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October 2000 Reviews by

RATING SYSTEM | Natacha Atlas | Automatic 7 | Banco De Gaia | The Bobbyteens | The Chainsaw Kittens | Clearlight | Cold | Elevator | Elf Power | Lou Ford | Gabrielle | Goldfrapp | The Haunted | The Insomniacs | Praga Khan | Eleni Mandell | Mondo Generator | Debelah Morgan | 1-Speed Bike | Octant | Joan Osborne | Queens of the Stone Age | Screeching Weasel | The Solipsistics | The Sound of Music (Soundtrack) | Superjaded | Tristeza | Simon Fisher Turner | Victoria Williams

= GOOD, just GOOD
= Only FAIR
= Oh goddamn it to Hell this is so...SHITTY!

Natacha Atlas - The Remix Collection (CD, Beggars Banquet, Remix/dance/varied)
Though most people know her for her association with Transglobal Underground, Natacha Atlas has managed to make quite a name for herself over the past couple of years as a solo artist. And with good cause, as this lady has a voice that'll make pancakes melt over backwards. As you can guess from the title, this is not a collection of new material but rather remixes of Ms. Atlas' previous work. Interestingly, however, this collection consists exclusively of remixes that were previously available only as 12" vinyl releases in the United Kingdom. Artists doing the remixing include Talvin Singh, Banco De Gaia, TJ Rehmi, Bullitnuts, and more. As you might expect, the music is more beat heavy (and thus more danceable). If it's a trance happy trip hoppy world music kinda thing you're into, this'll flip your boat. Neat stuff, and it's nice to have all these available on one single and easily accessible disc... See the label's web site at (Rating: 4)

Automatic 7 - Beggar's Life (CD, Vagrant, Rock/pop)
Given up on punk pop bands? Tired of the same ol' grinding noise that sounds more and more the same as more and more years flow by? Tired of blaring noise being thrown at you all for the sake of covering up the fact that there is no substance within? Whether or not you agree with any of this, if you like good guitar rock you most likely will get off on the music of Automatic 7. The band places a very heavy emphasis on song structures and melodies...which are both actually quite rare in the world of pop/rock bands. It's a lot easier to just churn out the same old crap without giving any thought to how the listener might perceive it. The melodies on Beggar's Life are intelligent and well thought out. And though this is your basic buzzsaw guitar pop band, you forget it quickly because there is actually something going on underneath...and the vocals are convincing and arresting. Our favorites here are "Broken Record," "Had It All," and "Syringe." Succinct, smart, and sassy. Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Banco De Gaia - Igizeh (CD, Six Degrees, Electronica)
It's been a while since we've heard from Banco De Gaia. Toby Marks, the main man in this one man band, continues in his tradition of combining Indian and Eastern influences with beat heavy dance music. The tunes on Igizeh are thick, trippy, and drony. What we like most about Mr. Marks' discs are the intros, outros, and breaks that give the listener a chance to catch a breath before the beats begin again. Nine lengthy tunes that go all over the world and back. Label web site: (Rating: 4)

The Bobbyteens - Not So Sweet (CD, Estrus!, Bubblegum punk)
God what GREAT cover art!!! The Bobbyteens are decked out in trashy red, white, and black attire with little pink hearts floating all around them. Open the cover...and the band is in a malt shop sipping on milkshakes and licking lollypops. Three girls and a guy...and they really have the image thing happening BIG TIME. The lead singer is a very hefty young lady...but man can she sing! The music is basic loud buzzsaw guitar pop that sounds not unlike early Blondie. Actually more than anything else, the music of The Bobbyteens sounds like girl group music from the 1950s...except revved up with the production sound and style of 2000. One thing is for certain...Tina, Lisa, Dannielle, and Russell have already captured our dirty little hearts with their sound and image. We hope to GOD this band will consider playing the unfortunately and truly shitty city of Atlanta...cuz we'll be right up front frothing at the bit. And don't let the disc title fool you...though these songs do have a definite bite...they sound pretty goddamn sweet to us. A whirlwind of upbeat fun from a band with a great sense of humor. Label web site: (Rating: 5)

