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October 2008 Reviews by

Ala Muerte*
Bedsit Poets
The Boat People
Simon Bookish
Broadfield Marchers
Burn After Reading
Kate Campbell*
Pelle Carlberg*
Michael Chapman
Cloud Lining

Jay Crocker*
Jesse Dee*
Don't Judge Do Judge
Don't Vote

John Eichleay

Golden Animals
Good Global Warmup
Larkin Grimm
The Gunshy
Robin Guthrie*
Royal Hartigan

Her Space Holiday
Todd Herfindal*
I Am Robot and Proud
I Led 3 Lives

The Jellybricks*
Robert Johnson
Kiss Me At The Gate
Like A Fox
The Lolligags

Lonely Drifter Karen*
Lymbyc Systym
Mackintosh Braun
Mammy's Little Ungrateful Baby

Mike & The Ravens
Monte Montgomery

People Are So Great
Pia Fraus*
Marshall Price

Private Dancer*
Andy Reed
Mike Read
The Rockwells
The Rollo Treadway*
Steffen Schackinger
She Shit

The Singhs

Stillborn Twins Fairy Tale

The Submarines
Take No Damage
Shannon Taylor
Team Genius

Tuck & Patti
Wishy Washy

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby
Yeah, Right

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


Ala Muerte - Santa Elena (CD, Public Guilt, Progressive)
Ala Muerte is the pseudonym Bianca Bibiloni uses to create music. Bibiloni resides in Queens, New York...but don't expect this album to sound anything like your average New York recording because it does not. The tunes on Santa Elena are odd, distant, and moody...recalling a variety of eclectic female artists like Yoko Ono and Nico. Bibiloni writes songs that don't easily fit within any specific genre...and her arrangements are strangely puzzling and foreign. Interestingly, she plays all of the instruments on this album herself. But this sounds nothing like a solo recording. The more we spin this CD...the more difficult it is to describe. But for some reason we found that we kept coming back to this disc over and over and over again. Thus, it ultimately became an easy top pick this month. Smooth mesmerizing tunes include "All Is Gone," "Demeter," "Red Flags," and "Fireweed." Cool and very different. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Audiac - No Come Down (CD, AmpHead / Echo Base, Pop/rock)
Driving rip-roaring catchy pop drenched in thick fuzzy guitars. Melbourne, Australia's Audiac was originally a band featuring two brothers...until tension between the two ended the situation. At that point Andrew Schraa decided to resurrect the band with the addition of Nic Pallett (guitar), Malcolm McMahon (drums), and Kiwi Michael Christian (bass). No Come Down features ten fuzz pop songs that recall some of the more impressive underground U.S.-based guitar bands from the mid- to late-1990s. These guys keep their sound basic and simple...concentrating on playing their super catchy pop with genuine inspiration. This short 34-minute album is a nice invigorating shot in the arm...and just full of intelligent ditties for the discerning pop fanatic. Some of the band's tunes...and particularly the vocals...are occasionally reminiscent of St. Johnny. Cool keepers include "Chopper," "Not For You," "Outta Control," "Astro Pussy," and "No Come Down." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Bedsit Poets - Rendezvous (CD, Bongo Beat, Folk/pop)
Bedsit Poets are back...and now they are three. In addition to original members Amanda Thorpe and Edward Rogers, the band also now includes Mac Randall. These folks write and record a brand of soft folky pop that was popular in California and Great Britain in the 1960s. In many ways, Rendezvous seems to be mainly influenced by music from the past...even going so far as to include an interesting cover of Alex Chilton's "I'm In Love With A Girl." You won't find any annoying hip hop creeping into the mix nor will any crazy processed samples jump out at you. This album is smooth and soft...and overall very subtle and soothing. Instead of trying to bombard their listeners, the folks in this band seem content to present their songs simply and without unnecessary fanfare. The songs are based around acoustic guitar and feature just the right blend of additional instruments...giving the songs a nice full sound without coming across sounding overproduced. As was the case with the last release we heard from these folks, the vocals are exceptional. The more we spin Rendezvous...the better it sounds. Cool reflective cuts include "She's A Mystery," "Hardened Ground," "New Year," and "Hurt Turns to Rage." (Rating: 5+)

The Boat People - Chandeliers (Independently released Australian Import CD, Pop)
We had to listen to Chandeliers many times before reaching some conclusions about it. First off, the lead track ("Awkward Orchid Orchard") is probably one of the more magnetic pop songs we have heard this year. When Australia's The Boat People hit the target, they really hit it dead center. You will have to hear this tune several times before the ultra-catchy chorus sets in...but once it does, you will be hooked. Taking the album as a whole, we came to the conclusion that these tunes remind us in many ways of both Split Enz and Crowded House (many of the melodic twists are reminiscent of something Neil Finn could have written). The Boat People are Robin Waters (vocals, keys), James O'Brien (vocals, bass), Charles Dugan (guitar, vocals), and Tony Garrett (drums, percussion, vocals). These guys create subtle, moody, provocative smart pop that is surprisingly resilient and memorable. In addition to the lead track, other standout cuts include "Unsettle My Heart," "Hours n Hours," and "On Your Side." Nice, slick, and catchy. (Rating: 5)

Simon Bookish - Everything/Everything (CD, Tomlab, Progressive pop)
Hmmm...interesting and odd. This album comes across sounding something like a cross between Oingo Boingo, Phillip Glass, David Bowie, and Mark Mothersbaugh. Simon Bookish is, in reality, a determined young fellow named Leo Chadburn who has been involved in a wide variety of different projects over the past few years. Everything/Everything is different from his previous works in that his Tomlab debut features 100% live instruments. His stream-of-consciousness lyrics are particularly reminiscent of Devo...concentrating on the flood of information in the digital age. These tunes are not particularly commercial sounding...but they are certainly musical and extremely well arranged. We could not possibly recommend this album to everyone because most folks probably don't want music that is this peculiar and demanding (i.e., you cannot just play it low in the background as mood music). Chadburn creates an odd musical universe in which anything can happen. The more we spin this one...the stranger it sounds. Obtuse cuts include "The Flood," "Carbon," "A Crack in Larsen C," and "Colophon." Slick and...weird. (Rating: 5)

BoomBox - Visions of Backbeat (CD, Heart of Gold, Groove pop)
We've always been suckers for groovy bass lines...and Visions of Backbeat is chock full of 'em. BoomBox is a group based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama...but their sound seems more influenced by British techno artists from the past. The songs on this album would not have sounded out of place in the late 1970s and 1980s...but in today's musical climate, for whatever reason, we hear very few artists delving into this style of music. BoomBox tunes are simple, sparse pop songs laced with funk and soul...layered over simple danceable rhythms with one lonely funky guitar driving the melodies. The vocals sometimes sound a bit like early Prince...perhaps a more accurate comparison would be The Flaming Lips, but with a lot more funk and soul. The band consists of Zion Rock Godchaux (guitar, vocals), Kim Hagen (circus theatrics), and Russ Randolph (machines). Backbeat was released in 2005...but it escaped our attention until now. This band's pure feelgood dance music is sparse and subtle...yet highly effective. Eight instantly addictive tracks here including "Stereo" (this one would've been an instant Top Ten hit in the 1980s), "Midnight on the Run," "500 Miles," and "Alright." Cool and seductive stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

(Boombox in Concert, October 2, 2008, Rhythm & Brews, Chattanooga, TN)
After spinning Visions of Backbeat to death, we were fortunate enough to catch the Boombox guys in concert at Rhythm & Brews in Chattanooga on October 2, 2008. The night started off right, as Zion Rock Godchaux and Russ Randolph began their show shortly after the actual scheduled time (a rarity in the world of music). Hearing these guys play live, it isn't difficult to see where the band name came from. While the crowd mingled and hooted about, Godchaux and Randolph slowly took to the stage and began to churn out their loud bass-driven electronic pulsating funk/pop. Fans almost immediately started dancing to the steady 4/4 rhythms. We found it particularly interesting that neither of these guys had much to say to the audience. Instead, they simply played their songs (pretty much non-stop) for their appreciative listeners, most of whom danced up a storm the entire time. In a live setting, we found BoomBox to have a much more acidic sound. Whereas on the album, Godchaux plays mainly rhythm guitar...during the show he played some rather impressive (and often rather bizarre) leads. We noted that he was wearing his trademark fuzzy hat. Randolph is a techno whiz...rotating from left to right tweaking sounds and running the lights. The BoomBox light show is definitely an integral part of the experience...all kinds of colored lights and lazers traveling across and above the stage while the band plays mostly in the shadows...slightly reminiscent of a Stereolab concert. Watching and hearing the throbbing disco beats...we kept wondering if it was 1978 or 1988 all over again...? In conclusion, these guys satisfied their fans...many of whom seemed very familiar with many of the songs. We couldn't help wondering if having a drummer on stage playing a single drum might add a little extra punch visually...? In any event, we left the show loving BoomBox tunes even more than before...which is...a lot. We sure hope these guys have another album in the works because our guess is that their fans are more than ready for it...

