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Reviews from

Peter Adams*
Ashton Allen
The Alternate Routes

Birdwatchers of America
The Bridges

The British Columbians

Cold Case
Color Cassette*
Elusive Parallelograms*
Faded Paper Figures
Fake Boys

Gentleman Auction House
Goblin Cock
Goddamn Waste of Time
Gramercy Arms*
Guggenheim Grotto
Here We Go Magic
Hi Red Center

Hot Chip
The Inevitable Backlash
The Japanese Popstars
The Kickbacks
Kindness Don't Count
Lunatic Soul

Anya Marina
Miniature Tigers*
The Mpls Henrys
Gary Murray & LN

The Neighborhood Bullys

New Estate
The Parties
Will Quinlan & The Diviners
Miranda Lee Richards
Roma 79

Darrell Scott
Sissy Doughnut

The Size Queens*
Synecdoche, New York

Starflyer 59*
SubAudible Hum

The Televangelist and the Architect*
Francois Virot

True Widow
The Weightlifters*
The Whore Moans
Yes Man
Yes We Can't

Zen Zadravec Quartet

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


Peter Adams - I Woke With Planets In My Face (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
More neat twinkly progressive soft pop from Peter Adams. This fellow made quite an impression on a lot of folks with his 2005 debut album (The Spiral Eyes). Cut from similar fabric, the humorously-titled I Woke With Planets In My Face is also bound to be very well received. Although many folks are likely to compare Adams' music to Sufjan Stevens because both are creating music from similar hemispheres, in actuality the two artists are markedly different in many ways. The main similarities between the two are those wonderfully intricate arrangements and restrained vocals. This twelve track album is a lot to take in. Clocking in at over 50 minutes, Adams presents strangely heady modern pop using both traditional and non-traditional instruments. His songs are smart and different...and yet ultimately warm and inviting. And Adams has a voice to die for. Richly rewarding tunes include "In the Great Green Room," "Into the Mist," "I Was Looking at the Ceiling, And Then I Saw the Sky," and "The Seventh Seal." This is somewhat of a modern classic...timeless in nature, dreamy and slightly surreal... (Rating: 5++++)

Ashton Allen - Wellspring (CD, Rock Salt Songwriters, Pop)
We have to admit that the blurb on the cover of this CD initially turned us off in a big way ("Barnes & Noble Exclusive"). So much so, in fact, that we almost tossed this one aside without even giving it a spin. But being the guilt-driven nobodies that we are, we felt obliged to at least give Wellspring a spin. And damn...we're sure glad that we did. Instead of being a trite and pretentious folk singer (which is what we were expecting), Ashton Allen is instead a pure popster through and through. More than any other artist, the songs on this album remind us a great deal of early Paul Simon. Ashton writes soft pop tunes with remarkably familiar sounding melodies...and he's got a voice that is as smooth as gravy bones. Sure, this may not be the most original sounding album in the world...but Allen sure as Hell has a knack for creating exceptional sounding smooth pop that probably drives girls wild (he's a really, really good looking guy). Top picks: "Something in the Sound," "Promise," "Wellspring," and "Heart Transformer." (Rating: 4+++++)

The Alternate Routes - A Sucker's Dream (CD, Vanguard, Pop)
The second album from The Alternate Routes. If you're into really weird, obtuse, peculiar, artsy music, we might as well go ahead and let you know that there's a good chance you won't like this band. In all honesty, their sound is very similar to thousands upon thousands of other bands on the planet and the songs are very polished, calculated, and commercial-sounding. But if you can get passed a few initial obstacles (assuming you are a pretentious music snob like we are)...you may very well find yourself drawn into the highly melodic and absorbing tunes on A Sucker's Dream. The title could perhaps be a clue about the music contained within...? Dream presents twelve tunes...all of which feature very articulate, defined melodies...and the arrangements fit the music to a T. As we mentioned before, these songs might not be the most original sounding things you've ever heard. But for some reason we get the impression that these guys...unlike a lot of other commercial bands...are actually genuine and sincere. Plenty of fine tunes here including "All That I See," "All A Dream," "The New Song," and "A Better Way." We may be suffering audio hallucinations here but...in at least a few instances we could swear the lead vocalist sounds just a bit like Mickey Dolenz (?!?). (Rating: 4++++)

Antrilon - Mind Erase (CD, Dead Earnest, Space/electronic)
Antrilon is the solo project created by Greg Kozlowski who is perhaps best known as the guitarist in the bands Secret Saucer and Architectural Metaphor. Kozlowski most likely created Antrilon as a vehicle to release more obscure, subdued, less commercial sounding music. Mind Erase is an odd spin. The songs are subtle and atmospheric...something like a cross between ambient, trance, and space music...as well as modern classical. According to the press release, Greg used "modular synthesizers, theramin, ring modulators, heavy reverb, and plenty of echo" to create these tracks...but it also states that "no MIDI, no laptops, no analog modeling, no emulators, no simulators and no samplers were used..." The overall sound here...is something like a subdued dream. These compositions are, for the most part, rather sparse and empty...and slightly perplexing. There is no percussion used...no obvious rhythms...just otherworldly sounds that sneak in and out of the mix...only to dissolve as other odd, abstract sounds take their place. This album is an interesting listening experience...probably too far out for the casual listener. The disc is divided into four parts with the final track ("Invasion Earth") being divided into four different sections. Trippy and rather ultimately...satisfying... Ahhh...so nice... (Rating: 5)



Education causes anxiety.
Generosity causes anxiety.
Pets cause anxiety.
Housework causes anxiety.
Health causes anxiety.
Haircuts cause anxiety.
Doctors cause anxiety.
Sex causes anxiety.
Eating causes anxiety.
Francine causes anxiety.

(Rating: 1)

Birdwatchers of America - There Have Been Sightings (CD, Raise Giant Frogs, Pop)
Boston, Massachusetts-based band Birdwatchers of America was created in 2006 from the ashes of other bands (The Red Telephone, Permafrost, The Willows, The Details). On this, the band's debut album, many of the tunes remind us of the 1990s band Dumptruck. These guys present their tunes simply, using tasteful guitars and genuinely heartfelt vocals. The band consists of Matt Hutton (vocals, guitars), Pat MacDonald (bass, mandolin, glockenspeil), Jon Rosen (keyboards), and Adam Goodwin (drums, vocals, percussion). The songs on There Have Been Sightings are reminiscent of guitar pop bands from the 1980s. Vocal melodies are at the forefront and harmonies are an integral part of the sound. Smooth, cool cuts include "One of the Very Last Sightings," "Ashes of the Sun," "Save the Berlin Wall Committee Blues," and "My Stolen Bird." Neat stuff with a nice polished sound... (Rating: 5)

The Bridges - Limits of the Sky (CD, Verve, Pop)
This pure pop band hails from the unlikely city of Oxford, Alabama...and they provide yet further proof that Alabama is producing some surprising artists in the twenty-first century (i.e, it's no longer just a state that houses smarmy, generic southern rock bands). A word of warning to underground music snobs: These folks have a squeaky clean image and their music is just about as squeaky clean. As a result, Limits of the Sky will probably turn off a lot of the college kids who want really strange and weird stuff. But our guess is that's not who the folks in The Bridges are playing for anyway. Produced by Matthew Sweet, Sky spins like a non-stop string of FM radio hits. Included in the press materials was a one-sheeter in which the band members point out their main influences: Crosby, Stills and Nash, Fleetwood Mac, America, and Tom Petty. Accordingly, our guess is that the slick pop tunes on this album will probably appeal mostly to the 30-something, 40-something, and 50-something crowd. As nice as this album sounds, it'd be great to hear these folks get a little more adventurous on their next album and take a few more chances. Oughta-be hits include "All the Words," "Pieces," "Echo," and "Happy In Love." Smooth upbeat stuff. (Rating: 4+++)

