October 1997 Reviews

RATING SYSTEM | Aqua | Jamie Blake | Bleah | Bracket | Clarissa | Contemplative Moments | The Cramps | Cub | Chinmaya Dunster | Fig Dish | Fondly | Fu Manchu | The Gain | He Said Omala | Hi Fi Killers | The Holy Cows | Neko Case and Her Boyfriends | The Ids | KMFDM | Lagwagon | Letters to Cleo | Little John | Loaded Dice | The Marinernine | Paul McCartney | The Merrills | Million Six | Monaco | Mr. T Experience | Music for TV Dinners | No Use For A Name | Oasis | Of Montreal | Pigden | Project Pollen | Purple Ivy Shadows | Quixote | Seely | Don W. Seven | Slobberbone | Patti Smith | Malka Spigel | Varnaline | The VO5 | Whiskeytown | William Carlos Williams | Your CD


AQUA - Aquarium (CD, MCA, Synth/bubblegum)
Madonna meets the Bugaloos. This is contrived, synthetic, calculated, stupid, juvenile, generic, predictable, silly, and WAY overproduced. It will most likely appeal to the same kind of people who like Abba (whose success is still a mystery to me). To tell you the truth, if I hadn't seen the packaging and publicity photo I would've probably thrown this out without even reviewing it. But in this case, the goofy cartoon image is appealing...and I have to admit that this is entertaining. Be forewarned though...it's total and complete FLUFF. (Rating: 3)

JAMIE BLAKE - Jamie Blake (CD, A&M, Pop)
A very impressive debut from this talented 21-year old lady. Jamie Blake's music displays a sense of maturity that is well beyond her age. From listening to her music, you'd think Ms. Blake was much older. Citing Chrissie Hynde, Deborah Harry, and Stevie Nicks as influences, you can certainly hear traces of these artists in Jamie's tunes. Many of these songs should be very popular on commercial FM radio. I'd bet this young lady is going to have some big hits under her belt soon. She's got the tunes and particularly the voice to pull her thing off (and I bet that's just what the guys are gonna WANT her to do). For my own peculiar taste, I have to admit that this is just a tad too commercial...but I bet this is going to please a great deal of the little nobody nothings out there who aren't nearly as stuck up and obnoxious as I am. (Rating: 3)

BLEAH - Bleah, Bleah, Bleah (CD, Bleah, Socker pop)
A band called Bleah? What do they sound like? Bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah, bleah. My reaction? Bleah. (Rating: 1)

BRACKET - Novelty Forever (CD, FatWreckChords, Power pop/punk)
My favorite power pop/punk band is back with their best release yet...and that's really saying something considering that everything they're put out thus far has been incredible. Criminally underappreciated in the worst kind of way, this Forestville, California band has been crafting highly addictive music for several years now. I'm glad to see them recording for FatWreckChords now (a fitting home). Not only is this Bracket's most accessible CD, it's also the best sounding thing they've recorded. And although Novelty Forever contains more studio gimmicks than before, they all work perfectly within the scope of each tune. Marty and Zack's vocals have never sounded better. Larry's guitar playing is suberb and, as always, Ray's drumming is minimal and powerful. Above all, however, the melodic twists and turns are what make Bracket such a superior ride. This is a band in the truest sense of the word, as each player makes substantial contributions to the sound as a whole. "Last Day Sunday" and "Sour" are what might be termed "classic Bracket," while tunes like "The Evil Bean," "Don't Tell Miss Fenley," and "Drama Queen" represent the more adventurous side of the band. This CD is so incredibly refreshing that I get chills listening to it (!). If at first you don't warm up to this band, give their songs a few listens. If these songs don't stick in your head like glue after four or five listens, then you must be retarded. Get the CD. See the band when they play (they're a MONSTER live). Simply put, this is our TOP PICK for the month of October...receiving the STILL undefined rating of "7". (The only other band to receive this prestigious rating so far is Lilys...)

