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February 2006 Reviews by
Etienne de Rocher
Dull and Boring
The Eames Era
Fast Eddie Music Conspiracy
ft (The Shadow Government)
God Makes Dresses
Guided By Voices
Coretta Scott King
The Moore Brothers*
Please Thank You
Shut Up About It
Voices & Organs
Young and Sexy
Additional Items Received
= VERY GOOD
Turn Your Back On Society
This month we suggest that you turn your back on society. The news, the government, groups of every shape and kind, and all the wonderful people of the world...turn your back on them all and live your life in seclusion. Seclusion has many benefits. It is more pleasurable, less stressful, and just plain smarter.
So...the next time someone asks you to join an organization...or to contribute to a charity...or to vote...just say NO.
The farther you remove yourself from the world...the BETTER you will FEEL.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Adams - The Spiral Eyes (CD, Subcircle
Although copyrighted in 2004, we just received a copy of The Spiral Eyes from the kind folks at Tinderbox Music. An unknown at present, young singer/songwriter Peter Adams is a man whose music will probably find a large audience in the very near future. The folks at MTV have already licensed the tracks from this album for use on their broadcasts and Adams was also chosen Singer/Songwriter of the Year at the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards ceremony. These wouldn't be such impressive occurrences if it were not for the fact that Peter's music is rather obtuse and odd. Perhaps folks in the world of commercial music are beginning to open their minds a bit...? Well, we wouldn't count on that...but in this case we do agree with the industry sorts. The Spiral Eyes is a great album. Peter's soft, subdued songs have a strange sticking quality that is missing in music created by many new artists. His words are personal and thoughtful and he composes excellent melodies. Smooth, gliding tracks include "Cementalisque," "When the Morning Dies," "The Invention of Nuclear Power," and "Elevators." Impressive and unique. (Rating: 5+)
Aloha - Some Echoes (CD, Polyvinyl
Record Company, Progressive pop)
This band's last album (Here Comes Everyone) was warmly received by critics. Some Echoes is likely to have a greater and even more lasting impact. Aloha is Cale Parks, Matthew Gengler, T.J. Lipple, and Tony Cavallario...four fellows whose love of music caused them to unite to make their own unique sounds. The songs on Some Echoes recall a variety of other artists...yet ultimately don't sound that much like any one band in particular. True to the claim of another reviewer, some of the band's ideas may be attributed to an affection for early Genesis albums. The songs are, for the most part, subtle and subdued...but some of the musical passages and arrangements are rather complex, with slight jazz and classical influences. There are some beautiful tunes here. Fans are likely to get big chills from tracks like "Brace Your Face," "Between the Walls," "Come Home," and...particularly..."If I Lie Down." Unusual and mesmerizing. (Rating: 5)
Aqualung - Strange & Beautiful (CD/DVD DualDisc, Columbia, Soft pop)
Aqualung is Matt Hales...a British fellow with a mindblowing knack for writing tunes and a truly exceptional voice. A lot of money is being pumped into this young man's career...which might be a bad thing if it were not for the fact that this fellow's music has the substance to make it all work. Strange & Beautiful is a DualDisc (CD on one side, DVD on the other). The DVD features the entire album in enhanced stereo plus a short film by Matt's brother, interviews, and additional video footage. This album is being released to precede Matt's upcoming tour opening for David Grey...whose fans are almost certain to become instant Aqualung addicts. Hales does not produce noisy underground dribble. His tunes are highly melodic, incorporating all the right elements from classic pop...and reinventing them along the way. Matt's piano-propelled pop is smooth...and glides along effortlessly. The words and melodies seem to come straight from the heart, which may explain why his music rises above the glossy, articulate arrangements. One thing is certain. Matt Hales is destined to be a major player in pop music in the years ahead. Dynamite tracks include "Strange & Beautiful," "Falling Out of Love," "Breaking My Heart," and "Another Little Hole." (Rating: 5+)
Butthole Mountain (Film)
