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January 2001 Reviews from the Mighty Barnhole of

RATING SYSTEM | Badfinger | Erykah Badu | Delerium | Richard Dirlam | DVDs: Another Bad Idea | Fisher | Francine | The Frogs | Heavy Duty Felt | Holger Hiller | Hopewell | Nina Hynes | Japancakes | Ladytron | Lenola | The Living End | Mus | The New Pornographers | Pan sonic | Stephen Paulus | Real Estate Agents | The Real Tuesday Weld | Martin Sexton | Sloth | Spiv | Starflyer 59 | The Turbo A.C.'s | The Twenty-First Century | Unisex | Your Life


Badfinger - Head First (Double British import CD, Artison Recordings/Snapper Music, Pop)
Very interesting that Badfinger's never-before-released last studio album is FINALLY made available. As most people are probably already aware, right at the band's peak in the early seventies (after they recorded their mind-blowing Wish You Were Here album), they found themselves caught in the midst of intense legal hassles between record companies and managers...finally forcing Badfinger into a position where they could basically do nothing. The songs on Head First reflect where these guys' heads were at the time with tunes like "Hey, Mr. Manager" (GREAT tune) and "Rock 'n Roll Contract." The barrage of legal hassles finally resulted in not one...but TWO hanging both Pete Ham and Tom Evans (the two creative forces in the band) eventually hung themselves in despair. Intensely sad indeed, as the band's tragic end reflects how corporations, lawyers, and big business chew artists up and spit them out like worthless putty. This was particularly sad in this case of Badfinger, because their main draw was always their sincere and genuine approach to crafting pop tunes. Anyone who ever appreciated the great power pop that the band produced in their heydey would be well advised to pick up both of Pete Ham's solo CDs (containing his personal demo recordings) as well as Head First. While not their very best work, Head First contains some absolutely stellar tunes that are sure to make Badfinger fans shudder with ecstacy. Disc One contains the actual album that was never released, while Disc Two contains demos and bonus tracks. For us, the standout tracks are "Lay Me Down," "Hey, Mr. Manager" (one of Evans' best songs ever), "Keep Believing," "Saville Row," "Turn Around" and "Keep Your Country Tidy." True...there is some filler thrown in here...but all of the material is interesting, particularly given the fact that this was a "real" studio album completed and virtually never heard until now. Hopefully the release of this disc will prompt some intelligent company into reissuing Wish You Were Here and Ass on CD (both currently unavailable). We still mourn the passing of Pete and Tom, as these two wonderfully cool young British fellows helped us make it through those intensely suicidal years in our stinking rotten high school... (Rating: 5+)

Eryka Badu - Mama's Gun (CD, Motown, Soul/pop)
Being such a fan of early Motown recordings, we are delighted indeed to now be receiving product from this legendary music label. Fortunately, Motown is continuing to focus on soul and rhythm and blues...rather than shift to the always disappointing sound of (c)rap. Eryka Badu already has one major hit on her hands from this CD, the cleverly crafted "Bag Lady. The tune is one of the softer tracks on this release, but the lyrics are great. Motown is pushing Eryka hard. Ms. Badu has already begun touring Japan, and the disc is being marketed heavily on the Internet. Folks who contributed on this disc include Stephen Marley, Ahmir Thompson, Betty Wright (yeah!), Roy Ayers, and Roy Hargrove. This CD follows Eryka's 1997 debut, Baduizm. The music on Mama's Gun is basic soul pop, crafted with a nice genuine spirit...and the vocals are super smooth and sexy. Our top pick here is "Didn't Cha Know" with its cool heavy dub beat. If this disc is any indication of where the Motown label is at these days, we're looking forward to hearing a GREAT DEAL more in the very near future. Funky, hypnotic, and catchy...Eryka Badu has all of her ground well covered... (Rating: 5)

