Some Notes About E-mails | General Info | Order Form | Review Policies
November 2000 Goddamn Reviews by

RATING SYSTEM | Acid Jam II | Add N to (X) | Bowling for Soup | The Buddyrevelles | Bunny Brains | R. L. Burnside | Richard Cheese | The Corrs | Cradle of Filth | Death Cab for Cutie | Dumdums | E-mail As A Form of Communication | Enemymine | Entombed | The Figgs | Fine China | Firestarters (Various Artists) | Future Topic (Various Artists) | The Helio Sequence | Idaho | Joy Electric | The Kinks | Sean MacDonald | Magnetophone | James Michael | Nothingface | Oranger | Pineal Ventana | Psycho Beach Party | Selby Tigers | Self | Frankie Sparo | Spouse | Vancouver Nights | Robert Walter's 20th Congress | Chris Whitley


Acid Jam II - Acid Jam II (Double CD, Rubric, Psychedelic/rock)
The original Acid Jam album was released in 1988 and was the result of a group of musicians who came together in a converted pigsty (???) near record an album in no less than 2 days. Well, we never heard the original disc...but we are currently digging the second installment of this unique project. This time around another group of "freaks" congregated at Gold Dust Studios and recorded the tunes on this whopping double CD set. Featured on the disc are Luke Adams, Steve Broughton, Rustic Rod Goodway, Jon Guard, Ric Gunther, Grenville Hammond, Tony Hill, Simon House, Tom Hughes, Mat Love, Rich Murphy, Pete Pavli, Debbie Saloman, Nick Saloman, Adrian Shaw, Paul Simmons, Al Strawbridge, Andy Ward, and Bari Watts (WHEW!). The music consists of long, droning psychedelic rock compositions with some meaty synthesizers and killer guitar playing. Some of the tunes are very reminiscent of Hawkwind...and even Fu Manchu at times. Good rockin' stuff for the mind as well as the body... See the label web site at (Rating: 5)

Add N To (X) - Add Insult to Injury (CD, Mute, Electronic/instrumental/dance)
This is the third full-length release from Britain's Add N To (X). The compositions here are basic dance tracks with some really loopy synthesizer work layered over the top. The bass is loud and prominent, and all of the tracks are instrumentals. This band stands out for a couple of reasons in particular. First (and foremost) is that they use LIVE DRUMMERS...which is a HUGE plus in their favor. This really helps to give the tunes a genuine groove that would probably be missing if the rhythms were programmed. Secondly, it sounds to us as if many of the keyboards are analog types from decades past. So instead of hearing generic high tech dribble using the very latest technology (which can become OH SO TEDIOUS and TIRESOME, yes indeedy doo...), we have a band that is using instruments and ideas from the past and present to create their own cool musical universe. Some of the cuts here are almost jazz-like in nature ("MDMH" in particular). A neat meaty slice of electronica with the human spirit left completely intact. Neat. Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Bowling for Soup - Let's Do It For Johnny!! (CD, Jive/Silvertone, Power pop/rock)
You just gotta love any band that would pull their pants down in a bowling alley for their publicity photo (or even better yet that the biggest member of the band would appear in a photo inside the CD sitting on a toilet putting on fishnet stockings and high heels...?!?). With an obvious sense of humor about what they're doing, the four guys in Bowling for Soup are more than just a novelty or a joke band. In fact, these gentlemen come up with some surprisingly accessible and hummable power pop tunes on Let's Do It For Johnny!! The songs are fueled by dual guitars, bass, and drums...but the vocals are what make this band's music stand out. No screaming or off-key crap here. Instead, the band showcases their impressive ability to come up with great harmonies and simple yet effective arrangements. While "The Bitch Song" and "You and Me" are our personal favorites, all the songs on this disc are actually keepers. Big fun and GREAT driving music...! Band web site: Label web site: (Rating: 4)

The Buddyrevelles - American Matador (CD, Motorcoat, Pop)
Great moody pop with truly wonderful interwoven guitar lines throughout. The Buddyrevelles have their own distinct sound and style...and in today's world, that is a RARE thing indeed. There are no straight and obvious tunes here. And while the music is basically pop, there is a strange quality to the music that is hard to define. Suffice to say, however, this is a disc that will stand up to a great many listens...and you won't get the feeling that you've "heard it all before." Lyrics and vocals both rate in the A+++ category. The guitars remind us in many ways of some of Television's softer material. Truly neat stuff. Check out the label's web site at (Rating: 4)