CLARISSA - Blood and Commons (CD, Mammoth, Pop/rock)
Usually when the media proclaims a specific city to be a mecca of talent, it's all a big lie. In the case of Chapel Hill, I swear that lately there really IS an incredible wealth of exceptional music coming from one city. Clarissa play basic alternative moody pop music. The tunes are mostly stripped down and basic, the vocals crooning and somewhat droney...and the lead guitar work is exceptional. The band consists of Michael Rank, Sara Romweber, and Andy McMillan (previously known as Snatches of Pink). This is the second full-length from Clarissa. This one sounds very, VERY college radio friendly... (Not Rated)

CONTEMPLATIVE MOMENTS - Harmony (CD, Nightingale, Mood music), Meditation (CD, Nightingale, Mood music), Silence (CD, Nightingale, Mood music)
If there's one kind of music I just can't seem to get enough of lately, it's mood music...stuff that isn't made so much to be listened to as to create a mood. Accordingly, I was very pleased to receive these three CDs in the mail because all three contain some very beautiful, light music that is extremely pleasing to the ear. The point of these CDs is to relax the body and the mind, and they accomplish their task well. Each disc is appropriately titled and offers insight into the kind of music contained within. The discs contains pieces by such artists as Anugama, Kamal, Karunesh, Gambheera, Prabodhi and more. If you're looking for light, breezy instrumental stuff, these may be just what you're looking for... Nice. (Not Rated)

THE CRAMPS - Big Beat From Badsville (CD, Epitaph, Definitive psychobilly)
How do they do it? Other bands who have been around for ages sound tired and stupid and get on my nerves BIG TIME. Yet, somehow The Cramps manage to keep cranking out genuinely good stuff that sounds every bit as good as their early material. Perhaps it's true talent. Or perhaps it's just that these folks seem to truly love what they're doing. Whatever the case, Big Beat From Badsville is another bull's eye. Fourteen sexy monsters including "Cramp Stomp," "It Thing Hard-On," "Monkey With Your Tail," and "Badass Bug." Hopefully the band will be touring to support this CD. If you have never seen them play, they are a MUST SEE. They're unlike anything that has come before or shall come again. Really. One of the true originals in the world of rock music. (Rating: 6)

CUB - Mauler (CD, Au-go-go, Pop)
A new collection of limited edition and out of print stuff by Cub, an amazingly unpretentious Canadian girl pop band. Because these tracks were recorded at different times in different studios, you'd think this CD wouldn't flow well...but it does. I think what I like best about these girls is that they don't weigh their tunes down with studio gloss and overdubs. Instead, they just play like their hips are on fire and sing with a real "who cares" attitude. It's obvious from listening to this band that they are genuinely enthusiastic and that they love what they are doing. The tunes are short and to the point. Hell, they even manage to inject new life into the DEAD ("She's Like A Rainbow"). Here in babysueland simplicity RULES. Therefore, we love Cub. They are perfectly coooooooooooooooooooool. (Rating: 5)

CHINMAYA DUNSTER - Feng Shu Parts One and Two (CDs, Nightingale, Instrumental)
Very relaxing. Very soothing. Verrrrrrrry nice. These two CDs contain some very beautiful, very organic music composed by Chinmaya Dunster. Interesting percussion and a wide variety of acoustic instruments make these CDs a very interesting listen. Although the basic ideology Feng Shu is a bit over my head (I never understand the underlying concepts to music like this), in the end it doesn't really matter. What counts with me is how I feel when I listen to something...and listening to these discs makes me feel very, very good. In addition to great music and superb arrangements, the sound quality of these discs is excellent. (Rating: 5)

FIG DISH - When Shove Goes Back to Push (CD, Polydor, Pop/rock)
Despite the BIG push by the marketing folks at Polydor, for some reason Fig Dish still don't seem like they've quite caught on. I can't imagine why not. The band's last CD (That's What Love Songs Often Do) was wonderful...and the band KICKS ASS in concert. I hope that the big money marketing approach doesn't hurt this band, because they have VERY strong word of mouth going for them. When Shove Goes Back to Push is poppier than the last CD, which works in the band's favor...but don't worry, they still have an edge. As an added plus, lead singer Blake Smith seems like a genuinely nice and sincere fellow. And in the land of the suebaby...where there's too much music everywhere...being a good guy gets you BONUS POINTS (unless your music sucks, that is...). Great tunes, excellent live show...what more could you ask for? My favorite tune on this disc is "Wheel Holders." Don't let the publicity machine scare you underground assholes away from this band. They're only getting BETTER. (Rating: 5)

FONDLY - F Is For... (Advance cassette, Scratchie/Mercury, Quirky pop)
Catchy, unusual pop that is just accessible enough to be enjoyable yet just peculiar enough to stand out from the continually growing number of generic pop bands. For some reason, these guys' tunes remind me of some of the British new wave acts of the seventies (The Vibrators and XTC come to mind). The best thing about Fondly is that their music has a nice sharp edge, but it's ultimately pop music. They get MAJOR points for putting more than 18 cuts on this release. Our initial favorites are "Stop It Now," "You Are Ignored," "It's a GD Car in the Preacher Belt," and "Sucking On the Root." (Rating: 5)