The Chainsaw Kittens - The All American (CD, 4 Alarm, Pop/rock)
Ahhhh...what a DELIGHTFUL surprise! In a sad state of affairs, we had just assumed that Oklahoma's The Chainsaw Kittens had given up completely...but ALAS! Thanks to the fine folks at 4 Alarm Records (a wonderfully cool small underground label), the band is back with yet another entertaining CD. Although we've already spun this one several least for the present we are witholding making an opinion... We know we like it...but how much? We just ain't sure yet. This one may take some extra spins... Label web site: (Not Yet Rated)

Clearlight - The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight (CD, Tee Pee, Instrumental)
Upon opening this package, we at first thought this was something new (?!?) from the old European progressive band Clearlight Symphony. Alas, such was not the case...for only the name is similar. But...this is still a mighty fine band... Clearlight is a progressive instrumental band featuring members of Eyehategod, Crowbar, and Down. But what is interesting here is that these compositions actually have a great deal in common with many of the progressive guitar bands from JAW-juh and Alabamy in that the music is very funky and has a jazzy feel. The tracks are lengthy...ranging from 5:01 on the short end to the final closing track ("El Nino Brown") which clocks in at a full 17:29. Great guitar work and heavy rhythms abound throughout the CD. See the label's web site at (Rating: 4)

Cold - 13 Ways To Bleed On Stage (CD, Geffen, Rock)
Jacksonville, Florida's Cold have risen rather high in a short amount of time. The band's mid-tempo rock is neither too poppy nor too harsh. Instead, the band's music has more of a heavy undercurrent...with much more in common with grunge than heavy metal. Cold's dense and moody sound is characterized by heavy guitars and a thundering rhythm section. This is the band's second full-length release, and the fans ought to be pleased. A ton of big name guests helped in the creation of this disc. Thirteen rockin' tunes, including "Just Got Wicked" (the single), "It's All Good," and "Outerspace." See the band's web site at (Rating: 3)

Elevator - A Taste of Complete Perspective (CD, Teenage USA Recordings, Psychedelic rock/pop)
Into early Redd Kross? Or how about the heavier side of Hawkwind...? Believe it or not, Canada's Elevator is a really odd band that sounds something like a mixture of the two...except weirder (!). This band plays some TRIPPY music. If you're into mind expanding sounds and substances, then you will most certainly FLIP over the goings on here. Vocals bleed in and out of expanding musical soundscapes...the drummer flails and thrashes like the sun will never go down...and the droning guitars add just the right amount of muscle to the overall sound. This band was previously known as Elevator To Hell and Elevator Through (although even before that two of the members were in Eric's Trip). The titles say it all: "My Library in the Weeds," "Oh Traveller Beyond," "Flying," "The Leaf." This is by no means a "hit" band...they are very underground in the truest sense of the word. Those folks at Teenage USA have such GREAT taste. They've already signed the wildly inventive Mean Red Spiders and Elevator...and now they've added incredible popster Dan Bryk (one of our favorite new artists) to their roster. Check out the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Elf Power - The Winter Is Coming (CD, .Sugar Free, Esoteric pop)
Elf Power has slowly evolved from the duo it was in 1984 to the five piece band it is today. Andrew Rieger and Laura Carter are the original members...and they have now hooked up and made connections with such underground popster favorites as Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Apples In Stereo (they all play on each others CDs from time to time). Unlike these other bands who have a mostly straightforward approach to pop, Elf Power is the definite oddball of the clique. Sure the music is basically pop...but there's an odd quality in most of the tunes that is hard to describe. The band has a tendency to go off on some very cool tangents in the midst of their tunes...which reminds us in many ways of some of the our favorite bands from the 1970s. The songwriting is clever without being cutesy. The vocals are somewhat distant yet perfectly suited for the music. There aren't a lot of oddball pop bands who can pull it off these days...but Elf Power do so with dignity and style. The title track is probably our favorite...with its simple structure and almost normal sounding refrain. We also really dig "The Sun Is Forever" which is actually rather poignant and beautiful (good lyrics too...and those vocals sound super...!). Yet another great Athens band. The city is quickly become one of the main havens for incredible pop bands in the U.S.A. Label web site: (Rating: 5)

