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June 2007 Reviews by

10 Ft. Ganja Plant
A Fine Frenzy
An Angle

Art Brut*
Attractive and Popular*
Baby Guts
Matteah Baim
Carrie Biell
Sexton Blake

Cause and Effect

Steve Cole
Crisis Not A Crisis

Clive Davis
Dear babysue / LMNOP:

Driver of the Year
Duo Dynamic
Elkano Browning Cream
Paul Epic
Everything On Your Plate

The Evil Queens
Fragile Dragon
Hands Down Eugene

Hannah Fury
The Get Quick
Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd
Grampall Jookabox
Grand Atlantic*
The Great Depression
Kurt Hagardorn
Jesse Harris

Karrie Hopper
Bardi Johannsson

The John Francis

Chris Letcher
Ferraby Lionheart
Lola Dutronic
My American Heart

New Amsterdams

Nurse Balls
Andrew Pask & Jonathan Besser
Pirates of the Caribbean at World's End

Quarter Acre Lifestyle
The Sea
Signal To Trust

Brett Ryan Stewart
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Three 4 Tens
Track a Tiger*
The Truly Me Club

Universe Narrows
The Wellingtons
What Life Is

Wishful Truth

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


10 Ft. Ganja Plant - Presents (CD, ROIR, Reggae)
Reissue of the first album from 10 Ft. Ganja Plant with two bonus tracks added for extra smoking pleasure. It is unfortunate that we rarely receive reggae music for review nowadays. The genre seems to be experiencing a general lull in the world of commercial music. 10 Ft. Ganja Plant is one of our current faves because their music is never overproduced and the playing always seems inspired and genuine. Many describe the band's sound as old school reggae, perhaps because it is more basic and void of the overproduction that has flawed many reggae recordings over the past couple of decades. Presents features tracks that have that nice solid flavor that was evident in many of the best reggae bands from the 1970s. The band's wah-wah, reverb drenched guitars sound fantastic. The folks in 10 Ft. Ganja Plant could find themselves at the center of a reggae resurgence in the near future...who knows? Groove infected cuts include "Chalwa," "Blues Dance," "Jah Teach I a Lesson," and "Walkey Walk Tall." Bonus tracks: "Top Down" and "Politricking Man." Excellent. (Rating: 5+)

A Fine Frenzy - One Cell In The Sea (CD, Virgin, Pop)
A Fine Frenzy is Alison Sudol...a young lady who seems poised for commercial success in the world of music. Her songs are melodic and emotional...and she's got that slick, polished sound that is very popular with the general public. One Cell In The Sea is what we would call a mixed bag of treats. When Alison is "on" and not trying too hard, her music can be very uplifting and effective. When she's trying too hard well...she tends to come off sounding rather insincere and overly dramatic. To be more precise, when the music is soft and subtle Ms. Sudol can really make your skin tingle. But when she puts her foot on the gas well...she tends to sound like a lot of other popular female artists. She's very young...so perhaps she just hasn't found her proper footing yet. She's obviously very talented and driven by a desire to succeed. Keepers include "Come On, Come Out," "Whisper," and "Last of Days." If she can change her approach a bit, Alison just may be a major musical force in the years ahead. It'll be interesting to see where she goes from here... (Rating: 4)

Airiel - The Battle of Sealand (CD, Highwheel, Progressive)
The folks in Airiel have a thick, slightly surreal sound that is something like a modern twenty-first century progressive pop version of Spiritualized. The songs on The Battle of Sealand feature thick walls of swirling sound and driving rhythms. But don't be fooled by the multiple layers of drug-induced sounds...there are real songs lurking beneath the waves here. The melodies on this album are remarkably inventive and well thought out. So, rather than being a shoegazer or drone band...the folks in Airiel ultimately end up being a pop band with some rather unusual arrangements. These tracks really pack a hard mental punch. While the band tears away at your subconsciousness with their peculiar sounds...their melodies will conveniently slide into the back of your brain and remain there in fluffy little nests. Neat trippy cuts include "Thinktank," "Know Better," "The Release," and "Red Friends." (Rating: 5)