FU MANCHU - The Action is Go (CD, Mammoth, Rock)
Despite a line up change (this CD features a different drummer and second guitarist than on previous releases), Fu Manchu remains INTACT...which is to say they remain one of my TOP favorite kickass rock bands on the planet. Despite the obvious seventies influences, this band injects new energy and passion into what can sometimes be a tired medium. Lead singer Scott Hill's vocals still send me into outer space. The band plays loose, ballsy, LOUD rock music while Scott speak/sings with complete rock and roll abandon. The Action is Go is as good as any of the band's previous releases. Fourteen tunes, including "Evil Eye," "Urethane," "Trackside Hoax," "Grendel, Snowman," and "Nothing Done." These guys play macho rock in the truest sense of the word. They're probably not known as a dance band, but Fu Manchu turns me into a dancing maniac. For true fans of rock and roll, there are few bands I can recommend this highly. (Rating: 6)

THE GAIN - Sing Ready Steady Smash (Vinyl LP, Mighty Recording Co., Rock)
Fun, direct buzzsaw rock music delivered straight up. Though The Gain are basically doing what has been done many times before, they manage to inject so much energy and enthusiasm into their music that it all sounds new again. An explosive rhythm section and Jam-like guitars create an explosive backdrop for songs that are pretty damned exciting. From the sound of this, I'd bet these guys KICK ASS in concert. This is also available on CD. Cool stuff. (Not Rated)

HE SAID OMALA - Catch Supposes (CD, WMO, Electronic/dub)
The band name may read like nonsense, but there is at least some explanation. This is a collaborative effort between two bands. He Said is the solo project of E. Graham Lewis (formerly with the band Wire), and Omala is the duo of Swedish ambient/industrial artists M. Tegner and A. Karperyd. Now that we've got THAT straightened out... I had never heard either of these artists' previous material, so Catch Supposes is an introduction for me. Basically this is experimental electronic stuff that ranges from dub to ambient, although in a way it's not really either. I had to listen to this several times before deciding that I rather like it...it's somewhat hard to describe, and that's almost always a good sign. Six lengthy tunes, very abstract in nature. (Rating: 4)

HI FI KILLERS - Loaded (CD, Loosegroove, Dance)
GREAT DANCE CD!!! At first I thought this was just another dub/dance disc, but after two or three tunes went by I found myself dancing across the living room floor ready to grab a can of Lemon Pledge. If it's sexy dance music you want, look no further. Hi Fi Killers is the two man team of Johnny Guitar Horn and Kevin Lee Oakland. These guys have come up with a funky WINNER. Laidback grooves layered with horns and all kinds of jazzy instrumentation add up to a dance disc that is WAY better than your average fare. Thirteen surreal tunes. This ought to appeal to a wide range of folks, as it is a very interesting mix of several musical styles. This is the REAL thing. Trippy. (Rating: 4)

THE HOLY COWS - Blueberrie (CD, Big Pop, Pop)
Simply good or good and simple. What's the difference? Never the mind, never the matter...the Holy Cows fit the mold. It's funny...I get so many CDs in the mail from bands playing the same exact style of music as this band and most of 'em get tossed for sounding too generic. I suppose what sets the Cows apart from other country-tinged pop bands is their sincerity. Instead of sounding like their motivation is to get a hit, they instead sound as if they are merely concerned with putting ideas across through music. And isn't that the point after all? No gimmicks, no dumb image, no studio tricks...just good solid playing and singing. Our top picks are "Punched a Friend," "Who Is He" and "Valentine." The slower numbers are particularly affecting. (Rating: 5)

NEKO CASE AND HER BOYFRIENDS - The Virginian (CD, Mint, Country/pop)
Whoa...what a breath of FRESH air! Neko Case has spunk and spark in a major way...and this CD is just bursting at the seams with energy and charisma. Ms. Case has reminds me of Brenda Lee and early K. D. Lang (more the former than the latter). The songs on this disc are extremely catchy and memorable, the arrangements are right on key, and those vocals are completely C-O-O-L. Neko Case sounds more like a female artist from the fifties than the nineties...but she's not doing a retro thing (thank God!). This is just simple, heartfelt music with a good ol' country twang. I'd be surprised if this talented young lady doesn't have a monster hit off this one. Too many good tunes to mention, but my top faves initially are "Timber," "Bowling Green," "Jettison," "The Virginian," and "Somebody Led Me Away." I am playing this one INTO THE GROUND. Highly, HIGHLY recommended!!! (Rating: 6)