Bunny Brains - Sin Gulls (Goring St. Eddy) 1988-1998 (CD, Menlo Park Recordings, Experimental rock)
Way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off the deep end...!!!'s the best part...this band's music is a RIOT. Just reading the song titles had us laughing our asses off. As embarrassed as we are to admit it, up to this point we had never even heard of Bunny Brains (great goddamn band name, huh?). But now that we have, we will never forget them... This is a collection of the band's singles (?!!!?!!!), although don't expect to hear "singles" in the usual sense of the word. This band's singles have absolustely NO hit potential whatsoever. The "tunes" are sloppily and strangely concocted noise pieces in which the instruments go anywhere and everywhere...and the lead "singer" speaks, sings, screams, and just goes completely out of control. Rather than coming off as some serious art posers, however, this band comes off as more of a strange curiosity...with an intense sense of humor to boot. This is challenging stuff to be certain...and we could not recommend this music for anyone EXCEPT those very few individuals who are able to listen to ANYTHING and enjoy it. We feel sorry indeed that we were never able to experience this band live, because it must have been SOMETHING ELSE. The odd folks at Menlo Park Recordings display pure GUTS for releasing something like this (and someone at the label deserves a medal for writing an absolutely hilarious biography, which was a riot to read...). Do you have the BALLS...for Bunny Brains? We SHO duzz....! Favorite song title: "How Am I Supposed To Tell You I Love You (When Your D*ck's Stuffed In My Mouth)." Band web site: You should check out ANYTHING put out on the Menlo Park label...see their web site at (Rating: 4)

R. L. Burnside - Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down (CD, Epitaph/Fat Possum, Blues/rock/pop)
Great blues rock played straight from the heart and soul. R. L. Burnside has captured the imagination of a great many people over the past few years, and for good reason. His nice loose style of playing and singing is refreshing in a world where too many people are striving for digital perfection. We've heard several of Mr. Burnside's releases...but in our miniscule and measley opinion...this is easily this man's best disc yet. Particular faves around this little pokey dog office are "Hard Time Killing Floor" and "See What My Buddy Done." We find it very odd indeed that this fellow has attracted a such a sizeable listening audience...because the things sizeable listening audiences are usually into is equivalent to a pile of monkey bird doodoo. Great production job, combined with solid songs, great vocals, and playing that is loose and calmly fluid. Gotta LOVE it... (Rating: 5)

Richard Cheese - Lounge Against the Machine (CD, Oglio, Lounge/Heavy metal/Alternative)
Interesting idea, and quite funny indeed. On this CD, Richard Cheese performs "lounge" covers of songs that were originally anything BUT lounge music. The odd thing...? In most cases, it works. Mr. Cheese covers tunes by a wide range of artists including Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine (obviously), Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Prodigy, Dead Kennedys, and many others. If you had never heard the originals of these tunes, you would probably never know that the original recordings were hard and alternative rock tracks. But the funniest thing about this disc is actually the lyrics. It sounds rather hilarious hearing a lounge artist singing lyrics this vulgar...but he sounds so smooth and sincere that you hardly even notice that every other word is a curse word. Of course, this is a novelty sort of if you're looking for something you can play over and over and over...this may not be what you're looking for. If you're up for some good laughs, however, then we suggest you check this out. There are some priceless moments on this one... Mr. Cheese's web site: (Rating: 3)

The Corrs - In Blue (CD, Lava/Atlantic, Pop)
Folks may be out to murder us for saying this but we...gulp (!)...really... We...uh... We really LIKE The Corrs. THERE. We said it. We said it and we stand behind it. Sure, it IS a little embarrassing to admit...seeing as how this is a very calculated band and disc. You can just imagine a group of business folk around some stupid table trying to come up with the right "image" and "marketing plan" to sell "millions." you know "what"? None of "that stuff" even matters...if the music is good. And man, this Irish quartet has come up with some slick, commercial, and yet commanding material. Of course this is a very shallow wading pool we're in here...there's no chance of getting lost or drowning. But in the safe confines of their consumable pop, these folks manage to be both believable and entertaining. While this should appeal to fans of Abba and Madonna, in our opinion this band has more depth. If you wanna hate us because we like the Corrs, go ahead...because we already hate you anyway. Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Cradle of Filth - Midian (CD, Koch, Death metal)
Though they may look somewhat silly in their attempt to resemble vampires, the guys in British metal band Cradle of Filth actually play rather credible death metal with a difference (that difference being that they do more than just blare away into a total blur of nothingness). Even though the usual death metal aspects are there...loud crunchy guitars, super fast rhythms, and a growler of a vocalist...these fellows still manage to inject some different ideas into their music, giving it an almost orchestral feel at times. Though there are lots of demonic images and sounds flying around...our bet is that if you sat down and had a beer with these guys they'd probably be as calm as big ol' kitty cats... We like the publicity photos the most. Label web site: (Rating: 3)