The British Columbians - The British Columbians (Independently released CD, Rock/pop)
The guys in The British Columbians play a brand of underground pop/rock that recalls some of the cool obscure American bands from the 1990s. On this, the band's self-titled album, they present their songs simply and without unnecessary ingredients. The band's rockers have a neat bluesy sound that often incorporates some really slick electric slide guitar. Unlike other bands playing bar band blues rock, these folks include some unexpected cuts that showcase their diversity. "In The Leaves" and "Ain't No Direction" offer some great vocals from bandleader Girard Knox. The overall sound of this album reminds us very much of what a cross between ZZ Top and The Flat Duo Jets might sound like. Nine crafty cuts here including "Bye Bye Marie," "Hoodoo," "Hail To The Rising Sun," and "Going Out On You." (Rating: 4+++++)

Cactus - Tropical Terror (Independently released CD EP, Hard rock)
Hard cocky rock that is highly reminiscent of experimental hard rock bands treading around in underground clubs in the United States in the 1990s. The guys in Nashville, Tennessee's Cactus are most certainly turning heads in their home city. The band's brand of harsh, obtuse hard rock seems obviously influenced by the first two XTC Albums (White Noise & Go 2)...except there's a whole lot more screaming going on. The lead vocalist sounds remarkably similar to Andy Partridge at times. Cactus features former members of the bands The Smartest Monkeys, They Said We Were Ghosts, and Unroot. This little EP packs a powerful punch as the band belts six raw, ferocious cuts. Our favorites here are "Daddy," "Perverted Shark," and "Queen Bee." Good hard rock played right. This one will leave listeners waiting on the edge of their seats for the next full-length. (Rating: 5)

Cantinero - Better for the Metaphor (Independently released CD, Pop)
Instantly catchy direct pop that, in terms of songwriting, sounds something like a cross between early Squeeze and early Elvis Costello. Originally from Great Britain, Chris Hicken (the man who is Cantinero) now calls New York home. Since releasing his debut album (Championships Boxing) in 2004, Hicken has received a great deal of critical acclaim across the globe. His music was previously featured on National Public Radio's All Things Considered show and several tunes have also been featured on the television show Roadtrip Nation. Unlike a lot of other up-and-coming popsters, Chris isn't making oddball artsy pop for a tiny segment of the population. As is evidenced by the songs on Better for the Metaphor, this fellow is making music that is obviously and unapologetically commercial. And that isn't a bad thing...considering how strong his songs are. Metaphor is a smooth and polished effort to be certain...but the songs themselves are all effective, direct hits. Smart hummable cuts include "My House," "Safe," "Selfish," and "Stay In Bed." (Rating: 4+++++)

Cold Case - Original Television Soundtrack: Music by Michael A. Levine (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
Before we begin here, we should mention that we have never ever seen the CBS television show Cold Case. All we know is that, according to the press release, music is an integral part of the show. The best word to describe Michael A. Levine's compositions on this album might be...pensive. The songs on this twenty-four track album are subtle and intricate...oddly personal and strangely moving. Instead of trying to blow listeners away with multiple layers of instruments and a big powerhouse sound, Levine instead uses instruments sparingly to present odd, moody pieces that most likely add great depth to the television show. Included in the press release that accompanied this disc is a quote from Levine that probably sums this album up best: "I see my role as providing timeless continuity-the sonic equivalent of the show's tagline, 'Hope lives...because the evidence never dies.' Like the cops on the show, my most important job is to be a voice for the victim." If that was the objective, Michael seems to have succeeded in his quest. Our guess is that this will be a must-have for fans of the show. But, in addition, folks who simply enjoy nice, provocative instrumental music will also get a major jolt out of this one. (Rating: 5+)

Color Cassette - Forever Sparrow (CD, Autres Directions In Music, Progressive pop)
France's Autres Directions In Music has an uncanny way of unearthing some really unusual, obscure, cool artists. Color Cassette is the project created by Lexington, Kentucky's Jason Corder and involves a variety of other artists and musicians. Forever Sparrow is a concept album which tells the story of a boy who gets lost in the forest and is then transformed into a sparrow and decides to live in the woods forever. The arrangements on this album are reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens at times...but much more progressive and unpredictable. Corder threads all kinds of sounds and unorthodox audio art into his recordings. The disc is housed in a particularly lovely cardboard sleeve with killer artwork and contains a really nifty mini-poster. Considering that this is a concept album, we sure wish Jason had chosen to include a lyric sheet or booklet so that it would be easier to follow along with the story (!). This is a very intriguing and different sort of album that doesn't really sound like anyone else. Cool tracks include "Black Nest Waters," "Lost at Least at Last," "Glass Ghosts," and "Ballad for a Yeller Bastard Bird" (this last one is really strange and is, perhaps, our favorite). Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Elusive Parallelograms - And Everything Changes (Independently released CD, Psychedelic pop)
Neat, driving, hard pop with a decidedly psychedelic twist. Something like a cross between Hawkwind and The Buzzcocks (?!?). Although we're not sure why, there aren't very many bands around of late that are taking this particular approach with music. This could be because most music has become more muted and boring in the twenty-first century...or it could signal a slowing interest in the recreational use of L.S.D....? Whatever the case, the guys in Elusive Parallelograms have come up with a real winner of an album here. The tunes on And Everything Changes are basically pop tunes...but they are delivered with surprising intensity and layered with some really cool hypnotic sounds. They aren't playing the game being bound by rules determined by outsiders and they don't appear to be going for any specific image...but instead seem to be content to create their own musical universe. Whatever the intent, this is a great little independently produced album that really delivers the goods. Changes is as good or better than most releases we have heard on independent or major labels over the past couple of years. Fifteen cool tripped out pop cuts here including "Rev," "Asleep," "Closure," "Destroyer," "Benzedrine," and "Intelligent Design." Heady and super smart stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Faded Paper Figures - Dynamo (Independently released CD, Pop)
Nice, smooth, melodic pop. Faded Paper Figures is the southern California-based trio consisting of John Williams (vocals, guitar, bass), Kael Alden (guitar, bass, keys, programming, backing vocals), and Heather Alden (keys, backing vocals). Dynamo has been well received in the United States thus far, not surprisingly embraced most enthusiastically by the college radio circuit. The album features cute, simple, straightforward pop tunes based around simple beats and clever electronics...and delivered with a nice understated overall sound. These folks include some blippy-bloopy sounds in their music but never to excess. The vocals are subtle and subdued...with a very matter-of-fact delivery. This trio has what matters most...some really good songs. Twelve cool classy cuts here including "North by North," "Polaroid Solution," "The Persuaded," and "Speeches." Catchy and cool. (Rating: 5+)

Fake Boys - Pop Punk Is Dead (CD, Cheapskate, Rock)
Imagine a cross between Bracket and The Ramones...and you have some idea of what The Fake Boys sound like. This nifty, short little album contains fast, catchy, buzzsaw pop delivered with simplicity and style. The band consists of Jim Domenici (vocals, guitar), Joe McTigue (bass), and Ryan Fisher (drums). If you're into busy, overproduced twenty-first century muck, this album probably won't appeal to you. But if you're looking for some real, genuine, garage pop/punk, these guys most certainly will deliver. Eight catchy tracks here delivered straight from the hip. Our initial favorites are "Suckfest," "Wasted," "Pop Punk Is Dead," and "Dirge." Big fun...and decidedly unpretentious... (Rating: 5)

