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May 2006 Reviews by

Acting
Apollo Up

Art Brut
Tommy Bolin

Brookville
Brothers and Sisters
Comment Poem
Condoleezza Stew

Czars*
Damone
Dammit Spread

Decoder Ring*
Demented Are Go

Doubled
Dub Trio
Eastern Stars
Edison Glass

Fact of Life
Final
Final Fantasy
First Nation
*
Freedom

Lisa Germano*
Goddakk
Grey Doctor

Help
Daniel Johnston
Lady & Bird
Leels

Don Lennon
Lycia
Gunnar Madsen
Majestic Twelve
Malachi Constant*
Monster Magnet*
Old Haunts
Paper Chase
Parrot Parents
Persephones Bees
Phony Pony

Really Not
Return
The Robot Ate Me
Scott Solter

Ultra Electro

Unwed Sailor
*
Rhonda Vincent*
The Wedding Present*
Yonder Mountain String Band

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received

RATING SYSTEM:
= UNBELIEVABLY INCREDIBLE
= EXCELLENT
= VERY GOOD
= GOOD
= FAIR
= SHITTY

May 2006 Comment Poem:

Choosy Mothers

Choosy mothers
Choose
Toothless gerbils.

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

ACTING

Act like you care.
Act like you are interested.
Act like you are listening.
Act like you should
Act.

(Rating: 1)

Apollo Up - Chariots of Fire (CD, Theory 8, Rock)
Smart, herky jerky loud rock with balls and fire. Apollo Up is the Nashville-based trio consisting of Jay Phillips (guitar, vocals), Mike Shepherd (bass), and Jereme Frey (drums). So many loud rock bands are bad carbon copies of one another. As a result, Apollo Up is one great big refreshing jolt of originality. Instead of going for that all-too-familiar twenty-first century loud alternative rock band sound that we've all heard before, these folks follow their own muse...and in the process of doing so, create some wonderfully cool and clever hard rock. There are plenty of progressive elements thrown into these tunes which are bound to keep listeners on their toes. Infectious rhythms, spastic guitars, and great masculine vocals collide to create a big massive whirlwind of nifty modern rock. Cool smart abrasive rockers include "Walking the Plank," "No Song," "Even If You Don't Die," and "Tennessee For Victory." (Rating: 5+)

Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll (CD, Downtown, Rock)
Charging out of the gates with the hypnotic repetition of "Formed A Band," we immediately fell in love with Great Britain's Art Brut. Neither popsters nor posers, the folks in this band deliver a whopping jolt of energy with true enthusiasm and flair. Unlike 95% of the CDs we receive, these folks' write lyrics that are smart, perceptive, and very funny. The tunes on Bang Bang Rock & Roll sound something like a cross between King Missile and Gang of Four (more the former than the latter). Most bands either play light pop or unlistenable noise rock. These folks deliver a big punch...all the while focusing on intelligence and creativity. The playing is top notch from start to finish..and we really love vocalist Eddie Argos' super thick accent. Full of attitude and power, this band is doing everything right. Fierce rockers include "My Little Brother," "Modern Art," "18,000 Lira," and "Maternity Ward." This band makes some real statements here... (Rating: 5++)

Tommy Bolin - Whips and Roses (Part One) (German import advance CD, SPV USA, Rock)
A must have for fans of 1970s rock. At the peak of his career, Tommy Bolin was chosen by Deep Purple to replace Richie Blackmore. As if that wasn't enough, Bolin also replaced Joe Walsh in the James Gang. Sadly, the guitarist died in 1976 from heroin addiction...before he could really make his own personal mark in the music world. Whips and Roses (Part One) will help to correct this problem. The ten tracks on this album spotlight Bolin's fantastic heady playing and impressive vocals. Just as was the case with Jimi Hendrix, it seems very sad that someone this talented could have their life and career cut short by a drug as boring and lethal as heroin. The good news is that a second disc of material will soon be released as well... (Rating: 5+)

Brookville - Life in the Shade (CD, Unfiltered, Soft pop)
Soft, moody, melodic pop. Although the specific band members are not noted on the cover of this album (individual contributors to each track are credited), from what we can gather Brookville seems to be mainly driven by the talents of singer/songwriter Andy Chase. Chase obviously has interesting connections, as folks in rather high profile bands contributed to these recordings. But rather than just being the result of a hobnob recording session, Life in the Shade is a compelling and rewarding collection of smart soft pop tunes. The songs feature great melodies and personal lyrics that seem genuine and sincere. Unlike many submissions that we receive, the songs on this CD have the potential to be embraced and adored by a very large fan base. Thirteen crafty tracks here including "Blue Morning," "Slow Emotion Replay," "Life in the Shade," and "Missed You Again." (Rating: 5)

