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May 2000 Reviews by the Sissy Beating Threat of

RATING SYSTEM | Barnes & Barnes | Bela | Bitesize | Bright Eyes | Franklin Bruno | Etienne Charry | Clem Snide | The Dandy Warhols | Death Cab for Cutie | The Dylan Group | Ed Furniture Company | Christine Fellows | The Glands | Great Lakes | King's X | Lots of "Fives" This Month | Magnified | Mammoth Volume | Carolyn Mark | Mathlete | MDFMK | No Doubt | Optiganally Yours | Orange Goblin | PropinnSKKKKxR KhhhlXLKJ kkkk! | Sientific American | Seven Story Mountain | Jill Sobule | Sparklehorse | 12 Rods | Vivid Low Sky | The Workhorse Movement | XTC


Barnes & Barnes - Yeah: The Essential Barnes & Barnes (CD, Oglio, Humor/pop)
This is a hard one to review, mainly because it's hard to actually come to a conclusion about how we feel about this CD. On the one hand, we really find a great deal of the lyrics very funny indeed...but on the other hand, we don't know if we'd really want to listen to this more than once. Such is the case when one goes straight for the humor and puts the music second. Not that this is a bad thing, mind's just that audio humor only goes so far and then...plump. As most folks probably already know, this band's two big hits were "Fish Heads" and "Party In My Pants"...which are both included here. Other tracks include "Kiss Me Where It Stinks" (this one's really funny), "Linoleum," "Sit On My Lap and Call Me Daddy," and "Touch Yourself." Lots of really funny stuff here...just don't ask us to play it a second time...? But this is certainly good for some laughs! Visit the Oglio web site at (Not Rated)

Bela - 'Till Summer Ends (CD, Mother West, Soft pop)
The Mother West label continues to release some of the best stuff around...and they usually support artists that are complete unknowns...who just happen to be credible and interesting. Bela is an engaging band for many reasons, not the least of which is the presence of ex-Rasputina cellist Julia Kent. Is it our imagination...or is there an alarming increase in the number of pop artists incorporating strings into their music over the past few months? Whatever the case...the music of Bela is soft and slightly offbeat. The music is subtle, and the vocals are very, very cool and haunting. The band's soft pop has hints of gothic and classical music...yet it remains solidly in the pop terrain. Lots of progressive mood shifts occur during the course of this disc...making it multi-faceted in nature. This band isn't for everyone...but then, they don't even TRY to be. As for us? We LOVES it. See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Bitesize - The Best of Bitesize (CD, Packing Heat!, Pop/rock)
Instantly LOVABLE. It takes a lot to really hit our prannie where it needs to be hit, but Bitesize nailed the goddamn bull's eye on first listen. Playing humorous, succinct, anxious pop rock the way it oughta be played, this band reminds us in many ways of the much overlooked Lazy (from the 1990s). The tradeoff male and female vocals keep things interesting...but it is ultimately the songs themselves that are the draw here. Fresh, young, slightly sloppy, and simple...these tunes are the tasty pudding produced by a band that possesses the genuine excitement of making music. Top faves in this campground are "Sugar Car," "Switch Hitter," and "Yellow Belt"...but all the tunes are actually rather great. Many lyrics had us giggling up a storm. College radio should be going NUTS over this band. We SHO izz! Salute to Bitesize. They is Major FUN FUN (!). Der webb site she izz (Rating: 4)