Delerium - Poem (CD, Nettwerk, Mood/electronic/dance)
Another mighty satisfying disc from the always esoteric Delerium. Poem contains ten tasty tracks that encompass a great many sounds and styles of music....and each track features a different guest artist. From the Middle Eastern "Terra Firma" to the almost straightforward acoustic pop of "Amongst the Ruins," this band delves into a wide range of influences...and they hit the target every time. While all of the tracks listed on the disc are killer, it is actually the "bonus" (???) track #11 (which is not listed on the CD cover) that crunches our nuts the most. This lengthy experimental piece sounds like a merging of monk chants with ambient electronic soundscapes...and it absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Not afraid to combine sounds and ideas from anywhere and everywhere, Delerium is a band that will almost certainly catch you off guard. By the end of this disc, we found ourselves in a very pleasant sort of dreamy state... The CD also features STUNNING artwork design by Carylann Loeppky. Nice, ethereal stuff that creates a cool atmosphere... (Rating: 5)

DVDs: Another Bad Idea (Let's all get together and BAN it kind of suggestion sort of thing)
IMPORANT NEWS! The latest media to store movies, music, and data is YET ANOTHER BIG HOAX. The idea is to convince us all how much BETTER DVDs are...while simultaneously jacking up prices and repackaging everything for the BILLIONTH TIME. It's a real treat watching all the morons running off to buy the latest...supposedly "superior"...release of their favorite movie or album. But what do you think the REAL advantage to music on DVDs is? Here's the REAL scoop. With DVDs (unlike CDs) the music companies can COPY PROTECT the goddamn discs so that we, the consumers, cannot make digital copies. So you see...instead of getting something better, in the end we are being RIPPED OFF by new technology. But then, that seems to happen ALL THE TIME lately, doesn't it?'s an idea. Why don't we all simply REFUSE to buy DVDs? Wouldn't that be something...if everyone ganged up against the corporate monsters and ruined their shitty new plan of action before it even begins. Making digital copies is one of the greatest things to happen in the past few years. So as usual...when anything GOOD comes along...bastard lawyers and money hungry corporate pigs come along to RUIN it. No matter. We in the substantially sleazy yet efficient babysue offices usually embrace technology. But in this case, DVDs get the big "NO WAY." Don't buy into the latest LIE. Why be a sheep...when you can be a intelligent and virule LION (like WE is...)? Oh yeah, yeah...we know...folks have already cracked the code for copying DVDs. But why should anyone have to crack a goddamn code in the FIRST place??? Everything in the world should be...totally...FREE... (Rating: 1)

Richard Dirlam - She Sings She Screams (CD, Innova Recordings, Modern classical)
Odd, stark, unusual, and experimental. Sax player Richard Dirlam approaches music from a decidedly uncommercial angle...presenting pieces that have virtually no chance whatsoever of reaching a "mass" audience. This is obviously not the intent anyway, however, as the heady compositions on She Sings She Screams are meant for that small yet observant core of people yearning for something out of the ordinary. "The Bear," the ten-minute-plus opening piece, is a strange journey through a world where saxophones meet The Twilight Zone. Moody and unsettling, this track (written by Mark Engebretson) is a truly bizarre listen. But the title cut (also written by Engebretson) is even weirder...with obtuse tape manipulations throughout. "Musique de Concert," the closing composition by Marius Constant, is divided into five sections...and almost sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a bizarre art cartoon from the 1950s. The only instruments on this disc are saxophones and piano, but they are utilized in a very unconventional manner. Not for those who prefer easy listening nor for those who like things nice and easy...this disc is a wild trip into the full range of distinct possibilities for the saxophone... (Rating: 4+)

Fisher - True North (CD, Farmclub/Interscope, Pop)
Hypothesis #1: The reason that so many record companies put out CDs by boring and samey bands is that A& R people don't know what is good and what is not. Hypothesis #2: If average music listeners were allowed to CHOOSE what artists got signed to big record labels, then the quality of music releases would be greatly improved. If we are to consider the case of the band Fisher, then both of the previous hypotheses would be...completely FALSE. The first band signed to a major label because they were "the most often downloaded" band on the Internet, Fisher is proof that the general public wants generic and samey music (BIG SURPRISE!). No, this isn't a "bad" band. The music is actually rather pleasant in a sing-songy, overproduced kind of way... It's just's just that... Aw HELL, ya'll!!! There are so many more BETTER and CREATIVE artists out there! There is more challenging and inventive music being made now than ever before in the history of mankind...but what do people want? They want something that sounds just like everything else they've heard. So...don't blame Interscope for putting out a CD by Fisher. Blame your neighbor...your workmates...your "friends" (we use that term loosely)...and possibly your own family. It's too bad that so many folks have such poor taste, isn't it? Thank God that we (this includes you) know BETTER... (Rating: 3)