Gentleman Auction House - Christmas * In Love (CD EP, Emergency Umbrella, Pop)
Little did we realize when we reviewed the last album from Gentleman Auction House that it would become one of our most played CDs of 2008. This EP is a holiday follow-up. So even though we normally toss holiday CDs to the side...in this case we had to make an exception. Okay, so we have to admit that we would have preferred a disc from this band that did not have a holiday theme. But hey, if you have to listen to holiday music...this is about as good as it gets here and now in the twenty-first century. We still think this band's songs (and particularly the vocals) sound remarkably similar to Steve Harley (of Cockney Rebel). Gentleman Auction House songs are an acquired taste to be sure...but once you get hooked, you will probably always love the sound and energy. Six nifty little Xmas tracks here including "A Banner Year," "Home for the Holidays," and "Christmas In Love." We can't wait to hear the band's next full-length release (!)... (Rating: 5+)

Goblin Cock - Come With Me If You Want To Live (CD, Robcore, Progressive rock/pop)
Of all the many and varied projects created by underground cult genius Rob Crow, Goblin Cock seems to be the most controversial and debated...probably because the music is more abrasive and formidable than what is produced from most of his other bands (including but not limited to Pinback, The Ladies, Heavy Vegetable, etc. etc. etc.). Our own view is that Goblin Cock is just as valid and relevant as the rest. Come With Me If You Want To Live is an odd disc containing peculiar arena rockers that sound something like a cross between heavy metal, death metal, progressive 1970s rock, and modern twenty-first century progressive pop. The guitars are big and loud...and the songs are (as one might expect) decidedly unpredictable and mathematically complex. But in the end, listenability is that matters. And after several spins we found that this disc most certainly holds up. Ten strange smart rockers here including "Hissless," "We Got a Bleeder," "Haint," and "Trying To Get Along With Humans." (Rating: 5+)



Occupations are a goddamn waste of time.
Hobbies are a goddamn waste of time.
Friends are a goddamn waste of time.
Charities are a goddamn waste of time.
Exercise is a goddamn waste of time.
Vacations are a goddamn waste of time.
Love is a goddamn waste of time.
Eating is a goddamn waste of time.
Breathing is a goddamn waste of time.
Living is a goddamn waste of time.
Everything is a goddamn waste of time.

(Rating: 1)

Gramercy Arms - Gramercy Arms (CD, Cheap Lullaby, Pop)
Hmmm... When we first popped this little sucker into our CD player we were immediately impressed with the lead track ("Automatic"). Easy throwaway pop, to be sure...but it sounded so great and was so catchy that we couldn't wait to get to the next track. In the meantime we wondered what the deal was with Gramercy Arms...(?). Opening the CD case, we immediately noticed the impressive array of folks involved in this project...that it was mixed by Thom Monahan and produced by Dave Derby. But then we looked a little further...and finally realized that the reason this music sounded slightly familiar and so goddamn good is that this band is the new project led by Derby himself. Ha...no wonder we were instantly drawn into this stuff (!). Gramercy Arms is a bit of a departure for Dave, who had previously been delving into more subdued personal soft pop. With this band, he and his bandmates present pure upbeat effervescent feelgood pop that will shoot directly into the veins of positive popsters around the world. This album is short, lasting just over 30 minutes...and you can be sure that after the last song spins out you will be dying for more. Easily one of the best pop albums released in 2008. Ten kickass cuts including "Looking at the Sun" (a perfect pop song in every respect), "Nothing I Can Do," "Shining Bright," "Moving Slow." From the sound of this disc, we can't help but bet that Dave and his friends (of which there are many) had a fantastic time recording these tunes. Pop doesn't get much better than this. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6+)

Guggenheim Grotto - Happy The Man (CD, Sugaroo! / United For Opportunity, Pop)
The sophomore release from Dublin's Guggenheim Grotto. This album probably needs no introduction to many music fans, as its October 2008 release on iTunes saw it reach #1 on the web site's folk chart. Accordingly, and not surprisingly, Happy The Man boasts plenty of hummable upbeat pop tunes that are instantly catchy and accessible. Guggenheim Grotto is the duo of Kevin May and Mick Lynch who started their band in 2005 to critical acclaim in their own country. Now, with the release of this album, they are effectively translating that success further around the globe. What initially surprised us about these tunes is how American they sound. May and Lynch write tunes that are straightforward and melodic...never pushing things too far and yet never coming across sounding like crass commercialism. If you're on the hunt for crazy artsy stuff, this probably won't be your cup of tea. But if you're looking for some nice, solid, mid-tempo pop that will put you in a groovy damn mood...this album will most likely fill the bill. Twelve pleasant cuts here including "Fee Da Da Dee," "Her Beautiful Ideas," "The Girl With the Cards," and "Heaven Has a Heart." Nice smooth sounding stuff. (Rating: 5)

Here We Go Magic - Here We Go Magic (CD, Western Vinyl, Progressive)
Here We Go Magic is the latest project created by Luke Temple...probably meant to be used as a vehicle to present his less commercial sounding recordings. Considering how unconventional this man's career path has been thus far, it is surprising that he has made such remarkable inroads and has racked up so much support from so many folks. And our guess is...that Temple's fans will welcome his new recording project with open arms. This, the band's debut album, is an unpredictable assortment of progressive pop...experiments (we'll use that for lack of a better word). But don't think for a minute that this is unlistenable artsy crap. Nope, instead these recordings are quite smooth and ultimately listenable...but they were seemingly created without regard for any sort of commercial appeal. Most of these tracks could be described as stream-of-consciousness pop...while others would fall into the category of experimental electronic sound. The overall effect of this disc reminds us a great deal of what Brian Eno achieved on Another Green World (switching back and forth from somewhat poppy songs to ambient instrumentals)...but the songs are markedly different. A peculiar sort of album, out-of-synch with other stuff going on in the world of music...and that is a very good thing indeed. (Rating: 5++)

Hi Red Center - Assemble (CD, Joyful Noise Recordings, Progressive)
Interesting music from New York's Hi Red Center. The folks in this band have a different sort of sound that combines elements from twenty-first century math pop bands, 1970s progressive art bands, and 1990s progressive pop bands who pushed the limits on what could be labeled pop. So, as you might have already guessed, Assemble isn't just another generic pop album. Hi Red Center began in 2003 and released their debut album (Architectural Failures) in 2006. This is their second full-length and it might be best described as...calmly schizophrenic. Some of the band's instrumentation is herky-jerky to be certain (involving some peculiar time signatures)...but at other times the music is extremely smooth, soothing, and melodic. Considering the fact that the album only lasts just over 35 minutes, these guys have crammed a lot of ideas into a small amount of space. Cool odd tracks include "Toothless Beau," "Symmetry Chameleon," "Chicken Gorlet" (this one features some exceptionally strange vibraphone), and "Pipe Dream." Modern art pop from a different perspective. (Rating: 5)

