that you can't help but feel bummed out that these guys were stopped so early in their tracks. Sixteen intriguing lost gems here plus live videos of five songs. Neat stuff. (Rating: 5)

Finn's Motel - Escape Velocity (CD, Scat, Pop)
We could tell by the song titles that this album was going to be an interesting spin at the very least. Sounding very much like a twenty-first century take on Guided By Voices, Joe Thebeau's Finn's Motel is a modern progressive band with interesting, complex, and modern songs. Like Robert Pollard, Thebeau welds his tunes with thoughtful and often intricate arrangements. This seventeen song album is an intriguing and compelling spin...but there's only one problem. At least at this point in his career, Joe's overall sound is just a tad too similar to G.B.V. for comfort. That doesn't mean that Escape Velocity isn't a cool spin, because it is. It just means that...from this point forward...it'd be nice to hear a bit more Thebeau and a bit less Pollard on future releases. Top picks: "Dramamine for Engine 3," "Alright Tonight," "Of Cycles and Engines," "Universal Hum." (Rating: 4++++)


Why is everyone so

(Rating: 1)

Good Mornings - Good Mornings (CD, Thick, Pop)
Exceptionally fresh and entertaining pop in the same general vein as 1990s underground heartthrobs Fuzzy. The band Good Mornings is driven by the talents of Carmen Paradise and Jason Lantrip, both of whom are also in the band Calliope (another excellent band that we also recommend). With this band, the two are taking a decidedly different approach into the world of guitar pop. Paradise provides the cool, friendly vocals that give the band's sound warmth...while Lantrip's Robert Fripp-ish guitar lines weave in and out of the mix. Smooth and soothing, this band's debut album is both accessible and just slightly unusual. Rounding out the band are Joe Bakaitis (bass, keys) and Danny Amori (drums). This cool, inviting album features eleven tracks including "Reflections of the Sky," "Voices Heard," "California," and "Angry Rapids." Excellent. (Rating: 5+)


We turned cold on you
Because we determined
That you are greedy and

(Rating: 1)

Hammock - Raising Your Voice...Trying to Stop an Echo (CD, Darla, Mostly instrumental//ambient)
Beautifully droning, cascading landscapes of sound. Raising Your Voice...Trying to Stop an Echo is the second full-length release from the duo of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson. These two fellows write and compose wonderfully thick, lush instrumentals with a difference. The compositions on this album might best be described as shoegazer instrumentals...although the music is actually far more substantial than that tag might imply. These soothing, intricate tunes flow by like mild ocean currents...with each one having its own subtle personality. We hear a lot of artists creating this sort of music...but very few who do so with a style as precisely defined as Hammock. Eighteen sparkling gems here...quite soothing, hypnotic, and calming... (Rating: 5)


Humpy Dumpy
Had a big

Humpy Dumpy
Snorted a

(Rating: 1)



All races are

(Rating: 1)



Jack and Bitch
Fell in the ditch and
Drank the muddy water.
Bitch fell down
And tore her gown
So Jack reached in and
Molested her.

(Rating: 1)