Death Cab For Cutie - Forbidden Love EP (CD EP, Barsuk, Soft pop)
Death Cab For Cutie have made quite a name for themselves in a very short amount of time with their esoteric and ethereal brand of soft moody pop. Though only an EP, Forbidden Love is very much worthy of your time and attention. Included are three brand new songs as well as two alternate recordings of tunes from their last full-length release (we actually prefer this recording of "Company Calls Epilogue"...a really cool and haunting tune). The more we hear these guys, the better we like 'em. The songs grow on you and get better with repeated listenings... See the label's web site at (Rating: 4+)

Dumdums - It Goes Without Saying (CD, MCA, Pop/rock)
Britain's trio Dumdums have hit the scene tossing out some fast and furious home runs. Dumdums tunes are loud and harsh, but by no means pure noise. The band's hyperactive loud rock is definitely based on poppy ideas...but don't think they're softies. They hammer out their tunes with intensity and style. And the vocals sound great. This is a very young band that ought to appeal to a wide range of listeners as their music is harsh enough for the kids but melodic enough for old farts. The band is already a big hit in England (which, for better or worse, probably means they won't make much of a dent in the U.S. music scene). Some of the tunes remind us of The Jam. See the band's web site at (Rating: 3+)

E-Mail As A Form of Communication (Social comment kind of goddamn thing)
E-mail has taken over as one of our most commonly used forms of communication. Such a shame, because of all the different options we is certainly the most tedious and bothersome. Sure, it IS virtually FREE...but does that make it good? We cannot even count how many folks send us e-mails..but would never EVER consider contacting us by telephone or visiting in person. Whatever the reason, e-mail is a SECOND RATE form of communication. Hell, it's not even TANGIBLE--because it is really nothing more than electricity. You can't even HOLD the damn things. Communicating in person or AT LEAST by telephone is obviously so much better. So...why have so many people shunned their telephones in favor of the new "invisible" technology? We think that it is because it requires no actual human contact. Friends should talk to one another...LIVE. This is why we filter out so many e-mails straight into our TRASH BASKET... (Rating: 1)

Enemymine - The Ice In Me (CD, Up, Extremely hard rock)
Young, harsh, angry, and LOUD. Let's face facts, shall we? Most super loud screamer bands sound virtually all the it's rare indeed when one passes through this filthy little office that catches our attention. Enemymine is a super loud band with songs that don't sound like all the others. Sure the basic idea is familiar...overdriven guitars...crashing, bashing rhthms...screaming vocals...but yet, there's something about these tunes that goes just a bit deeper. Even though the overall sound is very different, the basic approach reminds us somewhat of underground favorites Modest Mouse (another super loud band that manages to stand out because of sheer talent). Of course, as good as they be, Enemymine are still going to alienate 99% of the listeners out there because most folks just don't like their cake with this much gasoline thrown over the top. But for those who like it really hot and intense, tunes like "Inverted Circle" and "Setting the Traps" are going to hit the nail right on the head... Thrash music for intelligent and occasionally sensitive outcasts. Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Entombed - Uprising (CD, Sanctuary, Hard rock)
Although most folks would probably want to categorize Entombed as a speed or death metal band, we place them squarely in the "hard rock" category...because the band's music is much too intelligent for such a restrictive label and their music rocks way too much. Funny. With so many super hard rock bands out there, you'd think there would be lots of keepers. But there are NOT. The guys in Entombed caught our attention a few years ago with their super loud and abrasive brand of raw and uninhibited rock music. The rhythms are furious and the guitars as loud as Jesus on the cross...and the vocalist is mesmerizing. But underneath the fierce and furious veneer lurks a band that actually has a great deal to offer. The guitar lines are hypnotic and way above average...and the changes in rhythm will have you falling off of your chair. Hearing this band play is like being beaten in the face with a concrete brick...but a very good and SOLID concere brick. On Uprising, this Swedish band shows absolutely no signs of letting up. Their music is actually more harsh and aggressive than before...but the songwriting seems to just keep getting better. For those who really LOVE to rock...but can't seem to find that perfect over-the-edge band...Entombed are IT. Honest. If you can find a band that can rock out harder than these guys, congratulations. Band web site: Major league COOL stuff for the BIG boys and girls who can TAKE it...!!!!!! (Rating: 5)