Hot Chip - Hot Chip with Robert Wyatt and Geese (CD EP, EMI, Progressive pop)
For us this is somewhat of a peculiar introduction to this band, as this EP features four songs that were already released...reworked with additional sounds and vocals added by progressive rock icon Robert Wyatt (three of the four tracks) and remixed by Geese (two of the four tracks). Although the name Hot Chip was not previously familiar to us, apparently the folks in this band are achieving a great deal of success already (they have been nominated for a Grammy for their song "Ready For The Floor"). Because we haven't heard the band's prior releases, we of course cannot compare these reworked/re-recorded versions. But we can report that this nifty little disc sure does whet our appetite for more. These tracks might be described as soft progressive pensive pop. The band has a definite flair for coming up with cool flowing melodies. Robert Wyatt's presence seems to fit right in with the proceedings. Because we didn't hear the originals, it's hard to say what effect Geese's remixes had on the final product...? A neat little taste of a British band that we'll probably be hearing a lot more from in the years ahead. Our favorites here are "Whistle For Will" and "We're Looking For A Lot of Love." (Rating: 5+)

The Inevitable Backlash - My Two Brookes (CD, Hegemony, Rock/pop)
Nice, loose, unpredictable rock/pop with really loud guitars and cool raw vocals. This is the first release we've heard from Los Angeles, California's The Inevitable Backlash (they released the Sex For Safety EP in 2007 which we have not yet been exposed to). Interesting stuff. The guys in this band have a nice loose sound that is simultaneously heavy and melodic. The tunes on My Two Brookes have a sound quality that is almost like a garage rock band...but more polished. Some of the tracks on this disc remind us slightly of the vastly underrated 1990s band St. Johnny (some of the guitar playing sounds similar as do the vocals on occasion). The tracks on this album are most certainly too raw and unpredictable for the casual music fan. As such, our guess is that the folks who are most likely to appreciate The Inevitable Backlash are younger, more adventurous listeners. We've always been crazed whores for killer guitar sounds...and this album is just chock full of 'em. All of the tracks aren't loud rockers...the band does lower the volume a bit on a few tracks. With so many bands creating predictable dribble in the twenty-first century, an album like this easily stands out from the pack. Killer cuts include "My Two Brookes," "Diego Rivera," "Philenbus" (our favorite), "Joanna As a Girl" (reminds us of The New York Dolls), and "Moscow Bride." Impressive stuff. (Rating: 5)

The Japanese Popstars - We Just Are (CD, Gung Ho! Recordings, Electronic pop)
Okay, so we have to admit that on the first couple of spins we weren't too impressed with We Just Are. For some reason (it could have just been our depressed mental state on that particular damn day...?) when we initially heard this music it just didn't click. But we kept it rotation for the week and...surprisingly enough...it became one of our favorite discs of the month. And the reason we ended up liking it is for the exact same reason we initially didn't like it (!!!)...and that is because...The Japanese Popsters make mindless music. In many cases mindless music can get on our nerves very quickly. But after we became familiar with the sound of this album, we quickly grew to love these strange little electronic pop concoctions. The lesson for the day? There is good mindless music as well as bad mindless music. And on We Just Are the difference between the two is extreme and pronounced. The Japanese Popstars are neither Japanese nor pop stars (at least not yet). Originally from Northern Ireland, the band is the trio consisting of Declan McLaughlin, Gary Curran, and Gareth Donoghue. These fellows write and record extremely repetitive electronic pop tunes that are heavy on beats and weird noises...and are ultimately very, very danceable. Our guess is that this stuff is going over like wildfire in underground dance clubs. It's killer stuff...and it sounds better the louder you turn it up. Dance-crazed cuts include "We Just Are Intro," "Face Melter," "Dr. Frenchy Bernard," "Rise of Ulysses," and "Total Distorted Mayhem." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

The Kickbacks - Even the Blues (CD, Peeled Label, Pop/rock)
Our guess is that this album will probably be overlooked by many folks and that is a shame...because Even the Blues is a very nice solid collection of tunes. The guys in Boston, Massachusetts-based The Kickbacks play credible, hummable mid-tempo guitar pop that sounds instantly familiar. Instead of relying on gimmicks and other such crap, this album is all about songs. The guys in this band have been around for awhile. They released their debut album (Longitude) in 1998 and have been making music ever since. There are no surprises here...just good hummable guitar pop tunes that are bound to sound great blaring from the car stereo. Good cruising music for sure. Ten nifty hummable cuts delivered straight from the hip. Our favorites include "Figure You Out," "Going Out To Get Home," "Getaway Car," and "No Guarantees." (Rating: 4++++)



In this great big world
Kindness don't count.
You can give and help and give but
Kindness don't count.

(Rating: 1)

LKN - Phratry EP (CD EP, Phratry, Progressive rock)
Artistic integrity. The words flow so simply and yet...here and now in the twenty-first century there are relatively few artists who possess artistic integrity. In most cases, songwriters and bands want to craft their sound to appeal to a specific segment of the population. And in doing so, they limit themselves to the wealth of possibilities that the world offers. Lauren K. Newman is a pure and powerful exception to norms and rules in the world of music. Although most likely not on purpose, Phratry EP most certainly lacks commercial appeal. After all, how many listeners can deal with the fact that the EP opens with a violent blast of psychedelic guitar...while ending with a slow and methodical piano instrumental...? Although she plays with others in concert performances, on her recordings Lauren sings and plays everything herself. She's an intense whirlwind of sounds and ideas. Her songs have a nice, loose feel...a far cry from the majority of super polished recordings in the twenty-first century. (The press release states the obvious: "...perfection is boring."). Although she is playing for a very small audience, our guess is that Lauren will be an artist whose influence--over time--will be enormous. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul (CD, K Scope, Progressive world pop)
Lunatic Soul is the new project created by Mariusz Duda who most folks are familiar with as the creative force in the band Riverside. That band released a well-received trilogy of albums in the twenty-first century (Out Of Myself, Second Life Syndrome, Rapid Eye Movement). Lunatic Soul was created to present another side of Duda's personality and, as such, probably sounds far less commercial than Riverside. Possibly the best way of describing the music on this self-titled album would be to label it progressive world pop. These thick, highly produced compositions are sometimes similar to Robbie Robertson's solo recordings. Mariusz uses multiple layers of instruments and sounds to create a heady musical universe that sometimes contains threads of Indian and Middle Eastern music. The album has vocals...but just as important and integral are the extended musical segments. Duda himself states in the press release that "an interesting fact is that there is no electric guitar here at all." This ten-track disc is packaged in a lavish tri-fold digipak sleeve...absolutely beautiful packaging. (Rating: 4+++++)

Anya Marina - Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II (CD, Chop Shop, Pop)
Nice, smooth, melodic, modern pop from Anya Marina. This young lady has a voice that is immediately intriguing and captivating. Although her songs are not obviously catchy and direct, we find the tracks on Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II to be remarkably accessible and inviting. Oddly, the opening cut ("Move You (SSSPII") presents one of the stranger tunes on the album (most artists usually start out with their most commercial sounding track). Anya treads the fine line that divides commercial music from artsy pop. While she creates songs that are immediately listenable, they are by no means crass throwaway pop ditties. We can tell a great deal of time and energy went into the creation of these tunes. The best part about this album...is that it sounds better and better the more familiar it becomes. Cool, classy slightly progressive cuts include "Move You (SSSPII)," "All the Same To Me," "Cut It Out," "Two Left Feet," and "High on the Ceiling." Very pleasant and appealing stuff... (Rating: 5+)