Francine - Forty on a Fall Day (CD, QDivision, Pop)
Excellent mid-tempo pop music featuring catchy melodies and strangely pensive lyrics. Funny...we actually don't hear that many mid-tempo pop bands lately (!!!). This could probably be because everyone wants to either play WAY TOO FAST...or WAY TOO SLOW (either of which have become super trendy and hip over the past few years). Boston's Francine are pure living proof that you don't have to go so far in either direction tempo-wise to get your message across. Interesting, however, is the fact that while these songs play soft and easy...they are by no means sugary sweet. The band's neat arrangements--punctuated by some tasty guitar licks--combine to create music that is easy to listen to...but is at the same time food for thought. The vocals are nice and husky, yet there is a certain introspective presence in the voice that makes it most appealing. Sixteen tunes here...and there's not a bad one in the bunch. Our faves in this little hilltop paradise are "Set of Dune," "Quasars," "Reddish Blonde," and "Pop Warner." Pleasant, cool, and just slightly different... (Rating: 5)

The Frogs - Hopskotch Lollipop Sunday Surprise (CD, Scratchie, Skewed pop)
To whomever is doing the signing these days at Scratchie, we tip our big ol' floppy hats. The label's last release by Dan Bryk ended up being one of the most fantastic pop releases of 2000...and now they follow that up by signing notorious obtuse popsters The Frogs. Given the somewhat joke-like nature of some of their earlier releases, this little sucker is going to take folks totally by surprise. So...what's the surprise? Simply this. Jimmy Flemion is a truly GREAT songwriter. And with the release of Hopskotch Lollipop Sunday Surprise this band is obviously neither a joke nor a novelty act. Actually...and in fact...this Milwaukee duo has emerged as one of the most important new pop bands on the planet. The songs are smart, provocative...and yet have that slight something unusual that makes them stand out from the crowd. And ooooooh Jesus Christ Almighty...the vocals are WONDERFUL. The trembling quiver of the vocal tracks brings to mind our eternal favorite, Marc Bolan. To try and come up with soundalike bands would be an impossible The Frogs are squarely their own band with their own unique sound and vision. Tracks like "Whisper," "The Longing Goes Away" (breathtakingly beautiful), "Jewels," "Better Than God" (Wow!), and "Bad Mommy" are anything BUT novelty compositions. First and foremost, however, the thing that catches our attention are the heavenly MELODIES. These tunes are instantly memorable and unforgettable. This is one of those CDs that we will be playing until the grooves turn green and fall off the disc. Thank you Scratchie and to The Frogs...for releasing a disc so good that it gives us CHILLS... Slightly surreal...and completely SPLENDID. (Rating: 6)

Heavy Duty Felt - Songs for the Week (CD, Kitchen Sink, Pop)
A very nice and very slick self-produced and self-released CD from an outstanding new artist. Heavy Duty Felt is actually the project of Chicago's Tony Gudwien, although loads of guest artists play on this disc. Mr. Gudwien's pensive pop tunes are propelled by a very breathy and sincere vocal style that is most appealing. The arrangements are at times rather complex and unusual. This disc was co-produced by Mike Hagler, who is probably best known for his work with Wilco. In some ways this music reminds us of Chris Stamey as well as Dumptruck...but the similarities are only slight. It is very rare to come across an independent release this professional and well executed. We wish we could give a web site, but there is here's the artist's e-mail: Very nice stuff... (Rating: 4+)

Holger Hiller - Holger Hiller (CD, Mute, Electronic/pop/experimental)
This is Holger Hiller's fourth album release on Mute...but it's the first thing we've heard from this unusual German artist/composer. By not subscribing to any one particular theory or plan of action in his compositions, Mr. Hiller seems intent on keeping his listeners off their guard. In some ways, listening to this disc is like listening to a various artists compilation...because many of the tracks sound so incredibly different from one another. Whatever this may or may not sound like, it definitely does NOT sound American. While some of the tracks are certain standouts, others tend to blur into a sort of dream consciousness kind of thing... We like the more abstract stuff best ("Come" is particularly good). This is very esoteric...and mostly hypnotic in nature... (Rating: 4-)