An Angle - The Truth is That You Are Alive (CD, Drive-Thru, Pop)
We were impressed by the last release from An Angle...and this one sounds just as good if not better. This band is driven by the surprisingly accessible songwriting skills of Kris Anaya. What many may find surprising is how much commercial appeal this album has. Rather than mere noisy underground slop, this album features super melodic mid-tempo pop that is ultimately catchy and hummable... (Not Rated)
*A miniblurb is a short descriptive summary of a disc that we found intriguing. We did not have sufficient time to write a proper review but we did not want the disc to go unnoticed. Note that miniblurbs are not rated...but we encourage readers to check out releases receiving miniblurbs because, in some cases, these discs may very well turn out to be the best releases of the month.

Arizona - Welcome Back Dear Children (Independently released CD, Progressive)
Arizona is Alex Hornbake, Andrew Dunn, Benjamin Morris Wigler, James DeDakis, and Nick Campbell. This, the band's debut full-length, is an interesting departure from the normal world of modern pop music. Comparing this album to other artists is a difficult task. While the music isn't that far our or so ultimately weird, it just doesn't seem to fit into familiar categories and genres. We definitely get the impression that the guys in this band aren't trying to ape or copy the styles of others. They seem to be driven mainly by the desire to create. With the aid and assistance of producer Danny Kadar, these folks have managed to record a strangely complex batch of tunes that will ultimately confuse most folks. The songs don't follow traditional formulas...and the lush vocal overdubs add wonderfully inviting extra textures. While difficult to put into words, the overall sound of this album is strangely calming and inviting. We always admire folks with enough guts to take a different approach. Peculiar tunes include "Te Amo Tanto," "Away," "David," "Surviving the Savior," and "On Judgement Day." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Art Brut - It's a Bit Complicated (CD, Downtown, Pop)
This band's odd, angular talk/rock sound sounds something like an odd cross between The Pooh Sticks, early Gang of Four, and King Missile. Bandleader Eddie Argos has a voice that is instantly recognizable. Many folks will probably find this band's music to be pretentious, light fluff...but in this little campground, we can't help but be entertained and impressed. By itself, the music would be refreshingly direct and danceable...but Eddie's funny, poignant lyrics push things over the edge. And we just love the cocky attitude. Decidedly British sounding tracks include "Pump Up the Volume," "People In Love," "Blame It On The Trains," and "Jealous Guy." We can't think of anything else to say about this one except...it is easily one of our favorite releases of the month. This music makes us feel giddy and revitalized. (Rating: 5++)

Attractive and Popular - Money Equals Magic (CD, Gold Standard Laboratories, Rock)
Wow...a hard rock band that doesn't sound like every other hard rock band on the planet...??? Strange but true...the folks in Lafayette, Louisiana's Attractive and Popular have a wild, hard, crazy sound that is bound to confuse and cause rebound laughter. Abrasive, wild, noisy, and totally hilarious...Money Equals Magic will be an instant hit with folks looking for something different and truly entertaining. These folks' sound is something like a cross between Gang of Four's Entertainment album, Wire's Pink Flag album, Devo, and Austin's tragically overlooked 1990s band Pocket Fishrmen. Lyrics are what make this band and album something truly special. This CD features some of the most goofy and thought-provoking social satire we have heard in years. Consider these excerpts: "Dip the duck in gold, look at the golden mold, gaze into his eyes, he will steal your soul..." (from "Golden Duck"), "I can reflect all I get, it dissolves and nothing's left, acid in the mirror, acid on my breath..." (from "Rang Rang"), "Watch out for that bum, he has all my stuff, he broke my window, I want him to die..." (from "Money Equals Magic"), "The pigs go moo, the cows go quack, everything has lost its mind, I found the needle in the haystrack..." (from "Crack Farm"). A brilliant new band with real PUNCH. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Au - Au (CD, Oedipus, Experimental)
It isn't often we are confused by an album...but this one does confuse us. Au is the one man band consisting of Luke Wyland whose last album was released under the name luc. This self-titled album is an unpredictable spin. The tracks with vocals border on soft pop...while other tracks could probably best be described as modern classical. Some of the pieces are hypnotic and mesmerizing...while others seem strangely pointless. When you're trading in experimental territory, this is probably natural and normal. The more chances you take...more risks are involved. There are some wonderful compositions on this album, that's a certainty. There are some others...that leave us scratching our heads. We'll leave this one unrated at this point in time... (Not Rated)

