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January 2007 Reviews by

American Colors

Alex Arrowsmith

Joseph Arthur
James Brown*
Eric Burdon
Cake On Cake*
JJ Cale & Eric Clapton
Call Me Lightning

Charlotte's Web (Soundtrack)
Claudia Malibu*
Rob Crow*
Cara Dillon

Does Not Matter
Linda Draper*
Paula Frazier and Tarnation*
Ghost Stories*
Vince Guaraldi
PJ Harvey
Have A Baby
Honey Power
Ill Ease
Fern Knight
Little Plastic Disks
Lost Ocean

Thomas Lunch
Sarah McLachlan
Mission of Burma

Thurston Moore

The Nein
N'Integrity Pas
Joan Osborne
Johnny Parry
Past, Present, Future
Dave Phillips

Pistol Disco
Poem For Yoko
Political Truth
Robert Pollard*
Raunch Hands Bigg Topp

Anthony Romero
Savage Aural Hotbed*
Savoy Brown

Shit Eater
Emilie Simon
Size Queens

Sudden Infant

Tahiti 80
This Et Al
Trash Sandwich

Void's Anatomy
Astrid Williamson


*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


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

Aereogramme - My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go (Advance CD, Sonic Unyon Recording Company, Progressive pop)
Beautiful, intricate, sweeping, orchestrated progressive pop with out-of-this-world vocals. Named after a line from the book The Exorcist (that never made it into the film), My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go represents somewhat of a change in course for the fellows in Scotland's Aereogramme. This could perhaps be due to a throat affliction suffered by band member Craig B who, after recovery, went about the business of writing the tunes for this album. This CD features ten epic, cerebral tunes that are simultaneously uplifting and hypnotic. Excellent tracks include "Conscious Life For Coma Boy," "A Life Worth Living," "Nightmares," and "You're Always Welcome." (Rating: 5)


Red, white, and blue.
They're shitty,
Like you.

(Rating: 1)

Argo - Attack of the Firebots (CD, Ana-them, Progressive pop)
The fellows in Seattle's Argo present another satisfying collection of progressive pop tunes. Attack of the Firebots is a short album clocking in at just over 30 minutes...but all of the eight tracks here are keepers. The band's previous releases have gone over well with reviewers...and this album will undoubtedly receive the same warm welcome. Band members Matt Benham, Jon Wooster, and Justin Benson create music that is smooth, melodic, and decidedly unpretentious. Instead of fitting into one specific mold...these songs involve a wide variety of sounds and influences. Creative cuts include "Firebot," "Alternate Ending," "Time Away," and "Needs." Direct and impressive. Good stuff. (Rating: 4++++)

Alex Arrowsmith - Applewine (CD, Ectoplasmic, Pop)
Alex Arrowsmith is a man with enormous talent and potential. Currently one of the thousands upon thousands of obscure home recording artists toiling away in obscurity, this man's music stands out because there is substance in his recordings. Instead of merely throwing junk together and calling it music (which is what many underground artists are guilty of doing), Alex has a wonderful sense of melody, is astutely tight on the instruments he plays, and has a great voice. This is the fifth album that Alex has recorded and released. Applewine is full of nice, breezy, smart pop with a definite sense of humor. Although not a perfect album, listening to this CD is like watching a photograph develop...Alex may very well still be searching for his own unique sound and voice. But our instincts tell us that...if he keeps heading in the direction that this album hints at...he will very soon find himself a favorite with fans and reviewers. Our favorite tracks are "Land of Dainty Wonder" and "Corn Dog Shaped Like California." Our hope is that Mr. Arrowsmith will be encouraged...rather than discouraged...by a rating of four plus plus plus...because in creating this month's reviews we tossed quite a large number of CDs while opting to spin and absorb Applewine. Good stuff, well done. (Rating: 4+++)

Joseph Arthur - Nuclear Daydream (CD, Lonely Astronaut, Pop)
Nuclear Daydream is the album that has re-energized Joseph Arthur's career. The tunes on this CD sound something like an odd cross between Space Oddity-era David Bowie and "they-ought-to-be-superstars-already-but-aren't-there-yet" modern popsters Johnny Society. These songs are, for the most part, presented simply in a straightforward fashion...which is appropriate, considering the strength of the material. Before hearing this album we caught a clip Arthur performing "Slide Away" on Late Night With David Letterman...and we were blown away. Some of the tracks on this album are upbeat pop, while others are soft, pensive, and personal. Joseph's voice has never sounded better. This is a difficult album to categorize in today's musical climate. Arthur is probably taking a chance with this one...but from initial reactions, it seems as if the gamble is paying off. Beautifully constructed pop tracks include "Too Much To Hide," "Slide Away," "Woman," and "Nuclear Daydream." Strangely familiar...with true substance lurking beneath the surface... (Rating: 5++)

BigBigCar - Limestone Throne/Kid Fight (CD, Standard Recording Company, Progressive pop/rock)
Our first impression of this CD was that it was more of that annoying rock/crap shite that we immediately toss into neverland. But fortunately we were patient enough to get past the first track (most likely because we are almost always impressed by releases on the Standard Recording Company label)...and we found that we were rather intrigued with BigBigCar. We can't tell you much about the band as there was no press release included in the package...but based on the liner notes on the digipak sleeve, we did conclude that the folks in this band have a rather defined sense of humor. In addition, the style and scope of their music is at times bewildering. Exactly what style of music is this...? The sounds and influences go all over the place...and our guess is that the folks making the music don't give a rat's ass about commercial acceptance. BigBigCar consists of David "Moose" Adamson, Jeff "2K" Costello, Pat "Ostry" Okerson, and Andy "Peecan" Young (one would almost get the impression that the band is fond of nicknames). Limestone Throne/Kid Fight is a complex album, far reaching in scope...that unfortunately will only appeal to a tiny segment of the listening population. But our guess is that this l'il sucker will be an obscure favorite in the months and years ahead. Neat stuff, presented with unusual spirit. Top picks: "Oh, Let's Race," "Blu' Floatin' Whale," and "Gone Patsy." Least favorite track: "That Limestone Stomp." (Rating: 4+++)

James Brown
One of the greatest entertainers of all time is, sadly, no longer with us. May he rest in peace. (Rating: 6+++)

Eric Burdon - Wild & Wicked (CD, AIM, Bluesy pop)
Featuring interesting unreleased and live tracks recorded in the 1970s and 1980s, Wild & Wicked is a vivid snapshot of Eric Burdon's career. The CD features nine rare studio recordings (most of which Burdon recorded for an unreleased film called Comeback) plus ten songs recorded live at the Roxy in Los Angeles, California in 1976. Liner notes provided by Fred James give a good overview of Burdon's solo career as well as his stints in The Animals and War. While this CD will most likely only truly appeal to those who are already fans, most of the tunes on Wild & Wicked have held up well over time. While sounding somewhat dated, the studio recordings will be welcomed by Burdon fans around the world who will no doubt be impressed by the forceful sound of Eric's vocals. While we are not usually big fans of live recordings, the live tracks recorded in Los Angeles performance are probably the meatiest treats on this platter. The sound quality is surprisingly crisp and clear...and the band's performance is decidedly rough and raw. Rating a compilation like this is rather difficult so we will just close by saying...that this is a definite MUST for Eric Burdon fans... (Not Rated)

Cake On Cake - I Guess I Was Dreaming (CD, Desolation, Pop)
Sweden's Helena Sundin makes music that is so subtle and sparse that it is very easy upon first listen to miss the point entirely. After plowing through one CD after another for a week straight, I Guess I Was Dreaming went into our player...and stayed there for several days. There is something strangely effective and hypnotic about Cake On Cake...although exactly what that is we cannot say. Helena uses sparse keyboards and toy-like sounds in her bewilderingly simple tunes...creating strange, dreamy vibrations. Her lyrics are direct and yet...oddly confusing and peculiar. After hearing this album a few times, you will most likely find yourself humming "Come On Rainbow" and "1981"...all the while trying to figure out why the hell you can't get the tunes out of your head. We're sure glad we stuck with this one. After the first spin, we were impressed. But by the fifteen or twentieth spin...we were HOOKED. Truly unusual stuff. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