Jeremy Morris - Only Love Remains (CD, Jam, Pop), Jam On Jeremy (CD, Jam, Various artists/pop)
Beautiful shimmering melodic pop. Jeremy Morris continues to be one of the most talented pop songwriters around...and yet he remains an underground celebrity whose music is only appreciated by a relatively small group of pop fanatics and musicians. Only Love Remains features fourteen heady guitar pop tracks with melodies that will make the listener feel as if he/she is floating high above the clouds. Jeremy's signature harmony vocals sound as great as ever, caressed in lovely jangley guitars. For those who haven't yet experienced this man's heavenly pop, his tunes sound something like a cross between The Archies and The Shoes. You won't hear grating noise or irritatingly clever studio tricks on Jeremy's albums...only pure pop played with purely defined precision. All of the cuts on this album are keepers...but particular standout tracks include "Only Love Remains," "Upside Down," "You're My Sunshine," and "Forever and Ever." Incredible stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Proof of the influence of Jeremy Morris on his friends and in the world of music can be found on the various artists compilation Jam On Jeremy. In addition to voice recognition from movers and shakers in the world of pop (Cathy Gale, Hark Hershberger, John Borack, Fred Hartfield, and David Bash), the bands and artists covering Jeremy's tunes are Lisa Mychols, Shplang, The Lolas, Goldoolins, Herb Eimerman, The Shambles, Kat Parsons, Phil Angotti, The Ringles, Glowfriends, The Hipnotes, Stefan Johanssen, Mark Flora, and Ed James. All of these bands and individuals have one thing in common...they have all been influenced by the infectious energy of Jeremy, his music, and his label. Not surprising is how effectively many of the folks on this disc have captured Jeremy's overall vibe. In a world full of too much negativity, Jeremy's positive influence is a wild and refreshing blast of fresh air. Lots of folks in the world of music obviously feel exactly the same way. A wonderful tribute to a man who will one day deserve the wider recognition he so surely deserves. (Rating: 5++)

Linus of Hollywood - Triangle (CD, Franklin Castle, Pop)
More super smooth pop from Hollywood, California's Linus of Hollywood. This man's music sounds very much like a cross between early Squeeze and Harry Nilsson. Despite the fact that his name is not yet familiar to most people, Linus obviously keeps himself very busy working with a surprisingly diverse group of celebrities. But his own music surely must be the driving force in his life, as this man's albums are full of pure and ultimately satisfying pure pop. It's been about five years since the last Linus of Hollywood album...but Triangle was worth the wait. Lots of friends offered a helping hand on different tracks...including (but not limited to) Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., Probyn Gregory, and John Hill. Linus of Hollywood is neither embarrassed nor ashamed to be a commercially viable artist. Despite the fact that he is currently playing to an underground fan base, his music could easily be appreciated by millions of listeners all over the world. Exceptionally catchy tracks include "Farewell To The King," "Starting Monday," "The Sun Feels Good On My Face," and "A Perfect Mess." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Locksley - Don't Make Me Wait (CD, Feature, Pop)
Dance crazy happy pop music played with brilliant excitement. Get ready for Locksley...because you are most certainly going to be hearing A WHOLE LOT about this band in the very near future. Playing happy dance pop in the vein of classic bands like The Beatles and The Raspberries, the guys in this band have a totally winning sound and style. Don't Make Me Wait is a pure feelgood experience that combines the best elements of 1960s bubblegum with modern catchy pop. In all honesty, we haven't heard a band sound this Beatles-ish since Neil Innes' classic parody The Rutles. This short album (clocking in at just over thirty minutes) features thirteen fresh classic pop tracks that just beg to be played over and over...and over. While most folks will be totally blown away by the giddy excitement inherent in this band's music, they are almost certainly going to have their detractors. Most folks just won't be able to handle a band playing such ultra-positive sounding music. In our minds...we just love it to death. Killer tracks include "Don't Make Me Wait," "Let Me Know," "The Past and The Present," and "It Won't Be For Long." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Ray Mason Band - Don't Mess With Our Routine (CD, Hi-N-Dry, Pop)
We wouldn't mess with the Ray Mason Band's routine for a minute. One of the most consistent songwriters on the planet, Ray Mason seems to pump his engaging, upbeat pop music from a bottomless well. This man has been writing and recording music for decades...his first band dates all the way back to 1966 (!). Rather than burn out or give up, this genuinely talented fellow just keeps on going...and going...and going. On this album Mason is joined by Frank Marsh (drums, vocals), Stephen Desaulniers (bass, vocals), and Tom Shea (guitar, vocals). Together, these four fellows play simple, captivating music that gets better the more you hear it. We've made the comparison before and it still stands. Ray Mason's voice and overall style of music are very reminiscent of early Martin Mull. Like previous releases, Don't Mess With Our Routine is full of totally sincere, genuine, classic tracks. Killer cuts include "Don't Turn Me Down," "I'm Not That Kind of Guy," "I Miss My Loneliness," and "The Tap Ain't On." Highly recommended...again. (Rating: 5+++)