Broadfield Marchers - The Inevitable Continuing (CD, Rainbow Quartz, Pop)
Hmmm...some very interesting stuff here. Magnet says this band sounds like "Alex Chilton fronting Guided By Voices." We'd almost agree with that...but instead, we would say that the guys in Broadfield Marchers sound like a cross between Guided By Voices and The Shoes. In particular, the tracks on The Inevitable Continuing remind us very much of songs on The Shoes' Black Vinyl Shoes album...except the songs are more progressive and much less obvious. Pop fanatics who get tired of overproduced music will find this album to be a refreshing change of pace. Brothers Mark Zdobylak and Dustin Zdobylak and drummer Justin Carter create underground guitar pop that is surprisingly genuine and heartfelt. Their songs are not instantly familiar. These guys throw in plenty of unexpected melodic twists in their songs that give them a wonderful spontaneous feel. And the vocals are exceptional. Something else that makes these guys stand out is the length of their tunes. Many of the nineteen tracks on this album clock in at about two minutes. YES!!! It all adds up to a hit record in our twisted little corner of the digital universe. Cool cuts include "Raul," "Mondo From Growth," "Eagles Prevail," and "Cobblestone and Pinetrees." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Burn After Reading - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Carter Burwell (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
You might expect the soundtrack to a comedy film to be...well...funny sounding. But indeed there is nothing funny sounding about the soundtrack to the film Burn After Reading. This spy film stars Brad Pitt and George Clooney and, accordingly, is bound to be somewhat of an instant success. Carter Burwell composed the music which is appropriate, seeing as how he also composed the music for the first Cohen Brothers film. The tracks on this CD are surprisingly somber and serious sounding. Burwell writes intricate music that can either add thickness and warmth to a motion picture...or simply be appreciated on its own merits. We are particularly impressed with some of the incredible percussion here...particularly on the tracks "Breaking and Entering," "Carrots / Shot," and "Earth Zoom (Out)." The super resonant percussion sounds are intricate and ultimately rather involved. As with virtually all Lakeshore releases, the sound quality is...stunning. Twenty-three tracks here including "Higher Patriotism," "Rendezvous," "Plan B," and "Who Are You?" (Rating: 5)

Kate Campbell - Save the Day (CD, Large River Music, Pensive soft pop)
The twelfth album from Kate Campbell. Ms. Campbell might best be described as an artist's artist. Her genuine, acute observations are probably most appreciated by others who are also musicians. Save the Day is, more or less, a collection of short stories. The title of the album was taken from a quote by Frederick Buechner: "It is no wonder that just the touch of another human being at a dark time can be enough to save the day." Kate grew up in Sledge, Mississippi and her father was a Baptist preacher...which no doubt had a dramatic impact on her approach to writing. At a point in time when there are so many throwaway musicians creating music with no soul or substance...Save the Day comes across like a fresh blast of cool clean air. Ms. Campbell wrote or co-wrote all twelve songs on this album, many of which were co-written with producer Walt Aldridge. Heavyweight guest vocalists lend some credence to our claim about Campbell being an artist's artist...adding their vocal talents on this album are John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Mac McAnally, Cindy Walker, Pierce Pettis, and Tom Kimmel. Beautiful heartfelt tracks include "Save the Day," "Fordlandia," "More Than One More Day," "Back to the Moon," and "Shining Like the Sun." Highly rewarding music...and highly recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Pelle Carlberg - The Lilac Time (CD, Labrador, Soft pop)
Smooth, smart subtle pop delivered with an acute sense of humor. Originally in the band Edson, Pelle Carlberg is now a solo recording artist and The Lilac Time is his third full-length release. This is a beautifully executed album full of bright well-written songs that feature Pelle's super smooth and subtle voice...he sings with confidence and yet he comes off sounding very relaxed and genuine. It is rare indeed when we find ourselves wanting to read along with the lyrics...but that is exactly what happened the first time we spun this CD. Mr. Carlberg's acute observations are evident in this words...but his melodies are the real driving force in his music. The more we spin The Lilac Time...the better the songs sound. Cool, unique tunes include "1983 (Pelle & Sebastian)," "Whisper," "Because I'm Worth It," and "Fly Me to the Moon." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Micheal Chapman - Time Past & Time Passing (CD, Electric Ragtime, Eclectic/progressive)
Hmmm...how on earth could we have missed out on this man's entire career until now...? Strange but true, even though Michael Chapman has played with some of our favorite artists over the course of his lengthy career, up to this point we have simply been unaware and uninformed. This could be due to the fact that Chapman has somehow never managed to expand his success to the United States...or it could be that we simply weren't paying attention. In any event, Michael has released over 20 albums in the past 40 years. He originally emerged from the British folk movement of the late 1960s that spawned artists like Nick Drake, John Martyn, and Roy Harper. Over the years he has played with pre-Bowie era Mick Ronson and Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span). Because of our lack of knowledge regarding Chapman's prior recordings, we unfortunately cannot compare and contrast this album with previous releases. Our initial reaction...is that Time Past & Time Passing sounds something like a cross between early Leonard Cohen and early Bob Dylan. These simple stripped down recordings have a nice organic sound and the lyrics seem particularly heartfelt and real. Because we missed out on this man's entire career, there is no way we can effectively rate this album. So rather and instead, we're just putting out the word to let folks know about this release... (Not Rated)



Every cloud has a
Green lining.
Every cloud has an
Enamel lining.
Every cloud has a
Blinding lining.
Every cloud has an
Asbestos lining.

(Rating: 1)

Condo - Best of Luck (CD, Rockpark, Pop/rock)
Smart hard pop/rock driven by technology. The third album from Condo is a thick and multi-textured affair as the band allows their indulgences to be heard. But that is by no means a cut, as the thick excesses on Best of Luck are what make it such a pleasant and interesting spin. Many of the songs on this album remind us of some of the more stylized, produced British bands from the late 1980s and 1990s. The band's big sound is anchored in heavy, precise rhythms and guitar drenched in reverb. The vocals are up front in the mix...so much so that the listener can even understand the lyrics. Condo is Ryan McNeil (guitar), Mary Ann Paredes (keyboards), Dan Falt (bass), Patrick Paredes (drums), and James Roe (vocals). (Note that the British accent is not fake, Roe relocated from the United Kingdom.) This is one of those cases where the songs sound better the more familiar they become. Top picks: "Instead of Lonely," "Best of Luck," "Left at the Lights," "Suburban Symphony." (Rating: 4++++)

