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February 2002 Reviews by

The Anniversary*
Beast of British (VA)

The Birdwatcher
Candy Turd Bunnies
Club 8

Comment Piece
Mark Douthit

Neil Halstead
Peggy Honeywell
Drazy Hoops
If I Was Prince
Ill Ease
Lasse Lindh
Loggy Rukaboi

Lonely Kings
The Maroons
Mission Giant

Sean Na Na
The New Amsterdams

Chan Poling

The Q-Tip Poo


Ritual Space Travel Agency
Sewing With Nancie

The Woggles
*Top Picks


February 2002 Comment Piece: Esquivel and Peggy Lee

Despite the fact that 2002 started off like a great big ball of WILDFIRE with lots of great new music releases, we were very saddened as two of our favorite musical artists of all time passed away. There are few who one could even begin to compare with Esquivel...a man who made his mark creating some of the goofiest and most mental music ever to hit earth. He was instrumenting in sparking off the "lounge movement" a few years back, although none of the modern artists could ever quite reach his level of inventiveness. But it was great to see such a swelling of renewed interest in this incredible man's music during the past decade. Peggy Lee always knocked our socks off...from the very first time we heard her voice and saw that haunting look in her eyes. When you think of female vocalists, it would be impossible to forget the monumental impact this lady made on the world. Her recordings are as vital and impressive now as they ever were (go back and give a listen and we guarantee you will be impressed). What we find MOST amazing is that these two deaths received so little media attention nationwide...while countless hours were devoted to worthless trivia like terrorism and the economy (YAWN...). And so...we sadly tip our hats to two of the greatest legends that ever lived. Farewell Peggy. Goodbye Esquivel. May your music live on...FOREVER.

The Anniversary - Your Majesty (CD, Vagrant, Pop)
This is a smashing collection of tunes from this Lawrence, Kansas band. This, the band's second album, is apparently different than the band's debut (which has been described as emo). We can't compare the two, but we can sure as Hell report that Your Majesty is a stunning collection of shimmering melodic pop tunes that'll have your head reeling. This album is a good example of great songwriting combined with just the right amount of studio polish (courtesy of recording engineer Doug Boehm and producer Rob Schnapf). Unlike many underground bands, The Anniversary have a sound that is surprisingly accessible...while still retaining key elements like additive melodies, fantastic harmonies, and inventive arrangements. This band features the songwriting talents of Justin Roelofs and Josh Berwanger. This is a songwriting team whose names you will want to remember. Smart tunes like "Crooked Crown," "Never Die Young," "Devil On My Side," and "The Death of the King" showcase a band with a great deal to offer. The album ends perfectly with the epic repetition of "Follow the Sun." Great stuff here, worth seeking out... (Rating: 5+)

Beast of British - Deck Cheese Presents... (CD, Deck Cheese / High Speed / Go-Kart, Various artists compilation)
A high speed roller coaster ride through the world of underground British hardcore, released in the United States courtesy of the folks at Go-Kart Records. If this compilation is any indication of what's happening in underground clubs in Britain, we'd be up for grabbing a plane and ditching the United States altogether. There's a lot to digest here...twenty tracks by twenty bands. Almost all of the names are new to us, but we recognized at least a few (Sick On The Bus, UK Subs, Southport). Many of the cuts on this album are definitely influenced by punk and/or thrash bands of the 1970s and 1980s. Standout cuts include Jesse James' "Black Sheep Generator," Annalise's "Everybody Wants to Be A Star," UK Subs' hard rocking "Bitter & Twisted," Vanilla Pod's "World Sized Playground," and Southport's "Fallen On Your Feet." A great introduction to a whole slew of new acts worthy of attention... (Rating: 4++)