Brothers and Sisters - Brothers and Sisters (CD, I Eat Records, Folk/pop)
Folks who dig Neil Young's first few albums are likely to get a mighty big charge out of Brothers and Sisters. The band consists of of eight folks from various states who found one another in Austin in 2005 and decided to make music together. What stands out most about this band is how accessible and friendly their songs are. Early in their careers, most artists create obtuse music that doesn't have much commercial potential. This is not the case here. This album features light, breezy tunes that could easily appeal to millions of people. The tunes on this album have a slightly hippy-ish feel that harkens back to California pop from the 1970s. Songs are the ultimate prize here...and songs are what make this album so appealing. Killer pop tracks include "New Life," "Sunday Living," "Old Age," "Old Love Letters," and "Going South." Neat underground homegrown pop done right. (Rating: 5+)

 

CONDOLEEZZA STEW

Take 12 pounds of anorexia
And mix with 15 pounds of
Hairspray.
Add 20 ounces of Yowsuh
And two heaping tablespoons
Of impuned integrity.
Cook until ready.

Serves 5 billion idiots.

(Rating: 1)

Czars - Goodbye (CD, Bella Union / World's Fair, Pop)
Wow...this is a great album. Folks who love the poppy side of Pink Floyd and the melodic genius of Harry Nilsson are bound to get a big kick out of Goodbye. The five gentlemen that make up Czars (John Grant, Andy Monley, Roger Green, Chris Pearson, Jeff Linsenmaier) create classic, classy pop that is surprisingly accessible and direct. Goodbye features just the right mix of traditional and modern sounds...which makes the album sound like a modern interpretation of classic tunes from the past. Fantastic melodies...absorbing and effective arrangements...killer vocals...this band hits home runs in all categories. You can bet that Goodbye will make a major mark on listeners in the years ahead. This will easily end up being one of the best albums of 2006. Top picks: "Goodbye," "My Love," "Trash," "Bright Black Eyes." Exceptional. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++++)

Damone - Out Here All Night (Advance CD-R, Island, Power pop/rock)
The folks in Damone took their time getting around to putting out this, their second full-length release. Now, with the support of their new label (Island), these folks seem poised to make a major breakthrough. Damone is a powerful band, spewing out catchy melodic pop with a really big sound and tons of controlled energy. Unlike many bands, these folks look and sound like true rock stars. And the best part is that...they've got the songs to back them up. Out Here All Night is bleeding over the edges with good vibes and infectious melodies. Crunchy guitar hooks abound, layered over a rhythm section that just won't let up. These folks are playing exactly what the kids need...great songs played with true enthusiasm. Another excellent effort from a truly killer band. Top picks: "Now Is the Time," "What We Came here For," "You're the One," "Wasted Years." (Rating: 5+)

 

DAMMIT SPREAD

Spread a little dammit
Wherever you go.
Spread a little dammit
And watch your head
Grow.

(Rating: 1)

Decoder Ring - Somersault (CD, Bella Union / World's Fair, Soft progressive pop)
Soft, soothing, satisfying. The folks in the band Decoder Ring make music that doesn't fit easily into regular categories. Somersault is a mature and complex album...yet there are constant creative threads running through the music. Whether the band is playing instrumentals, soft pop, or experimental electronic music, they always manage to keep the quality up. At times this album is accessible and uplifting ("Somersault" which features guest vocalist Lenka)...while at other times the songs get rather obtuse and peculiar ("Heidi's Theme [Reprise]"). These folks are in the business of entertaining their audience...and that is, perhaps, what makes this album such a gem. All fifteen tracks are intriguing and fulfilling...and they get better the more you hear them. Exceptional tracks include "Snowflake," "Music Box," "Alpine Way," and "Naked Snow." Beautiful stuff...executed to perfection. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Demented Are Go - Hellbilly Storm (CD, Hep Cat, Rock/psychobilly)
Any band that is banned from the United States twenty plus years into their career is okay with us. The guys in Britain's Demented Are Go are very popular in subcultural circles, mainly among youngsters who like it loud, sloppy, and swirling in blood and guts. We have to admit that...amazingly...this is the first CD we have heard from this band. To our ears, the music sounds something like a rockabilly version of tunes from the first Alice Cooper album (Pretties For You). If that sounds odd...that's because it is. So...even though the band is obviously milking gimmicks used by artists over and over again...they're using the gimmicks to support songs that are actually credible and entertaining. Hellbilly Storm features thirteen fun rockers including "Pedigree Scum," "Out of Control," "Demon Seed," and "When Death Rides a Horse" (bonus track). Good stuff delivered with wild abandon. (Rating: 4++++)

 

DOUBLED

Would you like
Coffee with your
Coffee?

