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June 2005 Reviews by

John Ashfield
The Atomic Bitchwax

The Border States
Meredith Bragg and The Terminals

Bosque Brown*
The Catch

The Churchills
Comment Piece
Continuous Peasant
Cut City

Dino DiMuro
Fall Out Boy

The Floating City
The Futureheads
The Giraffes
Chris Hillman
Anna Homler/Steuart Liebig Duo
Joy Zipper

Toby Keith
King Elementary
Man and Woman

Carolyn Mark
Ray Mason*
The Midget

Sarah Jane Morris

Number Bolinko

The Pale Pacific
Daniel Parker
Earl Pickens
Nick Pipitone
7th Heaven
Skaggy the Lost

Fran Smith Jr.
The Stranglers
The Sun

The Thieves

This Microwave World
Thomas Truax

The Yellow Belts

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


June 2005 Comment Piece:
Thoughts About Weddings

Aren't weddings beautiful...? The joining of two spirits in holy matrimony...the lavish clothing...the special tasty food treats...the elaborate flower arrangements... How could anyone not love all of this? It's just so wonderful to celebrate all together at the same time, isn't it?

When people get married, what are they really saying to their friends and family...? Basically, they are saying:

"Everyone needs to pay special attention to us on this day."

"We need everyone to show us that they support our questionable decision to spend our lives together."

"Buy us expensive presents."

"Spend lots of money on gasoline and hotel lodging so that you can spend two hours standing in a crowd watching us while a priest reads nonsensical gibberish."

"We are such insecure and selfish pigs that we don't care if we inconvenience everyone around us."

"We would rather impress everyone with a lavish wedding than wisely use the money for a down payment on a nice home."

"We never ever go to church but if that's what it takes to impress everyone and get gifts then we'll do it."

Funny how everyone condones weddings without even thinking about what's really going on.

Weddings are selfish and self-indulgent rituals that serve no purpose other than to build up the egos of the two morons getting married and guilt everyone into giving them gifts and money. But they are wonderful events that no one should miss.

Weddings are such an obvious waste of time...and yet everyone continues with the goddamn ceremonies just like mindless lemmings.

The next time someone invites you to their wedding...do yourself a favor. Stay as far away as possible from the goddamn thing.

Weddings are Satan's way of crawling deep inside of your soul and taking up permanent residence.

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

John Ashfield - Distance to Empty (CD, PopPop, Pop)
The second solo album from the lead singer of The Bobbleheads. Citing artists like The Osmonds, Wings, Bobby Sherman, and The 5th Dimension as influences...how could anyone go wrong...? John Ashfield writes and records highly melodic pop music that harkens back to 1960s AM radio pop. This man is an exceptional songwriter...always managing to come up with thoughtful, memorable songs. John keeps his music simple...using only the necessary instruments in order to get his point across. The tunes on Distance to Empty are so honest that some people may actually be confused by them. In addition to writing and recording music, Ashfield continues with his day job...teaching music to elementary school students. John must be a really cool fellow indeed. This album includes fourteen genuinely cool cuts, including "The Watermelon Song," "Go Slow," "Lenz," "Only Dreaming," "(You Are) Everything To Me," and "Sleep Tight." Ashfield comes from the "big boy" school of pop...so it is not surprising that Chris Xefos (Moth Wranglers) lends a hand here (along with Jeff Potts of Dirty Power). Great stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5+)

The Atomic Bitchwax - 3 (CD, MeteorCity, Rock)
The Atomic Bitchwax has gone through a transformation. The band originally consisted of Keith Ackerman (drums), Chris Kosnick (bass, vocals), and Ed Mundell (guitar). But because of Mundell's obligations with his other band (Monster Magnet), he left the band in 2003...and was replaced by Finn Ryan who was previously the singer/guitarist in the band Core. Fortunately, the switch hasn't hampered or dampened the band's sound and spirit. 3 is, in fact, thoroughly uplifting and upbeat...capturing all the positive energy that made the band such a hit with reviewers and underground rock fans. Finn and Kosniak's vocals bounce off one another seamlessly...adding an extra dimension to the band's sound. Not surprisingly, Ryan's guitar playing is astounding and mind-bending throughout all ten cuts here. 3 proves that the guys in The Atomic Bitchwax are here to stay. In addition to a surprisingly authentic cover of Deep Purple's "Maybe I'm A Leo," the album features killer rockers such as "The Destroyer," "Dark Chi," "Going Guido," and "Half As Much." Great stuff. (Rating: 5++)

Blei - In Day As Dark (CD, Eternal, Pop/rock)
Blei is the Portland, Oregon-based duo of Zack Blei and Susan Blei (with Skip Landis on drums). Most male/female duos present soft processed electronic dance music...but not Zack and Susan. Instead, these folks write and record music that is heavy on guitars. The single most unique identifying factor of Blei tunes are Zack's vocals. This young man has a deep, resonant voice that recalls artists like Iggy Pop and Nick Cave. In Day As Dark features eleven moody tracks including "Fear," "Ghost," "Frightsong," "A Beautiful One," and "Over." (Rating: 4+++)

Blusom - The Metapolitan (CD, Second Nature Recordings, Progressive pop)
So many bands can be summed up in a sentence or two...but not Blusom. This Denver, Colorado based duo consists of Mike Behrenhausen and Jme White (formerly of the band Acrobat Down). Together, these two gentlemen create music that is easy on the ears...and yet somehow gently expands the mind. The Metapolitan contains elements of rock, pop, progressive noise, and electronic experimentation...seamlessly blending them all together so that they seem to fit. The vocals are fantastic...slightly reminiscent of Harpers Bizarre at times. What is so cool about this album is the unpredictable nature of the tunes. Just when you think you have them figured out, Behrenhausen and White come up with something from a completely different hemisphere. That may not help them in terms of commercial acceptance...but it gets them a helluva lot of bonus points in the artistic integrity department. The Metapolitan is a beautiful collection of compositions that drift by like clouds. Odd and slightly perplexing...these tunes sound better with each and every repeated spin. Recommended tracks: "Dean Prefab's Rodomontade," "Midnights and Mornings," "The Holy Together," "Greens and Greys." (Rating: 5+)

The Border States - The Golden Plum EP (CD EP, Vital Cog, Pop/rock)
The EP from the folks in The Border States displays an obvious affection for the music of Television and Tom Verlaine. So much so, in fact, that some of these tunes almost sound like covers. The overall sound of The Golden Plum harkens back to the early days of punk and new wave...when folks were more concerned with their music than their image. Six straight shooters here: "Dirt," "Might = Right," "Sourland," "Stand," "A Short History of Me," and "In It Deep (demo)." The Border States sure know how to play and write...their playing is tight and focused. If they can tone down the influences just a bit, they just might just have an underground hit with their upcoming full-length (due out later in 2005). (Rating: 4++++)