The Figgs - Sucking In Stereo (CD,, Rock/pop)
We have heard stuff from The Figgs before...but never sounded THIS good before!!! In a world where it's all too easy to cover up lack of talent with overdubs and tricky arrangements, The Figgs stand out because they play it direct and simple. And their music rates based simply on their ability to write and play. And man, what a TIGHT goddamn trio. Sounds like they've been playing together since grade school. These guys have more overall power than bands twice their size. The territory here is that fine line between power pop and bar band rock. We've seldom heard it done this any band, any time, any place. No wonder they're a critics' favorite. This is the band's ninth (!) release and as a is the new label being run by John Horton who ran the incredible Cherrydisc label a while back. You will want to hear this CD, we can almost guarantee it...and you will also want to keep your eyes peeled for more artists on Label web site: (Rating: 5+)

Fine China - When the World Sings (CD, Plastique/Tooth & Nail, Pop)
Truly fine and entertaining happy pop. We were impressed by an EP we heard by this band a while back. This is their debut full-length...and it sounds mighty fine indeed. Fine China tunes are light upbeat pop with more than a hint of bubblegum. So if you're looking for something dark, evil, twisted, or'll just have to look elsewhere. This Phoenix band has a sound very much like bands from the early 1980s. The keyboards take center stage...the vocals are breathy and feminine...and the beats very mechanical in nature. Produced by Joy Electric's Ronnie Martin, his influence on the band's music is obvious and appropriate. Our favorite track is "They Will Love Us For Our Instruments," but in all honesty the entire disc is a great listen. See the band's web site at or the label's site at (Rating: 4)

Firestarters: Journeys Into the Underground (Double British Import CD, British Underground Collective, Dance/various artists)
It's a shame that the public at large is unaware of so many of the great and almost completely unknown musical artists on the planet...but thanks to the British Underground Collective that may be changing at least to some degree. This hefty double CD collection of electronic/dance/dub music is a mighty big mouthful...featuring no less than 31 tracks by some of England's best but as of yet unknown electronic artists. The roster includes Max Pashm, Dubmerge, Babyhead, Cosmics, Poor Rich Ones, and TONS more. In addition to this cool set, the label has also just released a single disc entitled 14 Tracks From Beyond the Mainstream that features rock bands. All in all, this innovative label is doing a great job of making folks aware of some very credible and innovative artists overseas. Check out their web site at (Rating: 4+)

Future Tropics Volume One - Afro-Brazilian Electronic Beatscapes (CD, Om, Various artists)
At one time we were virtually ignoring various artists compilations because there are so many of them...but then our friend Brian made us aware of the fact that some do have a great deal to offer (thanks, we have to listen to even MORE stuff than before, goddamn it!). But onto the matter at hand...this collection of tunes really IS cool as hell. The music contains elements of both modern and traditional music...combining the sounds of Brazilian music with the modern electronics of today. Artists include Afro-Mystik, Reunion, Minus 8, Stephane Attais, Soulstice, and many others. If you think all dance music sounds alike, think again. What is noticeably absent in this collection are those oh-so-monotonous dance songs that all feature the exact same rhythm. This is a great introduction to some wonderful new artists treading in some fancy and cool territory. And is almost always the case...if longtime dance publicist Stephanie Smiley is KNOW it's gotta be good...(!). See the label's web site at (Rating: 4)

The Helio Sequence - Com Plex (CD, Cavity Search, Psychedelic pop)
Quite goddamn neat and definitely not like all the others. The Helio Sequence is the duo of Brandon Summers and Benjamin Weikel who wrote, played, recorded, produced, and mastered this entire album in their home studio in Beaverton, Oregon. And what a nice disc they've managed to create. Com Plex is a slightly psychedelic, somewhat experimental, and very mesmerizing collection of tunes that can best be described as abstract pop. The band's somewhat droning introspective tunes are layered with some cool and spacey sounds that elevate the music to the next level. This is a thick and heady experience to be certain. A lot of thought and creativity went into this one. These fellows blend experimentation into their music which gives it a certain dreamy quality that is not unlike The Cocteau Twins. Very nice stuff indeed...! Label web site: (Rating: 5+)