(Rating: 1)

Dub Trio - New Heavy (CD, ROIR, Rock/dub/pop)
Interesting. Very interesting. How many bands can you think of that effectively combine dub and hard rock...? It may sound odd, but the guys in Dub Trio take on the task and succeed. When most bands merge musical styles, it is usually a gimmick to attract attention. That may be a small part of the equation here...but in actuality these guys write really great rock songs. The band's tunes are smart, catchy, and filled with neat hooks. The guitars are particularly meaty and effective. If you think all hard rock sounds the same, think again. These fellows are loud and powerful...yet songs are their main focus. New Heavy was produced to perfection, with a nice thick sound that compliments the band's ideology. Killer tracks include "Not Alone" (featuring Mike Patton), "Jack Bauer," "Sunny I'm Kill," and "Cool Out and Coexist." These tunes truly kick ASS. (Rating: 5+)

Eastern Stars - July 5th, 1961 (CD, Mental Monkey, Soft pop)
Eastern Stars is the duo consisting of Rob Corradetti and Kaia Wong, better known for their work in the band Mixel Pixel. Rob and Kaia recorded this album on an analogue 8-track recorder in 2004...but the results of those recording sessions are only now seeing the light of day. July 5th, 1961 features eleven tracks, most of which are soft and subtle pop compositions. The duo names a wild variety of influences including The Mamas and the Papas, Galaxie 500, Heavenly, The Shaggs, and Pink Floyd (!). Obviously an artistic project created purely out of the joy of making music, this album is simultaneously peculiar and soothing. Top picks: "They Know," "We Want Yours," "In Russian Blue," "Jail Bait Baby." (Rating: 4++++)

Edison Glass - A Burn or a Shiver (CD, Credential Recordings, Pop/rock)
Although the band has been together for about seven years, the fellows in Edison Glass have only now released their debut album. The band sent producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate) a sample of their music. He was so impressed that he invited them out to his home studio to record A Burn or a Shiver. The album is smart, peppered with plenty of layered vocals and quirky guitar riffs. These guys may have made the right choice in opting to delay releasing an album. Now with years of practice and touring behind them as well as support from professionals in the music business, they seem poised to make a real mark. Smart rockers include "My Fair One," "Today Has Wings," "Angelic in Heart," and "When All We Have Is Taken/Comfort." (Rating: 4+++)

 

FACT OF LIFE

All peoples is liars.
All peoples is thieves.
All peoples is evil.
All peoples has teeves.

(Rating: 1)

Final - 3 (Double CD, Neurot Recordings, Electronic/experimental)
Final is the solo project created by Justin Broadrick, better known for his work in the bands Godflesh, Jesu, Napalm Death, and Techno Animal. Interestingly, Final is the band that Broadrick created before his work in all of these other projects--he began Final when he was only 13 years old. Justin eventually decided to resurrect the project...and recorded this whopping double CD set of experimental electronic recordings. These moody soundscapes are reminiscent of Scorn (Mick Harris). The music is, at times, more like sound drones that mutate and shift until their eventual demise. But unlike ambient music (most of which tends to sound the same), most of the sounds and ideas on 3 are strange and foreign to the ears. Creepy, surreal, dreamy, and moody, this is like the soundtrack to a particularly peculiar dream. Top picks: "The Light Orchestra," "Little Pictures," "Barely Here," "All We Ever Do." Intriguing stuff. (Rating: 5)

Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds (CD, Tomlab, Progressive pop)
It doesn't happen that often, but every once in a while something arrives here in our plush office suites that is truly unique and unusual. Final Fantasy is the project spearheaded by Owen Pallett. Not only does this young man approach songwriting from a strangely peculiar perspective, but the manner in which he arranges his songs is most unconventional. Rather than sounding like a modern pop CD, He Poos Clouds has much more in common with string quartets and chamber music. The overall mood is subtle and unusual. Pallett's vocals are, for the most part, extremely soft and hushed. The instrumentation is, perhaps, what makes this album such a strange listen. Few underground artists are taking an approach that is even slightly similar to this. He Poos Clouds is much too obtuse and odd for the average listener...so we can only recommend this to folks with an adventurous mind and spirit. Neat tracks include "Arctic Circle," "This Lamb Sells Condos," "I'm Afraid of Japan," and "The Pooka Sings." Weird...yet ultimately satisfying. Sometimes sounds a bit like Sparks at times... (Rating: 5++)