Lou Ford - Allan Freed's Radio (CD, Cargo Music, Pop)
Previously a member of Chocolate U.S.A. (a wonderfully strange and obscure little outfit that was all but ignored in the 1990s), Alan Edwards (the mainman in Lou Ford) is now out on his own...and all we can say is...WOW. This guy's guitar pop is extremely melody heavy...and the sound is neither past nor present. In fact, Mr. Edwards' songs have a nice timeless quality that doesn't date them. Very good production job on this one. The arrangements are neither sparse nor lush. Instead, these folks had the good sense to use only the instruments and effects necessary in order to get the songs cross. Edwards has a killer voice too, which really makes these tunes come alive. Nice stuff, recommended for all of you pop enthusiasts out there... Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Gabrielle - Rise (CD, Go Beat/Universal, Soul/pop)
Sounding somewhat like an early Diana Ross or even a mid-period Madonna....but with a HELL of a lot more soul than either one...Britain's Gabrielle has hit the scene...making an instant and obvious splash. While we are quick to admit that we normally hate big slick commercial pop crap...listening to this disc it becomes obvious what is missing from so much of the music that "charts." Usually the top ten (or twenty or thirty or one hundred) is chock full of mindless, emotionless, samey sounding dribble. listening to this, we can obviously tell that this talented young lady is truly into what she's she has a wonderfully velvet-like vocal style. The title track has already become a monster hit...but the rest of this disc is just as good if not better. We particularly dig "Should I Stay" and "Over You." Very commercial stuff, yet quite cool just the same... See the label's web site at (Rating: 4)

Goldfrapp - Felt Mountain (CD, Mute, Soft pop with a difference)
Now here is some really, really neat and just slightly unusual stuff. Goldfrapp is the duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. These two have a different way of presenting their moody and haunting soft pop. The compositions sound very much as if they are tunes pulled from the soundtrack of some great underground film that was never made. Soft breathy vocals pave the way...while mostly conventional instruments provide a lucious and inviting backdrop. There are some surprisingly effective--yet very UNconventional--instruments and ideas thrown in that make this disc even more intriguing. This is a very nice blend of music from the 1940s to the present. It is the sort of thing that you can play for background music...or simply close attention...and marvel at the musical magic happening. The front cover art is absolutely SPLENDID...and is a good indicator of what the music sounds like (which is rare these days). This is a nice, solid collection of tunes that not only stands out from the rest...but will also probably sound GREAT years from now. Label web site: (Rating: 5)

The Haunted - The Haunted Made Me Do It (CD, Earache, Heavy speed metal)
The second full-length release from Sweden's The Haunted is a loud, forceful, tight, fast, and furious ordeal. If you think all speed metal sounds alike, this band may just prove you wrong. Sure, a lot of the standards are there...overdriven crunchy guitars...growling/screamed vocals...super fast rhythms... But what makes this band stand out most are their arrangements. Instead of just simply turning on, turning up, and then blaring out an onslaught of unintelligible loud noise (which is what many metal bands are guilty of), these guys actually put a lot of thought into what they're doing. The songs twist, turn, stop, start, and then flip back into reverse. Of course, if you're not into the death metal/heavy metal/speed metal sort of thing, you aren't going to be able to appreciate this. But for those into the really loud, harsh, and aggressive stuff...this will chunk your chips into the adrenaline dumpster. Heavy, hard, and LOUD. The label's web site is (Rating: 4)