Bright Eyes - Fevers and Mirrors (CD, Saddle Creek, Soft pop)
This band has apparently been garnering a lot of favorable reviews in some impressive places over the past year or two. Bright Eyes is the project spearheaded by Conor Oberst. So...what's it like? Subtle and slightly haunting pop music...with a great deal of human feeling involved in the writing and recording. If you (like us) are constantly bothered by too many artists who all sound the same, you will find solice in this CD. Mr. Oberst's music is strangely unique and different. His songs are not predictable, yet they still sound slightly familiar. Particularly inviting is the man's unique and quivering vocal style that we find rather arresting. Add some killer lyrics into the picture, and you have a new artist with an amazingly great deal to offer the listener...both in terms of music as well as food for thought. Very nice understated production abounds throughout. Wow. See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Franklin Bruno - Kiss Without Makeup (CD, Absolutely Kosher, Pop/male vocalist)
If you think the days are long gone when songs meant probably haven't heard the music of Franklin Bruno. Mr. Bruno is, first and foremost, a songwriter. His method of well as his lyrics...remind us slightly of one of our all time favorites, Neil Innes. Instead of going for one style or sound, Mr. Bruno's main intent seems to be to simply get his point across through music. And get his point across he does. This disc is chock full of great tracks. Stuff to get you thinking. We particularly go for "Just Because It's Dying," "Beautiful Right Now," and "Idiots." Bruno's vocals are particularly appealing because...unlike most vocalists...he doesn't try too hard. In fact, at times it seems as if he really isn't trying at all (!)...which is exactly what makes his "sound" so engaging and endearing. This truly is a GREAT CD. No dumb "modern studio techniques" bullshit...just GOOD SOLID MUSIC. See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Etienne Charry - 36 Erreurs (CD, Kindercore, Pop)
Light, playful French pop music in short, quick doses. Etienne Charry lives in the French countryside...and creates music that surely must reflect his unhurried lifestyle. What first caught our attention about this disc is that it contains 36 (!) tracks...which is very unusual for a single CD. We like short things ( MOST cases anyway), and we also like the sound of this fellow's cool and slightly peculiar music. As a big bonus, Mr. Charry sings in French...which makes us wonder why it is that so many pop and rock bands around the world sing in English (?!?). We would always prefer to hear an artist sing in their own language. Charry's got a nice breathy voice that works well with his toe tapping techno pop. Very great stuff. Our top picks are "Raye du Bottin," "Pinsen Doppler," "Hit-Parade," and "Dehors." Cool and different. See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Clem Snide - Your Favorite Music (CD, Sire, Pop)
MORE pop music with strings! We'd swear there's some connection to the number of pop bands using strings of late. Question to anyone out there...what IS going on?!? Whatever it is, it probably doesn't matter. Clem Snide is a bit different than most of the stringed popsters of late...mainly because the band's music has a definite country influence. Not twang and bang country, mind you...but the more heartfelt country of, say, Hank Williams. It's a slow, sleepytime affair to be certain... But if you snooze, you lose. Because them fellers in Clem Snide make some mighty nice soundin' gosh dern music. See the band's web site at (Rating: 4)

The Dandy Warhols - Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia (CD, Capitol, Pop/rock)
We are so pleased to hear this, the newest release from The Dandy Warhols. This band made a big splash with their Capitol debut of a few years back...but then seemingly disappeared from sight. Now they're back, offering their fans more of what made them so endearing in the first place. The Warhols combine pop sensibilities with rock and sprinkle just a hint of psychedelia over the top. Interestingly, the band's music fits in as comfortably on commercial FM radio as it does on the college circuit. Plenty of potential true "hits" here...our bet is that "Get Off" will be the most popular tune, although it is certainly not our favorite. Instead, we gravitate toward "Horse Pills" or "Sleep." Lots of great tunes here, polished and produced...yet original and real. NEAT. See the band's web site at (Rating: 5)

Death Cab for Cutie - We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes (CD, Barsuk, Pop)
Totally great and sligthly different pop music. Death Cab for Cutie is a band with great songs as well as great delivery. Very intelligent lyrics and melodies abound on this thought provoking disc. Songwriter Benjamin Gibbard has a voice you're going to have to hear to believe. This is one of those cases where the songs are strangely sincere, surprisingly genuine, and absolutely straight from the writer's inner mind. And while the music is somewhat reminiscent of eighties pop music, the overall sound is definitely fresh and unique. The understated arrangements are possibly the greatest strength of this band's music. After just one listen, these talented fellows have our attention firmly intact...and that's something that money just can't buy. Really SUPER stuff...! Our top favorites are "Little Fury Bags" (GREAT song title) and "No Joy in Mudville" (so nice it gave us chills). Check out the label's web site at WE LOVE IT. (Rating: 5)