The Birdwatcher - Afternoon Tales the Morning Never Knew (CD, Arena Rock Recording Co., Soft pop)
Another excellent and entertaining collection of unlikely tunes from Dan Matz, the man who calls himself The Birdwatcher. This is his second album and it's even better and more focused than the debut. Many recording artists claim that their music is sincere and comes from their heart, but in actuality this is quite rare. In the case of The Birdwatcher, this music truly is personal and genuine...as Matz seems to have a real knack for transforming his thoughts into music. The tunes are, for the most part, soft pop based around an acoustic guitar. But the music never comes across sounding folky, forced, or schmaltzy. Even though the overall sound is quite different, in terms of approach we feel that The Birdwatcher is, in many ways, similar to Idaho (one of our all time favorites). Just as is the case with Jeff Martin, Dan Matz seems to be one of those really cool obscure underground gentlemen who is more concerned with creating credible art than providing the veneer-thin crap that most folks seem to desire. Twelve beautiful unique tunes here including "Afternoon Tales," "A Thousand Ants," "Country Music," and "Astoria 5PM." GREAT stuff probably destined for obscurity. Even MORE reason to get a copy of this outstanding release. (Rating: 5+++)

Candy Turd Bunnies - The Chocolate Spaceship Makes Frank Drop and Vomit For Fifty Kindergarten Rats Before Crapping Like Amy Vanderbilt in a Volkswagen on Mars (CD, Dearbell, Country)
Wearing cowboy hats big enough to sit on a ledge, the Candy Turd Bunnies are a beer drinker's delight. The band's gimmick is that they are all deaf and dumb. While this may sound like a bad omen, in actuality it makes for some rather interesting music. The drummer seems to be on another planet altogether delivering up-tempo dance beats while the keyboardist and guitarists seem to be playing completely different songs. But what we find most interesting are the vocals. It's funny enough hearing deaf and dumb people "trying" to "talk." But hearing them "attempt" to "sing" in nothing short of a goddamn SCREAM. Of course, the question then arises whether music is supposed to be funny or entertaining. Depending on your point of view you may find that either is true. We laughed like hell at these retardos trying to make music...but we could only listen to the disc a couple of times before we pulled our dresses up high and cackled... (Rating: 2)

Club 8 - Spring Came, Rain Fell (CD, Hidden Agenda / Parasol, Soft moody pop)
If you are an Ivy fan, there's a good chance you will really get off on the music of Sweden's Club 8. Like Ivy, the band produces soft and lush moody pop music that features a super breathy female vocalist. This band is the duo of Karolina Komstedt (vocals) and Johan Angergard (everything else). According to Johan, the two "started out as lovers and ended up as a band." (We can't decide which sounds worse...being in love with someone or having to be in a BAND with them. - Ed.) In any event, Angergard knows how to write a good tune and the man is prolific. This album came out no less than six months from the date that the last Club 8 full-length was released. The tunes on Spring Came, Rain Fell flow by as smoothly as a mountain stream. The sounds are soft and soothing and Komstedt's vocals are understated and sincere. Our favorite tracks are "We're Simple Minds," "Friends and Lovers" (possibly autobiographical?), and "We Set Ourselves Free." Slick and effective. (Rating: 5)

Mark Douthit - Groove (CD, Hillsboro Jazz, Mid-tempo funky jazz)
This is a nice meaty disc from sexy saxophone player Mark Douthit (pronounced "dow-thit"), who some folks may remember for having won the 1997 Dove Ward for instrumental Album of the Year. The appropriately titled Groove is chock full of funky jazz rhythms and smooth instrumental stylings that ought to please virtually anyone who enjoys laidback mid-tempo jazz. Groove is a slick album, but the the music is so well executed that it sounds neither fake nor processed. Nice bright tunes like "What a Shame About Me," "Sunset Beach," "Voice of the Heart," and "You and I" go down nice and easy. One track features guest vocalist Chris Rodriguez ("What You Won't Do for Love"). A nice solid release. (Rating: 4++)

Neil Halstead - Sleeping On Roads (CD, Beggars Banquet, Soft folky pop)
The first solo album from Neil Halstead, member of the critically acclaimed Mojave 3 and Slowdive. While there are some similarities to Halstead's group efforts here there are also many differences. Sleeping On Roads is an album of introspective soft pop. The arrangements are sparse and understated...and the vocals are breathy and soft. Our guess is that Neil recorded this recorded to get stuff out of his head that he couldn't get out within the confines of a group endeavor. There's some great stuff here. Tunes like "Seasons," "Driving With Bert," and "Dreamed I Saw Soldiers" are all calm and satisfying. Our favorite, however, is the plain and simple sound of "Martha's Mantra (For The Pain)." The tune is extremely understated and simple...and features lyrics and a melody that will melt the hearts of most listeners. An exceptional album for those who can calm down long enough to pay close attention... (Rating: 5+)