Because the first movie (Brokeback Mountain) received so many Golden Globe Awards, Director Ang Lee was quick to film a follow up. Butthole Mountain picks up where Brokeback Mountain left off. This love story about two cowboys in the early 1960s gets a bit more intense this time around. Co-stars Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) again deliver stunning performances as their love for one another continues to grow and evolve. The movie begins with Ennis excreting an unusually large mountain dump while Jack watches with lustful greed. As the two lean over to inspect the mountain more closely, they give each other a deep, longing, sloppy kiss. That kiss leads them off into several seductive pony romps, as they quickly shed their clothes and begin to square dance in the neighbor's barn. The secret hidden love between the two characters grows and evolves as they frequently plow each other so hard that they begin bleeding. As the blood flows harder and warmer, the two begin to cry as they eventually cross examine their affair and realize that their homosexuality is nothing more than a mild form of mental retardation. The film ends as the two decide to hang themselves, offering one final jolt of autoerotic asphyxiation in the process. Beautifully touching and sinfully nauseating, this love story will turn even the sissiest of sissies into roaring heterosexuals. (Rating: 1)
King - The Sun Revolutions (CD, Rubric, Pop/rock)
Imagine Jim Morrison singing songs written by David Bowie...and you might have some idea of what Cavalier King sounds like. The band is the alter-ego of singer/songwriter Chris Taylor. Chris isn't just another noisy underground art rocker. His songs are classy, classic, and extraordinarily melodic. Although he isn't obviously borrowing or stealing his sound from any particular artists, Taylor's songs sound surprisingly familiar. The Sun Revolutions is a short album clocking in at about 37 minutes...but in that brief amount of time this young man proves that he is a real contender in the world of music. Killer cuts include "Renegade," "The Unprotected," "Cavalier King," "The War Is On," and "Victory." Great stuff...recommended. (Rating: 5++)
de Rocher - Etienne de Rocher (CD, Fog City, Pop)
Classic underground pop. Etienne de Rocher traveled from his home state of Alabama to attend the University of California at Berkeley...eventually opting to drop out so he could focus on his music. de Rocher was offered a deal with Capitol Records but just before inking the deal...he didn't feel right about things so he made the wise decision to go with San Francisco's independent label Fog City Records. Label founder Dan Prothero co-produced this album with Etienne. The result is an impressively mature and thoughtful collection of soft pop gems. The songs on this album are not underground sloppy pop. These ultra-focused tunes are surprisingly polished and amazingly accessible. Etienne's tunes recall FM radio pop from the 1970s and 1980s (sounding like early Rick Springfield at times)...but presented with an updated, professional sound and style. Fifteen tracks, including "Juniper Rose," "Six Feet," "Come Twilight," and "The Lizard Song." Good stuff. (Rating: 4++++)
Devics - Push the Heart (CD, Filter
US Recordings, Pop)
Beautiful, lush, dreamy pop. The folks at Filter US Recordings have once again proven their exquisite taste by signing Devics. The band is the duo consisting of vocalist Sara Lov and multi-instrumentalist Dustin O'Halloran. Lov and O'Halloran are originally from Los Angeles but made the wise decision to relocate to Italy. Together, the two create wonderfully intricate soft progressive pop with a difference. O'Halloran's finely tuned arrangements provide the perfect cushion for Lov's soft and soothing vocals. The music is somewhat reminiscent of Azure Ray in overall tone and mood....but a bit more poppy and accessible. While Lov handles the vocal duties on most of these tracks, the cuts on which O'Halloran sings are equally pleasing. A thoroughly satisfying spin, Push the Heart is absolutely superb. Top picks: "Lie To Me," "Song For a Sleeping Girl," "Moments," "Come Up." (Rating: 5++)
Drop down and give me twenty.
Drop down and give me thirty.
Drop down and give me something just
Drop down and give.
DULL AND BORING
Everyone is dull and boring,
Dull and boring,
Dull and boring.
Everything is dull and boring,
Dull and boring,
Dull and boring.
But why is everything dull and boring,
Dull and boring,
Dull and boring?
Contemplation is dull and boring,
Dull and boring,
Dull and boring.