Paul McCartney - Ecce Cor Meum (CD, EMI Classics, Classical)
We've been so nasty towards Paul McCartney for the past few years that after hearing Ecce Cor Meum...we almost feel guilty. No, not guilty perhaps...but we do feel as if we haven't been giving this man a chance. But it is true that when he travels around the world trying to be the same apple-faced boy that everyone remembers from The Beatles...it just doesn't work anymore. But what we failed to realize is that in addition to rehashing the same old tired pop tunes, Paul has also been recording and releasing classical albums (this is his fourth). The good news...is that this style of music seems much more suited for a man of McCartney's age. Eight years in the making, Ecce Cor Meum is a rather impeccably recorded album featuring the talents of Kate Royal, The Boys of King's College Choir, Cambridge, The Boys of Magdalen College Choir, Oxford, and The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (conducted by Gavin Greenway). While this will probably be a commercial failure...our feeling is that this is some of the best music we've heard from Mr. McCartney since Red Rose Speedway. (Rating: 4++++)

Melvins (Live performance, November 8, 2006)
We've been big fans of The Melvins for a very long time. Like so many bands that have influenced huge numbers of other musicians, these guys have never received proper recognition for igniting much of the very profitable Seattle music scene that lit up the world in the 1990s (probably because their music is just too obtuse and bizarre). While we've been listening to their music for years, we had never witnessed this band live...until now. Not surprisingly, this was a very confusing show. We got to the club at the scheduled starting time of 10:00 PM...which we knew would be way too early. But...much to our surprise...we walked in and The Melvins were already on stage. The medium-sized crowd present for the first set of mind-bending, improvised music seemed confused and puzzled. Instead of rocking out, The Melvins played strange drones that only occasionally delved into danceable territory (Buzzo was wearing a huge Elvis wig and threw lots of candy cubes at folks). Things were going great for about 45 minutes of so...but then the band left the stage, saying that the next band would be up shortly. This is where things started to fall apart. When Big Business hit the stage...we got bored very quickly. Unlike The Melvins, the band was one-dimensional and very serious. As is usually the case with opening bands that don't suit our fancy, we opted to leave the club and hang out in our van outside the club (to escape nasty cigarette smoke and to feel more comfy in our own environment). We had parked near the club so we could still hear Big Business playing from our comfort zone. After about 45 minutes we figured that the band would be finished...but the roar continued. An hour and a half later, the roar was still going on...so we decided to venture back into the club to see what in the world was going on. To our surprise and confusion, apparently The Melvins had merged with Big Business during their set so that both bands' shows were pretty much rolled into one. Fortunately, we caught two full songs before the night was over. But that was enough to validate what we already knew...Buzzo is indeed one truly fascinating showman (plus he has THE BEST BIG HAIR ever). We left the club loving The Melvins as much as ever...but we couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed by the way the show flowed. We definitely admire the way these guys mess with their audiences and confuse folks...but in this particular instance, the confusion meant that we missed a bit chunk of the show (!). No matter...we will continue to be diehard Melvins fans until the end. After all, it's the music that counts...and we've yet to hear an album by these fellows that didn't make a big impression on us. (Not Rated)

Jeremy Messersmith - The Alcatraz Kid (CD, Princess, Pop)
A wonderfully entertaining solo album from Twin Cities newcomer Jeremy Messersmith. This young fellow has a sound that combines the warmth and creativity of underground pop with slick melodies usually associated with commercial hits. This is a true one man project as Jeremy wrote, performed, and recorded this album entirely on his own (the only thing he didn't create was the cool cover art provided by Nick Schubert). Messersmith's tunes recall a variety of artists including Sufjan Stevens and Elliot Smith. His pensive thoughtful lyrics and sincere voice make his tunes easily stand out from the pack. The Alcatraz Kid is a multifaceted album that gets better the more you spin it. With the release of this disc, Jeremy Messersmith immediately shows the world that he will indeed be a force to be reckoned with in the years ahead. Killer tracks include "The Alcatraz Kid," "Easy Lovers Hardley Friends," "Super Frog Saves Tokyo," and "Old Skin." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)


Meth solves problems.