THE IDS - Psycho Babylon (CD, Nettwerk, Skewed pop)
A very young band with talent and wisdom way beyond their years...and lyrics that had me screaming out loud. The Ids are something like a cross between The Violent Femmes and Dinosaur Jr...but that only gives a very slight insight into what they're about. The music is somewhat meandering folky pop...played VERY loosely...but it's those vocals and especially lyrics that make this band stand out from the crowd. Their attitude is based somewhere in that odd territory between "we don't give a fuck" and "we really do give a fuck". With so many bands trying so damn hard to stand out, it's those that don't seem to give a damn that stand out the most. To finish out this review, I'll offer just a couple of the many standout lyrics. From "Rainbow Enemy": Juvenile delinquency...fuck the system, eat the machine...make them pay for my room and board. From "Tom": Oh Tom, don't you cry...Daddy's gonna buy you a Jurassic Park big fries. Smart, funny, challenging, and different in a really odd way...these three guys have captured baby sue's screwed up little heart in a big way. (Rating: 6)

KMFDM - (Can't type in title because the title is little pictures) (CD, Wax Trax!/TVT, Techno/dance)
The two identifiable traits of KMFDM: (1) always the COOLEST graphics, and (2) state of the art techno/dance music (the band has had a big hand in defining the genre). These folks are the originals. Nowadays, techno groups form and disperse at the rate of about five hundred a minute. Meanwhile, KMFDM keep doing what they do best. The band's infectious dance rhythms are layered with distorted, vacant vocals and lots of trippy electronics. I've yet to hear a release by this band that I didn't like. If you don't like techno/dance music, then you'll absolutely hate this. Diehard KMFDM fans should be very pleased with this one. Our fave tracks are "Stray Bullet," "Torture," and "Waste." (Not Rated)

LAGWAGON - Double Plaidinum (CD, FatWreckChords, Rock)
Lagwagon is a diversified band, and their latest CD crosses over several different musical boundaries. Not content to just thrash around at full volume (which they do quite well), the band continually throws odd surprises in their tunes...and it's that characteristic that sets them apart from other bands. The sound reminds me in some ways of Bracket (my favorite FatWreckChords act), but Lagwagon are more nervous. Sometimes bubblegum, sometimes punk, sometimes balladesque, sometimes experimental...this band is a refreshing change from most bands who are afraid to take a chance and try something different. This one will have you humming along while slamming your head into the wall. CoooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOL!!! (Rating: 5)

LETTERS TO CLEO - Go! (CD, Revolution, Pop)
Canned. Generic. Cutesy. Derivative. Pretentious. Trying hard to be clever, but not succeeding. Affected poo poo female vocals. This band sounds like a billion others. Produced by Peter Collins, who has also produced Jewel and the Indigo Girls (Eeeeeeeeeeeyuwwwwwww...). I have heard worse. But there's just so much more girl pop out there that's WAY (way, way, WAY) better than this. Letters To Cleo will probably sell a million. (Rating: 2)

LITTLE JOHN - We'll Always Have Ohio (CD, Beloved Entertainment, Pop)
Really, really good pop music that is reminiscent of Neil Innes (of Bonzo Dog Band and Rutles fame). Lead singer Seth Freeman's vocals are almost a dead ringer for Mr. Innes at times. I can also hear traces of Red Kross in some songs. As you might guess from the title of this CD, these fellows have a sense of humor about what they're doing. It's not silly pop, though...it's actually more introspective than that. And no skimping on the tunes...the disc contains no less than sixteen pure pop thumpers. The production fits the music perfectly. There is studio polish, but it's kept to a minimum to let the true beauty of the music shine through. (Sheesh...is this a furniture polish commercial, or WHAT?). With the amount of pop bands flooding our mailbox, it sometimes seems as if they're all one and the same. Little John is an exceptionally good outfit, providing pure, passionate pop. (Rating: 5)

LOADED DICE - Spank (CD, Orgasma77, Rock)
Really, REALLY fun ballsy rock and roll played with hairy conviction. This little independent cassette contains more energy and power than most "professional" releases I get in the mail. Incredibly, the whole thing was recorded live to two-track...which makes this release all the more impressive. These guys' music features thick intense guitars, hoarse vocals, a heavy rhythm section, and some absolutely hilarious lyrics. The song titles say it all: "Kill Me," "Porno Queen," "Two Ludes," "Psycho," "Shake It"... With so many bands playing generic rock with no real passion or enthusiasm, Loaded Dice wins hands down as this month's pick for the hardest rocking band in Atlanta. They are OUT OF CONTROL. Write to 'em at P.O. Box 6034, Atlanta, GA 31107 or check out their web site at http://www.mindspring.com/~loaded.dice/ld.htm (Rating: 5)