Meredith Bragg and The Terminals - Vol. I (CD, The Kora Records, Pop)
Previously the lead singer in the band Speedwell, Meredith Bragg has now embarked upon a solo career. Vol. I is a collection of pensive soft pop tunes centered around an acoustic guitar. Bragg's backing band The Terminals consists of Brian Minter (pianoforte, vibraphonic devices), Elizabeth Olson (cello), and Jonathan Roth (percussive instrumynts). The songs on this album are subdued, personal, and honest. Bragg's greatest strengths are his lyrics and his melodies. Whereas many folks write songs that are, for the most part, disposable...this young man's songs are genuinely heartfelt and meaningful. Rather than writing slop for underground snobs, Bragg writes tunes that could just as easily be enjoyed by grandmothers as young club-goers. Vol. I is a mature album full of intelligent compositions like "Bitter at Best," "My Only Enemy," "I Won't Let You Down," "Carolina," and "Shattering." Classy, classic material... (Rating: 5+)

Bosque Brown - Bosque Brown Plays Mara Lee Miller (CD, Burnt Toast Vinyl, Soft pop)
Mara Lee Miller (a.k.a. Bosque Brown) is an intriguing new singer/songwriter with a genuinely unique sound and style. Rather than follow current trends and sounds adopted by most new female artists, Miller opts instead to write and record tunes that sound like classics from decades past. Actually and in fact, spinning Bosque Brown Plays Mara Lee Miller gives us the same cool feeling that we get when we pull out our old 78s and spin 'em at dusk on the deck. Miller not only writes cool, reflective, memorable tunes...but she has a refreshingly unpretentious voice that is totally enchanting. The songs on this album are honest and sparse. We can only hope that in the future Mara Lee will continue to keep things simple, because this allows the listener to focus on what matters...the sheer content of her music. This wonderful collection of compositions includes "Silver and Gold," "Fine Lines," "Grazy Pasture," "Gina Anne," and "305 Bluebonnet." Beautiful stuff...simply beautiful... (Rating: 5++)

The Catch - Get Cool (CD, Made In Mexico, Pop/rock)
The Catch is a new all girl group consisting of Carly Nicklaus (vocals, guitar), Amy Rockwell (keyboards), Jenny Jimenez (bass), and Alissa Newton (drums). Made in Mexico is one of those outstanding underground labels that you can always trust. If a band is on Made In Mexico, you can bet that they're worth checking out. The Catch play loud upbeat pop music in the vein of bands like The Go-Go's, The Muffs, and Fuzzy. The band has already caught on in a big way in the Pacific Northwest. Some folks may already be familiar with Nicklaus as she also plays in the band United State of Electronica (U.S.E.). Get Cool is the first full-length from The Catch. The album features ten catchy upbeat tunes that combine the best elements of early punk and new wave into a modern concoction that is easy on the ears. Despite the fact that these ladies are playing a style of music played by hundreds of other bands...their songs have that certain something that sets them apart from the pack. Overall, this is a really fun album that puts the listener in a good frame of mind. Killer pop tunes include "Wait," "Hofmeister," "Empty Your Pockets," and "After Party." (Rating: 5)

The Churchills - The Odds of Winning (CD, Near, Power pop)
The Churchills' music has already been exposed to millions of people on television shows like Scrubs and Everwood...but it was actor Michael J. Fox who gave the band their first big break by having them appear on the show Spin City. Despite their overtly commercial sound, the fellows in this band seem mainly concerned with writing and recording good songs. The Odds of Winning features modern power pop played with conviction and style. Thus, these guys have the best of both worlds. They write and record great music...and it seems to be accepted by a surprising number of music fans. While this album may be a bit too slick and produced for fans of underground pop, for most listeners the album will simply come off like a non-stop string of modern hits. One thing is certain...after spinning this disc a few times, most folks will find it hard to get these tunes out of their heads. Killer pop numbers include "Not So Goodbye," "I'm a Sucker for a Girl in Uniform," "It Only Hurts When I Breathe," and "We'll All Light and Stars." (Rating: 5)

Continuous Peasant - Intentional Grounding (CD, Good Forks, Pop)
Oakland, California's Continuous Peasant is comprised of various members, most of which were previously in other bands: Chris Stroffolino (ex-Silver Jews), Peter Nochisaki (ex-Food For You and The Bill Holdens), Brandon Watson (ex-The Torpedoes and Agave Grin), Bob Gumbrect, and Mia Lipman. The band is led by the poetic lyrical explorations of Mr. Stroffolino, whose ideas and vocal delivery are sometimes reminiscent of artists like Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and Richard Hell. The band's sound is loose and unhurried and the arrangements and sparse, only including the most necessary parts of the puzzle in order to get the ideas across. Intentional Grounding is a peculiar album at times...featuring moody, subtle, introspective compositions that get better the more you hear them. Eleven tracks here, including "All I'm Saying," "Fire Side of Me," "I'll Try to Understand," and "Wherever It's Gray." (Rating: 4++++)

Copeland - In Motion (Double CD, The Militia Group, Power pop)
Absolutely explosive and infectious power pop. Anyone who has ever loved Ben Folds, The Beatles, Queen, Big Star, 10CC, The Beach Boys, The Lassie Foundation, and Teenage Fanclub will almost certainly go nuts over Copeland. The gentlemen in this band aren't into underground noise and trendy modern images. Instead, these fellows' number one mission is to create classic pop music that will stand the test of time. After spinning In Motion, we quickly came to the conclusion that Copeland is one of the very best twenty-first century bands around. The tunes on this album go way, way, way beyond what we are accustomed to hearing. The melodies are so good they will likely give the listener chills. Don't believe us...? Get your paws on a copy of this album...and you will more than likely be instantly addicted to Copeland. The tunes on In Motion were crafted with meticulous attention to detail. Instruments and vocals are layered and layered over one another...adding depth and amazing focus to the music. Included is a bonus disc of the "Sony Connect Sessions" which features an additional four cuts. In Motion features ten tunes that will completely BLOW YOUR MIND. This album is simply...the best. (Rating: 5+++)

Cut City - Cut City (CD EP, Gold Standard Laboratories, Pop/rock)
Begun in 2002, the folks in Sweden's Cut City write and record thumpy rock music that you can dance to. The band's driving rhythms are nicely counterbalanced by slightly spacey and spacious guitars and vocals that recall some of the best 1990s British art rockers. This EP features four tracks ("Statues," "The Postcard," "Blank Calls," "This Exile Reads Me") and precedes the band's forthcoming full-length which will be out later in 2005... (Rating: 4++++)

Dino DiMuro - Sleeping Highway (Independently produced CD-R)
Longtime home recording artist Dino DiMuro returns with a brand new thirteen track album. Policy prevents us from reviewing and rating this, but we sure want to make readers aware of this release. DiMuro can be reached by writing to recordings@aol.com. (Not Rated)

Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree (CD, Island, Rock/pop)
Most folks will probably be introduced to Fall Out Boy due to their inclusion in the 2005 Van's Warped Tour. The band has already racked up a huge amount of press and this, their major label debut, will undoubtedly fan the flames even more. The four fellows in this band are playing for a very young audience...those crazy alienated kids out there who are into loud alternative rock music. But rather than following safe, standard trends in modern loud rock, these fellows manage to interject some rather clever twists and turns into their music. As such, Fall Out Boy will probably appeal to the more intellectual crazy alienated kids out there. What is possibly most surprising about the tunes on From Under the Cork Tree is how hummable they are. In most of the songs you can actually understand the words. Although their tunes probably won't reach older listeners, the guys in Fall Out Boy are providing exactly what the kids want. Good stuff. (Rating: 4++++)

Flare - Circa+ (CD, Mother West, Pop)
The original version of Circa was released in 2000 on the Subliminal Violence label. The fine folks at Mother West have, thankfully, reissued the album...adding an additional four tracks recorded at or about the same time as the original six tunes. Led by LD Beghtol (also of the Moth Wranglers), Flare is easily one of the best soft pop bands of the past few years. Beghtol's tunes are poignant, personal, reflective, and honest. In an age where many folks are trying way too hard to impress others by screaming and making peculiar sounds with their mouths, his smooth clear vocals are refreshing indeed. Circa+ is soft and slow...yet orchestrated with subtle intent. In addition to originals, Beghtol has the good sense to present a great rendering of Lisa Germano's "Lovesick" (Germano is one of the great under appreciated artists of the past decade...her Lullabye for Liquid Pig album is highly recommended). Circa+ is another excellent addition to the Flare catalog. Includes "Triumph of the Pig People," "Measure of a Man," "Save Me, Save Me," and "Some Words on Parting." (Rating: 5+)

The Floating City - Entering a Contest (CD, First Flight, Progressive pop)
Most new bands basically sound like other artists such as Ben Folds, The Ramones. or Sufjan Stevens. Rather than striking out on their own course in life, the average musician merely imitates the artists he or she admires. That being the case, The Floating City is an intriguing exception to the rule. After spinning Entering a Contest, most listeners will be hard pressed to come up with comparisons and/or possible influences. The pensive, introspective tunes on this album don't fit in with current trends in music. The lyrics are unusual and they are threaded into unorthodox melodies. But despite the non-traditional approach, Entering a Contest is surprisingly listenable and accessible. By combining simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar ideas, these guys have managed to forge their own unique niche. Cool cuts include "Kansas City," "Entering a Contest," "Where You Are," and "Oh No!" (Rating: 4++++)

The Futureheads - The Futureheads (CD, Sire, Rock)
Odd, jagged, angular rock music that harkens back to early British new wave music from the 1970s and early 1980s. The guys in The Futureheads obviously aren't interested in following current trends and/or trying to sound like the latest popular bands of the twenty-first century. This is an impressive album, particularly when you consider the fact that this is the band's debut (!). These guys are heavily into studio tweaking and overdubs. Their songs are complex, nervous, and unpredictable. What is possibly most surprising about the tunes on The Futureheads is the fact that...buried underneath the layers of instruments and vocals...are some rather catchy melodies. Most bands with songs this complicated tend to get overlooked by the general population because people just can't follow what's going on. This may very well happen with this band. Our guess is that, for better or for worse, The Futureheads are probably playing above the heads of most listeners. But that won't stop them from racking up some major points with listeners who don't mind being challenged. This is a cool album that goes all over the place in terms of sounds and ideas. Fifteen tracks here...including "Le Garage," "Decent Days and Nights," and "Trying Not To Think About Time." Intriguing and very, very smart. (Rating: 5++)

The Giraffes - The Giraffes (Advance CD, Razor and Tie, Rock)
Sneaking up quietly from behind with the tune "JR At His Worst," the guys in The Giraffes quickly let their muscles flex as their music climaxes into all of its primal beauty. Guitarist Damien Paris probably sums up the band's music best, calling it "sexy metal." While these guys are aggressive and loud, their music is more basic rock than punk or heavy metal. And what sets them apart from the pack is the pure and simple fact that these guys can really, really play. The band's tight precision is evident throughout this album which showcases some rather mind blowing complex guitar pyrotechnics. Lead vocalist Aaron Lazar displays an amazing ability to simultaneously sing, growl, scream, and do whatever is necessary and right for each individual song. The guys in The Giraffes are sure to turn plenty of heads with this album. The tunes are hard, smart, and full of attitude. Kickass hard rockers include "Wage Earner," "Having Fun," "79 & Weightless," and "Honey Baby Child." Classic hard rock. (Rating: 5+)

Chris Hillman - The Other Side (CD, Sovereign Artists, Folk/pop)
As a member of The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, Souther, Hillman, Furay, and The Desert Rose Band, Chris Hillman has certainly sealed his fate as a legendary figure in the world of popular music. At this stage of the game, most artists would retreat from the world of music and live a quiet life...but not Hillman. Not only does his new album feature fourteen new recordings, but he is also touring Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, and the United States in 2005 to promote the disc. The Other Side features four recordings of old tunes ("Eight Miles High," "It Doesn't Matter," "True Love," "Missing You")...but the remaining ten cuts are the real meat on this disc. Hillman is backed by Herb Pedersen, Larry Park, Sally Van Meter, and Skip Edwards. Despite the fact that this is a slick and professional affair, Hillman's love of music still shines through clearly...making this collection of tunes both genuine and surprisingly personal. Classic tracks include "Drifting," "The Wheel," "Heavenly Grace," and "Our Savior's Hands." (Rating: 5)

Anna Homler / Steuart Liebig Duo - Kelpland Serenades (CD, pfMENTUM, Experimental)
Talk about obtuse and esoteric. On this disc, Anna Homler handles voice, toys, and found objects while Steuart Liebig is in charge of contrabass guitars, preparations, electronics, and live looping. All of the compositions on Kelpland Serenades are live, undubbed improvisations...which may explain the odd, spontaneous sound of these recordings. These two folks are coming from the same basic school of thought as artists like Emily Hay. Rather than taking standard approaches to music, this duo seems to enjoy defying prior concepts and destroying conventional notions. Like Hay, Homler uses her voice in varied unusual ways...often singing/speaking in nonsensical sounds and phrases. Liebig's spontaneous explorations into sound are difficult to describe...and may scare some listeners away. Together, these two individuals create their own strange and slightly spooky universe in which anything can happen. These thirteen tracks are recommended only for those who enjoy truly experimental music. Bizarre compositions include "Winter Street," "Blasted Landscape," "Case In Point," and "Radix Vitae." (Rating: 5)