Baby Guts - Gasoline (CD, Guilt Ridden Pop, Rock)
Noisy screamer rock. To be honest, we almost didn't review this disc. Gasoline is full of the loud, chaotic, roaring noise that so many bands create...and most of it turns into a generic blur of nothingness. What makes Baby Guts tunes stand out are the lyrics. While the music and vocals aren't that impressive, the words to the songs are. Here are just a few of our favorite lines: "My best friend pisses on my prettiest dresses"..."I am so covered and smothered and so happy, right?"..."I shine through dead flies dirt cereal flouride"..."I am dirt glitter you f*cked with rust scissors"... Funny stuff that somehow seems to have some real meaning buried underneath. While the music doesn't reach the peaks of the words, this band obviously has substance lurking beneath the waves. If they can redirect some of their energy into the songs themselves (and particularly the melodies)...these folks just may be a real force to be reckoned with in the years ahead. (Rating: 4+)

Matteah Baim - Death of the Sun (CD, DiCristina, Moody atmospheric pop)
The second album from ex-Metallic Falcons member Matteah Baim. In a world full of copycat disposable female recording artists, Baim stands out as a true original. Her music doesn't follow familiar paths or traditional avenues...and she obviously has little desire for any commercial success at this point in her career. Death of the Sun sounds something like a spooky cross between Nico and Sonja Christina. The sparse, distant songs on this album are far outside the mainstream. So much so that we could only recommend Matteah's music for that tiny segment of the population that is seeking something strangely different. Be forewarned however...this is extremely soft and subdued material that some might find depressing and/or confusing. We were curious about the inclusion of a cover of the tune "Michael Row"...hmmmm...? Odd tracks include "River," "Wounded Whale," "Who Loves," and "Up is North." Oddly restrained modern mood pop... (Rating: 5)

Carrie Biell - When Your Feet Hit the Stars (Independently released CD, Soft pop)
Although she has been entertaining audiences in her hometown of Seattle, Washington for the past several years...this is the first time that we have been exposed to the music of Carrie Biell. Upon hearing the first few seconds of "Cross the Line" we knew we were in for a treat. When Your Feet Hit the Stars is an excellent, soft album featuring thoughtful, pensive, and ultimately hummable pop tunes. Biell's music sounds something like a cross between Janis Ian and Suzanne Vega and yet...she never gives the impression that she is aping or copying the sound of others. The arrangements on this album fit the songs perfectly. These tracks have a nice thick sound that is pushed over the edge thanks to some exceedingly tasty pedal steel guitar playing. Carrie has a beautiful, sincere voice that is immediately effective and real...and her songs seem to come straight from her heart. We can't find anything negative to say about this album. Killer cuts include "Don't You Blame Me" (our favorite), "Gone Without Me," "Swinging," and "Bound To Be." An excellent spin that gets even better over time... (Rating: 5+)

