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June 2000 Reviews From the Rotting Remains of

RATING SYSTEM | Tim Armacost | Boiler Room | Ian Brown | The Cavemanish Boys | The Concretes | Eleven | eX-Girl | Neil Innes | Kenny Howes | How To Know the Difference Between What Is Good and What Is Bad | Johnny Society | Bill Laswell | Of Montreal | Olive | Paypal | Pookey Bleum | The Queers | Terry Radigan | The Ramonetures | Elliott Smith | Summit Jazz Orchestra | Vanderhoof | Veruca Salt | Steve Von Till | The Webstirs


Tim Armacost - The Wishing Well (CD, Double-Time, Jazz)
Despite the fact that this guy has recorded a bigger pile of stuff than Nebraska and has accomplished more than most musicians will ever in our isolated little puny forest world we had (unfortunately) never even HEARD of Tim Armacost until now. Our loss. Mr. Armacost is a saxophone player that...once you hear will not likely forget him. The man absolutely makes his instrument speak. The six lengthy tunes on The Wishing Well are extended excursions into heady mature jazz...and the production on this disc is the TOPS. Other featured players include Bruce Barth, Ray Dummond, and Billy Hart. GREAT understated jazz music played with heart and mighty chops. Big meaty production... GREAT stuff... (Rating: 5)

Boiler Room - Can't Breathe (CD, Roadrunner, Hard rock)
Nice solid groove rock with a hard edge. The problem with most really loud bands is that all they can do is play really loud. Really loud is not a bad thing to be certain...but when all you do is thrash away at top volume non stop it just gets rather goddamn boring. Boiler Room add plenty of variety to their songs to make them interesting. Sure they can crank it out of the monkey's ass...but they only turn the volume all the way up when they need to. Smart, eh? fact these guys are much, MUCH smarter than your average loud angry rock band. And that...combined with their creative instincts...makes their tunes big bad ol' punchy fun. Thirteen intense rockers here, including "Do It Again," "Fuse," and "Vindictive." Nice and hard, just the way we like to eat... (Rating: 5)

Ian Brown - Golden Greats (CD, Interscope, Pop)
Never really that familiar with The Stone Roses, we cannot draw comparisons to the most current recorded project of prior bandleader Ian Brown. If we are to believe the press release, however, it would appear that Mr. Brown's music has influenced an entire generation of fans, bands, and farm hands This could all very well be the dub/techno/pop on Golden Greats certainly has a familiar ring. Perhaps accordingly, we couldn't help but think that the phone continued to ring as we listened to this disc. We'd SWEAR that there is a phone ringing in over two-thirds of these tunes, but perhaps not... Either that or we've just taken too goddamn much and can barely function. But back to the music... This pop music is heavily drenched in the thick British production and technology. It's danceable pop to be certain...but the songs stand solid in center peg one. There's a lot to like here...including "Gettin' High," "Free My Way," and "Babasonicos." Neat stuff, in a drony kinda way... (Rating: 4)

The Cavemanish Boys - Get A Load Of... (CD, Blood Red Vinyl & Discs, Garage rock)
If you like those crazy bands on the ultra-cool Estrus! label, then your wig's gonna pop off when you hear The Cavemanish Boys. The band's name is apparently a take-off on David Bowie's first band, although the sound is entirely different. Although the music on Get A Load Of... is certainly nasty and has a good snarl to it, the band has the good sense to play at a tempo that is appropriate for their music. We've said it before and we'll say it again, speed is cool...but it is power, first and foremost, that really matters in playing loud rock music. The Cavemanish Boys set a mood with their tunes. The rhythms are pure dynamite, the guitars nice and meaty, and the vocals filled to the brim with attitude. The overall sound is sixties in nature, but revved up and powerful enough to really get your panties all pumped up. All the tunes kick...but our top picks are "Remember This Time," "Sunday Street," and "Wide Open Lie." These guys deliver the goods with style. Check out the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

The Concretes - Boy, You Better Run Now (CD, Up, Pop)
Six-piece Swedish outfit. The music is sparse, slightly obtuse pop with soft vocals and peculiar arrangements. Some of the tunes on Boy, You Better Run Now almost border on bubblegum...but there's always a peculiar thread running through the music that keeps it from being too normal and/or accessible. The group's strange interplay of keyboards and guitars sounds just a big jagged and odd, almost as if the folks in the band haven't been playing together for too long. The overall mood is relaxed, and the basic sound is alternative yet relatively accessible. Our favorites here are "Teen Love," "Recover," and "Contamination." Just slightly weird. (Rating: 4)