Jay Crocker - Below the Ocean Over (CD, Artunit Recording Kompany, Progressive)
Geez...this is so far beyond what we normally hear on a CD. Where to begin...??? Well...we can start off by saying...that we don't quite know how to describe what Jay Crocker is doing. Although the music on Below the Ocean Over is ultimately entertaining and listenable...it doesn't really sound like any one particular artist. Instead of recording one style of music, Crocker apparently just lets his mind take him wherever it wants to go...and apparently it does. This is a wonderfully creative album chock full of surprises. And what blew us away is the fact that underneath all the ultra-creativity and strangeness...Jay is actually a very credible songwriter and singer. This isn't just a man making weird noise because he has no talent. This guy is talented...extremely talented...but he obviously isn't interested in taking familiar paths with his music. Sometimes the music seems like pop...at other times modern classical...at other times jazz...at other times experimental... If you're looking for a familiar spin, a word of warning...THIS IS NOT IT (!!!). But if, however, you feel like expanding your mind and letting some real genius slip into your subconscious...well then, you might just want to check this one out. Jay Crocker is obviously destined to be an underground favorite in the years ahead. Rarely do we hear new artists with a sound and approach this unique. Thirteen peculiar songs with that certain odd quality that makes us keep coming back for more. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Jesse Dee - Bittersweet Batch (CD, 7 Not, Soul/pop)
For anyone who ever loved the original 1960s Stax and Motown artists (and that includes us)...you no longer have to wallow mindlessly in the songs of yesteryear. Yup, indeedy doo...Jesse Dee is bringing the genuine sound of vintage soul back to life...and he does so brilliantly on Bittersweet Batch. But unlike other retro soul artists...all of the songs on this album are BRAND NEW, written by Dee himself. But don't expect second rate rehashes of songs you've heard before. Jesse's songs sound like tunes that could have been written in the 1960s...but they are delivered with all the punch and clarity of twenty-first century soul music. Soul/pop fans worldwide will likely go NUTS over these tracks. Dee has the chops, abilities, and personality to make all the pieces fit together seamlessly. This is easily one of the best new soul albums that we have heard thus far this century. Killer tracks include "Alright," "Slow Down," "Yet To Come," and "Alive & Kickin'." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Dokkemand - Hons! (CD, Other Electricities, Electronic pop)
Nice understated smooth electronic pop. Dokkemand is Norway's Marius Grotterud Egenes who has been recording music under this moniker since 2005. Egenes' blippy odd percussion and strange electronics remind us in many ways of The Lemon of Pink. His unusual arrangements and smooth keyboard sounds create a strangely inviting musical universe where subtle accidental elements often enter the mix. Several guest artists appear on different tracks including Lars Wiik, Alison Shaw, Lost Room, and Carrie. Hons! was named after a game Egenes' parents used to play when they were young that involved tossing around little plastic rings that were originally placed around pigeons' legs (?!). The tunes on this album are as odd as they are inviting. Unlike many electronic artists who do too much with technology, Marius seems to know the meaning of restraint. Slightly goofy and a tad surreal, these compositions will appeal to fans wanting something that goes just beyond the fringes of normal. Top picks: "Lapp," "Slapp," "Stempel," "Lupe." (Rating: 5)



Don't judge people because of
The color of their skin.
Don't judge people because of
Their religion.
Don't judge people because of
Their sexual orientation.
Oh hell,
Go ahead and judge 'em.
Everyone else

(Rating: 1)



Every vote counts
And that is the

(Rating: 1)



When you begin
To doubt yourself
You are on the road
To recovery.

(Rating: 1)

John Eichleay - John Eichleay (Independently released CD, Pop)
John Eichleay was originally a Chicago jazz musician who played with Alfonso Ponticelli...but you'd never know it from listening to his self-titled album. These days Eichleay writes and records pure pop music. But this isn't calculated commercial crap. This disc is full of smart melodic tunes that pack a refreshing progressive jolt. What is most appealing about Eichleay's music is the fact that he isn't making predictable music that easily fits into one specific category. The only constants are his smooth cool vocals and an overall crafty polished sound. Joining John on this recordings were Jordan Perlson (drums), Jamie Bishop (bass), and Adam Klipple (keyboards). Our guess is that Eichleay is influenced by a wide variety of artists from the past four decades. Surprisingly, some of these tunes have the potential for mass appeal. Cool upbeat tracks include "Friends and Family," "Tree Song," "Poor Excuse," and "Great Love." Mature and thoughtful stuff... (Rating: 5+)

FemBots - Calling Out (CD, Weewerk, Pop)
The fourth full-length release from FemBots. Dave MacKinnon and Brian Poirir began this band back in 2000...recording an album using oddities like power tools, toys, and broken instruments to make their music. On the next couple of albums they began utilizing more conventional instruments to make their music. Calling Out began as an experimental work utilizing the talents of junk instrument creator Iner Souster. Because of the limitations of said instruments, however, the duo scrapped the idea...while salvaging some of the initial tracks. They fleshed out the tracks using traditional instruments and Calling Out was born. Considering the odd beginnings of this album, the tunes themselves are surprisingly smooth and accessible. We particularly like the duo's loose and somewhat drawly sounding vocals. The short Tom Verlaine-esque lead guitar that shoots out briefly during "The End of the Day" sounds really cool. This album is, overall, rather smooth and laidback...but some of the vocals are rather aggressive at times. Standout tracks include "Good Days," "Get In The Van" (particularly pleasing), "Hand Print in Wet Cement," and "Ship Breaking." (Rating: 5)

Fire - The Magic Shoemaker Live (CD, Angel Air, Pop/rock)
Fire was a late 1960s band that consisted of Dave Lambert (from The Strawbs), Richard Dufall, and Bob Voice. Although most folks in the United States were probably unaware of the band, in the late 1960s these three guys were writing and recording music that was well ahead of its time. Their career culminated in the recording of (what was then) one of the first concept albums ever recorded. But unlike The Who's Tommy that received worldwide acclaim, The Magic Shoemaker was not marketed well and eventually fell into obscurity. Shortly after the album was released, the original band parted ways and the album became more or less an obscure collector's item...before being reissued on CD in 2003. Perhaps as a result of that reissue, the original members eventually decided to reunite for a concert in 2007 which they recreated the original album live. Never having heard the original album, we have nothing to compare the live performance to. But taken on its own, these songs sound surprisingly credible. And oddly enough, some of the tunes are strangely reminiscent of a few cuts on Tommy (?). Voice deserves particular credit here as prior to this reunion he had not played drums for decades. An interesting look back at an album that could have been a major force in the world of music. This disc includes the bonus track "Mama When Will I Understand" that was originally recorded while Fire was still under contract to The Beatles' Apple Music Publishing Company. Interesting stuff. (Rating: 5)

Golden Animals - Free Your Mind And Win A Pony (CD, Happy Parts Recordings, Folk/pop)
These folks are part of what seems to be a growing resurgence of artists who are influenced by the hippy movement of the 1960s. In the case of Golden Animals this is probably more so in terms of life and appearance than music itself. The band is the duo consisting of Tommy Eisner and Linda Beecroft. But while they look like they may have stepped right out of San Francisco in the mid-1960s, their music has much more in common with the music of Elvis Presley and/or Jim Morrison. It's an unlikely combination that works surprisingly well. Tommy and Linda's music seems driven by threads of rockabilly and early rock and roll but the songs themselves are much more focused than what one normally hears in these genres. The vocal interplay is particularly unusual. While Eisner has a rather raw and rough voice, Beecroft sings with the pure wide-eyed innocence of a young girl. The sum of all these odd parts adds up...to something that is definitely a different flavor. We are definitely entertained and amused. The title of the album is a hoot. (Rating: 5)



The quicker things
Heat up and die
The better.