Hayden - Skyscraper National Park (CD, Badman, Pop)
Words cannot describe the intense surge of excitment we felt when we received this CD. One of the most intelligent, articulate, talented, and incredible musical talents to emerge in the 1990s, Canada's Hayden suddenly disappeared about three years ago. This made us very sad, because rarely had a singer/songwriter managed to affect us in the way that this man did. So we waited...and waited...and WAITED. At long last, a new album (!!!). We are pleased to report (not surprisingly) that Skyscraper National Park is another heaping dose of some of the most genuine pop music ever to hit the planet. Similar to his previous albums, the tunes are sparse introspective pop pieces that are about as sincere, and honest as you can get. Favorites may change in the course of the next two to three hundred spins, but the tunes that initally blow us away most are "Steps Into Miles," "Long Way Down," "Bass Song," and "Lullaby." Hayden has one of the most unusual voices we have heard. His voice tends to shift from an almost frail and fragmented whisper to a deep baritone. When we saw this man perform a few years ago we were taken by surprise. We expected a very serious artsy kinda fellow...but in person Hayden was almost the exact opposite. In between his delivery of extraordinarily serious tunes he was comical and goofy, continually cracking jokes with the audience. If you're looking for something real, you are sure to find it here. This is an unforgettable collection of tunes that is sure to please old fans as well as bring in legions more. (The folks at Badman deserve a medal for making this available in the United States.) (Rating: 6)

Peggy Honeywell - Honey For Dinner (CD, Galaxia, Acoustic pop)
Nice fresh organic acoustic guitar pop from newcomer Peggy Honeywell. Ms. Honeywell has only been playing guitar since 1996, but she has quickly developed a style and sound that are sincere, engaging, and unique. Peggy's tunes have a slight country influence that is refreshing, making tunes like "Sympathy Date," "Moon," and "Games" most effective. This young lady isn't trying too hard, instead just letting her feelings and ideas flow freely. It works. By keeping her music simple and free of unnecessary clutter, Ms. Honeywell has come up with a wonderfully fresh batch of tunes that should please fans of country, bluegrass, and folk music. A damn fine debut. (Rating: 4+++)

Drazy Hoops - Bring on the Hate (CD, Slow Burn, Rock/pop)
Taking his name from an obtuse line from Captain Beefheart's "The Blimp," Drazy Hoops is an impressive talent. Sounding like anything BUT the great captain, Mr. Hoops writes and records heartfelt pop music that is heavy on melodic content. And unlike most singer/songwriters, this man has the voice to make his music skip to the next level. Drazy has quite a band backing him up on this album. There are no less than eight individuals adding their talents to the goings on. What appeals to us most about this man's sound is that he isn't groping for any one style and doesn't seem concerned with trying to push a particular image. Instead, Drazy seems to be one of those guys who is following his muse. He bites off a big chunk here...tossing out sixteen originals. Virtually every track is a keeper, making Bring on the Hate an extremely cohesive and entertaining listen. Standout tracks include "Hunky Dory," "Soul Like the Sun," "A World Away," and "Strangely the Same." Poignant and thought provoking stuff. This baby's SOLID. (Rating: 5)

If I Was Prince - The Tribute Album (British import CD, Rex, Various artists/tribute)
Though there have been quite a few Prince tribute albums to come out over the years this one is different for a couple of reasons. First, the tunes included here are, for the most part, not the expected "hits." Secondly, the featured artists are...for the most part...unknowns. First we'd like to mention the packaging here... This CD comes in a very seductive triple-fold sleeve and includes a separate foldout sheet in which each artist completes the sentence, "If I was Prince..." The answers are sometimes funny indeed, offering a bit of insight into these new underground acts. Now for some specifics. Fort Lauderdale does a great job covering "Annie Christian." We also like the fragmented electronic approach of Op: L Bastards doing "If I Was Your Girlfriend." Hefner provides a strangely laidback version of "Controversy." Our favorite track on this album is the peculiar and moody "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" provided by Bronze Age Fox. A cool and somewhat stark rendition that we found most effective. In the world of tribute albums this one stands out because it approaches the subject in question (Prince) from a unique perspective... (Rating: 4++)

