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September 2006 Reviews by

Patricia Barber

Lullaby Baxter*
Between Two Lions

Big Sir
Black Neon*
James Blunt

Bright Light Fever
Brother Kite*
Chinch Bugs

Citizens Here and Abroad
Comment Piece
Crummy Music

Desperate Old Ladies
Duke Fame
Echo Is Your Love

Empty Cage Quartet
Jon Garcia
Gitogito Hustler
Goodbye Farm
Grand Mal*
Robin Guthrie
Heller Mason
Hezekiah Jones
Hunger Anthem
JonBenet's Underwear
Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds

Sonja Kristina
Last Conservative

Near In

Office Meat
One Ring Zero

Pere Ubu
Lee Scratch Perry
The Places*
Port City Music
Post Punk
The Receiver
Rube Waddell

Sigur Ros*


Tennessee Men
Turd Party

The Tyde
Under Byen*
Unique Lie
Unwed Sailor
Where Today, Gone Tomorrow
Denison Witmer*
Working For A Nuclear Free City

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


September 2006 Comment Piece:
Away, Away, Away...

Take us away. Take us far away. No, perhaps not so far away at all. Just take us to a better place where we can live again. Make it happen. Please make it happen now. We need to breathe. We need to expand. We need the universe at our feet. And we need inner peace. Perhaps all we really need is a simpler life. Hmmm...what could be going on in babysueland...? Shit, it don't matter none. It don't really matter one goddamn bit at all...

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

Babyshambles - B sides (CD, Rough Trade, Pop/rock)
We're not quite sure if the physical offering of this CD is available to the public...? But what we do know is that these 9 tracks are available as a free bonus when you purchase/download this band's Down in Albion album on iTunes. The folks in Babyshambles play slightly sloppy cool pop music that sounds something like a cross between The Kinks, The Television Personalities, and The Replacements. The band seems to take particular delight in leaving their tracks with plenty of rough edges...many times leaving them sounding almost as if they were never actually completed. This is our first exposure to this band and, as such, they have captured our imagination....even if this is just a batch of B sides. Nifty tracks include "The Man Who Came To Stay," "East of Eden," "Monkey Casino," and "Clementine." Neat. (Rating: 4++++)

Bang-Bang - Music From the Motion Picture Brothers of the Head: The Original Unreleased Album (CD, Milan, Rock/pop)
This is so...weird. This soundtrack features The Bang Bang's unreleased album Brothers of the Head...plus some extras. The Bang-Bang was a 1970s band that featured Tom Howe and Barry Howe...two conjoined twins with a bad attitude about virtually everything. It's weird enough seeing these two young men joined at the chest...but imagining them rocking out in such a state is, well, rather perplexing. The band had a couple of minor hits in their day, most notably the controversially-titled "My Friend You C*nt." This film (a fictionalized documentary) is bound to turn heads because of the subject matter. Strangely enough, at the heart of all this...are some very entertaining punk tunes played with focused enthusiasm. So...how did this peculiar rock act somehow evade our attention for the past few decades...? Well hell...no matter how hard you try, you just can't be aware of everything all the time. Color us impressed because...The Bang Bang was obviously a really HOT act. Intense tracks include "Every Little Moment," "Nelson's Blood," "My Friend You C*nt," and "Hey You." Bizarre in so many ways... (Rating: 4++++)

Patricia Barber - Mythologies (CD, Blue Note, Progressive pop/jazz)
As we took in Patricia Barber's Mythologies album we were thinking...wow, this lady is really impressive and intriguing. But as the album progressed...those unmistakable horrible, unbearable crap-hop elements entered the picture...and we unfortunately had to remove the CD and toss it. Too bad. This lady is far too talented to let her music be brought down to such a low level. Maybe she'll correct the problem the next go-round... (Not Rated)

Lullaby Baxter - Garden Cities of To-morrow (Canadian import advance CD, Boompa, Soft pop)
This one seemed interesting before we even put the CD in for a spin. Any lady who opts to use an image of herself wearing fairy wings while vacuuming (!) surely must have something tangible to offer. On Garden Cities of To-morrow, the beautiful and intriguing Lullaby Baxter truly delivers. Even though we have yet to see her in performance, we can already tell that Ms. Baxter has huge stage presence. Some artists merely sing and play instruments...while others give their listeners a real part of themselves. Lullaby falls into this latter category. Her music is so sincere and genuine that we were immediately affected. Light, airy, and instantly lovable, the tracks on this album are soft, soothing, and just slightly perplexing. With a voice as smooth as Jupiter and a personality as big as Mars, Lullaby Baxter is clearly on the path to artistic success. Twelve tracks here including "What's Wrong With You?" (great title), "Let the Fun Begin," "Dumptruck," and "Jet-Pack." This l'il sucker is highly recommended. (Rating: 5++++)

Between Two Lions - Put This City on My Shoulders (Independently released CD, Soft pop/Americana)
Between Two Lions is a four piece band based in New Albany, Indiana. Although the band is being lumped into the alternative country category, in actuality their music differs from other such bands. The tracks on Put This City on My Shoulders are soft, pure pop tunes that just happen to be accentuated by a rather precisely played pedal steel guitar. Other than the steel guitar, the band's music is pure, soft pop. This is the band's second album, and it finds them sounding exceedingly slick, smooth, and accessible. Unlike a lot of underground bands, these guys have the potential to hit it big with lots of folks. Their songs are smart, honest, and very easy on the ears and consciousness. Cool laidback rhythms and heartfelt vocals make tracks like "Attic Flowers" and "Letter From the Inside" really shine... (Rating: 4++++)

Big Sir - Und Die ScheiBe Andert Sich Immer (CD, Gold Standard Laboratories, Progressive pop)
Big Sir is the duo consisting of Juan Alderete de la Pena (bass player for The Mars Volta) and Lisa Papineau (solo recording artist who is thus far best known for her work with the bands Air and M83). The two had previously played together in the band Pet. Und Die ScheiBe Andert Sich Immer is a collection of smooth soothing groove pop tunes with breathy vocals and absorbing electronics. Juan's bass lines are an integral part of the band's sound...the man has a unique way of thumping and plucking that sets him apart from the vast majority of bassists. Lisa's vocals are, as usual, very close and personal...at times slightly reminiscent of babysue favorite Lisa Germano. This is an unusual album that is unusually user-friendly. Even though the tunes are rather obtuse and odd...the album spins with strangely smooth threads. Groovy tracks include "Blutrausch," "Rejoice the Rig," "Saticoy Street," and "Hammer On Pull Off." (Rating: 5+)

