July 1998 Reviews

RATING SYSTEM | Barry Adamson | Addict | The Aluminum Group | Baby Fox | Bicycle | The Brian Jonestown Massacre | The C60s | Dodge Minivans | High Art | The Mendoza Line | Parlour James | Pitchshifter | The Prissteens | The Queers | Rocket From the Crypt | 78s | Ramona Silver | Bunky Spurling | Stillpoint | Throttle

*Additional Items Received*


BARRY ADAMSON - As Above, So Below (CD, Mute, Pop)
This is so cool. I guess I should have been familiar with the name Barry Adamson before now, but I must admit my goddamn ignorance. Apparently this fellow has previously produced mainly instrumentals, and this is his first foray into the world of vocal music. If this is what his first try sounds like, it'll be REAL interesting to hear his future recordings. For lack of a better term, this is jazzy pop music...but don't let that scare you away from this trippy CD. There's a peculiar, eerie feel to these tunes that makes them rise above the medium. Barry came up with some of these ideas while he was in the hospital awaiting surgery. He was obviously in a bizarre frame of mind at the time. These compositions are dreamy and somewhat distant. The production sounds more eighties than nineties...with more of an analog than a digital sound. This sounds very different from other discs coming out of late. And for that, Mr. Adamson gets bonus points. This is...excellent. (Rating: 5)

ADDICT - Stones (CD, Big Cat/V2, Pop)
They can play and sing, and the sound is that big, expensive nineties production that we hear so much of these days. This London-based band has a very commercial, radio friendly approach. The only area where they are weak is in song material. None of these tunes stick in my head. What we have here is a collection of semi-screamed anthemic pop that sounds like a thousand others. This isn't terrible...it's just okay, sort of... Though this doesn't do it for me, I've certainly heard a lot worse... (Rating: 2)

THE ALUMINUM GROUP - Plano (CD, Minty Fresh, Pop)
If you're still listening to the Pet Shop Boys or Erasure, then you might as well slit your throat and drain away in the bathtub. The Aluminum Group, though unashamedly commercial, is a talented new contender in the field of soft pop. The band is led by brothers Frank and John Navin, whose smooth vocals and easy listening tunes are as easy as cheese on the eardrums. This is not synth pop, but rather muzak-ish easy listening pop. These bright tunes are well arranged, orchestrated, and produced. Twelve tunes including "Chocolates," "Sugar & Promises," and "Storytime." (Rating: 4)

BABY FOX - Dum Dum Baby (CD, Roadrunner, Dub/pop/electronic)
The new disc by the peculiar yet critically acclaimed Baby Fox met our plush offices with gushes of tension and excitement. The multitude of reviewers all clamored for the disc, hoping to be the fortunate one who would write the review. I was selected for the task for good cause, because the last disc the band put out was on my master's top list. This British trio's music is experimental dub/pop, and features some really cool production tricks as well as inventive vocals. The best aspect of this band's music is that they blend an odd hodge podge of styles into one big cohesive ball...and make it all blend together like Sam's big ham sandwich on the wide open ranger. This band's mesmerizing ability to use studio tricks to their advantage is impressive indeed, particularly when the market is so overrun with folks relying on technology to hide the fact that their music SUCKS. Baby Fox music is truly great stuff. Includes "Dum Dum Baby," "Nearly Beautiful," "Still Point," and "Naked Hour." (Rating: 5)

BICYCLE - The Occupation of a Sand Dune (Independently released CD, Pop)
It seems incredible that there hasn't been a band named Bicycle before now, but to my knowledge this is the first band to use the name. Better yet, this is a GREAT obscure little pop band that you NEED to be aware of. The music is production-heavy mental pop in the same vein as early 10CC. The tunes are catchy, the arrangements way above average, and the vocals KICK. This may very well be a hard one to come across, so your best bet is to check out the band's web site at http://www.bikeride.com/bicycle. No posing, no dumb image, no unnecessary crap...just good music. Neato. (Rating: 4)

THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE - Strung Out In Heaven (CD, TVT, Pop/rock)
Before forming The Beatles, Brian Jones was the driving force behind the Beach Boys. After penning seven hit singles, he went on to produce The Kinks "Tired and Grating." Now that he's in his fifties, Mr. Jones has formed yet another band, The Brian Jonestown Masssacre. Never has Brian's voice sounded more vibrant and shiny. His former influences still intact, the man mashes out thirteen killer tunes between the mushy insides of his trashy fingers. The tunes are poppish in nature, but the arrangements are surely sixties in nature...if nature is to be presupposed, that is. This is the seventh full-length from the band, although it is the first I have actually heard beginning to end. Good stuff, good for listening. Am liking "Nothing To Lose" best. Fun CD. (Rating: 4)