Eleven - Avantgardedog (CD, A&M, Pop/rock)
Eleven is an interesting and intriguing band. After quickly perusing the publicity photo and biography (which is always the best way to peruse such items), we were substantially surprised at how unique and intelligent this band's music actually is. Though only a three piece, this band has a very big and very complex sound that is hard to pin down or define. They incorporate all sorts of ideas, and their songwriting abilities are not limited to one style. The guitar work is superb...way above normal...and the vocals are effective and affecting. What really makes this band click, however, are the songs. Shifting from straight pop to rock to abstract to ballads all within the space of a few songs is no small feat...particularly when each style is executed so flawlessly. There are tons of surprises on Avantgardedog...but our favorite surprise is the absolutely beautiful piano based "Strands of Rain". This one has to be heard to be believed. This is a very mature effort from a band that is doing a great deal more than just cranking out shit in a studio. These folks are smart, inventive, and mentally challenging. This is certainly worthy of your attention. (Rating: 5)

eX-Girl - Big When Far, Small When Close (CD, Kiki Poo, Obtuse vocal pop)
Whether you like them or not, you have to give the three Japanese ladies in eX-Girl credit. Whatever they are or are not, they DO NOT sound like everyone else. And in today's overcrowded market, that's saying...A LOT. Many of this band's tunes are 100% vocals...and, much to the band's credit, they DO NOT sing in English (thank GOD!). Hearing the bizarre vocal arrangements on Big When Far, Small When Close sung in a foreign language is a completely weird experience. The songs range from subtle to strange to nervous to almost operatic in nature. Not only is the music strange and unfamiliar, but to push it to an even higher plane the ladies perform in bizarre costumes and headgear. After giving this one a couple of spins, we honestly STILL can't decide how we feel about it. But, in the end, this one stands out in a BIG way...and for that, it is at least worthy... (Not Rated)

Neil Innes - Recollections Volume 1 (CD, Charmingly Persistent Productions, Pop/rock/various)
Neil Innes must surely be one of the most genuinely talented and consistently misunderstood songwriters of our time, yet he continues to remain an underground cult figure. Interestingly, 2000 has seen a strange ( and long overdue) resurgence of interest in Mr. Innes' music. A great and thoroughly comprehensive web site has popped up (, and now a British label has released the first in a series of compilation CDs. Fortunately, Virginia's increasingly influential underground media fanatic Mark Sieber played us an advance copy of his disc for us to review. Prior to hearing the CD, we figured that this would be a compilation of very familiar tunes...seeing as how we already own all of Innes' solo albums as well as all the Bonzo Dog Band and Rutles albums. We were surprised...and as pleased as a parade of penguins...when we realized that we had never heard MOST of the tunes on this compilation (!). If you have never heard the music of Neil Innes, this disc would serve as a superb introduction. This man's chameleonic and at times schizophrenic pop music is as absurd as it is endearing. Mr. Innes' compositions border on that fine line between sounding silly and sounding completely genuine and sincere. Most pop purists most likely refuse to take his music seriously because there is so much humor in it...while folks into the more bizarre stuff are probably confused by the fact that underneath the ridiculous surface there is an amazing amount of substance. This lengthy CD contains pop, rock, rockabilly, ska (?!), hillbilly music...and more. And unlike most musicians who attempt to juggle such a wide variety of styles (and fail miserably), Mr. Innes always manages to come off sounding completely authentic and genuine. We have placed this fine fellow at the top of the top of our list of favorites for YEARS now (along with Marc Bolan, of course). seems that more and more devout fans are coming out of the woodwork to show their support of this top notch and strangely peculiar talent. Can't wait for Volumes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7... This is...nothing short of...totally FANTASTIC!!! (Rating: 6)

Kenny Howes - The Right Idea (CD, Second Heaven, Pop)
Classic pop collection culled from previous released by infamous pop songwriter Kenny Howes. Riding high on the heels of the current wave of pop acts from the Southeast, this collection of tunes is an excellent representation of the music of this truly talented fellow. The songs are smart and just the slightest bit familiar, even if you have never heard them before. The tracks on this CD have been remixed and remastered, which has done wonders for the overall sound of the recordings. Fourteen cool cuts here including "The Right Idea," "The Big Monster," and "Somebody." If you haven't heard his music before, this is an excellent starting point. Great tunes executed to perfection. (Rating: 5)