First Nation - First Nation (CD, Paw Tracks, Progressive art pop)
We've always been big fans of clever and obtuse underground girl groups. Some of our favorite artsy girl groups from the past few decades include The G.T.O.'s, Zuzu's Petals, The Red Aunts, and The Raincoats. Truly unusual girl groups don't seem to pop up often enough. Perhaps this is why First Nation immediately caught our attention. Instead of using and combining the normal elements that we've all heard three thousand times too many, these three ladies are treading in some rather unorthodox territory. Actually and in fact, their music is difficult to pigeonhole and/or describe. The subtle, strange arrangements on First Nation support the sometimes fragile vocal melodies. A purely artistic endeavor, these ladies' first full-length is a definite keeper. Strangely odd and unfamiliar, the album as a whole is completely listenable and thoroughly creative. Subtle, bizarre creations include "Awakes," "Female Trance," "Monkey," "Cave Jam," and "Waterfall." Very different. (Rating: 5++)

 

FREEDOM

Say goodbye
To freedom.
We never had it
Anyway.
We have lost our
Freedom in the name
Of freedom.

(Rating: 1)

Lisa Germano - In the Maybe World (CD, Young God, Progressive pop)
One of our favorite artists of all time, Lisa Germano has yet to be properly rewarded for exquisite and remarkable music. Germano has been blowing the minds of a small group of dedicated followers for years now...but the public at large just doesn't seem to notice her. This is probably because Lisa's music is far too intelligent and cerebral for most listeners. Her last album (Lullaby for Liquid Pig) was one of the greatest albums ever recorded...but for the most part, it fell upon deaf ears. In the Maybe World is another magnificent collection of songs. The melodies are personal and the arrangements are purposely intricate. Lisa's voice is soft, fragile, and incredibly focused. Instead of being a vast departure, Maybe World is a continuation of ideas from previous albums. Lisa Germano has refined her music to the point where she has no competitors. Her sound is completely unique and easily stands out in a world where there are so many generic carbon copy artists. Who else could sing the line "Go to hell, f*ck you"...and make it sound like the most beautiful, soothing lullaby in the world...? Maybe World features some of the most incredible melodies we have heard from this enchanting lady. Fantastic compositions include "The Day," "Golden Cities" (our favorite), "Wire," "Except for the Ghosts," and "After Monday." Exceptional from start to finish. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 6++)

Goddakk - Monument to a Ruined Age (CD, Silber, Electronic/drone/experimental)
Goddakk was formed by Martin Newman (of the band Plumerai). The band is a solo project in which Newman experiments with sounds and electronics. The compositions on Monument to a Ruined Age are, for the most part, experimental electronic drone pieces with the main instrument being a Fender bass guitar. Although Martin plays bass, guitars, and keyboards, the majority of the instruments are mutated and drowned in effects to the point that they are no longer recognizable. The overall sound of this album is spooky and peculiar...it often sounds like the soundtrack to a really weird underground film. This is the kind of music that you either love or hate. We've always been fond of electronic manipulation...so we were naturally drawn to this. Monument is a strangely inviting spin that creates otherworldly moods in the mind of the listener. (Rating: 5+)

 

GREY DOCTOR

An apple a day
Makes the doctor
Turn grey.

(Rating: 1)

 

HELP

You can ask your parents for help
But your parents won't help you.
You can ask your friends for help
But your friends won't help you.
You can ask your teachers for help
But your teachers won't help you.
You can ask God for help
But God won't help you either.

(Rating: 1)

Daniel Johnston - Welcome To My World (CD, High Wire Music, Pop)
The first greatest hits collection from Daniel Johnston. Actually, these songs weren't ever real hits in the true sense of the word...except for those folks who appreciate Johnston's music (the man has always been far too obscure to be considered a true hit maker). This 21 track CD offers a nice overview of Daniel's career...and includes many tracks that had never been available on CD until now. Is Johnston a genius...or just an oddity...? People may debate the issue for decades to come...so we're not going to offer a rating here, but instead simply let you know about the availability of this disc... (Not Rated)

Lady & Bird - Lady & Bird (CD, Yellow Tangerine, Soft pop)
Soft, soothing, peculiar pop music. Lady & Bird is the duo consisting of Keren Ann Zeidel and Bardi Johannsson. Together, the two record soft, soothing, puzzling pop music that ranges from ambient sound to hazy pop to strangely psychedelic experimentation. Some of the songs are rather accessible and direct ("Do What I Do" and the cover of Lou Reed's "Stephanie Says" are good examples)...while others are slightly far out in subtle ways (the childlike discussions that take place in "Shepard's Song" and "La Ballade of Lady & Bird"). Overall, this album succeeds because it creates cool vibes...and also because Keren and Bardi have come up with a sound that is almost entirely their own. Ten clever cuts plus a bonus track (an acoustic live performance of "Do What I Do"). Nifty stuff. (Rating: 5)