Hopewell - The Curved Glass (CD, Priapus, Abstract pop)
Hopewell is the latest project created by brothers Jason and Justin Russo. The Russos were previously touring as members of Mercury Rev. This is the second full length release by Hopewell, and there are definite similiarites to both Mercury Rev as well as The Flaming Lips (one of our favorites of the past few years). The pop tunes on The Curved Glass have a nice, loose, accidental sound to them. But that is not to say that thought was not given to songwriting, as the melodies are well thought out and refreshing. The cool, breathy vocals in these tunes are quite inviting well as the layered guitars interwoven with spacey electronics. Instead of going off the deep end of the psychedelic pond (as many bands tend to do), these folks always manage to keep things in some sort of recognizable condition (which means they are giving some thought to those who may be listening to their music, natch...). We particularly appreciate the subtle elegance of "There Is Something," a poignant little tune that is as abstract as it is commercial. Another favorite in this camp is "Safe As Milk," with its many phases of shifting content. Neat stuff...! (Rating: 4+)

Nina Hynes - Creation (CD, Reverb, Dance/dub/pop)
Slow atmospheric pop music filled with tons upon tons upon tons upon TONS of reverb, echoes, and effects. Nina Hynes is an Irish singer/songwriter with a difference...that difference being that she has a great deal in common with American and British artists. While the music flows by in a slow spacey drone, Ms. Hynes' breathy vocals drift overhead just like clouds passing through the sunset. This will almost certainly appeal to fans of underground favorites Mazzy Star, which is probably the best band to compare this music to. It's hard to say whether this is an "album" or an "EP"...because the disc is about 30 minutes in length (?). Her moody appeal intact and inviting, Ms. Hynes is providing a nice dose of juice from an abstract direction... (Rating: 4)

Japancakes - The Sleepy Strange (CD, Kindercore, Instrumental)
The constantly evolving Japancakes are back...with their best effort yet. This band started out as an experimental project but has quickly progressed into a very polished and professional entity. The Sleepy Strange is an appropriately titled release, as the compositions contained within consist of dreamy, quietly mesmerizing pieces that shift and tranform in a manner that is normally associated with classical music. In contrast to some of the band's earlier material that had a busy and almost nervous sound, the tunes on Strange are subtle and creep up on the listener like shelf paper. These seven tunes are haunting, eloquent, and strangely beautiful. Our favorite is the progressively floating "Soft N EZ." A definite favorite among music critics and for good Japancakes are obviously worthy of the unrelenting praise they receive... (Rating: 5)

Ladytron - 604 (CD, Emperor Norton, Electronic pop)
Nice, simple, danceable electronic synthetic pop. Ladytron is a quartet. The quartet consists of Daniel Hunt, Marnie, Mira Aroyo, and Reuben Wu. Daniel, Marnie, Aroyo, and Reuben all live in England. They formed Ladytron and in virtually no time at all one of their tunes ("He Took Her To A Movie") was chosen by the NME as "Single of the Week." might say, perhaps...that Ladytron is a very "hip" band. Having a great band name certainly has not hindered these folks, as in this particular case the name fits the music perfectly. The tunes are something like an updated version of Kraftwerk with female vocals..except a bit more personal in nature. The beats are decidedly electronic and static in nature...and the arrangments are purposely simple and direct. Our favorites are the more abstract pieces like "CSKA Sofia" and "Zmeyka." The experimental material works better than the pop cuts...although we do like the poppy stuff as well... With all the attention they're receiving, it'll be interesting to see whether this band chooses an even more commercial path...or opts to go off the deep end with the weird stuff. We hope the latter occurs, as when they let loose and forget about trying to please an audience these folks come up with some exciting goddamn stuff... (Rating: 4)