Black Neon - Arts & Crafts (CD, Midheaven, Progressive pop)
Black Neon is Steve Webster, a young man who was previously in the band Ft. Lauderdale. Webster is recording a unique style of music that combines elements from 1990s guitar pop bands (particularly The Young Fresh Fellows) with instrumentation that is sometimes reminiscent of German electronic bands from the 1970s. We sure are glad we had a little extra time the first day we slipped this disc into our player. Although our initial response was merely positive...after spinning Arts & Crafts a dozen or more times we found that we were absolutely in love with Webster's tunes. This British fellow isn't trying to write hits nor is he trying to be overtly artsy and clever. His music is, instead, wonderfully fluid and inviting...combining elements from the 1970s right on through to the present. His words and melodies are honest and genuine...and the music has that magical staying power that is sadly missing in a lot of the music we hear today. Superbly effective tracks include "Ode to Immer Wieder," "Cast That Light," "Shoot Me Into Space," and "The Exit." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

James Blunt (Extraordinarily horrible and shitty singer/songwriter)
If we had to pick the worst song of 2006, it would almost certainly be "You're Beautiful." And if we had to list the worst commercial artists on the planet, the list would most certainly include James Blunt. You'd think that with all the wonderful music being recorded that people would have the good sense to listen to something worthwhile. But nooooooooo...instead they'd rather listen to sissy-assed old James crooning the words Yo beautiful...yo beautiful...yo beautiful... over and over and over again in his whiny, nasal, shitty vocal style that has become a continuing irritant to anyone with a brain. Blunt represents everything that is wrong with music at present...but he isn't the real asshole. The real assholes are the ones supporting his pathetic act. (Rating: 1)

Bright Light Fever - Presents The Evening Owl (Advance CD, Stolen Transmission, Rock/pop)
Smart, punchy hard pop in the same general vein as bands like The Strokes and OK Go. The four fellows in Placerville, California-based Bright Light Fever play slightly bluesy loud pop that features cool fuzzy guitars and precisely loose vocals. Judging from the sound of the tunes on The Evening Owl, we'd bet that this band's main audience will be college students and young adults. And that is a shame...because if older and younger folks were more open-minded, Bright Light Fever could very well be appreciated by everyone. The band effectively combines upbeat sounds with some decidedly darker moments...always managing to come up with songs that are simultaneously intense and surprisingly catchy. You can bet your bottom entry hall that we'll all be hearing a lot about this band in the coming months. Nifty treats include "Broken Hands," "Papa's Got a Brand New Liver," "A Deeper Blue," and "Iceberger." (Rating: 5)

Brother Kite - Waiting for the Time to be Right (CD, Clairecords, Pop)
We've grown to love the eclectic Clairecords label over the years...and Brother Kite is one of the reasons why. The band's spacious, heady, cerebral pop music is thoroughly engaging and upbeat. Waiting for the Time to be Right is another excellent addition to the group's catalog. Featuring twelve wonderfully inviting tracks, the album's tunes are smart, thoughtful, and insightful. All five members of this band sing...which results in some marvelously challenging vocal harmony work that is reminiscent of 1960s bands like The Beach Boys. When you consider the fact that the public happily supports the shittiest artists in the world...it seems tragic that credible real bands like Brother Kite seem to be overlooked. No matter. Based on the sounds we're hearing here...these folks obviously have music in their hearts. The inherent sincerity is amazing. Fantastic stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Chinch Bugs - Unglued (CD, MPLS Ltd., Pop)
Chinch Bugs tunes already reminded us slightly of Badfinger but we realized it was more than just a coincidence when we noticed that Joey Molland makes a guest appearance on this album (also making a guest appearance is Brian Tighe of babysue favorite The Hang Ups). The four folks in this band (Louise Sherman, Jimmy Sexton, Lila Karash, Jenny Loupe) have an extremely unpretentious sound and image...coming across as normal folks who just happen to have a knack for writing and recording remarkably uplifting pop. The tunes on Unglued sound similar to some of the best underground guitar/keyboard pop bands from the 1980s. Not a lot more to be said here...except that in a world full of phony artists...this band's music is truly refreshing. Nifty offerings include "Anna Lee," "Don't Touch the Rock Star," "Revenge of the Clone," and "Monday Afternoon." (Rating: 5+)

Citizens Here and Abroad - Waving, Not Drowning (CD, Turn, Progressive pop)
Cool complex heady progressive pop with a difference. So many boy/girl bands write and record overtly cute and cuddly pop...but not these folks. Trying to come up with comparisons and possible influences for Citizens Here and Abroad is a difficult task. These folks combine elements from catchy pop music with heady progressive arrangements to create an intriguing whirlwind of ideas and sound. In trying to describe Waving, Not Drowning, the only other band that even remotely comes to mind is The Rum Diary (another band whose music is difficult to describe). Citizens Here and Abroad is Chris Groves, Daniel Lowrie, Adrienne Robillard, and Chris Wetherell. These four folks are extraordinarily competent on their instruments...and their music comes across sounding completely fresh and unique. Complex without being difficult, Drowning is a cool dive into the world of credible modern progressive pop. (Rating: 5++)


Your music
Is crummy
And so are

(Rating: 1)


Desperate old ladies
Chasing desperate old men
Who kick them
In the heads
Over and over

(Rating: 1)

Duke Fame - Too Proud To Practice (CD, Geeves, Pop)
Whereas the last album from Atlanta's Duke Fame reminded us of early David Bowie...Too Proud To Practice has much more in common with 1990s guitar bands like The Young Fresh Fellows. This band has come a long way in terms of sound and style since their last release...the sound quality has improved and the tunes are more focused. Songs are the real meat of this band...and songs are what make them stand out from the pack. Many of the tracks on Practice sound strangely familiar...giving the listener a decided feeling of deja vu. Rather than try to fit in molds and genres, these fellows seem to be recording music for the right reason...to entertain themselves and others. You have to admire bands that stick to their guns and play music for pure enjoyment. This is a cool, upbeat album full of infectious melodies. Clever cuts include "Proctor, Gamble and Huff," "Patterns," "Memory Bucket," and "Roller Joe." Duke Fame is a band that is clearly on the right path. (Rating: 4++++)