Idaho - Hearts of Palm (CD, Idaho Music, Pop/rock)
L.A.'s Idaho continues to produce outstanding guitar pop on this, their sixth full-length release. Begun in 1992, founding member Jeff Martin has now cut ties with record companies...forming his own independent label Idaho Music (a very SMART thing to do nowadays, seeing as how artists no longer necessarily need record companies to succeed). The music, however, still retains the elements that have brought the band so much critical acclaim in the past. The guitars have never sounded better...and the songwriting seems to be at an all-time peak. Funny...we've been listening to Idaho music from the very beginning...but it is only now that we notice similarities to Neil Young, Dumptruck, and even Dinosaur Jr. Hearts of Palm is more restrained and reflective in nature than previous releases...but as a result, this release is also much stronger, focused, and arresting. We are particularly blown away by "Down In Waves," "Evolution Is Cold," and "Dum Dum"...although all the tracks are exceptional. We find it amazing that--having released such a solid body of work--this band has not received wider recognition. This could perhaps be due to the fact that they do not use gimmicks, have never sold out, and that crafting good quality music is their main mission (rather than trying to be "hip" or "cool"). This is the best Idaho release thus far...and that's saying...A LOT. See the band/label web site at We highly recommend this one. Truly EXCEPTIONAL. (Rating: 6)

Joy Electric - Unelectric (CD, BEC Recordings, Pop)
One of our favorite obscure delights is back...with something very different this time around. Ronnie Martin has been producing wildly over-the-edge bubblegum pop for years now...twiddling and noodling his keyboards into a frenzy that at times almost resembles cartoon music. This time around, Mr. Martin recreates songs from his previous releases...using CONVENTIONAL instruments (!). Gone are the bleeps, blips, swirls, and electronic whirls that have characterized his earlier work. The result? It becomes even more obvious than ever what a great songwriter this fellow is. Songs like "Monosynth," "Disco For A Ride," "Sugar Rush," and "Losing Touch With Everyone" are destined to be classics. We love the regular Joy Electric sound...but we're also rather nuts about these unusual takes on tunes we have heard many times before. We recommend anything and everything that Mr. Martin has released. Fresh and refreshing...this guy always hits the target. Label web site: (Rating: 5+)

The Kinks - Come Dancing: The Best of The Kinks 1977-1986 (CD, Koch, Pop/rock)
Just in time for the holidays, here is yet ANOTHER collection of tunes from The Kinks...ending, appropriately, with "Father Christmas." The main differences this time around are (1) this disc does not include any of the 1960s tunes (that's a relief, as we've just heard 'em TOO much!), and (2) the songs and selection were made personally by Mr. Ray Davies himself. We would actually rather hear any and/or all of the original full-length albums by The Kinks rather than a compilation...but that's just because of our own peculiar fascination with the band's music. If you're the sort of cranky puffer who has neither the time nor the energy to delve into this band's entire catalog (which is definitely worth it!!!), then this disc will most likely make you a very happy little puddle dumpster... Label web site: (Rating: 5)

Sean MacDonald - Parasites and Kings (CD, Nettwerk, Pop)
Sean MacDonald was formerly with the short-lived but wonderfully cool indy band The Ids (previously reviewed on this goddamn web site). This is Mr. MacDonald's first full-length solo release, and it is a mighty satisfying platter. The music is similar in some ways to The Ids, but is much more reflective and less goofy. The music is basic guitar pop...but the songwriting is strong...and the vocals are WONDERFUL. And though the tunes are based around guitar riffs, the arrangements contain subtle variety that makes the entire disc flow by quite nicely. At the time of this review this release is only available in Canada, thus the nice Nettwerk publicists requested that we provide a here it be... Sean MacDonald is a great songwriter, singer, and man of words...and he deserves your undivided attention... (Rating: 4+)