JJ Cale & Eric Clapton - The Road To Escondido (CD, Reprise, Pop)
Question: Can really old men make credible music? Answer: Sometimes they can, sure. And if you just happen to be JJ Cale and/or Eric Clapton...and you have the backing and support of a superstar band...well then...you sure can make some mighty fine goddamn music no matter what age you are. Cale and Clapton's paths have crossed before, most notably with Eric's commercially successful covers of the tunes "After Midnight" and "Cocaine." The two decided that it was time they recorded an album together...which paved the way for The Road To Escondido. The album features 11 songs written by Cale, one by Clapton, a John Mayer cover, and a cover of a blues classic ("Sporting Life Blues"). The superstar backing band includes Mayer, Taj Mahal, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II, Albert Lee, Nathan East, Willie Weeks, Steve Jordan, and Billy Preston. What surprises us about this album is how genuine and unpretentious the music is. You'd think with all of the egos involved things couldn't possibly come out smooth and real...but they do. These fourteen classy tracks sound nice, slick, and tight. Our favorites are "Danger," "It's Easy," "Don't Cry Sister," and "Ride the River." (Rating: 5)

Call Me Lightning - Soft Skeletons (CD, French Kiss, Rock)
Nice, fresh inventive simple rock music from Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Call Me Lightning. This three piece band consists of Nathan Lilley (vocals, guitar, keys), Bill Kutsch (bass, vocals, keys), and Shane Hochstetler (drums). What stands out most about Soft Skeletons is what a big sound this band has created using only the bare essentials. The band's tunes sometimes recall British progressive bands from the past (particularly Wire and Gang of Four at times)...but these possible influences only provide a starting point for these proceedings. The band's odd, jerky arrangements and strangely catchy melodies don't sound like other bands on the horizon. Their skewed rock tunes are intelligent, thought-provoking, and yes...even danceable. Skeletons is purely entertaining from start to finish. Eleven tracks here including "Meet the Skeletons," "Beaming Streaks," "Shook House Shakedown," and "Little Bear." Kickass stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Charlotte's Web - Music From the Motion Picture (CD, Sony/BMG, Classical/soundtrack)
Rarely do we listen to soundtracks...and we almost never review the darn things. But when the soundtrack features music by Danny Elfman well then...you know the soundtrack has to be something special. And the soundtrack to Charlotte's Web is, indeed, something very special indeed. Although we have not seen the film yet, this book was probably our favorite story when we were kiddie boosters. Thus, it is on our list of movies that we will be seeing in the very near future. Not surprisingly, the music on this CD is just wonderful. Elfman is one of the true musical masters of film...and he has scored the soundtracks to some of our favorite movies of all time...Corpse Bride, Mars Attacks!, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Pee Wee's Big Adventure...the list just goes on and on and on. This CD features sixteen tracks performed by Elfman plus "Lullaby" by Dakota Fanning and "Ordinary Miracle" by Sarah McLachlan. If Wilbur was "some pig"...then this CD is "some soundtrack" for SURE. Precise, intricate, beautiful music that will sound great for decades to come... (Rating: 5++)

Claudia Malibu - Skyboy and the Wigs (CD, The Invisible Foundation, Pop)
Massachusetts' most unpretentious underground pop band returns. Seemingly unaffected by the twists and turns of modern commercial music, the guys in Claudia Malibu continue to deliver their bright, upbeat, Kinks-influenced pop with steady conviction. At this point in their career, it is indeed surprising and impressive that these guys can still make music that is so purely genuine and entertaining. Skyboy and the Wigs features more of the same purely pleasing pop that has made this band such a favorite among a small but intensely devoted group of listeners. The band's guitar pop is thoughtful, personal, and ultimately sincere. Instead of trying too hard or attempting to force their music, these folks just seem to be having a good time playing...with the idea that their good vibes will rub off on others. We are still in love with this band's sound. They haven't changed or adjusted or adapted since they began...and that's just fine with us. Killer pop cuts include "Skyboy (She Loves You)," "The Captain Speaks," "I Like Myself," and "Do You Wanna Play A Show?" Once again, highly recommended... (Rating: 5+++)

Copeland - Eat, Sleep, Repeat (CD, The Militia Group, Progressive pop)
Copeland is, thus far, a band that has achieved success in virtually all arenas. The listeners and fans love 'em. The reviewers love 'em. Other bands admire 'em. And they've been quite a success story for their label in terms of sales. When we first heard this band we were certain that they would be instant favorites. Their music was just too good for them to be an obscure favorite for very long. Fortunately, at least up until now, these guys' songs have not suffered from the attention and adulation. Rather and instead, the interest seems to have spurred even more creativity and great songs. Eat, Sleep, Repeat is another resounding success. The album features the same sort of lovely, sweeping, smooth pop that made this band such a favorite in the first place. For those who have never heard them, the guys in this band have a sound that seamlessly combines musical ideas from the first couple of Rick Springfield albums with the melodic sensibilities of Ben Folds...and then adds in the more soothing aspects of Freddie Mercury's voice. Bear in mind, however, that this is a very current band whose overall sound is anything but retrospective. Each song on this album is a classic and stands on its own. The more pensive and personal the band gets, the better we like it. "The Last Time He Saw Dorie" and "When You Thought You'd Never Stand Out" feature particularly magnificent and outstanding melodies. In case you hadn't already guessed, this is yet another TOP PICK here in babysueland... (Rating: 5+++)

Rob Crow - Living Well (CD, The Temporary Residence Ltd., Progressive pop)
Another knockout solo album from the man behind Pinback. Like Robert Pollard, Rob Crow is one of those super prolific fellows in the world who seems compelled to create lots and lots and lots of music. Living Well is the result of Crow's latest decision to "slow down"...thus, the album was recorded within the safe confinement of his home studio. Rob's unique stream-of-consciousness pop is unconventional and often features rather complex arrangements. What makes his music so compelling are the melodies and, in particular, those super smooth, focused vocals. This guy can sing circles around the average vocalist...and the melodies he weaves are articulate and unorthodox. Living Well is a super smart collection of modern progressive pop that is probably above the heads of most listeners. After hearing this...we'll definitely be seeking out all of Rob's other releases that we have not heard up until now. Clever, precisely refined cuts include "I Hate You, Rob Crow," "Taste," "Liefeld," "If Wade Would Call," and "No Sun." Nothing but excellent material here. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Cara Dillon - After The Morning (CD, Compass, Soft pop)
This young lady caught our attention for two reasons. First, her album is on Compass...the Nashville, Tennessee-based label responsible for unleashing a wealth of superb up-and-coming Irish and British folk/pop artists to listeners in the United States. Secondly, she replaced Kate Rusby in the folk group The Equation (Rusby is one of our all-time favorites). Lots of folks overseas are already praising the music of Cara Dillon (she even won the 2004 Irish Meteor Award for Best Female Singer). She has a crystal clear voice that sounds not unlike Alison Krauss. Rather than Celtic music with traces of pop, the tunes on After The Morning are straightforward soft pop with threads of Celtic influences running through them. Dillon's silky, pure voice is the focal point of the music...although the arrangements are so precise and warm that it is just as easy to focus on the instruments. Morning is Cara's first album to be released in the United States...and we can only hope that listeners and other reviewers will be paying attention, as it is surely more worthy of attention than 99% of what is being released by major labels in this country. Soothing, reflective tracks include "Never In A Million Years," "Brockagh Braes" (our favorite), "The Streets of Derry," and "Grace." (Rating: 5+)



Life does not
Religion does not
Freedom does not

Even if something
Really does matter
It really does not

(Rating: 1)