THE MARINERNINE - A Little Something From the Weathervane's Perspective (CD, Miner St., Experimental/noise/instrumental)
Here's a weird one. This is a very strange collection of tunes. It almost sounds as if someone pieced together fragments of songs and sound and then recorded other stuff over them. Instead of just using electronics, the band incorporates live drums, acoustic guitars, and even banjo (?) into the tunes. Not likely to be garnering much radio airplay (the songs are too obtuse), this CD seems destined for relative obscurity. Quite interesting and different. (Not Rated)

PAUL McCARTNEY - My Hairless Balls (CD, Practical, Schmaltzy pop)
We've all known that Paul McCartney has no hair on his balls, so I'm not quite sure why he's decided to "come out of the closet" and spill the beans after so many years. It's probably just another ploy to make even MORE money and to boost his rapidly decaying manhood. (I have to admit the graphic photo on the cover is a bit startling.) The boyish looks have faded into the dust...and the pensive, thoughtful tunes have transformed into mushy grunts. Mr. McCartney's testicles are probably the last thing most of us care to ponder... Accordingly, his latest CD is another can of business gone bad. Would someone do us all a favor and shoot this man in the head? He needs to die. Die, Paul, Die. Die. Die. Die. Kill him, somebody...please... (Rating: 1)

THE MERRILLS - The Merrills (CD, Q Records, Rock/pop)
This is a very strong full-length debut from a band that's charting some interesting territory. This independently produced project presents a very mature sound and some imaginative arrangements. I get the impression that these folks aren't shooting for any particular audience, as the songs seem to be odd stream of consciousness ideas that don't have a great deal of commercial potential. Going off without worry about "making it" should always be the way to go. Other bands could learn a lot from The Merrills. Contact: The Merrills, P.O. Box 5952, Atlanta, GA 30307. (Not Rated)

MILLION SIX - Million Six (CD EP, Satellite, Rock)
Interesting mix of pop and thrash music, and a vocalist who reminds me in some ways of Alice Cooper. Million Six play swirling, fast rock music that whizzes by at a blinding speed, but they never forsake their pop sensibilities in the process. Hell, even the COVER tune sounds good ("Play With Fire")...and I usually HATE covers (except when I'm sleeping under them). I wish this had been a full-length, 'cause this makes me want to hear MORE. (Not Rated)

MONACO - Music For Pleasure (CD, Polydor, Pop)
Nice, smooth, optimistic pop. Monaco is the latest project of infamous bassist Peter Hook. Monaco sounds much more like New Order than Joy Division, which is just fine by me (the latter has always been WAAAAAAAAY overrated). While there's a part of me that WANTS to hate this CD (there's a certain calculatedness about it), my conscience tells me to just relax and enjoy. And that's rather easy to do, seeing as how this is fluffy pop with no motive other than to put the listener in a good mood. There can't be anything wrong with that now, can there? (Well...sometimes...) There's some other generic guitarist who's listed as being a member of the band, but he's overshadowed by the legend of Mr. Hook to the point of being nonexistent. This may not be my top pop of choice, but hey...I can't say that this isn't a damn interesting listen... (Not Rated)

MR. T EXPERIENCE (Live performance, September 25, 1997)
Though I have never heard more than the occasional tune on college radio, I have long admired this band for their name. What a GREAT name. The band serves as a constant reminder of one of the most ridiculous icons ever to hit American television. ANYWAY...when these guys hit the stage, a smile crossed my face. These fellows are naturals at hammering out playful power pop/punk. Beginning almost every song with the intro "This is a song about a girl," the band churned out hit after hit for a small but extremely fanatical fan base. (Interestingly, the majority of the crowd was male.) The audience seemed to be mainly familiar with the older material, but my pick for best tune was the new single ("...And I Will Be With You"). Mr. T Experience mix elements from bands like the Kinks and the Ramones to create a sound that is uniquely their own...and they pull it off well in concert. Near the end of the set they lost everyone with a cover tune ("Don't Go Breaking My Heart"), but quickly regained their stronghold for the finale. Can't wait to hear the new CD... As an added note, opening act the Groovie Ghoulies put on a mighty fine show and were a good match for Mr. T.... (Not Rated)
Revenge is Sweet, So Are You (CD, Lookout, Power pop/punk)
Usually I hear a CD and then go to the concert. In this case, the opposite was true (this disc came in the day after I saw the show). The concert was fun, but this CD is even BETTER. The Kinks and Ramones influences still hold true, but I can now also hear traces of Buzzcocks and the Jam in these tunes. Lead singer/guitarist Dr. Frank dishes out killer punk tunes like they were french fries. And the guy deserves MAJOR POINTS for not selling out (like Henry Rollins). With Frank's looks, he could be making big bucks acting or doing product endorsements. This stuff is so catchy that it's hard to put into words. Tunes like "She's Coming (Over Tonight)," "Another Yesterday," and "...And I Will Be With You" are simply wonderful and entertaining. Though they've been around for some time, this is the first full-length I've heard from the band. KILLER!!! (Rating: 6)