Leels - Fingees Crossed (CD, Cloth Monkey, Progressive pop)
Leels is a collection of Florida artists from other bands (Home, Meringue, Dumbwaiters, Pee Shy) who got together to form this project. Fingees Crossed (no, that's not a typo) is a puzzling collection of progressive pop tunes. This band sounds something like an Athens, Georgia-based modern cross between Harper's Bizarre and Thunderclap Newman. Though the tunes on this album are basically pop in nature, they are delivered with strangely structured arrangements and vocals that range from pensive to slightly goofy. Most of the tracks on this album are purely entertaining...although there are a couple that seem to fall just a bit short. Top picks: "Finding the Read There," "Fight," "H.L. Champs." A good spin. (Rating: 4+++)

Don Lennon - Routine (CD, Martin Philip Records, Pop)
When Boston's Umpteens broke up in 1997, frontman Don Lennon began his solo career. He has been racking up fans and impressing critics with his albums ever since. Routine is Lennon's fourth album. Don's tunes sound something like a cross between Ray Davies and Scott McCaughey. The lyrics are often tongue-in-cheek and the songs seem to flow by effortlessly. Lennon's understated tunes feature sparse arrangements and his subtle, low-key vocal style fits his songs perfectly. These songs might not blow your mind on the first listen...but after a few spins the subtle substance of the music sets in. Ten nice soft pop tracks here including "What SNL Stands For," "The Trust Fund," "Last Comic Standing," and "Junior Year Abroad." (Rating: 4++++)

Lycia - The Burning Circle and Then Dust (CD, Silber, Progressive pop/rock)
Lycia is a very peculiar group of musicians. The band's sound is similar to The Cocteau Twins...but much more dark and spooky. The band is a pet project of Brian John Mitchell (the mind behind the Silber label). Mitchell has taken on the task of releasing and reissuing the band's music in the United States. Originally a double album, The Burning Circle and Then Dust was shortened to fit on a single CD for the re-mastered reissue. The album marked a turning point for the band, as they began to focus their energies on more song-oriented music. This eighteen track album is a challenging and peculiar spin. Dark, ethereal tracks include "A Presence in the Woods," "The Return of Nothing," "Silence and Distance," and "Surrender." (Rating: 5)

Gunnar Madsen - Fall of Troy (CD, G-Spot, Instrumental)
What do you do when you've recorded the soundtrack for an upcoming video game when the company producing the project disappears...? In order to win the game, Gunnar Madsen opted to release the soundtrack as his next album. Many may know Madsen as a former member of The Bobs or his various film and TV projects. Fall of Troy features epic, classically influenced instrumentals which sound very much like...the soundtrack to a game or movie, of course. These thirteen compositions are slick and filled with rich textures. So even though the game disappeared...the music will live on. Top picks: "A Thousand Ships," "Behind the Gates," "Night Raid," "The Horse: Fall of Troy." (Rating: 5)

Majestic Twelve - Majestic Twelve (Independently released CD-R, Obtuse pop/rock)
Deceptively packaged in a homemade cover that might lead one to believe that the music is primitive and unstable, the folks in Wilmington, North Carolina's Majestic Twelve have created a particularly pleasing and appealing album. On the basis of their own skill and dynamic surges, these folks have produced an album that is unusual and ultimately entertaining. The band's music is characterized by herky jerky rhythms, unusual guitar riffs, and subtle vocals that--at times--seem almost secondary to the music. Some folks are certain to be offended by the band's lyrics...but our guess is that everything here is done tongue-in-cheek. Combining elements from 1980s new wave with the sounds of modern progressive pop, this album is a fun spin with plenty of tunes that are both listenable and danceable. A great deal of time and energy went into recording these eleven tracks...and it shows. A nifty album that doesn't sound like the rest. Top picks: "Welcome to the City," "Condoleezza, Check My Posse," "Trapped Under Water," "Everything On TV is a Lie." Cool underground stuff. (Rating: 5)

Malachi Constant - Pride (CD, Guilt Ridden Pop / Modern Radio, Obtuse progressive pop/rock)
If there is one thing we are slowly learning over time, it is that the guys in Saint Paul, Minnesota's Malachi Constant are virtually impossible to predict. So...if you want to really enjoy the band's music...each time they release a batch of recordings, you have to approach the music without any preconceived notions. Otherwise, you are almost certain to feel lost and alienated. Pride is a surprising CD in many ways, not the least of which is the overall sound and feel. More than any other band, these tracks bear many similarities to The Feelies. More subtle and serene than before, the band lowers the volume while paying more attention to lyrics and melodies. The results are peculiar and uniquely satisfying. We're not sure whether we prefer the assault of the band's earlier sound...or this? Both are appealing. One thing is certain. Pride is an album that will take many spins to set in. Confusing tracks include "The Traditions," "New York City Is Full of Pussies," "Sex Fantasy," and "Immortality." Malachi Constant remains one of our favorite obscure delights... (Rating: 5++)