(Rating: 1)

Larkin Grimm - Parplar (CD, Young God, Progressive)
If there's one thing you can always count on from the Young God label...it is a steady supply of artists that the general public is unaware of and would ultimately not understand. Produced by Michael Gira (Akron/Family, Angels of Light, Swans), Parplar is (not surprisingly) an odd and perplexing album. At her young age, Larkin Grimm already has an interesting life history. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee but later moved to Thailand before returning to the United States to continue her education at Yale University...at which point she became a member of the ultimately confusing art band The Dirty Projectors. She then recorded three solo albums before hooking up with Gira to record Parplar. So...who does Larkin Grimm sound like? Actually, a great many artists from the past ten years or so and yet...there are strange qualities in her music that don't really sound like anyone else. Her vocals are particularly interesting. Sometimes they sound smooth and conventional...while at other times they are downright bizarre. It is difficult trying to describe this music because there are very few good reference points. Folks seeking easy music should be forewarned. These tracks will take many repeated spins to fully sink in. Our initial favorites are "Ride That Cyclone," "Durge," "All The Pleasures," and "Hope For The Hopeless." Intriguing and compelling. (Rating: 5++)

The Gunshy - I Gave Too Much Time to the Wine (CD, Yer Bird, Progressive)
I Gave Too Much Time to the Wine is a triple dose CD. The first dose is new material recorded in 2008 (I Gave Too Much Time to the Wine). The second dose is reissued material from 2006 (My Home, It Shall No Longer Be the Sea). And the third dose is material from 2004 (What Will They Speak of You When Your Gone?). (The second and third doses are culled from previously released EPs.) The Gunshy's Matt Arbogast is an interesting guy who makes music that is instantly recognizable and stylized. His voice will immediately make an impression on anyone who hears him (regardless of whether you love his voice or hate it). Matt's raw, harsh vocals sound something like a cross between Tom Waits and The Residents. But in terms of music...his songs might best be described as progressive pop with slight Irish threads running through it. One thing is certain. The music of The Gunshy is an acquired taste. Most folks will probably have an initially odd reaction to Matt's voice (i.e., you have to get used to it before you can enjoy it). Interesting cuts include "F*ckin' Hippies," "One for the Beasts," "Young Lungs," and "Mama, Don't Be Sad." (Rating: 4++++)

Robin Guthrie - 3:19 Bande Originale Du Film (CD, Darla, Instrumental/atmospheric/ambient)
Robin Guthrie is a man who has managed to successfully recreate himself in the twenty-first century. When the average artist becomes really famous, in most cases he/she continues treading in the same territory...and in doing so eventually becomes a tired parody of himself/herself. Guthrie originally came to fame as the instantly recognizable guitarist in the Cocteau Twins...but over the years has remerged as one of the most pivotal ambient/instrumental artists of our time. No longer content to create easily digested pop for the masses, these days Robin records heady mental soundscapes while continuing to expand and refine his otherworldly guitar sounds. 3:19 is Guthrie's second soundtrack recording (the first was for Mysterious Skin). In creating music for this Spanish film, Robin padded his heavenly trademark guitar sounds with piano and strings. The result...is yet another smooth, subtle, and richly rewarding batch of tunes. Ten absorbing cuts here including "Comprension," "Lisa@dixo.com," "Lucia's Lament," and "A la Eternidad...." Another highly recommended release from a man who is continually adapting and evolving. (Rating: 5+++)

Royal Hartigan - Ancestors (Double CD, Innova Recordings, Progressive/jazz/modern classical/world music), Blood Drum Spirit: Royal Hartigan Ensemble Live in China (Double CD, Innova Recordings, Progressive/jazz/world music)
These two releases present a lot to take in. Both are double CD sets and in both cases the styles of music presented are far reaching and complex. In an era when most musicians tend to stay within a specific genre and play with familiar musicians and friends, Royal Hartigan easily stands out from the pack...mainly because he is playing by his own set of rules. And the rules are obviously rather loose and unpredictable. Hartigan is a percussionist whose interests and influences spread all over the map and back. On these double disc sets, Hartigan plays with whomever he happens to be with at the time...and plays whatever style of music happens to be the weapon of choice at any particular moment. As such, there is a wonderfully unique spontaneous feel to his music. Instead of hearing one predictable song after another, with these discs you simply never know what will pop up next. And we would bet that Royal gets a major rush out of delving into such diverse terrain. As we mentioned earlier, there is a lot to take in here. Ancestors presents a whopping 34 tracks while Blood Drum Spirit boasts 17. This is probably too diverse and odd for the casual listener. But our guess is that more esoteric music fans will really appreciate this wildly inventive stuff... (Rating: 5)

Her Space Holiday - XOXO, Panda and the New Kid Revival (CD, Mush, Progressive pop)
Her Space Holiday is Marc Bianchi. You may not know Bianchi by name, but he has been heavily involved in music using this moniker since 1996. Up to this point, Bianchi is probably best known for his work in the band The Young Machines. Marc's more recent releases have relied heavily on computers, but for XOXO, Panda and the New Kid Revival he has returned to his roots so to speak. This album features smooth melodic pop tunes created using guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, and various real percussion instruments. Many of the tracks on this album remind us of some of the more creative underground pop acts from the 1990s. Marc's understated style of singing and playing is refreshingly real. And his melodies have that wonderful undefinable quality that makes you want to hear them over and over again. Lots of killer indie pop cuts here including "The Boys and Girls" and "The Year in Review." Neat stuff. (Rating: 5)

Todd Herfindal - Collective (CD, Single Recordings, Pop)
A nice direct hard fix of cool ultra-catchy guitar pop. Probably best known as a member of the Los Angeles, California-based band The Meadows, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Todd Herfindal presents his first solo album. And it's a total hit here in babysueland. Herfindal writes some amazingly lovable tunes and he's got an incredibly magnetic voice. Add in some wonderful arrangements and appropriately slick production...and you have a batch of tunes that just begs to be turned up full blast. Folks seeking ultra-artsy weirdo pop should be advised that this guy is not creating oddball underground slop. Virtually every tune on this album sounds like a commercial hit. Now in most cases in our little corner of the internet, that would be the ultimate swipe. But in this case, no swipe is intended. These tracks recall great hit tunes from the 1970s and 1980s...when at least on occasion great songs could still become hugely popular. (In the twenty-first century this is, sadly, no longer the case.) We can't find anything to complain about here. Collective is, in a word, great. Killer catchy cuts include "Air I'm Breathing," "Waiting On The Sun," "Here We Are," and "If I Hesitate." A truly nifty breath of fresh air. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

I Am Robot and Proud - Uphill City (CD, Darla, Electronic pop)
Nice melodic upbeat twinkly blippy electronic pop. Toronto, Canada's Shaw-han Liem writes and records strikingly resilient happy pop instrumentals that have definite childlike qualities. Unlike many artists whose music is 100% electronic, Shaw-han incorporates real piano, guitar, and drums into his tunes which may explain why they have a more friendly sort of organic sound. And instead of trying to compose music that is so creative that it becomes unlistenable, Liem seems more content on coming up with songs and sounds that people can actually appreciate. Uphill City is a truly happy spin. The songs are simple and easy to digest and the rhythms are simply infectious. True, some people may find this album too light and fluffy...but here in babysueland this stuff goes down easy like the very best strawberry milkshake that money can buy. Cool clever tracks include "Something To Write Home About," "Making a Case for Magic," "Storm of the Century," and "Song for Two Wheels." Warm and inviting. And vibrant. (Rating: 5+)

I Led 3 Lives - Peace Now (CD, Nublu, Experimental/jazz/electronic)
I Led 3 Lives is the New York City-based trio consisting of Ilhan Ersahin (saxophone, keyboards), Juini Booth (acoustic and electric bass), and Jochen Rueckert (drums, programming). Peace Now is a peculiar spin. The spontaneous free improvisation on parts of this album brings to mind some of the more adventurous early German electronic artists from the 1970s...but the sounds and ideas are all very modern and current. Occasionally a song will sound something like jazz from the 1940s being generated by a computer. These three musicians have played with a variety of credible artists (we won't mention them here) but only began playing together as a trio about three years prior to the release of this album. The odd free-form nature of this music will likely appeal to fans of electronic music and modern jazz. Eleven puzzling cuts including "Juini's Arrival," "Fight Back Jack," "Sideways," and "House of Ahmet." Slightly spacey and cerebral... (Rating: 5+)