MUSIC FOR TV DINNERS - Music For TV Dinners (CD, Scamp, Various artists)
Once again, the Scamp label serves up a MIGHTY TASTY re-release. This batch of fifties and sixties tunes was compiled and annotated by Joseph Lanza. Some of these tunes are bound to sound familiar, as they were no doubt drilled into our subconscious at one time or another. Sixteen happy-go-lucky numbers by such artists as David Lindup, Jack Beaver, Laurie Johnson, and Gerhard Narhol. Actually, this could just as easily have been titled Music for Shopping...cuz after spinning this one a time or two I feel like going on a major SPREE. Simultaneously goofy and peculiar, this is a wild ride through some really strange musical territory. As is the usual case with Scamp releases, the liner notes are very informative and a big plus. This is...SUPERB. (Rating: 6)

NO USE FOR A NAME - Making Friends (CD, FatWreckChords)
This is the fifth release from this Sunnyvale, California hardcore band. They've already toured the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Canada...and they've created a really good buzz worldwide by word of mouth. The sound is basic buzzsaw guitar rock with a heavy emphasis on melodies and structure. Really good macho vocals round out the picture, making No Use For A Name a possible contender for America's answer to The Jam. This band is LOUD, but also SMART. Some excellent tunes here, most notably the urgent "Invincible" with its surprising melodic twists... (Not Rated)

OASIS - Be Here Now (CD, Epic, Pop)
Sheesh...I thought this band had broken up after all the bickering and cancellations that took place during their last American tour. I've heard so many stories about what an asshole lead singer Liam Gallagher is that I truly want to hate this band but... To be honest, this sounds about as good as previous Oasis releases. And I liked those so...YES. I like this. I don't love it, but it's pleasant enough and the songs are good. There's better pop out there to be sure, but there's also a lot worse. The only thing that bothers me about these tunes is that they are way overproduced. Otherwise, the band still has whatever it is they had to begin with... (Rating: 3)

OF MONTREAL - Cherry Peel (CD, Bar/None, Pop)
Wait a minute, WAIT A MINUTE... Is this The Apples in Stereo? The songs sound like Robert Schneider's songs...and the VOICE even sounds like Mr. Schneider. No, no, no...though at times this sounds amazingly like the aforementioned band, this is Athens' Of Montreal...an obscure little folky pop band that records music at home with amazingly great results. The band's highly melodic tunes and exceptional harmony vocals just ooze with sincerity. It's obvious that this is a band that loves what they're doing. You can hear the passion in every one of the fourteen tracks presented here. The band consists of Kevin Barnes, Brian Poole, and Derek Almstead. A fine pop CD, extremely enjoyable and unique. (Rating: 5)

PIGDIN - Let There Be Work (CD, Hoopdog, Pop)
Hmmmmm... This disc stands out because it doesn't really sound like anything I've received in my mailbox lately. Kinda like a cross between Frank Zappa and 10CC, these guys are DEFINITELY fond of studio tricks. They're smart though...they know how to twiddle the knobs to add strength to their tunes and create somewhat of a psychedelic pop overload. This is an impressive studio project recorded by two guys named Pat O and Mike Tittel. These guys obviously spent a great deal of time recording this. It's complex, goofy, thick with exceptional vocal layering. The vocals remind me very much of the Breetles. An interesting blend of styles that varies between accessibility and extreme off-the-wall goofyness. (Rating: 4)