Lenola - Treat Me To Some Life (CD, File 13, Heady progressive pop)
Oh God....yes. Yes. YeeeeeeEEEEEESSSSS... This band is sssssssoooOOOOOO goddamn great! It isn't often that we're this blown away by a brand new band...but these guys have pressed ALL of our bonko buttons completely and thoroughly. Merging slightly progressive music with melodies from heaven, these guys have a sound all their own. And talk about harmonies...this band's harmonies will blow virtually every other band off the face of the planet. The sound is something like a merging of Harpers Bizarre, Lilys, Game Theory, and The Lassie Foundation...but that's not so much an accurate description...but rather just a comparison to give you an idea of where these guys are coming from. With so much technology in the world of modern music, songwriting has all too often been forced to take a back seat. Not so here. Songwriting is obviously the main focus, with technology...and some fabulous arrangements...being used to meticulously drive the songs home. Favorites: "First Floor Killer," "Do You Want To See A Volcano?," "I Don't Mean," and "Come Back to Retreat." Pop music isn't dead...but after hearing will probably realize that it is just in the process of reinventing itself... (Rating: 5+)

The Living End - Roll On (CD, Reprise, Power punk/pop/rock)
The latest Australian band to be signed by Reprise, The Living End play a power pop/punk style of music that is associated with bands such as Bracket and Green Day. But while the guitars are loud and the rhythms frantic, this band never compromises their integrity in their search for the holy grail. The punchy tunes on Roll On are first and foremost hummable and catchy. The vocals are prominent and out front in the mix, and the arrangements are very simple and basic. What sets this band apart from the growing mountains of others playing the same sort of music is that the band is upbeat and opposed to snotty and negative. What a refreshing change, eh?!? During the past decade it seemed as if there were far, FAR too many bands accentuating the negative. It's time for a change...and hopefully we will see a resurgence in bands who are uplifting and positive. Our favorite track on this CD is the ultra catchy "Staring At The Light." Borrowing bits and pieces from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, The Living End provide quality content and possess even more serious potential for the future... (Rating: 4+)

Mus - Mus (CD, Pehr, Ambient/electronic/ethereal pop)
Subtle, strange, slow, atmospheric, ambient, accidental, and very soothing. Mus is the duo of Fran and Monica (no last names please). Fran and Monica live in Spain, and record absolutely lovely sparse electronic pop. The music is in the same vein as Stereolab or even perhaps The Cocteau Twins...but with one MAJOR difference. Mus songs are extremely minimalistic and sparse. Almost empty sounding in fact...but we are certain that this is the exact point of the music. Instead of overdoing it (as most folks are doing these days), these folks know the meaning of restraint. The tunes sometimes have rhythms, but even the rhythms are stripped down and simple. Other tracks are more like floating instrumentals. When vocals do occur, they are layered into the music in such a way as to blend in perfectly with the electronics. This is one of those CDs that isn't going to knock you over the head the first time you hear it. But if you give it a few will eventually find yourself drawn into the intricate and beautiful world of Mus. Great stuff, very cerebral... (Rating: 5)

The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic (CD, Mint, Pop/rock)
Awe...goddamn it all to Hell! We just can't get ENOUGH of those Canadian acts! For some reason unknown to us, the quality of your average Canadian band is about ten times better than their average American counterpart. And here's another DANDY new one to add to our list of pulsing favorites. The New Pornographers have a sinfully poppy sound that is all about hummable melodies and slick harmonies. Influences are swimming through this band's music like barley goats in a hatching farm. The songs are upbeat and instantly loveable...but it's those vocals that cause us to spin this one again and again and AGAIN... Both male and female vocals (the latter courtesy of underground favorite Neko Case) are absolutely SMOOTH and THRILLING. One of the best new pop bands around, The New Pornographers are an INSTANT HIT!!! There are so many "must hear" tunes that we can't list 'em all...but our initial top picks are "The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism" and "Letter From An Occupant." There's an ultra-cool thread of bubblegum running through this band's music that gets our pajamas all hot and sweaty... Ah...what a nice BLAST OF FRESH AIR...! An easy five PLUS! (Rating: 5+)