The Dylan Group - Ur-Klang Search (CD, Bubble Core, Instrumental)
The band that created a resurgence in the vibraphone is back...with their best release yet. Whereas fame and success ruins most artists, The Dylan Group just keeps getting better. The group's early work was already superb...but with the addition of more players and more elaborate production...the music now sounds better than ever. For those unfamiliar with the band, they are probably best known for their innovative use of the vibraphone...and they were an instant favorite among critics a couple of years ago with their strange yet subtle instrumentals. Ur-Klang Search (gotta love that title) is a collage of the aforementioned instrument with heavy dub beats, horns, sultry bass lines...and just about anything you can imagine. This music is very heady instrumental stuff...just slightly outside the norm...and just inventive enough to be intriguing. All eleven tunes are keepers. We particularly love the cover art on this one... The Dylan Group is bound to be around for years to come. Get on the bandwagon early. This CD will be a great primer for the uninitiated. For the band's prior fans, they'll probably already have this one in their collection by the time they read this. See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Ed Furniture Company (Company producing absurd humor in the form of CDs, Videos, Brochures, etc.)
What to say about this small company based in Venice, Florida? They sent us a bunch of stuff...CDs...a video...brochures... It's all absurd comedy sorta stuff. And if it weren't for the fact that it was just TOO much to take in at one sitting, we'd be more specific (perhaps?). With something like this, it would be best for you to draw your own conclusions. Funny stuff, that's for sure. So why not visit the web site at Do it...NOW. (Not Rated)

Christine Fellows - 2 Little Birds (CD, Endearing, Soft pop)
A tad like Edie Brickell...a tad like Suzanne Vega...a tad like Kate Bush...and yet not really like any of them at all, Canadian soft popster Christine Fellows is a nice rush of pensive new talent. Her silky smooth vocals blend seamlessly with the often intricate arrangements on 2 Little Birds...and her ability to turn a tune is most impressive. The arrangements throughout this disc are quite incredible...incorporating lots of strings into the vein of things. This is very introspective if you don't like it serious, you'll want to steer clear. But if you like your stuff straight from the hip, that's just where Ms. Fellows is coming from. We particularly like her lyrics...sometimes obtuse, sometimes simple and direct. As an added hipster bonus, John K. Samson (of the currently great Weakerthans) even appears on a track. Very good material indeed. See the label's web site at (Rating: 4)

The Glands - The Glands (CD, Capricorn, Pop)
GREAT stuff here...! Yet ANOTHER (?!?) incredible pop band from Athens, Georgia. (What in the HELL is going on in Athens these days? We're beginning to think we need to MOVE there...since Atlanta is so goddamn SHITTY!) This band put out a release on the Bar/None label a couple of years ago, and have just now popped up on the elusive Capricorn label. This is TOP NOTCH pop music...played and sung with a vital urgency that is so obviously lacking in many modern day bands. The Glands definitely fit into the category of "studio pop" they utilize the studio to effectively push their songs to the next level. Not that the songs need any pushing...they are already great to begin with. But when you already have a great song...and then you also possess the knowledge of the studio necessary to make the song even better...well then...WOW. The songs on this CD are bursting off the grooves with cool melodies and unique ideas. All fourteen songs are killer...but our top faves are "Doo Doo Doo Doo," "Straight Down," and "Favorite American." Recommended listening...! See the label's web site at Rating: 5)