Sexton Blake - Plays the Hits! (CD, Expunged, Pop)
Anyone who can record a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" and make it sound good...simply must be something of a genius (!). That was our first reaction to Plays the Hits! Sexton Blake (whose real name is Josh Hodges) impressed us in a big way with his last album...and this one will also leave a lasting impression in our increasingly confusing little office suite. This CD features 13 songs from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s...all recorded with Hodges' own unique sound and style. What may surprise many folks is that...in almost every single case on this album Hodges' versions are much, much better than the originals. The choice of tunes seems odd at first...covers of tracks recorded by Rod Stewart...Elton John...Jeff Lynne... Instead of aping the sound of the original songs, Josh recreates them using his own subtle approach...and the results should blow most listeners away. Smooth arrangements...pensive, subtle vocals...a nice thick sound...this album truly has it all... (Rating: 5++)

Bowerbirds - Hymns for a Dark Horse (CD, Burly Time, Progressive folk/pop)
Bowerbirds is the trio consisting of Phil Moore, Mark Paulson, and Beth Tacular. Together, these three individuals create smooth, sincere, folk/pop tunes that are refreshingly unique. The extraordinarily unpretentious tunes on Hymns for a Dark Horse could very well be the result of the trio's choice to distance themselves from society (they currently live in an Airstream trailer in the woods). Most of the songs are centered around a gently strummed/picked acoustic guitar but also feature accordion, violin, piano, upright bass, and banjo. In some ways, these songs are slightly reminiscent of some of the modern folk revival bands in Great Britain in the 1970s. But in other ways...the trio's music seems to have more in common with modern progressive pop bands in Athens, Georgia. One thing is certain. Hymns is a different sort of album created from a different perspective. Refreshingly simple and honest, this CD has real substance. Cool tracks include "Hooves," "Bur Oak," "My Oldest Memory," and "Olive Hearts." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)


When women reproduce
Angels fart.

(Rating: 1)

Steve Cole - True (CD, Narada Jazz, Jazz)
Smart, punchy, upbeat jazz/pop. This is the fifth major label release from Steve Cole...and it's full of smooth, feelgood jazz with slightly funky beats. Cole is a an extremely focused saxophone player...as is evidenced by the nine tracks on this super slick platter. (Not Rated)
*A miniblurb is a short descriptive summary of a disc that we found intriguing. We did not have sufficient time to write a proper review but we did not want the disc to go unnoticed. Note that miniblurbs are not rated...but we encourage readers to check out releases receiving miniblurbs because, in some cases, these discs may very well turn out to be the best releases of the month.


Mad cow disease is a crisis.
Now it is not a crisis.
Bird flu is a crisis.
Now it is not a crisis.
Global warming is a crisis.
Now it is not a crisis.
Everything is a crisis.
Now everything is not a crisis.

(Rating: 1)



Old is crummy.
Young is crummy.
Crummy, crummy, crummy.

(Rating: 1)


Darfur is a
Nifty place where
Everything is groovy.
Everyone is happy there
Just like in a

(Rating: 1)

Clive Davis (Worthless old fart kind of a thing)
What do you do with an old man who outlived his usefulness decades ago...but who just refuses to shrivel up and die...? Clive Davis represents everything that is WRONG with the music business. All the old man talks/farts about is numbers...sales...how much money is made...how many units have sold... Does it seem, perhaps, that he has become nothing more than a puppet spokesman for the pathetic whining corporate music meisters who are still trying to guilt us into believing that the music business...now, more than EVER...needs our (monetary) support...? Nah...of COURSE not! Heh heh heh... Such a shitty old fart. Davis hangs around with a bunch of other shitheads...all of whom are motivated first and foremost by GREED. The problem with the music business isn't that sales are slumping...the real problem is that the artists making music that sells SUCK. But don't expect to hear the truth anytime soon on American Idol. They're too busy greasing up that great big ol' asshole machine in the sky...which tells us all exactly what they WANT us to hear. Dry up, fart a little, and then drop dead, Clive Davis. Your soul died long ago. Isn't about time your body followed suit? (Rating: 1)

DEAR babysue / LMNOP:

If you don't listen
To my music and
Write something positive about it
I will hate you

(Rating: 1)

