About E-mails | The babysue® Store | General Info | LMNOP® | Official T-Shirts | Review Policies
April 2003 Reviews by

All Night*
The Apparitions
Andrew Bird

Tim Bluhm*
Brady Brock

The California Oranges
Comment Piece
Concrete Blond

Evan Dando
Rob Dougan

Entropic Advance
40 Grit

Fiction Plane
FM Knives
Gallery of Mites

Lisa Germano*
The Heavils
William Hut
Paddy Keenen & Tommy O'Sullivan

Albert King
Kings of Leon
Mull Historical Society*
The Party People

Peace Harbor
The Pieces
Poor Rich Ones

Robert Poss
Righteous Boy
Rubber City Rebels

The Salteens
The Telepathic Butterflies

Treble Charger*
Darryl Worley

*Top Picks


April 2003 Comment Piece

This month we would like to comment on the comment piece. The comment piece is designed to be a comment piece commenting on a specific topic. As such, the comment piece is designed to enlighten and stimulate by commenting on a specific piece...this time that specific piece being the comment piece itself. The piece which is being commented upon varies depending on the relevance and opinions which are not necessarily representative. Any comments and opinions are not, of course, welcome

Absorption - Absorption (CD, Sixty One Sixty Eight, Progressive/electronic/dub/instrumental)
Wonderfully heady progressive instrumentals. Absorption is the project created by Peter Beddow. Beddow's approach to composition is unconventional and uncompromising. Mixing traditional instruments with electronics, his music is like a mental sweep from a variety of sources. Assisting Beddow on this release are Bob Green on bass, David Revelli on guitar, and Matt Knoth on guitar. Green and Revelli are also in The Grassy Knoll which is interesting because the basic sound and approach of Absorption is quite similar. These tracks incorporate ideas and concepts from dub to electronica to jazz to trance to techno...mixing them all up and spinning them back at the listener in an intoxicatingly mutated manner. Ten trippy tracks here, including "Golden Age," "Dead Slow," "Spiritual Suicide," and "4000X The Mass of the Sun." Wonderful. (Rating: 5+++)

All Night - All Night (CD, Tee Pee / Rubric, Rock)
Great hard rock. Greensboro, North Carolina's All Night play charged up rock with plenty of 1970s influences. The band's music sounds something like a hybrid of Free, Nazz, Grand Funk Railroad, James Gang, and early Aerosmith. The band's guitars sound absolutely KILLER...and they come up with some truly knockout riffs. This is macho cock rock music...grinding with furious male intensity. All Night's "bluesy boogie" thing WORKS. Instead of sounding like they're regurgitating sounds from the past...these four fellows crank with modern intensity...injecting their tunes with their own unique perspective. The rhythm section is tight, tight, TIGHT...the vocals are reminiscent of Joe Walsh...and the lead guitars are TOP NOTCH. The guitar dueling in "Crazy" has to be HEARD to be BELIEVED. The band consists of Art Jackson, Sanders Trippe, Nikos Chremos, and Neckbone. All Night is one of the best hard rock band's we've heard in some time. A real KNOCKOUT. (Rating: 5+++)

The Apparitions - Oxygen Think Tank (Independently released CD, 2003, Pop)
Our first impressions of this band were that (a) their music reminded us of The Strokes and (b) there is more here than first meets the ears. The more we spin this independently released CD...the more we like it. The Apparitions have been together since 1997. Their music is a complex and unpredictable blend of pop and rock...with a wild variety of influences sliding in and out of the picture. While the band uses conventional instruments...the arrangements tend to be unconventional. The songs are the real treats, however. This band's material is much stronger than your average pop band. Songwriting duties are handled evenly between Mark Heidinger and Robbie Roberts. In addition to writing great tunes, both are superb vocalists as well. This is a very satisfying collection of tunes that stands out in the stacks. Our favorites are "Hospitality," "Worker Bees," "Dogs & Snakes," and "Rubber Veins." The band is wearing gas masks in the photo on the back of the CD. Social commentary, perhaps...? Excellent stuff, recommended... (Rating: 5)

Andrew Bird - Weather Systems (CD, Grimsey, Soft pop)
Andrew Bird is an original. After recording several albums for Rykodisc, he converted an old barn in Western Illinois into a recording studio and created Weather Systems...later opting to release it on an independent label. His tunes are poignant and slightly obtuse subtle soft pop featuring unconventional instrumentation and arrangements. Despite the fact that many of the tunes on this album have a strangely foreign sound...the overall tone is relaxed and inviting. Bird wrote all of the tunes here with the exception of a cover of The Handsome Family's "Don't Be Scared." His songs are fluid and inventive...and feature extraordinary melodies that are provocative and stimulating. The title track alone is worth the price of the disc. This cut...along with others...showcase an artist whose music has a magical and mystical quality that stands squarely alone...in a musical sea filled with say too many generic drones. The CD is housed in an interesting chipboard jacket designed by Starshaped. The violins in these tunes are particularly appealing. Top notch material from start to finish. (Rating: 5++)