Pan sonic - Aaltopiiri (CD, Mute, Experimental/electronic)
We've been admiring this band's work for some time now, and we continue to be amazed at how far folks can go these days by creating what most people would describe as "noise." Personally, we believe all music is such a criticism doesn't really hold too much weight... Pan sonic (formerly Panasonic) is the Finnish duo of Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen. (Hmmm... Let's try pronouncing either of their last names OR the name of the new CD, eh?) In some ways, Aaltopiiri is more accessible than the band's previous releases...but that's not saying a whole lot. Whereas before the band's music usually resulted in my friends saying things like "What's wrong with your stereo?"...when I play the new disc, the response is usually "When is this song going to end?" This disc is EXTREMELY sparse in much so that most folks will probably think the music sounds empty or unfinished. Being into minimalism in a big way, we find this stripped down approach to electronics both refreshing and very different. Pushing boundaries is something few people are able to do, and Pan sonic never fail in this arena. As usual, there are no "hits" catchy vocals...and virtually no commercial appeal whatsoever. This band is an experiment. Either you like experiments...or you don't. By doing less and creating what many would term as "trash," these two fellows are actually helping to expand the boundaries of modern music. This is as good as anything Pan sonic has released thus far. We LOVE it... (Rating: 5+)

Stephen Paulus - A Chamber Fantasy (CD, Innova Recordings, Modern classical)
Although few people seem to realize it, classical composers DO still exist...although most modern composers (just like the great composers of centuries past) are barely recognized. Among others in his own field, however, composer Stephen Paulus has already garnered a great deal of admiration and attention. Not only is he one of the co-founders of the American Composers Forum, but he has also held Composer Residency posts with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Paulus is intriguing in that his music contains elements of both the past and present. Some of the pieces on A Chamber Fantasy are extremely melodic and somewhat traditional in nature...while other compositions contain sudden jarts of slight chaos or dischordant chords that take the listener quite by surprise. This disc is divided into four sections: "Dramatic Suite" (from 1997), "Courtship Songs" (from 1981), "Air on Seura" (from 1992), and "Partita Appassionata" (from 1996). The compositions are based around piano, but also feature flute, oboe, violin, viola, and cello. Extremely dreamy and fanciful in nature, Mr. Paulus' compositions are both thought provoking and calming. Intriguing in their subtlety, the compositions on this disc represent a true artist emerging at a peculiar point in time... (Rating: 6)

Real Estate Agents (Another scum sucking "person" kind of thing to add to the continually growing list kind of things)
We've known all along that the WORST of the WORST folks in the world are lawyers (uuuuuuugh...), doctors (vomit), accountants (yaaaaaawwwnnnn...), and interior decorators (BARF!). But now...we have yet ANOTHER sort of "person" to add to the tippy top of the list of totally SHITTY morons in the world...REAL ESTATE AGENTS. Yup, you can be as sure as fireworks that if the person you are dealing with is a real estate agent...then the individual must surely be a total and complete PHONY ASSWIPE. In their fakey and crappy-assed attempts to gain your trust and confidence (so that you will call upon them when you are selling some property) these scumbag cretins will do ANYTHING to make you think that they care about you and that they are your "friend." But then...once the deal is done...they are sure to again into the suck off some other unsuspecting victim. You see, dear readers, real estate agents are nothing more than desperate bottom feeders...creeping and crawling along the bottom of the polluted waters trying to scrape off their own filthy piece of a grotesque rotting pie. the future...know that any and all real estate agents are people you DO NOT WANT TO KNOW...EVER. If one should try to strike up a friendship with you...DROP it...IMMEDIATELY. Note that there are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. All real estate agents are lying, cheating, worthless VERMIN... (Rating: 1)

The Real Tuesday Weld - L'amour Et La Morte (CD EP, Kindercore, Pop)
Somewhat ambiguous as well as somewhat sensual pop music, The Real Tuesday Weld is the latest project of Stephen Coates. The idea here is to merge various influences from the past into the present. Similarities to the music of Serge Gainsbourg are obvious and intentional. Yet instead of sounding like stealing, Mr. Coates uses Gainsbourg's music as a diving board for coming up with his own creations. The sound is derivative yes...but in a flattering manner...making L'amour Et La Morte more of a tip of the hat than a snatching of the purse, so to say. Interestingly, the brief last track ("Blues for Barbara Hepworth") is our favorite...because it is so accidental and poignant. This will most likely appeal to fans of The Magnetic Fields... (Rating: 4+)