Great Lakes - Great Lakes (CD, Kindercore, Pop)
Wow. We are honest when we say that Athens, Georgia has become an explosive mecca for underground pop talent. Yup, as much as we used to hate music that came from the city...nowadays, there are literally TONS of Athens bands that we crave like hot noodles. And today we add Great Lakes to the list. Pensive thoughtful pop with great melodies and cool arrangements abounds throughout this disc. Vocals are WAY above average. Recorded in the band's home studio and mixed by the continually intriguing Robert Schneider, this is a great new obscure band that is certainly worthy of your attention... True and neat. See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

King's X - Please Come Home...Mr. Bulbous (CD, Metal Blade, Rock)
Doesn't this band EVER release anything BAD? We've been into the music of King's X ever since we began reviewing music many years ago. The band's intelligent fuzzy pop/rock stands out because of the passion and integrity of the songs as well as the proficiency of the musicians themselves. This is once again true on the band's eighth full-length release. While the band's pop sensibilities remain intact, they are now throwing more curves at the listener than ever before. Despite the "bid production" sound, the band never sounds generic. As usual, the playing is far beyond what normal bands are capable of...and it's always made even more amazing by the fact that this band is a three piece. Their sound is much bigger and fuller than many bands with seven or even ten members. Our faves this time are "Fish Bowl Man," "When You're Scared," and "Bitter Sweet." Always a force to be reckoned with, King's X just keeps getting better with time. (Rating: 5)

Lots of "Fives" This Month (Self realization kind of thing)
Hey...aren't there an unusually LARGE number of releases that received a rating of "FIVE" this month? Well hell...there sure goddamn ARE. So...what ARE this what is going ON? This are because good things always happen all at once. Everything gets dull and boring...and then for some reason a great wave of something takes over the earth and cool things happen all at once. This is such a month, as we've heard more exciting...innovative...and mindblowing music this month than in a VERY LONG TIME. So you see...we have a goddamn reason as to why there are so many "fives" this month. It's the "wave" effect happening. While the mass media is still squrting out doodoo to the tune of "Elian" (VOMIT) the undercurrents of the world, some wildly fantastic things are happening. Do this all sound dumb? Maybe it IS dumb...but dumb is as dumb DOES... You dumb. We dumb. Everyone dumb. (Rating: 2)

Magnified - Stand In Traffic (CD, TVT, Rock/pop)
These fellows seem like they would probably be good fun in concert. The band's basic rock/pop music is supported by some obvious and intent posturing...which actually suits the music just fine. While not the most original band ever to hit the planet, Magnified still achieve the main objective...which is to entertain the listener. The tunes are soaring, hummable pop with big guitars and heavy bass and drums. The recording quality is perfect...just the right blend of punch mixed with subtle state-of-the-art studio tricks add to (rather than detract from) the tunes. This music would fit just as well into the college radio arena as it would into purely commercial FM radio. Completely unique it ain't...but fun and enjoyable it IS. (Rating: 4)

Mammoth Volume - Noara Dance (CD, The Music Cartel, Rock)
POTHEAD...oops, excuse us..."STONER guitar rock" for folks who like taking just one or two puffs and then opposed to all those obsessive-compulsive Fu Manchu fans out there who smoke their brains into oblivion and then completely LOSE IT. Yup, keeping a reign on things in a subtle manner, Mammoth Volume still manage to be a neat rockin' band. They're not laid back...yet they're not over the edge either... Just like Goldilocks, they like it juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust right. The songs are lengthy...but not boring. And we like the big meaty sound of the guitars. Songs are well above average. Our fave here is "Larrivee." Good band with some way cool tunes... (Rating: 4)|