Tim Bluhm - The Soft Adventure (CD, California Recordings, Pop)
This is an exceptionally satisfying CD. Tim Bluhm is best known as the leader of the band Mother Hips, a mind boggling pop band that has generated raves from many critics. This disc is a two part adventure. The first six tunes are Bluhm's latest material (recorded in 2001)...while the remaining ten tunes are a "lost" album (entitled Colt) that was recorded in 1996 (but never released until now). Both old and new recordings prove just how strong of a songwriter this man is. While Mother Hips is, for the most part, a pure pop endeavor...Bluhm's solo material is softer and buffered with hints of country. His lyrics are personal and reflective...and the man has one of the best voices around. If his music was marketed heavily...Tim Bluhm would no doubt be a superstar overnight. Things being as they are...this artist is still an obscure delight for those who happen to be fortunate enough to follow his career. Pop music just doesn't get much better than this. Knockout tunes include "Tear It Down" "Spying On Your Teen," "The Soft Adventure," "Tiny Blue Coffin," and "Sadness of the Masses." Beautiful music from start to finish. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 5+++)

Brady Brock - Warm American Sweater (CD, In Music We Trust, Pop)
This is the second release from New York's Brady Brock. His first album (I Will Live In You Where Your Heart Used To Be) was originally recorded as a demo, but when released commercially it was warmly received. Brock chose Thom Monahan to produce Warm American Sweater. A wise move, as Monahan seems to be working with some of the best names in music these days (in addition to the fact that he is an excellent producer). Brady writes soft, introverted pop music that features particularly strong melodies. His vocals are very matter-of-fact and there is a great deal of open space left in the tunes...which works well because the material is strong. Mr. Brock is an articulate lyricist...which could be due to the fact that he reads a great deal. While the overall tone of this album is serious...the mood of the music is light and inviting. Classic pop...with classy sensitivity. We particularly love the album art...complete with very authentic looking "ring wear" (!). Positive pop for the thinking listener. Includes "I'm All Smiles," "Stay As Sweet As You Are," "Time and All You Took," "Something Missing." (Rating: 5)

The California Oranges - Oranges & Pineapples (CD. 2003, Darla, Power pop)
Rising from the remnants of Holiday Flyer and Sinking Ships, The California Oranges appear...ready to rock underground music fans...with their raw and ready brand of happy power pop. While there are thousands upon thousands of pop artists and bands in the world...there aren't that many whose music has a genuine bite. The California Oranges' music features wonderfully sweet melodies layered over really loud and fuzzy guitars. The band isn't afraid to mix raw action with their pop...and the results are wonderfully entertaining. The band consists of John Conley, Verna Brock, Matt Levine, and Ross Levine. This quartet's simple and direct approach is like a blast of clean air in a world that is often polluted with people playing music for all the wrong reasons. Kickass cuts like "Broken Typewriter," "Spacesuit," and "Get Away" make this disc spin like the SUN. Great stuff, played with guts and integrity. (Rating: 5)

Concrete Blond - Live In Brazil (Double CD, Ark 21, Rock)
Recorded live in Rio de Janeiro, this double disc set captures Concrete Blond at their best...in front of a large, receptive, charged up audience. Originally formed in 1981, this trio has weathered the difficult climate of 1990s rock...and come out with their fur still shining bright. The band has an amazingly full sound, especially considering there are only three instruments involved. Gabriel Ramirez is one hell of a kickass drummer and James Mankey's guitars sound great (as always). Johnette Napolitano is obviously a real crowd pleaser. Although we have yet to see this band play live, it is obvious from the crowd's response at this, the band's first tour of Brazil, that a good time was had by all. This set features eighteen crowd pleasers, including "God is a Bullet," "Take Me There," "Days and Days," and "Mexican Moon." Lively, vibrant stuff... (Rating: 4+++)

Copeland - Beneath Medicine Tree (CD, The Militia Group, Pop/rock)
Atlanta-based Copeland present a varied and memorable album...full of surprises and exceptional melodies. In many ways, Beneath Medicine Tree reminds us of the first album from Ben Folds Five. Chief songwriter Aaron Marsh's tunes are thoughtful, personal, and intriguing. The tunes are arranged by the Marsh as well as the other band members (Rusty Fuller, Bryan Laurenson, James Likeness). There is a sad yearning that exists in this album that we find most appealing. Interesting that, after recording the album, the band decided to drop the title track (probably only to be unearthed at some future date). This is a very nice and solid collection of tunes...including "Brightest," "When Paula Sparks," "There Cannot be a Close Second," and "When Finally Set Free." Lovely stuff. (Rating: 5)

Evan Dando - Baby I'm Bored (CD, 2003, Bar/None, Pop)
Former Lemonheads heartthrob Evan Dando returns after a seven year absence. Unlike many fad pop bands, the Lemonheads' music was always of superior quality. And even though the focus seemed to be on Dando's physical appearance...his music was always the meat of what his band was about. Not surprisingly, Evan seems to have matured artistically over the past few years. This, his debut solo album, is mostly introspective...and it contains a wealth of excellent and absorbing material. Musicians who participated on this album include Ben Lee (Dando covers two of his tunes), Howe Gelb, John Convertino, Joey Burns, Royston Langdon, and Chris Brokaw. The twelve tunes on this album prove that Dando is not merely treading on past fame and fortune. Instead, one gets the impression that this man has a lot left to give...and that his best years may yet lie ahead. Mellow cuts like "Repeat," "My Idea," "Shots Is Fired," and "Stop My Head" are instantly memorable and completely sincere in nature. A wonderfully satisfying album, Baby I'm Bored is anything but boring. (Rating: 5)