Linda Draper - Traces Of (Advance CD-R single, Planting Seeds, Soft folky pop)
We rarely review EPs...and we almost never review CD singles...but in the case of Linda Draper, well...we can certainly make an exception. We were completely blown away by this lady's last album (One Two Three Four) and have been eagerly awaiting new material ever since. Though this single contains but four tunes ("Traces Of," "Big Blue Sky (Alternative Version)," "Flower Lady (Alternate Version)," "The Lottery Song"), it is indeed an important release because it is a precursor to the next album (Keepsake) which is due out early 2007. For those unfamiliar with Linda's music, she sounds something like a modern Joan Baez crossed with very early Suzanne Vega...but her sound is much more sparse and odd than either. She is certainly one of the true and real genuine talents of the twenty-first century. Highly recommended, if you don't mind taking the time to stick a single into your player. We can't wait to hear the next full-length... (Rating: 5+++)

Paula Frazier and Tarnation - Now It's Time (CD, Birdman, Soft moody pop)
Paula Frazier resurrects Tarnation...and the results are mesmerizing. This band had a good bit of success in underground circles before Frazier eventually dissolved the group and concentrated on her solo recordings. But after writing a bunch of new tunes that reminded her of her former band, Paula opted to release Now It's Time under the band's name as well as her own. Ms. Frazier is one of those artists who is impossible to ignore. She has a voice that is so remarkable that it seems difficult to believe that she is not already a major celebrity. After all, her voice and her songs are light years beyond what big name artists are currently releasing. This eleven track album features moody, personal, slightly distant soft pop tunes...all of which sound like forgotten classics. The arrangements are precise and appropriate...and Paula's vocals are exceedingly perfect from start to finish. Although released very early in the year, Now It's Time is bound to be one of the best albums of 2007. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Frenemies - Birds In High School (CD, PEACEgang, Progressive pop)
Sounding something like an obtuse fuzzpop version of Flaming Lips, a more progressive early Game Theory, or even an experimental take on The Young Fresh Fellows...the guys in Frenemies are treading in some rather unorthodox pop territory. The oddly titled Birds In High School is a strange spin. The band is spearheaded by the peculiar songwriting talents of Baltimore, Maryland's Chris Freeland. By combining familiar melodies with unfamiliar arrangements, Freeland manages to come up with tunes that are catchy and listenable...while simultaneously challenging his listeners to follow along. Chris has a nice, loose style of singing...and he and his band members leave these recordings appropriately sparse and raw. Birds is one of those CDs that will require a good number of spins to sink in. We are intrigued initially...but we may very well end up being totally blown away by this album as time goes by... (Rating: 4+++++)

Ghost Stories - Quixoticism (CD, Sonic Boom Recordings, Progressive pop)
A truly fascinating album. Ghost Stories is the one man band created by Ron Lewis. Listening to this album, it seems almost impossible to comprehend that--at least at this point in time--Lewis is an obscure, unknown recording artist. Most musicians would spend their entire career trying to come up with something this good. Although he has played with other folks (Fruit Bats, The Joggers, Colin Meloy), this is Ron's first solo voyage. This album is...absolutely incredible. Although it is difficult to come up with comparisons here, overall this CD sounds something like a moody progressive cross between Matt Mahaffey (Self), Game Theory, and Rob Crowe. The complex tunes on Quixoticism were recorded with unbelievable precision. The sound quality is nice and thick and the vocals have a superb warmth that is most appealing. While it is unlikely that Quixoticism will be successful in terms of sales...in terms of artistic accomplishment it is monumental. This release is bound to be a favorite among listeners for years to come. Mindblowing tracks include "Catacombs," "The Upper Ten/The Lower Five," "The Nettles In Your Mouth," and "Even A Vampire Wouldn't Drink My Blood." HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 5++++)

Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas (CD, Fantasy, Piano)
Newly remixed and remastered version of the Christmas classic with four previously unissued bonus tracks. Vince Guaraldi has not, up until now, been granted any space on our web pages...and yet he has been one of our favorites for decades. The holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas and the music associated with it will always hold a special place in our disturbed little hearts because it reminds us of our youth and and those years when the holiday season actually had meaning. Those days are long gone, of course...but this holiday special is a lingering reminder of what the holidays ought to be about. Unfortunately no longer with us, Guaraldi was one of the great pianists ever...mainly because he displayed great restraint in his recordings. Instead of overplaying and showing off (as many pianists are prone to do), he created music that was beautifully simple and flowed by like a soothing river. As if the top-notch music weren't enough, this l'il sucker is packaged in a beautifully designed tri-fold digipak sleeve. Excellent. (Rating: 5++)

PJ Harvey - The Peel Sessions 1991-2004 (CD, Island, Pop)
We are big fans of PJ Harvey's early recordings...but her more recent material from the past few years hasn't made much of an impression. This CD collects material recorded over the course of five different sessions with John Peel that took place in 1991, 1993, 1996, 2000, and 2004. The first four tracks on this album are (not surprisingly) the strongest. They find Ms. Harvey sounding appropriately aggressive and charged up. The guitars are loud and fuzzy and the band nice and raw. On the following five tracks from 1993 and 1996, PJ is still sounding somewhat focused and genuine...but some of the spark seems to be missing. The final three tracks from 2000 and 2004 feature the new, more moody and restrained Harvey. This CD will probably only be of interest to folks who are already fans...but more importantly, it serves as a proper overview of PJ Harvey and her continually evolving music... (Rating: 4++)


Have a baby
On the sidewalk.
Have a baby
In the fireplace.
Have a baby
In the lobby.
Have a baby
In the toilet.

(Rating: 1)

Honey Power - Macrosilly (Import CD, SekSound / Tone Vendor, Pop/rock)
This Estonian band sounds very much like a cross between The Pixies, The Wedding Present, and very early Pooh Sticks. Macrosilly is the debut album from Honey Power...and it features three tracks that have already received a good bit of radio airplay ("Corsica," "Travelling Nonstop," "Casino Stoner"). This album features plenty of loose underground guitar pop with vocals that would make Black Francis proud. In recording this album, the band members had the good sense to keep things simple and let their songs speak for themselves. They are off to a great start with this album. The songs are meaningful and memorable...and the playing is appropriately genuine and inspired. Top picks: "Bonnie Meets Clyde," "Corsica," "Dreams," "Learning To Walk." (Rating: 4++++)

Ill Ease - All Systems A-Go-Go (CD, Cochon, Esoteric obtuse pop/rock)
Loopy, goofy, hypnotic...and brilliant. We have raved about Elizabeth Sharp's one-woman-band Ill Ease in the past...so now we once again have a reason to go off about this incredibly unique lady and her unusual approach to music. All Systems A-Go-Go picks up where previous Ill Ease releases left off which is to say...Ms. Sharp continues to experiment in the same peculiar grooves. On the first listen, many might dismiss Ill Ease tunes as being nothing more than junky and slightly sloppy fuzz pop...but that would be missing the point entirely. Elizabeth makes it perfectly clear on the first track ("Too Much Sucky (I Hate Drum Machines)") that she isn't fond of drum machines. Apparently she isn't too fond of all the other usual variables found in pop/rock music either. Rather than specifically calculate what is going to happen in a song, our guess is that Ms. Sharp sits down and records a drum track...and then just builds things on top of it, allowing anything and everything to happen all at once. Lyrically, this lady is light years beyond the pack. She's direct...sometimes offensive...acutely aware of the world and her place in it...and she can be very, very, VERY funny. She is, in fact, tied in first place for the best lyricist of the twenty-first century (the other winner would most certainly be Lisa Germano). The best aspect of Ill Ease music is that it makes us laugh...A LOT. Listening to this album tends to make us giggle and scream out loud at times. An almost perfect blend of the serious with the ridiculous, All Systems A-Go-Go is yet another brilliant album from one of the most uniquely gifted and unusual ladies in rock music today. Highly recommended to the MAX. (Rating: 6)