Ill Ease - Live at the Holiday Sin (CD, Smilex, Obtuse rock/pop)
Despite the fact that there are one man bands everywhere...and despite the fact that there are more women playing rock music now than ever before in the history of music...finding a ONE WOMAN band is still relatively rare. Even rarer is finding a one woman band delving into experimental music. In the case of the band Ill Ease...we have both. Ill Ease is the one woman experiment consisting of Elizabeth Sharp. Ms. Sharp has made something of a name for herself in underground circles for the plain and simple fact that her music is so damn weird. Live at the Holiday Sin isn't going to change people's opinions much, and it CERTAINLY isn't going to land her a recording contract on a major label. If we are to believe the press release (?), this album was recorded entirely in a motel room with Thom Monahan at the controls (Monaghan has worked with Monsterland, Lilys, and others). Elizabeth's strange droning pop music sounds as accidental as it does well planned. She seems to base her work on riffs and basic beats...and then comes up with seemingly random words and phrases that become lyrics--and she sings as though she really doesn't give much of a damn about anything (we LIKE that a LOT!). We particularly dig the lyrics to "My & My Babysitter" in which Ms. Sharp sings Let's play babysitter...let me sit on your face...let's play babysitter...put me in my place...you can touch me here and I'll touch you there...I only take off my panties if you take off your underwear... What a SCREAM!!! Even stranger are the peculiar drug drenched sounds in "Jackie On Acid." In all honesty, we cannot think of anyone to compare this woman to. She's obtuse, she's weird, her music is full of what could best be described as stream-of-consciousness songs containing "slight accidents" or "mistakes"... But the strange thing is that there is something about her compositions that is extremely affecting, disarming, and really nifty. We warn potential buyers and/or listeners...this may NOT be your cup of tea. We respect folks who are playing the game their own way. This young lady is MOST DEFINITELY not following standard procedure here... A really bizarre listen...!?! (Rating: 4+++)

Knievel - The Name Rings a Bell That Drowns Out Your Voice (CD, In Music We Trust, Pop)
This is the third album from this Australian band but the first to be released in the United States, thanks to the good sense of the folks at In Music We Trust. There are times when we think that guitar pop has become a tired and boring medium...but then along comes a band like Knievel and our faith is once again properly restored. This band produces instantly addictive pop music that is sparse in terms of instrumentation...which is actually perfect because these guys' melodies don't need clutter muddying the waters. The tunes are upbeat but not overly sweet...and the harmony vocals are about as good as anyone could hope for. This album is chock full of heavenly tunes that'll have fans of guitar pop falling all over themselves. The entire album is a gem, but our top picks are "Don't Explain," "The End of Trying," "I Keep On Waiting," and "Find the Sun." This is a truly super band. Keep your eyes and ears out for In Music We Trust releases. These folks are scarfing up and releasing stuff by a whole slew of great artists that other labels seem to overlook... (Rating: 5+)

Lasse Lindh - You Wake Up at Sea Tac (CD, Hidden Agenda / Parasol, Pop)
This is Lasse Lindh's second album but the first one on which he sings in English. This Scandinavian lad is a pure popster with a breathy vocal style that sounds strangely familiar. You Wake Up at Sea Tac is a balanced and slickly produced batch of pop music containing tunes that range from happy and upbeat to introspective and moody. Beginning with the bubbly and addictive "Bruised," Lindh then immediately branches off into other territories. The one constant throughout the album is his trademark vocal style. The lyrics deal mainly with relationships. This, the U.S. release, contains three bonus tracks ("Rush," "Teenage Skin," "Stargirl"). (Rating: 4)