THE C60S - The C60s (CD, Spongebath, Pop)
Very upbeat, highly melodic pop from Florida. The C60s have a simple style of crashing pop music that is instantly infectious...and not unlike Self, which is interesting as Matt Mahaffey (who is Self) produced the disc. The punchy production fits these tunes to a T, making this disc a big ball of hyper fun. Way above average vocals complete the picture, making The C60s a power pop band to keep an eye on. Twelve kickass numbers including "Remote Control," "Echoswirl," and "Straight Low." A direct hit. (Rating: 4)

DODGE MINIVANS (Piece of crap kind of things)
Looking for a USED VEHICLE??? Can't decide WHAT to buy? While I can't tell you what to buy, I can suggest what you NOT buy. DO NOT buy a DODGE MINIVAN. They are pieces of crap. Stuff goes wrong with them. Lots of stuff. They are money hungry pigs that will suck money from your checking account, only to go off and die lonely and miserable because they couldn't perform. Hey...I had one of the worthless goddamn things so I know. Oh well. You learn from experience. Hopefully, you may learn from MY experience... (Rating: 1)

HIGH ART - Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack (CD, Velvel, Soundtrack)
Soundtrack CDs are, in general, annoying goddamn things. The intent is all wrong. Instead of putting together a CD with the listener in mind, film makers and record companies conspire and throw together a bunch of tunes that have already been released by a bunch of shitty artists...and the end result is a various artists compilation that ssssssssuuuuUUUUUCKS. Fortunately this isn't ALWAYS the case. Take this disc for example. Almost all of the music on this soundtrack was composed by Shudder To Think, with a couple of other artists thrown in for good measure. The music is basic dub/trance/ambient...but it's done right. And it sounds like a soundtrack. I hate various artists compilations. I hate film makers. I hate record companies. I hate you. I hate myself. I hate little puppies. I hate dinner napkins. I hate money. I hate vaginas. I hate hate. La la la la. This CD's neat. (Rating: 4)

THE MENDOZA LINE - Like Someone In Love (CD, Kindercore, Pop)
Instantly entertaining hazy pop music from the heart. The nucleus of The Mendoza Line is Peter Hoffman and Timothy Bracy, who met one another in high school. The band's way-above-average melodies are driven home by some killer breathy vocal harmonies. I have a feeling...a feeling this will appeal to fans of Yo La Tengo...or even Harpers Bizarre. This band is creating some very mature music that would make you believe they've been at this for a long time (they formed in 1996). The production fits the music to a T. Too many great songs to mention. Solid, creative, and genuine. (Rating: 5)

PARLOUR JAMES - Old Dreams (CD, Sire, Pop)
Really nice stuff. Parlour James is the duo of Ryan Hedgecock and Amy Allison, whose vocals blend together like the very best quality milkshake available. The music is an accessible mixture of pop, folk, dub, and country. Amazingly, these folks blend these styles together so seamlessly that the whole sounds completely original and unique. Not only does the duo come up with some damn fine melodies, but their lyrics are pensive and real. It's not often that you hear a debut full-length this good. The band offers eleven top-notch tunes, including "Turning Point," "House of Flesh and Bone," and "Face In The Leaves." Simultaneously upbeat and thought provoking. (Rating: 5)

PITCHSHIFTER - www.pitchshifter.com (CD, Geffen, Techno/industrial pop)
Extremely dense, busy, thickly produced industrial pop. Not unlike the Sex Pistols, had they been electronic. The overall intent here is to overwhelm the listener, and this British band certainly succeeds in doing just that. The songs themselves take a backseat to the computerized noodling, but that's okay. These guys are pure attitude and style, not composition and substance. Though there's not a lot at the core to chew on, this is basically listenable and fun. I bet the teeners are eating this UP. (Rating: 3)

THE PRISSTEENS - Scandal, Controversy & Romance (CD, Almo Sounds, Pop)
In a market overrun with girl pop groups, The Prissteens stand out for many reasons...but mainly because THEY HAVE GOOD SONGS. You'd think that good pop songs would be in abundance seeing as how everyone and their younger bastard is writing them lately. But good pop songs have always been...and probably always will be...somewhat rare. These folks' upbeat music is built up with layered vocals and features simple, sparse arrangements. The overall sound is fresh and easy to digest. In a world where everyone is trying too hard, it is the folks who just let it happen who really stand out the most. This is a damn solid debut from a band that's got their balls in order. Prissteens good. (Rating: 4)

THE QUEERS - Everything's O.K. (CD, Hopeless, Rock/pop)
Extremely brief and to the point. This short four song EP goes by so fast you won't know what hit you. Most importantly, the tune "Everything's O.K." is one of the best pop songs I have heard this year. The tune has an irresistable Ramones-ish charm, and the melody is so superb that I could hum nothing else for a number of days. The Queers remind me in many ways of The Mr. T Experience (who they are apparently band buddies with). The music is fast and melodic...the rhythm section pumps like a monkey's heater...and the lead singer is extra handsome. Great band with just the right attitude and songs that put others to shame. (Rating: 5)

ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT - RFTC (CD, Interscope, Rock/pop)
Kickass rock music with attitude and style. This CD is probably this band's most in-your-face release yet with punchy, driving rock tunes that just keep on trucking from moment one and don't stop. Speedo's ultra-macho vocals are sounding mighty fine indeedy, and that dependable ol' Rocket From the Crypt wall of sound has never sounded bigger. If it's rock and roll you want, this is the rock and roll band for you. No gimmicks, no crap, no bullshit. This is simply balls to the wall rock blasted out at high volume the way it oughta be played. Includes "Eye On You," "Panic Scam," "Made For You," and "Run Kid Run." This one's a GREAT BIG BLAST. Ferocious. (Rating: 5)

78s (Ultra fast spinning brittle old record kind of things)
78s are totally COOL...despite the fact that virtually no one will even buy them at yard sales. It seems incredible to me that all these morons will shell out all these big bucks at all these trendy CD stores for all these re-releases by artists whose material was originally available on 78s. After all...why listen to a CD re-release when you can hear (and most importantly OWN) the ORIGINAL? Believe me, there's a certain authenticity to hearing music from the thirties and forties played on the original format. Yup, all those cracks, pops, and sizzles add incredible character...as well as an odd eerieness...to the music. So, while all those "we think we're so cool because we're being nostalgic" retardo CD buyers out there are clawing each other's noses off to buy the newest collection of old recordings...we'll be getting sloppy on our front porch playing stacks of 78s that we got for a quarter each. So why the bad rating, you ask? Hey...we don't want everyone else buying these damn things out from under our noses...do we? The idiots need to stay in their own domain...at Tower Records (!). (Rating: 1)

RAMONA SILVER - Ultrasound (CD, Fingerprint, Pop/various)
Ramona Silver is part of an emerging new segment of female musicians proving that women don't have to confine themselves to typical musical roles of the past. Just like some of her contemporaries (Jenny Mae and Lida Husik come to mind), Ms. Silver displays a wide variety of songwriting styles...coming up with completely unexpected surprises along the way. She's not just a fluffy experimenter though...Ramona writes some damn good songs...and her vocals are excellent. Not content to simply pump out smooth pop (at which she is extremely talented), Ms. Silver isn't afraid to throw an instrumental in the mix...or even an organ piece (!?!). The unexpected is the word of the day on Ultrasound. Ramona Silver is a welcome new artist who stands out on the basis of sheer talent and originality. (Rating: 5)

BUNKY SPURLING - Acoustic Voyage (CD, New Quest, Acoustic/instrumental)
Don't let the name Bunky Spurling fool you. This is not wacky pop nor is it electronic garbage. Bunky Spurling is a sincere and talented acoustic guitarist. These instrumental pieces are accentuated by flute, cello, and violin...and the end result is nothing if not spectacularly reflective and relaxing. Because of the acoustic nature of the instruments, the overall sound of these pieces is a lot more organic and real than what you normally hear. These fourteen compositions are thoughtful, and well executed. This damn CD flows by REALLY nicely. This is exactly what you might want to hear on a sunny Sunday afternoon... (Rating: 5)

STILLPOINT - Maps Without Edges (CD, City of Tribes, Percussion/ambient/electronic)
Most interesting. Stillpoint is the collaborative effort of British percussionist Eddy Sayer, Martin Franklin (of TUU, of which I was unfamiliar), and performance artist Nick Parkin. The three have produced a highly eclectic, almost completely uncommercial CD that is a total mental TRIP. There are so many bad, overproduced electronic/ambient CDs being released. This one instantly stood out like a THUMB SORE. Why? Mainly because these fellows had the good sense to use restraint. It is, in fact, the understated elements of this music that make it so cool. Less is more is the rule of the day, making these fanciful pieces come off like beautiful dreamscapes. The disc includes only four pieces, but each is lengthy...the longest clocking in at thirty minutes. This is one to play over and over and over...late into the night...while looking off into the sky...and waiting until sleep comes on... (Rating: 6)

THROTTLE - Soul Disease (CD, Reproductive, Hard rock)
This duo packs a powerful, abrasive punch. Their last disc left me somewhat mentally damaged, but these two guys have outdone themselves this time. Boston based Throttle have as much anguish and power as bands twice their size...and their music is more believable. Just goes to show what you can accomplish with concentration and inner vision. Though the band is a loud blast of harshness, they never forsake music for a quick noise fix. This has got to be one of the best hard rock bands out there at present. Intense energy. Well thought out. Played with big balls. And most of all...it's REAL. Eleven knockout tunes including "Mr. Hyde" (this one's KILLER), "Twenty Miles," and "Flame Thrower." HOT. (Rating: 5)