The Insomniacs - Get Something Going! (CD, Estrus!, Garage pop/rock)
Man...the tunes on this disc are so vibrant and alive you'd swear the band is playing right there in your own goddamn house. The music of The Insomniacs has a retrospective feel...recalling bands from the 1960s and 1970s, but rather than stealing from previous bands these guys reinvent the medium. The songs are well thought out...and the guitars sound absolutely KILLER. Vocals have a nice slight snarl...but the main emphasis here is in melodies and song construction. So much great stuff here... Tunes like "E-G-A-R-A-G," "And the Candle Burns," "Guilt Free," and "Stick With Her" will sound super for many, many spins to come. The folks at Estrus really ARE (!) going out with a bang this year. This disc, along with the latest from The Bobbyteens (love 'em!) are the label's final releases for 2000. That's truly going out in style, or at least so in our minds... Check out the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Praga Kahn - Mutant Funk (CD, Antler Subway, Dance)
Although most people are probably more familiar with his Lords of Acid side project, we tend to prefer the music of Praga Kahn (whose real name is Maurice Engelen). This guy has been producing tons of material for some time now, and there seems to be no sign that he is letting up. "The Power of the Flower," the introductory track, immediately grabs you with its hypnotic beat and distant spoken vocals. Enter the trippy 4/4 "Love"...and you will find that you simply can't stand still any longer. In some ways dance music has gotten a bad name because there are so many artists churning out bad slop simply because they can now afford the technology to create. But it is artists like Mr. Engelen who prove that the medium is not the problem, but rather those who abuse it. Mutant Funk is one big ball of modern dance club fun. Part of what makes these tunes work is the fact that they are not overworked. But in the end, the fact that this fellow doesn't take himself too seriously is the real draw. Twelve hot and thumpy tunes, as well as a video of "The Power of the Flower" PLUS a PC compatible "Mutant Screensaver." What a DEAL! Check out Praga's web site at (Rating: 5)

Eleni Mandell - Thrill (CD, Space Baby, Singer/songwriter)
Hey, hey,'s great to see that the always eclectic independent Space Baby label is still plugging away. And this one's a major HIT. Female singer/songwriter Eleni Mandell sounds something like a cross between Beth Orton and Suzanne Vega (we hope Ms. Mandell doesn't hate us for this second comparison). But whereas Orton and Vega are basically upbeat sounding artists, Eleni Mandell's music has a darker side that is appropriately inviting. And man...what a VOICE! This lady has a sultry voice that'll make you roll over three times and bark at your Mammy. She's already been compared to Patsy Cline and PJ Harvey...and some folks are calling her "the female Tom Waits." But all comparisons aside...this is a lady whose work stands squarely on its own. She writes all of her own tunes, and she comes up with some KILLER melodic twists. The recording quality is suberb...and no computers were used to make the disc (!). Overall, this is a purely satisfying CD...presenting a solid new artist that is sure to melt the hearts and minds of anyone who is fortunate enough to nab a copy... See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

Mondo Generator - Cocaine Rodeo (CD, Southern Lord, Hard rock)
For those who like Queens of the Stone Age...but find the music a bit too poppy and moody, Mondo Generator may be just what you are looking for. This band is a side project of Nick Oliveri, who plays bass in the aforementioned Q.O.T.S.A. Mr. Oliveri is one mean screamer of a vocalist. This man is loud, abrasive, angry, and prone to using naughty words in his lyrics. Tunes like "Uncle Tommy" will surely make the mosh market very happy and active. Interestingly, the last three tunes on this CD are the very last recordings of the band Kyuss (a band that featured Oliveri and Q.O.T.S.A. mainman Josh Homme). If you like your rock hot, heavy, and loud then Cocaine Rodeo will push your buttons down all the way. Good stuff. Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Debelah Morgan - Dance With Me (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
Gosh...what an ORIGINAL title for a CD! That certainly was inventive naming the disc and the title track "Dance With Me." Debelah Morgan must be an incredibly intelligent and talented lady to have come up with that one. And gee whiz oh gosh...what a VOICE! Ms. Morgan possesses that most unique ability to insert as many as twelve to fifteen different notes into every syllable she sings. And, as we all know, the great and wonderful mass consuming sheep out there REALLY DIG that quivering and overly dramatic vocal style. Why, it's almost as neato and cool as Whitney Houston (!). We also think that it is very cool that the MASSIVE AMOUNT of studio polish wasn't used to cover up the fact that the songs are second rate generic dribble. Not in the slightest. And you know...we're just about certain that Ms. Morgan didn't land her recording contract by having secret grunt sessions with the right people. That couldn't be the case, could it? Certainly not. Just like Jewel, this is a lady who sets very high standards for herself. Golly gee...what an incredible collection of tunes we have here.'s no wonder that this one is already a bit "HIT" with the public (!). Wowee! The label's web site is (Rating: 1)