Eames Era - Double Dutch (CD, C Student, Pop)
The debut album from Baton Rouge, Louisiana's The Eames Era is an immediate HIT. This band had a lot of people talking about their previous release (The Second EP). Double Dutch picks up where that EP left off...as the band delivers eleven effervescent pop tunes that recall classic pop artists from the past three decades. The band's tunes are simple, slick, and clean...allowing the listener to concentrate on the instantly addictive vocal talents of Ashlin Phillips. This young lady has a crystal clear voice that really stands out. But make no mistake about it, Double Dutch is a group effort...as all five members contributed in writing the songs. The band's guitar-based pop is reminiscent of the first couple of albums from Boston's criminally overlooked 1990s band Fuzzy. Pure feelgood pop is getting harder and harder to find these days. These folks do it right. Catchy cuts include "Go To Sleep," "Got Your Note," "Talk Talk," and "Promises." (Rating: 5+)
Brood - Ambassador (CD, Six Shooter, Alternative country/rockabilly/pop)
Canada's Elliott Brood is a band with an inventive sound and image. Rarely do we hear alternative country pop bands from Canada. Ambassador features twelve tunes that effectively combine country, rockabilly, and pop into one big cohesive ball of entertainment. The vocals are particularly intriguing...ranging from subtle almost whispered phrases to more aggressively delivered ranch hand yelps. The band consists of Casey Laforet, Steve Pitkin, and Mark Sasso...three fellows who seem to have in intuitive sense of what they're doing. Classy and focused, this band is clearly on the right path. Top picks: "Twill," "Second Son," "Johnny Rooke," "Superior." (Rating: 5)
Endino - Permanent Fatal Error (CD,
Lots of folks are familiar with the bands Jack Endino has produced (Nirvana, Zeke, Black Halos, Boss Martians)...but most are probably not as familiar with his own music. Originally a member of the 1980s/1990s band Skin Yard, Endino has only now begun to reignite his own musical career. Jack's music is not what you would expect. Producers usually make super slick music that sounds...not surprisingly...overproduced. This is most certainly not the case with Permanent Fatal Error. This is, first and foremost, a rock and roll album. The rhythms are precise and dynamic and the guitars are loud and in your face. But what really makes this album kick are the vocals. Endino has a superbly effective masculine voice that is urgent and focused. Permanent Fatal Error features fifteen finely tuned rockers including "Count Me Out," "Elusive," "Reach," "Flight of the Wax Tadpole," and "Bringing Me Down." Loud and rather...fantastic. (Rating: 5++)
Eddie Music Conspiracy - The Kids Dig It
(Independently released CD-R, Progressive rock)
Combining elements of 1970s progressive rock with 1990s hard rock, pop, and heavy metal, the fellows in Maryland's Fast Eddie Music Conspiracy aren't following any specific trends in music. This band is a good example of just how evolved some independent bands have become as a result of technology. Playing the game their own way, these guys manage to record and release impressively focused and polished songs that are somewhat accessible...yet simultaneously artistically credible. Instead of playing sloppy underground dribble, these smart gents play together like one tight, focused unit. All four members are accomplished on their instruments, and their songs are ultimately imaginative and satisfying. Ten cool cruisers here including "Boot to the Head," "Automatic," "Monstrosity," and "In the Name of the Machine." If they had the chance to hear this album, chances are that the kids really would dig it. Good stuff. (Rating: 4++++)
Figurines - Skeleton (CD, Control
Group, Progressive pop)
The press release that accompanied this CD pretty much nailed the sound of Figurines...describing the band as sounding something like The Strokes and Built To Spill (among others). The gentlemen in this Denmark-based quartet create melodic danceable pop/rock that is smooth and melodic...yet anything but predictable. Skeleton, the band's second full-length release, features fourteen subtle tracks. The band's fragile vocals are probably the most distinctive part of their overall sound. But songs are the real focus here, as the material on Skeleton is thoroughly engaging from start to finish. While there are no easy singalong choruses, the band's tunes have definite sticking qualities. Destined to be a favorite among underground pop fans and reviewers, Skeleton gets better with repeated spins. Top picks: "Race You," "All Night," "Remember," "Continuous Songs," "Release Me On The Floor." (Rating: 5++)
ft (The Shadow Government) - Guns of August (CD, Scenester
Credentials, Progressive rock)
The first track on this album ("Dissent is Democracy") immediately catches the listener's attention...as various children read chillingly real thoughts and ideas exposing how the U.S. Government has become the enemy of its citizens. Immediately following, the band gets down to business...delivering their odd progressive rock tunes with insistent fury. ft (The Shadow Government) was previously known as Flaccid Trip...but apparently there are few similarities between the two bands other than personnel. Guns of August is a strange, gripping spin. Most bands claim to be unique and original...but these fellows really are. Though some of the messages in the music are of rebellion, the songs are anything but punk or heavy metal. By combining identifiable elements with plenty of unpredictable sounds and ideas, this band has come up with an album that challenges listeners without scaring them away. The only cover tune is a strangely hypnotic interpretation of Marc Bolan's "Organ Blues." Guns of August is an album that will hopefully ignite people in their thoughts to actually do something with their lives. Uniquely creative. (Rating: 5+)
Give birth to puppies.