Decomposure - Vertical Lines A (CD + DVD, Blank Squirrel, Progressive/experimental)
Whew. If you're up for a real challenge...check out Vertical Lines A, the latest release from Canada's Decomposure. This is an overwhelming CD/DVD set that will definitely make listeners sit up and pay attention. Caleb Mueller (the man who is the band) continues to expand his technical talents here...and obviously enjoys challenging himself in his recording studio. The first disc in this set is a CD containing close to an hour's worth of new material...peculiar modern pop channeled through computer programs and churned out with unpredictable certainty. We're still sticking with our earlier conclusion that Decomposure sounds something like a cross between Todd Rundgren and The Lemon of Pink. After hearing the crazy nervousness in some of these tracks, we can't help but think how interesting it would be if Mr. Mueller were to hook up with some of the crazier American electronic artists out there like Twink and Mochipet. The results could be mindblowing. The accompanying DVD features a video overview, mini presskit, 79 page sketchbook, interview, and...and...well, let's just say a whole lot more. Stuff both discs inside a lovely homemade booklet with a cover made from ripped up cardboard...and you have a package that is bound to blow you away in one way or another. An incredible amount of effort went into creating this package and it shows. (We forgot to mention that each booklet is individually numbered, of course.) Whether you like this man's work or not, most folks would probably agree that his talent borders on genius. Can you handle Vertical Lines A...? More work probably went into creating this set than any other independent release that we have ever received. Holy Jesus, Mother of God...WHEW!!! (Rating: 5++)

Driver of the Year - ...Will Destroy You (CD, Future Appletree / Nail In The Coffin, Pop)
A little rock...a little indie pop...a little funk......and a whole lot of groovy vibes. The folks in Driver of the Year write and record surprisingly accessible pop music that harkens back to the days of 1970s FM radio rock. ...Will Destroy You is a short mini-album that really kicks ass. In some ways, this band's music reminds us of Johnny Society and Self. These bright, hummable tracks are backed by some funky rhythms and feature truly superb vocals. The band's third album, Destroy would...in a perfect world...be an instant hit. Things being as they are these days...the music will probably only be embraced by a small yet devoted group of listeners. But on the other hand...who knows? With songs this bright and catchy, these guys might just get lucky and hit the jackpot. Killer tracks include "Teenage Kicks," "Celebrities Are Guns," "It Wasn't True," and "Night Receiver." We are somewhat confused by the inclusion of a Talking Heads cover ("Girlfriend Is Better")...mainly because this band's own tunes are actually much better than that (!)... (Rating: 5+)

Duo Dynamic - Unrest For Peace (CD, River Bend, Instrumental/jazz/mood music)
Duo Dynamic is the duo consisting of Ray Mathews (guitars) and J. Kipling Forde (electronics). These fellows write and record tunes that combine elements from a variety of sources into their own brand of slightly upbeat modern mood music. What we find most appealing about Unrest for Peace is the fact that it can either be listened to intently...or played in the background as an accompaniment to life. Both Mathews and Forde are accomplished in their specific areas...and their combined efforts result in some mighty fine sounding instrumentals. Groove-oriented cerebral cuts include "Magnetic," "Time to Man," "Sliptime," and "Within." Subtle yet heady. (Rating: 4+++++)

Elkano Browning Cream - Elkano Browning Cream (CD, Mamusik / Bongo Beat, X)
The press release that accompanied this CD pretty much summed things up nicely: "European chilled groove funk with an African vibe..." This band's music is driven by the drumming skills of Frank Mantegari (drummer for Alpha Blondy who has also played with Saint Germain and Massive Attack). Cool jazzy music built around seriously groovy beats... (Not Rated)
*A miniblurb is a short descriptive summary of a disc that we found intriguing. We did not have sufficient time to write a proper review but we did not want the disc to go unnoticed. Note that miniblurbs are not rated...but we encourage readers to check out releases receiving miniblurbs because, in some cases, these discs may very well turn out to be the best releases of the month.