1-Speed Bike - Droopy Butt Begone! (CD, Constellation, Electronic/dub/experimental)
Don't be fooled by the band name or disc title here...this is a cool exploratory trip into electronica and varied experimentation. As we are quickly discovering, if any CD release is on Canada's Constellation can expect something unique and different. 1-Speed Bike is a side project of Aidan Girt, who is also the drummer in the bands Exhaust and Godspeed You Black Emperor! The seven lengthy tunes on Droopy Butt Begone! are collage pieces in which Mr. Girt combines sounds from all sorts of sources. Our favorite sections are the really spacey ambient parts where the rhythms drop out. This disc is available on vinyl LP as well as CD...and as is the usual case with Constellation releases...the packaging is extraordinary... Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Octant - Car Alarms and Crickets (CD, Up!, Electronic/experimental)
Neat exploratory electronic pop with lots of unexpected moments. Octant is the duo of Tassy Zimmerman and Matt Steinke, although they elicit the help of some friends on Car Alarms and Crickets. Judging from the press release that accompanied this disc, the main point is to push boundaries...and this the band does adequately. There are no obvious radio hits here. The music sometimes verges on sounding accessible...but in another minute or two things go off the deep end. The experimental nature of the tunes on this CD is what makes them so appealing. Ms. Zimmerman's vocals are mixed in the that they support the music rather than command it. Some of the electronics get rather bizarre and crazy at times...but again, this is what makes Octant an intriguing listen. Is the public ready for this style of music? Probably not. This doesn't easily fit into the categories of pop, electronica, dance, trip hop, nor ambient. As a result, most folks are probably going to be lost or alienated because they will not know what to make of such strange and offbeat compositions. In the end, however, stretching the limits of music is a truly grand thing indeed. Accordingly, we dig this. Mighty cool stuff, and it doesn't sound like everything else out there (!). Band web site: Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Joan Osborne - Righteous Love (CD, Interscope, Pop)
There aren't too many artists whose debut album turns into a multi-platinum success...but in the case of female vocalist Joan Osborne, that is exactly what happened. But whereas success sometimes comes to those who really don't deserve any at all (a.k.a., Jewel), in this case the attention is well deserved. From the very start of her career, Ms. Osborne has exhibited a strength of spirit and remarkable style that both entertain and captivate. And what a voice. She's a powerful singer...delivering her tunes with guts and zesto. And instead of success ruining her, in our opinion Joan has only gotten better with time. There are a whole lot of fun whoppers on Righteous Love...with our favorites being "Safety In Numbers" and "Poison Apples (Hallelujah)." Good stuff. Label web site: (Rating: 4)

Queens of the Stone Age (Live performance, September 20, 2000)
Queens of the Stone Age are all mixed up. No, not the individuals in the band...but the band's approach, sound, identity, and overall identity are all truly ODD. We had already played the band's latest Interscope CD (Rated R) into the ground, but we had no idea what the band would be like live. What a peculiar show this was. Stepping onto the stage, lead vocalist Josh Homme casually stepped up the microphone and said, "This is a love song." The band then promptly blasted into their "Feelgood Hit of the Summer"...which is a mantra consisting of the following recitation: Nicotine, valium, hycodan, marijauna, ecstacy, and alcohol... Watching these guys play, it became obvious that we could not come up with any specific comparisons...which is one of the greatest compliments that we can give any band. One minute the music seemed to be punk...the next minute poppy bubblegum...the next minute heavy metal...and the next minute heady psychedelia. To add to the strangeness of the evening, the audience was as mixed up as the band. We saw hippies, teenagers, middle-agers, nerds, squares, and even skinheads bobbing their heads happily to the music. How many bands can draw such a wide cross section of people? Not many, and that is something in and of itself. In between songs, Mr. Homme kept reminding the audience..."We're from out of town." And our favorite line was when a song was introduced thusly: "This song is dedicated." Ha! What a riot (hyuk hyuk)! And no one really seemed to get the joke (???). The Queens are a band that have a very intriguing and unusual approach. True, some songs are better than others. But the songs that stick with you stick like hot filthy glue. The drummer is absolutely ON FIRE (whta a POUNDER!) is the bassist...and you will have to see Mr. Homme play guitar to believe your eyes. (How long ARE this guy's fingers anyway...9 inches? 11 inches?). A very enjoyable...and very DIFFERENT...evening at a rock club. Recommended entertainment. (Rating: 4)