Words only hurt
Those who allow them
To have the effect
For which they are

(Rating: 1)

The Jellybricks - Goodnight To Everyone (CD, Kool Kat Musik, Pop)
Shimmering melodic guitar pop. The guys in The Jellybricks write and record music that seems heavily influenced by power popsters from the 1970s and 1980s. In spinning Goodnight To Everyone the first band that immediately came to mind was The Records. These guys play hard pop with killer guitars...and the melodies have a wonderful soaring quality that is instantly appealing. They may not be the most prolific musicians in the world--after being together for about ten years this is only their fourth full-length release. But quality being more important than quantity...and our guess is that they only put out a new album when they feel strong enough about the material. If the point of playing music is to make others feel good, then Goodnight To Everyone is a resounding success. The guys in The Jellybricks create songs that are optimistic, infectious, and ultimately very, very catchy. Ten cool pop tunes here including "Eyes Wide," "Broken Record," "Try To Be," and "Heartache Begins." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Robert Johnson - Close Personal Friend (CD, Angel Air, Pop)
Robert Johnson is probably best known as the lead guitarist in John Entwistle's Ox in the mid-1970s...but he later came close to being a solo star in his own right with the release of Close Personal Friend. Folks familiar with pop/rock albums from the late 1970s will no doubt remember the cover of this album which features a slightly dorky looking Mr. Johnson with odd glasses and stark white trousers grinning for the camera. To support this album, Robert toured as the opening act for The Police and The Knack...before problems with managers (and more) caused him to give up the ship. The tunes on this album sound somewhat dated in terms of sound quality...but that just may be the point, as apparently Robert and Doug Walker transferred the master tapes to a digital format using a technique that kept the original analog sound intact. In addition to the original album, this CD reissue also includes The Memphis Demos...eight songs that were recorded in 1980. Johnson was quite the guitarist and vocalist...and it seems a shame that his career was cut short because of things that were probably beyond his control. As such, Close Personal Friend is a unique snapshot of an artist whose career now seems like an odd blip on the radar... (Rating: 4++++)

Kiss Me At The Gate - Tape & Scissors (CD, Superphonic, Pop)
Listening to this album...it somehow seems hard to believe that the folks in Kiss Me At The Gate call Birmingham, Alabama their home. This band doesn't sound anything like other Birmingham bands we have heard over the past few years. The members got together in 2003, driven by the songwriting skills of Claire Cormany...a young lady with a rather incredible voice and presence. The band also features the talents of Blake Evans (guitar, vocals), Seth Newell (bass, vocals), and Zac Young (drums). What surprised us first about this album is how accessible much of the music is. But we were eventually even more impressed with the substance that is inherent in these songs. Genuinely satisfying tunes abound here...including (but not limited to) "Seven Ravens," "Remember," "Underfoot," "Say It," and "The Very Thought of You." We can think of very few up-and-coming bands with melodies that match these in terms of quality and sincerity. (Rating: 5+)

Like A Fox - Where's My Golden Arm?(CD, Transit of Venus, Pop)
Okay now...what the hell is going on here...? Is this The Flaming Lips doing covers of The Beatles...or what?!? Odds are that you will have the same reaction when you hear the lead track ("A Feeling That Launched A Thousand Wars") on this album. The tune begins with the vocalist singing the word "Happiness" in exactly the same way the word was sung in "Happiness Is A Warm Gun." But before there could be any possible copyright infringement, the tune quickly takes off in another direction avoiding any possible legal consequences. This clever ploy reminds us of the approach taken by The Pooh Sticks in the 1990s when they were stealing obvious lyric lines from familiar tunes...but only short snippets so that they couldn't really be accused of anything illegal. But back to Like A Fox... Fortunately the initial gimmick is the only real gimmick on this album. The remainder of Where's My Golden Arm? is anything but a joke. This Philadelphia-based band comes up with a wealth of super hummable pop tunes here...all smooth and absorbing...and the songs hold up extremely well to repeated spins. The band's music sounds like a more pop-oriented version of the previously mentioned band The Flaming Lips. We are particularly taken with "Internal/External," "On The Way," and "Been Sitting Here" (a particularly significant tune). Neat stuff. (Rating: 5+)

The Lolligags - Out of Perversity Join Hands (CD EP, Happy Happy Birthday To Me, Pop)
Bouncy upbeat electronic pop that sounds something like a modern upbeat take on Siouxsie and the Banshees (the vocals are particularly reminiscent). The folks in The Lolligags create music that is surprisingly catchy and accessible...but the lyrics have much more depth than the music might imply. The songs on Out of Perversity Join Hands feature decidedly unconventional lyrics that would make Ron Mael (Sparks) proud. This nifty, instantly likable EP features five new songs plus two remixes ("Kitten, Come Over," "My Mascara"). The lead track ("Merry Go Round") is so catchy that it makes us absolutely giddy. The 1980s aren't dead...they're just being reinvented in the underground. Fun stuff that most certainly induces heavy duty dancing. (Rating: 5)

Lonely Drifter Karen - Grass Is Singing (CD, Crammed Discs, Pop)
Nice, thoughtful, free-flowing intelligent melodic pop with subtle threads of cabaret and gypsy music running through it. Although the lead vocalist will undoubtedly be referred to as Lonely Drifter Karen, in actuality the band is the trio consisting of Tanja Frinta, Marc Melia Sobrevias, and Giorgio Menossi. These three musicians reside in the ultra-hip city of Barcelona, Spain...which may explain the odd exotic sound of their music. Instead of playing predictable catchy pop music, Frinta and her associates create strangely subtle progressive pop tunes that don't really blend in with today's complex musical environment. And that, of course, is a very good thing. The instrumentation is sparse yet appropriate...and there are all kinds of unexpected sounds drifting in and out of the mix. At the core of the tunes is Tanja's wonderfully subtle voice. This lady has a real presence that comes through loud and clear in these tunes. In some ways, this album reminds us of some of the more obscure British art bands from the late 1970s. Grass Is Singing will undoubtedly end up on many "best of" lists at year's end. Poignant tracks include "This World is Crazy," "The Angels Sigh," "Professor Dragon," and "No True Woman." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Lymbyc Systym - Love Your Abuser Remixed (CD, Mush, Instrumental/remix)
It always seems weird to listen to and write about a remix CD when you never heard the original album. Such is the case here, as we never heard Lymbyc Systym's Mush Records debut and yet...in spinning this disc...it somehow doesn't really seem all that necessary. Jared and Micheal Bell asked various other artists to remix their tunes for this album. Remixers include The One AM Radio, The Album Leaf, Bibio, This Will Destroy You, Back Ted N-Ted, Reference, Eliot Lipp, and Daedelus (Jared and Michael even remix themselves on two tracks). This ten track album flows by nice and smoothly...without any irritating grinding noise or ultra weird noodling going on. The more we hear the intricate nuances of Lymbyc Systym music...the more entranced we are. Soothing and quite serene... (Rating: 5+)

Mackintosh Braun - The Sound (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
Mackintosh Braun is the duo consisting of Ian Mackintosh and Ben Braun. These two Portland, Oregon musicians create soft, smooth synthesized pop that recalls British techno artists from the 1970s and 1980s. Think Depeche Mode with updated electronics. The Sound, the duo's debut album, features nice, thick, dreamy, subdued pop that relies heavily on technology and vocal melodies (the harmonies are totally incredible). This is a slick, great sounding album...which is particularly impressive considering this is an independently released disc. The layered vocals and instruments create a substantial wall of sound...driven by electronic percussion that is surprisingly soothing. Ten inviting cuts here including "Good So Far," "I Won't Fall," "My Time," and "The Sound." Intricate, beautiful modern pop. (Rating: 5+)



Mammy's little baby hates

(Rating: 1)

