About E-mails * babysue® Store * Donate * General Info * Links * LMNOP® * Poetry * Quotes * T-Shirts * Review Policies
August 2006 Reviews by

Baby Calendar
John Baker

Craig Bartock
Big Phat Band

Brand New Heavies
C. J. Boyd
Boy Kill Boy

Cairo Gang
The Capitol Years
[The] Caseworker
Casper & The Cookies*
The Channel

Comment Piece
Crawling Appreciation

Creatures of the Golden Dawn
Mike Dumovich

Fiel Garvie*

The Frauds*

Tobias Froberg
Golden Bear*
Nina Gordon

Great Lakes
Grizzly Bear
P. Hux

Instrumental Quarter
Kill Hannah
Lesbian Cities


Military Duty
No Spice
Lisa Papineau

Physical Change
Puppets Who Kill
Kristoffer Ragnstam
Rainy Day Saints
Rum Diary*
Marilyn Scott
Scourge of the Sea
Liam Singer
Mindy Smith
Soul Control

Alan Sparhawk

Sufjan Stevens*

Two Ton Boa

The Waylons*
Worthless Leaders
Yellow Swans

Michael Zapruder's Rain of Frogs*

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


August 2006 Comment Piece:
Whatever will we DO?

There's a crisis in the Middle East. Oh no! Oh no! Whatever will we DO? The President's approval rating keeps going down. Oh no! Oh no! Whatever will we DO? Interest rates keep rising. Oh no! Oh no! Whatever will we DO? Energy rates are going through the roof. Oh no! Oh no! Whatever will we DO? Our civilization is crumbling and falling apart. Oh no! Oh no! Whatever will we DO? The earth is getting warmer and warmer every year and eventually we will all be nothing more than bug-infested refried beans. Oh no! Oh no! Whatever will we DO? Bird Flu is going to spread everywhere and kill half the population. Oh no! Oh no! Whatever will we DO? Everything is going to hell and everyone is going to hell. Oh no! Oh no! Whatever will we DO?

Here in babysueland...we just don't care...la la la la la la... And even though our position may make you angry because you think that you do care...in actuality, you probably don't either, really. Because if you did...you'd be doing something about it.

We proudly admit that we aren't doing ANYTHING to solve ANY of the world's problems. Frankly, we just don't CARE. We're SO GODDAMN TIRED of all the bad news...all the WHINING and MOANING...the SOCIAL GOSSIP...people YAPPING and FRETTING about CRAP.

Here in our tiny, happy, slick, comfortable little office suite...none of it matters AT ALL.

La-dee-dee-dee-dah...it's a GAS watching the WORLD FALL APART...


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

Atone - Un An (French import CD, Autres Directions in Music, Electronic)
Antone Monzonis-Calvet is a musician operating in the undercurrents of French culture...and Atone is one of his latest solo projects. Un An (translates to "A Year") is a collection of soft, progressive, instrumental pieces that are slightly reminiscent of Brian Eno. Interestingly, Antone uses the melodica as the main instrument in many of these pieces. Subtlety is the key here, as the tracks on this album are sparse and very subdued...at times so soft that they are mere ambience. Beautifully constructed with acute attention to detail, Un An is an intriguing journey into the French underground... (Rating: 4++++)

Baby Calendar - Gingerbread Dog (CD, Happy Happy Birthday To Me, Pop)
The first thing that impressed us about this CD were the words. The album title (Gingerbread Man) and the song titles ("Zipped Up," "Lemon Snaps," "Symbiosis," "Skibbledeebee")...yup, we realized right off the bat that these folks have a way with words. Baby Calendar is the duo of Tom Gorrio and Jackie Biver who have now been joined by drummer Arik Dayan. This trio plays playful inventive pop music with unusual song structures and wonderfully subdued vocals. If you aren't paying attention, you might mistake Baby Calendar as being just another underground pop band. But closer observation reveals that this band's music has real substance...and gets increasingly better the more you hear it. We can't help but be in love with the tunes on Gingerbread Dog. This is a great little album that will no doubt be embraced by a small yet extremely devoted base of listeners... (Rating: 5+)

John T. Baker - Man in the Street (CD-R, Pop)
The first thing we thought when we heard the track "Loosen the Head" was that John T. Baker's music sounds very much like The Young Fresh Fellows. Being big fans of the Fellows from way back when, we were immediately impressed with the sounds we were hearing. As we scanned our way through the press release, we also realized that Mr. Baker has a really keen sense of humor. John recorded this album at his home in Knoxville, Tennessee over the course of 14 months. Some of the tracks are one-man-band recordings, while on other tunes he solicits assistance and input from friends. John T. Baker's guitar pop is reminiscent of Scott McCaughey's work to be sure...but it's also more than that. His songs have intelligent messages laced through them...and the melodies are outstanding. If pressed, we'd say this is a pop record (inside joke there...heh heh heh...). Sixteen nifty cuts here, including "The Song That Wasn't There," "World, You're So Fat," "Place," and "Nothing Left." A world where positive and negative collide. (Rating: 4+++++)

Craig Bartock - The Finer Points of Instinct (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
When we received an e-mail from Craig Bartock, we weren't impressed by the fact that he is currently playing guitar in Heart. But upon receiving and spinning The Finer Points of Instinct we were taken by surprise. Instead of overblown commercial garbage (which is what we were expecting), this album is an excellent collection of modern progressive pop. So...perhaps we should learn a lesson here by not pigeonholing folks before they are given a chance to prove themselves. But back to the music at hand...Craig Bartock writes and records amazingly melodic pop with plenty of creative punch. He played and sang everything on this CD with the exception of one track ("September" which was co-written with Nancy Wilson of Heart, who also plays mandolin). Craig's tunes have a good deal in common with some of the more inventive material by The Beach Boys and The Beatles...except the music has a much more modern flair. His arrangements are tasteful and intelligent...and his vocals are absolutely out of this world. Sixteen impressive tracks here, including "Doll House," "Lucky," "Things I Know," "Welcome To Anytown," and "I'll Remember You." (Rating: 5+)

Big Phat Band - The Phat Pack (DVD & CD, Immergent, Big band/swing)
For a brief period in the 1990s, swing music made a comeback among in the world of underground rock and pop. It was an intriguing mystery that was, alas, a very short-lived phenomenon. Now, thanks to Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band...swing is back in a big way. Though the public at large may not know him by name, many folks have heard this man's music...through his work on soundtracks to films like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and The Incredibles. Yup, Goodwin and his boys have been keeping busy. They've even been nominated for five Grammy Awards thus far in their career. This CD / DVD package features a wealth of entertainment value for the bucks. The CD features thirteen classy killer tracks, while the DVD contains the entire album in 5.1 surround sound plus various videos and extras. A very impressive little package...from a very impressive big band with an even bigger sound. Classic stuff for the twenty-first century. (Rating: 5+)

Blowoff - Blowoff (CD, Full Frequency Music, Pop)
Bob Mould delves into the world of straightforward fuzz dance pop with collaborator/producer Richard Morel. As the driving force behind Husker Du, Bob was one of a small group of fellows in the 1980s (along with Pete Shelley) who proved that homosexuals could do more than create shitty disco and synth pop. Morel has kept himself busy by channeling his energies into dance music, remixing music by his favorite artists (Depeche Mode, New Order, The Pretenders, etc.). What surprises us about Blowoff is how many of the tunes sound very much like twenty-first century David Bowie. From the sounds we're hearing on this album, we'd bet that Mould and Morel's main goal here is to simply have a good time creating music. These songs are surprisingly catchy and effective. We prefer the tracks that feature Bob's vocals. Richard can come off sounding a bit pretentious at times ("Life With a View"). (Rating: 4+++)