Screeching Weasel - Teen Punks in Heat (CD, Panic Button, Punk/pop)
Screeching Weasel play hard bubblegum punk in the grand tradition of the Ramones at the peak of their career circa 1976-1978. The cover art on this disc is great...two armed men blowing fire at tatoo punks running for cover on the sidewalk. This is the kinda stuff for folks (like us) with a very short attention span. Teen Punks in Heat contains twenty (!) fast, loud, bubblegummy tracks...with most tracking in between one and two minutes. The tunes are catchy and hummable, and the band has an obvious sense of humor. It's no wonder that while so many others playing this same style of music are having a hard time finding an audience, Screeching Weasel already have a large and extremely devoted fan base. Our favorites here are "Bottom of the 9th," "I'll Stop the Rain," "You're the Enemy," and "Message in a Beer Bottle." Fresh, loud, frantic...yet the songs are the main attraction. Great stuff directly targeted for the lunatic youth of today... See the label's web site at (Rating: 5)

The Solipsistics - Jesus of the Apes (CD, Frigidisk, Pop)
Ahhhh...satisfaction is guaranteed whenever a new CD is released by The Solipsistics. We went completely NUTS over this obscure band's first three CDs...and this, the fourth, is just as satisfying. It's funny... In an age where there are so many millions of singers and songwriters in the world, you wouldn't think it would be so rare to come across an individual who is genuine, sincere, and truly unique. But rare it most certainly is indeed. And these three traits describe Jeffrey Owen McGregor (the mainman of the band) perfectly. The tunes on Jesus of the Apes are bare, sparse, stripped down pop. This is very fortunate for the listener, as the tunes that Mr. McGregor writes are so poignant and perfect that they do not need all the unnecessary clutter that so many artists seem to feel is necessary in recording their music. Once again, Earle Mankey controlled the recording of this project. These two guys are a perfect team...coming up with musical magic like we haven't heard in years. Compositions like "The Quiet Room," "Employee of the Year," "(They Tease Me Because) They Like Me," "Monolog," "That Kills Me," and "Glam Descend" (damn...this last one is incredibly BEAUTIFUL!!!) are obvious and to the point...yet the lyrics and melodic twists are strangely perplexing. hell with the descriptive nonsense. To put it simply, this band is one of the best things to happen to pop music in the past decade. Don't believe us? Visit the Frigidisk web site ( to hear song samples...and then order EVERYTHING that this band has released. ABSOLUTELY GREAT MUSIC. (Rating: 6)

The Sound of Music - An Original Soundtrack Recording: 35th Anniversary Collector's Edition (CD, BMG, Soundtrack/musical) sure is a shame that films like this are, for the most part, a thing of the past. One of the most moving musicals of our time, once you have seen The Sound of Music you will never forget it. Hard to believe that the year 2000 marks the 35th anniversary of this marvelous masterpiece. To celebrate the anniversary, BMG has not only released a remastered CD of the original soundtrack...but also a special two CD set that contains fifteen recordings not on the original soundtrack as well as an interview with composer Richard Rodgers. Hearing this music in pristine digital clarity is nothing short of overwhelming. The orchestral arrangements are still mind boggling...and Julie Andrews' voice still sounds as crystal clear as a bright Spring day. So many unforgettable tunes here..."Maria," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "The Sound of Music," Climb Ev'ry Mountain"...this is one big ball of non stop hits. The second disc of the set contains music that was not on the original soundtrack LP as well as "Sixteen (Going On Seventeen (Reprise)" with an extra verse that was not even used in the film. If you are a fan of movie musicals or a Rodgers and Hammerstein fan or just a fan of great musicals, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this disc. Truly AMAZING. (Rating: 6)