How To Know the Difference Between What Is Good and What Is Bad (Easy to differentiate kind of thing)
It gets tiring trying to decide what is good and what is bad every single goddamn day of your life, doesn't it? Well you can now RELAX...because relief is at hand. Now there is an easier way. Why exert all that effort and energy...when WE will gladly do it for you...! We are blessed with the ability to know exactly what is good in the world as well as the ability to pinpoint things that are bad. And not only do we have this rare ability...but we are as pleased as punch to SHARE this knowledge...with YOU, the reader! So you you don't have to fret and spend all those countless hours weighing the merits and disadvantages of! We will make your decisions for you...and it WON'T COST YOU A SINGLE GODDAMN DIME. So if there's no money it in, then why would we even offer such a thing? For one simple reason. We, as an entity, care about YOU...the reader. You can be certain least THIS time...we are NOT pulling your legs off Try reading some of those other so called "web pages" that are filthing up the trashy ol' Interpussy. They are all fake. We will never EVER mislead you, no matter what, little chillrins... (Not Rated)

Johnny Society - Clairvoyance (CD, Messenger, Pop/rock)
Ahhh...this is the one we've been waiting for... We went absolutely APE over this band's first two CDs, so it comes as no surprise that we are once again swept off of our mighty feets. Wearing his Roy Wood influences proudly upon his sleeves, Kenny Siegel and pals have created a whirlwind of a pop masterpiece. The music is heady...and just slightly psychedelic...sixties pop with definite similarities to The Move. What we like best about Mr. Siegel's compositions is that they are extremely difficult to categorize. Is this fluffy pop...or very peculiar, abstract, and difficult music? Actually, the tunes on Clairvoyance are both. The listener is tugged back and forth between light tunes with easy chord some extremely challenging and mind boggling musical triggers that go way off the deep end... Taking the listeners in this office on a journey they can't predict doesn't happen very we always appreciate it when it occurs. Dazzling arrangements abound throughout this CD...and, as on the band's previous releases, Mr. Siegel's vocals are so goddamn good that you won't believe your ears. One of the best bands of the past decade that has not yet reached a large audience, Johnny Society has their intent pegged squarely in the right spaces... "Juggling Monkeys" is our current favorite, but that may change during the course of the next 500 spins... KILLER stuff!!! See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Bill Laswell - Dub Chamber (CD, ROIR, Dub/instrumental)
There are few artists whose music gets reviewed EVERY SINGLE TIME it hits our post office box...but Bill Laswell is one of the few. We have yet to hear anything this man has recorded that hasn't knocked our little chubby over. Dub Chamber is no exception. Full of the same sultry, high-tech dub based instrumentals that Mr. Laswell is known for, this CD is a heady trip into the world of strange sounds and eerie entertainment. The bass lines and rhythms are, as one would expect, exceptional. But it's the oblique stuff that Bill layers over the top that really makes it all click. This time around we are treated to only four cuts...but they're lengthy and meaty big boys. In the world of dub music, things just don't get much better than this. Totally HOT. (Rating: 5)

Of Montreal - Horse & Elephant Eatery (No Elephants Allowed) (CD, Bar-None, Pop)
Of Montreal had already won us over with one of their previous releases. Horse & Elephant Eatery (?!?) is another tasty morsel. This Athens band plays very sing-songy quirky stream-of-consciousness pop that is as easy to listen to as it is difficult. At times trying to follow the melody lines is an exercise in concentration (and we mean that as a compliment, natch). Sort of like a cross between Apples in Stereo and mid-period XTC except weirder than both...Of Montreal is difficult pop for people who don't mind being challenged while they're tapping their feet. By playing to a very esoteric audience, this band is expanding the boundaries of pop music...and that is a VERY GOOD THING. (Rating: 5)

Olive - Trickle (CD, Maverick, Pop)
Very polished and very slick. We were very impressed with Olive's last release (Extra Virgin). Trickle is a good disc...but does not meet our expectations (which were, admittedly, very high). This duo (Ruth-Ann and Tim Kellett) still provides plenty of the lush dub pop that they presented on their last disc...but there seems to be such an emphasis on making the tunes commercially accessible...that many of the tunes have a certain generic quality. This disc is by no means bad...there are some great tunes sprinkled amidst this collection. But several tunes (the cover of "I'm Not In Love" in particular) seem calculated and lack spontaneity. If you don't mind skipping around to get the good stuff, you'll find some meaty numbers in here. We'll still be watching patiently for Olive to deliver another one that is up to the high standards they set for themselves previously... (Rating: 3)