Boyracer - Punker Than You Since '92 (Double CD, 555 Recordings, Pop), A Punch Up the Bracket (Double CD, 555 Recordings, Pop),
It can be a challenge trying to keep up with the folks in Boyracer. The band seems driven to constantly write, record, and play...much to the delight of their diehard fans. Punker Than You Since '92 is a mind-blowing retrospective of the band's career...featuring a whopping 75 tracks (!). This double disc collection presents some of the band's better known tracks as well as tracks that have not been available for quite some time. To appreciate this band's music you do, of course, have to be a big fan of underground fuzzpop. If you fall into this category, you will most likely find a lot to love on Punker. It's a large slice to snack on, but those up to the challenge...will find some truly juicy nuggets here. A Punch Up the Bracket is the band's latest full-length release. The album contains songs that are seemingly more fleshed out than we are accustomed to hearing from this band. But not to worry, fannykins...Stewart Anderson, Jen Turrell and friends have by no means sold out. Instead, they are simply allowing their sound to evolve somewhat. These folks seem to purposely focus on being underground icons rather than altering their music to fit the admittedly poor taste of the public. Around the plush suites here at babysue...we are pretty much always entertained by Boyracer... (Rating: 5)

Brand New Heavies - Get Used To It (CD, Delicious Vinyl, Soul/funk/pop)
More slick modern soul/funk/pop from Brand New Heavies. The 1970s influences on Get Used To It are not accidental, as our instincts tell us that these folks are gleefully reliving some of the upbeat spirit of disco and funk from the grand era of non-stop dancing and hipster drug overdoses. In most instances in today's market, commercial music is a resounding FAILURE. This band is one of those rare cases where the folks making the music are creating credible, entertaining stuff that just happens to have the potential to appeal to the mindless masses. N'Dea Davenport's vocals are superior and effective...and the musicianship on this album is top notch. Yup, as much as we are embarrassed to admit it...we really dig Brand New Heavies. This album is a pure upbeat FUN EXPERIENCE. Cool tracks include "We've Got," "I Don't Know Why (I Love You)," "We Won't Stop," and "I've Been Touched." (Rating: 4+++++)

C. J. Boyd - The Greatest Weight (CD, Sounds Are Active, Instrumental)
Simplicity can be a really incredible thing...particularly when it is utilized to make something credible and constructive. The Greatest Weight is a different sort of album, created from a different sort of perspective. The Greatest Weight is a long album, clocking in at close to 70 minutes. The five lengthy compositions feature a bare minimum in terms of instruments, yet the music is somehow strangely calming and perplexing. Perhaps the most bizarre fact about this album is that the tunes were created using nothing but bass guitar and harmonica. Folks expecting something similar to Bob Dylan outtakes (bleah!) will be quite surprised however...because these instrumentals are both thought provoking and very current. It is ultimately C.J. Boyd's ideas that make his music distinctive. Intriguing and compelling material. (Rating: 5++)

Boy Kill Boy - Civilian (Advance CD, Island, Pop/rock)
Fast aggressive hard modern pop. Civilian is an instantly satisfying album that features twelve focused compositions. The band's sound is a strange combination of influences. We can hear traces of bands like Duran Duran, The Chainsaw Kittens, and even The Frogs at times (?!?) in these tunes. What is perhaps most interesting about this band is the fact that their music has so much commercial appeal. Considering the fact that their songs are creative, energetic, and unique...this is highly unusual. Our guess is that Boy Kill Boy will be much more successful in Europe than in the United States. Civilian includes a wealth of entertaining nuggets like "Back Again," "Ivy Parker," "Killer," and "Shoot Me Down." Infectious and addictive hard pop. (Rating: 5+)

Brassum - Live (CD, pfMENTUM, Modern jazz)
Brassum is Dan Clucas (cornet), Michael Vlatkovich (trombone), Mark Weaver (tuba), and Harris Eisenstadt (drums)...four modern jazz musicians with a flair for the unusual. The tracks on Live were recorded during three of the band's performances in 2004 and 2005. The tracks on this album are spontaneous and unpredictable. What sets this group apart from others is the intriguing use of the tuba as a main instrument. But rather than sounding goofy or comical (which is what can happen when most jazz, pop, and rock bands push the tuba up front in the mix), the instrument seems to fit into this band's equation with comfort and ease. Seven lengthy cuts are presented here...with our favorites being "Selvage," "The Meaning of the Word/Shades of Grey," and "A Grain of Mustard Seed." Recommended for fans of modern obtuse jazz. (Rating: 4+++++)

Cairo Gang - Cairo Gang (CD, Narnack, Progressive pop)
Avoiding stereotypes and immediately familiar references, Cairo Gang is a different sort of musical act. The band is driven by the superior songwriting talents of a young man named Emmett Kelly. Kelly has a real gift for writing unusually effective melodies. Instead of going the usual route of playing hard power pop and metal, Kelly approaches music from a personal point of view. At this early stage of his career, this man never goes for the obvious. His songs are like paintings...intricate and interesting...while never deriving from any one particular source at any point in time. Some of the more fragile, poignant tunes on this album ("Bones In The Ground," "Turbulent Water") are astoundingly strong and effective. By not trying too hard, Kelly manages to get substantial ideas across using only the bare essentials. Cairo Gang is obviously a very important new artist to follow. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

The Capitol Years - Dance Away the Terror (CD, Park the Van, Progressive pop)
This band has come a mighty long way since releasing their debut one-man band album (Meet Yr Acres) in 2001. Quickly after the first album was released, bandleader Shai Halperin made the decision to flesh the band out with more players and set out touring and recording with the full band. The band's perseverance has paid off. Years of hard work have resulted in more mature and inventive songs. Dance Away the Terror is another exercise in modern progressive pop in which Halperin tosses off one after another catchy Beatles-ish composition. The album features eleven tracks that will no doubt please the band's fans as well as bring in a wealth of new converts. The arrangements are rather understated, allowing the listener to concentrate on the lyrics, melodies, and exceptional harmonies. Beautifully gliding tracks include "Dance Away the Terror" and "It's Only Loveless"... (Rating: 5+)

[The] Caseworker - When I Was A Young Kid (CD, Pehr Label, Soft progressive pop)
[The] Caseworker is somewhat of an underground all-star band...created by Conor Jonathan and Eimer Devlin (who were both formerly in the band Half Film) and also including Will Waghorn (who was previously in For Stars) and Monte Vallier (who was previously in Swell). When I Was A Young Kid features soft, progressive, slightly drony pop. The melodies are subtle yet memorable...and the arrangement are particularly intriguing. The folks in this band are providing smart, soothing music for underground pop fans. In some ways, this band's music sounds like a soft modern take on The Velvet Underground...except the vocals are much more focused and mature. On the first spin, we found this music was pleasant but we weren't quite blown away. By the fifth or sixth spin...the credible nature of the tracks set in...and we determined that this is yet another winner on the always entertaining Pehr Label... (Rating: 5)

Casper & The Cookies - The Optimist's Club (CD, Happy Happy Birthday To Me, Pop)
Folks who just happen to be paying attention may have noticed that at least every third or fourth underground pop CD being released in the Southeast is either produced or mixed by Jason Nesmith. The man is a wizard with technology and machines to be certain...but this young fellow's real talent is making the music himself. On this album, Casper & The Cookies is Jason, Kay Stanton, and Davy Gibbs...with various friends lending a helping hand. The tunes are basic smart modern pop...with a particular emphasis on technology and production. As the band progresses in their career...it becomes harder to target direct influences. But one listen to tracks like "Kiss A Friend," "Sid From Central Park," "Hey Mr. Superstar," and "Things To Do Before We Die"...and pop fanatics will immediately be going bonkers. Although Nesmith would probably still be labeled an obscure songwriter at this point in time...there's no denying that this man is one of the best tunesmiths in the world. The melodies to some of Jason's tunes are certain to give listeners intense chills. The pure feelgood energy inherent in this music is addictive and invigorating. Hopefully one day this band will receive the recognition they deserve. Until then...those in the know will be the real winners. (Rating: 5+++)

The Channel - Tales From the Two Hill Heart/Sibylline Machine (Double CD, C-Side, Progressive pop)
This band was one of our top picks in November 2004. The folks in The Channel return with a hefty effort...a whopping double CD package featuring 23 songs. The first CD presents tunes written by Colby Pennington while the second presents tunes written by Jamie Reaves. Considering the fact that each disc features a different songwriter, it seems surprising that these discs work together so well. Pennington and Reaves are obviously coming from the same direction in terms of style and presence. This is a lot of music to take in at one sitting, and quite a risk considering that the band is taking such a major step so early in their career. Fortunately the songs hold up from start to finish...making this yet another impressive release from this unique little band. (Rating: 5)

Chrash - Audio Fen Shui (CD, Future Appletree, Pop)
Creating your own sound using traditional instruments is no easy feat. But the guys in Chrash have achieved this goal...and they make it all sound so easy. Although the band's sound and style are very different, the idea behind the music seems quite similar to the idea behind the first Talking Heads album. The fellows in this band use guitar, bass, and drums in unusual ways...while creating music that is surprisingly easy on the ears. Songs are at the heart of this band...and songs are what make Audio Fen Shui such an entertaining spin. Subtle melodies and gripping arrangements make tracks like "All Roads," "No Trace," "Zero to Brutal," and "16 to 25" intriguing and just slightly unusual. Sincere and innovative. (Rating: 5)


The complexities
Of the world are
Grating and

(Rating: 1)


Thank you for crawling.
Thank you for crawling.
Thank you for crawling.