Joy Zipper - American Whip (CD, Dangerbird, Progressive pop)
Joy Zipper is the British duo consisting of Vincent Cafiso and Tabitha Tindale, along with various assorted friends lending a helping hand. American Whip, the band's second album has finally been released in the United States courtesy of the fine folks at Dangerbird and Mercury. Whip is a cool and subdued spin, featuring plenty of dreamy hummable pop tunes injected with plenty of modern technological twists. Cafiso and Tindale's vocals merge together so well at times that they almost seem to become one. Their songs have as much in common with Pink Floyd and The Beach Boys as they do with more current bands like Ivy and Air. Heady and progressive, this album is a smooth and slightly trippy mental rendezvous. Features "Sunstroke," "Baby You Should Know," "Drugs," "VSX," "Vally Stream" and more... (Rating: 4++++)

Toby Keith - Honkytonk University (CD, Dreamworks Nashville, Country/pop)
Toby Keith was one of our favorite country artists for a long while...but his last couple of albums were extremely disappointing. Besides the fact that the melodies weren't so great...singing about patriotism and wars just didn't cut it. To make matters worse, Keith has also been suffering horribly over the past couple of years from oversaturation. Everywhere you look you see his face...and hear his music. Whereas he started out as the "strong and silent type" he eventually transformed into "the type that won't shut up." We had pretty much written Keith off as just another great artist whose talent was ruined by too much success. Slipping Honkytonk University into our CD player...we honestly weren't expecting much. But boy were we surprised. Toby's back...and in a BIG way. Instead of singing about the wrong topics...he's back to singing about simple things like life and relationships...and the songs KICK ASS. Yup, just when we all thought his career had been flushed down the crapper...Toby Keith has come back with one of his best albums EVER. Instead of duets with assholes like Sting (vomit) and Willie Nelson (double vomit)...he's made a much better choice this time around, doing an excellent duet with Merle Haggard (yes, yes, YES...much better direction there...). Perhaps Haggard is influencing Keith on this album, as many of the numbers sound more like classic country that modern redneck country. So...even if we do still see too much of him in the media...and even if he has made some really stupid career moves (siding up with George W. Bush...c'mon Toby, you should know better)...in the end, it's the music that counts. And Honkytonk University hits the target...DEAD CENTER. Welcome back, Mr. Keith. It's been too long. An excellent album. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

King Elementary - Kudzu (CD, Sweet Tea, Rock)
Younger and younger bands keep getting better and better with every passing year. Jackson, Mississippi's King Elementary may just be the best super young band we have heard....ever. The four fellows in this band are eighteen...but they've been playing together since they were fourteen (!). But don't expect generic thrashing or mere idol imitation...because King Elementary is a completely genuine and credible rock band. These guys play loud and hard...but they never forsake songs in the pursuit of pure volume and power. In short, Kudzu is an impressive, smart album full of creative jolts. These guys have already signed a recording deal with Capitol Records...so we (unfortunately) won't be hearing any more independent releases from them anytime soon (damn!). Unlike most young bands, these guys write and record music that can easily be appreciated by rock fans of all ages. Killer cuts include "For The Birds," "Hit the Mirror," "Spur of the Moment," and "Kisses From the Stone." Killer hard rock with balls. (Rating: 5+)

Kingsley - Kingsley (CD, Blood Orange, Rock/pop)
The latest project spearheaded by songwriter Harris Thurmond, guitarist for Hammerbox, Orbiter, and Sanford Arms. Thurmond formed Kingsley with fellow Orbiter bassist Jeff Wood to play tunes he was writing that weren't right for the other band. Rounding out Kingsley are Robert Dent on drums (also formerly of Sanford Arms) and Billy Brush on keyboards. This band's tunes sound a bit like Dinosaur Jr...but with more conventional sounding vocals. Thurmond and associates keep things simple here...which works in the band's favor. These songs are strong enough to speak for themselves without studio gloss and unnecessary overdubs. While these tunes are basically mid-tempo rock, there is some real power happening here...making tunes like "New Rock City" and "Jilted" sound rather formidable. Simple catchy rock. (Rating: 4++++)

Lanky - Odd Hour Work Week (CD, Imposter, Pop)
For an underground singer/songwriter, Lanky's music has an incredibly polished and accessible sound. Odd Hour Work Week is a short album, clocking in at just under 30 minutes. But this fellow utilizes his time wisely and doesn't use filler. Thus, this ten track album is as absorbing and entertaining as many albums twice its length. Unlike many underground artists, Lanky isn't trying to be incredibly clever and unusual. Instead, this young man writes and records music that could easily be understood by millions of people. These nine lavish cuts showcase creative arrangements and Lanky's excellent vocal abilities. Tracks like "Falling Hard for the Girl," "Crashing the Car is Learning to Drive," "Everything That," and "Quiet Song" make this album a truly great spin. (Rating: 5)

Mahogany - Memory Column: Early Works & Rarities, MCMXCVI-MMIV (Double CD, Darla, Progressive pop)
An enchanting double disc set featuring "the definitive and complete collection of all Mahogany singles, EPs, and rare compilation tracks" (quoted directly from the press release which accompanied the disc). If you aren't familiar with Mahogany, the band plays haunting, strange, atmospheric pop music in the same general vein as bands like The Cocteau Twins. Thus, if you're looking for catchy, hummable, easy, commercial sounding music...you won't find it here. These folks' sound is strange and cerebral. Despite the fact that these tunes were recorded at different times and in different places, the material on these discs hold up surprisingly well as a whole (this could be due to the fact that when they originally recorded these tracks the band planned in advance for them to be compiled together at a later date). The first disc features tracks from 1997 to 1999 while the second features material from 1999 to 2004. Much of this material has a strange, distant sound quality that makes it sound as if the band is playing in another room. Absolutely beautiful packaging completes this package...including complete information on each track. Quite unique and just slightly surreal... (Rating: 5)

Man and Woman - Doing Things Together (CD, Ghestalin, Rock)
Man and Woman is duo consist of Man and Woman. Man does all things require thinking and strength, while woman does everything else. Man writes songs that sound strong and hairy while Woman does the bidding of Man (with no hair). While Woman stand naked in back corner of barn, Man find thing to hit and bash with. When bashing get heavy and filling with drainage, all kind of thing get stacked with popper. The staggering whip and whirl of fever cause thing to crash with fresh...freshness pop and ting-tong all the way to farmy barker. Sail away, Freeman Gonk. Sail away until mermaid come paddle doggie mint on seesaw sunshine patty. (Rating: 1)

Carolyn Mark - Just Married: An Album of Duets (CD, Mint, Pop)
Duet albums are usually letdowns. The albums are usually made mainly to flaunt big names and make money. Accordingly, Carolyn Mark's Just Married: An Album of Duets is a refreshing change from the norm. Not only does Mark seem like a genuinely super nice lady, but she has also already proven herself among fans of underground pop. Thus, she probably had no problem coaxing her pals into singing with her on this album. Folks taking part in this project: NQ Arbuckle, The Silver Hearts, Amy Honey, Geoff Berner, Corb Lund, Ford Pier, Nathan Tinkham, The Fine Options, Dave Lang, Luke Doucet, Clay George, Kristen Harrison, Robyn Carrigan, and Carey Mercer (whew!). This must have been quite an undertaking getting all these folks into the studio one at a time to record. But the best part is...the album works. Smooth, classic cuts include "Fireworks," "North Country Fair," "Done Something Wrong," and "I'll Be All Right." (Rating: 5)