Loggy Rukaboi - Were Your Potion Not Frowned Piggy-Type for Hockey Betty to Funk Out? (CD, Unka, Ambient metal)
Much of the earth isn't ready. And that's probably what makes Loggy Rukaboi what it is. These big metal things wear all kinds of stuff and then stand on top of their electronic keyboards making it happen. What kind of happen is it? It's the kind of happen that only occurs when big metal things wear all kinds of stuff and then stand on top of their electronic keyboards making it happen. Were Your Potion Not Frowned Piggy-Type for Hockey Betty to Funk Out? is the band's seventh full-length album. Some of the tunes are keepers ("Frogs Wit Nuts," "Punker McDougle") while others are just wasted space ("Health Spa Assholes," "Terrorism Tango," "Lock Your Kid In A Closet." With all the things going on in the world you'd think that something would actually be happening. It isn't, and this is living proof of the fact... (Rating: 2)

Lonely Kings - Crowning Glory (CD, Fearless, Rock)
Intelligent loud rock that reminds us of some of Bob Mould when he was in his harsh and thrashy stage. Lonely Kings prove that you don't have to be stupid to play loud rock. These fellows write good lyrics and fuel their melodic tunes with hooks and zippy little instrumental tricks that set them apart from the crowd. Masculine smart tunes like "Less Than Zero," "To Live and To Let Go," and "January Nights" are well beyond what one normally hears in loud rock. Destined to be a favorite in the underground club circuit, Lonely Kings are a nice positive jolt of energy presented in a genuine, real fashion. The guitar playing is KILLER. (Rating: 4+++)

The Maroons - You're Gonna Ruin Everything (CD, In Music We Trust, Pop)
The Maroons is the new project spearheaded by singer/songwriter John Moen who currently plays drums for Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks. Moen's music is highly melodic and chock full of personality. Some of the band's tunes sound like a cross between Sparks and Game Theory while others remind us of The Young Fresh Fellows mixed with The Chainsaw Kittens mixed with The Auteurs. For those not paying attention, we're dropping names of some of the best underground pop bands of the past few decades. This Moen fellow is a songwriter with an uncanny knack for writing memorable tunes. Mind numbing tracks like "Shipwrecked," "Ruin Everything," "Can You Feel?" and "The Lori Commission" are instant obscure classics. Like the press releases states, this is "an album critics and fans alike will surely flock to, making more than a few 'best of' lists this year." Expect big things from The Maroons in the very near future. This album is a string of direct hits. (Rating: 5+)

Mission Giant - I Scream Social (CD, Uncle Buzz, Electronic pop)
Trading off traditional instruments in favor of analog synthesizers, toy drum machines, and other odd devices, Mission Giant combine their sources to create an amazingly cohesive 22 song album. Some folks may whine and complain, "Oh, that's been DONE before!" (referring to previous releases by folks like Pianosaurus or Self) but those folks are simply missing the point. For you see, dear readers, virtually EVERYTHING has been done before. Accordingly, what you then have to consider is how well a particular idea is executed. And in this case, execution is everything. The music on the humorously titled I Scream Social ranges from silly to experimental to ambient to...well, you'll just have to listen and make up your own mind. This music is neither cute nor corny. Instead, the folks in Mission Giant blend everything together into a sort of heady lo-fi experience that is entertaining and somewhat subtle. Our favorite cuts are "Membranes Of You," "Wind-Up Welcome," and "Secret Turtle X-14." Abstract and just a tad surreal, this music pleases our panties off. (Rating: 4+)

Sean Na Na - My Majesty (CD, Frenchkiss, Pop)
Sean Na Na is Sean Tillman. Mr. Tillman is one big frenzied ball of energetic bubblegummy pop energy. His music is upbeat and catchy and yet the lyrics...and particularly some of the chord changes...take the listener by surprise. There is a depth to this man's music that many may not notice on first listen. Closer inspection reveals that this is a fellow with a great deal to offer the world. He isn't hiding behind curtains. Instead, Sean seems intent on letting his mind and soul flow freely into his music...giving the listener insight into the way his mind works. The tunes on My Majesty are simultaneously happy and heady. We definitely dig the bright buzzsaw guitar pop sounds of "Double Date" and "I Hate Saxophones"...but the real treats here are "Third Life" and "I Need a Girl." When you hear Tillman play without all the noise and volume you realize just how good of a writer and singer this guy truly is. A rising star to be certain, this guy is destined for success on whatever level he chooses... (Rating: 4+++)