Magnetophone - I Guess Sometimes I Need To Be Reminded Of How Much You Love Me (British import CD, 4AD, Electronic/keyboards)
Abstract, experimental, and mostly uncommercial music from the duo of Matt Saunders and John Hanson. If you think this is just more generic dribble from two guys dabbling on their synthesizers, think again. Magnetophone is a different experience...and a good one at that. This is more than just noise, though, as many of the songs do have musical themes and compositional technique thrown in for good measure. Some compositions are thick and very textured, while others are fairly minimalistic. Our favorite pieces are the ones that are the strangest ("Didn't I Blow Your Mind," "Machine Surrender/Milk of the Commander"). Some of the tunes are driven by dance beats while others are bizarre beatless excursions into the minds of these two creative British gentlemen. This is intriguing in a different sort of way, and certainly not meant for everyone... Label web site: (Rating: 4)

James Michael - Inhale (CD, Beyond/BMG, Pop/rock)
Wow...this guy's stuff sounds GREAT...! Played, recorded, mixed, produced, and engineered entirely by James Michael, this CD is slick and fun. The music marketing machine is pushing Mr. Michael very hard...but don't let that put you off. This is one of those rare cases where an artist with a hit (the title track is already garnering lots of radio airplay) deserves the attention. James seems to be a genuine writer of potential hit most of the tracks on Inhale have "HIT" written all over them. In a way, these tunes remind me of Rod Stewart's very early material (particularly the vocals, except without the raspy quality). Lots of super catchy stuff here... About the only slight complaint we have is least at this point...James isn't taking ANY chances whatsoever. But hey...maybe that's not what he's all about anyway. Good stuff that ought to appeal to a WIDE range of folks... Even his cover of Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" works. See Mr. Michael's web site at and/or the label web site at (Rating: 4)

Nothingface - Violence (CD, TVT, Hard rock)
Wow. Hold onto your big fat hairy tummy and grab a branch of sparking jello pudding...cuz here come Nothingface to cram their stuff in your face with a big ol' bush of adrenaline and muscle. This band's brand of grunge meets metal is a unique hybrid, and the sound is much more varied than one normally finds in a band this loud and agressive. The man who designed the cover art has a WONDERFUL eye for graphics, and this continues throughout the lyric booklet...that is almost impossible to read. Most pop bands are afraid to tread in the territories of violence and hatred...and most blaring metal bands are certainly too concerned about their angry image to skip through the pretty flowers growing in power pop land. This band does both, and they do both very well. Perhaps their inner confidence allows them to do this. Hell, why tread in one measley territory...when you can romp through several...? Whatever the reason, we haven't heard a band merge pop with metal this well before. After hearing Violence, we are definitely hyped to see this band live. If they can come anywhere near what they do with their recorded work, they will probably be a MINDBLOWER. Very loud...and very, very cool... Label: (Rating: 5)

Oranger - The Quietvibrationland (CD, Amazing Grease, Pop)
Taking the title of their new CD from one of my favorite lyrics from The Who's Tommy, Oranger have crafted a wonderfully satisfying platter of mildly psychedelic and totally satisfying pop music. This California band has been at it since 1997, yet they have an amazingly mature sound that still retains a freshness and originality that is sadly absent in much of today's music scene. The vocals are very reminiscent of The Beatles and Badfinger, but the music (and particularly the production) is very much up-to-date. The territory these fellows are treading in is similar to The Apples In Stereo...yet they are very much their own band. In the end, however, the melodies are what stand out the most on this disc. And WOW...what melodies we have here. Though subtle in delivery, Oranger's not-so-obvious approach to songwriting is a truly uplifting experience (love those synthesizers in the background!). And there's not a bad tune on the disc. Our top faves are "Sorry Paul," "Lay Down Your Head, Child," "Texas Snow," and "Straight Love." This is...WONDERFUL!!! See the label web site at (Rating: 5+)

Pineal Ventana - Axes to Ice (CD, Unit Circle Rekkids, Experimental noise rock)
Perhaps the best experimental rock band ever to emerge from the often-times disappointing rock scene in Atlanta, Georgia...Pineal Ventana continue to challenge and perplex (and probably alienate most of) their audience. Hats off to Unit Circle Rekkids for making the band's music available to a wider audience. P.V.'s music consists of psychedelic drones...sometimes harsh noise other times weird combinations of the former and the latter...and at still other times bizarre and often times atonal musical experiments. Axes to Ice is one harsh little puppy dog that most folks aren't going to want showing up at their doorstep. Here, of course, that contorted little puppy dog is always welcome...because we like to hear it's screwed up howls and drug-induced screaming. We have enjoyed this band's music in the past...but this just may be their best (and most demanding) disc YET. Extremely alienated and peculiar...yet hypnotic and throbbing with ultra rubber gusto... Totally wonderful stuff indeed...!!! Band web site: Label web site: (Rating: 5+)