Echo Is Your Love - Humansize (CD, Stickfigure, Progressive pop)
The folks in Finland's Echo Is Your Love are becoming more conventional over time. The band has apparently toned down some of their oddness in favor of a more fan-friendly sound. This could be a negative or a positive, depending on how you look at it. While certainly having the potential to appeal to a wider audience, Humansize still has enough rouge edges and noise to make it interesting. What we find interesting is that the band's overall vibe now sounds something like a modern cross between Blondie and Yoko Ono. They sound super tight on these recordings...spewing out some rather complex and heady musical passages. This band has a strangely hypnotic feel that is counterbalanced by hard, punchy experimental passages. Intriguing to say the least. Eleven tracks here including "Consider Yourself No Longer a Part of the Furniture," "Peace Song," "Minor Flirt," and "Stories You Feared." (Rating: 4++++)

Empty Cage Quartet - Hello the Damage! (Double CD, pfMENTUM, Modern jazz)
Empty Cage Quartet is Jason Mears (alto saxophone, clarinet, wood flutes), Kris Tiner (trumpet, flugelhorn), Paul Kikuchi (drums, percussion), and Ivan Johnston (contrabass). Though the name might imply a connection with modern classical artist John Cage, his influence on these proceedings is fairly slight as these folks are treading in pure jazz territory. Hello the Damage! is a lengthy double CD featuring this quartet performing live in Los Angeles, California. The tunes are spontaneous and based on improvisational communication. What we find intriguing about this band's approach is how well they are able to incorporate a great deal of classic jazz into their music. Rather than just ranting away into noisy oblivion, they create cool grooves that allow their listeners to enter their world. Accidental and yet with a sense of purpose...these live tracks are lively, original, and sometimes puzzling. Top picks: "Attack of the Eye People," "And Who Is Not Small," "Swim Swim Swim, Eat Eat Eat." (Rating: 5)

Jon Garcia - Jon Garcia (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
Airy, breezy, complex, well orchestrated progressive pop. Jon Garcia was previously in the Austin, Texas bands Dialectic and Jarvis before he opted to move to Portland, Oregon to begin his solo career. Perhaps his previous musical experience explains the extraordinarily mature and complex arrangements on Jon Garcia. This lengthy fourteen track album clocks in at over 60 minutes...and it's a real roller coaster ride of sounds and styles. In some ways, Garcia's music sounds something like a cross between Eric Carmen and Bill Nelson...but not really. Instead of going for one sound, Jon delves into a wild variety of sources and influences...coming up with his own sound in the process. Some of the arrangements on this album are just lovely. The use of violin, harp, and cello works beautifully with the style of music Garcia composes. This well thought out album features a wealth of smart tracks...with our favorites being "Sweet Misery," "Saturday Morning," "Dizzy Star," and "One Night Stand With Myself." (Rating: 4++++)

Gitogito Hustler - Love & Roll (CD, Gearhead, Pop/rock)
Gitogito Hustler was voted best rock and roll band of 2005 by the Chattanooga Pulse plus they're on the Gearhead label...so you can be doubly sure that they've gotta be good. Though they're probably tired of the comparison, the four Japanese ladies in this band play rock music that is reminiscent of the legendary Shonen Knife. This short album finds Yago (vocals, guitar), Mitsuko (guitar), Tae (bass), and Fusa (drums) playing upbeat fuzzy pop with infectious melodies and driving rhythms. These girls can really play and their positive energy is instantly infectious. Sure, it's all been done before...but in the world of music intent is everything. And the intent that is inherent in tracks like "Love & Roll," "Maybe Love," "Puzzle," and "Rapo Rapo" is sure to appeal to fans of real rock and roll. Lots of great fun here. (Rating: 5+)


Goodbye hills,
Goodbye farm.
Goodbye lawnmowers,
Goodbye harm.

(Rating: 1)

Hinkley - Estate Sale (CD, Carbon, Pop)
Hinkley is an underground band based in Rochester, New York. The band's music is decidedly soft, progressive, accessible...and mature. Instead of sounding like young upstarts intent on pushing the boundaries of sound and music, these fellows seem to just let their music flow from their combined consciousness...letting whatever may happen...happen. Estate Sale was produced by Adam Lasus who has worked with various bands including Yo La Tengo, Juliana Hatfield, and Lilys. Some might lump Hinkley in the Americana ballground...but that would be a bit of a miscategorization. The songs on this album are actually pure pop...played with proper, thoughtful restraint. The band's guitars sound great...and the vocals have a wonderful unrehearsed quality that is most appealing. This is an album that will undoubtedly stand the test of time. Thoughtful tracks include "Hanging Tree," "Party on the Sun," "Farewell to Sadness," and "Horse of the Wood." Intriguing and thoroughly genuine. (Rating: 5+)

Hunger Anthem - Hunger Anthem (CD-R, Broken Brain, Pop/rock)
Hunger Anthem is the one man band consisting of a guy named Brendan who lives in Buffalo, New York. Unlike your average home recording artist, Brendan plays real drums and builds his tunes around thick, fuzzy guitars. The overall tone of this album reminds us very much of some of Bob Mould's tunes from the 1980s. Brendan doesn't bury his tunes in complicated arrangements...instead allowing his listeners to focus on the hooks and soaring vocal melodies. In a world full of self-produced CD-Rs that just don't cut it...Hunger Anthem stands out as a credible and rather nifty collection of excellent tracks. Our initial favorites are "Chalk Outline," "Mantle Matches," "Ten to Zero," and "Four Walls." Really quite neat. (Rating: 4+++++)


What was really inside
JonBenet's underwear?