Paul Epic - South of Heaven, North of Hell (CD, Beeshive, Rock/pop)
Power lifting champ, motorcycle racer, kickboxer, and skydiver...transforms into rock star...? Strange but true, Paul Epic has thrown his gloves into the rock and roll arena...and the results are surprisingly entertaining. This Vancouver Renaissance man intends to succeed at whatever he does. Although this is his debut album, it does indeed pack a mighty punch. This may be in part due to the involvement of producer Mike K (who has produced U2 and Elton John among others) and kickass drummer Randy Cooke. This album could easily end up selling millions. It has that polished, metallic sound that is reminiscent of many ultra-successful hard rock artists. Don't be surprised if you see Epic popping up all over the place in the very near future. Hard rockers like "I Am," "Proud," "Remember Me," and "Last Stop on a Long Fall" could all end up being huge hits... (Rating: 4+++)


If you don't eat
Everything on your plate
Everything on your plate
Will eat

(Rating: 1)

The Evil Queens - Lovesong Werewolves (CD, Sunken Treasure, Rock)
This Columbus, Ohio based band isn't playing games. On this, their fourth full-length release, these guys are obviously focused on having a good time playing their danceable roots based rock. The guitar-based cuts on Lovesong Werewolves are strong on energy and melodies...and presented using on the essential ingredients necessary in order to get the point across. The band's music is aggressive enough to please serious rockers...and yet has enough melodic sensibility to please discriminating pop fans. Nifty rockers include "Means to an End," "Year of the Cretin," "Ditchdigger Blues," and "Dry Well." Good stuff. (Rating: 4+++++)

Fragile Dragon - Light Bend and Rhythm (CD, Atmospherex, Progressive pop)
Fragile Dragon is a curious band indeed. The tunes on Light Bend and Rhythm sound something like a cross between early Kraftwerk and The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots album. The band describes its music as electro-psychedelia...which just might be the best term for it. While the music and arrangements are peculiar and offbeat, the vocals are what really make this album sound so odd. Instead of normal vocals, the voices seem to have been churned and processed...and then cut and pasted into the music. Fragile Dragon is a solo project created by Philip Alden Benn. While the overall sound might be odd and unfamiliar, the melodies on this album are surprisingly accessible. Benn's ability to combine strange sounds with familiar elements may very well please both fans and critics alike. Haunting pop tracks include "Dreaming," "Hold It Up High," "Apology Frontier," and "Flower Machine." Some very nice stuff tucked within these digital grooves... (Rating: 4+++++)

Hands Down Eugene - Madison (CD, XOXO, Pop)
Hands Down Eugene is driven by the songwriting talents of Matt Moody, a young fellow who obviously enjoys playing and recording with others. In addition to Moody, over 20 additional musicians and/or singers were involved in recording this album. But if you're thinking that too many cooks might have spoiled this audio broth, think again. Instead of overplaying and overproducing his songs, Moody had the good sense to keep things simple and direct. Accordingly, the listener is allowed to hear and appreciate the substance that is inherent in these tunes. Matt's songs have a nice flowing quality and they are surprisingly unpretentious. He never seems to push himself or those around him...but rather just lets the music flow naturally. As a general frame of reference, Madison sounds something like a laidback version of Ben Folds. This nifty little album contains thirteen memorable cuts including "Denise," "Calloused Part," "Champion," and "Stretch Your Eye." A very nice spin. And sincere to boot. (Rating: 5+)