(Rating: 1)

Creatures of the Golden Dawn - An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge (CD, Get Hip, Garage rock/pop)
Nice lo-fi garage rock with an emphasis on attitude. Singer Mark Smith and his bandmates Ron Herczeg, Chris Marx, J.T., Damon Levine, Dan McKinney, and Steve Schlack have recorded a bunch of instantly entertaining tunes with a nice loose feel. The songs on An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge harken back to the 1960s in overall mood and tone. From the sound of these recordings, it sounds as if the band recorded these tracks on the fly. There are no unnecessary overdubs and no unnecessarily slick effects. What is perhaps most appealing about this band is Smith's extraordinarily spontaneous and almost purposely sloppy vocals which seem to fit the music perfectly. Sixteen tracks here. Our favorites are "Arbat Row," "Sadder Than the Rest," "Vacuum Cleaner," and "Hurricane Fighter Plane." Some of these tunes sound as if they could've been penned by Bruce Joyner (!). (Rating: 4++++)

Mike Dumovich - Mesojunarian (CD, Tarnished, Soft pop)
Mike Dumovich is a man whose music doesn't easily fit into categories...so we're going the safe route by calling it soft pop (although there's really a lot more going on here that the tag implies). Dumovich's tunes possess elements of Appalachian folk, bluegrass, pop, and more...but he so skillfully crafts all the pieces together that the overall sound is deceptively smooth. Many of these tracks are appropriately sparse...but others feature rather complex, elaborate arrangements. Mike has a smooth, sincere voice that really draws listeners into his musical world. Unlike the vast majority of underground "artists"...this man has a genuine knack for penning solid, substantial tunes and he delivers them with true conviction. Cool pensive tracks include "Wasps of Rain," "Sand and Swallow," "Five Dollars," and "Crow Politics." The more we hear Mesojunarian...the more impressed we are. (Rating: 5)

Evangelicals - So Gone (CD, MISRA, Psychedelic pop)
Crazy unpredictable music from Norman, Oklahoma's Evangelicals. These three young men are obviously having a fantastic time creating music. This is evident from all ten tracks on So Gone. This album is like an exercise is breaking rules. While basically playing pop music, these fellows throw all kinds of curve balls at the listener...almost challenging folks to follow what they're doing. These tracks sound something like a cross between early Jesus and Mary Chain, Sufjan Stevens, and Brian Eno's Here Comes The Warm Jets album. If that sounds odd it's because...the guys in Evangelicals are odd. These fellows are taking lots of chances very early in their career...and that is a very good thing... (Rating: 4+++)

Fiel Garvie - Caught Laughing (CD, Words On Music, Soft pop)
This band's last album (Leave Me Out of This) was one of our TOP PICKS way back in October 2003. At long last, this British quintet releases their third full-length release. Caught Laughing was worth the wait...picking up where the last album left off and adding some additional emotional oomph. The folks in this band play soft progressive pop with slight classical influences. Vocalist Anne Reekie provides spectacularly effective presence to these immaculately arranged tunes. On this album, the band's music sounds something like a odd cross between Komeda, Ivy, and The Cocteau Twins. This is one of those cases where the contributions of each band member seem to be integral to the overall sound. Adam Green (guitar, keyboards), Jude Budgen (bass), Greg MacDermott (drums, backing vocals), and Emma Corlett (keyboards, backing vocals) play and sing together like they've known each other all their lives. Slightly obtuse and yet strangely familiar...Caught Laughing easily ranks as another TOP PICK in the babysue campground. Lovely material...and the packaging is superb. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)


Look at all
The mindless followers.
Following, following
The road to

(Rating: 1)

The Frauds - The Frauds (CD, High Wire Music / Fontana / Orange, Rock)
As soon as we heard Divine's unmistakable voice proclaim "You stand convicted of ASSHOLISM!" at the beginning of this album, we knew the guys in this Baltimore quartet had their hearts in the right place. Rather than being the least bit fraudulent, the guys in this band play straightforward melodic rock with plenty of honest punchy hooks and infectious enthusiasm. Unlike many rock bands who play with such force that the songs get lost, these gentlemen have the good sense to keep things under control so that they can get their point across. And get their point across they do during the course of this intensely satisfying sixteen track album. To put it simply...we don't often come across debuts this good. Purely entertaining tracks include "The Church of Seduction & The Republic of Business," "American To Pass Away," "Two Pasadena," "Stare," and "I Don't Wanna Know." Great music from a great new band. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Freeheat - Back on the Water (CD, Planting Seeds, Pop/rock)
Funny how everyone (including the staff at babysue) can be very familiar with a specific band name...and yet never know the name of the person responsible for the music. If we told you that Freeheat is the current project led by Jim Reid, you might not be very impressed. But if we were to tell you this is the latest band led by the man responsible for the songs in the 1980s Scottish band Jesus and Mary Chain...well then, your reaction might be very different then...wouldn't it? Unlike a lot of artists who change and alter their style over the years, Reid has done just the opposite. Instead of changing his direction and sound to suit a larger audience, he still writes and records the same kind of fuzzy pop that made him a favorite with so many music fans a couple of decades ago. Interestingly, the man has neither burned out nor lost his fire. Back on the Water is a fresh, bouncy collection of melodic pop tunes buried in wonderfully fuzzy guitars. About half of this album consists of tracks recorded live in Amsterdam in 2003, the other half are studio recordings from 1997. Top picks: "Keep On Truckin'," "Back on the Water," "Shine On Little Star," "Don't Look Back." (Rating: 5)

Tobias Froberg - Somewhere in the City (CD, FireEgg / Cheap Lullaby, Soft pop)
On the first song on this album ("When the Night Turns Cold"), Sweden's Tobias Froberg sounds very much like a young Paul Simon...if he were dabbling in computerized modern pop. Somewhere in the City features ten more smooth pop tracks recorded by Froberg and his producer Linus Larsson. The songs on this album are personal, pensive, and well-thought-out...and they feature some very memorable melodies. Some of the tracks are folky pop while others are more straightforward. Tobias has a great voice and a real knack for writing melodies. Pop fans will no doubt delight to tracks like "God's Highway," "Somewhere in the City," "Someone," and "Forever is Just a Word in a Lovesong." An artist to watch. (Rating: 4+++)