Rob Dougan - Furious Angels (CD, Reprise, Techno pop)
Big, thick, heavily produced technology-driven pop. When we first popped the latest disc from Australia's Rob Dougan into our savvy CD player...we felt certain that we were NOT going to like this album. The title track is a calculated, predictable techno dance track that just doesn't work. (That means that it will, most likely, become the "hit single"...!) But we're glad we decided to let the disc continue to play...because the rest of the album is quite remarkable. Dougan's work reminds us somewhat of Leonard Cohen. His keen observations on life and his remarkable vocals make his material compelling and unique. Oddly, Dougan is probably best known up to this point for a song that he contributed to the Matrix soundtrack ("Clubbed to Death") which was eventually used in a well-known car commercial. Furious Angels contains thoughtful instrumentals and sharp, precise pop music. Dougan has a forceful and penetrating voice that is memorable and real. This album has a great deal more depth than your average major label release. Cool cuts like "Left Me For Dead" and "Nothing At All" make this album a cool spin... (Rating: 5)

Entropic Advance - Monkey With a Gun (CD, Symbolic Insight, Electronic)
Entropic Advance is the duo of Wesley Davis and Casey Jones. The two approach electronic composition from a unique perspective (and that's saying a lot...considering how many electronic artists out there do not!). Even the rhythms used in the music are obtuse and peculiar (the duo refers to this as "click & cut rhythms"). Monkey With a Gun is a heady and unexpected experience...as Davis and Jones combine spooky ambient sounds with samples and obtuse technology. The overall effect is quite dream-like and foreign. There are few familiar sounds and ideas to latch onto...and therein lies the beauty of these modern compositions. This lengthy disc (clocking in at 68:59) is mentally challenging...and highly entertaining. We can't describe tunes like "Charisma," "Copper Glow," and "Afraid to Change"...but we know when something pushes our buttons the right way. Excellent stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5+)

40 Grit - Nothing to Remember (CD, Metal Blade, Rock)
This band represents what the Metal Blade label is all about. Thunderous, ear-splitting, intense rock music best played and heard in an arena environment. But what makes this band different than many Metal Blade bands is that their music features standout vocal melodies. Of course the music is loud and abrasive...but the band's choral-like vocals layered over the crunching megawatts makes for an intriguing blend of the harsh and the cerebral. They even lower the volume occasionally to show that their softer side is just as effective and intriguing as their loud material ("A Part of Me" is a good example). 40 Grit is James Santiago (vocals, guitar), Chris Anderson (guitar, vocals), Kevin Young (bass), and Andy Green (drums). The group is based in Concord, California and has already been on the concert trail with biggies like Machine Head, Nothing Face, and Soulfly. Smart loud rock with progressive tendencies. Really good stuff. (Rating: 5)

Fiction Plane - Everything Will Never Be OK (CD, MCA, Rock/pop)
British trio whose leanings veer toward David Bowie and U2. Everything Will Never Be OK, the band's debut, was produced by David Kahne and engineered by Joe Barressi. Accordingly, the overall sound is extremely polished and slick. These guys' tunes have a great deal of mass appeal. The vocalist sounds very much like Bono, a fact that is difficult for us to swallow. This album contains some choice cuts, however, including "Listen to My Babe," "Real Real," and "Silence." If this band can tame their U2 tendencies...they'll end up a much stronger and unique unit. But hey...they're just getting started, y'know...?. A good debut. (Rating: 4+)

Flare - Hung (CD, 2003, Le Grand Magistery, Pop)
Magical, brilliantly orchestrated pop. This, the second full-length release from Flare, is "hung" something like an audio painting. The tunes are intelligent and complex and feature a wide assortment of instruments. Bandleader LD Beghtol is one of the most important rising stars in the world of orchestrated pop. Not only are his tunes elaborate and memorable...but his vocals are like a pure pop heroin addiction. Keyboardist and co-producer Charles Newman aids Beghtol in fleshing out his compositions. The two work exceedingly well together. Hung is thickly produced but not overproduced. The tunes sound something like a subdued version of The Divine Comedy...but with a great many differences. Beghtol manages to create complex pop masterpieces that somehow seem soft and soothing. The music often has a strange swirling effect that is difficult to describe. All kinds of odd sounds and recorded snippets slide in and out of the compositions...making the album play like a strange kaleidoscopic experience. A wealth of guest artists appear...including Stephen Merritt, John Wesley Harding, Dana Kletter, Chris Xefox, and more. An excellent and absorbing album. Beautiful stuff. (Rating: 5+)