(Rating: 1)

Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds - Philosophy and Underwear (CD, New York Night Train, Pop)
Kid Congo Powers has certainly made a name for himself over the years. His is probably best known as a former member of the bands The Gun Club and The Cramps, although he has also played with (and has been associated with) a wealth of other important musical legends along the way. These days Mr. Powers is dividing his time between his latest projects Pink Monkey Birds and Kid & Khan. The humorously titled Philosophy and Underwear features a wealth of well-produced alternative pop/rock that is infused with intelligence and style. Kid Congo rarely uses traditional formulas in his music...instead opting to use instruments more like paint. His vocals are unusual and spontaneous. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of possible influences in these tunes...it is difficult to come up with obvious comparisons. This is an adventurous album that should appeal to fans of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and Leonard Cohen. Captivating cuts include "The History of French Cuisine," "Richard Three," "House of Cards," and "The Last Word." (Rating: 5+)

Sonja Kristina - Sonja Kristina (CD, Market Square, Pop)
Sonja Kristina is one of the most enchanting female artists in music. After several decades of making music, the former Curved Air vocalist continues to be a vital force (nowadays with her latest project Mask). Now available for the first time on CD, Sonja Kristina was recorded in 1980 by Nigel Gray (who recorded the first three albums by The Police). This album was recorded during a period which must have been difficult for Sonja. Curved Air had pretty much run its course and she was probably trying to determine which way to go next. Judging by the sound of these tunes, Kristina was apparently trying to come up with songs with more commercial appeal. As such, this album isn't quite as artistically appealing as many of her other albums (plus some of the keyboard work sounds quite dated). The vocals are outstanding (as always)...but some of the tunes sound rather calculated. Still, there are some gems here ("Colder Than A Rose in Snow," "We're Only Human") that make this disc worthwhile. Personally, we prefer Sonja's current endeavors to her earlier solo recordings... (Rating: 4+++)

Grand Mal - Love is the Best Con in Town (CD, New York Night Train, Pop)
Largely ignored by most music fans at the peak of their popularity, St. Johnny was one of the all-time great guitar bands of the 1990s. The band's cerebral harsh loud guitar pop was intense and thoroughly unique. Sadly, after recording some rather stunning albums, the band called it quits. Thankfully nowadays bandleader Bill Whitten continues to write and record fantastic pop tunes under the name Grand Mal. Though the band has had its share of ups and downs, Bill continues to tread through frustrating obstacles and allow his imagination to clear his path to the future. Though his overall sound and style have softened over the years, Whitten's trademark loose, fluid vocals and his ability to compose top notch songs remain thoroughly intact. Love is the Best Con in Town probably won't be a commercial success...the tunes are too genuine and original for that. From a credibility point of view, however, the album is certainly an artistic success. One of the great singers and songwriters of the past couple of decades continues to prove his worth in the world of music. Beautiful, poignant tracks include "Cold as the Stars," "People Change (Maybe They Don't)," "C'mon," and "Down at the Country Club." Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Robin Guthrie - Everlasting (CD EP, Darla, Instrumental)
This EP follows on the heels of Robin Guthrie's last full-length release Continental...and provides music from the same general terrain. Everlasting features four swirling, heady, epic instrumentals that will evoke distinct moods in the minds of listeners. Though most folks know Guthrie for his work as producer and guitarist with The Cocteau Twins, he is quickly making a name for himself with his solo career by releasing innovative and engaging modern mood music. This is a short disc, clocking in at just over 17 minutes...but Guthrie makes good use of this short amount of time, providing soothing and slightly surreal audio landscapes. Four cuts: "Bordertown," "A Sigh Across the Ocean," "Fountain," "Everlasting." Beautiful stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Heller Mason - Minimalist & Anchored (CD, Silber, Soft pop)
Heller Mason is more mainstream than most artists on North Carolina's esoteric Silber label. Rather than presenting atmospheric sound or eerie progressive rock, this band plays surprisingly smooth and accessible soft Americana pop. The group is centered around the songwriting skills of Todd Vandenberg...a young man with a soft soothing voice and a real flair for writing meaningful lyrics. The tunes on Minimalist & Anchored are subdued and subtle...and yet there is an odd strength present in the delivery of these compositions. This is the sort of album that was obviously created out of a love of music rather than a desire for commercial success. Vandenberg is certainly on the right track here. These soothing pensive tracks get better the more you hear them. Intriguing cuts include "After All is Said and Done, More Was Said Than Done," "I Hate Drama and You're Being Dramatic," and "So, This is How it Ends?" (Rating: 5)

Hezekiah Jones - Hezekiah Says You're A-Ok (CD, Yer Bird, Soft pop)
The press release that accompanied this CD made some rather substantial claims so we approached this album with hesitation and some reservations. After all, so many music companies, individuals, and bands include so many fabrications in their press kits that you eventually begin to question almost everything that you read. The one sheeter that accompanied this CD did the trick (the label's drawing of a baby crawling onto the back of a large bird also helped)...making us pay attention to this album. Hezekiah Jones is driven by the songwriting talents of Raphael Cutrufello who some folks may already know for his work in the band StillWillis. Hezekiah Says You're A-Ok is a collection of eleven tracks that revolve around an acoustic guitar. Some of the tunes are rather straightforward and familiar sounding...while others are slightly peculiar and puzzling. Raphael comes up with some truly credible tunes on this short album (just over 30 minutes in length). The one thing that would have made this disc even more appealing would have been more variety in terms of overall sound and style. But considering the entertainment value here, that is a minor point. Cool reflective cuts include "Agnes of the World," "Circumstance," and "Which Side Are We On?" (Rating: 4++++)

Last Conservative - Pretty New Things (Advance CD, Good Charamel, Hard pop)
Nice melodic hard pop played with unusual vigor and robust style. The guys in this Buffalo, New York quartet play hard pop/rock that emphasizes catchy melodies and heartfelt lyrics. A lot of folks will probably lump them into the retro-1980s arena...which would be unfair, because this band's music is actually rather timeless and classic. Pretty New Things features eleven surprisingly commercial tracks. These guys are playing it smart by presenting tunes that are accessible and user-friendly...and yet still retain artistic credibility. The fellows in Last Conservative seem comfortable presenting pure feelgood music...and on this album that exuberance comes through loud and clear. Smooth, slick pop tracks like "Distraction," "King of Failure," "Little Flame," and "Learning to Stand" make this album an instantly entertaining experience. (Rating: 4+++)


Ron and Russell
In our dreams
'Til the end.

We talk just like them
We are told by
A friend.