Alex Beblis - The Music's Dead (CD EP, Cup of Tea)
Angelique - Present (Advance cassette, Red Ant)
Belle Academe - Shimmer (CD, Swingerland)
Betsy In The Gene Pool - Slow In The Left Lane (CD, Big P Music)
Betty Goo - Betty Gooicide (CD, Jackass)
BIS - Intendo (Advance cassette, Grand Royal)
Both Worlds - Memoyr Rendered Visible (CD, Roadrunner)
Classic Rave - Classic Rave (CD, Moonshine, Various artists compilation)
Clifford Nevernew - Topter Baster (CD, Starfish)
Digger - The Promise Of An Uncertain Future (CD, Hopeless, Rock)
Disarray - Bleed (Cassette, Inner V.O.I.D.)
DM Cam - The Beat Assassinated (CD, Inflamable)
D.O.A. - Festival of Atheists (CD, Sudden Death)
Entwined - Dancing Under Glass (CD, Earache)
(Magazine, June 1998)
Flipside (Magazine, #112)
Front 242 - Live Code (CD, Play It Again Sam)
Fully Automatic - Drum 'n' Bass Continuously DJ Mixed by AK1200 (CD, Moonshine, Various artists compilation)
Gig Magazine (July 1998)
Godzilla - The Album (CD, Sony Music, Soundtrack)
Gravity Kills - Perversion (CD, TVT, Industrial/pop)
Hellspawn - Extreme Metal Meets Extreme Techno (CD, Earache)
June Panic - The Fall Of Atom: A Thesis On Entropy (CD, Secretly Canadian, Pop)
Jupiter Coyote - Here Be Dragons (CD, Roadrunner)
(Zine, Issue #1)
James Kochalka Superstar - The True Story of... (CD, Dot 7, Pop)
Sean Lennon - Into The Sun (CD, Grand Royal/Capitol, Pop)
Madball - Look My Way (CD, Roadrunner)
Sally Martin - Journeys (CD, All Aboard Music)
The Meat Joy - The Meat Joy (CD, Death Rebel Music)
Rose Melberg - Portola (CD, Double Agent)
Natural Born Techno (CD, Chipie, Various artists compilation)
Not Dogs...Too Simple - A Tale of Two Kitties (CD, Casino Music)
Obituary - Dead (CD, Roadrunner)
Out of Sight - Music From The Motion Picture (CD, Jersey/MCA, Various artists)
Ozomatli - Ozomatili (CD, Almo Sounds)
The Panoply Academy Glee Club - RAH! (CD, Secretly Canadian, Obtuse pop)
Pressure Drop - Elusive (CD, Sony)
Pressure Drop - Silently Bad Minded: Mixes by Roni Size (12" vinyl EP, Hard Hands/Sony)
Pressure Drop - Silently Bad Minded: Includes Mixes by Stereo MC's (12" vinyl EP, Hard Hands/Sony)
Pretty In Pop - Songs From the Films of John Hughes (CD, Endearing, Various artists compilation)
Pro Sound News (Magazine, June 1998)
Pulkas - Greed (CD, Earache)
Punk Uprisings - Vol. 2 (CD, Go-Kart, Various artists compilation)
Replication News (Magazine, June 1998)
The Rumors - The Rumors EP (Independently released CD EP)
7000 Dying Rats - Fanning the Flames of Fire (CD, Invisible, Rock)
Debby Schwartz - Wrongs of Passage (Advance cassette, Mercury)
Seven Speed Vortex - Hard Luck Din (CD, Starfish)
Sir Millard Mulch - 50 Intellectually Stimulating Themes From A Cheap Amusement Park For Robots and Aliens, Vol. 1 (CD, Ed Furniture Entertainment)
Ska Sucks - Ska Sucks (Double CD, Liberation, Various artists compilation)
Soaking In The Center Of The Universe
- Volume 2 (CD, Spongebath, Various artists compilation)
Social Distortion - Live At The Roxy (CD, Time Bomb Recordings)
Kent Sparling - Route Canal Diary (CD, The Combine)
3AE (Zine, Issue #11)
TopRope Magazine (Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2)
Travel - Opus Oil Slick # Same Said (CD, Starfish)
The Unfinished Tomb of Roy Orbison - You Can Trust the Donut Man (Independently released cassette)
Unwritten Law - Unwritten Law (CD, Interscope, Rock)
The Vertical Iris - A ZoeMagik Mewzik Mix (CD, ZoeMagik/City of Tribes)

©1998 LMNOP

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