FM Knives - Useless & Modern (CD, Broken Rekids, Power punk/pop)
Heavily influenced by The Buzzcocks, Sacramento's FM Knives play punchy melodic loud punk/pop that would make Pete Shelley proud. The band's tunes are based around buzzsaw guitars and unrelenting rhythms...and they're got a real crashing basher of a drummer. If you loved the punk/pop that was coming out of England in the late 1970s...or if you are a fan of loud power pop...you are almost certain to enjoy what these fellows are doing. Thirteen short rockers here, including "I Live Alone," "Summer Holiday," "Any Other Day, " and "Useless and Modern." (Rating: 4++)

Gallery of Mites - Bugs on the Bluefish (CD, MeteorCity, Rock)
This ten member rock band (yes, you read that right...) consists of members and ex-members of Lord Sterling, Monster Magnet, Halfway To Gone, Black Nasa, and Solace. Considering the large number of musicians, we were expecting an overproduced and overly thick sounding band. Wrong. Instead of everyone doing too much all at once, this large band manages to show restraint in many ways (especially considering that there are five lead guitarists). The focal point of the band is ex-Monster Magnet frontman Tim Cronin. We have come to love this guy's voice. He has a great masculine growl that really makes your underwear feel snug. Bugs on the Bluefish (the title is taken from a Scratch Acid song) features ten cuts...most of which are simple rockers with groovy melodies. Very unpretentious and tight, these guys are pressing all the right buttons at once. Kickass rockers like "Exploded View," "Chocolate Rabbit," "Inside Out," and "A Man Called Shit" make this album rock like the sun when it shines on the goddamn moon. Good stuff. (Rating: 4+++)

Lisa Germano - Lullaby for Liquid Pig (CD, BMG / iMusic, Eclectic pop)
Lullaby for Liquid Pig is Lisa Germano's strongest album. After years of writing and recording, she has perfected her craft to a fine art. Featuring strangely disquieting lyrics, Lisa provides music that...on the surface...seems soft and unobtrusive. But there are a great many things bubbling under the surface of these unusual compositions. The overall effect is very dream-like. While the obtuse arrangement drift by in the background...Germano sings ever so softly in her wonderfully breathy vocal style...delivering lyrics that are personal, confusing, depressing, and peculiar. The album is subtle. None of the compositions are obvious. Contributors on this album include Neil Finn, Johnny Marr, Wendy Melvoin, Butch (drummer for Eels), Joey Waronker, and Jamie Candiloro. But don't expect Lisa's music to sound anything like these contributors. Her music is decidedly her own. One of the most unusual and unique voices around. This is...SUPERB. (Rating: 5+++)

Harkonen - Shake Harder Boy (CD, Hydrahead, Extra hard rock)
The first full-length from Washington's Harkonen. Formed in 1995, this band truly does successfully merge hardcore with heavy metal. The result is a thick and staggering sound that will test the endurance level of most listeners. The key word here is ASSAULT. Instead of merely playing their instruments, the fellows in this band use them as weapons. The music is absolutely FIERCE. Underneath all the volume and intensity, however, are some really meaty revved-up tunes. Hyperactive and intense pieces include "Smile Pretty," "Bargains Only," "Thought Your Name Was Cool Dude," and "Settle Here." A wild ride from start to finish, Shake Harder Boy is brimming with aggressive energy. Cool stuff. (Rating: 4+++)

The Heavils - The Heavils (CD, Metal Blade, Hard rock)
The Heavils have a sound that really matches their name: a blend of heavy" and "evil." Possibly the hardest rocking band ever to come out of Rockford, Illinois...these guys are the real thing. Their all-out assault is characterized by propulsive rhythms, guitars in constant overdrive...and roaring vocals that always seem to teeter on sounding like death metal. But death metal these guys are not...their music is constant, rip-roaring hard rock all the way. There is even a hint of Southern rock cranking in the background. Interestingly, vocalist Brian Carter actually builds many of the instruments the band plays (from toilet seats, PVC tubes, wood, etc.). On this, the band's debut album, they easily carve out their own unique sound and image (at a time when many bands seem to have great difficulty doing just that...!). A major force to be reckoned with. (Rating: 4++)

William Hut - Road Star Doolittle (CD, Five One Inc., Soft pop)
Beautifully haunting pop music. William Hut is best known as the singer of Norway's Poor Rich Ones (the band has already won a Grammy in their own country). Hut's solo material is captivating and enchanting. His tunes are highly melodic and genuinely sincere...and the arrangements are soothing and appropriate. The lyrics are often sad and introspective...and they are delivered with subtle grace. These soft orchestrated pop compositions...instantly convince the listener of where this young man's heart is at. Solo Star Doolittle flows wonderfully...treating listeners to underground gems such as "Scarlet," "A Better View," "The Great Gospel," and "Country Hut." Cerebral and subtle...an excellent album overall. Recommended. (Rating: 5)