Monster Magnet - Spine of God (German import CD, SPV USA, Rock)
Monster Magnet may not be this year's hippest band anymore...but in our minds, they will always be hip. Thankfully, the folks at SPV have made the wise move to reissue Spine of God (one of the band's finest albums). The band's thick, masculine rock tunes sound as great as they ever did. The playing is top notch from start to finish and the vocals are absolutely thrilling. Most rock fans are already very familiar with this album...and with tracks like "Pill Shovel," "Nod Scene," and "Snake Dance"...it's no wonder. What fans will want to note about this reissue is that it contains a fantastic bonus track...a demo recording of "Ozium" which is completely different from the album version. If you've heard this album before, you'll want this disc for the bonus track. If you never heard Spine of God well then...this is probably the best time to jump on the Monster Magnet bandwagon... (Rating: 5+++)

Old Haunts - Fuel On Fire (CD, Kill Rock Stars, Rock)
With so many bands playing so many different styles of rock music, it is indeed refreshing on those rare occasions when we can label a band as simply "rock" (this being one of those cases). The guys in Old Haunts impressed a lot of folks with their last album (Fallow Field). On this, the follow-up, the band returns with more surefire rockers played with verve and gusto. Old Haunts tunes sound something like a cross between modern garage rock and 1970s punk and new wave. The band's tunes are mainly centered around interesting guitars, and vocalist Craig Extine has a superbly effective yelpy way of singing (reminiscent of Tom Verlaine) that really gives the band a personality. As was the case with the last album, songs are the real meaty treat. Cool, clever rockers include "Civil Savage," "Paradise," "Into a New Room," and "Salvage Purity." (Rating: 5++)

Paper Chase - Now You Are One of Us (CD, Kill Rock Stars, Progressive pop/rock)
Imaginative progressive pop/rock from the Dallas-based band Paper Chase. With cover art featuring a pantless man who has just (presumably) hung himself, Now You Are One of Us is a curious album indeed. This band's music sounds something like a modern progressive obtuse version of Devo (the vocals are particularly similar at times). Unlike most modern albums, this l'il sucker has real substance. Instead of copying and aping other bands, these fellows seem squarely focused on creating their own unique sound and image. This unpredictable album combines elements from a variety of eras and sources...and spews them at the listener with surprising poise and precision. Paper Chase is by no means a mere noise band. These compositions are clever, articulate, and unusual. Add to this the fact that the players are exceptionally proficient and fluid on their instruments...and you have an album that will surely stand the test of time. Puzzling tracks include "We Know Where You Sleep," "The Most Important Part of Your Body," and "The House is Alive and the House is Hungry." Uniquely cool. (Rating: 5+)

 

PARROT PARENTS

They had a tiny bird
But were never taught
How to raise it.

Parrots make
Rotten parents.
All parrots will be
Rotting parents.

(Rating: 1)

Persephones Bees - Notes From the Underworld (CD, Columbia, Pop)
Fronted by the charismatic vocal talents of Russia's Angelina Moysov, the folks in Persephones Bees provide pure melodic pop for positive people. The band's first major label release, Notes From the Underworld is a rewarding and instantly infectious album. Sounding something like a more accessible version of Sweden's Komeda, these four folks aren't afraid to let their cute tendencies shine through. The songs on this album are light, fresh, and easy...which is a rather refreshing change from some of the more abrasive and overly inventive artists on the planet. But fear not, these tunes don't sound anything like generic hits. There is enough cool creativity going on here to keep things from sounding samey or stagnant. Excellent melodies supported by just the right amount of polish. Pure feelgood tracks include "Way to Your Heart," "City of Love," "On the Earth," and "Queen's Night Out." (Rating: 5+)

 

PHONY PONY

Ride your Phony Pony
'Til there's nothing left to do.
Ride your Phony Pony
'Til you're all dried up and
Blue.

(Rating: 1)

 

REALLY NOT

Your job is not real.
Your family is not real.
Your thoughts are not real.
Everything in your world is
Fake.

(Rating: 1)

 

RETURN

Go back to
Wherever it is
That you came
From.