Psycho Beach Party - The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (CD, Unforscene Music, Various artists)
While we don't usually review motion picture soundtracks, when the majority of the music is composed by babysue favorite Ben Vaughn...exceptions CAN be made (!). We have never seen the film itself, but damn...there's some GREAT music on this goddamn disc. Eleven of the eighteen tracks were recorded by Mr. Vaughn...and as is always the case with his music, it is KILLER (we recommend that you get your hands on anything and everything that this man has recorded, because he is one of the true GREATS out there). In addition to the aforementioned tracks, there are also songs by Los Straitjackets, The Halibuts, The Hillbilly Soul Surfers, Four Piece Suit, The Fathoms, and Man or Astro-Man? This is a must have for fans of Ben Vaughn as well as folks into surf music... Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Selby Tigers - Charm City (CD, Hopeless, Rock/pop)
Selby Tigers are a bit different than artists we normally hear on the exceptionally entertaining Hopeless label. Instead of thrash or punk music, the Tigers' music is basically pop with a power punch. Simple melodies and song structures are offset by devil-may-care attitude and style. The tunes switch back and forth from male and female vocals. Instead of going for one basic type of song, the folks in the band display impressive creativity in the diversity of their writing. And instead of just blaring and flailing away, they have the good sense to structure their songs with good hooks and many surprises along the way. Reminiscent of some of the early 1980s new wave bands, Selby Tigers are a band that first and foremost are very F-U-N. Very upbeat stuff for the rockin' dance crazy crowd. Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Self - Gizmodgery (CD, Spongebath, Toy pop)
Even at this early stage in his career, a pattern is developing in Matt Mahaffey's musical pathways. His first album was a pure fan pleaser, while the second album was more of a work meant to please himself. Then last year's Breakfast With Girls was a record full of "should-have-been" hits...only to be followed by another obviously more offbeat release...Gizmodgery. So many artists feel the need to either be overly artistic or overly accessible. Self manages to be both. The interesting "gimmick" here is a ploy used a couple of decades ago by the somewhat legendary Pianosaurus. Instead of using "real" instruments, Mr. Mahaffey recorded this entire album using toy instruments ONLY. But hey...if you think you're going to get another slice of tinker toy music (like the aforementioned Pianosaurus), think again. Not only does this album bring to light just how far toy technology has come in the past is also pure proof of just how good Matt has gotten with his knowledge of the studio. Even though he's using toys, Matt's music STILL sounds better than 95% of what's out there. As you would expect, the instruments lack the real bite and snarl of real instruments...but that's okay. This collection of tunes was meant as an experiment. It also shows what a good sense of humor this guy has (for reference, check out the surprisingly credible cover of "What A Fool Believes"). Alternating between silly and serious, this release is an experiment that works. Oh sure...we actually prefer Matt's more rockin' stuff recorded with "real" instruments...but as a teaser and in the interim, this pleases just FINE... (Rating: 5)

Frankie Sparo - My Red Scare (CD, Constellation, Soft pop)
Frankie Sparo is a singer/songwriter with a heavy emphasis on both. This guy's material hit us in a big way instantly. Mr. Sparo writes tunes that remind us of the super soft moments of both Big Star and The Solipsistics...but he's actually much stranger than either. The tunes are extremely sparse in delivery...which is appropriate, given the superlative nature of the material. The lyrics are smart and thought provoking...and this man has a truly genuine vocal style that is appealing and real. To make things even more interesting, some of the tracks have extremely unusual arrangements that take the listener totally by surprise. This is slow, but definitely not "slow core." And while the music is pop, it is a very unusual, strange style of pop that we haven't heard before. If you (like us) get very tired of artists trying to clobber you over the head with how clever and unique they are...then Frankie Sparo is going to really stand out in a BIG way. By not trying to impress his audience, he makes a very distinct and lasting impression. This is a very hard album to describe, and that in itself is a major compliment. Canada's Constellation label pushes the boundaries...again...and again... Label web site: (Rating: 5+)