Mike & The Ravens - Noisy Boys! The Saxony Sessions (CD, Zoho Music, Pop/rock)
Here in this odd little corner of the world, we just love it when there's a good story behind a CD. It makes our job so much easier. These guys did a very smart thing by including a cool little newsletter with their new CD (rather than a samey old press release). The story goes like this. Mike & The Ravens originally got together in 1960, calling themselves Mike & The Throbs. Two years later they re-named the band Mike & The Ravens and proceeded to record some singles (that have apparently become rather collectible over time). Just as things were getting started, however, three of the members broke into a church and started playing loud music over the P.A. system. An arrest resulted and the band splintered into bits...only now reappearing in 2008 to reclaim their place in rock and roll history. We've heard of bands reforming time and time again...but how many can you think of that waited over 40 years to do so...? Noisy Boys! The Saxony Sessions is an effective collection of slightly raw tracks that occasionally sound like a more accessible Don Van Vliet. The band consists of Mike Brassard, Steve Blodgett, Peter Young, Bo Blodgett, and Brian Lyford. Listening to this...we definitely get the feeling that the main objective here was to have fun playing together. Cool garage rockers include "Roller Roller Rollerland!," "Catfight," "Easy," and "I Wanna See You Dance." Good stuff. (Rating: 5)

Monte Montgomery - Monte Montgomery (CD, Eminent, Blues/pop/rock)
To be honest we aren't exactly the world's most devoted blues pop fanatics on the planet. But when someone is really good they always tend to stand out no matter what style of music they are playing. And so...even though Monte Montgomery's music isn't exactly what we are accustomed to grooving out to...we can honestly say that we are blown away by this guy's skill and talent. Montgomery plays a cool, loose sort of bluesy pop that features some totally incredible acoustic slide guitar work that you will have to hear to believe. And man, what a voice this guy has. He has apparently been wowing audiences across the country this year. After hearing this album, it isn't difficult to see why. We can't think of any blues/pop artist in the past few years who even comes close to this level of proficiency. Our guess is that Monte is going to become a popular favorite in the United States within months. Killer tracks include "River," "Loves Last Holiday," and "Midlife Matinee." Totally groovy stuff. (Rating: 5+)



Be real proud of your
Shitty goddamn

(Rating: 1)



People are so great.
They never let you down.
People are so great.
They never ever lie.
People are so great.
They always learn from their mistakes.
People are so great.
They make you feel ashamed
To be a people.

(Rating: 1)

Pia Fraus - After Summer (CD, Seksound, Progressive pop), Ten Remixes of Yenissey (CD, Seksound, Progressive pop)
The folks at Estonia's Seksound label are ending the year on a high note...releasing not one but two new full-length CDs from Pia Fraus as well as a vinyl 7" (more about that later). After Summer is the new album proper that features ten cool hummable tracks. For the uninitiated, the folks in Pia Fraus create slightly atmospheric modern pop that sounds something like a cross between The Cocteau Twins and Stereolab. Produced by Norman Blake, Summer is a cool collection of polished pop with a difference. The band's swirling subdued pop tunes sound better than ever with cool, flowing melodies that are surprisingly accessible and catchy. This band just keeps getting better with time...and this, their fourth full-length release, just may be their best yet. The album will be released in the United States on the Clairecords label. Ten Remixes of Yenissey, as the title suggests, is a collection of remixes of the band's music from different artists from all over the world. An interesting note is that you do not need to be familiar with the original recordings to appreciate these remixes. In many ways, Ten Remixes stands on its own as a totally new album due to the influx of new ideas and sounds. In addition to the two CDs, Seksound has also released a split 7" vinyl release. One one side is Pia Fraus with the tune "Mute the Birds" (great title, that one...) and on the flipside is Ulrich Schnauss with "Ships Will Sail." Great artwork on the picture sleeve. As always, anything by Pia Fraus is a top pick here in babysueland... (Rating: 5+++)

Marshall Price - Hear At Last (CD, Grade School, Pop/rock)
Two or three decades ago a guy like Marshall Price would have been an instant celebrity. Things being as they are in the twenty-first century (a time in which every other person is in three or more bands)...Mr. Price is at present a virtually unknown underground recording artist with an amazing amount of energy and style. But from the sounds we're hearing on this CD, this guy has the potential to hit it big. Hear At Last treads into several different genres and styles. We initially heard traces of bands like Squeeze and Sparks in some of Marshall's tunes...but that's only the beginning. He's a popster, a rocker, and a humorist...and the man has a totally killer voice. Ten nifty cuts here including "Light It Up," "I Don't Not Want to Rock" (great lyrics here), "Death on the Dance Floor," and "Hear At Last." Very nice, well executed... (Rating: 5+)

Private Dancer - Trouble Eyes (CD, Learning Curve, Rock)
Cool hard pop rock with furious intent. This cool little CD has such incredible energy that it is almost impossible to ignore. The guys in Private Dancer play a unique kind of raw unpredictable rock that recalls some of the more adventurous crazy underground rock bands from the 1990s. Trouble Eyes does not sound like any other bands that we have heard over the past few months. These guys rock super hard and play with loud hairy ballpower...but they are neither heavy metal heads nor thrash rockers. Instead, the tracks on this disc are more like inventive modern progressive hard rock. The songs are amazingly spontaneous and powerful...and the vocals have that cool sort of speak/yell that became somewhat famous in certain circles in the 1990s. And God..those wild guitars are just THE BEST. This is a short disc clocking in at just over 30 minutes...but in that amount of time these guys make their point. Intelligent, inventive, and primitive...this is an obvious top pick for November. Killer cuts include "I See Trouble," "She's A Company Man," "Do The Hotdog," and "Do You Like To Read?" Crazy and intense stuff...! (Rating: 5+++)

Andy Reed - Fast Forward (CD-R, Kool Kat Musik, Pop)
Hmmmm...interesting. Andy Reed's songs sound something like a cross between Ben Folds and From Bubblegum To Sky...with Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus Five) on vocals. So, as you might guess, Fast Forward is a pure pop experience that focuses on melodies and lyrics. Although a few guest musicians offer support on a few tunes, this album is a mainly one-man affair. Reed writes underground pop tunes that have a classic feel and sound. He uses mostly traditional instruments in the recording process...and all the pieces of the puzzle are there to support the vocal melodies. What impresses us most about this guy is that he allows listeners to hear his own peculiar vulnerabilities as a real human being. Instead of trying to make music that is 100% perfect, Andy allows the small nuances and slight ragged edges to remain...effectively giving his pop a nice, warm, organic sound. Smooth hummable cuts include "The Ballad of.....", "Crazy Things," "Thank You," and "Feel Like Listening?" (Rating: 5)

Mike Read - Singles (CD, Angel Air, Pop/rock)
This CD is a curiosity to be certain. Mike Read is best known for his work on BBC Radio as well as hosting the British television show Top of the Pops for twelve years. But along the way Mike also recorded a string of 7" vinyl singles...some using his own name and others under the names of fake bands he created, namely Trainspotters, Ghosts, Rock-olas, Grasshoppers, and Micky Manchester. This CD collects for the first time all the singles Mike recorded...24 tracks in all. This is such an odd hodge podge collection that it would be impossible to even try to rate it...particularly considering the fact that the songs were all recorded at different times and in different places. So take this for what it is...an odd collection of lost tracks that would still be lost...if it were not for the archival instincts of the folks at Britain's Angel Air label. (These folks continually unearth some really odd little gems...!) (Not Rated)

The Rockwells - Place & Time (CD, Migrant, Progressive pop)
The Rockwells play music that is actually more pop than rock...but we can certainly understand why the band decided not to use the name The Popwells (hyuk hyuk). Place & Time was recorded over a two-year period at various locations in Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee. This band consists of two sets of brothers and this is their fifth full-length release. Interestingly, the album was mixed by Howard Redekopp who most folks will not know by name but will probably remember for his work with The New Pornographers and A.C. Newman. The guys in this band create pop that is accessible enough for the average music fan...but creative and inventive enough for those wanting something more. The songs are, for the most part, upbeat and hummable...and delivered without overly fussy arrangements. The vocals...and particularly the harmonies...are absolutely top notch. Central to the band's sound are some classy and classic vocal melodies. The more we spin this disc...the harder it is to try and come up with instant comparisons. These guys have created a smooth and ultimately very listenable album in which every cut is a keeper. Nice flowing intelligent pop. (Rating: 5)