Give birth to kittens.
Give birth to chickens.
For the hell of it.
GOD MAKES DRESSES
God helps those who help themselves.
God cleans those who cleanse themselves.
God helps elves who help other elves.
God makes shelves for those who make shelves themselves.
God dresses pretty for those who dress pretty themselves.
God blows his nose at those who blow their own noses.
God shakes his booty at those who shake their own booties.
God throws temper tantrums at those who throw their own temper tantrums.
God opens up fancy new popular nightclubs for those who open their own fancy new popular nightclubs.
God makes silk dresses for those who can't make their own silk dresses.
Valentine - Steady Your Hands (CD, Collectible Escalators,
Nice, smooth, pensive Americana-based soft pop. Centered around the songwriting skills of Joey Beltram, this band has a sound that is slick, direct, and effective. Beltram's tunes recall some of the more subdued songs recorded by Jay Farrer. Steady Your Hands is slow and reflective...incorporating a wide variety of instruments and styles. The lyrics and melodies are exceptional throughout all twelve tracks. Beltram's deep, mournful voice is perfect for the style of songs he composes. Top picks: "Tiger and the Leper," "So Long...", "Invitation," "Why Do You Bother." (Rating: 5+)
Samsa - 55:12 (CD, The
Kora Records, Progressive pop)
While the band consists of main members Champ Bennett, Nikki King, Jason Laferrera, and Billy Bennett...twenty or more people are listed as contributors on this, the first full-length Gregor Samsa release. 55:12 features eight compositions that are decidedly lacking in commercial appeal. Rather than creating music in an attempt to be the latest underground rage, the folks in Gregor Samsa are creating music out of pure artistic integrity. As such, there are no danceable rhythms...no catchy choruses...and virtually nothing that is immediately familiar. The songs cover territory that ranges from subdued ambience to gothic-like drones. The vocals are hushed and subtle. Beautifully different, 55:12 is destined to be a favorite among reviewers and true fans of the underground. (Rating: 5)
By Voices - Suitcase 2 (4 CD box set,
Luna Music, Pop)
The second in a series of CD box sets featuring demos and unreleased recordings by Robert Pollard's Guided By Voices. There seems to be some debate as to whether or not recordings like this should be released. But...considering the fact that when somebody dies all of this sort of stuff gets released anyway...we say, why not? This is the kinda thing that will only be truly appreciated by folks who are already fans of Guided By Voices. But, as such, this box set is an intriguing spin that sheds more light on the astounding, prolific talents of Robert Pollard. The set includes a booklet detailing when each track was recorded and who played on what...as well as some great old photos of the band. One hundred songs are featured on these four discs. Some are haphazard scraps and pieces to be certain...but others are surprisingly focused and memorable pop songs. While we can only recommend this for die-hard fans, those fans are going to find some absolutely killer gems in this set. Includes "Rocket Head," "Happy at the Drag Strip," "You're Not the Queen Anymore," "Two or Three Songs," "Boston Spaceships," "Invisible Exercise," "Home By Ten" and many, many more... (Rating: 5+)
Severum - Plague Dogs (CD, Two Sheds Music, Pop/rock)
Herky jerky spastic modern pop that recalls 1970s bands like Gang of Four. Heros Severum is Eric Friar, Sherryl Branch, and Davey Station. Plague Dogs is the band's second full-length release...a rather impressive jolt of modern pop/rock. Rather than follow current trends or play familiar riffs and grooves, these folks most certainly have their own unique sound and style. Although the music is rooted in pop and rock, the underlying rhythms are funky and ultimately danceable. The vocals are unusual...harmonies and backing vocals are layered in such a way that they sound odd stacked over the stop-and-go arrangements. These folks are taking lots of risks...and most of them work surprisingly well. Kickass rockers include "Let's Go Swimming," "I Can," "A Sick Dog," and "A Nice Haircut." (Rating: 4++++)
Howdy do, metal punk.
Howdy do to you.
Howdy do, tatooed skinhead.
Howdy do to you.
Howdy do, painted lady.
Howdy do to you.
Howdy do, generic farmhand.
Howdy do to you too.
Isn't she a beauty?
Isn't she beautiful?
Isn't she shitty?
Isn't he lovely?
Isn't he wonderful?
Isn't he shitty?
Isn't life cool?
Isn't life neat?
Isn't life shitty?