Fern Knight - Music for Witches and Alchemists (CD, VHF, Soft progressive pop)
The name of this artist may be confusing, as this is a solo act...but the young lady's name is not Fern Knight. Rather and instead, the artist's real name is Margaret Weink...who just happened to find the name of a friend's great aunt intriguing and fitting for her act. Music for Witches and Alchemists is almost completely out of synch with what is currently happening in the world of music. The album has a great deal in common with some of the more adventurous progressive acts that came out of Great Britain in the 1970s...at times particularly reminiscent of obscure artists like Henry Cow and Pentangle. Margaret's tunes have surprising depth and are anything but samey and predictable. The odd arrangements stress the more imaginative elements already present in the tunes. Hard to believe that this was recorded in the United States, as this music has a definite European sound and feel. Strangely compelling tracks include "Song for Ireland," "Murder of Crows," "Single River," and "Lullaby." Great stuff, very unconventional... (Rating: 5++)

Lamexcuse - All Important Little Things (Independently released CD, Pop)
Exceeding unpretentious pop. The guys in Austria's Lamexcuse have already ignited the minds of a lot of music fans in their own country. All Important Little Things (the band's debut U.S. release) features timeless melodic guitar pop that is reminiscent of early 1990s American indie underground pop bands. The band consists of Tom Reiterer, Gerfried Brunner, Reinhard Schilcher, and Patrick Moestl. What impresses us most about these guys is the fact that they don't over arrange and overproduce their tunes. Actually and in fact, the tracks on this album were recorded using only the bare essentials. These songs have genuine substance and appeal...and they definitely don't need unnecessary variables cluttering up the mix. Beautiful pop tracks like "Here 'Til Night," "Diary" (our favorite), "Two Windows," and "Leave the Door Open" make this album a positively entertaining spin. (Rating: 5+)


When we were young
We collected little plastic disks
Slowly, one by one,
And placed them on a shelf.

As we got older
We continued collecting
Little plastic disks
As we became more and more
Obsessed with the idea
Of collecting
Little plastic disks.

These days we are overwhelmed
With all the little plastic disks
That consume our
Office suite
And make our lives
So complex that we can
No longer function normally

(Rating: 1)

Lost Ocean - Lost Ocean (Advance CD, Credential Recordings, Pop)
Moody progressive pop in the same general vein as babysue favorite Starflyer 59...although this band has a more accessible overall sound. The guys in Bakersfield, California's Lost Ocean traveled to Franklin, TN to record their debut album with producer Nathan Dantzler. The resulting ten tracks are thick, professional, and mature. This band's songs have a melodic, soaring quality that should appeal to a wide range of music fans. Lost Ocean is Skyler Johnson (piano, organ, ambience), Jeff Gray (vocals, guitars), Bret Black (bass), and Christopher Short (drums). This album is a strong debut from a band that has the potential to be a major player in the years ahead. Slick rockers include "Believe," "Dreams," and "Vast." (Rating: 4++++)

Thomas Lunch - Diagrams Without Instructions (CD, Hi-Fi Alliance, Pop)
Smart, punchy upbeat melodic pop. Thomas Lunch is a one man band who records music that sounds something like a positively poppy version of Nine Inch Nails. The tunes on Diagrams Without Instructions tread the fine line between artsy college pop and accessible alternative underground rock. Lunch writes catchy tunes that are made even more appealing by the integration of some very smart and articulate arrangements. Considering the intriguing song titles, it seems a shame that a lyric booklet was not included in this package. Diagrams is bound to appeal to a wide range of folks. The songs are precisely determined and memorable...and Lunch has a great voice that really makes his music kick hard. Top picks: "Free Puppy," "Greta Garbo," "I Love You When You Throw A Fit." (Rating: 4++++)

Sarah McLachlan - Mirrorball: The Complete Concert (Double CD, Arista, Pop)
Regular babysue readers (that means all five or six of you out there who don't get upset when someone presents viewpoints that don't agree with your own) may be surprised to find that we do indeed enjoy and appreciate the music of Sarah McLachlan. Unlike other successful singer/songwriters, McLachlan seems to somehow operate beyond the mechanics of the superstar machine...and thus far she is still making music that is both sincere and genuine. We don't really have a problem with musicians being rich and famous...but we do have a problem with what it does to most of them. Most celebrities become smug and self-centered...and eventually become more obsessed with their celebrity status than with making music. At least on the surface, Sarah seems to keep things in her life in perspective. But enough philosophy already...how about Mirrorball...? This double CD captures McLachlan performing live on the closing show of her 1998 tour. This Portland concert finds her sounding rather superb...and her audience is obviously impressed. These discs feature 23 tracks...all of them presented in fine, precise fashion. Sarah's voice sounds particularly smooth and real from start to finish. Packaged in a beautiful tri-fold digipak sleeve, complete with nifty thick lyric booklet chock full of nice photos... (Rating: 5)

Melodium - Music For Invisible People (CD, Autres Directions In Music, Progressive pop)
France's Autres Directions In Music is quickly becoming one of our favorite little obscure labels...and Melodium is a good example of why this is so. This band is the solo project featuring the music and talents of Laurent Girard...a young man who is obviously not fond of following traditional musical paths. Music For Invisible People spins like an experiment of sorts with each song having its own unique sound and style...and yet the strangely weaving textures of each track seem to smoothly tie into the next. While this album does feature vocals, the lyrics and voices are secondary to the instruments...an unusual approach which gives the album a slightly distant and odd overall sound (occasionally spooky even). Considering the experimental nature of these recordings...it is indeed surprising how smooth and listener-friendly the songs are. Our initial favorites here are "You Can't Help Me," "Saturday Morning," "It Must Have A Meaning," and "Behind the Picture." Odd, puzzling, and distinctly unique. (Rating: 5)

Mission of Burma - Not A Photograph (DVD, Music Video Distributors, Documentary)
This DVD is in many ways very similar to The Pixies' loudQUIETloud documentary that was also released recently (and reviewed elsewhere in this review section). The overall approaches of the two documentaries are very similar...but the end result is very, very different. Not A Photograph begins with a few clips of the band early in their career, along with brief glimpses of the super cool band that spawned Mission of Burma...The Moving Parts. Lots of interview segments follow, as the band prepares for their reunion...which takes place more than 20 years after their last performance in 1983. When this band was together originally, we heard one or two of their tunes that didn't make much of an impression on us. The songs sounded okay but...at the time we were far more hypnotized with other bands that were more well-suited for our tastes. Just the same, we saw this documentary as a way of potentially opening our eyes and ears up to something that we might have missed. In our opinion, the main objective of a reunion is to recreate the original energy of the band. If that is indeed the case, then we must sadly report that this reunion was not a big success (very much unlike The Pixies reunion which was a resounding and surprising mindblower). The three guys in Mission of Burma were originally quite explosive and played really, really, really hard. The reunited band...just doesn't have the same explosive power (at least not from what we could determine from this DVD)...and the audiences do not appear to be overly excited. We were hoping that we would come away from this documentary feeling like reborn Mission of Burma fans. Instead, we ended up feeling like we did when we were originally exposed to the band's music. The music of Mission of Burma still sounds...okay. Diehard fans and music historians will probably hate us for coming to such a blasphemous conclusion. Oh well. No big deal because if they do...that's...okay too. The best things about this DVD are that (a) it was professionally prepared and (b) it contains rare footage of The Moving Parts in concert. (Rating: 3+)

Minmae - 835 (Advance CD, Grey Day, Progressive pop)
Following the career of Minmae is like following a winding path through the forest in the dark. You never know exactly what to expect from bandleader Sean Brooks. He started out several years ago recording extremely esoteric, strange material...but then soon opted for a more straightforward pop sound. But in the past couple of years he has taken to delving into more obtuse territories with oblique arrangements. Which brings us to 835...a moody and unpredictable album that is bound to confuse a good number of people. One thing is certain...beginning an album with an eight minute psychedelic jam ("Pay More") isn't likely to land Minmae a spot on any of the hipster television programs anytime soon. But what the music may lose in terms of accessibility...it seems to gain in terms of sheer entertainment value. The subtle creativity inherent in tracks like "Let My Friends In" is subtle yet intriguing. Another underground gem from Minmae. (Rating: 5++)