Golden Bear - Golden Bear (CD, C-Side, Pop)
An excellent debut album. Austin, Texas-based band Golden Bear sounds something like a cross between Harper's Bizarre, The Flaming Lips, and Chris Stamey. The folks in this band write and record effervescent pop music that is hummable, dreamy, and extraordinarily uplifting. This is a short album clocking in at just over 35 minutes. In our minds quality is more important than quantity...and in terms of quality, you get a lot with this one. These tracks were lovingly recorded with attention to detail...but it's the soaring vocals that really push this music over the top. The sound quality is an interesting blend of lo-fi techniques mixed with thick fuzzy guitars and layered vocals. Golden Bear is easily one of the more intoxicatingly friendly pop bands to emerge in 2006. Groovy cuts include "A Reason to be Proud," "Ten Thousand Orchestras," "Lady Soul," and "Amazing Edward." Great stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Nina Gordon - Bleeding Heart Graffiti (CD, Warner Bros., Pop)
Glossy commercial pop with heart. Nina Gordon's music sounds something like a cross between Kate Bush and Sheryl Crow. Her music has artistic sensibilities...and yet she obviously has the desire to make music that can be appreciated by millions of people. Underground music fans may be turned off by the overtly catchy slick sound of many of the tunes on Bleeding Heart Graffiti...but those who pay closer attention will find that there is actually meat below the surface. Gordon has a voice that is superbly effective...and her songs have a surprising amount of substance which may not be immediately obvious to the casual listener. Though this album spins like a "best of" collection of hits...the songs actually have staying power and get better the more you hear them. Classy cuts include "Christmas Lights," "Kiss Me Til It Bleeds," "Watercolors," and "The Crickets Sound Like Sleigh Bells." (Rating: 4+++)

Great Lakes - Diamond Times (CD, Empyrean, Progressive pop)
Formed in Athens, Georgia but now based in Brooklyn, New York...Great Lakes is an intriguing band centered around the songwriting talents of Dan Donahue and Ben Crum. Like others, we have been mighty impressed by this band's previous releases. Diamond Times might best be described as a big band album...not because the music is in any way associated with swing music, but because nineteen individuals contributed performances. Over the course of the past few years, there seems to be an increasing tendency for underground bands to write and record music that is both accessible and commercial. Donahue and Crum write classic pop tunes with presence and personality. There are plenty of "could be" hits on this album...but because this band's music doesn't contain elements of crap hop, heavy metal, and synth pop...it isn't likely to be embraced by more than a few thousand music fans. That's the sad news. But the good news...is that those folks who open up to this band's music will be greatly rewarded. Nifty cuts on this album include "Precious and Reckless," "The Moon and the Lunatics," and "Eagle and Swan." The title track features some really cool backwards guitars... (Rating: 5+)

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House (British import advance CD, Warp, Pop)
Sweeping, slightly obtuse progressive pop. The only band we can think of as a comparison here is Kurt Heasley's Lilys...but the only real similarity between the two bands is the fact that the music is strangely unfamiliar. Yellow House is a bizarre album in more ways than one, but the songs generate an overall feeling of calm and solitude. The band's layered vocals and oddly arranged tunes will probably sound a bit too foreign for the casual listener. The guys in Grizzly Bear create music that won't immediately grab you on the first listen. The songs have peculiar traits and intricate subtleties that only become obvious after several spins. You won't find any cute hummable pop tunes here...but if you're into mood altering music, there's a good chance that you will really dig this stuff. We certainly do. Heady oddities include "Easier," "Central and Remote," "Marla," and "Colorado." Unusually effective. (Rating: 5+)

P. Hux - LA Recordings 1988-1993 (CD, Not Lame Recordings, Pop)
We've been hearing Parthenon Huxley's name buzzing around for years...so we are a bit embarrassed to admit that this is the first time we've actually been exposed to his music. LA Recordings 1988-1993 is a collection of songs that were recorded but never released until now. Some may remember Huxley as the mastermind behind the band Sunny Nights who were, for a short time, signed to CBS. Though Huxley and his band never became a household word, he was at least given the time and money to record a good number of songs between 1988 and 1993. Now, thanks to the fine folks at Not Lame Recordings, some of these tracks are finally seeing the light of day. Rather than sounding like a bunch of outtakes and half-assed abandoned recordings, these songs were professionally recorded and ready for release. Fortunately, rather than tweaking, updating, and changing the tracks...Parthenon left all the songs exactly as they were...thus exposing a part of musical history exactly as it existed at the time. Mr. Huxley's tunes seem instantly familiar. He combines elements of pop from various decades to create his own catchy guitar pop. Instantly infectious, these tunes sound as fresh as if they were just recorded this year. Neat keepers include "R.E.D.," "Dozers Away," "Junkies," "Change Tomorrow," and "That's What They Say." (Rating: 5+)

Instrumental Quarter - Traffic Jam (CD, Sickroom, Instrumental)
Beautiful and intricate instrumentals from Italy's Instrumental Quarter. Most modern instrumental bands play guitar rock, surf, or tracks that seem like throwbacks to 1970s progressive rock dinosaurs. These guys play soft, serene, mentally absorbing music that concentrates mainly on skill and craft. The interplay between guitar and violin in critical in many of these pieces...giving them a slight classical influence. Guitarist Paride Lanciani is a true innovator in his field, constantly pushing the limits of his playing to reveal new levels of competency. On violin, rhodes, and theramin is Davide Areondo...who seems to play off Lanciani's riffs with ease and perfection. Rounding out the band is the solid rhythm section consisting of Gabriele Grosso (bass) and Luca Bleu (drums). Traffic Jam is a flawless collection of thirteen tracks with staying power. Also included on this disc are four videos of the band performing live. (Rating: 4+++++)

Isles - Perfumed Lands (British import advance CD, Melodic, Pop)
Beautifully flowing soft guitar pop that is reminiscent of British music from the 1980s (particularly The Smiths). In a world where there are millions of guitar pop bands roaming the planet, these guys are providing quality music with real substance. Instead of throwaway pop, the four fellows in this band play thoughtful, intelligent, instantly hummable upbeat music that is easy on the ears and yet...has strange qualities that keeps the listener coming back for more. Using just the right amount of studio polish, these guys create lush music with heavenly guitars and precise vocals. So many bands are trying so hard that they fail. Perfumed Lands is a success due to the restrained arrangements, excellent songwriting, and obviously impressive talent of the people involved in making the music. Fifteen or twenty years ago, this band would've been an instant success. But nowadays...who knows? The public at large doesn't seem interested in credible, innovative bands anymore. Too band...because Isles is easily one of the best new bands of the year. (Rating: 5++)

Kill Hannah - Until There's Nothing Left of Us (Advance CD, Atlantic, Pop)
Our first reaction was that this album was more overblown corporate indulgence. Or at least that's what it appeared to be initially. But after letting a few songs spin by, we began to realize that underneath all the glossy technology was a band with some good songs. Though the folks in Chicago's Kill Hannah may have already sealed their underground artistic fate by going the corporate route (die-hard indie fanatics out there could never forgive anyone for such a sin), these folks are actually providing some entertaining music here. That's the good news. The bad news...is that the band's tunes are overproduced to the point that they sometimes border on generic pop. And that's a shame...because there are some really good pop tracks on Until There's Nothing Left of Us. If you can focus your way through all the overdubs and multi-tracked vocals...you may very well find yourself being pulled into this band's music. This is a case where less would definitely be a lot better for this band. Hopefully next time around things won't be quite so complex and heady. Interesting tracks include "Believer," "Love You to Death," "Crazy Angel," and "Scream." (Rating: 4+)


Lesbians in Red Bank,
Lesbians in Decatur.

(Rating: 1)

Lollygag - I Thought You Were Driving (CD, Bent, Progressive pop)
Lollygag is the solo project created by Brian Burkhard who was previously in the 1990s band Fondly. We were always rather fond of Fondly...despite the fact that the band never seemed to find an appropriate fan base. (They were apparently too obtuse for the commercial crowd and too commercial for the artsy crowd.) In any event, the band's music has always stayed with us. Fortunately, Burkhard continues to write and record credible and entertaining music that is not unlike his previous band. Lollygag tunes are centered in the progressive pop arena. Burkhard's guitar playing is still intriguing and precise...but on this album he also dabbles with grand piano, bass, keyboards, and accordion. The main difference we notice between this band and Fondly...is that Lollygag seems to incorporate more variety into the music. This twelve track album is pure entertainment for thinking listeners. Some of these cuts sound similar to Tom Verlaine. Cool tracks include "It's a Pleasure," "A Million Miles Away," "You're Halfway Through," and "United States of Canada." (Rating: 5)

Manyfingers - Our Worn Shadow (CD + DVD, Acuarela, Progressive)
Hypnotic and fascinating. Manyfingers is the solo project created by Britain's Chris Cole, who some folks may already know for his work in the bands Movietone and Soeza. Cole is unlike other one man bands in that his music is neither pop nor rock. He writes and records complex compositions that sometimes border on modern classical. His tunes involve a wealth of instruments and ideas. Cole presents his material live by dashing about from one instrument to another on stage...creating layers of sound entirely on his own. It is difficult indeed trying to determine who the tracks on Our Worn Shadow sound like. Chris is creating his own sound and style and, as such, has little competition in the music community. The DVD presents Cole in concert as well as a short film by Joost Van Veen. Hypnotic and deep, Our Worn Shadow is bound to have a profound impact on those fortunate enough to experience it. Fascinating. (Rating: 5+)


Your duty is to
Get out and
Stay out.