Carolyn Mark - Party Girl (CD, Mint, Female vocal/pop)
Those goddamn folks at Mint do they come UP with 'em? They've already started a major buzz across the world with the critically acclaimed Neko Case...and now the same thing is BOUND to happen with the totally incredble music of Carolyn Mark. Ms. Mark's music (like the music of the aforementioned Ms. Case) harkens back to the 1950s and 1960s when female vocalists ruled the airwaves...and she's got the pipes to make it WORK. Carolyn has a nice husky vocal style that is one part country and one part radio pop. Not only do her vocals kick Gertrude's snouty pork chop...but she writes some totally COOL tunes. Our top faves are "Don't Come Over Baby," "Edmonton," "The Way Back," and "Small Victory." While the music does have a retrospective is still totally vital and hip in the best sense of the word. As usual...if it's on's GOTTA be great. See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Mathlete - Telstar Parthenon (CD, Plastique Recording Co., Pop)
Excellent band. Excellent band name. Mathlete is the duo of Mike Downey and Dan Marsden. This music does NOT fit in with any current styles of music. The music harkens back to early new wave bands of the late seventies. The compositions are slightly quirky, relatively simple, and the vocals in particular are very new wave-like. The vocals remind us in an odd way of Steve Harley in the early days of Cockney Rebel. The keyboards have a nice cheesy quality that is sadly missing in many modern day bands. This novel disc contains twenty quick little numbers that are sure to have you tapping your toesies around and going snappity snap snap. This should please fans of the aforementioned Cockney Rebel as well as fans of early Gary Numan. VERY interesting stuff...! Neat, neat, NEAT. See the band's web site at (Rating: 4)

MDFMK - MDFMK (CD, Republic/Universal, Techno/pop)
If the band name seems strangely familiar yet not so very familiar, here's why. MDFMK is KMFDM backwards. Although KMFDM is no more, core members Sascha Konietzko and Tim Skold (along with new member Lucia Cifarelli) are picking up the torch and forging ahead. The music is very similar, but there are some subtle differences. The most important thing to remember is that this is still first and foremost DANCE music...and it is certain to go over very big in the club scene. KMFDM was a band that was always loved and despised...depending on who you asked. The same will surely be true of MDFMK...which is probably exactly what the band is striving for. Good stuff. Plenty fun. Technology galore. Plenty loud and noisy too. (Rating: 4)

No Doubt - Return of Saturn (CD, Trauma/Interscope, Pop)
No Doubt is very popular band, is not? We are not total of certain...for you see, we no longer have connection to music world other than what is sending to post office box. We do not watch music video...nor do we listen to radio...nor do we search Internet... Accordingly, we are rather unaware of great many thing. We only guessing this is famous band because name somehow seem familiar of sounding. Whatever the case is, this is first thing we hear from No Doubt. What are it be? It are be band what is guitar band, but with many other instrument making of appearance. Another feature of note is lead singer lady is actually able to pull of having hair of pink color. Not many people able to pull off hair of pink color. It usually stupid looking. Not so here. This lady have nice pink of hair. Music definitely alterna-rock. Friendly to FM alterna-rock. High production facility alterna-rock. Actually having catchy and intrigue though... Our snot not blown out of earpigs...but we not grossed of outing either way... (Rating: 4)

Optiganally Yours - Presents: Exclusively Talentmaker! (CD, Absolutely Kosher, Pop)
Peculiar pop music with slight threads of lounge running through it. This band stands out for many reasons. First, their melodies and compostions are very intricate and intelligent. Secondly, the band's vocals are TOP NOTCH and virtually incredible. Third, the way these folks weave their odd mixture of styles together is unique. We could go on and on here...because we absolutely LOVE this band...! Instead of the usual alterna-crap or slop-pop that is so prevalent of late...we have two fellows who possess a genuine talent for writing and recording thought provoking and original music. Optiganally Yours consists of Pea Hix and Rob Crow. These two are gonna be very huge, at least among those who follow the undercurrents in popular music. See the band's web site at HIGHLY RECOMMENDED...! (Rating: 6)