The New Amsterdams - Para Toda Vida (CD, Vagrant, Acoustic pop)
As leader of popular band The Get Up Kids, Matthew Pryor already has a built-in audience for his side project The New Amsterdams...although from the sound of this album we'd bet he didn't even need the extra boost. While The Get Up Kids are a power pop band, The New Amsterdams is a one-man band presenting softer, more introspective material centered around an acoustic guitar. Pryor's ability to combine words and music is impressive indeed. His music is heartfelt and has a slight urgency, but he never comes across sounding sappy or contrived. Instead, the music has a nice vibrant energy that makes it sparkle brighter than average acoustic pop. Of course, Matthew's voice is one of his best assets...as he manages makes it all sound so damn easy. Eight of the ten tunes are originals, the remaining tracks are covers of tunes by Alex Brahl and Kill Creek (ahhh...good choice there...). The best single aspect of this album is that the compositions are not overproduced. Pryor's tunes are strong enough that they stand on their own without being overdubbed to death (something that usually happens in the realm of one-man bands). Superb tunes like "Son of a Prophet," "Stay on the Phone," and "Adeline, Out of Tune" (a real standout) make Para Toda Vida a fine spin. Nice packaging on this one as well. Look for even bigger and better things from this man in the future... (Rating: 5)

Phaser - Sway (CD, Phasermusic, Atmospheric pop)
We're almost always impressed by multi-faceted bands. This could be due to the fact that 95% of bands in the world align themselves with one narrow genre of music...and then stay in their cruddy little rut for the next ten to twenty years. Washington, D.C.'s Phaser is a band whose music crosses over boundaries. The four guys in Phaser delve into soft moody pop, atmospheric and ambient music, and guitar fueled rock. What we like best about this band are the transformational passages. One track will begin with ambient noise and then bleed into soft pop drenched in reverb. Another track may feature electric guitars and "normal" instrumentation...only to be followed by a composition that is almost purely abstract. In some ways, this band's music reminds us of the first couple of Staryflyer 59 albums. Our favorite cuts here are the strangely obtuse "Northern Light" and the hauntingly beautiful "(Can't Get You) Out of My Mind." These guys are doing all the right things the right way. A beautiful album sweeping across some really cool terrain... (Rating: 5+)

Chan Poling - Calling All Stars (CD, Manifesto, Moody pop)
Chan Poling was originally a member of the 1980s band The Suburbs. When the band broke up, Mr. Poling launched a successful solo career writing and recording music for television and film. The release of Calling All Stars marks Poling's return to the world of pop music. Unlike the new wave music of his former band, this album contains amazingly mature, moody tunes that are slightly reminiscent of Tom Waits but not as dark. Poling has a raspy masculine vocal style that is affective and believable. His compositions feature thick, lush arrangements that combine horns and strings with traditional pop instruments. The big arrangements remind us in some ways of The Divine Comedy although the music is very different stylistically. Twelve nice dreamy and moody numbers here. Our favorites are "Dizzy" (not the Tommy Roe tune), "Sweet," "Dig the World Spot," and "Frankenstein" (not the Edgar Winter tune). Good stuff. (Rating: 4+++)

The Q-Tip Poo - Toodle-oo With the Q-Tip Poo (CD, Warnie, Steroid sandwich rock)
Make an appointment with your prannie-fried doctor because you're going to need refills on EVERY SINGLE ONE of your prescription medications. This is because The Q-Tip Poo are back with another rousing batch of dumb things to make your holes feel like they've done been plugged all the way up. Toodle-oo With the Q-Tip Poo isn't what it is. In fact, it isn't even what it isn't. And that's part of the beautiful ugly of it. The glossy production on tunes like "Sacks of Hot Winter" and "Misty Porch Blisters" get totally out of whack as the band meanders and frets their way out of a muddy ditch. The bonus tracks don't help one goddamn bit...making this particular release as disappointing as a nekkid woman in Vietnam. (Rating: 1)