Miniature Tigers - Tell It To The Volcano (CD, Modern Art, Pop)
Jesus Christ this one was such an EASY top pick for January '09...! Miniature Tigers is the duo consisting of Charlie Brand and Rick Schaier. Together, the two create some of the most wonderfully melodic and totally intoxicating pop music you've ever heard. And instead of sounding just like every other up-and-coming pop band on the planet, these guys have their own unique sound and style. As if it weren't enough that the band's songs feature wonderfully flowing inventive melodies...another huge bonus are the incredibly smart and reflective lyrics. The tunes are presented in a basic, simple format which allows the listener to concentrate on the material itself...and a lyric booklet is included that, strange but true, has the words printed large enough so that you can actually read them (this just may be a first in the world of CD releases). Damn those vocal harmonies sound...totally incredible. Modern classic pop cuts include the title track (this one sticks in your head like glue) "Cannibal Queen," "Like or Like Like," "Dino Damage," "The Wolf," and "Last Night's Fake Blood." There's not a clunker in the bunch here...this one's a total keeper from start to finish. The songs are catchy as Hell. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++++)

The Mpls Henrys - The Way of the Albatross (CD, Grape Juice, Pop/rock)
Nice direct pop/rock tunes that are pure entertainment. The Mpls Henrys keep things simple on this, their debut album. The Way of the Albatross contains thirteen cuts...all of which hit the target. The music is, for the most part, created using a basic guitar/bass/drums setup...although cellist Katy Myers plays on two tracks (and apparently became a full-fledged band member after the recording of this album was completed). At the center of the band's sound are Jai Henry's vocals. Jai is a really cool singer. His voice sounds very much like a cross between Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo) and Robert Smith (The Cure). But make no mistake, The Mpls Henrys aren't copying either of these bands. Albatross tosses out instantly likable tunes with a nice sincere quality that is hard to describe. Our guess is that these folks are motivated purely by the desire to make good music. Our favorites include "The Ballad of Robert Murdoch," "Magnum," "Stay Away," and "The Way of the Albatross." (Rating: 5)

Gary Murray & LN - Downstream Angels (CD, Velvet Blue Music, Soft pop)
The folks in LN developed quite a following for about a decade before lead singer Gary Murray left the band to go solo. Now the two once again merge with a short disc that effectively combines the sound of the band with that of the solo performer. Downstream Angels features eight soft progressive songs that are sparse and slightly atmospheric. While spinning this disc we were suddenly hit with a new realization. Murray's voice sounds remarkably similar to Bryan Ferry at times (can't believe we didn't notice this before...?!?). It'll be interesting to see if this collaboration continues...or if both parties go their separate ways after this...? Cool reflective cuts include "She's Electric," "Niagra," "Minotaur," and "The Lost Art of Mending Wings." (Rating: 5+)

Nebula - Peel Sessions (CD, Sweet Nothing / Cargo, Rock)
Although they have never yet made it in terms of big money and fame, the guys in Nebula were certainly one of the most pivotal bands in the stoner rock scene that surfaced in the United States in the1990s. Over the years the band has had its share of ups and downs...but now seems poised to enter a new phase of their career. As such, Peel Sessions is probably being released to present somewhat of an overview for folks who are not familiar with the band...as well to serve as a reminder to the band's original fans of what they were and are. The tracks on this album were culled from three different radio sessions (August 22, 2001, March 19, 2004, and November 14, 2003). In some ways, these more raw, stripped down versions are preferable to the studio versions...but in other ways we prefer the original recordings. In any event, this CD offers a neat, concise overview of the band's career and shows just how tight and focused they are when playing live. Killer rockers include "Radio 1/Clearlight," "So It Goes," "This One," and "Strange Human." An another great addition to the Nebula catalog. (Rating: 5+)

The Neighborhood Bullys - What? (CD, Ruf Mix, Rock/pop)
This Los Angeles, California-based band has an incredible amount of commercial potential. The Neighborhood Bullys write and play catchy pop rock that sounds something like a cross between early Elvis Costello mixed with the Philadelphia soul/pop that occasionally reared its head on Utopia albums. The band consists of Davey Meshell (vocals, bass), Michael Hays (guitar, backing vocals), Joey Galvan (drums, backing vocals), and Eugene Edwards (guitar, backing vocals). Meshell's vocals are the obvious focal point of the band. This guy sings with such macho zip and personality that you can't help but wanna rock out to the music. Of course, snobby underground music fans will immediately trash this band because they have a sound that is so obviously commercial. But folks who don't mind a super slick sound will find a lot to love here. Nifty cuts include "I'm Bored, Let's Fight," "All the Way Down," "Sux 2 B U," and "High On Life." Produced and mixed by Mike Chapman. Next time around we sure hope the band turns the guitars up louder in the mix. A rawer sound would do wonders for their music. (Rating: 5)

New Estate - Out of the Ground (CD, Low Transit Industries, Progressive pop/rock)
A word of warning. When this album first begins, you may initially think New Estate is just another generic garage band that sounds like millions of others. Or at least that was our impression when we heard the first few opening instrumental bursts of "On Your Side." But the song quickly changes into something much more musical and inviting once the vocals kick in. The folks in this band released their first album (Considering...) in 2003. But not long afterward their original bass player quit the band...and they then played, evolved, and recorded over the next four years prior to releasing their next album (Is It Real) in 2007. Like the last album, Out of the Ground was produced by Simon Grounds. The best way we can think of to describe this album...is to say that it sounds something like a peculiar cross between The Feelies and Sonic Youth...without sounding very much like either. They play using mostly the basics (guitar, bass, drums)...but the way they utilize their instruments is different in very subtle ways. It took several spins before this album began to sink into our consciousness. Not sure why, it just did. But now that they've won us over, we're becoming more and more impressed with clever cuts like "Life in the Suburbs," "Summer of Indifference," "In or Out," and "It Was Like That When I Got Here." Smart stuff, coming from a slightly different universe... (Rating: 5)

The Parties - Can't Come Down (CD, Rainbow Quartz, Pop)
Yet another interesting addition to the Rainbow Quartz band roster. The Parties is the San Francisco, California-based quartet consisting of Sarah Mehfeld (guitar, vocals), John Morgan (drums, vocals, guitar), Rex Padayhag (bass, vocals), and Jeremy Powers (guitar, vocals). True to the claim of the press release that accompanied this disc, the band's music bears similarities to labelmates Asteroid #4 and Outrageous Cherry (in addition, we would also have to add Redd Kross to the list of bands with a similar sound). Can't Come Down features 1960s inspired guitar pop tunes with a slight psychedelic slant. Like Outrageous Cherry, in terms of sound quality the tunes even sound like they were recorded several decades ago. Understated yet engaging tunes include "Love For Sale," "The Parties," "Velvet Love Affair," and "Much Better." (Rating: 4+++++)

Will Quinlan & The Diviners - Navasota (CD, Iron Weed Music, Pop)
Our guess is that this CD will probably be overlooked by a lot of folks because, if you just look at the cover and press release, it looks almost identical to any one of hundreds of other CDs that pass through the hands of listeners, reviewers, and other music media folks. But the truth is that in terms of music, there is something much more substantial going on here. Tampa, Florida's Will Quinlan has been in and out of bands before (his previous bands include Pagan Saints and Murder Creek). With The Diviners, Will and his pals are presenting simple, pure, country-tinged feelgood Americana pop. The difference between Quinlan and hundreds of other similar artists...is that the man seems to have a true sense of melody as well as real integrity. To put it more simply, these eleven songs sound damn good. Listeners looking for real music can't go wrong with cool melodic songs like "Hallowed Ground," "Remember The Beatitudes," "Navasota," and "St. Theresa." Oh and we almost forgot...Will's vocals are absolutely right on target from start to finish. (Rating: 5)