Spouse - Nozomi (CD, Pigeon/Wormco, Pop/rock)
Heeeeeeeey...something DIFFERENT. Should have known...coming from the increasingly hypnotic Wormco label. Seems as if Wormco has a firm grasp of late on some extremely wonderful...and tremendously obscure...artists. Spouse is a band with a great many traits that we rarely find in new bands. First, the band possesses a wonderful sense of melody and song construction. Second, even though melodies are the main ingredient, there is an obvious sense of power that rears its brave head from time to time. Third, even though the powerful head is reared on occasion, the folks in the band realize that they don't have to push the loud powerful aspect of their music 100% of the time...which is what many modern bands do in their same old tired attempts to be loud and obnoxious. "Loud all the time" worked for The Ramones in their early years, but for most of the modern "punk" bands out now just sounds like rehashed mushcake. The ideas and sounds coming from Nozomi are often sparse and just slightly unusual...yet there is some intriguing undercurrent that only hits you after a few listens. The vocals are nicely thrown off the cuff, with more of an emphasis on emotion in the words that trying to follow a complete and strict string of notes. Odd that this band immediately reminded us of Lilys because they don't sound anything like the band. (We later noticed that one of the producers of this CD had previously worked with Lilys.) The music isn't obvious. In fact, it is the complete obvious. The subtlety of the presentation here is rare to find indeed in the vast wave of not-so-interesting bands on the often times bleak horizon. Spouse grab us in a polite manner...rub us down...kick us in the chest a few times...and then go off rolling down the road like Toto in a hamster patch. Do we like this? Awwww....ya'll out there KNOWS we DUZZ! Honest...this is a great new band with something valid and real to offer...and at least for the time being...they're an obscure underground delight. Anyone who can sing a line like "even the drag queen was a drag" and actually make it work HAS to have that certain something. Just because we like this one SO GODDAMN MUCH...we're giving you ALL THREE web sites...and they are,, and REAL NEAT. (Rating: 5)

Vancouver Nights - Vancouver Nights (CD, Endearing, Pop)
Exceptional female vocal pop that reminds us of a softer Fuzzy (a great and virtually unrecognized Boston band). Vancouver Nights is the latest project spearheaded by Canadian Sara Lapsley (who was formerly in the band Kreviss). Ms. Lapsley has a wonderfully refreshing and genuine vocal style that really makes her music come alive. The arrangements are simple yet effective, and those doubled and harmony vocals sound TOO good to be true. Of course the songs are what mean the most...and the songs are truly the strongest link in the chain here. Super tunes like "Naikoon Park," "Two Spirited," and "Final Hour" take pop to a cool new level. This is neither fluff nor redundant. This is fresh, inventive, and very easy on the ears. We LOVE it. cooooool....(!). Label web site: (Rating: 5)

Robert Walter's 20th Congress - Money Shot (CD, Fog City, Jazz)
Robert Walter has played keyboards for some real heavyweights (no need for name dropping here, just take our word for it). Walter's music is funky jazz with a heavy emphasis on keyboards (his main instrument), and he solicits help from some friends who have what it takes to really make his danceable jazz music PUMP. All of the tracks on Money Shot are instrumentals and are, for the most part, rather lengthy pieces. The music is bright, upbeat, easy on the ears, and ought to appeal to a broad range of folks. Walter wrote all the pieces himself, proving that he is more than accomplished in the field of composition. Great playing, great production, and consistently good stuff... See the label's web site at (Rating: 3)

Chris Whitley - Perfect Day (CD, New Machine/Valley Entertainment, Soul/rock/pop)
There are those who can play, and then there are those who were born to play. Chris Whitley is a true talent in the world of music, and never has this been more obvious than on Perfect Day. On this disc, Mr. Whitley's tribute to his favorite artists... But the interesting part is that this entire disc was recorded and mixed to two tracks on the spot (i.e., no overdubs, etc.). So...we can thank producer Danny Kopelson for an incredible job in the mixing arena. But onto the music... As most of you probably already know, Chris Whitley is a guitarist's guitarist. The man has a fluid and unbelievable style of playing that recalls many of the all-time greats. (We saw Chris perform a few years back and will never forget the experience.) His relaxed soulful vocals sound really mature and masculine this time around. Whitley does absolutely great covers of tunes by Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed (hence, the title of the CD), Willie Dixon, and more... And backing him up? Chris Wood and Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin and Wood...(!). C. Whitley web site: Label web site: (Rating: 5)

Home | Table of Contents | Order Form

©2000 LMNOP®