Coretta Scott King (Miscellaneous dead wife of a generic civil rights leader)
Considering all of her impressive accomplishments and contributions to society, Coretta Scott King certainly earned her rating. (Rating: 1)
- Everything Wrong Is Imaginary (CD, Manifesto,
Kurt Heasley is a man of many talents whose songs are difficult to describe and comprehend. Lilys, the name for the revolving group of musicians he uses from album to album, was such an original sounding concept in the first few years of existence that many people were lost in the heady confusion of the music. Over time, however, Heasley modified his sound to appeal to a wider cross section of people...and, as such, Lilys albums suffered in the process. The last few releases (Precollection and The Three Way in particular) just didn't live up to most fans' expectations. We are proud to announce that with the release of Everything Wrong Is Imaginary, the band has returned in fine form. Gone are the hints of commercial appeal and predictability...having been replaced by Heasley's original creativity. The ten tracks on this album are unusual and unpredictable...the fantastic vocal melodies sometimes almost buried beneath the spacey arrangements. The overall sound is surreal and effervescent. This isn't quite as overwhelming and fulfilling as Ecsame The Photon Band (easily the best Lilys release ever)...but it sure comes close. Diehard fans will be gushing over tracks like "Black Carpet Magic," "A Diana's Diana," "The Night Sun Over San Juan," and "O.I.C.U.R." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)
Love - Ian Love (CD, Limekiln,
Ian Love sounds something like a young underground Paul Simon. His soft, melodic tunes are driven by an acoustic guitar and layered with intelligent arrangements and clean vocal overdubs. Love was previously in the bands Rival Schools and Cardia before making the decision to go solo. Judging from the biography that accompanied this disc, Love doesn't mind sharing his personal life with his listeners. This young man has been through a lot of ordeals in music thus far...and the resulting maturity gained is obvious throughout this album. Ian's songs have intriguing depth and seem to flow naturally from his soul. Cool introspective tracks include "The Only Night," "Old Enough," "Heart A Song," and "It's Not Over." (Rating: 4++++)
I want to live
In a mighty big house.
I want to make
Mighty big sums of money.
I want to go
On mighty fine trips.
I want to have hips
Just like goddamn Mighty Mouse.
Moi? - Moi? (CD, Crustacean,
Moi? is a different sort of band playing a style of music that is out-of-synch with most other bands of the twenty-first century. The tunes on Moi? recall classic artists from the 1970s and 1980s. Songwriter Peter Kohl has a real knack for churning out upbeat, accessible tunes that sound like hits. Moi? consists of Royce Peterson, Vinnie Domingo, Julian Lovechild Maile, Dr. Benjamin Parish, and Chris Co Anderson. Unlike most underground bands, these fellows play music that is smooth and easy...and often catchy as hell. Cool hummable tracks include "This Is All That I Wanted," "Housecall," "When She Wakes Up It Is Cold," and "Whoa Mama." Good stuff. (Rating: 4++++)
The Moore Brothers - Murdered by The Moore Brothers (CD, Plain
Recordings, Acoustic pop)
The Moore Brothers write music that is clearly out-of-place in today's market. Thank God for that. Murdered by The Moore Brothers is an absolutely beautiful collection of soft pop tunes that are centered around the magnetic vocals of brothers Greg and Thom Moore. The Moore brothers write classic pop music that recalls some of the best artists of the 1960s and 1970s...presenting their songs with appropriately sparse arrangements that allow the listener to concentrate on the melodies and lyrics. These guys easily stand out from the majority of underground artists mainly because they have obvious and real talent. Their songs are thoughtful, memorable, and sincere...and the harmony vocals are absolutely fantastic. Killer tracks include "Wish You'd Say," "The Auditorium Birds," "Pyramid," "Girl With a Light," and "I Let Myself Go." Truly great music. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)
Pagoda - Seven Nights EP (Independently released CD EP, Progressive
More smooth, moody, progressive pop from Pagoda. This Washington, D.C.-based band presents five songs that are soft and fuzzy...and calm and dreamy. The title track is particularly cool and peculiar...slightly reminiscent of early material from the 1970s British progressive band Curved Air. Seven Nights is wonderfully atmospheric...and will have the band's fans eagerly awaiting their next full-length release... (Rating: 5+)
Playwrights - English Self Storage (CD,
Sink & Stove, Progressive
British-based band The Playwrights have a lot of people talking...and for good reasons. Though the band has been sieged with a few setbacks in their career thus far, 2005 saw them getting in gear with a real recording session. English Self Storage is the result. The fellows in this band play slightly spastic but very melodic upbeat pop music that is counterbalanced by some intriguing guitar playing. Rather than aping a single sound or style, these fellows combine unlikely influences to create their own brand of modern urban pop. While usually easy on the ears, the tunes on Self Storage are often deceptively adventurous and complex. The band consists of Aaron Dewey, Nathan Edmunds, Tom Mills, Hector Peebles, and Benjamin Shillabeer...five guys who seem to have an intuitive sense of what the others are thinking. Heady, unpredictable tunes include "Why We've Become Invisible," "Central Heating In The Summer Season," and "Leave It For The Archaeologists." Well done. (Rating: 5)
All bow down
To the popular pigs.