Miranda Lee Richards - Light of X (CD, Nettwerk, Pop)
Soft, dreamy, pensive folky pop. Considering her roots, you might think that young Miranda Lee Richards would be a bizarre far out musician (both of her parents were part of the twentieth century underground comic explosion in the United States). But actually and in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Light of X is remarkably normal and accessible. Richards has come a long way since the release of her debut album (The Herethereafter)...hooking up with a variety of interesting artists such as Tricky, Tim Burgess, and Neil Halstead, among others. And now with the release of Light of X we can only guess that her career will continue to soar. The album seems to draw inspiration from classic folk/pop artists from the 1960s...while pushing the sound dead center into the world of twenty-first century pop. Miranda has a voice that is crystal clear and genuine...and the arrangements on this album are nothing short of spectacular. Richards obviously has the talent to become a huge success story but...one can't help but wonder if her music is too soft and real for the average music fan...? In any event, there are plenty of richly rewarding tunes here including "Breathless," "Lifeboat," "Early November," "That Baby," and "Last Days of Summer." (Rating: 5+)

Roma 79 - Praise the Divide (CD, Ascetic, Progressive pop)
Roma 79 is a band that...at least by our standards...is doing just about everything right. The band shipped their disc to us without any accompanying information. No sales pitch, no comparison to other bands, no information whatsoever. The cover art gives no indication of what kind of music the band plays...and there are no gimmicky photos of the artist(s). This is one of those cases where one is forced to focus on the music rather than other outside variables. And based upon what we're hearing on Praise the Divide, these guys are making music for all the right reasons. The eleven tracks on this disc could probably best be described as progressive pop. The tunes are smart and creative...but not so strange and obtuse as to be unlistenable. The band's melodies are intelligent and substantial...and they never bury their melodies underneath too many layers of sound. Lots of really killer guitars and nifty keyboard sounds. In the end, these cool and slightly dreamy songs are ultimately rewarding and substantial. Our favorites include "Rounders," "Colorful Acts" (our top pick), "Common Man," and "Capital Cities." (Rating: 5)

Darrell Scott - Modern Hymns (CD, Appleseed Recordings / Full Light, Pop)
We were initially somewhat confused by this album. After all, Darrell Scott is mainly known in the world as a superb songwriter...so why on earth would he choose to record an album of cover tunes...? It wasn't until after we heard Modern Hymns that the confusion subsided...and we ended up being ultimately happy and satisfied with the album. Our guess is that Scott may have recorded this album to make people aware of what a great musician and singer he is (in addition to writing killer songs)...or...he might have just wanted to do it for the fun of it. Whatever the motivation, Hymns is yet another resounding success and another captivating addition to Darrell's catalog. An interesting collection of tunes written by artists such as Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Hoyt Axton, Mickey Newbury, John Hartford, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Guy Clark, and more. Although we ultimately prefer Scott's own tunes...we can certainly appreciate his genuine and thoughtful takes on tunes written by others. (Rating: 5+)



Have a sissy doughnut
With cream cheese on the top.
Eat the sissy doughnut
With a pile of pygmy slop.

(Rating: 1)

The Size Queens - Magic Dollar Shoppe (CD, Bitter Stag (Bargain), Pop)
The name of this band will probably give most folks the wrong impression so to set the record straight...the folks in The Size Queens are neither a disco band nor a glitter band. We still think this band's highly melodic lo-fi pop has a great deal in common with the obscure Massachusetts band Claudia Malibu. But after spinning this, the band's second full-length release, we also think their music has a great deal in common with The Kinks and Neil Innes (Bonzo Dog Band, Rutles). Even though it would be easy to transcribe the lyrics (the vocals are clear and up front in the mix), we still wish the band would include printed lyrics because the words are so interesting. Even though it is not our favorite song in terms of melody, the lyrics to the tune "Baby Prostitute" are nothing short of hilarious. But the songs on this album are by no means jokes nor pure comedy. Size Queens tunes are remarkably smart and reflective...as well as aesthetically effective. Neat tunes include "Adult Culture," "Germ Free Adolescents," "Skymall," "Our Price," and "L'il Shampoo." This band's second album is a cool, obscure delight. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Synecdoche, New York - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Jon Brion (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
A particularly pleasing soundtrack CD. Unlike most artists who act specifically as composers for soundtracks, Jon Brion is a bit different. In addition to composing, he is also a singer, songwriter, music producer, and instrumentalist. Plus he has worked with some really big names including (but not limited to) Dido, Macy Gray, Rufus Wainwright, Jude Cole, and even Eels. These varied skills may explain the varied nature of the cuts on the soundtrack to the film Synecdoche, New York. Many of the instrumentals recall film scores from the 1960s and 1970s. The music is, for the most part, subdued and calming. Unlike many film soundtracks that bombard the listener with walls of instruments and orchestral blasts, the overall sound here is surprisingly sparse and minimal (i.e., Brion seems to content to only include instruments and sounds that are vital to getting the message across). We have generally found that vocal tracks on soundtrack albums seem strangely out-of-place. But not so here. The two songs ("Little Person," "Song For Caden") featuring jazz vocalist Deanne Storey end up being the perfect means of resolution here before the closing title track. Wonderfully pleasing and playable, Jon Brion once again proves he is a major player in his field. (Rating: 5+)

Starflyer 59 - Dial M (CD, Tooth & Nail, Pop)
In a strange kind of way, we keep waiting for Jason Martin of Starflyer 59 to screw up. How long can he keep this up? After all, this guy has crafted so many incredible albums that his music now takes up almost an entire shelf in our music library. But if you're waiting for a slip up in the man's career, Dial M most certainly is not it (!). The only problem you may have with Jason's music is trying to rate and/or compare it. Virtually every song the man comes up with is satisfying and mentally riveting. This album most certainly ranks right up there with the very best Starflyer 59 albums (of which there are many...). The main ingredients are still there...those dreamy guitars...cool subdued vocals...heavenly melodies...and arrangements that always fit the songs to a T. It's no wonder that Martin has become a true icon in the world of modern guitar pop. He remains one of the greatest songwriters of the past couple of decades in the United States. Brilliant tracks here include "Minor Keys," "Concentrate," "Taxi," "Mr. Martin," and "I Love You Like The Little Bird." Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)

SubAudible Hum - In Time For Spring, On Came The Snow (CD, Low Transit Industries, Progressive)
We couldn't sum up this band any better than one line from the press release that accompanied this disc: "Having purged much of their structural and self-imposed stylistic constraints the SubAudible Hum sound is now less definable than ever." While spinning this CD the first time, we kept wondering what category these songs should belong in. But after a few songs...we just couldn't quite figure out the correct genre for this band...because they don't easily fit into any specific field. Progressive probably best encapsulates all of the sounds and ideas so... If you're the kind of person who wants one specific kind of song from one specific kind of band, chances are you will probably hate SubAudible Hum. The band's music is way too esoteric for the casual listener. But it is also probably too unpredictable for most fans of the underground. In Time For Spring, On Came The Snow is a truly artsy album. One song may sound nothing like the next...while the next song might sound slightly similar to the last. As the band jumps in and out of different styles, they have somehow managed to come up with an album that is, overall, very listenable and magnetic (?!). No small feat, that. Twelve peculiar tracks from a band that refuses to cater to the whims of others. Very interesting stuff. Definitely unpredictable. (Rating: 5++)