Orange Goblin - The Big Black (CD, The Music Cartel, Rock)
Really good ULTRA LOUD guitar rock band. Man, these guys have major CHOPPERS. The HUGE overdriven duel guitar thing has never been done better...and the songs are fueled by a mighty aggressive and truly functional rhythm section. Plus the vocalist has a low-pitched scream that sounds not unlike early Alice Cooper. It all adds up to one whopping HELL of a rock and roll monster...let loose at midnight to kill all the children and eat their pets for dessert. The band is loud, yet they are a great deal more than just a loud rock band. They're smart...inventive...and ULTRA tight on their instruments. Tunes like "Quincy" and "The Big Black" had us laying down flat and staring at stars. If you love fat loud guitars played REALLY're gonna DIG this baby doll... YEAH...uh HUH!!! (Rating: 5)

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Sientific American - Saints of Infinity (Double CD, Obtuse/electronic/experimental/ambient, Team Slabco)
This double disc CD is a compilation of the past two years' recorded compositions by Andrew Rohrmann. This guy's GOOD. His compositions range from experimental to dub to drum and bass to ambient to...well, to just about whatever. Of course, we've always been partial to this sort of adventurous music...but particularly so when the person creating it has genuine talent. This is a heaping, big, whopping batch of music. Disc One ("Saints of Infinity") is mainly subdued experimental instrumentals. Disc Two ("Simulated D.I.Y.") is more upbeat and modern (although still full of odd twists). This is probably one you're going to hear about mainly through word of mouth, as the pieces are not geared toward radio airplay... Just remember you heard it here FIRST, eh? (heh heh heh...). 'Tis NEATO. See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Seven Story Mountain - Based On a True Story (CD, Deep Elm, Rock/pop)
Seven Story Mountain is not a band that we would expect to be on the Deep Elm label, mainly because many of their tunes are rather harsh...even possessing sort of a metallic tone. That's not a bad thing though, no no no... Variety is the light of spite, and the light gets turned on by the urgent heavy sound of Seven Story Mountain. Cool guitar playing abounds on Based On a True Story, and the songs are well thought out and inspired. Seven lengthy tunes here...almost all of which are grabbers. Our favorite is "Unrest." Ya'll can color us turned ON... (Rating: 4)

Jill Sobule - Pink Pearl (CD, Beyond, Pop)
With each passing release, we are taken in more and more by the intriguing and very incredible music of Jill Sobule. Instead of going sour after one or two releases (which seems to be the norm), Ms. Sobule has become more focused and captivating. Not only can she write some damn KILLER melodies...but her vocals and arrangements will make a camel kick back and stumble erect. Combining just the right elements from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s into her own unique blend of pop, Ms. Sobule isn't one to be easily categorized. She dabbles in a variety of styles...always with stunning results. Perhaps what is so refreshing about this young lady is that she comes across completely sincere and genuine. Our favorites this time around are "Rainy Day Parade," "Claire," "Mary Kay," "Mexican Wrestler" (incredibly BEAUTIFUL tune!!!) and "Loveless Motel." VERY wonderful stuff indeed... (Rating: 5)

Sparklehorse - Good Morning Spider (CD, Capitol, Pop/rock)
We actually requested a copy of this disc (which--believe us--is a TRUE rarity). We asked for it mainly because we were so blown away by the Sparklehorse Captiol debut from a few years back. Since that time, Mark Lanoux has made a surprising impact...particularly since his music is not really a commercial sounding sort of thing. In fact, just the opposite. The sort of music this fellow writes is much more similar to what one would normally hear from an obscure band on an independent label. Capitol gets bonus points for supporting and releasing material from an artist whose main ambition is not to reach a really big audience. Or at least that's the impression we get. But on to the disc at hand... Good Morning Spider is similar in many ways to the band's debut (which is the only other CD we had heard up until this point). Songs alternate from noisy alternative rock to more plaintive and introspective stuff, which is certainly Mr. Lanoux's strangest suit. The loud stuff sounds cool enough...but it doesn't match the odd emotional twists of the softer material. "Hey, Joe" is the immediate grabber for us at this ol' campground. Damn near incredible vocals and sparse instrumentation are all that is necessary to serve up this rather spectacular composition. As you might expect, the lyrical content of this disc far exceeds your normal fare. After two listens, we have determined that we are still impressed as pin cushions. Sparklehorse continues to be a unique band with an intriguing slant on the world. (Rating: 5)