Martin Sexton - Wonderbar (CD, Atlantic, Soul/pop)
Wonderfully genuine and truly sincere soulful pop with a definite blues undercurrent. This is the second release from Boston's Martin Sexton, but it is the first we've heard. WooooooooOOOOOOW! Not only can this guy pen unforgettable tunes, he's got one of the sexiest voices we've heard in a VERY LONG while (he reminds us of Cat Stevens at times as well as Ron Sexsmith). The music is slightly trippy and funky, but those ultra-cool vocals add big ol' solid chunks of husky soul that make these tunes COOK LIKE A MOTHER. And what a back up band (!). The musicians on this disc are T-I-G-H-T. Mr. Sexton plays guitar and handles all the vocals. Backing him up are Joe Bonadio (drums, percussion), Tony Levin (bass), and David Sancious (keyboards). If all of this weren't enough reason to check out this stellar release, the lyrics are killer as well. You've GOT to hear "Where Did I Go Wrong" and "She Cries and Sings" to believe it...holy SHIT!!! It is rare when something this sincerely great comes through this cosmic little office... We are INSTANT fans of this uniquely talented man's music. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED LISTENING!!! (Rating: 5+)

Sloth - The Voice of God (CD, The Music Cartel, Sloth rock)
Featuring former members of London's Godzilla, Sloth is a band that is most definitely influenced by early Black Sabbath. The guitars are loud and in constant overdrive...the percussion is a marijuana induced tunnel...and the vocalist sounds like a cross between Ozzy, Marilyn Manson, and Alice Cooper. The tunes are lengthy here... Although this disc only contains seven tracks, it is a whopping 61 minutes in the guys plenty of time to flex their doom and gloom muscles. Although there is definitely a droney aspect to the music...there are some very inspired moments that hit the listener along the way. We like this hearing it for the first time. How well it will hold up to repeated listenings...will have to be determined at some point in the future. In the meantime, smoke yourself into oblivion and TURN THIS MONSTER UP... (Rating: 4)

Spiv - Everybody's A Rock Star Tonight (CD EP, Pop Sweatshop, Pop)
Though a mere four songs in length, Everybody's A Rock Star is a definite KEEPER. The super strong songwriting here reminds in some ways of our San Diego favorites The Solipsistics. (the vocals in particular). Favorite lyric: "CD release...that's all you will get from me." Heh heh heh...what a RIOT!!! But this is by no means a "joke" band... Spiv is a band that puts melodies first and foremost. And what great hummable melodies we have here. The title track OUGHT to be a hit single (if the world were as it should be). The first three songs are total blasts...but the "rappy" nature of the last track lost us... This is a great and uplifting little EP that will stay in our PERMANENT collection... Check it out, Yolanda! (Rating: 4)

Starflyer 59 - Easy Come, Easy Go (Double CD, Tooth & Nail, Pop)
Although we (and countless other reviewers) have been praising this band since their humble beginnings several years ago, it seems as if most folks still have not taken note of the incredible music of Starflyer 59. As a result, for those of you out there who have yet to sample this band's moist and tasty treats...Easy Come, Easy Go is an excellent starting point. This whopping double CD contains a wealth of mind blowing pop music. The first disc is a "best of" compilation, which must have been difficult to compile...seeing as how virtually all of the band's material is top notch and killer. The second disc is a compilation of B-sides, rarities, and live recordings. Because we were already familiar with the band's catalogue, it was very interesting hearing this from a historical perspective. Staryflyer 59 began with very acid-drenched, semi-psychedelic pop...but the sound slowly developed into something more clean and melody driven (with a heavier emphasis on production). All along the way, however, the songwriting has been (and remains) spectacular. Those vocals and wonderfully abstract guitars remain the core components in the music. This set is beautifully packaged and comes with a nicely prepared booklet containing all kinds of pertinent information on the group. Bandleader Jason Martin is one of the true standouts in pop music during the past decade. If you haven't gotten on the wagon yet, now is the time to do so. As usual, we can't WAIT for the next album... (Rating: 5+)