Meth makes things

(Rating: 1)



Those who choose
To be nude
Will go straight to
Goddamn hell.

(Rating: 1)

Neo Nouveau - The Forks and Knives (CD, Melanie, Pop/rock)
Purely genuine and genuinely entertaining music. Providence, Rhode Island's Neo Nouveau is a group of folks who are obviously having a great time writing and recording music. Rather than playing familiar trendy styles that place them within specific frameworks, these individuals seem to be writing music as a way of entertaining themselves. The Forks and Knives is a wonderful collection of tunes that recall a variety of other artists, most notably The Feelies. The band's simple songs feature obvious yet competent playing, directed lyrics, and simple yet groovy vocal melodies. The band consists of Titus DosRemedios, Dylan Ryder, Chase Leonard, and Laurent Valliere. These four folks have managed to do just about everything right on this, their debut album. Ten effective compositions here including "What Are You Waiting For?", "Paperback," "Dead Can Dance," and "Words Come Back." Thought provoking and intelligent. (Rating: 5+)

Pablo - Half the Time (CD, 230, Pop)
Pablo is Paul Schalda, a young New Yorker whose sound and style are rather unpredictable and unorthodox and yet...his music is strangely hypnotic and calming. Rather than play one specific style of music, Schalda lets his imagination run wild. His tunes recall music from decades past while retaining a decidedly modern sound. Half the Time is chock full of surprises. Just when you think you have this man figured out...he comes up with something that comes from an entirely different direction. The album has a strange, distant, distinct sound quality that is difficult to describe. It wouldn't surprise us at all if this fellow becomes hugely famous over the next couple of years. Killer keepers include "Wall Street," "Half the Time," "Get Around," and "Till We Die." Thoroughly engaging. (Rating: 5+)

Peter and the Wolf - Lightness (CD, The Worker's Institute, Sparse pop)
Purely simple, pure and simple. While others tend to rely on technology to spice up their empty tunes, Peter and the Wolf's Brian Redding Hunter (nicknamed Red) keeps things sparse and simple...and succeeds. Why? Because this man writes great songs. Lightness was recorded in a variety of locations across the country (bedrooms, living rooms, hotels, etc.). The loose, pensive tracks on this album sometimes recall early Hank Williams because of the naked inner beauty of the melodies and lyrics. Hunter is a man whose music seems to flow freely from his brain to his fingers and vocal chords. His music recalls artists from the 1920s right on through to the present. The inherent sincerity of the music is probably what is drawing so many folks to Peter and the Wolf. This 16 song album is bound to be on a great many "best of the year" lists. Smoky, personal cuts like "Midnight Train," "The Highway," "The Apple Tree," "Captain Dan," and "Lightness" are absolutely genuine and real. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Polly Panic - Painkiller (CD, Greyday, Pop/rock)
The music of Polly Panic sounds something like a cross between PJ Harvey, Rasputina, and Janis Joplin. The band is driven by the talents of singer/songwriter/cellist Jenette Mackie. Painkiller is an appropriately sparse collection of recordings that allows the listener to focus on Jenette's vocals and cello. The main difference between Mackie's material and the music of PJ Harvey and Rasputina is the fact that many of her songs have a decidedly bluesy feel. Her vocals are intriguing in that they are rather loose and spontaneous. Though this twelve track album is a bit of a hit and miss affair...we have the feeling that these recordings are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this lady is capable of producing. An interesting glimpse of things to come... (Rating: 4++)