Paypal (Web site for easy instant payment via credit card kind of thing that is totally FREE kind of thing)
We rarely surf the web...mainly because almost everything out there is rather useless and irrelevant. But when we find something we like, we then SHARE this information...with is our JOB to do so. Looking for a SUPER EASY and GREAT way to send money to someone? Check out Paypal (click HERE to go to their web site). Paypal makes it SUPER simple to send money to anyone you know with an e-mail address...and it doesn't cost you A PENNY. (And their web site isn't filled up with all those OBNOXIOUS ads that clutter so many goddamn web pages.) Not only that...but for a limited time, they will even GIVE you $5.00 completely FREE just for signing up. This is almost too good to be true...! This is one web site you will LOVE and actually USE. You owe it to yourself to check out Paypal... (Rating: 5)

Pookey Bleum - Chords A Friend Suggested (CD, Bi-Fi, Pop)
Pookey Bleum??? This Ames, Iowa band plays uplifting slightly quirky pop music. Their lightly charged pop tunes feature excellent melodies and super vocals, and these folks know how to keep their arrangements simple...letting the songs take center stage. This CD is an excellent example of what bands are capable of producing on their own if they have the patience and the talent. The sound quality on this disc is quite impressive...but even more impressive are the sixtreen compositions. Pookey Bleum tunes are smart, succinct, and fun. Check out the band's web site at Very good stuff indeed... (Rating: 4)

The Queers - Beyond the Valley... (CD, Hopeless, Power punk)
It is fortunate that there are those in the world who refuse to change. With the rate of change constantly increasing with each and every passing week, it is reassuring to know that some things stay the same. Despite their longevity, The Queers are still doing the same thing that they were doing way back in 1981. And that is a very good thing. While other bands have come and gone...changed their styles...and altered their sound...these guys just keep on churning out their Ramones inspired ditties as if time is standing still. Listening to this, it almost seems as if time IS standing still. Is this 1974...or 2000? And...inevitably...does it really matter what year it is? Not particularly. What matters is having a good time...and from the sound of Beyond the Valley it sounds as if The Queers are still having a grand time cranking out whoppers. Lots of dirty song titles here ("Stupid F*cking Vegan," "My C*nts A C*nt"...), but the basic formula remains. Fast and simple chord progressions and painfully catchy songs. Our favorite is the bubblegummy "I Wanna Know." Hats off, fellers... Ya'll is still cool in our samey little slice of the universe... (Rating: 5)

Terry Radigan - Radigan (CD, Vanguard, Pop)
A very, very fine debut CD from soft popster Terry Radigan. Ms. Radigan has a genuine and unique way of turning a tune...but even more impressive is her voice. This poignant lady has a very breathy and emotive vocal style that fits her style of music to a T. Just as impressive is Radigan's intuitive attention to detail when it comes to arrangements. The subtle yet effective musical backdrops make these tunes even more effective than they would be already...mainly because the instrumental twists in the background are so nicely understated. Radigan pens most of the tunes on the disc, although she also also covers tunes by Greg Garing and Mark Knopfler. For anyone who loved Kate Bush's first three albums and always wanted more of the same (before Ms. Bush became so unfortunately self-absorbed)...this disc will most likely satsify in a BIG way. Our top favorites are "G-O-O-D-B-Y-E," "So What," and "Love Wouldn't Lie To Me." Super nice music from an exciting new artist. (Rating: 5)

The Ramonetures - The Ramonetures (CD, Blood Red Vinyl & Discs, Punk/surf/instrumental/satire)
Can't you guess from the band's name? It's a dead giveaway to the music... These clever folks have combined the songs of The Ramones with the style and sound of The Ventures to create an album of tunes that is a very fun experience indeed. Who would've thought when they came out in the mid-seventies that those crazy ol' Ramone punks would end up being the most influential band in the world of underground rock music? After all, when they first hit the scene everyone except for critics HATED 'em. But back to the band at hand. The Ramonetures do justice to the songs they cover, injecting them with a different perspective that actually works well. This is not only a funny's an enjoyable one as well. GREAT cover art. We tip our hats, folks...this one's a HIT. (Rating: 4)