PROJECT POLLEN - Project Pollen (CD, Mutiny, Dub/electronic)
Neat, neat, neat. Music to shuffle by. Or music to dance to. Or music to think to. Or music for entertaining. Or music to shop by. Or music to hate your neighbors to. Or just music for the sake of music. Whatever purpose you choose to use this music for, it's sure to fit just right. Project Pollen is the duo of Steve Greenwell and Ron Paul. These two guys create some mighty fine dub/electronic music that's as easy to listen to as children dying. There are no screeching sounds, no screaming vocals, no ultra-weird studio gimmicks...just smooth, smooth, SMOOTH tunes that create a deep groove that you'll want to hear over and over again. Ten fab tunes, including a nice cover of "Scum". NEATO. (Rating: 4)

PURPLE IVY SHADOWS - No Less the Trees Than the Stars (CD, Slow River, Pop)
Really good pop with a slight psychedelic edge. Providence-based Purple Ivy Shadows remind me in some ways of Game Theory in their heydey, but they're a bit more abstract and peculiar. The band has a somewhat relaxed, loose approach that I find very appealing. In addition to this full-length, the band also just released a limited edition (1000 copies) EP entitled Under & OK which is also very, VERY cool. The band has released previous material on SpinArt, Watercolour, and My Pal God. Mighty entertaining indeed. (Rating: 4)

QUIXOTE - Quixote (CD, Makoto, Rock)
Oddball rock band that reminds me of the Feelies and the Smashing Pumpkins. The band plays swirling, somewhat psychedelic rock music in a progressive vein and they throw in lots of weird rhythms and time changes along the way. True, there are a great many bands that sound like Quixote nowadays...but that is neither good nor bad. Simply put, these folks play loud, well, furious, and they sound like they MEAN it. (Not Rated)

SEELY - Seconds (CD, Too Pure, Moody pop)
Seely is the best moody pop band I have ever heard to come out of Georgia. The band's atmospheric, obtuse pop just doesn't seem to fit in their geographic location. It's far removed from the obnoxious jangley shit pop, redneck rock, and mediocre drivel that one normally associates with southern music. The band's vocals are improving in leaps and bounds, and on this release they do a great deal of vocal layering that fits their sound perfectly. It's bands like this that have the potential to change the way people perceive Atlanta music. This is intelligent, peculiar, progressive, pensive, and ultimately very, VERY listenable. Our initial faves are "Intro," "Like White," "The Hourglass," and "It's Your Day, Karen" (hmmm...which Karen, I wonder?). I like it, I like it, I like it...I love it. (Rating: 5)

DON W. SEVEN - My Deteriorating Spinal Cord (CD, Uvula, Prescription)
"How am I supposed to write songs that make any sense..." sings Don W. Seven, "when I'm rapidly becoming addicted to prescription pain killers to deal with the debilitating pain caused by my deteriorating spinal cord?" As you might have already guessed, this disc is a WHINER. Whine, Don, whine. Bitch, Don, bitch. Review, Don, review. The guy just doesn't seem to know how good he really has it. Three tunes in Billboard's Top 100 haven't made him happy...and continual ego stroking by virtual strangers doesn't cheer him up at all. Mr. Seven may just possibly be construed as an unhappy people. Wrap this one up in your sanitary napkin and match your straps with Patty Duke. This one is certain to make your asshole smell pretty. (Rating: 2)

SLOBBERBONE - Barrel Chested (CD, Dr. Doolittle, Rock/pop/country)
I liked this band's debut CD, but Barrel Chested is even stronger. This Denton, Texas band plays very believable country-tinged rock/pop music with thoughtful lyrics and way above average melodies. Probably what makes this CD such an enjoyable listen is that there is so much variety between songs. If you like what the Bottle Rockets are doing but you find them way too inconsistent, Slobberbone will probably be more to your liking. This is basically bar rock...but it's very GOOD bar rock, played with enthusiasm and conviction. And some of the guitar stuff is KILLER. Top picks: "Engine Joe" and "I'll Be Damned." (Not Rated)

PATTI SMITH - Peace and Noise (CD, Arista, Rock)
I'm not sure which is more amazing...that Patti Smith is still recording great music...or that she's STILL on the same record label (!?!). Whatever the case, I've always been a big admirer of Ms. Smith and this disc does nothing to tarnish my opinion. Patti's husky vocals continue to mesmerize as they always have, and her words are powerful and heartfelt. The music is still just basic, driving rock music minus frills or gimmicks...but there's a passion behind it that is usually missing in most bands. It's odd that both Patti Smith and the Ramones both came out of the New York punk scene of the seventies. Both became cult artists on the verge of hitting it BIG...but then they never really achieved big star status. Patti is particularly deserving of a larger audience for simply perservering so long and never losing her artistic integrity. Slobber, slobber, drool, drool. Can you tell Ms. Smith turns me into a fool? This may just be her best release since Wave. Honest. YOW. (Rating: 6)