Subhumans - Death Was Too Kind (CD, Alternative Tentacles, Rock)
One of the very early Canadian punk bands. Death Was Too Kind features rare and unreleased tracks from Subhumans, many of which had become treasured by vinyl collectors around the world. These recordings feature the most well-known lineup of the band: Wimpy Roy, Gerry Useless, Mike Graham, Dimwit, and Jim Imagawa. Folks into early punk bands from Great Britain and California will most definitely want to get their hands on this one. These guys really rocked and had a sound that is somewhat similar to the first couple of records from The Damned. The songs are simple and to-the-point...featuring plenty of loud fuzzy guitars and raw sounding vocals. Someone did a killer job remastering this disc. Although these ten tunes were taken from a variety of sources...the overall sound is surprisingly consistent. The most important thing to note here is that Subhumans tunes still sound surprisingly credible several decades later. Kickass rockers include "Death to the Sickoids," "Death Was Too Kind," "Slave To My Dick," and "Pissed Off...With Good Reason." (Rating: 5)

Succuba - No Arms / No Cake (Norwegian import CD, Handmade, Rock)
The first thing that caught our attention about this album is where it was recorded. How many other albums can you think of that were recorded in an authentic nazi barrack...? Strange but true, the guys in Succuba apparently aren't competing in a popularity contest. The band's noisy, unpredictable music is too harsh for the casual listener...and probably too odd for generic skinheads and punks. Succuba is Lille Gard (vocals, guitar), King Per (drums), Richard von Faen, (bass, vocals), and Morten Martian (synth, sax, uniform). These guys play music that sounds something like a cross between rock, heavy metal, progressive, and experimental...all balled up into one anxious toxic stew. But what is ultimately surprising and impressive about No Arms / No Cake is how listenable it is. Instead of being an annoying chaotic blare, the album actually contains some real, true, credible rockers. And unlike most loud bands, these guys don't play formulaic rock. The more we spin this one...the more interesting it sounds. This limited edition disc (only 500 numbered copies are being produced) includes eight tracks. Our initial favorites are "Klaus," "Nut Hugger," and "Hocum For Dum Dum" (love those song titles!). Neat stuff, well worth checking out... (Rating: 5+)

The Televangelist and the Architect - There's a Song in There Somewhere (CD, Undetected Plagiarism, Soft progressive pop)
Nice, introspective, fragile soft progressive pop. Bandleader Jerry Chen approaches music from an intriguing perspective. First off, you never ever see the band members' faces in publicity photographs because he wants people to focus on the music (smart move, that one...). There's a Song in There Somewhere is the band's third release, and it's a far cry from your average twenty-first century pop album. The songs are soft and sparse and lack the intense multitracking that is so common on most modern recordings. This album took a few spins to sink in...but it was well worth the time getting accustomed to this band's odd restrained sound. On the first through fifth spin we liked the songs. After about a dozen spins...we ended up loving them. Cool tracks include "...In The Blizzard," "A Work in Progress," and "There's a Song in There Somewhere." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Francois Virot - Yes or No (CD, Frenetic, Pop)
Yes or No is a nice, refreshing, and purely simple album. Lyon, France's Francois Virot uses only the basics on this album...vocals, an acoustic guitar, and simple percussion instruments...but he manages to come up with songs that are surprisingly substantial and real. His stripped down approach works mainly because Virot comes up with smart and effective songs that are delivered without unnecessary fuss and fanfare. Even though they are centered around an acoustic guitar, these songs are not folks songs...but more like alternative pop without the layers upon layers of overdubs that usually hamper modern pop. This short and sweet album (only just over 32 minutes long) features nine intelligent tracks including "Not the One," "Casscade," "Fish Boy," and "I Wish I Had You." Very nice... (Rating: 5++)

True Widow - True Widow (CD, End Sounds, Rock)
True Widow is the new band created by Dan Phillips who was previously in the band Slowride. After making the move from Texas to Massachusetts, Phillips became involved in woodworking and wasn't really planning on starting another band. But perhaps as a result of the long mindbending winters in the Northeast, Dan eventually gave in to inspiration and began to delve into music again. A couple of years later he returned to Dallas and formed True Widow with Nicole Estill (bass, vocals) and Timothy Starks (drums). This band's debut album sounds rather stark. Instead of relying on technology and multiple layers of overdubs, Dan and his bandmates present their songs simply and without unnecessary sounds and instruments entering the mix. The guitar sounds heavy and yet the overall sound is mostly restrained and subdued. Rather artsy stuff here...and yet the songs never come across sounding decadent or contrived. Ten neat slow underground rockers including "AKA," "Minor It Down," "Mesh Mask," and "Bleeder." Well done. (Rating: 5)

The Weightlifters - O My Stars (Independently released CD EP, Pop)
The Weightlifters is not a group of musicians but rather the solo project created by Adam McLaughlin who was formerly the guitarist in the band Idle Wilds. While Idle Wilds was a hit with reviewers and underground music fans, the band never had much commercial success (which is usually a good sign of credibility). After the band split, McLaughlin took a break for a few years before getting into recording again. His first EP (Last of the Sunday Drivers) received such a positive response that Adam quickly recorded and released this follow-up disc. O My Stars is a beautifully executed collection of smart progressive pop tunes that seem influenced by some of the great pop artists from the past. The songs are smooth and melodic but somehow never predictable nor calculated. And man, what a voice. This guy has one of the smoothest voices you're likely to hear anywhere on earth. Seven cool tracks here including "Perfect," "To Be a Killer," and "In The End." Really nice sounding stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

The Whore Moans - Hello From the Radio Wasteland! (CD, Mt. Fuji, Rock)
No pretentious artsy shit going on here. Seattle, Washington's The Whore Moans are an all-out rip-roaring rock band. There's a whole lot going on here than you normally find in twenty first century hard rock bands. The main difference between these guys and other bands...is that they write some damn good songs. So instead of just a loud abrasive roar...on Hello From the Radio Wasteland! you get a very smart and unique loud abrasive roar. And believe us, there is a big, big, BIG difference between the two (!). The band's songs are quite wordy, as is demonstrated by the included poster/lyric sheet. There's a lot to take in on this album and you probably won't "get" it all on the first spin. In a world full of generic bands, The Whore Moans separate themselves from the pack and prove that they are the real thing. Cool tracks include "Fingers and Martyrs" (our favorite), "Hearts and Wires," "Rise and Shine," and "Here Comes America." (Rating: 5+)

Yes Man - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
Haven't seen the film yet, although its on our list of "wanna sees." This soundtrack caught our attention because the majority of the disc consists of tunes from one of our favorite artists of the past decade, Eels. Tracks one through nine are Eels tunes, although we should mention these are not all new songs. As such, listening to this soundtrack is...for the most part...very much like spinning an Eels album. And that is, of course, a very good thing. Now the bad news. The last four tracks are from an artist called Munchausen By Proxy. We weren't too impressed with these last four tracks, particularly since they don't fit in with the Eels tracks at all. So what you have here...is a soundtrack CD that is about two-thirds great...and about one-third average. Hmmmm...? Makes us want to see the film to see how all of this music fits in with the plot. Afterward, we might have a reason to appreciate those last four songs a bit more...? (Rating: 4)



Can we do better?
Yes we can't.
Can we make a difference in our lives?
Yes we can't.
Can we be any more gullible than we already are?
Yes we can't.
Can we learn from our mistakes?
Yes we can't.