(Rating: 1)

Mosquitos - III (CD, Bar/None, Pop)
Mosquitos have been a favorite among critics since they began. The band's soft, soothing, bossa nova influenced pop is hypnotic and ultimately fulfilling. As the band progresses in their career...they seem to become even more focused and compelling. III is an intriguing collection of soft pop that is infused with all kinds of subtle technological tricks. The album begins with the brief, wonderfully Yoko Ono-esque "Moonshine" which quickly evaporates as a lead-in to the dreamy and pensive "UFO." III is a wonderfully light and entertaining spin. We honestly haven't heard soft pop this good since Ivy began in the 1990s. Without a doubt, Juju Stulbach has one of the best smooth voices in music today. The folks in Mosquitos aren't trying to break any new ground or to be overly artsy and clever. Rather, the folks in this band write simple, good tunes and then present them in the most direct manner possible. This refreshing collection of fifteen tunes should appeal to most music fans whether they be young or old. Killer cuts include "Ele," "Reason To Live," "Love Like You," "Looked Away," and "We Flew Away." Excellent from start to finish. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)


That is not
Far out.
It is
Near in.

(Rating: 1)


They are looking
At our office suite
As if it were
A piece of meat.

It is a goddamn
Piece of meat.

Get us the hell
Out of this
Goddamn place.

(Rating: 1)

OMR - Superheroes Crash (French import CD, Uncivilized World, Pop)
When you're being constantly bombarded with music every day of the year it can be overwhelming and, at times, quite confusing. Instead of making sense of many artists and their music...the barage almost becomes blinding and you forget what music is supposed to be in the first place...entertainment. On the first spin or two, French duo OMR didn't make much of an impression on us. We hear so many progressive pop bands that at times they all tend to blur into one another. Thankfully we weren't in a rush the day we began absorbing the tunes on Superheroes Crash and we were able to spin the disc several times before writing this review. After about ten spins, we can honestly say that these folks create stunning, absorbing, dreamy, inventive soft pop music that really sticks in the mind. OMR is Virginie Krupa and Alexandre Brovelli. Together the two write and record compelling pop music that features some rather amazingly articulate arrangements. Krupa's soft soothing voice provides the perfect centerpoint for these tracks. The best part about this music...is that it provides a real mental escape for the listener. If you're looking for something to take your mind off the dull oddness of everyday crazyness...you're likely to find a safe escape here. Cool reflective cuts include "Captive in the Height of Summer," "Immobilized," "Ten Minutes to Six," and "To the Train." Excellent material. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

One Ring Zero - Wake Them Up (CD, Barbes, Pop)
One Ring Zero is the duo consisting of Joshua Camp and Michael Hearst. The two write and record music that sounds something like a cross between Brian Eno's early pop music from the 1970s and bands from the Athens, Georgia underground scene in the 1990s. Camp and Hearst utilize a wide assortment of instruments to achieve their sound...incorporating such devices as accordion, banjo, claviola, theramin, melodica, and more. You'd think...considering the assortment of instruments used...that the overall sound of this album would be thick and complex. But instead, the tunes have a nice open feel...very inviting and genuine. Thus, instead of doing a lot with a little...these fellow are doing a little with a lot. Nifty vocals and intriguing lyrics complete the picture...making Wake Them Up a refreshing and interesting collection of modern pop ditties. (Rating: 4+++++)

Pere Ubu - Why I Hate Women (CD, Smog Veil, Progressive pop/rock)
What can be said about this band that hasn't been said before...? They're still doing what they started out doing...and by now folks who have been exposed to their music either love 'em or hate 'em. There are few fence sitters in the peculiar musical world of Pere Ubu. Why I Hate Women is the band's first new album in four years. What probably draws people into this band...and what probably also scares many away...is David Thomas. This man has a really strange voice that is peculiar and remarkably accidental. This album has a great deal in common with previous Pere Ubu albums...plus it also displays a great many elements that were present on some of the better progressive rock albums from the 1980s. Whether you like the band or not, you have to admit that these folks are really focused and have refined their craft to a pure art form. Strange compositions include "Two Girls (One Bar)," "Babylonian Warehouses," "Mona," and "Synth Farm." Odd, dreamy, and peculiar. A strange spin for sure... (Rating: 5)

Lee Scratch Perry - Panic In Babylon (Double CD, Narnack, Reggae/dub)
Nicknamed after the effect ("scratch") he invented way back in 1973, Lee Scratch Perry is now 70 years old (!). How many artists are still making credible music at such a late stage in life...? Not only is Perry's music still credible...but it remains fresh and entertaining as well. This double CD presents the original album (Panic In Babylon) that was originally released in Switzerland plus a bonus CD featuring three remixes. Perry has a refreshingly peculiar voice. At times he almost sounds like a teenager when he sings. This is a slick album and yet...it never comes across sounding contrived or calculated. These dub/reggae tracks are totally sincere and obviously vital. We can't help but love the lyrics to tracks like "Rastafari," "Pussy Man," "I Am A Psychiatrist," and "Baby Krishna." Funny and occasionally obtuse, Perry remains one of the most intriguing reggae/dub artists on the planet. (Rating: 5+)

The Places - Songs for Creeps (CD, High Plains Sigh, Progressive pop)
Though she's been recording for some time now, Songs for Creeps serves as our first introduction to the music of The Places' Amy Annelle. This is Amy's sixth album...and it is a truly compelling and unusual collection of recordings. She played most everything on the tracks and released it on her own High Plains Sigh label. Unlike many underground artists who seem intent on making unusual noise and passing off junk as songs...Amy writes mature, thoughtful, extremely intelligent songs that are surprisingly slick and accessible. But rather than sounding like commercial slop, her songs are well-produced, imaginative interpretations of her inner thoughts. A total artistic success, Songs for Creeps is an astounding collection of top-notch modern moody pop. Killer tracks include "Blessed Speed," "Gold to Green," "I'm A-Gone Down to the Green Fields," and "Worse and Wise." Extremely classy music. This young lady is bound to be a major contender in the years ahead. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Port City Music - Port City Music (CD-R, Obtuse pop)
Reviewing this band might present a conflict of interest. As such, our policies prevent us from giving an opinion here. So rather than read our blabbering about this and that and whatever...visit the link (above) and see what you think... (Not Rated)


Another trite
Descriptive term
That doesn't mean

(Rating: 1)


Power to
The people who
Don't have any

(Rating: 1)