All watch and listen
To the popular pigs.
Come in all shapes and sizes
And in all the colors
Of the goddamn rainbow.
Snort and grovel with glee
Because popular pigs
Get whatever they please.
PLEASE THANK YOU
If you want to say "please"...
Don't say it.
If you want to say "thank you"...
Don't say it.
Don't say anything
Deluxe - Rancho Deluxe (Independently
released CD, Country/pop)
If you enjoy Toby Keith a great deal but find his music far too slick and calculated, you may very well find a dependable fix in Los Angeles, California's Rancho Deluxe. This trio has it all...great tunes, killer vocals, and they've totally got their chops down on their instruments. The band consists of Mark Adams, Jesse Jay Harris, and Graham Harris...but other artists lending a helping hand include JayDee Maness, Don Heffington, Michael Witcher, and Megan Lynch. Rancho Deluxe is a big thick sounding album...but what makes the disc such a treat are the songs. Adams has a great macho voice that really drives the tunes. The playing is spirited and genuine from start to finish...sometimes absolutely mind-blowing (you'll have to hear the guitar playing in "On The Fence" to believe it). This album is a pure feelgood listening experience...created out of a genuine love for making music. Killer tracks include "Rock Bottom," "Follow Your Heart," "Lonesome Home Security," "Hey You," and "Small Town Gossip." Great stuff. (Rating: 5++)
The Sems - Any Day Ago (CD, Luna
Music, Soft pop)
The Sems is the one-man band consisting of Pete Bogolub. Pete recorded Any Day Ago in his home studio and then did the mixdown with assistance from producer Mike Pecchio. This album features beautifully gliding indie pop with some rather spacey and intricate arrangements. Bogolub's vocals are decidedly subtle and understated...yet the words and melodies manage to shine through these sometimes busy tracks. Any Day Ago sounds something like a cross between Brian Eno and Donovan...except more current sounding than either. This album features fourteen lovely gliding tracks that include "A Lonely Place To Be," "The Last Noise," "Float In Space," and "Yesteryear." Beautifully constructed soft progressive pop. (Rating: 5)
Sounds - Dying To Say This To You (CD,
New Line, Pop)
The Sounds...a new girl band with a rockin' sound similar to Sahara Hotnights. The extraordinarily accessible tunes on Dying To Say This To You are anything but a turn off. These young ladies manage to tread that fine line between artistic integrity and commercial accessibility without missing a beat. And there are plenty of groovy, danceable beats to be found on this album. The rhythms and melodies are decidedly radio friendly...yet these songs are delivered with such sincere attitude that it is almost impossible to not like them. Hummable cuts include "Song With a Mission," "Tony the Beat," "Don't Want to Hurt You," and "Running Out of Turbo." Decidedly catchy and fashionable modern. (Rating: 4++++)
Sparks - Hello Young Lovers (CD, In
The Red, Progressive pop)
Sounding something like L'il Beethoven Part II, Sparks' latest release is yet another perplexing and splendidly enjoyable addition to their mind-expanding catalog. The band's twentieth album, Hello Young Lovers finds Ron and Russell Mael's tunes as peculiar and essential as ever. The album begins with what might be described as Sparks' version of "Bohemian Rhapsody"..."Dick Around" is unpredictable and somewhat operatic in nature...weaving in and out of styles and melodies effortlessly very much like Queen's signature track. The song sounds like a perfect merging of the sounds found on Propaganda and L'il Beethoven. After catching your breath from the lead track, "Perfume" follows...perhaps the only slightly weak track on the album. But never mind...because the remaining eight tracks are clever, unforgettable, and fantastic. Few if any bands this late in their career could produce a masterpiece like this...but Ron and Russell have always been exceptions to the normal rules that apply to music. Who but the Maels could produce a song linking the words to the national anthem with the chorus: "Can I invade your country, baby baby...can I invade your country?." Totally hilarious. By sticking to their guns and refusing to follow trends, the Mael brothers manage to outdo just about everyone. Hello Young Lovers is bound to please the band's persistently devoted fans. Other folks will, unfortunately, probably be just as alienated and confused as they were three decades ago. No matter. These guys are obviously still doing what they do for personal satisfaction. As with all Sparks albums, Hello Young Lovers is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 6+++)
She put a feather
In her asshole
And shook it all around.