Mittens - Fools On A Holiday (Independently released CD, Pop)
Such a cute name for a band and coincidentally...such a nifty and cute little album (!). Mittens is the trio consisting of Andy Brooks, Nick Buni, and Tom Novotny. Presenting tunes that seem to draw from references like early Joe Walsh and mid-period Kinks, these guys are clearly on the right path to artistic success...and this is particularly noteworthy considering how much commercial potential is present in their music. Fools On A Holiday is a short album clocking in at just over half an hour. But in that short period of time, there is a great deal of genuine and real entertainment. If you're looking for a pure feelgood experience, you're almost certain to find it here. At a point in time when many artists are trying way, way, way too hard to be unique and bizarre...the simple music of Mittens comes as a cool, refreshing BLAST. Neat kickers include "Leeway," "The Way We're Living," "Looks Like You Could Use A Little Love," and "Street Sweeper." Positively uplifting music. (Rating: 5+)

Thurston Moore - Flipped Out Bride (CD, Blossoming Noise, Experimental noise)
This is a reissue of a limited edition vinyl release from Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. This disc features minimalistic electronic drone and noise. While these tracks were recorded by a well-known name in music, you have to hand it to the folks at Blossoming Noise for reissuing this because...well, there probably aren't very many folks who will be interested in actually hearing this CD. The majority of the disc is a single tone or two being slightly manipulated into infinity. The remainder is...harsh electronic noise. Divided into two segments, Flipped Out Bride is an obscurity in the same general vein as Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. Really weird and virtually unlistenable...this is bound to be a collector's item in the very near future (!)... (Not Rated)

The Nein - Luxury (CD, Sonic Unyon Recording Company, Pop)
The fellows in Durham, North Carolina-based The Nein were the first American band to be signed to Canada's prestigious Sonic Unyon label. Luxury, the band's second full-length release, showcases the band's more experimental and inventive tendencies. Luxury is difficult to describe. The album certainly isn't a totally experimental effort...but it is by no means a conventional collection of pop tunes. It is tempting to compare these tracks to Flaming Lips or early Guided By Voices because of the unconventional nature of the arrangements...but the band's overall sound is actually quite different from either. We respect these guys for having the balls to release something this abstract and peculiar so early in their career...because Luxury is almost certain to confuse and lose most folks. Rather than provide the sort of catchy, upbeat pop that might catapult them into underground celebrity status, these fellows have instead chosen to record difficult and heady experimental pop. The more we spin this album...the better it sounds. Strangely addictive cuts include "Burn Construction," "Sweet Vague," "Decollage," and "The Future Crumbles." (Rating: 5++)


You can call someone a liar
But don't call them a nigger.
You can call someone a child molester
But don't call them a nigger.
You can call someone retarded
But don't call them a nigger.
You can call someone a thief and a cheater
But don't call them a nigger.
You can call someone ignorant and stupid
But don't call them a nigger.

You can call someone a bastard, a bitch, a worthless old fart, a queer, a shitass, a murderer, a rapist, and a whore
But whatever you do you had goddamn better
Make sure you don't call them a nigger.

(Rating: 1)


Integrity don't matter none
Because there ain't
No one what is got
No integrity no

(Rating: 1)

Joan Osborne - Pretty Little Stranger (CD, Vanguard, Pop)
Despite the fact that her previous albums have become as common as baby clothes at yard sales and as numerous as John Cougar CDs in used music shops, Joan Osborne remains a true and genuine musical artist. Pretty Little Stranger is her debut for the Vanguard label, a fitting home for Osborne's slightly bluesy brand of pop. A word of warning...if you don't like slick, commercial music you most likely will not like this album. Fortunately in this teensie tiny corner of the universe, slickness and accessibility don't matter so much...while genuine talent and sincerity do. Thus and as a matter of course, we can really appreciate and admire Joan Osborne's music. Her voice has never sounded better...and these songs are just great. Pretty Little Stranger features six Osborne originals and six cover tunes. Artists lending a helping hand to these proceedings include Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Sonny Landreth, and Rodney Crowell. Unlike many successful singers who burn out or give in to corporate interests...Joan thus far remains with her dignity and talent totally intact. Classy pop tracks include "Pretty Little Stranger," "Who Divided," "Shake That Devil," "After Jane" (our favorite), and "When the Blue Hour Comes." (Rating: 5+)

Johnny Parry - Songs Without A Purpose (CD, Lost Toys, Progressive pop)
We had to listen to this album several times before coming to conclusions about it. Britain's Johnny Parry isn't making music bound by the normal rules of pop music. What will strike most listeners first are the vocals. Sounding something like an ailing Leonard Cohen on sedatives, Parry's hushed voice is unique and takes some getting used to. But over time his vocals become more and more intriguing...eventually becoming the true focal point of the music. The tracks on Songs Without A Purpose are soft and pensive, intuitively orchestrated with strings and keyboards that are not unlike some of the tracks on John Cale's Paris 1919 album. This beautifully packaged CD (which includes a well-designed lyric booklet) is a real underground gem. Eleven smooth, unusual tracks here including "If I Was A Killer," "Hotel Floor" (our favorite), "Sweet Nothings," and "A Love Song." Beautiful music created with acute attention to detail. We love this one. (Rating: 5++)


People from the past were

People in the present are

People in the future
Will always be

(Rating: 1)

Dave Phillips - A Collection of Curses (CD, Blossoming Noise, Experimental/noise/modern classical)
This is a very strange collection of compositions that can only be recommended for truly adventurous listeners. This CD collects 31 pieces recorded by Dave Phillips from 1994 to 2005. Most folks will find these recordings to be strange, alienated, and unlistenable. Phillips records music from a purely artistic perspective. Instead of trying to come up with songs that might appeal to the average listener, he records sounds and ideas that are purely abstract and bizarre. The only possible comparison we can come up with for this music is John Cage...but the overall sound of Dave Phillips' music is actually very different. A Collection of Curses is easily one of the oddest albums we have heard in some time. Some of these pieces are actually rather hilarious ("Pktpl" had us giggling up a storm). Most folks will be turned off by this CD...while a very small subsection of the listening population will be intrigued. We fall into the latter category. (Rating: 5+)

Pistol Disco - Two (CD, Celebrity Lifestyle, Electronic/techno)
This Swedish duo creates music that sounds something like the first Suicide album mixed with 1990s electronic dance club music. Two is a collection of simple, cold, alienated, harsh electronics that are, in most cases, layered over persistent drum beats. You'd think with an idea and sound so simple and basic that there would be dozens and dozens of bands that sound just like Pistol Disco...and yet the exact opposite is true. What makes these guys stand out from the continually growing mountains of other electronic artists is the fact that they keep their music so extraordinarily simple and direct. It is a surprisingly effective formula that works. Six weird tracks here, including "Aamensa," "Aaktar," and "Cheree." Most peculiar. (Rating: 4++++)

Pixies - loudQUIETloud: A Film About The Pixies (DVD, Music Video Distributors, Documentary)
loudQUIETloud is a quality documentary about the 2004 reformation of one of the most influential bands from the 1980s...The Pixies. The film begins with a lengthy introduction which allows the viewer to see what paths the band members' lives had taken since the band broke up. It is obvious from the beginning of this film that none of the members were able to find anything in their lives as meaningful, powerful, and successful as their lives when they played music together. By the time the band begins playing their first reunion concert, we were all ready to dismiss the new Pixies as a complete failure. Everything would depend, of course, upon the ability of Charles' (Black Francis) ability to get it back up like he used to. Surprisingly, it became obvious from the first tune that The Pixies were indeed back...and amazingly...they sounded GREAT. The remainder of the film consists of various shots of the band on the road and on stage as they travel the world. Their concerts sold out and were successful both critically and financially. The film ends on an odd note. While the band continues to play and perform together, as of 2006 they have not even discussed recording an album of new tunes. Strange...but probably a good idea as folks would always compare the new tunes to the old standards...and they would probably not be well received. Just look at what happened with The Buzzcocks...despite the fact that they continue writing and recording new songs, all anyone ever wants to hear are the old standards. So...why did The Pixies get back together in the first place...? Probably because they didn't finish what they were doing the first time around. A strangely compelling documentary for Pixies fans as well as those who feel (as we generally do) that band reunions never work. This time...it did. (Rating: 5+)


Melt a dead kitten
In the middle of the yard.
Blink three times to bring
The kitten back to life.