Possible Selves - Possible Selves (CD, Sao Bento Music, Progressive)
This is a very unusual album that--true to the claim of the press release--is something like an odd cross between Smog, Sparklehorse, and Leonard Cohen...but not really. Possible Selves is the latest project created by Neal Williams who was previously in the Colorado band ::tin tin::. This album features twelve meticulously crafted solo recordings that will confuse and mesmerize. Neal records dreamy, hypnotic music that features layers upon layers of unusual instrumentation. On this album, he plays guitar, bass, banjo, drums, violin, keyboards, lap steel, synthesizer, bells, wood flute, recorder, accordion, saxophone, clarinet, and more. Talk about a one-man-band extraordinaire (!). Thankfully the use of all of these varied instruments is not to overwhelm the listener nor to show off. Mr. Williams has the good sense to utilize instruments only when they are needed or when they add to the piece. As such, the wonderfully thick compositions on this album are extraordinarily effective. Although this music bears some resemblance to the previously mentioned artists, this music is...for the most part...unique and exists totally on its own merits. We can't help but be affected by profound tracks like "I Don't Need No Doctors," "Welcome Home," "Condemned," and "Three Birds." Wonderfully inventive stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Primordial Undermind - Loss of Affect (CD, Strange Attractors, Abstract/experimental)
This album is a good example of why we continue to spin releases from Portland's Strange Attractors label. Loss of Effect is a peculiar, puzzling album full of excellent modern cerebral abstract musical compositions. Primordial Undermind is the project created by Eric Arn, a man whose music has been churning around in underground circles for the past fifteen years or so. Before moving to Austria, Vienna in 2004, Arn and various assistants recorded a bunch of tracks that are only now seeing the light of day. The best of these recordings were chosen for inclusion on Loss of Effect. These tracks range from thoughtful and pensive to hallucinogenic and possibly drug-induced sonic explorations. The nine cuts on this album are a real hodge-podge of sounds and ideas. Most of the songs are random in nature, sounding something like modern jazz regurgitations of progressive British acid rock from the 1970s. Odd and strangely perplexing...Loss of Effect is a heady and intoxicating blend. Top picks: "Intercessor," "Breathe Deep," "Driftglass," "Blinding Stars." Wild stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Red Heart the Ticker - For The Wicked (CD, Poorly Bird, Pop)
Intriguing progressive pop. Red Heart the Ticker is the duo of Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons (the latter of whom is also in the band Dark Side of the Cop). The tunes on For The Wicked range from sparse folk to more straightforward pop. This album was recorded by Robin and Tyler in a cabin in the woods of Vermont. The environment seems to have had a direct impact on the sound of these tunes. Sparse, distant, and occasionally upbeat, these songs reflect the couple's ability to cope with winter confinement by tapping into their creativity. This odd album features fourteen tracks, our favorites being "For The Wicker," "Blinking," "Leather Boots," and "Drinking Cup." (Rating: 4++++)


Who loves rock and roll?
Assholes do,
That's who.

Assholes just love to
Rock and roll.

(Rating: 1)

J.P. Shilo - As Happy As Sad Is Blue (CD, Smells Like, Atmospheric/experimental)
J.P. Shilo is one of those artists whose music has very little commercial appeal...and he seems intent on confusing and alienating potential listeners. Shilo was originally known as John Brooks and was a member of the band Hungry Ghosts...during which time his music caught the attention of Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth (who runs the Smells Like label). The compositions on As Happy As Sad Is Blue were recorded during a three-year period in which Shilo was staying at a Buddhist residential centre in Australia. Recorded on four tracks, these songs are strangely fragile and peculiar. Some of the tracks spin like experimental sound pieces while others sound more like classical music or film soundtracks. This man isn't playing the game in traditional ways...but is rather creating music as a means of pure self expression and personal therapy. As Happy As Sad Is Blue certainly won't set any sales records...but fans of the true musical underground are bound to get a lot of satisfaction from this unusual album... (Rating: 5+)