Ramonetures - Johny Walk Don't Run Paulene (CD, Blood Red, Instrumentals)
This is the band that initially made a splash with their debut album by performing instrumental covers Ramones tunes in a style very similar to the Ventures (thus the name). Rather than risk going down in history as a one shot wonder, the band is back with something a bit different this time. On Johny Walk Don't Run Paulene the Ramonetures take on the music of the band X. Interestingly, original X band members Billy Zoom and D. J. Bonebrake join the band for this album. Because we aren't that familiar with X tunes this album comes off sounding like a brand new collection of instrumentals. Things sound a little less Ventures-ish than the debut album, focusing on a bit more of a punky sound with lots of loud fuzzy guitars. This band is all about happy upbeat fun, and on their second album they deliver more of the same. We're wondering just WHO they might take on next...? The Who perhaps...? (Rating: 4)

Ritual Space Travel Agency - Ratbelly vs Gorgotron (CD, Bandaloop, Rock/funk/jazz)
Hard rocking band that sounds something like Primus with metallic guitars and horns. Technically proficient band, some of the playing is particularly impressive. Hyperactive, loud rock propelled by explosive rhythms and masculine vocals. Intense and wildly energetic. (Not Rated)

Sewing With Nancie - Take a Look at Yourself (CD, Fastmusic, Fast rock)
Listening to this Canadian band's music is being sprayed in the face with a big ol' nasty firehose. The band's unrelenting furious pace is a lesson in speed and intensity. But make no mistake Sewing With Nancie is not a noise or thrash band. Instead, these fellows' melodies are surprisingly poppy. Take a Look at Yourself is the band's debut, and it captures the raw energy of a band that has just found their place in the world of speed. Hyped up tunes like "Sorry in Advance," "Downsview," and "High School Yearbook" possess the fury of punk and the adrenaline of twenty-first century rock. (Rating: 4++)

SushiRobo - Drawings and Garbage Structures (CD, Pattern 25, Rock)
Really NEAT stuff here... In the world of reviewing music we must admit that there are WAY TOO MANY BANDS out there that all sound virtually IDENTICAL. It's unfortunate to be sure...but it IS a fact of life. The only silver lining is that when something comes along that really is unique and original...it stands out like a SORE PORK CHOPPER. Accordingly, SushiRobo is the sore pork chopper of the week. Despite the band's name, their music sounds nothing like robots OR sushi. Instead, these guys write solid, heavy pop tunes with extremely meaty hooks and a sturdy backbeat. This band's guitars are particularly intriguing. Instead of slamming out power chords or playing monotonous feedback, the guitarists run their rods through synthesizers...coming up with waves of stuff that often sound NOTHING like guitars (or keyboards for that matter). Add it all together and you have a band with a different sound...and yet their tunes are accessible enough to sing along with while driving your car backwards on acid. (Some of the band's tunes sound something like early Squeeze mixed with very early Gang of Four and Joe Walsh...but not exactly.) Sometimes things border of psychedelia ("Royal Taster of Food" is quite trippy) but for the most part the band concentrates on hummable skewed hard pop ("Garbage Structure," "Young Lions," "The Bluer Their Eyes"). The vocals kicks ass and the production is astounding. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 5+++)

The Woggles - Live! At the Star Bar (CD, Blood Red, Rock)
Anyone who as ever seen The Woggles in concert knows that they are one of the best live bands around. The band's furious energy and infectious tunes are pushed to another level by a lead singer (known simply as "The Professor") who, visually, is something like Iggy Pop with his toe jammed into an electrical socket. This meaty collection of 23 (!!!) tunes captures the band in all their glory...slinging out their attitude-ridden guitar rock with style and amazing energy. This set was recorded live at Atlanta's Star Bar...and you can literally feel the excitement of the audience as the band carries them through their own unique time and space. We're not often impressed by live recordings but there are always exceptions. After all these years these guys are obviously still ON FIRE... (Rating: 5)

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