(Rating: 1)

Zen Zadravec Quartet - Coming of Age (Independently released CD, Jazz)
Zen Zadravec is a musician whose music you have probably heard before...but you probably aren't yet aware of his name. In addition to this quartet, this genuinely talented pianist and composer also plays in two other bands: Human Revolution and Ritmo Y Corazon-Rhythm of the Heart. As if that weren't enough, he records and performs with a whole slew of notables including (but not limited to) Steve Turre, Mike Murley, Dave Watson, Darryl Dixon, and Gloria Gaynor. Coming of Age is the debut album from Zadravec's Quartet...and it's a keeper. Zen and his fellow players (Todd Bashore, Alex Hernandez, Chris Brown) play with the maturity of fluidity of many of the jazz greats from the past. The music has a cool spontaneous feel without ever going too far into the world of modern jazz (a genre in which, admittedly, things can sometimes become a bit unlistenable). Ten cool calculated tracks housed in a nice, slick digipak sleeve. Our favorites here include "Quest for Truth," "Song for Christine," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," and "Givin It Up." Nice smooth stuff. (Rating: 5)


Additional Items Received:

Ed Alkalay - I hate you
Amy's Little Butthole - The things we do for loaves
Axess - Voices of dawn

Baby Grands - Baby Grands
Barr - Skogsbe is the place
Aaron Beaumon - Nothing's forever (not even goodbye)
Maggie Bell - Best of: Sound & vision
Black Air - A life, a song, a cigarette
Blue Island Tribe - The 5 hits of ecstasy
Bolt - Original score composed by John Powell
Boozoo Bajou - Grains
Seth Bradley - Waking up on broadway
Willie Breeding - Cheap vodka rain
Stacy Lloyd Brown - Automatic EP
Bubble Project - The technicolor dream machine
Built By Snow - Mega

Jared Campberll - Beyond the gray
Can Can - All hell
Champagne Riot - Paris and I
Julie Clark - Change your mind
Clue To Kalo - Lily Perdida
Coconot - Cosa astral
Co-Pilgrim - Pucker up buttercup
Jack Conte - Sleep in color
Phil Cordell - Hearts on fire anthology

Darren Deicide - The jersey devil is here
T. Dekker/Great Lake Swimmers - Song sung blue EP
Dirty Blue - Dirty Blue
dONW7 - What the hell are those invisible perverts up to now?
Johnny Dowd - A drunkard's masterpiece
John Dummer Blues Band - The lost 1973 album

Emith - 13 seasons
Escape Frame - Escape Frame
Everything's Coming Up Hoses - You better gimme that goddamn hose before your father gets home

Faces of March - Confessions
Federal Moguls - High risk investment planning
Feeding Fingers - Baby teeth
Femi - Sweet water soul
Gary Fields - Sounds about right
Fire On Fire - The orchard
FisherKing - FisherKing
Michael Fitz - Never look back
Richie James Follin - Battle
Fonda 500 - Je m'appelle stereo
Stewart Francke - Alive & unplugged at the ark
John Frusciante - The empyrean
Fugitive Kind - You're being watched

Gene Ess - Modes of limited transcendence
Ghostwriter - Wreck the city / simplify your life
Otis Gibbs - Grandpa walked a picketline
Delaney Gibson - The worst kind of way
Jesse Goplen - Cowboy
B.D. Gottfried - The element of left
Israel Nash Gripka - New York town
Guitar - Original motion picture soundtrack

Handcuffs - Electroluv
Hang Jones - The ballad of carlsbad county
Bill Harley - First bird call
Cliff Hills - The long now
David Homyk - True story
Hoppen - Their quasi-homes are real holes
Hot Puppies - Blue hands
Rick Huckaby - Call me huck
Nick Hudson - The elegy

In A Love Factory - That's nothing new
In Endeavors - You've got your friends, i've got mine

Jajouka - The master musicians of Jajouka with Bachir Attar live volume 1
Jive White Boy - Knives that stab your face
Eric Johnson - Anaheim

Knife the Symphony - Crawler
K-the-i??? - Yesterday, today & tomorrow

Lafayette Afro Rock Band - Darkest light
Last November - Over the top or under the weather
Adolfo Lazo - On tape
Lazy Cunts - We don't do what nobody don't do
Daniel Lenz - Stuck in a dream
Little Stevies - Sunshower
Live - Live at the paradiso, Amsterdam DVD
Live - Live at the paradiso, Amsterdam CD
Logan 5 and the Runners - Featurette
Lola Dutronic - In Berlin
Lorna - Writing down things to say
Lucky Face - Leech
Lushfarm - Dead at 30

Mad Anthony - Mad Anthony
Magnolia - Falska vagar
Manic Bloom - Manic Bloom
Maps of Norway - Die off songbird
Marley & Me - Original motion picture soundtrack
Massive Samples - Protected
Rhett May - Calcutta boy
Maynards - Date and destroy
Megapuss - Surfing
Mexicans Eating Feces - We put our mouths where our buttholes is
John Meyer - Silver bullets don't work on vampires
Mike Mictlan & Lazerbeak - Hand over fist
Middle States - Happy fun party
Valerie Mih - Meridians
Michael Anthony Milton - Follow your call
Mindy Misty vs. Europ Europ - Mindy Misty vs. Europ Europ
Lisa Miskovsky - Still alive: the remixes
MV & EE with the Golden Road - Drone trailer
My Beloved - Force feeding love

Navy of the Nice - Yellow springs, OH/sea cow b/w roseland/window
Zack Nichols - Bright eyes EP
Nobel Son - Original motion picture soundtrack

Odds - Cheerleader
On Blast - On Blast
Opperz N Donnerz - The cheapest way to get high

Padre Pio - The madeline EP
Kenneth Pattengale - Storied places
Peel - Die in june
Scott Pinkmountain and the Golden Bolts of Tone - The full sun
Point Juncture WA - Heart to elk
Prozacs - Playing the chords we love
Mike Pursley - Eight boxes
Pushing Red Buttons - The butterfly net

Q Stands For Quazy - There is a real difference between black and white
Quick Before Jesus Starts To Live Again - Damn you worthless turds
Quazy Quack Quack - Dirty ducks with great big trucks

Rachel Getting Married - Original motion picture soundtrack
Red Light Driver - ...and now we can be ourselves
Reel Banditos - Indochina
Retail Sectors - March of incurable workaholic song about a girl who killed herself yesterday
Rock 'n' Roll Monkey and the Robots - Back to beatsville
William Roper - Hippopotamus
Royally Sparked - Royally Sparked
Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees - Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees

16 Second Stare - Red carpet material
Micky Saunders & Dan Susnara - 2002-2007 singles
Small Cities - Small Cities EP
Hemlock Smith & Les Poissons Autistes - Three times dead
Rip Smops - Life is sad
Sonic Bliss - Loved to death
Stop Don't Stop - Sweating through the night

These Green Eyes - Relapse to recovery
Triptaka - Second war
Two Queers With Their Eyes On Suicide - Getting where we deserve our being

Ultrasounds - The way things were
Unlearn - Places
Uppitee Niggruz - We's tay-kin oh-buh ebby-warr

Various Artists - Just like heaven: A tribute to The Cure
Various Artists - I still remember: A collection of songs from San Francisco's underground 1989-2006
Various Art ists - (weewerk): (weewerk) is 6!
Various Artists - 6015 Willow
Various Artists - Guilt by association vol. 2
Various Artists - Disney box office hits
Vu Vu Vu - Oo oo oo?

JD Webb - The introduction
Elizabeth Willis - Elizabeth Willis
Steven Wright-Mark - Sideshow Freak
Wubby Wub - Snoobie dabble

X-rated Cosmic Pepper Spray - Don't let the spray do down in me
X Spots the Pot - How do you get pot?
XXXXX - Quintle Ekks

Yonlu - A society in which no tear is shed...
You You You Whatever You Is - Shanties, panties, and little old grannies
The Yukky Band - Yukky music for yukky people

Zebra Turds - The exact nature of pussy pieces and how they got there
Zub A Zub Zub - Ziss iss zubby zubby
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz - Getting sleepy now

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