The Receiver - Decades (CD, Stunning Models on Display, Progressive pop)
We hate to compare this band to Sufjan Stevens because...well, because we tend to compare so many new underground male pop artists with Mr. Stevens. But even though the overall sound is quite different, the general idea of The Receiver is indeed rather similar to the aforementioned up-and-coming pop superstar. This band is the duo consisting of Casey Cooper and his brother Jesse Cooper. The band is a spin off of a recording Casey did for his college thesis at Ohio State University. This is an impressive collection of compositions, especially when you consider the fact that this is the brothers' first album. These soft, spacious tunes are intelligent without being superficial and inventive without being obviously different. Casey uses thoughtful, appropriate arrangements to caress his vocals...often using intriguing effects that give the tracks a friendly warmth. The main strength...as well as the biggest drawback...to The Receiver is probably the intelligence that is inherent in the music. It's a strength because the music is fascinating and pulls the listener in...but it's a drawback as well because the music requires more effort than most listeners are probably willing to give. Our own particular feeling about this album...is that it is cerebral, absorbing, and totally effective. We rarely hear debuts this good. As such, we can easily recommend this CD without reservation. (Rating: 5++)

Rube Waddell - Greatest Hits (Independently released CD, Pop)
These guys have been working really hard at what they do since 1996. Thus, they now have the well-earned respect of a large number of folks in the San Francisco area and beyond. Rube Waddell is Captain Feedback, Reverend Wupass, Mahatma Boom Boom, and Max A. Million...four guys who play accidental music that is created using a variety of instruments...and presented with wonderfully honest style and integrity. Greatest Hits features a whopping seventeen new tracks...all played with an appropriate disregard for the rules of music. In a world so full of phony music...you have to admire the folks who do it their own way, no matter what the consequences. The guys in Rube Waddell succeed in their main objective...to provide good, solid entertainment. Nifty tracks include "Tamale Lady," "Random People," "Yolanda," and "Redemption." (Rating: 5)

Shut-Ups - The Stud Album (CD, Fraudulent, Pop)
It sometimes seems as if we compare every pure pop band to Ben Folds. It really is amazing how many bands have followed in Ben's footsteps. Though he graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 2006, Shut-Ups main man Don Condescending opted to drop law in favor of a music career in Atlanta, Georgia. The Stud Album plays like a string of oughta-be hits. Condescending has a sense of humor and he's obviously not opposed to writing commercially friendly tunes. But despite the overt accessibility, this album is surprisingly credible and real. Funny lyrics and catchy melody lines make this album a super pleasing spin. Pure feelgood pop tracks include "Other Bands" (great lyrics here), "I'm Pretending to be a Robot," "The Contradiction," and "One Flesh." Uplifting and entertaining. (Rating: 4++++)

Sigur Ros - Saeglopur (CD + DVD, Filter US Recordings, Progressive)
It can be difficult at times to allow yourself to appreciate and enjoy ultrahip bands...but it can be even more difficult to try to force yourself not to enjoy something when you do. Such is our dilemma with Sigur Ros. Although the band has become way too hip for comfort...their music remains provocative, engaging, and unique (plus we really appreciate the fact that the band apparently refuses to put their name on the obvious places on their CD covers). Saeglopur includes a CD featuring three new tracks plus a DVD...all housed in an appropriately impressionistic digipak sleeve. It's a slick, beautiful package to be sure...but the music remains the real focus of this band's energies. Cerebral, lush, and peculiar...Sigur Ros music continues to be unique and different. The band's sound is spacious and modern...yet it is also extraordinarily human and effective. So...while we'd like to distance ourselves from all the hipsters who glop praise upon this band...out of good consciousness we have to agree with the pack this time around. This is another fantastic release from an incredible band. (Rating: 5+++)

Soulwax - Nite Versions (CD, Modular, Electronic/dance)
It's a shame that we don't receive as much dance music as we did in the 1990s...because when it is done right, it can be rather goddamn entertaining. The folks in Soulwax sure manage to come up with some frustratingly infectious dance tracks here. The band uses very simple and familiar ideas and formulas...but they wrap 'em around beats and bass lines that are so pure and infectious that you just can't help but move to the music. Nite Versions features instrumentals and tracks with words (some of which are extremely poignant and funny)...but no matter what the upper layers are made of, those driving beats continually push the music forward. The more we spin this CD...the better it sounds. This is modern minimalist electronic dance music done right. Killer cuts include "Teachers," "E-Talking," "Slowdance," and "Another Excuse." Great stuff, and rather bizarre at times. (Rating: 5+)

Sprites - Modern Gameplay (CD, Darla, Pop)
Sprites is the husband and wife team consisting of Jason Korzen (formerly of Barcelona) and Amy Korzen. Jason and Amy are apparently heavily influenced by music from the late 1970s and early 1980s...and Sprites is their way of paying homage to their heros from this time period. When you consider this fact, it may be surprising how current the tunes on Modern Gameplay sound. Instead of retroactive pop music, these songs seem to have more in common with underground pop bands in Athens, Georgia. Jason writes smooth, instantly hummable pop ditties that are easy on the ears and mind. Instead of pushing boundaries and challenging listeners, he and Amy just seem to be having a good time creating good old fashioned pop with a modern slant. This album features seventeen succinct pop tunes including "George Romero," "Shirley Beans," "The Most Dangerous Thing in the World," and "Ambient Industrial Dronescape." (Rating: 4++++)

Superhopper - Party Killers (CD, Guilt Ridden Pop, Rock)
We've been big fans of Superhopper ever since we were first introduced to their music. When this band is on...they are really on. Party Killers contain some pure moments of brilliance...but there are also some throwaway tunes tossed in the basket. The strongest tracks on this album are "Kermit Hates Music," "Friends," and "Eye of the Tiger Applies to Everything." These tracks are best because they present the band doing what they do best...simply pulling out the stops and playing great rock music. The other tracks fall a bit short of what this band is capable of producing. This could be a case where too much thought went into writing the tunes for this short album (the disc is well under 30 minutes in length). We're still convinced that when they're on, Superhopper is an amazing band. If they can focus their energy a bit...these guys could end up being one of the greatest bands of the twenty-first century. (Rating: 4+++)

Teitur - Stay Under the Stars (Advance CD, Equator Music, Soft pop)
Beautiful music articulately recorded with precise attention to detail. Teitur writes and records surprisingly commercial sounding soft pop...yet at least at this point, he remains an underground artist. His tunes are centered around a gently strummed acoustic guitar...and they feature poignant, genuine lyrics and superbly effective vocals. The tracks on Stay Under the Stars have a breezy, floating quality...very smart yet subtle and relaxing soft pop. Teitur's music has a nice organic quality and could, if marketed right, appeal to millions and millions of music fans. This album recalls a variety of classic artists including Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, and Roy Harper. This man is bound to be a success in a very short amount of time. His music commands attention. (Rating: 5)


Now that we are
Tennessee Men...
That's what we always
Should have been.