MALKA SPIGEL - Hide (CD, World Domination Recordings, Disco/Tehcno)
This is the first release from Malka Spigel in a four years. Malka is the wife of Colin Newman, who helps out on the production of this disc. Ms. Spigel's minimal techno/disco is interesting, though droning and computerized. I like the basic sound of this, but those programmed drum beats get tiresome mighty fast. I couldn't get through the whole thing before I needed a break. (Rating: 2)

VARNALINE - A Shot and a Beer (CD EP, Zero Hour, Acoustic pop)
So far Varnaline have released nothing but winners. Here's yet another to add to the rapidly growing pile of great releases by this (still) relatively obscure band. This EP consists of six solo recordings by founding member Anders Parker that he recorded to tide him over until the full band's next recording project. Mr. Parker has a keen knack for writing sincere, heartfelt tunes that are affecting and personal. I get the feeling that his tunes will be around long after he is. There's something very sad about these tunes (particularly "Only One") that really draws me in. Anders' vocals have never sounded better. I can't get enough of this stuff. (Rating: 5)

THE VO5 - The VO5 (CD, Independent, Pop)
The first full-length release from Atlanta's The VO5. Full of crunchy guitars, funny lyrics, and above all...a spirit of fun. Standout tunes include "Southbound on the Highway of Love," "Incubus/Succubus," "Smell of a Boy," and "Morbid Curiosity" (still my favorite song the band does). Knowing lead singer Kendall Keeling prevents me from giving this CD a rating (babysue policy is not to rate discs by pals...damn!). So instead of saying whether this is good or bad, I'll just put it this way. With the attention this band is getting, I'm surprised they haven't been contacted by someone to change their name...! Contact ' em at 2639 Woodacres Rd., Atlanta, GA 30345 or e-mail 'em at skavilla@ix.netcom.com. (Not Rated)

WHISKEYTOWN - Strangers Almanac (CD, Outpost, Pop)
Realllllllllllly nice country-tinged pop music with just a slight shade of psychedelia. For some reason, this CD reminds me very much of Dumptruck's For the Country album (which I always felt was an overlooked gem). These five North Carolinians play it nice and smooth, generating some catchy numbers that are almost like easy listening...until you realize that there are some oddball curves thrown into the music...particularly some of the wild guitar work (check out "Not Home Anymore"). Instead of trying to impress the listener with volume and gimmicks, these fellows seem content to keep things calm, mellow, and melodic. Good songs, good playing...this disc is a pleasure to listen to. Our faves are "Inn Town," "Yesterday's News," "Turn Around," and "Not Home Anymore." (Rating: 4)

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS - White Women (CD, Shoestring, Jazz/improvisational/varied)
Interesting. Very interesting. William Carlos Williams was formed from fragments of other bands including the Gold Sparkle Band. The band recorded this, their debut CD, in their own 8-track analog studio...and they managed to come up with a damn fine sounding disc. The music? For the most part it's hard, weird jazz. Not easy listening, but difficult listening jazz. The members of the band seem to enjoy all playing really hard and noisy all at once creating an odd wall of noise (though they do soften up occasionally). Apparently the band is already packing the Knitting Factory in New York, so they're obviously doing something right. An obtuse listen for sure... (Not Rated)

YOUR CD - Have You Reviewed It Yet? (CD, Seven, Pitypop)
Everyone is always asking me if I've reviewed their CD yet, so I thought that a blanket review might make everyone shut up and leave me alone. Hey everyone! Hey all you SONGWRITERS and PUBLICITY FOLKS out there! You can stop calling for status checks because I've got some GOOD NEWS for you! I'M REVIEWING IT!!! Yes, that's right! I'm reviewing Your CD. And I love it! It's the best recording of the year, and the songwriting borders on genius. Your music is so genuine...so sincere...and so incredibly ORIGINAL. How do you do it? I really can't put into words just how great Your CD is. It is quite simply the best music that has ever been recorded. Are you feeling valid now? Have I provided something flattering that you can include in your press kit? Wow...I'm so glad. I bet you're feeling rather self confident now, aren't you? Are you ready now? Well you'd better get ready cuz here's your rating...YOU BIG STAR YOU! (Rating: 1)

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