Six Parts Seven - Casually Smashed To Pieces (CD, Suicide Squeeze, Instrumental)
"The thing about Six Parts Seven is we're fans of music rather than musicians first." Thus explains guitarist/bassist/arranger Allen Karpinski. Hey now...we like where this band is coming from in terms of ideologies...but after spinning the disc, we like the band's sound even more. This Kent, Ohio based quartet plays instrumental music with a difference. The tracks on Casually Smashed To Pieces are smooth and casual...but they are by no means boring. This band's music features wonderful intertwined guitars that sound absolutely fantastic. These understated compositions are thought provoking and just slightly unusual. Probably the only negative about this disc is the fact that it is only a little over 30 minutes in length. But hey...quality is more important than quantity...and with this CD you get 100% genuine quality from start to finish. Seamlessly recorded with acute attention to detail. Top picks: "Conversation Heart," "Falling Over Evening," "Night Behind the Stars." Beautiful stuff. (Rating: 5)

Starflyer 59 - My Island (CD, Tooth and Nail, Pop)
After so many years have passed and so many albums have been released...we are still wildly in love with the music of Starflyer 59. To think that the band is still a cult favorite is amazing and slightly disappointing...considering the amount of exceptional releases that have been birthed by this wonderfully inventive underground band. Singer/songwriter Jason Martin seems to have an endless supply of heavenly pop flowing though his veins. His songs are genuine, thoughtful, direct, and they have a cerebral heavenly quality that is immediately effective...plus the man has one of the best voices that we have ever heard. At a certain point, most creative people either burn out or give up...but not Jason. This man is obviously creating music out of pure love and devotion. Instead of altering his sound or style to suit a wider audience, Martin continues providing intelligent progressive pop that is probably just a bit too smart for the general public. But while many folks haven't jumped on board, Jason's focused and devoted fans continue grabbing up each and every one of the band's releases. My Island is yet another fantastic mind-blowing album...full of great tunes, killer guitars, intriguing arrangements, and acute lyrics. If you're already familiar with the band, you probably already have this. If you haven't yet been hooked...My Island will make the perfect first bit of bait. Another album so good...it HURTS. (Rating: 5+++)

Successful Failures - Successful Failures (CD, Face Down / Jam, Pop)
Successful Failures is the trio consisting of Rob Martin, Mick Chorba, and Ron Bechamps. Together, these three guys create purely melodic feelgood guitar pop reminiscent of some of the better bands from the 1970s. The vocals and melodies on this album are exceptional...and the album spins by like a non-stop river of hits. Instead of limiting themselves to one specific style or genre, the fellows in this band keep their tunes simple and direct...thus avoiding being pigeonholed. We particularly love the guitars on this album...smart, intertwined lines that intricately weave their way into one another. Classy pop tracks include "Up To Her Ears," "Cry Baby," "If That's the Way That You Want It," and "Hick Bars." Smart, melodic, and quite catchy. (Rating: 4+++++)

Summer Wardrobe - Summer Wardrobe (CD, Rainbow Quartz, Pop)
The debut full-length from Austin's Summer Wardrobe. These four fellows play pure pop music that is an almost perfect blend of Badfinger with the sounds heard on Dumptruck's For The Country album. This self-titled disc is a guitar lover's dream. The six-stringed instruments are skillfully and articulately layered over one another, providing beautiful cascading guitar lines that perfectly accentuate the vocal melodies. This band's tunes are subtle and mostly laid back...calming yet provocative pop for the thinking listener. Producer Mark Addison's superbly thick and natural sound adds tremendous depth to the band's music. Providing music that could just as easily be appreciated by casual fans as underground fanatics, the guys in Summer Wardrobe have a truly winning musical approach. Smooth tracks include "Ned Kelly," "Blind," "Underground," and "One More Try." A great spin. (Rating: 5+)

Kim Taylor - I Feel Like A Fading Light (Independently released CD, Pop)
Kim Taylor's music sounds something like a soft, subdued cabaret version of Azure Ray. On Ms. Taylor's third full-length release, she demonstrates an amazing ability to write beautifully moving tunes...and her voice is wonderfully smooth and genuine. It's no wonder she has captured the hearts and imaginations of so many folks so early in her career. Instead of following others and imitating the sound of her idols, Kim seems to be releasing her inner thoughts through music...and the results are incredibly touching and real. This young lady is, in fact, creating music that is light years beyond what commercial artists are releasing in the twenty-first century. No canned synthetic pop here...these compositions are bathed in traditional instruments with no additional filler added. The vocal work is just spectacular from start to finish. When unknown artists are this good...you know that there's something totally groovy going on in the world. Top picks: "I Feel Like A Fading Light," "Glove," "Who Is Golden," "The Room Above," "You Can Rely On Me." (Rating: 5+++)