She put a rifle
In her asshole
And blew it like a clown.
She put a megaphone
In her asshole
And shouted to the world.
She put a congressman
In her asshole
And shitted like a squirrel.
SHUT UP ABOUT IT
The world is lovely so
Shut up about it.
Life is worth living so
Shut up about it.
Nothing means anything so
Shut up about it.
Shut whatever needs to be shut and
Shut up about it.
Lazy - The Cox Sintrific (Independently
released CD, Pop/rock)
Good solid entertainment. Indianapolis, Indiana's Stranger Lazy is a cool band with excellent songs. The tunes on The Cox Sintrific are reminiscent of early Guided By Voices. You won't hear lots of unnecessary overdubs and fake glossy studio polish here...only super catchy melodic tunes that get better the more you spin 'em. Excellent guitar riffs combine with above average lyrics...creating an intelligent musical climate where this quartet explores their musical creativity. Fourteen clever tracks here, including "And I Punched It," "Hello Mr. Boombox," "Solar Cop," and "Kidneystones and Palindromes." Smart and inventive. (Rating: 5)
Strokes - First Impressions of Earth
(CD, RCA, Pop/rock)
This, the third album from The Strokes, is a classic. After releasing a fantastic debut album (Is This It?) that blew most people away, the band followed up with a very good...but not incredible...second release (Room On Fire). The sophomore album was entertaining but a bit too similar to the debut. First Impressions of Earth picks up where the first album left off...hitting the listener with a much tighter, thicker, and focused sound. To put it simply, this album rocks like holy hell. The songs are uplifting and highly melodic and the delivery is top notch. As usual, the guitar interplay between Nick Valenski and Albert Hammond, Jr. is dynamite. Nikolai Fraiture and Fab Moretti create tight and heavy rhythms while chief songwriter Julian Casablancas provides the focal point with his Jim Morrison-inspired vocals. Having just been released so early in the year, First Impressions is already destined to be on a great many best of lists for the year. Killer tracks include "You Only Live Once," "On The Other Side," "Fear Of Sleep," and "Red Light." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)
Subways - Young for Eternity (CD, Sire, Power pop/punk)
Loud and abrasive power pop/punk played with enthusiastic determination. This London, England-based trio has a mighty big sound...and tunes that sound like instant underground hits. The band consists of Billy Lunn (guitar, vocals), Charlotte Cooper (bass, vocals), and Josh Morgan (drums). The appropriately-titled Young for Eternity features twelve nasty little pop tracks that are most likely to appeal to young listeners. The band rocks hard...while never dispensing with melodies and identifiable song structures. In some ways, The Subways sound like a cross between The Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins...except much more modern and current than either. Great sounding thick and gritty guitars. A band to keep an eye on... (Rating: 4++++)
Telescopes - Auditory Illusions (CD,
Double Agent, Experimental)
Britain's Telescopes have managed to confuse and alienate many people over the years. The band's music is unconventional, obtuse, and almost entirely lacking in commercial accessibility. On Auditory Illusions, the band consists of Stephen Laurie, Jo Doran, and Lorin Hals Hall. The three lengthy audio tracks on this EP were recorded live...thus involving the creativity and spontaneity that has made the band a cult favorite. This disc also includes a video of "Flying" (requires Quicktime to play). The Telescopes have been one of our top favorites for years now. This EP is yet another must have. Limited edition release, only 500 copies being made available. Get 'em while they're hot. (Rating: 5+)
Voices & Organs - Orphanage (CD, Western
Vinyl, Obtuse progressive pop)