(Rating: 1)


We're having
A party and only
Turds are

(Rating: 1)

The Tyde - Three's Co. (CD, Rough Trade, Pop)
Pure pop fueled with a pure feelgood attitude. Pop lovers are bound to go nuts over Three's Co. The Tyde write and record pleasant, hummable, catchy music that is shimmering and bright. The lead track ("Do It Again Again") has to be one of the most upbeat and instantly hummable tunes we've heard thus far this year. The guys in The Tyde create music that harkens back to the mid 1980s when underground guitar pop bands were all the rage among young adults. Instead of going the artsy route (i.e., trying too hard to be original and different)...the guys in this band seem to let their music take them wherever it should. As a result, the inherent sincerity of these tunes is real and obvious. These eleven sparsely recorded pop tunes are heavy on melodies and content...lovingly recorded with attention to subtle details. Three's Co. sounds great on the first listen...but gets even better the more you spin it. Cool keepers include "Separate Cars," "Glassbottom Lights," "County Line," and "Don't Need a Leash." Slightly coy music with cool threads of intelligence. (Rating: 5+)

Under Byen - Samme Stof Som Stof (CD, Paper Bag, Progressive)
It is rare indeed when a band stumps us. Samme Stof Som Stof is an album that doesn't sound very much like any other we've heard before. Denmank's Under Byen is a puzzling group of eight musicians who seem to be approaching music from a very unusual perspective. Almost everything about the music is unorthodox. The rhythms are strangely simple...the instruments often processed so that they sound peculiar...and the vocals are spontaneously free flowing and obtuse. This twelve track album is an amazing spin...perhaps even more so after several focused listens. The music has multiple layers...yet although there's a lot going on, the overall sound is quite sparse and simple. At times these tracks recall some of the more obtuse British progressive bands from the 1970s...while at other times they seem to reflect this band's penchant for creating their own niche in the world of music. Truly strange and ultimately hypnotic...Samme Stof Som Stof is an instant favorite here in the babysue campground... (Rating: 5+++)


We are told
From the start
That we are

The unique lie
Is uniquely
A lie.

(Rating: 1)

Unwed Sailor - The White Ox (CD, Burnt Toast Vinyl, Mainly instrumental)
Unwed Sailor has become a favorite among critics and fans of the true musical underground in America. The band is the project spearheaded by Johnathon Ford. The White Ox picks up where previous Unwed Sailor releases left off...presenting six beautifully articulate instrumentals. These pieces spin like modern mood pieces but they were recorded with such precise attention to detail...that they would probably best be described as modern classical compositions. The tracks are colored by a variety of odd instrumentation...sometimes sounds take over as the songs become more like abstract paintings. Obtuse and mentally challenging, the music of Unwed Sailor is an acquired taste. But once you have acquired the taste...you'll always want more. Once again, highly recommended. (Rating: 5++)


Not only do we not know
Where we will be tomorrow
We have absolutely
No idea of where we are

(Rating: 1)

Denison Witmer - Safe Away + Are You A Sleeper EP (Advance CD-R, The Militia Group, Folk/pop)
Denison Witmer is a rarity in the world of music. His music seems to appeal to just about everyone. Pop fanatics, punks, underground artists, old people, young people, and experimental musicians all seem to love this man's sincere soft folky pop. Safe Away was never officially released, thus the folks at The Militia Group have made the wise decision to make the album available to everyone. It's easy to see why Denison became a favorite among so many folks in such a short amount of time. Using nothing but the bare essentials, this man says tons more than other artists who use just about everything at their disposal to get their point across. Safe Away is a remarkable album...particularly when you consider the fact that it was never made for money nor meant for a mass market. Also included in this set is a bonus EP of new and live material. Rarely do new artists come along who make such a deep and lasting impression. Denison Witmer's music will be with us for decades to come. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Working For A Nuclear Free City - Working For A Nuclear Free City (CD, Melodic, Progressive pop/rock)
Blurry hazy obtuse experimental progressive pop from Great Britain's Working For A Nuclear Free City. The tunes on this self-titled album might best be described more simply as...art rock. The folks in this band apparently have little or no desire for big commercial success. The fourteen tracks on this album are strangely subtle and peppered with plenty of experimental tidbits. We find it particularly appealing that the band uses a real rhythm section (i.e., real drums and bass) and yet still manages to throw in a good deal of heady electronics to spice up the mix. You won't find any cute, catchy tunes here...this music is a dreamy mix of hypnotics and cool beats. Try as we may, we can't come up with any obvious references or influences here...although some tracks do occasionally bring to mind The Flaming Lips. These folks seem to be treading in their own unique musical terrain. All the tracks are intriguing...but of particular significance are "The 224th Day," "Pixelated Birds," "Innocence," "Home," and "The Tree." Neat stuff. (Rating: 5+)