The Rollo Treadway - The Rollo Treadway (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
Wow. We instantly fell in love with the debut disc from Brooklyn, New York's The Rollo Treadway. This band's smooth hummable pop is an almost perfect cross between Lilys, Game Theory, and Harper's Bizarre. This short album (lasting just over 36 minutes) contains thirteen incredibly effective tracks...all of which feature cool calculated Baroque pop and some of the best vocals you are likely to hear on this side of the solar system (the harmonies are the best). These guys write circles around other bands in terms of cool melodies. Wonderfully realized, this is super effective intelligent pop music with a difference. Every tune is a knockout...but our own initial top picks include "Kidnapped," "You Laugh, I Cry," "Coast's Clear," and "The Children of Table 34." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Steffen Schackinger - ElectriGuitartistry (CD, Candyrat, Guitar instrumental)
In the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, guitar heroes were a dime a dozen. It seemed like you couldn't escape the ego-driven overplaying of axe-slinging hippies with long hair. But for some reason in the twenty-first century new guitar heroes seem to have disappeared somewhat from the face of the earth. Possibly as a result, a guy like Steffen Schackinger instantly stands out. But he doesn't just stand out because he concentrates on playing the guitar...but for the plain and simple fact that this guy is amazingly talented. Instead of merely tossing off Jimi Hendrix-style fuzz leads or copying the oh-so-tired sounds of Eric Clapton, Schackinger seems intent on reinventing the guitar and extending the boundaries of what a lead guitarist is capable of producing. The tracks on ElectriGuitartistry recall progressive dinosaur bands from the 1970s in some ways...but the sound quality and effects are all very modern and state-of-the-art. Steffen's playing is precise and intricate...and the sounds that come from his guitar are inspiring and impressive. Perhaps this album will renew people's interest in guitar gods...who knows? Eleven crafty tracks here including "Major Inventions," "Time," "Twister," and "Your Song." (Rating: 5)



She shit and shit and shit and shit
And then she shit some more.
She shit on Christmas,
Green and red.
She shit on New Year's
In her bed.

(Rating: 1)

The Singhs - Supersaturated (CD, Redstar, Pop)
In the late 1980s, the title track on this album would almost surely have been a major hit worldwide. In today's unstable and unpredictable musical climate...who knows? The guys in Boston, Massachusetts-based band The Singhs have created a super smooth, super polished album. The band has been together for about seven years...but our guess is that this is the disc that will probably put them on the map. A great deal of time, energy, and thought went into the creation of this CD. The packaging is elaborate and beautiful...a tri-fold digipak sleeve featuring some killer photography. A really slick little lyric booklet is included as well. Supersaturated features twelve clean, hummable pop tracks that have a great deal of commercial appeal. But what is probably most appealing about these tunes is that they are also artistically and aesthetically pleasing. Clean classy cuts include "Supersaturated," "Jealous," "The Kind of Love," and "Beautiful Thing." Nice stuff. (Rating: 5)

Snew - Snew You (Independently released CD, Rock)
What a great band name...hard to believe no one thought of it before...? The folks in Los Angeles, California's Snew play rip-roaring straight-from-the-holster loud rock that recalls the sound and spirit of classic artists like Aerosmith and AC/DC. The rhythms are hyperactive and demand movement from the listener, the guitars are in constant overdrive, and the vocalist is a real screecher. You can just tell from listening to Snew You that these folks get audiences totally revved up at their concerts. These addictive buzzsaw rockers are played simply and without any unnecessary details getting in the way. Direct rockers include "Stand Up High," "She's a Real Gunslinger," "Electric Is The Law," and "Heavy Water." As good as this disc is...we have the distinct feeling that these guys have even better stuff lined up for the very near future. This band has the potential to become...hugely popular. (Rating: 5)

SPEkTR - B/W vs. Technicolor (CD, [fono'gram], Progressive/instrumental)
Imagine mixing spaghetti western guitars with 1970s film soundtracks while blending in twenty-first century sound effects...and you might begin to have some idea of what B/W vs. Technicolor sounds like. SPEkTR was formed in 2000 and consists of Manjo Ramdas (guitar), Henrik Madsen (bass), Cem Avus and Karsten Garner (drums, percussion), and Julie Runa and Ida Rud (keyboards). The nifty guitar sounded strangely familiar to us...and the reason is that Ramdas was previously the guitarist in the band The Raveonettes. While it seems that these folks have a good sense of humor about what they are doing, this is by no means a joke album. The music is slick, professional, and very well produced. Intriguing compositions include "The Bronson Beat," "Things That Go Bump In The Night," "Glass...Not Diamonds," and "All Go In / None Come Out." (Rating: 5+)



Once upon a time
They were both born

(Rating: 1)

The Submarines - Honeysuckle Weeks (CD, Nettwerk, Pop)
The Submarines is a duo consisting of John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard...with the occasional assistance of a string quartet. Honeysuckle Weeks is a beautifully packaged CD in a nice slick digipak featuring a multicolored butterfly...and housed within the sleeve is a nifty lyric booklet with images of flowers, birds, and bees. John and Blake write and record modern pop that is driven by technology. Every song is upbeat, positive, and instantly hummable. The album features ten tracks with our favorites being "The Thorny Thicket," "1940," "Fern Beard," and "Brightest Hour." Some of the tunes sound a bit overproduced but that is, overall, a minor point. Dragonetti has a great voice that sometimes seems somewhat underutilized. Not a perfect album...but a nice bright collection of pop that is decidedly optimistic. (Rating: 4+++)

Sugarland (Overrated piece of shit kind of band)
Who on earth likes this shitty band...? Everyone we know hates their processed cheese whiz. If you want the worst of the worst of what the field of commercial music has to offer these days...listen to Sugarland. God, what an annoying voice that showoff pussy has. (Rating: 1)

Take No Damage - Shambles (CD EP, All Hail, Rock/pop)
Noisy...but not too noisy. Poppy...but not too poppy. Harsh...but not too harsh. Catchy...but not too catchy. We rarely review EPs...but in this case we had to make an exception. Take No Damage is an incredibly effective little trio consisting of Joe Perkins, Brian Kamerer, and Regis Duffy. These three guys churn out some crazy abrasive pop music that has real muscle...and yet there is substance beneath the waves. These eight tunes remind us of some of the better underground guitar bands in the United States in the 1990s. Only 20 minutes' worth of music here (damn!)...but these tunes absolutely kick ass. We can't get enough of biting pop/rockers like "Brazil," "Friends," "Sick and Tired," and "Mandown." Real neat stuff. (Rating: 5)

Shannon Taylor - Evening of the Last Day (Independently released CD, Pop)
Shannon Taylor is a mostly invisible underground pop artist who doesn't play conventional ego games. If you go to his web site, you won't find lots of photos of the man nor will you find a wealth of personal information and tons of critical reviews intended to impress. Taylor tends to let his music speak for itself...and it most certainly does. His last album was a top pick here in babysueland...and we're giving this disc the same solid thumbs up. Evening of the Last Day is a particularly lovely album full of memorable melodies. Shannon writes wonderfully flowing tunes and he has an incredible voice. In addition, his arrangements are absolutely perfect for the style of music he composes. Not a lot more to say here...but you can bet your pretty blue booties that pop fans around the world will love this one. Groovy cuts include "Their Song," "Jane," "Broken Compass," and "Evening of the Last Day." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Team Genius - Team Genius (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
We really like and appreciate artists and bands who don't allow fences to prevent them from trotting beyond the normal boundaries of one specific genre. But the only bad part about this...is that it makes it really difficult to try and describe and/or explain what the music sounds like. Such is the case with Team Genius...a new band whose music spins and teeters all over the goddamn place. The lead track ("Take Me Home") immediately reminded us of Sparks...but the rest of the album sounds nothing like them. The variety of styles may be due to the fact that there are seven members in the band and they all participate in the songwriting. The tunes on the band's debut self-titled album are smooth but slightly whimsical...and they have a nice inviting sound that is just polished enough without sounding overproduced. We can hear traces of various bands from the 1970s and 1980s...but they seem to be channeled through a twenty-first century vision. Slightly odd and offbeat tunes include "Surely the Sun Will Explode," "Run Gun Sun," "Meanderings and Musings," and "While We're Asleep." (Rating: 4+++)