Ray Mason - Old School (CD, Captivating Music, Pop)
Haydenville, Massachusetts' Ray Mason makes consistently superb music...and has been doing so without stop since the 1980s. Considering how many folks this man has played with and what a large catalog of music he has produced, one would think that...by now...his name would be a household word. But at least thus far, this is not the case. And yet Mason continues to write and record stunning albums, releasing them on his own independent Captivating Music label. Old School is dedicated to the memory of Raymond D. Mason (Ray's father), who unfortunately passed away in 2004. Ray credits producer Jim Weeks for his major contributions to this project. You'd think after all these years writing and recording songs that Mason would have burned out or gotten bitter...but fortunately neither is the case. This man's tunes still have the fresh, spontaneous feel of someone who has just picked up a guitar. Eleven classic tunes here, including "Old School," "Crazy," "Question to Answer," and "Pretty Bye-Bye." Ray Mason is one of the most genuine and sincere artists on earth. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Melodium - La Tete Qui Flotte (CD, Autres Directions in Music, Atmospheric pop)
Melodium is Laurent Garard...a French artist who has been recording and releasing music under this name since 1999. What is most interesting about La Tete Qui Flotte is how it was recorded. Instead of holing himself up in a basement or a garage to record the music, Garard carried his portable mini-disc recorder with him to various outdoor locations and recorded the music wherever it felt right. He then later assembled and completed the recordings at home. In some ways, this odd approach to recording gives the album the sound and feel of analog recordings. Instead of sounding sterile (which is the case with many electronic albums), these tunes have an odd warmth which may be due to the surroundings. Various voices are mingled throughout the album including Garard's own voice, his friend Dudley, his niece Lais-Salome Massoussi, and his girlfriend Violaine Barbault. This perplexing album does not sound like other electronic projects we have heard of late. Strange tracks include "Hellomusic," "Le Creux est Ma Matiere Premiere," and "La Fin de Tout." (Rating: 4++++)

The Midget - The Midget (CD, Impko, Pop)
The Midget is the new band/project spearheaded by Sean Curley who was formerly with the criminally overlooked underground 1990s band The Wallmen. This, the band's self-titled debut, features wonderfully smart and unique tunes for fans of intelligent lo-fi indie pop. Rounding out the and are John McDonald and Amber Rossino. Sean, John, and Amber have succeeded where many others have failed. Without the assistance of a record company, they have managed to record and release an album that is as good as any major label release (and, in fact, much better than most). We are particularly intrigued by the lyrics on this album. The words to songs like "I Am A Song," "Predictable Self," and "Tommy" are funny, thoughtful, and articulate. These three folks make music that is not only genuine and sincere...but authentically entertaining as well. An imaginative and creative collection of tunes... (Rating: 5)

Moov - Tracks (Double CD, Kitchen Sink, Electronic/instrumental)
Moov is the one man band consisting of Tony Gudwien...who wrote and recorded the 23 tracks on this double CD set by himself in his home studio. Tracks encompasses a lot of territory. Gudwien's music twists and turns its way into the genres of jazz, ambient, techno, and even mood music. Whatever this man does, however, he does it right. This is an entirely instrumental album. Thus, there are no annoying hip hop vocals or sampled voices. Tracks sets a definite mood. Unlike most CDs that arrive here in our fluffy office complex, these stood out because they didn't sound like the others. A lot of work went into this project (total running time is 78 minutes and 58 seconds)...and it shows. Lovingly recorded with acute attention to detail...Tracks is a solid example of home recording gone terribly RIGHT. (Rating: 5)

Sarah Jane Morris - In Concert: Ohne Filter (German import DVD, Music Video Distributors, Soul/pop/funk)
Sarah Jane Morris is a true original in the world of music. Her tunes do not easily fit into specific styles and categories...but rather straddle the lines between soul, pop, blues, and funk. Despite the fact that she is British, her vocals are reminiscent of some of the best black female American blues and soul singers from the past few decades. Her voice is extraordinarily deep, resonant, and soulful...and her personality is truly infectious. Morris is probably best known as the vocalist on the Communards' tune "Don't Leave Me This Way." But to remember her for this one song would be a great disservice, as this woman is much, much more than a one hit wonder. Recorded live at the Ohne Filter studio in Baden-Baden Germany, In Concert captures Morris and her band in an enticing and ultimately rewarding performance. Hearing her speak in her frail British accent, one would never imagine that such a soulful, booming voice could come from such a small, polite lady. But Sarah Jane does indeed belt it out for the crowd, giving it her all...and her backup musicians are superb. The band presents nine crowd pleasers including "Too Blind," "Another Side To Love," "Afraid of the Dark," and "This Ain't Living." In addition to the concert, this DVD also includes an interview with the producer and an artist biography. Sarah Jane's solo career deserves more worldwide attention. Hopefully In Concert will open up more folks' eyes and ears to one of the best female singers around... (Rating: 5++)

Novillero - Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives (CD, Mint, Pop/rock)
Featuring members and ex-members of the bands Transonic, Bulletproof Nothing, and Duotang, Novillero is a straight shooter. Featuring twelve danceable garage rockers, Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives spins like a best of collection of hits. The band is influenced by The Small Faces, The Who, and Booker T and the MGs. As such, their music harkens back to a time when lyrics and melodies meant everything. Aim features bright, upbeat, catchy tunes that could easily be appreciated by the general public (quite unusual for an underground band...). But don't take that as a cut because it most certainly isn't. Instead of making artsy mental crap that can only be appreciated by a few isolated stuck up music snobs...these guys are just makin' some great rockin' music that should appeal to almost everyone. Killer tracks include "Laissez-Faire System," "The Hypothesist," "Gaining Ground/Losing Sight," and "Habit Over Heart." (Rating: 5)

Number Bolinko - Quack All Day, Night Go Quacker (CD, MLC, Electronic)
How does duck go quack? Duck goes quack at night with cracker jack. When cracker jack dip down in window frail, pastoral dope go quick to jail. When jailhouse creak and jiggles wiff lumber, sassy ol' cow get frilly with slumber. Number Bolinko get stale by hour and Ms. Latine-Woe go west to tower. Cluck to dove and dove to quail. Mary get pot and pan on trail. Latine-Woe trail mix get some vitamin lingo...but Mary can't tell so she go to Eat Bingo. Eat Bingo is place where nobody get nuffin. So dust and piggles get sassy-mae junk-poe. Makky soosoo tookie cushion supper may box frixie. (Rating: 1)