Terra Diablo - Terra Diablo (CD, Nocturnal, Pop/rock)
The debut U.S. release from Scotland's Terra Diablo. Usually when we hear tons of energy and really loud metallic guitars it means that the vocalist is going to be a real screamer. The folks in this band play super loud and super hard...but surprisingly, the vocals are precisely melodic and profoundly pleasing. To top it off, there are some astoundingly nifty vocal harmonies in many of these tunes. While the songs on this self-titled album are, for the most part, pop...the fellows in this band always manage to throw in something unique in their arrangements to avoid sounding like everyone else. This thirteen track album is a perfect blend of artistic integrity with commercial accessibility. While it sounds rather effortless, our bet is that a great deal of work went into recording Terra Diablo. Fans of true guitar pop are bound to get off big time on cuts like "Satellites," "The Smoke," "Distraction," and "Weighs On Me." Hard, tight pop played the way it ought to be played. (Rating: 5+)

Tralala - Is That The Tralala (CD, Audika, Pop)
Here's an interesting idea for a band...three guys play guitar, bass, and drums...and four different girls handle the vocals. The folks in Tralala play music that truly fits their name. The band's tunes are simple and direct and played with odd enthusiasm. Is That The Tralala has an overall nifty bubblegummy feel...yet the tunes would actually be commercially viable if they weren't played with such odd, sparse arrangements. This band's sound brings to mind The Go-Go's album Beauty and the Beat. The purely entertaining feelgood tracks on this CD don't requite a lot of thought or attention. These folks are providing modern escape music which is probably exactly why a lot of listeners are into music in the twenty-first century...to escape thinking about what's really happening in the world. Happy buzzsaw cuts include "We're Coming Out," "Boys of St. Mary," "Secret Weapon," and "The Blow-Off." Truly entertaining music. (Rating: 5)

Natalie Walker - Urban Angel (CD, Dorado, Pop)
Beautiful, thoughtful soft pop from newcomer Natalie Walker. Incredible to think that Urban Angel is this young lady's debut album (!). Mature and significant, this twelve song album is polished and professionally prepared with acute attention to detail. Natalie has a wonderfully soothing voice that is perfectly suited for the style of music she writes. This twenty-three year old lady is quickly picking up a dedicated legion of fans. In many cases when this happens so early in an artist's career, it is because of monetary backing and has nothing whatsoever to do with talent. But in this case...folks are probably being affected by the genuine and real nature of the artist herself. Fans into artists like Beth Orton and Kate Bush will find a lot to love here. Recorded in an appropriate sparsely arranged environment, these tunes shine based on the pure, inherent nature of the songs themselves. Natalie Walker's music is certain to be with us for years to come. Soft, satisfying tracks include "Urban Angel," "Quicksand," "Color Blind," and "Not the End." Nice thick sound quality here. Impressive. (Rating: 5+)


If Jesus loved
All the little children
Of the world in the
Twenty-first century
He would be
Thrown in

(Rating: 1)

Winnerys - Daily Urban Times (CD, Rainbow Quartz, Pop)
Anyone who has ever appreciated the sheer commercial brilliance of pop bands like The Raspberries and The Monkees is almost certain to get emotional thrills from Spain's Winnerys. These four talented fellows have already been blowing away writers and fans of the underground around the world with their chiming 1960s-influenced pop. Daily Urban Times is so intensely upbeat that it may turn some listeners off. The guys in this band play music that is a 100% pure happy feelgood experience...and that's just fine with us. While it may be easy to record music that is difficult and depressing, recording genuinely positive music is in actuality a very difficult thing. Obviously heavily influenced by British and American pop music from the 1960s, these guys are reliving the experience with reverence and style. If you're in the dumps and need a pickup, Daily Urban Times is bound to put some pepper in your popper. Resounding keepers include "Get Into My Life," "So Many People," "How I Miss You," and "Humble Heart." (Rating: 5+++)


The world is yucky.
Sad but true.
The world is yucky
Because of you.