Superjaded - An Inch Below E (Independent CD, Pop)
Fun, punchy, powerful, and very catchy rock music...and even though this is an independent release, from listening to this CD you'd NEVER know it. Superjaded formed from the remnants of Dazed. The band teamed up with megaproducer Jon Plum to create this infectious batch of hard pop. Lots of big guitars and interesting twists to the tunes make An Inch Below E a super listen. Not only do the songs kick, but vocalist Ed Shebani has a superb vocal style that really makes this band something special. We find it mighty peculiar that Superjaded has not yet been signed to a label...particularly since this disc is miles beyond most of what music companies are releasing these days. But who needs a company to back you up...when listeners can go direct to the source? And...what might that source be? Well, the band's web site... OF COURSE! And that just might be Very cool stuff, yes indeedy doo... (Rating: 4)

Tristeza - Dream Signals in Full Circles (CD, Tiger Style, Instrumental)
Listening to the music of Tristeza is somewhat similar to gazing through a prism. You are amazed by the slightly psychedelic interpretations of the real world, but all you can do is focus your concentration in amazement. To call this group of folks a guitar band would not do them justice because the term brings to mind samey surf and retro guitar bands that are a dime a dozen and all sound alike. Tristeza music is mid-tempo and has a slightly jazzy feel. Moods and rhythms enter as each song begins, and then the instruments intertwine around one another until the song finally comes to a climax and/or ends. You won't hear the usual guitar cliches...regular or familiar rhythms...or even discernable melody lines (the latter of which is our favorite aspect of the music). Instead, the band's music flows by like the clouds overhead. It's a slightly hazy and surreal world...where everything really is beautiful and peaceful. In today's world any band that can evoke such an emotion is rare INDEED (particularly around this office...!). This is a wonderful CD that we highly recommend to anyone who appreciates instrumental, ambient, mood, or jazz music. Label web site: (Rating: 5)

Simon Fisher Turner - Travelcard (CD, Sulfur/Beggars Banquet, Electronic)
This is really nice and different. Although you may not be familiar with his name, Simon Fisher Turner has been in and around the music scene for decades now...and whether you know it or not you have probably seen or heard him somewhere before. This is the first in a series of "U.S. releases of imports" from the Beggars Banquet label. Travelcard is a collection of instrumental electronic compositions, most of them rather lengthy. While some of the tracks feature dance beats, others are more ambient and fluid...and it is the latter that are our favorites here. In particular, the creepy "Phote" is calmly hypnotic in nature. "Slope" is simply short and odd. "Sleeper Drought," another favorite, is pure, stark, and simple. There are a couple of tracks that lost us, but overall you can color us very impressed. (Note that the name on the box and disc itself is if you're looking for this one, you may want to request it by the letters rather than by this man's full name.) Label web sites: and (Rating: 4)

Victoria Williams - Water to Drink (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
The music of Victoria Williams is most certainly an acquired taste...mainly because of her peculiar voice which sound something like a chipmunk slowly being choked underwater. Despite Williams' somewhat troublesome religious slant...her painfully ridiculous lyrics...and her overly homespun, friendly plain ol' country girl image...we somehow can't help but liking her music in a sick kinda way. It could be the fact that she is backed by a stellar crew of backup musicians...or the fact that so much money was pumped into this that there's virtually no way it COULDN'T sound great. But in all honesty...even though we have a problem with the overall image being dumped upon the public, in the end songwriting is the main event...and we must admit that Ms. Williams is a decent songwriter. Label web site: (Rating: 3)

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