OCS - 3 & 4: Songs About Death and Dying and Get Stoved (Double CD, Narnack, Progressive pop)
Orange County Sound (OCS) is John Dwyer (Coachwhips) and Patrick Mullins. This beautifully packaged double CD set contains a whopping 28 tunes...most of which feature an odd haunting, surreal quality. The manner in which these songs were recorded makes them sound as if they are playing in another room...but the listener should bear in mind that this is what Dwyer and Mullins intended. For most listeners, the tunes on 3 & 4: Songs About Death and Dying and Get Stoved will sound very much like demo recordings which were never meant for release. Because of the experimental nature of these tracks, there are some definite hits and near misses. As such, this set can only be recommended for folks who are into odd and peculiar material. Spotty at times but intriguing nonetheless... (Rating: 4+++)

Ox - Dust Bowl Revival (CD, Second Nature Recordings, Pop)
Smooth folky soft pop music. Dust Bowl Revival was originally an independent release in Canada until substantial initial interest sparked a deal with Kansas City's Second Nature Recordings (the reissue contains two bonus tracks). Interestingly, the independent release hit the number one spot on the Canadian College Radio charts. Ox is led by Mark Browning, a young fellow whose songs are organic and Americana-based. Mr. Browning's tunes present a sense of longing and lost desire. Reflective and personal, one gets the impression that this man is truly pouring out his soul into his music. Recalling artists like Neil Young and Gram Parsons, Browning writes songs that could easily be appreciated by the masses (if they only had the chance to hear them). Dust Bowl Revival is a solid slice of classic soft pop that recalls some of the best artists from the 1970s and 1980s. Cool tracks like "Trans Am," "Stolen Car," "Fat Old Sun," and "Oh Eileen" make this album an essential spin... (Rating: 5+)

The Pale Pacific - Rules Are Predictable (CD EP, SideCho, Pop)
Beautiful dreamy pop. This Seattle-based quartet is certainly on the right track. Writing and recording exquisite, melodic pop music that glistens with integrity, these guys are preceding their next full-length album (Urgency) with this EP. The band consists of Gabe Archer, Justin Harcus, Cameron Nicklaus, and Greg Swinehart. Their music is reminiscent of artists like Starflyer 59 (with whom the band has already played live on several occasions). After spinning this EP several times, our main reaction was that we wanted to hear more. Four excellent tracks here: "Sucker Punch," "Identity Theft," "In the Sun Pt. 1," "All My Friends." Most certainly a band to watch... (Rating: 5+)

Daniel Parker - Mend (Independently produced CD-R, Progressive/pop)
Portland, Oregon recording artist Daniel Parker creates music that is dreamy and subtle. Instead of trying to blow his listeners away with volume and overtly clever studio tricks, Mr. Parker instead chooses to keep his music sparse and subtle. Daniel plays a whirlwind of instruments including piano, organ, guitar, saxophone, bass, drums, harmonica, and voice box. Mend, his first official release, features eleven peculiar tunes that range from pop to folk to eclectic experimentation. In addition to the title track, our favorite cuts are "Tired," "Half Orange Flip," "Last Day in San Diego," "If You Roll the Dice," and "One Mistake." In addition to recording his own music, Daniel also teachers music to pre-school children. Clever music from a cool new artist. (Rating: 4++++)

Earl Pickens - Country Music Jukebox (CD, Kill Buffalo, Country/folk)
Funny how you rarely hear country artists who play it soft and slow. Recorded completely without drums, Country Music Jukebox is a soft and soothing trip into the mind of Earl Pickens. Pickens was originally a New York punk playing in loud rock bands...until he opted to change directions entirely. Considering his background, it seems surprising that Pickens' tunes are so genuine and sincere. Instead of sounding like a city punk who switched to country/folk...instead, Earl sounds like a regular ol' boy from Alabama or Oklahoma. Tunes are what make the man in the end...and tunes are what make Country Music Jukebox such a delightful spin. Pickens has a great, slightly raspy voice that works well with the style of tunes he writes. Subdued and real, these twelve tunes set just the right mood for fans of classic country and folk. Includes "Come On Up and Haunt Me Tonight," "If I Could Sing Like That," "I'ts Only Your Heart," and "Country Music Jukebox." (Rating: 4++++)

Nick Pipitone - Anything I Want To Say (CD, Burst, Pop)
Previously in the bands Sugarsmack and Pipitone, Nick Pipitone is now out on his own...and this is his first official solo release. Nick writes and records music that is heavily influenced by Elvis Costello. So much so, in fact, that some of the tunes on this EP sound like covers. Pipitone will be touring with his band The Four Forces of Evil to promote this EP. This is a fine little disc featuring five melodic effervescent pop tunes that are extremely hummable and catchy. We'd like to hear the Costello influences toned down just a bit however. With a little tweaking, this guy could become huge... (Rating: 4+++)

7th Heaven (Horrible little television show kind of thing)
Everyone has a guilty pleasure...even us. 7th Heaven has to be the most disgusting television show of the past decade and yet...for some reason...we can't help but watch the damn thing on occasion. This may be because we like abusing ourselves mentally from time to time...or it may just be because watching this show is a like watching a grotesque horror flick. All the characters are ugly, immature, and retarded...and they always make the wrong decisions (based on--vomit--morality no less!). What is truly incredible about 7th Heaven is how many people idolize and emulate the characters. Instead of laughing at the sheer retard nature of the "actors" and "actresses" (terms used loosely), for some folks out there these people are actually (gasp) serving as role models. The very idea is nauseating...sickening...and very, very PERVERTED. After all, these excessive goody-two-shoes retards are the same people who voted for Dictator Bush. Do yourself a favor. Instead of shying away from the horror of how the other half lives...watch this show. Marvel at its vapid grossness. Enjoy the perversion and terror. Grovel in the stupidity and then learn from it. 7th Heaven represents those lost and unfortunate citizens in the United States who are completely intolerant, truly EVIL, and full of intense HATRED. (Rating: 1)

Sadaharu - New and Alternative Careers in Dance (CD, Music Video Distributors, Hard rock)
This DVD features Pennsylvania's loudest heavy metal / math rockers Sadaharu in concert. The guys in Sadaharu have a distinctive sound that blends influences from all over the world. This disc features two concerts...the first filmed on September 24, 2004 at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA and the second filmed on January 9, 2005 at the Pontiac Grille in Philadelphia. The musicians in this band are incredible...playing complex and utterly mind-boggling compositions in which the listener is taxed to the max just trying to keep up with the band's shenanigans. The overall quality here (sound and vision) is excellent...and the black and white footage spliced in with the color works great. The only problem with this disc is the live sound of the lead vocalist's voice. As is evidenced by the band's studio recordings (and the two studio prepared music videos on this DVD), the fellow can sing...he just has a really odd, shrill voice. In the two full-length concerts here, however, his vocals sound like mere yelling and screaming...which is unfortunate, because all of the other elements of this project are so professional and clean. While this may not be the ultimate Sadaharu experience on DVD...you can certainly get a good feel for what the band is like when they play live. The last segment on the disc consists of interviews with the band members...who clearly prove that they are anything but just another bunch of greasy long haired drunk musicians. These guys are SMART. (Rating: 4++++)