(Rating: 1)

The Robot Ate Me - Good World (CD, 5RC, Progressive pop
The Robot Ate Me is one of the most unpredictable and obtuse underground bands around. After releasing what was undoubtedly the band's most accessible album in 2005 (Carousel Waltz), now comes the baffling and almost completely uncommercial Good World. Our first reaction after hearing this CD was that Ryland Bouchard has been listening to a lot of Robert Wyatt lately...or at least it seems that way. Good World is extremely reminiscent of some of Wyatt's early recorded work. Clocking in at just under 23 minutes, the album features 17 tiny tracks of sparse artsy pop. Bouchard has really taken a chance with this album. After altering his sound on the last album to attract more listeners, many folks probably won't be too pleased with this album. An almost purely artistic endeavor, Bouchard takes off on some rather bizarre audio paths here. Some of them work, some are just...rather confusing. In the end, however, this is yet another rewarding collection of inventive material. Who knows what will come next...? (Rating: 5+)

Scott Solter - One River (CD, Tell-All, Ambient/electronic)
Scott Solter is probably best known as a producer and recording engineer. He has worked with a variety of artists including John Vanderslice, Mountain Goats, Spoon, and William Lazarus. One River is Scott's second solo album. It features seven slow, sparse, methodical compositions that are extraordinarily understated and very reminiscent of Brian Eno's early ambient recordings. These pieces are slow and obtuse...meant to create moods and environments. Most folks either love this kind of stuff or hate it. In this little office suite, anything that calms us down...gets an easy thumbs up. (Rating: 4++++)

Ultra Electro - David Waxman Presents Ultra Electro (Double CD, Ultrarecords, Various artists/electronic/dance)
The world of electronic dance music can be confusing and overwhelming. There are so many artists and so many different labels that it can, at times, become a swirling blur of excess. Fortunately for many of us, DJ David Waxman has a great knack for picking out the best of the best...in essence, doing the leg work for us so that all we have to do is turn up the volume and dance, dance, DANCE. This double CD set follows Waxman's previous collections that include Ultra Dance, Ultra Trance, and Ultra Chilled. Ultra Electro features 24 tracks by some of the best of the best...including Gorillaz, New Order, Moby, Daisy Daisy, Digitalism, and Supermode (some tracks are remixes, others are the original recordings). If you're a lazy listener and you just wanna groove out to some trippy electronic dance music, this compilation is sure to fit you like a glove. Packaged in a stunning lime green package. Totally groovy. (Rating: 5)

Unwed Sailor - Circles (CD, Burnt Toast Vinyl, Ambient/instrumental/experimental)
Absolutely beautiful progressive artsy music. This band blew a lot of folks away with their concept album entitled The Marionette and the Music Box. This CD will undoubtedly have the same effect on listeners. Moody, cerebral, peculiar, and unorthodox, the tunes on Circles are wonderfully creative compositions involving ambient sounds and progressive experimentation. Unwed Sailor is driven by the songwriting skills of Johnathon Ford, who began the band in Seattle in 1998. Since that time his band has changed and evolved and has also relocated from one city to another...all the while continuing to compose and create. Joining Johnathon on this album are Daniel Burton, Phillip Blackwell, and Matt Griffin. These fellows create music that sounds something like a modern cross between Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream. These two lengthy pieces are dreamy, hypnotic, exquisite, and beautiful. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Rhonda Vincent - All American Bluegrass Girl (CD, Rounder, Bluegrass/country/pop)
Rhonda Vincent is probably the most important new female talent to emerge in bluegrass in the twenty-first century. Far from being another generic star created by marketers, Vincent has the looks, personality, and voice...that people want. All American Bluegrass Girl will no doubt be another hugely successful album for Rhonda. Featuring twelve tracks, the album presents honest, soulful, precisely-arranged bluegrass music that should appeal to almost everyone. Vincent has the same appeal as Alison Krauss. Both ladies are blessed with the purest of the pure in terms of vocals. Brimming over the edges with sincerity and great songs, Bluegrass Girl can only help to cement Vincent's place in the world of commercial music. Top picks: "Forever Ain't That Long Anymore," "Rhythm of the Wheels," "Don't Act," "Precious Jewel." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