(Rating: 1)


If variety
Is the spice of life,
Let's get rid of the
Isle with spices.

(Rating: 1)

Lisa Papineau - Night Moves (CD, Lunatic Works / Toxic Music, Progressive pop)
A lovely and provocative album. Many will know recognize Lisa Papineau as the guest vocalist on recordings by Air and M83. Night Moves is an impressively moody and compelling collection of subdued electronic pop...sounding something like a cross between Ivy and The Lemon of Pink. Working with collaborators Thomas Huiban, Matthieu Senechal, and Bob Merrymountain, Lisa has recorded an album that is as soothing as it is perplexing and unusual. The songs are memorable and soothing...but the vocals are what really push these tracks over the edge. Lisa's soft and silky voice is inviting and ultimately intoxicating. The only cut that seems out of place in this collection is "Shucking Jiving"...mainly because of the distorted harsh vocals. Lisa Papineau is clearly on the right track here...with a sound and style that are all her own. (Rating: 5)



If you can't be passionate
About something
You could at least
Be passionate about

(Rating: 1)


You'll never notice
How much I've changed
Because you can't
See me.

(Rating: 1)

Puppets Who Kill - The Complete Second Season (Double DVD, Video Service Corp. / Music Video Distributors)
We were big fans of the first season of Canada's zany Puppets Who Kill comedy series...so much so that we wondering if the joke would get old for a second season. Fear not, dear readers. Not only does the show remain with dignity intact...but it has actually improved. For folks who may not be familiar with this show, Puppets Who Kill is a television series about a man (Dan Barlow) who runs a halfway house for four murderous puppets...Cuddles (the soft spoken "comfort doll"), Rocko (the tough talking chain smoking pooch), Buttons (the teddy bear who is obsessed with sex), and Bill (the strangely frightening ventriloquist dummy). The ex-Muppet puppeteers do fantastic work with their characters...but what really pushes this show over the top are the scripts. Not only are the stories unique and funny...but the dialogue is a RIOT. There are so many hilarious lines per show that it becomes impossible to remember them all. The character development in the second season is nothing short of amazing...the more you see and hear these little puppets, the more and more real they seem to be. Some highlights of this season include Cuddles' soul being taken over by the Devil, Bill taking family members of his victims to court in order to sue them for his pain and suffering (which causes Bill to uh...do "damage" to himself), and one of Dan's cousins who turns out to be a necrophiliac. If you haven't caught this show, it is THE BEST. There are few things that make us really, really laugh...and this is most certainly one of them. The second season is a direct HIT. Killer stuff. Highly recommended viewing. (Rating: 6+)

Kristoffer Ragnstam - Sweet Bills (CD, Bluhammock Music, Pop)
Pop music with a difference...and that difference is...imagination. Kristoffer Ragnstam's tunes sound something like a cross between Ben Folds, Joe Jackson, and Andy Pratt...but not really. In any event, his music falls into the same basic category of positive, upbeat pop. This CD arrived without a press release...so all we know is what we hear. Judging from the sound of the tunes on Sweet Bills we would immediately guess that we will all be hearing a lot more about Ragnstam in the very near future. Instead of concocting throwaway pop or underground artsy slop, Kristoffer writes classic catchy pop tunes that could just as easily appeal to underground fans as well as the masses (most musicians usually fall into one category or the other...but rarely both). What is perhaps most appealing about these songs is the fact that there is just a hint of soul...which adds a nice human feel to the proceedings. Cool tracks include "Breakfast by the Mattress," "Lonely Lane," "Too Close to the Curb," and "Kayla." Highly entertaining. (Rating: 5+)

Rainy Day Saints - Diamond Star Highway (CD, Get Hip, Pop)
Rainy Day Saints play the kind of feelgood guitar pop that became quite popular among underground music fans in the late 1990s. Songwriter Dave Swanson and his cohorts seem focused on writing and playing great melodic guitar pop without unnecessary frills. On Diamond Star Highway, they have succeeded. This eleven track album features nine originals and two covers ("Sonic Reducer" and "Terminal Island"). The band plays with vibrant energy...but they never try to overload their listeners with intense volume...instead allowing the tunes to speak for themselves. Co-produced with Don Depew, Highway has just the right amount of polish without blurring out the band's original sound. This feelgood album features a wealth of catchy tracks including "I Don't Follow," "Mirror Mystery," "Don't Look Away," and "Diamond Star Highway." Good stuff...zesty. (Rating: 5+)

Rum Diary - We're Afraid of Heights Tonight (CD, Devil In The Woods, Progressive pop)
Creativity with substance. Although they remain (temporarily) an underground obscurity, the four men who call themselves The Rum Diary have already stirred up the emotions of their fans. The band consists of Daniel McKenzie, Jon Fee, Schuyler Feekes, and Joseph Ryckebosch. Together, these gentlemen create hazy, atmospheric progressive pop that could only be compared to some of the more artistic releases from Starflyer 59. The compositions on We're Afraid of Heights Tonight combine elements of dreamy pop with spontaneous instrumental passages...and the band seems equally comfortable in both arenas. If you're looking for instant gratification, you probably won't find it here. The real beauty of this band's music lies in the fact that repeated spins reveal new depths and integral cerebral layers. Heady, intelligent, and unique, Rum Diary remains one of our favorite obscure delights. Killer tracks include "Grey," "My Lungs Have Never Felt Better," "Double Dragon," and "Assassins in Moccasins." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Marilyn Scott - Innocent of Nothing (CD, Prana Entertainment, Female vocalist)
We've always been big fans of female jazz vocalists from the 1930s through the 1950s (Peggy Lee in particular)...there's just something intoxicating about mixing top notch jazz musicians with a beautiful lady with a super smooth voice. We're pleased to announce that those sounds and times aren't necessarily history anymore...as Marilyn Scott and her circle of friends effectively recreate the grand sounds of times gone by. Don't expect a retrospective mix, however. Innocent of Nothing is a slick, modern sounding album. Recorded at George Duke's studio in 2005 (who also plays on the album), these cuts also feature the talents of Patrice Rushen, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Haslip, Russell Ferrante, Lenny Castro, Ronato Neto, John Beasley, Mike Miller, Steve Tavaglione, and Walt Fowler. This ten track album is soothing, romantic, and very provocative. Marilyn has an incredible voice that is perfectly suited for this style of music...her presence is truly amazing. This album is bound to be a favorite with both jazz and pop fans alike. Killer cuts include "Round and Round," "'Round Midnight," "Moods," "Share It," and "A Change." Excellent. (Rating: 5+)