Skaggy the Lost (Comic book,/Graphic novel, SLG Publishing)
Written and illustrated by Igor Baranko, Skaggy the Lost presents the previously released four issue miniseries into a single book. Skaggy the Lost is the story of a big fellow whose life somewhat parallels the life of the viking Leif Eriksson. Baranko's illustrations are wonderful. His characters are goofy and absurd...often overreacting to everything around them. The wild characters in this novel are what make the book such an entertaining read. Unlike many modern graphic novels which are hampered by the egotistical self-centered nature of the artists, Skaggy is a silly and crazy story with little basis in reality. As such, the book is both funny and thought provoking. Some of the humor and artwork recalls the crazier material from 1960s issues of Mad Magazine. Rather brilliant material here...an infectious read. (Rating: 5+)

Fran Smith Jr. and The Ten Cent Millionaires - Man Meets Machine (Independently released CD, Pop)
Fran Smith Jr. has music in his blood. Best known as the bass player in The Hooters and for playing the role of Paul McCartney in Beatlemania. Fran is clearly a lover of pure pop music. His tunes recall artists like Neil Innes, Badfinger, Mitch Easter, and The Beatles. Considering the quality of the tunes on Man Meets Machine...one can't help but wonder why Smith's solo career has not overshadowed his bass playing stint with The Hooters. While his solo recordings are side projects, they sound like anything but. Fran writes clear, catchy, upbeat pop tunes that are easy on the ears and stick in the mind like glue. Not surprisingly, the sound quality is superb throughout...and the vocals are brilliant. Top notch cuts include "Man Meets Machine," "Leonardo," "Shut Down Land," "Nothing In Return," and "Demented Supermarket." Fifteen great tunes. (Rating: 5+)

The Stranglers - Live 1978 in San Francisco (DVD, Music Video Distributors, Punk/new wave)
The Stranglers were one of the very best of the initial wave of punk/new wave bands in Great Britain. After releasing three explosive and powerful albums, the band quickly sold out and watered their music down to suit the masses. But in their early years, few bands could compete with The Stranglers. The band's quirky, angry, loud punk was addictive and incredible. For those who saw the band play early on, Live 1978 in San Francisco will be a familiar reminder of how great these guys were in concert. If you weren't there, well...this DVD probably won't make a lot of sense to you. This disc features the band playing at the height of their career in San Francisco for about 30 minutes. The good news is that the folks at Target Video were on hand to record this concert. The bad news is that the quality of this DVD is questionable at best. The video is grainy and hampered on several occasions by layers of colors that are very distracting. The sound is tinny and distorted...so much so that you can barely hear the drums. The last track ("Get A Grip On Yourself," which is listed on the back cover) doesn't even feature any video at all...only an audio track is heard while the credits roll. Even more troubling about this DVD is the amount of space devoted to advertising. Instead of using the extra space on the disc to provide another concert from another band, the space is used to advertise dozens of other DVDs available from Target Video. Unfortunate, because--even though The Stranglers footage is interesting--it does not warrant buying this disc. One good thing...when no one else was around to document a lot of the early punk and new wave bands, the folks at Target Video were. (Rating: 3+)

The Sun - Blame It On The Youth (CD, Warner Bros., Pop/rock)
The Sun formed in 2001, based mainly upon demo tapes recorded by Chris Burney. Burney and other pals (ex-members of New Bomb Turks and Floatation Walls) at Ohio State University eventually dropped out and thus, The Sun began. Shortly thereafter the band was picked up by Warner Bros...and they were then on their way. Blame It On The Youth is a surprisingly diverse album, featuring pop tunes, dance tracks, and hard rock. Despite the fact that the album is super slick and polished, it is never lacking in personality or style. Songs are what make the band, and Youth is most certainly strong in the song department. The band presents fourteen modern pop/rock classics which feature exceptional arrangements and top notch vocals. The best thing about this disc...is that it gets better and better the more you spin it. Killer tunes include "Must Be You," "Say Goodbye," "We Tried," "Taking the Lord's Name in Vein," and "Valentine." Excellent. (Rating: 5+)

Terrapin - Payola (CD EP, Sidekick Music, Progressive pop/rock)
The band Terrapin is based in Sydney, Australia. In addition to this name, these folks have also recorded and/or performed using the names The Glee Club and Pariah TV (the band members are fond of changing their name every few months to confuse folks). Payola is a heady and confusing EP. Unlike most bands that can be quickly and easily categorized and pigeonholed...these folks make music that is unusual and strangely uplifting. While very short (clocking in at just over 18 minutes in length), Payola showcases a band with plenty of creative energy. Whether crashing and banging away at high volume or playing subtle instrumentals, these folks manage to intrigue and entertain from start to finish. This cool little EP features the tracks "Pixelated," "Numbers Man," "(My Shadow Chases Me Down the Street)," "Foolscap," and "Heart of Gold." (Rating: 5)

The Thieves - The Thieves (CD, Liquor and Poker Music, Rock)
Three long-haired guys playing good, loud rock and roll. Pure and simple. Originally from Oxford, England, The Thieves now reside in Los Angeles, California. The band previously issued an EP (White Line) which was very well received. This, the follow-up album, is bound to raise even more eyebrows. Rather than ape other bands and follow trends, these guys take the direct approach. Basically, they just wanna rock out...and rock they most certainly do on all of these twelve cuts. Loud guitars and driving rhythms support surprisingly hummable, catchy melodies...making the band's sound both powerful and accessible. If you don't want the frills and excesses, these guys' simple gutsy approach to music will almost surely make you smile. Killer cuts include "Gimme Some Lip," "Oh No," "Vacant Thoughts," and "Silverliner." (Rating: 5)

This Microwave World - Red States (CD, Tight Spot Records, Rock/pop)
In their previous state, the folks in This Microwave World faced confusion over where they fit into the world of music. Because the band used a drum machine, many folks incorrectly labeled them electronic...despite the fact that their music was hard pop/rock. To clarify their position and identity, the band gave in and adopted a real drummer (Kevin Bybee). Thus Red States was born. The original band members remain: Sean O'Neal (vocals, guitar), Erin Mikulenka (vocals, synth), Brandon Loe (bass), and Evan Lawrence (organ). This Microwave World's music is slightly nervous and jerky...but still ultimately danceable. Red States incorporates ideas from late 1970s punk and early 1980s new wave while providing a fresh, modern approach. It is difficult to come up with exact comparisons and influences here. Infectious dance cuts include "December Was A Sham," "The Party Line," "Death of a Taxpayer," and "Flip It To The B-Side." Catchy and fun and odd. (Rating: 5)