Paddy Keenan & Tommy O'Sullivan - The Long Grazing Acre (CD, Compass, Irish)
Somewhat of a legendary bagpipe player in his native country of Ireland, Paddy Keenan seems poised to carry that success over to the United States. He was a founding member of the very influential The Bothy Band and is now a solo recording artist. Joining Keenan on this album is guitarist/vocalist Tommy O'Sullivan. The album contains jigs, tunes, songs, and reels...and each song is noted as such. The instrumentals are great...focusing on Keenan's astounding playing. His style is fluid and flowing. In many ways, this gentleman's bagpipes sound similar to an electric lead guitar (at least in the way that he constructs his melodies). This could be why he has been referred to as "the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes." The tunes featuring O'Sullivan's vocal sound mighty fine as well. He sings in a genuine, unaffected manner which fits in well with the traditional instrumentals. Our favorites are the introductory trio of jigs ("The Lost and Found," "The Hat at the Churn," "The Wind Off the Lake"), the moving sounds of "The Maids of Culmore," the cover of Sandy Denny's "Stranger To Himself," and the second jig trilogy ("Sliabh Russel," "The Blarney Pilgrim," "The Clare Jig"). Excellent stuff, superbly recorded...and arranged to perfection. (Rating: 5)

Albert King - Talkin' Blues (Advance CD-R, Thirsty Ear, Blues)
An interesting snapshot. This is a live recording from an Albert King show in Chicago in 1978. It was never originally intended for release. King has always been one of our favorite blues artists. His matter-of-fact vocal style and nice, fluid guitar playing are genuine and effective. And unlike other blues artists, this man never sounds like he's trying to impress folks with flash. This recording seems to capture the true sound and spirit of Albert King. Of particular interest are the four interview sections, in which Albert explains some of his music...as well as Bill Graham's influence on his career. This disc helps to solidify this man's already steadfast position in the world of credible blues. Albert King has always been one of the best. He has class, style, and true talent. Recommended for any and all blues fans. (Rating: 5)

Kings of Leon - Holy Roller Novacaine (CD EP, RCA, Rock/pop)
Tennessee rock and roll played the right way. The band consists of brothers Caleb, Jared, and Nathan Followill and their first cousin Matthew Followill. These guys play a very unpretentious, straightforward brand of rock and roll that people are always on the lookout for. Solid rhythms, dynamic guitars, and "who cares" vocals combine to create five tunes that should appeal to just about everyone. This EP is obviously intended to whet folks' appetite for the upcoming full-length release. Includes "Molly's Chambers," "Wasted Time," "California Waiting," "Wicker Chair," and "Holy Roller Novocaine." (Rating: 4+++)

Maquiladora - What the Day Was Dreaming (CD, 2003, Darla, Atmospheric, obtuse, country-fried pop)
Far from obvious and decidedly uncommon. Maquiladora, a San Diego trio, is truly an unusual brand. Not easily pigeonholed, these folks' music incorporates elements from folk, pop, country, experimental, and progressive rock...and merges them all into a strangely codeine-ingested mixture of soothing, seething softness. There seem to be a lot of bands playing "desert music" these days...but Maquiladora's style is different from the rest. What the Day Was Dreaming is a somber and mainly mental collection of compositions that somehow penetrates the mind and remains in the consciousness. Wonderfully abstract and often distant, this band is creating their own unique sound in a time and place when that is damn rare. Offbeat songs such as "Sudden Life," "Drunk and Lighting Fires (A Waltz)," and "Liam" are strangely appealing and drift by like tumbleweeds. Unusually creative. (Rating: 5+)

Manitoba - Up In Flames (CD, Domino, Electronic/pop)
Inventive collage pop. Up In Flames is the second full-length from Dan Snaith (the man who calls himself Manitoba). Snaith grabbed the attention of many with his debut album (Start Breaking My Heart). This album picks up where the last left off...and treads a great deal more territory in the process. Up In Flames is a difficult and unpredictable album. Far from being simple pop and certainly not your average electronic trek, the compositions on this album are a wild collage. Mid-tempo pop melodies collide with cut-and-paste technology to create tunes that are almost catchy...but the strange arrangements and head-on collision of sounds and styles manage to keep the listener off guard at all times. If there is one word to describe all of this, it most certainly is "unconventional." Ten puzzling tunes here, including "Skunks," "Why the Long Face," "Kid You'll Move Mountains," and "Every Time She Turns Round It's Her Birthday." Hell, even the song titles are confusing! Good stuff that requires real CONCENTRATION (!!!). (Rating: 4+++)

Minikon - Minikon (CD, 2003, Kira Kira, Electronic pop)
Light, fun, upbeat electronic music. Minikon is the project created by Florida's James White. The music on this album reminds us of a softer and more instrumental version of Joy Electric...mainly because the music possesses strange childlike qualities. This is by no means an uncalculated accident. According to White, "I wanted to make it obvious that I am unashamed of the Childishness of Minikon." In addition to writing and recording the music, White also crafted the beautiful pink graphics on the cover. This, the debut album, features ten wonderfully upbeat cuts...each successfully incorporating a wide variety of sounds and ideas into an overall simple and unique wall of sound. Top picks: "Hollywood Rabbits," "Super and Bright," "Mini Game," "Kitti-Kitti." Refreshingly good stuff. (Rating: 4+++)