Scourge of the Sea - Make Me Armored (CD, Alias, Pop)
We hear so much pop music that it sometimes turns into a big whirlwind of sameyness. We had to spin this disc a few times before the credibility of the tunes sank in (which is usually a sign that something is truly good). The guys in Scourge of the Sea play thoughtful, sincere, melodic pop that comes across sounding remarkably sincere and real. The band consists of Andrew English, Justin Craig, and Robby Cosenza...three fellows in Lexington, Kentucky who just happen to have a knack for writing killer melodies. In some ways, Make Me Armored reminds us of some of the better underground guitar pop from the 1980s...but in actuality, these guys just really seem to be charting their own course. Beautifully recorded tracks include "Out of the Trash," "Smitten Kitten," "My Sweet One," and "Chocolate Chips." This album features particularly interesting lyrics. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Sebadoh - Sebadoh III (CD, Domino Recording Co. Ltd., Pop)
Fans of Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, and Lou Barlow will have a field day with this release. The folks at Domino have remastered Sebadoh III...expanding the album to a double CD set containing a wealth of additional material. These two CDs feature an impressive 41 tracks total. III is considered by many to be the most essential Sebadoh album and that may very well be the case. The band was just beginning to expand their sound outside of their home studio...and the songs themselves were just beginning to really sparkle. What has always impressed us about this band is the fact that the songs come across sounding so finished and complete...while the guys used only the bare essentials in recording them. The staying power of the original album is even more apparent now than when it was released. Cool melodies...insightful, personal lyrics...understated vocals...nifty guitars...who could ask for anything more? Well, just in case you could ask for more...the second CD features the band's sarcastic Gimme Indie Rock! EP...plus a whole slew of bonus tracks. You get a whole lot of bang for the buck here...plus the packaging is beautiful (particularly the outer cardboard sleeve). If you never heard Sebadoh before, this is an excellent starting point. If you're already a fan...well then you probably already have this then, right? This is, as you might expect, highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Skye - Mind How You Go (CD, Cordless, Pop)
As the voice of Morcheeba in the 1990s, Britain's Skye had a lot of people in the palms of her hands. Her soothing, silky vocals were the driving force behind the band's music. Although Skye did not write the songs for Morcheeba, her influence was far reaching and substantial. After the band decided to take a break, she soon made the wise decision to go solo. Mind How You Go is her first collection of solo recordings. Not surprisingly, it's a keeper. Morcheeba was originally a very credible artistic endeavor but, over time, the band's music became too obvious and commercial. With this album, Skye proves that she can make credible music on her own (with a bit of assistance from some appropriate friends and associates). Rather than playing the rock star/pop diva game, this enchanting lady keeps a low profile...allowing her music to speak for herself. The title of this album was taken from a bit of advice from her foster mother. Mind How You Go is soothing, enchanting, and intoxicating. This album will have a lot of folks talking. Top picks: "Love Show," "Solitary," "Calling," "All the Promises," and "Jamaica Days." Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Liam Singer - Our Secret Lies Beneath the Creek (CD, Tell-All, Progressive soft pop)
On his latest outing (and true to the claim of the press release), San Francisco's Liam Singer is now sounding something like a cross between Sufjan Stevens and Harold Budd (with a bit of Phillip Glass mixed in for good measure). Liam is a master at merging modern classical with soft progressive pop. His recordings are slick, smooth, and arranged to perfection...and the man has a truly superb voice. This fourteen track album is a mostly cool and subdued listening experience...with the majority of the pieces being carried by very skilled piano playing. The only piece of the puzzle that doesn't seem to fit here is the opera singer that makes an unusual appearance from time to time. We appreciate the idea of adding variety to music...but, at least for our own tastes, this female vocalist really seems to detract from the overall tone of this album. Other folks may feel differently so...we'll refrain from rating Singer this time. We will be eager and curious to see what comes next from this talented fellow... (Not Rated)

Mindy Smith - Long Island Shores (CD, Vanguard, Pop)
This, the second full-length release from Mindy Smith, picks up where her debut left off. At this early point in her career, Ms. Smith already has a large number of fans...probably as a result of the inherent substance that is present in her music. Instead of corporate-produced glossy crap, Mindy writes and records soothing, sincere, genuine soft pop tunes that are easy on the ears and soothing to the heart. Her positive spirit is engaging and refreshing at a time when so many musical artists are shallow, greedy, and artificial. Long Island Shores is a superbly pleasant and coherent spin. The overall vibe of the album is something like a cross between Suzanne Vega and Alison Kraus. Ms. Smith writes and/or co-writes all of her own material here with only one exception (the cover of "You Just Forgot"). Mindy Smith is one of the true originals in the world of soft pop in the twenty-first century...and Long Island Shores is a pure delight. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)


Let the will of
Others control your
Mind, body, and

(Rating: 1)

Alan Sparhawk - Solo Guitar (CD, Independent release / Silber, Experimental guitar noise)
An album of improvisational guitar from Alan Sparhawk of Low. Solo Guitar is a purely artistic release from a man who has previously released music that has had at least some commercial appeal. Perhaps as an outlet for his own peculiar emotions...or perhaps as a response to folks who expected certain elements to be heard in his music...Sparhawk ventures out on a limb, recording this album live with nothing but a guitar and various odd effects. Low fans will be forewarned that this project has few--if any--commonalities. These sparse instrumental experiments have more in common with modern classical music than with underground pop. It's hard to describe or even rate something like this. It's an interesting project. Is this genius...or is this mere self-indulgence...? It's interesting to be certain but...hmmm...we just can't decide this time around... (Not Rated)

Sparklehorse - Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (CD, Astralwerks, Progressive pop)
Years ago when Mark Linkous was doing what he was doing...no one else was doing what he was doing. But now a lot of people are doing what Mark Linkous does and was doing...most likely because he was the one doing it before anyone else was. If that doesn't make sense, then you may not be aware of how the musical world operates. The world is basically full of copycats. While everyone claims that their music is unique and original...in actuality it really isn't. In reality, 99.9% of everyone is actually trying to sound just like someone else. In only a few rare isolated cases is an artist unique. Sparklehorse was and is one of those cases. Mark's pensive, oddly arranged, dreamy tunes still sound as original as they did when he first started. Despite all the copycats that have trailed along after him through the years...he remains true to his original muse. Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain features twelve peculiar, calming tracks that will strike different emotional chords in different people. Call it abstract pop or artsy pop or whatever you like. Sparklehorse thankfully continues to gallop along in its own odd path...leaving others trailing along on the sidelines... (Rating: 5++)

Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras From the Illinois Album (CD, Asthmatic Kitty, Progressive pop)
With any other artist, an album of outtakes would be an album of lesser material. Not surprisingly, an album of outtakes from Sufjan Stevens...is a substantial album that is just as incredible and entertaining as the original. What many folks (including us) may not have realized was that the original Illinois album was planned as a double album...which explains the wealth of unused tracks. Fortunately for listeners everywhere, Sufjan made the wise decision to salvage the extra tracks...in many cases editing them and/or adding new arrangements or vocals. The result...is a remarkably complete, finished sounding album that is exactly like an extension of the first. The Illinois album is what made many folks (including us) fall in love with this man's music. So...having yet another album of similar material from this same time period...is just like finding money on the sidewalk. This CD presents 21 killer tracks...over 75 minutes of music (!). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 6+)

Submarines - Declare A New State! (CD, Nettwerk, Progressive pop)
Neat dreamy techno pop. The Submarines are Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti. Declare A New State! is an effective and cool album featuring ten original tracks with vocals that alternate between the two band members. The tunes feature articulate arrangements and soft, absorbing rhythms. While all of the cuts on this CD are pleasant and refreshing, there are a few that are absolutely mind-bending. Our top picks are "Peace and Hate," "Hope" (a truly fantastic tune that really sticks in the brain), and the technology-infused 1960s sound of "Modern Inventions." Hazard and Dragonetti are definitely on the right track here...they have a sound and style that are immediately appealing... (Rating: 4++++)

Therefore - The Bomb Giant (CD, Sounds Are Active, Experimental sound)
Therefore is/was the duo of Michael Kaufmann and Wayne Feldman...and The Bomb Giant is their final album. Presented in two lengthy pieces ("Tears Radio," "Plausible Binding"), the album is a complete experiment in the creation of sound and noise. Kaufmann and Feldman spent over two years recording this project. Rather than being a mere spontaneous combustion sort of recording, this album is a combination of spontaneity and precise detail. Considering the fact that most folks would consider this random noise, this may seem confusing. But it is the attention to detail that makes this collection of noise entertaining and credible. An interesting twist is that cellos are sifted into the mixture on occasion. Perplexing music with depth. (Rating: 5+)

Tomihira - Play Dead (CD, RDS, Soft progressive pop)
A very well crafted independent project. Tomihira is the San Francisco-based pop band led by Dean Tomihira. Rounding out the band are drummer Markkus Rovito and guitarist Jeff Kay. These three musicians play drony atmospheric pop music that is simultaneously melodic and uplifting. This collection presents tunes that the band has written from 2004 to 2006...twelve soothing, hypnotic tracks played with personality and style. True, there are a lot of bands playing this style of drony pop...but these folks stand out from the pack because of the plain and simple fact that they've got great tunes. Intriguing cuts include "World Class," "Stunts," and "Hey There." A band to keep an eye on... (Rating: 4+++++)