(Rating: 1)

Additional Items Received:

Abner Trio & Man At Arms - Split CD
Ada Jane - Never been better
A.M. Interstate - A.M. Interstate
American Plague - God bless the american plague
Angra - Aurora consurgens
Baldwin Brothers - Return of the golden rhodes
Banana Hands - Bon voyage
Beatbeatbeat - Living in the future
Beati Paoli - Penny dreadful
Bell Hollow - Sons of the burgess shale
Big Sleep - Son of the tiger
Big Tease - Paper symphony
Bitch - Make this break this
Blow - Paper television
Blue Skies for Black Hearts - Love is not enough
Buckfast - Turn
Busticles - Fresh
Dana and Carl Present - This is rock 'n' roll radio vol. 1
Dana and Carl Present - This is rock 'n' roll radio vol. 2
Tamara Dearing - Yesterconfessions
Devil To Pay - Cash is king
Dilly Dilly - A kid leading
Dog Age - Reefy seadragon
DT's Nice 'n' ruff: hard soul hits vol. 1
Entrance - Prayer of death
Envie - Envie
Fast Food Nation - Music from and inspired by the motion picture
Fear Before the March of Flames - The laways open mouth
Five Star Iris - Five Star Iris
Food For Fantasy - The secret of dreamin'
Alexis Gideon - Welcome song
Glowfriends - Leave the hall light on
Guill & Jem - Dos soles / two suns
Gurus - The swing of things
Wes Hawkins - Possible
Heartland - I loved her first
House of Fools - House of Fools
IAMISEE vs. DJ Demon - IAMISEE vs. DJ Demon
Iceage Cobra - Iceage Cobra
Jigsaw Seen - What about christmas?
Joemca - Joemca
Kate Kennedy - Circle. spiral. line.
Shanna Kiel - Orphan
Alfie Kingston - Creatures and people's ways
Klangwelt - XOIO
Kreator - Enemy of god revisited
John L.T. - Just what you wanted
Los Abandoned - Mix tape
Paul Michel - Quiet state of panic
Midnight Movies - Patient eye/golden hair
Michael Mucklow - Clearly
Orange Nichole - Things we've got and things we're winning
Nicola - Don't take it personally
Ninetynine - Worlds of space/population robots
No One Goes Home - Ner era demo
No One Goes Home - 2153 mile sampler
One Night Band - Way back home
Andy Partridge - Fuzzy warvles collector's sampler
Plain White T's - Every second counts
Plus / Minus + / - - Let's build a fire
Precious Fathers - Precious Fathers
Quiet Ones - Nite you surprised me
Qwel and Meaty Ogre - Freezerburner
Kristoffer Ragnstam - Do you want a piece of me
Raquel's Boys - Music for the girl you love
Marion Raven - Heads will roll
Recife - Microwave
Reverse - Longest day of the year
Ringles - Take a ride
Rob Da Bank and Chris Coco - Listen again
Rocket Summer - Early years EP
Daniel Rogers - This side of the green arrow
Safe Home - The wide wide world and all we know
The Sails - The Sails
Slip - Eisenhower
Speakerfire - Alchemy
Spins - Spins
Sugarcult - Lights out
Sunday Afternoon at Dingwalls - Classic moves and grooves from the legendary club
Swan Lake - Beast moans
Swell Maps - Wastrels and whippersnappers
Swift Ships - Rebel renaissance
Keith Sykes - Let it roll
Three Fifths - It's worth it for the rumors
Twilight Singers - A stitch in time
Unexpect - In a flesh aquarium
Vilebillies - Vilebillies
Caroline Vinciguerra - Bored and gorgeous
Voxtrot - Your biggest fan
White Flight - White Flight
Jim Williams - Living life
Winter Blanket - Golden sun

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