The Turbo A.C.'s - Fuel For Life (CD, Nitro, Rock)
Nice kickass rock and roll. Produced by Roger Miret (of Agnostic Front), Fuel For Life is chock full of all out rock and roll music shot straight from the hip with pure adrenaline and badass attitude. The Turbo A.C.'s hail from New York City, and their music brings to mind both The Stooges and The Candy Snatchers. Suffice to say, the idea is to turn everything way, WAY up and then flail and thrash away into infinity. The guitars and loud and thick..and the rhythms furious. The vocalist has a great raspy voice that is virtually perfect for this style of music. This band is a big ball of high energy fun. Even the cover artwork of a sexy chick with skulls on her bikini kicks our saucy pancakes. A great loud RUSH. (Rating: 4+)

The Twenty-First Century
There were a couple of things about the end of the twentieth century that were good indicators of the current state of humantity. First of all, the entire human race went APESHIT at the end of 1999...jumping on top of each other declaring it the beginning of the "new millinium"...when in actuality, everyone was supposedly a year EARLY. And then...when it was "really time" to enter the next century at the end of was virtually ignored by EVERYONE. But isn't that just like get everything wrong, even down to what goddamn CENTURY it is? Secondly, there was all this foolish tension and confusion over who won the goddamn presidential election ( as if it mattered in the first place). And then when the winner was finally announced, everyone seemed so shocked and upset. But think about it folks...since our country is mainly composed of phony assholes, doesn't it make sense that our president should be one? Duh? It just goes to show that in our age of accepting anyone and everyone for their differences...that no one can agree on ANYTHING. So...if the last century was a big waste of time (which it obviously WAS)...what should we expect from The Twenty-First Century? Answer: Expect nothing...because that is exactly what you will get. People have screwed up the world so badly... Hopefully this will be the century when the natural elements of the world will reclaim the earth and do away with humanity. The world would be such a beautiful place...if it weren't for all the ugly, stinking, know-it-all, pathetic scum retarded humans running around screwing everything up. Do your part to help save the planet. Kill yourself and everyone around you. Who you are and what you do won't make a damn bit of difference in the big scheme of things. Be honest with yourself, and realize that "WE" are the problem... (Not Rated)

Unisex - Stratosfear (CD, Double Agent, Progressive pop)
The British progressive band Unisex has quite a buzz going in their native country, but they are actually gaining most of their notoriety of late because of their debut full-length on the independent U.S. label Double Agent. Two members of Unisex (Stephen Lawrie and Nick Hemming) were formerly in the band The Telescopes who previously put out some releases on the Creation Records label. It seems interesting that over the past few years there seems to be somewhat of a resurgence in the progressive music that was popular in the 1970s, and this is definitely the territory in which Unisex are treading. Although slow-paced and heady, this band's obtuse (and decidedly uncommercial) approach to music is both refreshing as well as strangely familiar. And instead of going for one sound or style, the folks in the band combine ideas from all over the place...making Stratosfear an unpredictable listen. Because of the infinite list of influences, it is difficult to come up with a single band as a basis for comparison. Whether playing their tripped out spacey instrumentals or their introspective and suggestive vocal pieces, this band seems to thrive on reinventions and reinterpretations of the past and present. Unique. (Rating: 4+)

Your Life (Personal sort of worthless thing that you think is so valuable and precious sort of thing)
So...what is YOUR LIFE all about? Are you having a great time enjoying every minute (like you SHOULD be)...or are you swimming around in a desperate sea of depression and misery? More than at any other point in time, it never ceases to AMAZE us how many unhappy and depressed folks there are out there in the "real" world. At a time when technological advances have made it possible for virtually ANYONE to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING they have ever could anyone possibly be lost? But lost they are...and lost they will most likely forever be... For you see, dear readers, almost all people never find their "true" or "real" calling in they end up flailing aimlessly away at some job or hobby that they don't really care about month after month after month...until one day they end up at death's door and they realize that they never did anything worthwhile at all. What most people fail to realize is that "finding" their real calling in life is so INCREDIBLY SIMPLE AND EASY. Just toss away all the useless dribble that fills your mind...and concentrate on whatever thing it is that satisfies you the most. When you determine what that is, then simply devote your time and energy accordingly. Funny...even though the answer is so obvious and simple...most people still JUST NEVER GET IT. Don't let yourself be one of the tragic and the lost. Find your true calling now so that you can live a worthwhile and fulfilling life. Otherwise you might as well just kill yourself NOW, you silly barnhole you...

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