Practice again on several
Other types of animals.

(Rating: 1)


Everyone wonders why
Politicians lie.

They lie because
If they told the truth
They would never get

(Rating: 1)

Robert Pollard - Normal Happiness (CD, Merge, Pop)
More great tunes from the seemingly endless well of underground pop classics. As the guiding force behind Guided By Voices, Robert Pollard has already succeeded in cementing his presence in the world of music for centuries to come. But rather than rest on his laurels, he continues writing and recording tune and after tune...in an apparent attempt to satiate his endless appetite for writing and recording. That is most fortunate for the rest of us...because his music is just as valid and credible now as it ever was. We had an unusual revelation while spinning Normal Happiness...some of Bob's tunes sound intriguingly similar to very early Genesis (the vocals are particularly reminiscent of a young Peter Gabriel at times). To be honest, Pollard's new tunes don't sound that different from Guided By Voices...but then, why should they? After all, the idea is basically the same...Robert writes a bunch of songs, records them with whoever he chooses...and then releases them to his legions of fans around the world. Normal Happiness is yet another great album from a man who never releases anything substandard. Killer, classy tracks include "Accidental Texas Who," "Boxing About," "I Feel Gone Again," "Pegasus Glue Factory," and "Join the Eagles." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Raunch Hands Bigg Topp - Feel It (CD, Licorice Tree, Rock)
Nice bluesy party rock in the same general vein as The New York Dolls. These guys sure know how to kick out the jams, as is evidenced by the lead track on Feel It ("Sophisticated Screw"). Ranch Hands is currently a rather big band...featuring no less than six members. This album has a nice loose feel combined with a big thick sound. If you're looking for intellectual, trendy crap you won't find it here. These guys are playing real rock and roll that is infused with genuine enthusiasm and soul. In concert these fellers must surely have folks on their feet within minutes. Cool rockers include "Second Hand Man," "Bigg Topp's Pop Spot," and "I Watched You Go." Fun, upbeat stuff. (Rating: 4+++++)

Anthony Romero - Forest Talks (CD-R, Contract Killers, Abstract noise)
We're going to admit right off the bat that at this point in time we can't come up with a rating for this CD. One thing is certain. Anthony Romero is not motivated by money nor the possibility of having a hit (!). The tracks on Forest Talks are extremely odd and peculiar...and extraordinarily difficult to describe. If we had time to spin this a few dozen times, we could then determine whether this is just odd random noise...or if it is the work of a genius. Because we have to get onto the next disc in the pile...we'll leave this one as "unrated"...but we can state without reservation that this artist has definitely sparked our interest... (Not Rated)

Savage Aural Hotbed - The Unified Pounding Theory (CD, Innova Recordings, Percussion)
Too bad there aren't more all-percussion bands...but this is probably because taking such an approach severely limits the potential for commercial success. Savage Aural Hotbed consists of four men: Mark Black, Stuart DeVaan, Dean Hawthorne, and William Melton. This band is obviously an almost purely artistic endeavor for these fellows. Instead of following the usual paths inherent in music, they have created their own world in which traditional rhythms collide with a wild variety of percussion objects found in a wild variety of peculiar sources. The overall sound seems heavily influenced by African tribal music and German electronic artists from the 1970s. At times moody and odd and at other times surprisingly danceable, these tracks are bound to mesmerize fans of the underground...while leaving virtually all traditional listeners scratching their heads in confusion. In our book...these guys have scored another direct HIT. We can't help but be immediately intoxicated by tracks like "Rotation...", "Carnivore" (our favorite), "Dead Blow," and "Dizzy Dean." Truly inventive stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Savoy Brown - Blues, Balls & Boogie (CD, AIM, Bluesy rock/pop)
When the guys in Savoy Brown were in their prime...we were far too absorbed in bands like T. Rex and Sparks to give them any serious attention. We liked a few of their songs at the time...but they just weren't mod and poppy enough for our teenage taste buds. Over the years we have learned to appreciate bluesy bands and, as a result, we now respect and admire some of the early British blues acts in particular. This is a lengthy CD (clocking in at just over 66 minutes) that features Savoy Brown in concert playing eleven tracks from their various albums. Try as we may, we could not determine exactly when these tunes were recorded (no concert date was given on the press release nor the CD itself). But no matter...what matters is that this is a good overview of one of Britain's finest blues rock bands. For folks who like blues guitar, there's a lot to sink your teeth into here--plenty of soaring, intricate, tasty leads. The band presents rockers like "Street Corner Talkin'," "Hellbound Train," "Can't Get Next To You," and "Run To Me"...for a crowd that is obviously most appreciative. The band sounds tight and focused...and the gritty vocals are exceptional throughout. The folks at Australia's AIM label have again unearthed yet another juicy nugget... (Rating: 5)

Shedding - What God Doesn't Bless, You Won't Love; What You Don't Love, the Child Won't Know (CD, Hometapes, Experimental/progressive/modern jazz/modern classical)
This album is a strange, experimental project...or couldn't you already guess that from the title...? Shedding is Louisville, Kentucky's Connot Bell...a young fellow who seems compelled to create and challenge himself and his listeners. The strangely titled What God Doesn't Bless, You Won't Love; What You Don't Love, the Child Won't Know is an album full of odd moody compositions. Bell uses modern jazz as a springboard to create modern experimental pieces that are puzzling and unusual. Unlike some artists who create nothing but random noise, Connot seems to enjoy mixing obtuse noises with just enough musical substance to catch and hold his listeners' attention. If you're looking for easy, upbeat music...you certainly won't find it here. This is an album to put on when you want to create a mood and/or see if your friends are really paying attention. Provocatively packaged in a beautiful tri-fold sleeve featuring artwork by Kathleen Lolley. Truly peculiar. (Rating: 5)


Eat and shit.
Eat and shit.
Eat and shit.

Eat and shit some more.