The Wedding Present - Search For Paradise: Singles 2004-5 (CD + DVD, Manifesto, Pop)
If you're like us...and you just can't get enough of a good thing...you'll most certainly already be seeking out a copy of this CD/DVD set (if you don't have it already). As the guiding force behind The Wedding Present and Cinerama, Britain's David Gedge and his friends have been making quality music for quite some time now. And the amazing part is...the songs never sound tired, dated, or pretentious. This beautifully packaged double disc set includes a CD containing 14 tracks (11 of which were previously unreleased in North America) and a DVD containing promotional videos. As is the case with virtually all of Gedge's projects, there isn't a bad cut on this album. The tunes are sincere, memorable, and stick in the mind like glue. In our opinion, David and his bands have never received the widespread recognition they deserve. Perhaps this set will turn on a few more thousand folks to the pure and simple fact that The Wedding Present is still alive and more vital than ever before. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Yonder Mountain String Band - Yonder Mountain String Band (CD, Vanguard, Bluegrass/pop)
The fourth studio album from Yonder Mountain String Band, as well as their debut for the Vanguard label. The band's music is becoming more mainstream. This self-titled album is the first to incorporate drums into the mix. The band consists of Adam Aijala (lead guitar, vocals), Jeff Austin (mandolin, vocals), Dave Johnston (banjo, vocals), and Ben Kaufman (bass, vocals). These four fellows write and record laidback folky bluegrass pop that features strong melodies and well-crafted lyrics. The music has broad appeal and could easily be appreciated by listeners of all ages. Radio-friendly tracks include "Sidewalk Stars," "East Nashville Easter," "Night Out," and "Wind's On Fire." Nice and smooth. (Rating: 4++++)

Additional Items Received:

Ahab Rex - The queen of softcore
Anushka pop - Akathena
Bank Robbers - Tomorrow belongs to me
Spencer Bates - Goodnight rosebud
Bernard - A view beyond the cave
Bi-Level - The songbird
Black Moth - Super rainbow
Bleachers - Suspicion
Books About UFOs - Let the bridges ignite
Cave Deaths - Glacier on fire
Chambermaids - Chambermaids
Chrome Pistola - Information war
Cinematics - Break / Alright
Conner - Hello graphic missile
Ramona Cordova - The boy who floated freely
Cougars - Pillow talk
Crucified Barbara - In distortion we trust
Darling New Neighbors - Everyday is a saturday night
Defanation League - The anatomy of grip-top
Disco Biscuits - The wind at four to fly
Downers - Shake the dead and let th downers die...
Earlymay - Little answers
Terry Eason - The aching of the household fly
Emulsion - Blue sky objective
Enablers - Output negative space
Fabulous Rudies - Fabulous Rudies
Final Start - Final Start
Futureheads - News and tributes
Getaway Car - Last charge of the light horse
Gillis - If it wasn't for gravity
Halifax - The inevitability of a strange world
William C. Harrington - Urban electronic music
Hawk - Tied with tiny strings
Jai Henry - Silence kills tusk wounds
I Farm - IV
Languis - Other desert cities
Julia Lau - In the wildflowers and weeds
Little Ones - Sing song
Lonely China Day - Lonely China Day
Lowcloudcover - Separation anxiety
Mad Dukes - Mad Dukes sing and play for you
Dan Melchior - Fire breathing clones on cellular phones
MGR - Nova lux
Michael Columbia - Stay hard
Paul Minor - Shadow figure
Moccasin - Last leaf
Modern Machines & If I Had a Hifi - Hot nuggets
Monster Magnet - 25 tab
Ken Will Morton - King of coming around
Mountain Con - Sancho panza
Roisin Murphy - Ruby blue
Neverwonder - Neverwonder
Wally Nichols - Sharpie
Obsessed - Lunar womb
Of Montreal - The early four track recordings
Of Montreal - The bedside drama a petite tragedy
Of Montreal - The bird who continues to eat the rabbit's flower
Marykate O'Neil - 1-800-bankrupt
Paik - Monste of the absolute
Danny Pound - Surer days
Proudflesh - Proudflesh
Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores - The smother party
Rhino Bucket - And then it got ugly
Sam Roberts - Chemical city
Nick Robin - Back from the dead
Brisa Roche - The chase
S-1 Committee - REF.#13.841
Rachel Sage - The blistering sun
Michael John Serpe - Distilled
Shapes and Sizes - Shapes and Sizes
Shimmerplanet - For the one who kills tomorrow
Shocker - Up your ass tray-the full length
Lane Steinberg - The return of Noel Coward's ghost
Strip Club - Cold comfort
Stutter - Stutter
Submarines - Submarines
Michael Talbott and the Wolfkings - Freeze-die-come to life
Tempemonon - Bushwacked
Thee Moths - Nature
This Song Is A Mess But So Am I - Marble mouth
TJO - A raveling
The Trust - The Trust
Various artists - Athfest 10: Athens music & arts festival June 21-25, 2006
Various artists - Kay Dee records compilation vol. 1
Various artists - The funhouse comp thing
Vena Amori - The seduction of an american housewife
Vibration - Amarilla
Vibrolas - From parts unknown
Peter Walker - Young gravity
Walking Hellos - Walking Hellos
Joe Wilson - A day in my shoes
Wolfmother - Wolfmother
Yayhoos - Put the hammer down
Stephen Yerkey - Meta neo nature boy

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