Molasses - A Slow Messe (Double CD, Fancy / Alien8Recordings, Obtuse/folk/pop/experimental)
Canada's Molasses have made a name for themselves in a relatively short period of time...by merely doing things differently. This whopping double CD set was obviously a labor of love. Beautifully packaged in an envelope featuring a photograph of Montreal's Christ Church Cathedral, the set includes not one...but two booklets (one for each CD). The music is as strange and unexpected as the packaging. Half of the tunes are instrumental while the other half are "folk/pop" music (for lack of a better descriptive term). The band resonates around the songwriting skills of Scott Chernoff...a man whose music is extraordinarily laidback and somber. The music is an odd blend of found audio sources, sounds of nature, and offbeat instrumentation. The effect is something like listening to a stereo at low volume in the middle of the forest at night. While soothing, something is strangely peculiar about the music. It is quite like a painting...best appreciated when the listener is paying close attention. It is difficult to compare Molasses to any other band on the horizon. Their unique approach works. This is easily the band's strongest offering yet. (Rating: 5++)

Mull Historical Society - Us (CD, 2003, XL Recordings / Beggars Banquet, Pop)
Mull Historical Society is the one man band consisting of Colin McIntyre. This young British man caught the attention of reviewers worldwide with his debut album (Loss) which was surely one of the best releases of 2002. The cover featured an unforgettable image of a doggie wearing a goofy wig. This, the follow up, fulfills all the promises of that album...and more. Mr. McIntyre's tunes possess a wonderfully optimistic quality that is endearing and reassuring. His melodies are instantaneously catchy...and his vocals are nothing short of superb. Us was recorded in 95 days. This album seems more open and focused than the debut...probably due to the fact that Mr. McIntyre did away with many of the tracks during mixdown (some of the songs originally had as many as 90 separate tracks). The lyrics are more personal this time around and offer an intriguing glimpse into this man's psyche. The album has a nice flow...featuring such standout cuts as "The Final Arrears," "Am I Wrong," "Oh Mother," "5 More Minutes," and "The Supermarket Strikes Back." Clever without being coy and gushing with positive energy...Us is bound to bring in legions more fans for this remarkable new talent. Excellent. (Rating: 5++)

1234 - Total Improv! (CD-R, 4boxs Recorded Entertainment, Experimental), Ol' Sparky (CD-R, 4boxs Recorded Entertainment, Experimental)
Combining elements of jazz, electronics, modern classical, and totally experimental music...1234 is an odd collaboration indeed. This Chicago-based collective (assembled by avant garde trombone player Mike Hagedorn) makes music that is meant for a small, eclectic audience. The appropriately-titled Total Improv! is just that. Hagedorn and associates Andre Marquetti, Ed Reardon, Richard Theodore, Steve Ivan, and Bob Falesh create compositions on the spot...letting whatever happens happen. The result is something like a tripped out jazz session by Tangerine Dream. The album features six involved pieces that are mentally stimulating and a strange audio experience indeed. Ol' Sparky is an experiment in trippy ambience, featuring a slightly different line up (joining Hagedorn are David Lee Smith, Steve Ivan, and Andre Marquetti). The four unnamed, lengthy compositions are sparse and odd...and noticeably dream-like in nature. Although both of these discs are highly entertaining...they will most likely only be appreciated by folks who are into experimental electronics and dada-esque jazz... (Rating: 5)

The Party People - My My (CD EP, Velvet Blue Music, Rock)
Urgent, loud, upbeat infectious rock. This little four-song EP unleashes the music of The Party People on an unsuspecting public. The band consists of Eric Collins (Denison Marrs), Jeff Cloud (Starflyer 59), Adam Neubauer (Ghoti Hook), and Dean Lorenz (Young & The Useless). These four songs represent the first songwriting collaborations of this group. The results sound something like hard rock from Athens, Georgia. The tunes have a garage rock kinda feel...but the tunes themselves are quite strong and Collins' vocals are wild and intense. It is difficult to discern a great deal based solely on four tunes...but our initial impression is that there is an intense fire burning here. Neat. (Rating: 4+++)

Peace Harbor - Not Yet Fire (CD, Film Guerrero, Varied)
In an age where virtually everyone is driven by money...we are particularly appreciative of that small, eclectic group of recording artists who are driven purely by artistic integrity. Ideally, commercial success should be nothing more than a potential by-product of doing what one loves to do. But, as we all know, there are those who are only in it for fame and fortune. Peace Harbor is obviously a labor of love. This is the first solo release by Zak Riles who some folks may already be familiar with (he is also in the critically acclaimed Norfolk & Western). Not Yet Fire consists of subtle, moody pieces incorporating acoustic guitar, violin, piano, drums...and occasionally some vocals. Selzer's compositions are moving and understated. He makes the most of each instrument and never buries his songs with thick arrangements. This limited-edition release features fabulous hand-printed inserts courtesy of Firefly Press. This music tends to merge beautifully with nature. As we listened to the disc for the third time while sitting on our sunny porch, we were able to feel the pleasantly full effects of the music. Yet another excellent release from the always entertaining Film Guerrero label. (Rating: 5)