(Rating: 1)

Emilie Simon - The Flower Book (CD, Milan, Pop)
This is not an album featuring new material, but rather a compilation snapshot compiled from Emilie Simon's three major projects previously released up to this point in time (two well received albums and music scored for the motion picture The March of the Penguins). While Simon's music has been well received in her own country (France), her music has yet to be marketed in the United States until now. Interestingly, the music she recorded for the previously mentioned film was yanked because (in Emilie's own words), "The explanation I was given was that my music was not adaptable to American audiences." Personally, we would take that as a very big compliment (!). The Flower Book is an interesting and, at times, puzzling collection of tunes. Simon's songs are smooth and personal...and she is a true one-woman band...writing, arranging, playing, and recording everything herself. She even manages to do a more-than-adequate cover of The Stooges "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog"...an unusual version that should surprise many listeners. If The Flower Book isn't a hit with American audiences, Emilie Simon should neither be surprised nor disappointed. If she wants commercial success in the U.S.A., she will obviously have to lower her standards considerably. We hope she chooses to strive for artistic integrity over commercial success...because thus far she seems to be doing just that, and it's working. Killer tracks include "Song of the Storm," "Fleur de Sason" (our favorite), "Never Fall in Love," and "Il Pleut." Slick and nifty stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Size Queens - Is It IN Yet? (Limited edition independently released CD, Pop)
We had no choice but to review this one. After all, just LOOK at the name of the band and CD...why, they're both right up our alley. Plus...the accompanying press release was written light years better than the average boring dribble. Add to all of this the fact that this is a severely limited edition disc (only 369 copies exist)...and you have a clever and slightly puzzling little underground package. The folks in Size Queens play odd, spontaneous underground pop that sounds not unlike some of The Television Personalities stranger music (although the vocals are markedly different), The Tyde...or even some of The Kinks' best ballads from the 1970s and 1980s (the vocals sound rather similar to Ray Davies at times). There are lots of accidental elements present in the songs and the band seems to have been content to just let things happen during the recording process. Instead of slick, glossy, overprocessed pop...these folks have managed to come up with an album that sounds warm, genuine, and real. This isn't a perfect album (which probably wasn't even what these folks were shooting for)...some of the tracks are great while others are merely entertaining. But when Size Queens are "on"...they are really, really, really GREAT. "Good Nature" is an absolutely fantastic little gem. We have copy #61...and we'll definitely be holding onto it. Good luck getting a copy of this little sucker...it will probably sell out FAST. (Rating: 4+++++)

Sneakers - Nonsequitur of Silence (CD, Collector's Choice, Pop)
Anyone wishing to delve into the roots of The dB's and Let's Active (or independently recorded pop in general) will certainly want to get their hands on a copy of Nonsequitur of Silence. Winston-Salem, North Carolina's Sneakers launched the careers of Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey, and Will Rigby. While mainly a vehicle for recording (the band only played live a few times), Sneakers music has made quite an impact on fans and songwriters over the years. Although barely recognized in North Carolina, the band managed to catch the attention of some influential writers in the 1970s. This CD effectively captures all of the essential recorded work by the band...all of the tracks from the EPs Sneakers and In The Red plus additional extras and previously unreleased tracks. This collection features what almost certainly has to be Stamey's strongest songs ever...this man was laying the foundation for the entire Athens pop sound of the 1990s. Mitch Easter's songs are surprisingly mature and complex...and could very well have been recorded and released as tracks for Let's Active albums. The first six tunes on this disc bear an eerie resemblance to The Shoes' Black Vinyl Shoes album (which was also an independently released record). Listening to this music, it seems almost impossible to believe it was recorded way back in the 1970s. Definitely well ahead of their time, Sneakers was a great band that splintered into pieces before they had the chance to realize their full potential. (Rating: 5+)

Spunks - Yellow Fever Blues (CD, Gearhead, Hard rock/punk)
Once again, the guys in a Japanese band outdo their American contemporaries. While many bands in this country label their music hard rock and punk, very few actually capture the real intensity and spirit necessary to make these styles of music work. The punks in Spunks have the attitude and spunk necessary to create an intense and wildly exciting big ball of fun. Produced by Don Fury, Yellow Fever Blues is a focused and intense album. Hajime (vocals, guitar), George (bass, backing vocals), and Al Batross (drums) play with furious intent yet they all seem to be on the same precise mental wavelength. Eleven of these twelve tunes are crazy rockers that border on thrash music...while the album closes with a curiously subdued track ("The End of Yellow Fever"). Fun loud fuzzy rockers include "Silly Girl," "Dog Days," "Love & Egg Roll," and "Brand New Cadillac." Great snarly, gritty vocals and hyperactive rhythms are this band's trademarks... (Rating: 5)

STNNNG - Fake Fake (CD, Modern Radio, Hard jerky rock)
It took a few songs to sink in...but we eventually determined that the songs on Fake Fake sound very much like a modern hard rock version of Captain Beefheart. The guys in STNNNG are playing to a very select underground crowd...those who like it very loud and decidedly strange. Unlike the majority of loud rock bands who do nothing more than turn everything way up and play their blinding blur into boringland, the guys in this band are using volume to their advantage...combining their skewed guitars with thumpy, catchy bass lines and herky jerky drumming. The vocalist sing/speaks his way through the tunes...sometimes seemingly totally oblivious to the underlying rhythms. This band isn't for everyone, nor are they trying to be. It is rare when a really hard rock band captures our attention...but these guys have managed to do so. Killer hard rock cuts include "Grand Island, Neb," "The Incidents Surrounding My Three Deaths," and "No List." Superbly effective masculine stuff...nifty cover art as well... (Rating: 5+)

Sudden Infant - Radiorgasm (Reissued) (CD, Blossoming Noise, Noise)
Folks into the noise-as-music experience would be well advised to check out Lilburn, Georgia's Blossoming Noise label. This obscure little company is currently releasing some of the strangest music on the planet. Originally released as a limited edition (only 323 copies were pressed) on the Swedish Schimpflusch label, the folks at Blossoming Noise apparently found this album disturbing and harsh enough to unleash it to the unsuspecting public. Radiorgasm is a virtually unlistenable album. That might sound like a criticism, but in actuality it is not...because our guess is that this is the exact effect that was intended by the creators of this project. Grating distortion mixes with cold electronics and abstract sounds to create a disturbing world of chaos. While we admire this for its intended effect, we have to admit that the only time we'll be spinning this one is when we want to rid our office suite of unwanted guests. Really, really, really, really, really, really grating and irritating stuff...!!! Whew!!! (Rating: 4++++)

Tahiti 80 - Fosbury (Double CD, The Militia Group, Pop)
The folks at The Militia Group continue to (admirably) expand the styles of music available on their label. This time it's a real surprise...the slick French dance/pop band Tahiti 80. While this album has already been released in various other countries, the U.S. release is notable not only because of the music...but also because CD #1 includes two bonus tracks and CD #2 (an EP) is only included with this release. But onto the music... Since releasing Puzzle (their 1999 debut), the guys in this band have really thickened their sound and focused their energies. Rather than spinning like a new studio album, Fosbury comes across sounding very much like a non-stop string of brand new hits. The songs on this album were meticulously recorded with incredible attention to detail...and the vocals are outstanding. The thick, lush harmonies sound like they were recorded in heaven. Infectious beats and bass lines provide a solid foundation for these catchy, cerebral pop tracks. Pop lovers will no doubt be going apeshit over tracks like "Big Day," "Chinatown," "Matter of Time," and "Somebody New." Another great album from the great French masterminds... (Rating: 5++)

This Et Al - Baby Machine (CD, Mono Tones, Progressive pop)
The first full-length album from Britain's This Et Al. These fellows play thick, heady, cerebral pop/rock that is ultimately melodic and well thought out. Recorded entirely on analogue equipment, the tunes on Baby Machine have all the strength and integrity of tunes by the vastly underrated Holy Ghost (both bands share a similar sound and approach). This album has a nice, thick, fat sound...and the often busy, complex arrangements work in their favor. The tunes have a definite bite...but lyrics and melodies take center stage here...giving many of the tracks a strange catchy quality. Cerebral and intricate, Baby Machine is a truly impressive debut from a band that sounds both determined and surprisingly directed. Killer cuts include "The Loveliest Alarm," "Of National Importance," "Catscan," and "Transmit The Ends." Excellent. (Rating: 5+)


Put cheese on the
Put lettuce on the
Put pickles on the

Then throw the
Sandwich in the

(Rating: 1)


Children are ugly.
Babies are ugly.
Flowers are ugly.
Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Mountains are ugly.
The sky is ugly.
Birds are ugly.
Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Women are ugly.
Men are ugly.
Life is ugly.
Ugly, ugly, ugly.