Thomas Truax - Audio Addiction (CD, Psycho Teddy!, X)
The first track on Audio Addiction reminded us of Frank Zappa and The Residents mixed with Gary Numan. The remaining eleven tracks sounded nothing like any of the three...and left us scratching our heads in confusion. The wildly creative and utterly confrontational Thomas Truax is the kind of artist who makes reviewers climb the walls...as they try to figure out exactly what he is doing and who he actually sounds like. The answers to those questions may well be out of reach, as Truax writes and records music that is not easily described or categorized. Despite his peculiar stance on things, his debut album (Full Moon Over Wowtown) received some rather impressive reactions from some rather impressive folks. Audio Addiction is almost certain to receive the same strange welcome. So...just exactly what is Thomas Truax doing on this album...? Hard to say, actually. Like Vivian Stanshall, this man is in a league all his own. The only problem Truax will face is that his music is beyond the heads of most listeners. Accordingly, Audio Addiction is most certainly headed for cult status... (Rating: 5)

Umbrellas - A Self Titled Release (CD, The Militia Group, Progressive pop)
Beautiful, moody, intelligent, swirling modern pop. More than any other band that we can think off, Umbrellas sound quite similar to Starflyer 59. Melodies are what make Starflyer 59 songs so memorable...and the same is true for Umbrellas. This band's music features intriguing guitars and soft, subtle vocals. Using only the bare essentials, the gentlemen in this band manage to come up with an unusually big sound. Umbrellas' mid-tempo tunes have amazing depth...but only on the tenth or fifteenth spin do the nuances in the band's music become apparent. A Self Titled Release includes a superb lyric booklet, which allows the listener to focus on the unusual mental content. Great thought pieces like "The City Lights," "Reactionary," and "Comfort in Suffering" make this album a must have... (Rating: 5+)

Vinegar - Rock Fetish (CD, Studio Brooklyn, Pop/rock)
This press release that accompanied this CD probably sums up this band best by saying "For fans of good music." Vinegar is, purely and simply, a really really good rock band. Without resorting to dumb image games and shouting matches, the band just rocks out and has a great time playing...and their enthusiasm is absolutely infectious. The music sounds a bit like The Buzzcocks with John Lydon on vocals...but these guys are not punkers as much as they are genuine rock and rollers. Despite the fact that the overall sound of Rock Fetish is not that unique and unique...the songs are just so goddamn good that you just can't help but love 'em. On the first spin one might incorrectly assume that Vinegar is just another rock band. After the tenth or twentieth spin...it becomes obvious that Rock Fetish is something very special indeed. Cool rockers like "Pig 92," "I'll Understand," "Sunshine Gun," and "Too Many Pills" will have pop/rock fans demanding more, more, MORE. Truly great uplifting music. (Rating: 5+)

The Yellow Belts - The Yellow Belts (CD EP, Eugene, Rock)
Lexington, Kentucky always seems to spawn cool bands. The Yellow Belts are yet another killer rock band to add to the list. This six song EP is absolutely bursting with incredible rock energy. The guys in this band combine driving rhythms, wild bass lines, loud guitars, and snotty vocals to create a force field that sounds something like 1970s English punk. These fellows play with tight conviction. Their music is focused and very intense. Rarely do we hear an initial release from a band that sounds this good. Killer cuts include "Crash Landers," "Crazy Hand," and "Countdown Sound." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)


Additional Items Received:

The Action Is - Forget the alibi
Amber Pacific - The possibility and the promise
Applied Communications - Uhhh sort of
The April Skies - Flood
The Aquabats - Charge!!
Athfest - Athfest 2005
Automatic Duo - Black is beautiful
Babylon Rockets - Gemini five
Bacon & Egg - Are fanduvo
Sam Barron - All over the place
Bear - #8 (comic)
Jeff Black - Tin lily
Braam - Madelaine
Bridge and Tunnel Club - Next best letdown
Brigadoon - By p:ano
Bullet Train to Vegas - We put scissors where our mouths are
Caesars - Paper tigers
Andi Camp - Magnetic
Camp Climax for Girls - Ten dollar birds
Canbe - Pluck
The Cautions - Proceed with...The Cautions
The Charms - Pussycat
Cheeseburger - Gang's all here
Cocopiazo - No. 3 (comic)
The Cringe - Scratch the surface
Darkbuster - A weakness for spirits (CD)
Darkbuster - A weakness for spirits (DVD)
Dear Machine - Dear Machine
Demons and Wizards - Touched by the crimson king
Dirty Children - Shut off the world
DJ Craze - Miami heat
DJ Micro - Tech-mix 5
Duplex - Ablum
Eau Claire - Eau Claire
Joan Enguita - Two suitcases
Exergonic - Sonic adventure project
Jerry Fels - How to make enemies...
Jane Francis - Skeletons for tea
The Free Design - The now sound redesigned
The French Broads - Better wings, better happiness
Full scale - Full scale
God or Julie - What doesn't kill you
Griddle - Turning violet
Alexander Hacke - Sanctuary
Hatesphere - The killing EP
The Heavenly States - Black comet
Hollywood Rocks! - Compilation
House of Wax - Original soundtrack
Instant Camera - Alive on departure
Island Gruve Supper Club - Mighty fine, everlasting music
Gordon B. Isnor - Creatures all tonight
Kash - Open
Chris Katris - Songs from the basement Vol. IV
Kimone - The mill
Amy Lennard - Amy Lennard
Mae-Shi - Heartbeeps
Marathon - Marathon
Corrine May - Safe in a crazy world
Meneguar - I was born at night
The Minni-Thins - In black cause I asked
The Monistats - Let's Disinfect!
Monster-In-Law - Music from the motion picture
Morning Spy - The silver age
The Northern Hues - The Northern Hues
Pirate Club - Issue #6 (comic)
The Pohjolas - I cracked my head on a rock
Giorgio Pretti - Cuidado mano
Prodigy - Spitfire
The Product - Loose lips might sink ships
Raquy and the Cavemen - Jordan
The Rocket Summer - Hello, good friend
Stephanie Sante - Coffee culture
The Santiago Steps - Points & corners
Scary Kids Scaring Kids - The city sleeps in flames
Secret Lives - This was built to make you dance
Matt Sery - A more perfect union
The Sights - The Sights
Silver Screen - The greatest story never told
Stephanie Sante - Coffee culture
Serenity Rose - Vol. 1: Working through the negativity
Bob Sharkey Quartet - Foolish nightmare
The Sincerity Guild - What it's like
Skyline Rodeo - Long drive to Iceland
Sloppy Meateaters - Conditioned by the laugh track
Dave Sprenger - Dave Sprenger
Russell Stafford - Freshwater
Tarantula - Atlantic
The Planet The - You absorb my vision
This Level Is Clouds & The Singing Woodsman - Forest meets the sky split EP
Thor - Thor against the world
Through You - Silhouette
The Turbo A.C.'s - Avenue X
James Turner - A land beyond belief (graphic novel)
Versailles - Believe
The Visible Men - Love:30
Daryl Waits - The rustler
Bill Walker - Age of discovery
Wilma Strippers - Wilma Strippers

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