Blurry, slightly surreal ambient pop. Sweden's Voices & Organs is a truly obtuse pop band driven by the unusual songwriting talents of Per Lindmark. Sounding something like listening to a soft pop album while old 78s and an AM radio are playing in the background, Orphanage is a peculiar yet inviting spin. Lindmark's tunes are slow and methodical...sometimes almost completely drenched in effects and background noise. As a result, this album will definitely not appeal to everyone. The recording method(s) used are rather strange and unorthodox. But songs are what matter...and there are some beautifully constructed melodies hidden beneath the surface here. Eighteen curious cuts including "Any Day Now," "Nestlings," "Boychild," and "Idle Words on Empty Pages." (Rating: 4++++)
and Sexy - Panic When You Find It (CD,
Mint, Soft progressive pop)
Fresh, effervescent soft pop from Canada's Young and Sexy. Panic When You Find It features ten subtle, thought provoking tracks...most of which are slow, moody, and methodical. The band is centered around the songwriting talents of Paul Hixon Pittman and the vocal talents of Lucy Brain. This, the band's third album, finds them sounding acutely focused as they deliver finely-tuned compositions that are sure to stand the test of time. Lucy's vocals are a perfect match for Pittman's often unpredictable melody lines. The arrangements are progressive in nature, although usually only incorporating elements that are essential for the tunes to work. Dreamy, soft, and slightly surreal...Panic When You Find It is bound to gently melt in your mind...not in your hands. Top picks: "Your Enemy's Asleep," "All the Little Girls and Boys," "Conventional Lullabies," "Satellite." (Rating: 5+)
Additional Items Received:
Air Supply - The singer and the song
Below the Sound - Three
Benlavain - Come on people
The Besties - Singer
Black Angels - Passover
Randy Boone - Ignoble daydreams for impudent minds
box_ - box_
BPA - Maybe use my knife
Carol Bui - This is how i recover
Burning Idols - The feeding bird
Casiontone for the Painfully Alone - Etiquette
Catalog Debris - Seven degrees from center
Cerrito - South of the border
Xeven Cervenka - Sev7en
Circuit - Eau de humanity
Clogs - Lantern
Connor Rand and the Red Dirt Band - Connor Rand and the Red Dirt Band
Copperheard - Remedy
Crushkill Destroy - Metric midnight
Crystal and the Wolves - Shapinska rock
Dafni - Drifting in circles
Dead Next Door - Time to fight
Dear and the Headlights - Dear and the Headlights
Depth Affect - Arche lymb
DJ Markitos - Unreachable destiny
Mike Downey - Adventure, bless, and don't be sorry
Electric Six - Senor smoke
Flipping the Pig - Pout
Folly - Resist convenience
Gary D. and the Fabulous Armadillos - Diary of a decade
George Lesiw Band - Anuta was here
Ghostigital - In god we trust
Guajiro - Guajiro
Harlan - The still beat
Taylor Hollingsworth - Tragic city
Eric Kamen - Native unit
Seth Kauffman - Ting
Arden Kaywin - Quarter life crisis
Gerson Kelly - Junto a mi
Killdozer - The last waltz
Pete Kronowitt - Elements
Landlord - Glitterati
Dave Lombardi - Guardian muse
Lylas - Lessons for lovers
Masters of the Universe - Don't block the box
Wes McDonald - In the furnace
Mellowdrone - Box
The Messiah - 26
Me Talk Pretty - Ana
Mr. Anonymous - Mr. Anonymous
Shawn Mullins - 9th ward pickin' parlour
Nine Black Alps - Everything is
No Trigger - Canyoneer
Picket Line - Chapter: end
Megan Reilly - Let your ghost go
Alan Semerdjian - When there was something wrong with you
SevenOneFive - We don't feel like this for free
Small Faces - Under review: An independent critical analysis
Stoley P.T. - Lesson #1
Straiht Wikid Crew - Kali yuga demolition vol. 1
The Strays - Life support/bastards of young
The Super-Scary Monster Show Featuring Little Gloomy - Walker and Jones
Terrestrial Tones - Dead drunk
Theo and the Skyscrapers - Theo and the Skyscrapers
Third Sight - Symbionese liberation album
Towers of London - How rude she was EP
Rhonda Towns - I wanna be loved by you
Various artists - A Hospital Records compilation
Various artists - SXW 2005 Crustacean Records sampler
Various artists - Take action! Volume 5
The Wails - Via
We Are The Fury - Infinite Jest
Jason Whitton - Thiftstore cowboy
Wolfmother - Dimensions
Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice - Gipsy freedom
Mike Younger - Every stone you throw
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