12 Rods - Separation Anxieties (CD, V2, Pop)
We gushed about this band's last release, but despite our underground support it still seemed to basically FLOP. Not because the CD wasn't good. More likely, the disc failed to reach a substantial audience because of the fact that the music just wasn't what most folks were looking for. And, for better or worse, it still isn't. You see, your average listener wants bland, redundant, ordinary, and crappy music that sounds just like everthing else that they hear on the radio. With 12 Rods, you will get none of the above. Instead, the band's heady complex pop music is a blast of fresh inventive energy. Appropriately produced by legendary techno-head Todd Rundgren, this is one trippy collection of tunes. The pop is fast, frantic, and thick with production. The songs are superb, the vocals killer...but this is still basically too smart for the general public. We can't imagine how much work went into writing and recording these tunes. Most artists overwork their music so much that they ruin it. These guys polish and polish their tunes until they absolutely sparkle and shine. XTC fans will go NUTS over this band. Do we like this disc? No. We goddamn LUBB it!!! 'Tis truly great music! (Rating: 5)

Vivid Low Sky - Music for Movies Unmade (CD, Plastique Recording Co., Guitar instrumental)
VERY nice guitar instrumental band with a unique and appealing approach. Instead of going for one general sound or idea, these folks don't limit themselves. These intricate and sometimes harsh instrumentals run a wide gamut of emotions. One moment the band is soft and gentle, but a minute later they're displaying major hairy ballpower. This is the project of a very talented fellow named David Koslowski, who obviously has a very keen awareness of how music is made and how to get his ideas across. There's a wealth of killer material here. Our top faves are "She Smells Like (Spring)," "Donkey Jacket," "Can I Touch Yer Soul," and "A Plastic Smudge." If you're oh-so-tired of too many guitar bands that all sound the same, you owe it to yourself to check out Vivid Low Sky. This is GREAT driving music. WELL DONE...! See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

The Workhorse Movement - Sons of the Pioneers (CD, Roadrunner, Rock)
Expect this band to go over big, big, BIG with the kids. The Workhorse Movement are offering just what the teeners want. Big guitars...a big beat...and tons of big bad attitude. Part of what makes this disc so interesting is the extremely thick sound. The production is KILLER. This damn disc seems to literally jump out of your player and start bouncing off the walls. Big meaty tracks like "Workhorse," "Zero," and "Feel Like Bob Marley" make this one an intense listen. For young guys into weird beards, tatoos, urban clothing, and colored hair. This is very 2000. Our question the band's name a reference to horse feces...or WHAT?!? Go to the web site: (Not Rated)

XTC - Wasp Star: Apple Venus Volume 2 (CD, TVT, Pop)
While the overly ambitious Apple Venus Volume 1 lost us totally and COMPLETELY...Wasp Star has once again sparked our interest in XTC. We were XTC fanatics in the eighties...but over the years we began to get bored, as songwriting slowly began to take a back seat to production and studio technique. This CD takes us back to where the band began...with "drums" and "wires" (natch). We never understood why these gentlemen began burying their tunes under complicated arrangements we all know...Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding write songs that are strong enough to stand on their own. The first track that really got us excited here is Colin's "Stupidly Happy," with its super simple chord progression and instantly addictive chorus. Now don't start getting your crotch hair all stiff and runny just yet. These two dudes are still adding in some unnecessary elements...but at least on this disc they're allowing the songs to shine through. And what tunes we have here. Ah...very, very nice stuff. And both fellows hit some home runs. Our faves here are the aforementioned tune plus "My Brown Guitar," "I'm The Man Who Murdered Love," and "Standing In For Joe." Recommended listening. (Rating: 5)

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