The Pieces - The Pieces (CD, Benchmark, Pop)
Upon spinning this disc we were left wondering, "Why does this band sound so familiar?" A quick glance at the press release answered our question. The Pieces are the latest project spearheaded by Vess Ruhtenberg, former member of the criminally overlooked United States Three (a favorite among pop critics in the 1990s). This album sounds not unlike United States Three. The songs are smooth, mid-tempo pop that recalls The Beatles and other classic rockers from the 1960s and 1970s. The beauty of Ruhtenberg's songwriting is that he never seems like he's trying too hard. His songs are understated pop gems that don't immediately clobber the listener over the head...but rather sink in slowly with repeated listenings. Plenty of great toe-tapping tunes here. Our favorites are "That's Why It Is," "The Walt," "Good Question," and "Croque Pop." (Rating: 4+++)

Poor Rich Ones - Joe Maynard's Favourites (CD, Five One Inc., Soft pop)
Swirling, heady pop music. This Norwegian band is a hit in their own country...and they are quickly developing a devoted following in the United States as well. Joe Maynard's Favourites features a collection of tunes the band recorded before Happy Happy Happy (which might be considered their "breakthrough album"). In addition, two new tunes and two live tracks are included to keep completists happy. Although many reviewers are making comparisons to My Bloody Valentine and Radiohead...in actuality there are few similarities between these bands and Poor Rich Ones. The band consists of William Hut, Blue Ludwig, Tor, Bjorn, and Eivind. The band's music has a good deal of commercial appeal...and yet success doesn't seem to be the main motivator for the band. Joe Maynard's Favourites is an enjoyable album to be certain...but even more impressive is William Hut's solo album (Road Star Doolittle)...which casts a spotlight on this talented man's more subtle and softer side... (Rating: 4++)

Robert Poss - Crossing Casco Bay (CD, 2002, Trace Elements, Instrumental/experimental/electronic/guitar), Distortion is Truth (CD, 2002, Trace Elements, Instrumental/experimental/electronic/guitar)
Though best known for his work with Band of Susans in the late 1980s and early 1990s...Robert Poss's solo material is the real meat of his career. The fact that his solo recordings have not reached a large audience is almost certainly because the music is too abstract and obtuse for the average listener. Both of these CDs offer a glimpse of Poss's career as of 2002. Crossing Casco Bay features five cuts: Two exercises in extended drone, a short break, a funky instrumental, and an almost normal sounding instrumental conclusion. Our favorites are the first two cuts with their unrelenting monotonous insistence. When listened to at high volume these compositions may cause nerve damage...but at low volume they are quite soothing and odd. Distortion of Truth is a more extreme experience...featuring sixteen unpredictable compositions. Standout cuts include the spooky "Management Confidential," the sparse sound of "Showbiz," the lengthy and hypnotic "Memphis/Little Rock," and the oddly atonal "You Know the Drill." Robert Poss approaches music from his own unique perspective. An eccentric underground guitar hero. (Rating: 4+++)

Righteous Boy - I Sing Because of You (CD, 2003, Future Farmer Recordings, Soft pop)
Righteous Boy is the project created by Magnus Sveninsson (former bass player in The Cardigans). Sveninsson is joined by Jens Jansson (Brainpool), Nathan Larson (Shudder To Think), Patrik Bartosch (Eggstone), and Henrik Andersson (Ray Wonder). I Sing Because of You features a wealth of beautiful, romantic, atmospheric soft pop music that is characterized first and foremost by Sveninsson's marvelously deep voice. "Loved Among Friends" (the first cut as well as the first single released from the album) sets the proper mood. Sveninsson and friends then proceed to deliver one heart wrenching tune after another...all finely crafted and arranged to perfection. These emotionally charged soft pop tunes generate moods...and give the listener a general feeling of peacefulness. So...why the name Righteous Boy? Because the name Elephant Man "was already taken." There is, however, a tune on this album by that name. A beautiful album, inspired, and inspiring... (Rating: 5+++)

Rubber City Rebels - Pierce My Brain (CD, Smog Veil, Rock)
Snotty loud rock that would make The Dead Boys proud. Akron, Ohio's Rubber City Rebels have a loud and intense sound that is chock full of rock and roll attitude. The title track that opens the album is a great anthemic punk number which just begs for audience participation. This band's unrelenting pace is addictive and refreshing...and lead singer Rod Firestone has a great raspy voice that blends perfectly with the band's buzzsaw assault. As was the case with The Ramones...if you stripped away the volume and force...these guys' tunes would border on bubblegum (which is a very GOOD thing indeed...). The band's main "gimmick" is catchy hooks...and their tunes are just brimming with 'em. Providing a fresh injection of punk-fueled power pop, this band is doing everything RIGHT. Great stuff that will getcha all PUMPED UP and TIGHT. (Rating: 5)