(Rating: 1)

Void's Anatomy - Shades of a Vast Moment (CD, Midaltern, Soft progressive pop)
This album took several spins to sink in. Canada's Void's Anatomy is the duo consisting of Marie Jorge and David Gendron. Jorge writes and arranges the tunes while Gendron records and mixes (and plays drums and percussion). The tunes on Shades of a Vast Moment are decidedly subtle and serious. Marie's soothing, almost folky tunes are pushed to the next level by the clever use of odd electronics, keyboards, and strings. Her voice is strangely atmospheric...and extremely effective for this style of music. Moody and slightly peculiar, this is an album that doesn't fit into easily defined categories. We can't help but be impressed by the colorful imagination inherent in tracks like "Inner Out," "Life Sleeps" (our favorite), "Somehow," and "The Dead Part of You." Moody and compelling music. (Rating: 5++)

Astrid Williamson - Day of the Lone Wolf (CD, One Little Indian, Soft pop)
Rob Moore of 60 Cycle Media sure got our attention with the opening paragraph of the press release that accompanied this CD. After all, it isn't often that an artist is simultaneously compared to Suzanne Vega, Lisa Germano, Daniel Lanois, and Erik Satie in the scope of a single paragraph. Day of the Lone Wolf is the third full-length release from Astrid Williamson. The album opens with the strangely sparse "Siamese"...an unusual attention-getting tune that emphasizes Astrid's more obtuse vocal abilities. Williamson seems to alternate between soft moody compositions and pure straightforward acoustic pop. The stranger soft cuts on this album are definitely the keepers. "Siamese," "Amarylis," and "Another Twisted Thing" are the best key reference points here. (Rating: 4+++)


Words don't mean
Anything to

(Rating: 1)


Additional Items Received:

7k - Knick knacks and apparel
Ackleys - Forget forget, derive derive
All The Way Rider - Lahuna
Altered State - Get real
Alternate Routes - Good and reckless and true
Anagram - The lights went up
A New Dawn Fades - I see the nightbirds
Roesing Ape - A beautiful woman (book)
Apocalypto - Original motion picture soundtrack
Atomic Bomb Audition - Eleven theatres
B13 - Ouch money
Bad Brains - Live at CBGB 1982
Baille Family Christmas - Celebrate the season
Bang Gang - Find what you get EP
Tom Beaulieu - As the artists waits
BHB - A pleasin' sense of happiness
Blinded Black - Under the sunrise
Blip Blop - Blip Blop
Bluetones - Bluetones
Boxcar Satan / The Graves Brothers Deluxe - Black water rising
Broken Land - Audio postcard
Brother John - Averrage part one numerator
Dharma Brown - Slick interpretations
Cadillac Sky- Blind man walking
Cat Cail - Choice
Canon - Wide awake
Ellen Cherry - Years
Cinematics - Break
Clemente - ...Whilst honey hums
Cobra Starship - While the city sleeps, we rule the streets
Comforters - Transplants
Complicated Shirt - Compromising compositions
Conveniens - Conveniens
Cricket Spin - Grains of salt, graints of sand
Jill Cunniff - City beach
Cut City - Exit Decades
Dark Romantics - Some midnight kissin'
Daniel - Swallowed a star
Daytime Volume - The day we transposed
Dear and Glorious Physician - Dear and Glorious Physician
Deathmask - Evil doers
Demons - (Her name was) tragedy
Depeche Mode - The best of, volume 1
Desmond Dekker - ...In Memoriam 1941 - 2006
Denelian - False: positive
DJLogic - Zen of logic
Douglass Brothers - Still in the basement
Amy Duncan - Pilgrimage
Enigma - A posteriori
Enigma - Love sensualityi devotion: The remix collection
Envie - Envie
Ex-Lion Tamer - Go ghost
Eye Talk - Sun and moon
Teri Falini - The room
Kevin Ferguson - Subtle hint
Ferocious Eagle - The sea anemone inside of me is mighty
Floater - Stone by stone
Future of Forestry - Twilight
Mike Gaito - Beard of bees
Noah Georgeson - Find shelter
Go Set Go - Selling out and going home
Grandville - Grandville
Kiyoshi Graves- Chase
Marty Hahn - Of days gone by
Harlem Shakes - Burning birthdays
Heavy Hearts - Heavy Hearts
Heliconia - Heliconia
Heroes & Villains - Play themes from the dark pink circus
Hialeah - Where you're standing
Hobbyists - Hobbyists
Hop-Frog's Drum Jester Devotional - Bets ov volume 1
Hotel Alexis - Goliath, I'm on your side
Hotel Hotel - Allheroesareforeverbold
Imposter Syndrome - Fresh air
Janelle - The vocal complex
Jatun - Jatun
Jennifer Echo - Be dangerous on rock guitar
Joelle - Pillar of stone
John Popper Project - Featuring DJ Logic
Kamelot - One cold winter's night
Randy Kaplan - Five cent piece
Kingfield - Letters post mortem
Lesniak - 1000 dollar headphones
Woodrow Lin - Woodrow Lin
Kristin Lomholt - Spell
Lookyloos - You're looking very beautiful man
M2B - Signs
Maps - Start something
Marina V - Simple magic
Mark Mathis - We both was young
Max Power Trio - Max Power Trio
Sarah McLachlan - Wintersong
Million Billion - Ready. fire. aim.
Minor 2049er - People are green
Mojack Band - Humpin' the pole
MXPX - Let It Happen
Michael Nace & The Nace Family - The good work of the dead
National Rife - National Rife
New Loud - Me (secrets) you
New Years Day - New Years Day
O Pioneers! - Black mambas
Obio - Create the night pt. I
Terry Ohms - Plays Wes McDonald
Ozomatli - Don't mess with the dragon
Pacific UV - Pacific UV
Paper Airplanes - Boyhood
Bob Parins and True Love Always - The kissing rocks
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer - Original motion picture soundtrack
Philpot - Hate writes beter than love
Photo Atlas - No, not me, never
PonieHeart / Crane Orchard - PonieHeart / Crane Orchard
Puttanesca - Puttanesca
Rain - Dream
Rankin' Scroo - Godfada
Revival - Horses of war
Robbers on High Street - The fatalist and friends
Roesing Ape Asks - UIs the american christ satan
Christina Rosenvinge - Continental 62
Samamidon - But this chicken proved falsehearted
Mickky Saunders / Dan Susnara - Fishbowl world get away
Seafood - Paper crown king
She, Sir - Who can't say yes
Bobby Sichran - Peddler in babylon
Frankie Lee Sims - Walking with Frankie
Skies of America- Shine
Skye - Good boys don't
Slang - Every day
So It Goes - Historionics
Sonic Youth - The destroyed room: B-sides and rarities (defective CD)
Sophe Lux - Waking the mystics
Spares - Beautiful and treacherous thing
Spring Awakening - Original cast recording
Stampead - Milk and honey
Rus Stedman - Dumb stupid
Stellarscope - Living under the radar
Stellarscope - Reverberations
Dana Stevens - Welcome to my world
Ten West - Ten West
Timz - Open for business
Toy Gun Cowboy - Star?...or no star?
Triclops - Cafeteria brutalia
Tristania - Illumination
Turbo - Sailboats are white
Turn Off the Stars - Turn Off the Stars
Twin Atlas - Magic car wash
Unwritten Law - The hit list
Urban Legends - Of old lost days
Various Artists - Drive-thru records: DVD volume IV
Various Artists - 14 songs in 28 days
Various Artists - Happy together
Various Artists - I killed the monster: 21 artists performing the songs of daniel johnston
Various Artists - The art of the virtual rhythmicon
Various Artists - Trimix: Compiled by TJ Norris
Various Artists -
Various Artists -
Various Artists -
Mike Vasas and the Beasts of Burden - Mike Vasas and the Beasts of Burden
Anne Sofie Von Oter - I let the music speak
Von Robinson & His Own Universe - Jostle it!
Walt Ribeiro - Walt Ribiero
Kristen Ward - Roll me on
Warm in the Wake - Gold dust trail
Jonathan Whitcomb - Bender: Songs for the red states
Willard Grant Conspiracy - Let it roll
Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Crazy Horse at the Fillmore 1970s

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