TRS-80 - Mystery Crash (CD, One Cell, Electronic)
TRS-80 has gone through substantial changes of late. Mystery Crash features only one original member (Jay Rajeck)...plus two new members (Mike Barron and Fred de Albuquerque). Prior players Kent Rayhill and Deb Schimmel left TRS-80 to pursue non-musical interests. Rajeck seems quite focused with his project, however, and from the sounds on Mystery Crash it would seem as if this band is still very much vital and relevant. This trio is apparently having some great luck with their music in 2006. Their songs have been included on the television show CSI: New York and also in a commercial for Coca-Cola. The twelve tracks on Mystery Crash are slightly odd and fairly upbeat. The band mixes familiar sounds with peculiar sounds...creating an environment that is inviting and somewhat...mysterious. Clever cuts include "The Lights Are On," "Julia's Story," "Out of a Window," and "Hyper Dynamic." (Rating: 4++++)

Two Ton Boa - Parasiticide (CD, Kill Rock Stars, Rock/pop)
Two Ton Boa lead vocalist Sherry Fraser looks and sounds something like a younger, harder rocking version of Lene Lovich...she's got dark hair and heavy black lining around her eyes and her voice is kinda nervous and yelpy. We can also hear traces of very early PJ Harvey in this band's music. But make no mistake about it...the folks in Two Ton Boa are not trying to retread the horrid musical styles of the 1980s and 1990s. Instead, these people play intelligent rock music featuring smart, inventive guitar riffs, unexpected rhythmic changes, and nifty keyboards. These recordings are much slicker than we are accustomed to hearing on the Kill Rock Stars label. The sound quality rivals most major label releases. But in terms of music, these songs are credible and rather juicy. So many bands attempt hard art rock and fail miserably. These folks succeed...mainly because their tunes are ultimately effective and genuine. Cool tracks include "Cash Machine," "Hierarchy," "Bad Seed," and "Porcelain Throne." (Rating: 5)

Umbrellas - Illuminare (CD, The Militia Group, Progressive pop)
When we last heard from Umbrellas, they reminded us of Starflyer 59. On Illuminare the band seems to have advanced a great deal, particularly in terms of recording. Illuminare is a complex, thickly arranged album that features ten slick tracks. This project was the culmination of a great many underground heros including the talents of drummer James McAlister, engineer Chris Fudurich, and The Starlight Mints' Ryan Lindsey (piano, backing vocals). Scott Windsor writes epic, sweeping pop tunes that are heavy on melodies and emotional content. What is perhaps most interesting about this album is that...whereas the last album reminded us of the previously mentioned Starflyer 59...this album reminds us more of Joy Electric (particularly in terms of vocals). Groove-oriented thoughtful tracks include "Boston White," "Idle & Waiting," and "We Fall." (Rating: 4+++)

Vlor - A Fire Is Meant For Burning (CD, Silber, Instrumental)
Progressive experimental audio collaborations between Brian John Mitchell (Remora) and his friends Paolo Messere, Jon DeRosa, Jesse Edwards, Jessica Baliff, Nathan Amundson, and Mike VanPortfleet. For this album, Mitchell recorded 90 minutes of guitar pieces and sent them off to his friends to complete the recordings. The best were chosen for inclusion in this album. A Fire Is Meant For Burning is, not surprisingly, a peculiar and spontaneous affair. The album is a purely artistic endeavor in which the musicians communicate with one another. This communication translates into the substance of the music. Confusing, soothing, abstract...A Fire Is Meant For Burning is an interesting trip into the minds of those involved in the real undercurrents of modern audio art. (Rating: 5)

The Waylons - The Waylons (CD, Pop)
When you consider this band, the pieces just don't fit. Although you'd think they are, The Waylons are not a country nor an alternative country band. Though the band is based in New York, they aren't playing hard rock nor does their sound resemble anything even slightly urban. The band's marketing approach is definitely unlike any New York band we've come across. In the promo pack that contained this album, there was nothing but a single biography with no graphics and a single black and white photo that was printed out on a computer. Instead of looking like New York rockers, the four individuals in this band look extraordinarily normal. But just pop The Waylons (the album is self-titled) into your CD player and...suddenly all the pieces fit together perfectly. This is instantly familiar classic pop that you've never heard before. If the folks in The Waylons end up being a success, it will most likely be the result of hard work and extraordinarily good word-of-mouth. Although they aren't blowing their own horns loudly for the world to hear, word is slowly spreading about what great songs this band has. Apparently, music is really and truly the main focus of these folks' efforts. This, their first full-length album, is embarrassingly honest and genuine. So much so that this band puts many other New York bands to shame. Who needs leather and make up and images and hair dye...when all you really need are good songs...? The Waylons are Karl Wachter (vocals, guitar, piano, organ), Sean Leadem (vocals, guitar, organ), Patrick Cadigan (bass, vocals, tambourine), and Sandy Levering (drums, vocals). Killer tunes include "Front Porch," "Ship," "Day For Night," "Take Me Out," "I Will Let You Know," and "Postcard." There are no musical gimmicks or labels involved here because there is no need for them. For our own personal tastes, bands just don't get much better than this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 6)

Wisely - Parador (CD, Ella / Not Lame Recordings, Pop)
Pure, clean, upbeat modern pop. Although he has only released five albums in the past decade, Willie Wisley has been a very busy fellow. Unlike a lot of artists who record music that never gets heard, Wisely markets and pushes his music...and it has ended up in some rather remarkable places thus far. He has certainly been hooking up with the right folks. His first album was on the excellent Pravda label, he has toured with babysue favorite John Vanderslice, and he opted to release Parador on the Not Lame label. Willie's music is basic guitar pop, but what makes his songs special are the melodies and...in particular...the vocals. This is soaring feelgood pop music with muscle and smarts. Classic underground pop in the truest sense of the words. Nifty tracks include "This Is Everything," "Stayin' Home Again," "Let Me Run Wild," and "Parador." Our favorite track is "Through Any Window," which presents Wisely singing in a more sparsely arranged environment. Hopefully we will all be treated to more tracks like this one in the near future... (Rating: 5)


All leaders are
Worthless leaders.

(Rating: 1)

Yellow Swans - Drift (CD, Acuarela, Experimental noise)
We enjoyed the last album we heard from the Bay area duo Yellow Swans...but it was, admittedly, a bit harsh and unnerving. With Drift, these fellows soften their sound...while retaining the same basic idea of presenting noise as music. The album features three lengthy pieces that are very dreamy, ethereal, and spooky. This music is definitely not recommended for casual listeners. Anyone wanting catchy, familiar sounds won't find them here. These gentlemen create almost completely experimental music that borders on random noise. Those with an adventurous spirit...or those wanting to evoke strange moods for whatever reason...will find this album ultimately appealing. Drift is an absorbing and truly spacey spin. (Rating: 4++++)

Michael Zapruder's Rain of Frogs - New Ways of Letting Go (CD, Howell's Transmitter, Pop)
Up-and-coming classic pop composer Michael Zapruder returns with another collection of mesmerizing and compelling tunes. Recorded at his own home studio and mixed at John Vanderslice's increasingly influential Tiny Telephone, New Ways of Letting Go is an impressive and ultimately fulfilling collection of intelligent songs. Assisting Michael on this album are fifteen musicians, most notable names in the underground music scene in the Bay Area. Some may remember Zapruder for his ambitious project in which he recorded and posted a song a week on his web site (a common idea nowadays, but groundbreaking way back in 1999). This young man is doing incredible things. His is a master crafter of tunes and a highly skilled arranger. His influence is bound to grow stronger with every passing year. Knockout cuts include "The Alchemist," "Shepherd's Purse," "Jet Black Birds," and "Phainopepia." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)


Additional Items Received:

2Cents - Lost at sea
A Change of Pace - Prepare the masses
Peter Bradley Adams - Gather up
Alice Donut - Fuzz
All Time Low - Put up or shut up
Aloud - Leave your light on
A.M. Elevator - A.M. Elevator
Analog Pussy - Trance'N roll
Archie Bronson Outfit - Derdang derdang
Arma Secreta - A century's remains
Astronautalis - The mighty ocean and nine dark theaters
At Dusk - You can know danger
Eric Athey - Time / distance
Baby Ray - Low rises
Beatnik Filmstars - In great shape
Bebek - Open eyes
Justin Beckler - Wake up process
Glenna Bell - Face this world
Beltways - Black and white and...
Berry - Marriage
Billy Talent - II
Black Fiction - Ghost ride
Blag'ard - Blank faced clocks
Kate Bloom - Finally
Bobtail Yearlings - Yearling's bobtail
Boys Like Girls - Boys Like Girls
Brass Castles - Brass Castles
Broken (DVD)
Bosque Brown - Cerro verde
Bridges and Powerlines - Bridges and Powerlines
Buzness Ft. Trixie Reiss - Day to day
Cabin Dogs - Electric cabin
Campbells - Pound on your boxes
Carbon Leaf - Love loss hope repeat
Cassavetes - Funny story
Cecil Dreeme - Honey & crocodile tears
Jason Choi - Leave the night behind
Circles - Circles
City Drive - Always moving never stopping
Clovis Mann - Clovis Mann
Crash Kelly - Electric satisfaction
Andrae Crouch - Mighty wind
Cult of Sue Todd - Kelsey grammer loves us
Emo Dagger - So this is...me
Darker My Love - Darker My Love
Days Off - Jamming in the scene
De Kift - De Kift
Brett Dennen - So much more
Spencer Dickinson - The man who lives for love
Dirty Royals - Obsessed america
Drive By - I hate every day without you kid...
Judy Dunaway - Mother of balloon music
Early November - The mother, the mechanic, and the path
Ecstatic Sunshine - Freckle wars
Edgewater - We're not robots
Electroluvs - Bubblewrapped
Andrew Emil - Four play music
Envy - Insomniac doze
Evaline - Postpartum modesty. a portrait of skin
Exist - Exist
F-Units - Reject on impact
Fallopian - Dammit, eat your pudding!
Mark Farina - Sessions
Fast Product - Tall coin
Flattbush - Seize the time
Conrad Ford - Don't you miss yourself
Format - Dog problems
Freescha - Head warlock double stare
Fresh Mowed Lawn - Fresh Mowed Lawn
Chad Frey - The beginning of something big
Matthew Friedberger - Winter women / holy ghost language school
Gaelic Storm - Bring her wellies
Grates - Gravity won't get you high
David Greenberger & Birdsongs of the Mesozoic - 1001 real apes
Guster - Ganging up on the sun
Guys - Live the party
Harlequin Jones - EP
Hello Stranger - Hello Stranger
Ho-Ag - The word from pluto
Holly & Plastic - Life after the lie
Homemade Knives - No one doubts the darkness
Illuminati - On borrowed time
Iona - A celebration of twenty
Ism - Moneky underneath
Ivy League - London bridges
Aaron Jackson - Easy now
Jade - Banned in america
Muit Jargon - Hot from the oven
Jolenes - Get it to go
KA - Shut yo mouth
Kids in the Way - Apparitions of meody: the dead letters edition
Killola - Louder, louder!
Kultur Shock - We came to take your jobs away
Ladyfinger (NE) - Heavy hands
La Rocca - The truth
Greg Laswell - Through toledo
Legend of Dutch Savage - Dirtfistfeet
Lennon - Damaged goods
Lesser Birds of Paradise - Space between
Lesser Scene - Lesser Scene
Adam Levy - Loose rhymes: live on ludlow street
Steuart Liebig/The Mentones - Nowhere calling
Toby Lightman - Bird on a wire
Lonesome Brothers - Mono
Lucky Boys Confusion - How to get out alive
Machine Gun TV - Go
Mad Scientists - Geoparasitism
Mad Tea Party - Big top soda pop
Mannequin Men - Showbiz witch
Ray Mason - A man and his silvertone
Eric Matthews - Foundation sounds
Mark McGuinn - One man's crazy
Metal Church - A light in the dark
Mew - The zookeeper's boy EP
Mew - And the glass handed kites
Milton and the Devils Party - What is all this sweet work worth?
Jeff Mitchell - Batteries and blankets
Madison Park - In the stars
Mondo Topless - Take it slow
Monstrous - Mother nature's slaves
Mosquitos - III
Mythica - Dangerous little monster
New Salem Witch Hunters - New Salem Witch Hunters
New Tragedies - Vanityvanity
NoMeansNo - All roads lead to Ausfahrt
Over the Atlantic - Junica
Overwhelmed - Forgot to land
Ovulators - Ovulators
Park - Building a better
Pie Eyed Pete - Dandelion wine
Pompeii - Assembly
Spike Priggen - There's no sound in flutes
Primal Scream - Riot city blues
Trixie Reiss - Tricky Bizzniss
Raymond Simmons - Hot percussion licks parts 1 & 2
Skidmore Fountain - Skidmore Fountain
Sally Spring - Mockingbird
Studiofix - Will change your life
Quill - In triumph
Racecar - Racecar
Runny Runny Mister Sissy Bunny - Wacky tacky bingo packy
Russian Spy Camera - You are a vulture
Sad Girl - Twenty years
Sassy Toto - Mister pinch has his mango in marriage dumpster
Saxon - The eagle has landed
Second Story Man - Red glows brighter
Sensations - Listen to my shapes
Shotgun Monday - Read compare adjust
Silversun Pickups - Title tba
Slow Motion Reign - Slow Motion Reign
Sneaky Thieves - Accident(s)
Snow Patrol - Eyes open
So Many Dynamos - Flashlights
Sonic Youth - Ratther ripped
Son of the Velvet Rat - Playground
Struggle In The Hive - Struggle In The Hive
Ben Swift - Pull
System and Station - Here is now
Take My Chances - Down here with us
Teflon - The morning way
Theater Fire - Everybody has a dark side
Thee Emergency - Can you dig it?
Thor - Devastation of musculation
Thousand Yard Stare - Stars and roadmaps
Thunderbirds Are Now! - Make history
Towers of London - Blood, sweat, & towers
Track A Tiger - Woke up early the day i died
Trophy Scars - Alphabet. Alphabets.
Trustuswelie - Aheartwellending
Two Dollar Guitar - The wear and tear of fear: a lover's discourse
Vaeda - State of nature
Valient Thorr - Legend of the world
Various artists - Jammys: King Jammy-King at the controls-Essential hits (from Reggae's) digital revolution
Various artists - Look at all the love we found: Live-a tribute to sublime (DVD & CD)
Various artists - Berkeley guitar 2006
Various artists - Hompos1003
Various Artists - Kumquats & apricots
Various Artists - Keep the fuzz off my buzz (Sickroom)
Various Artists - Rip this (TVT)
Various Artists - Girls got rhythm (Liquor and Poker)
Various Artists - Five way street: A tribute to buffalo springfield (Not Lame)
Various Artists - Assemblage sessions 2
Various Artists - Snakes on a plane: The album
Various Artists - ...Less paul, more rock
Various Artists -
Various Artists -
Various Artists -
Various Artists -
Velveeta Heartbreak - "I Shot the Invisible Man" b/w "Secret Beach Boys Fans Parts 1 & 2
Venus Hum - The colors in the wheel
Voicst - Eleven to eleven
Otto Von Schrach - Maxipad detention
Vulturines - Fowl language
Jeff Walker and Die Fluffers - Welcome to carcass cuntry
Weird Weeds - Weird feelings
We Landed on the Moon - We Landed on the Moon
Rich West - Heavenly breakfast
Window Shoppers - Clear your dirt
Winter Flowers - Winter Flowers
Wooden Wand and the Sky High Band - Second attention
World/Inferno Friendship Society - Red-eyed soul
Tom Wurth - Bread on the table
Yesan Damen - The never beginning story

Home | Table of Contents | The babysue Store

©2006 LMNOP®