The Salteens - Let Go of Your Bad Days (CD, 2003, No Records / Boompal Recordings / Drive-In Records)
Would anyone like to wager a guess as to why the band spells their name differently than the well-known cracker? (We think we all know the answer to that one...) Not surprisingly, the band and the cracker have several things in common. Both are crisp, light, and slightly crunchy. Let Go of Your Bad Days is the second album from these Canadian popsters. It is full of bright, upbeat, positive tunes that are instantly catchy and well crafted. The Salteens smart, boyish pop music is played straight from the hip. Though only 28 minutes in length, this album proves the well-known fact that quality is more important than quantity. Ten tunes of vibrant, happy pop for folks who aren't afraid to feel good...all over again. Mind throbbing cuts include "Damn You," "Summer's Gone," and "Time You Have Been Wasting." Should appeal to fans of They Might Be Giants in particular. (Rating: 4+++)

Scissorfight - Potential New Agent for Unconventional Warfare (CD EP, Tortuga, Hard rock)
If you like thick, thick, THICK guitars and hard, hard, HARD rock...there's a good chance that Scissorfight will knock your socks off. This EP blasts off with the intense and blinding "Hex," a tune that will leave the listener scrambling on the floor in contortions. "Riverhorse" follows with bluesy grinding action. "Maritime Disasters"...yet another macho cockbuster...generates with thick and meaty guitar riffs and nasty male action vocals. The curiously titled "Running the Risk of Raining Buffalo" presents the band in their most out-of-control mode. The disc closes with "Harvester"...another ball-busting rock and roll explosion. This mindbending band consists of Jarvis (bass), Geezum H. Crow (guitar), Ironlung (vocals), and Kevin J. Strongbow (drums). Scissorfight is one HELL of a LOUD and INTENSE band with KILLER songs. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+)

The Telepathic Butterflies - The Telepathic Butterflies (CD, Rainbow Quartz, Pop)
Shimmering positive pop. Winnipeg's The Telepathic Butterflies play addictive guitar pop reminiscent of the last few Redd Kross albums...except more jangley overall. Bandleader/songwriter Rejean Ricard has a great voice...and his overdubbed harmonies are absolutely seamless. The band is rounded out by Jake Dubois (drums), Eric van Buren (bass), and Angus Kirkpatrick (guitars). In addition to writing their own material, the band hints at possible influences by offering a credible cover of Donovan's "Epistle to Dippy." The Telepathic Butterflies' highly melodic pop effectively combines elements from the 1960s British Invasion and 1980s guitar pop...creating a swirling and vibrant sound that is instantly likable. A pure feelgood experience. (Rating: 5)

Treble Charger - Detox (CD, Nettwerk, Pop/rock)
Incredible loud charged up power pop/rock featuring exceptional songwriting. This Toronto-based quartet's music is bursting at the seams with soaring melodies and killer hooks. Few modern bands merge pop and rock as well as these fellows. The album kicks off with the startling and immediate sound of "Hundred Million"...and then manages to keep up the pace with the frantic "What You Want" and "Can't Wake Up." The band lowers the volume and speed a bit on a couple of tunes...but this album is, for the most part, a loud and vibrant experience. This band's music should appeal to young and old alive. While the tunes have a classic sound and style...the approach is very much modern and current. Other kickass cuts include "Don't Believe It All," "Tired of It Anyway," and "Drive." Killer stuff. (Rating: 5++)

Darryl Worley - Have You Forgotten? (Advance CD-R, Dreamworks Nashville,Country/pop)
Funny thing about most country albums. The first song is usually the weakest as it is intended to be the "hit single." Such is the case with the latest from Darryl Worley. If you can get past the title track, you'll be treated to some mighty good tunes. The title track is just too obvious and predictable...and if there is one thing we DO NOT want to hear right now...it is someone singing about "THE WAR" (!). Worley is smart, however, because we are not your average listeners. Most folks embrace songs about current events...and this tune will undoubtedly capture the imagination of hundreds of thousands of generic mice. For our tastes, the remainder of the album is the real meat here. Big ol' Darryl's music seems to get better with each release...and his voice gets stronger as well. Worley writes classic country tunes that are similar in nature to Willie Nelson. The tunes are simple and direct and the songs are usually about topics that the average person can relate to. This finely produced album contains a wealth of potential hits...and is bound to be instantly popular with country music fans. Good stuff. (Rating: 4+++)

Zongamin - Zongamin (CD, 2003, XL Recordings / Beggars Banquet, Funk/techno/dance)
The world of techno/dance artistry is filled to the brim with generic clones. While we like dance music...we are not impressed with 95% of what is churned out by folks who seem more concerned with creating than being creative. Accordingly, the music of Zongamin is a refreshing change of pace. Basing his music on funky and absorbing beats, Zongamin uses "found" and "created" instruments that inject his music with odd and playful qualities. Zongamin is Japanese composer Susumu Mukai...with occasional friends offering a helping hand. Mikai is smart and inventive. While his compositions are based upon electronic beats, the music has organic qualities that give it a human feel. Many of the bass lines are downright addictive. The simple line drawing on the cover is a good match for the music contained on the disc. Cultured cuts include "Make Love Not War," "Painless," "Trespasser," and "New Song to an Old Story." Good throbbing fun. (Rating: 4+++)

Home | Table of Contents | The babysue Store

©2003 LMNOP®