I wish I may
I wish I might
Watch you fry in Hell

(Rating: 1)

Tuck & Patti - I Remember You (CD, Fontana, Acoustic/female vocalist)
We must admit right off the bat that we have never cared for this duo's name nor their image. They always seem to appear on some of the most obnoxious talk shows on the planet. These observations may seem unfair...but that's just the way it is. But even though we may have approached this disc with some reservations, we have to admit that we were rather impressed with the smooth sparse sound of the songs on I Remember You. Sure, the choice of material may be ultra-safe and predictable...but Tuck's precise guitar sounds and Patti's ultra-resonant vocals make these songs seem to come alive all over again. If you're looking for some soft, sultry background music to create a mood...our guess is that you will be very pleased with the cuts on this album. The duo presents ten standards here including "In A Sentimental Mood," "When I Fall In Love," and "With A Song In My Heart." (Rating: 4+++)



When you wish upon a star
Nothing happens.

(Rating: 1)

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby - Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby (CD, Stiff, Pop)
After all these years...Wreckless Eric returns to the Stiff label...bringing along Amy Rigby (who was originally in The Shams). This album was recorded entirely by these two individuals without the assistance of any special guest artists. Our guess is that these tunes will surprise many people. This isn't an attempt to come up with something similar to either person's previously recorded work...nor is it an attempt to create hit tunes to make bucks. These recordings sound like what they probably are...the result of two people making music together because they enjoy it. The tunes are basic low-fidelity mid-tempo pop songs that flow by nicely and without frilly excesses. Instead of burning out and churning out the same tired old formulas...Eric and Amy have chosen instead to keep their creative juices flowing. And, in doing so, have come up with a surprisingly cohesive and entertaining new album. Keepers include "Here Comes My Ship," "The Downside of Being a Fuck Up," "Please Be Nice To Her," and "I Still Miss Someone." (Rating: 5)

Yarn - Empty Pockets (CD, Ardsley Music, Bluegrass/pop)
Bluegrass pop has seen an increasing resurgence in the Southeast over the past few years...and the guys in Yarn are a good example of why this is so. This band does not play traditional bluegrass. Rather and instead, they use the sounds and ideas of bluegrass music to create their own brand of organic pop music...leaving plenty of room in the mix for spontaneous improvisation. The band consists of Blake Christiana (guitar, vocals), Trevor MacArthur (guitar, vocals), Andrew Hendryx (mandolin, harmonica), Rick Bugel (bass), and Jay Frederick (drums, percussion). The songs on Empty Pockets have just enough polish to sound professional...while never coming across sounding artificial or overproduced. The vocals are particularly warm and appealing. The guys in Yarn have a sound that we would guess will be equally appealing to folks in urban and rural environments. Nifty toe-tappers include "Can't Slow Down," "Music's Only Outlaw," "Lies I've Told," and "Girl on the Side." (Rating: 5)



Everyone is unique and different
In their own special way.
Yeah, right.
There really is a God.
Yeah, right.
You have to believe in something.
Yeah, right.
You must be extremely unhappy.
Yeah, right.

(Rating: 1)


Additional Items Received:

12 Summers Old - This could get dangerous
924 Gilman St. - Let's Talk About Tact and Timing...
Againsters - A few notes on darwin
Amadan - Pacifica
Atlantic Manor - On the wrong side of a saturday night
Autumn - Velvet sky
Barry Sisters - Our way
Sir John Betjeman & Mike Read - Sound of Poetry
Elvin Bishop - The blues rolls on
Susannah Blinkoff - Let's pretend
Ruthie Bram - Ruthie
Brown Shoe - Jackalope
Burgaboy - Bassic mixtape vol. 1
Butcher Boy - Profit in your poetry
Buttless Chaps - Cartography
Vic Chesnutt, Elf Power, and the Amorphous Strums - Dark developments
Clothing & Shoes - Clothing & Shoes
Coral Sea - Firelight
RJ Cowdery - One more door
Dead Heart Bloom - Oh mercy
Dead Trees - King of rosa
Dears - Missiles
Doug Derek & The Hoax - Who the hell is doug derek?
Die Warzau - Vinyl 88: not the best of 20 years
The Duchess - Music from the motion picture
Epicycle - Jingo jangle
Everlast - Love, war and the ghost of whitey ford
Exceptional Ed Ward - Lost at sea
Existant - Debutante
Gee Davey - She sells smiles
Gigantic - Gigantaphonic sounds
Godhead - At the edge of the world
The Guy - Only human
Heavy Hands - Smoke signals
Heligoats - The end of all purpose
The Hereafter - It doesn't matter why it is, it doesn't matter if it's wrong
Gaby Hernandez - When love
Hills of Elysium - Cigadent
Hills Rolling - Something delicious
Holyhail - Independent pleasure club
Joe Iadanza - Traveling salesman
Jesus H. Christ & The Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse - Happier than you
Kellarissa - Flamingo
Andrew Kennedy - Running stumbling bumbling bursting
Lights - The fair weather travelling companion
Liking Strikes - Liking Strikes
Little Ones - Morning tide
Lonesome Brothers - The last cd
Lost Revival - Homemade confetti
Mad In China - Sonic blog v1.0
Bill Madden - Child of the same god
Anya Marina - Slow & steady seduction, phase II
Marc Martino - A story
MasterSlashSlave - Scandal
Modakai - Modakai
Model - Physical
Viking Moses - The parts that showed
Mystery Tramps - We are the mystery tramps
Mythical Beast - Scales
Native Canadians - Fiasco
Never Mind Aerobics - Here's punk rope
Nichelodeon - Cinemanemico
Novillero - A little tradition
Nuclear Children - Paint it red
Oldfolks Home - We are the feeding line
Marykate O'Neil - mkULTRA
Organ Thieves - Organ Thieves
Oh My God - Fools want noise
Oh Sanders - The death of nature
Jordan Oh No! - We are dominos
Passive Aggressives - Conflict resolution
John Paul - Belmont boulevard
Peacework - Choices
Stephen Dale Petit - A better answer
Pnuma Trio - Character
Retconned - Has been
Melissa Reyes - You can't stop this girl
Rae Spoon - Superioryouareinferior
Ray Mann Three - Ray Mann Three
Red Wanting Blue - THese magnificent miles
Richtaste - Lights and shades
Rio en Medio - Frontier
River County - Rockin' the country
Laura Roppe - Girl like this
Melissa Ruth - Underwater & other places
Sasha - Involver 2
Shoreline - Out of nowhere
Silver - Through the storm
Sol Skugga - Swimming without webbed toes
Springhouse - Springhouse
Fred Stein - Pizza & ice cream
Strand - Another season passes
Strange Day - Face the change
SwampDaWamp - 2.0
Theater Fire - Matter and light
Towelhead - Original motion picture score
Frank Turner - Love, ire & song
Ugly Stick - Still glistening
Velouria - Kiss it better
Jason Vigil - Sometimes always
Waves On Waves - Waves On Waves
Wax Fang - La la land
We Landed On The Moon - These little wars
White Denim Explosion - White Denim Explosion
Wunderbugs - Written in flesh
Yoome - The boredom of me
Zydepunks - Finisterre

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