Additional Items Received

12Twelve - L'univers
7000 Dying Rats - Forced boat
Ahab Rex - Blood on blonde
Akron/Family - Meek warrior
Alex Is On Fire - Crisis
Amercan Watercolor Movement - It takes fifteen to tango in my book, what book do you read?
An Epic at Best - There will be rain
Annuals - Be he me
Applicators - My weapon
G.T. Arpe - Doused fires #2
A Shoreline Dream - Avoiding the consequences
As Tall As Lions - As Tall As Lions
AutoVaughn - Space
Avett Brothers - The gleam
Ronnie Baker - Ronnie Baker
Barenaked Ladies - All new revue: live at the glenn gould theatre May 19, 2006
Bargain Music - American born
Beach House - Beach House
Bears - Bears
Kevin Bilchik - Paper money
Black Happy Day - In the garden of ghostflowers
Black Helicopter - Invisible jet
Blackhiv - Any way she wants it
James Blunt - Chasing time: the bedlam sessions
Bodisartha - Find yourself getting lost
Born Again Floozies - With novelties, addenda, and ephemera
Paul Brill - Harpooner
Brothermandude - Brothermandude
Carl Henry Brueggen - Let's talk about hi-fi
Canada - This cursed house
Carbon Leaf - Love, loss, hope, repeaet
Barton Carroll - Love and war
Mark Chesnutt - Heard it in a love song
Clean Prophets - Praise is poison
Davison/Coleman - Forward motion
Colour Revolt - Colour Revolt
Comfies - Close to me
Company Jones - Disconnected
Copyrights - Mutiny pop
Carmine Coral - This morning
Crime in Choir - Trumpery Metier
Cougar - Law
Dark Meat - Universal indians
Delicate Noise - Diversion
Gerina de Marco - Gerina
Destination Oblivion - Larvae
Die Hunns - You rot me
Dirty Novels - Stealing kisses
Dirty Projectors - New attitude
DoF - Sun, strength, and shield
Beth Donnelly and Douglas Feller - That's amore
Drowning Dolphins - Another nail through the coffin of rock
Matt Duke - Winter child
Echo Helstrom - The veil
El Presidente - El Presidente
Exit Clov - Respond respond
Feathers - Synchromy
Feces Tarpe - Loused liars
Fedchenka - Mary and other assorted lovesongs
Forward, Russia! - Give me a wall
Friendly Start - Housed highers L.P. #1
Funky Nashville - Hitch a ride
Gargoyles - #1
Giant Squid - Metridium fields
Goodbye Kiss - EP
Gosling - Here is...
Gravehaven - Perceptions for the colorblind
Adam Green - Jacket full of danger
Grey Does Matter - Your job will kill you
Earl Greyhound - Soft targets
Griddle - Klimty favela
Heartstring Band - Aurora songs vol. I
Hello Goodbye - Zombies! aliens! vampires! dinosaurs!
Hem - Funnel cloud
Hopewood - Hopewood
Horrors - EP
Hot Mute - Hot Mute
Hot Young Priest - Fiendish freaky love
Hundred Year Storm - Hellow from the children of planet earth
Idiosyncratic Routine - I was a hidden treasure and i longed to be known
Ilad - The spoon
Insurgence - Lost b/w Ghost town / Friday nite
IQ - Roll call
I Would Set Myself On Fire For You - Believes in patterns
Jim Jacobi - In strip mall land
Michael Johnathon - Evening song
Juliet Dagger - Saturday morning and sooper video singles
Jeff Kaiser / Tom McNalley - Zugzwang
Lakes - Photographs EP
La Rocca - The truth
Last Temptation of the Low Frequency in Stereo - Vol. 1
Latterman - We are still alive
Jeffrey and Jack Lewis - City and eastern songs
Love - Songs for the record
Lovely Sparrows - Pulling up floors, pouring on (new) paint
Maps of Norway - Sister stations
Meeting Places - Numbered days
Memory Band - Apron strings
Miami Vice - Original motion picture soundtrack
Minor Leagues - The pestilence is coming
Minutes Too Far - Let it roll
Miracles of God II - Hennesy/shake that ass/torture b/w locke ward/rape city/you're evil
Missy Part - Moused ires
Modern Day Saint - ...And tomorrow we will have nothing
Monsieur Leroc - I'm not young but i need the money
Motion Picture Demise - ip boom hah
Kristin Mueller - Ports of call
Muse - Black holes and revelations
Needle - Songs your mother neer sang you
Neosonic - Fast forward
Nevada - The sunlight and the sound
New Sound of Numbers - Liberty seeds
Mike Nicholai - God fatigue in the post atom age
Nire - My father's record player
Joan Osborne - Pretty little stranger
Carey Ott - Lucid dream
Ouija Radio - Oh no...yes! yes!
Palodine - Desolate son
N.E. Parte - Joused squires
Sandra Piller - A long time coming
Plumerai - Res cogitans
Patrick Porter - Die wandaland LP
PPR - Diarrhea
Primal Scream - Riot city blues
Purrs - Purrs
Quitter - Quitter
Rails - Life's a lonely ride
Redstart - So far from over
Reel Big Fish - Our live album is better than your live album
Chad Rex and the Victorstands - Gravity works fire burns
Rhapsody of Fire - Triumph or agony
RIFU - Bombs for food, mines for freedom
David Rovics - Halliburton boardroom massacre
Royal Army Recording Co. - Mary, your ghost is showing
Sadies - Talkes of the rat fink: original soundtrack
Emmanuel Santarromana - Fab4Ever
Rich Schroder - Your kind words
Shedding - What god doesn't bless, you won't love; what you don't love, the child won't know
Shimmers - The way you shine
Skittish - Tragedy of the commons
Slats - Boom patrol
Sojorn - When the lights go down
Scott Solter - Canonic: scott solter plays pattern is movement
Tobin Sprout - Songs from the movie Fortunes
Stationary Odyssey - Head! foot! and the pink axe
Strange - Strange
Strangefire - Shazbot munkie
Subliminal Laceration - Ladera verdi
Sugarfist - Media date rape
Terry Sullivan - THEErthMoovsaroundTHESun
Summer Hymns - Backward masks
Sun - Gone
Tall Hands - Tall Hands
Ten Seconds To Go - And y ou thought we were dead
Thumbtack Smoothie - Fall back
Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players - Off and on broadway
Transit War - Miss your face
Trentalange - Photo album of complex relationships
Trolleyvox - The karaoke meltdowns
Turn Off the Stars - Turn Off the Stars
Variant Cause - Excavating variant cause 1980s pacific northwest volume 1
Various artists - The rebel sounds of frisco disco
Various artists - Go-Kart vs. the corporate giant 4
Village of Dead Roads - Dwelling in doubt
Vollmar - Okay
Diane Ward - Wonderlight
Whitey - The light at the end of the tunnel is a train
Withdrawal - The perfectionist blacklist
Wonderland - Number one
Wovenhand - Mosaic
Youngblood Brass Band - Is that a riot?
Lori Zan - Ancient girl EP

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