Elliott Smith - Figure 8 (CD, Dreamworks, Pop)
Elliott Smith is a truly talented songwriter. Some of his material harkens back to the very early (and incredibly exciting) Rick Springfield albums (before he became B-I-G). Elliott not B-I-G (yet) his thoughtful and well executed talent has not (yet) been ruined by too much attention. Hopefully this fellow won't be ruined by fame, as he is most certainly going to be turning lots of heads along the way by releasing discs like this one. The is pop...but it's a lot more than mere fluff. Mr. Smith's tunes are insightful and intelligent. There are a lot of overdubs going on...thick multiple vocal tracks...sophisticated arrangements...and yet...all of these elements...only add to the beauty of the music. Color us impressed. The only thing we don't like are the earrings, so we're hoping that Elliott will lose them. Why? No reason, except to say the overall image would be improved. Forgetting this one tiny detail, you can consider us politely blown away. You've gotta hear this stuff. 'Tis GREAT, it is... (Rating: 5)

Summit Jazz Orchestra - Moods of a Cat (CD, GLM Musikverlag e.K., Jazz)
BIG sound...GREAT music...! The Summit Jazz Orchestra was formed in 1997 by bass trombone player Christian Sommerer and has grown in popularity ever since. This is a huge band...featuring no less than 5 saxophone players, a guitarist, 7 trombone and/or flugelhorn players, a bassist, a bass trombone player, and a drummer. One might think with so many players that things would fall apart or become confusing. This is certainly NOT the case here. These musicians play together so flawlessly that you'd think they've been playing together for decades. To top off it all off, the compositions are heady and diverse...and the sound quality nothing short of SUPERB. Seven lengthy tunes here. Our initial favorites are "Black Nile," "Caravan," and "Ding Dong Ding." If you love jazz music, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. Smooth, inventive, and provocative to the max...the Summit Jazz Orchestra hits the bull's eye DEAD ON. (Rating: 5)

Vanderhoof - Vanderhoof (CD, Nuclear Blast, Rock)
Good progressive rock music that is very accessible yet still retains an edge. Vanderhoof is the latest project of Kurdt Vanderhoof, who has been in several previous bands including Metal Church. The tunes on Vanderhoof are well thought out and at times rather complex. The sound is slick, yet the band can really kick out the jams when they want to. A nice mixture of sounds and ideas from the past as well as the present, this disc is exactly what the doctor ordered to put commercial FM radio back in the niche where it should be. Good stuff. (Rating: 3)

Veruca Salt - Resolver (CD, Beyond/Velveteen/BMG, Rock/pop)
Power pop with powderpuff vocals. Veruca Salt is back, minus original lead singer Nina Boredom. So what's the sound like now? The sound is more poppy, yet the band's guitars are still mighty and loud. The vocals are much more breathy and feminine...but the band still packs a punch. Comparing the old to the new...we like the new Veruca Salt better. There are quite a few good tunes on the humorously titled Resolver...including "The Same Person," "Born Entertainer," "Officially Dead," and "Hellraiser." We particuarly like the increased use of harmony vocals, which works in the band's favor. Neat stuff. (Rating: 4)

Steve Von Till - As the Crow Flies (CD, Neurot Recordings, Sparse, slow pop)
This isn't quite what we would have expected from a man who plays in the band Neurosis, as this CD is in no way heavy nor metal nor loud nor hateful. No, Steve Von Till steps up to the plate to deliver his first solo album, we are treated to very slow introspective and slightly spooky tunes. The tunes are based around acoustic guitar riffs, and supported by some very subtle yet strange layers of keyboards and other insruments. The vocals are almost whispered rather than sung, but Von Till's husky baritone voice sounds perfectly suited for this particular pity party. This is the sort of thing one would listen to very, very late at night when one is coming down from a very heavy experience. Just as Mr. Von Till physically appears to have been dropped out of the sky from two centuries ago, so doth his music soundeth as sucheth. Thisseth stuffeth hasseth a slighteth gotheth soundeth to iteth asseth welleth. Very neato-eth. (Rating: 4)

The Webstirs - Radio Racket (CD, Ginger, Pop)
Nice uplifting (mostly) happy sing-songy pop music from a talented quartet of very intelligent young men. These guys do everything right. They write good with exciting energy...create clever and interesting arrangements...have great vocals...and basically come up with a sound that is as fresh and tight as a newborn baby's barnhole. The sound is a nice mix of guitars and keyboards, all propped up by a hearty rhythm section. Twelve tunes here...our faves are "Dedicated and Famous" and "Little Vietnam." Good stuff. (Rating: 4)

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