Hannah Fury - Through the Gash (CD, MellowTraumatic Recordings, Pop)
Although she has been recording for many years now, up to this point Hannah Fury's music has only been appreciated by a relatively small group of people. Through the Gash just may be the album that will expose her to a much larger audience. Hannah is a one woman band...writing and recording everything herself. Don't expect generic upbeat girlie pop, however, because you won't find it here. Fury's music sounds something like a modern version of early Kate Bush churned through a variety of digital effects. She has a lovely voice and often drenches her vocals in mountains of echo and reverb. So much so that at times the overall effect can be rather psychedelic ("Carnival Justice (The Gloves Are Off) Part II"). A bit spooky and peculiar at times, Through the Gash is an intriguing collection of modern moody pop delivered with unique style. Top picks: "No Man Alive," "You Had Me," "Girls That Glitter Love the Dark," "Carousel." Nifty stuff... (Rating: 5)

The Get Quick - See You In The Crossfire (CD, Rainbow Quartz, Pop)
We are big fans of the Rainbow Quartz label mainly because 95% of everything the label puts out is rather fantastic. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's The Get Quick is yet another quality addition to the label's roster. This quartet's chunky fuzz pop is slightly skewed but ultimately melodic and catchy...sounding something like a cross between garage bands of the 1980s and modern twenty-first century pop. Call it power pop with extra punch and polish if you will. See You In The Crossfire rocks harder than most pop releases...but is also more poppy than most hard rock. This band's ability to effectively ride the rails where pop meets rock may be their greatest strength. The guitars are up front in the mix...layered over a superbly tight rhythm section. The attitude drenched vocals sound something like a cross between The Hoodoo Gurus and Urge Overkill. The band provides a surprisingly effective cover of The Beatles' "She Said, She Said" that certainly brings the song up to date. Catchy, slightly psychedelic rockers include "X-Fire," "Blossom Rock," "Same Mistake," and "My Enemy." This band should catch on instantly with power pop fanatics... (Rating: 5++)

Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd - After the Night Falls (CD, Darla, Instrumental mood music), Before the Day Breaks (CD, Darla, Instrumental mood music)
Two companion CDs from two legendary artists. Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd have teamed up to create two absolutely stunning albums which just might be the perfect way to start and end the day. These instrumental recordings are soft and subdued...dark and serious...somewhat puzzling...and ultimately hypnotic. This is not the first time these fellows have worked together...several years ago Budd collaborated with The Cocteau Twins on The Moon and the Melodies album. Guthrie and Budd are now writing and recording decidedly uncommercial artsy music that will most likely only appeal to a tiny segment of listeners. Their extraordinarily restrained pianos and guitars sound foreign and distant thanks to some very creative digital reverberation and other droning effects. The beauty of this album can be found in the simple structures of the music. Guthrie and Budd have managed to create music that is bound to calm down even the most nervous and fidgety listeners. If you can't find peace and serenity on the earth...then you just may find it buried somewhere inside the digital grooves of After the Night Falls and Before the Day Breaks. Wonderfully relaxing and mentally absorbing, these two albums are a resounding success. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)

Grampall Jookabox - Scientific Cricket (CD, Joyful Noise Recordings, Pop/folk)
The first track on this album ("Candle, Spirit, Leave") turned us off initially. The distorted sloppy sound gave us the impression that Scientific Cricket was going to be a CD full of unlistenable garbage. Speeding ahead to the second tune ("Take Me From Diamond Head") we quickly realized that there was more to this band than first meets the ears. The folks in Grampall Jookabox take chances on this album...lots of chances. Some of these recorded experiments work better than others...but the band's songs are, at the very least, interesting and different. Describing this band's sound is difficult. The songs are kinda like a hodge podge of bluegrass, folk, and underground pop...fueled by some very odd and indulgent multi-tracking. Getting to the bottom of this band's sound and messages might take some time because this music is neither traditional nor immediately familiar. Repeated spins could result in an entirely different reaction to this album...who knows? Oddly compelling cuts include "Liggle Timmy Toothpick," "We're the Small Windows," "Brick People Chant," and "Rusty Wife" (ya gotta love them song titles...). (Rating: 4+++++)

Grand Atlantic - This is Grand Atlantic (CD, Popboomerang, Pop)
We can sum up most albums after one or two spins. In the case of Grand Atlantic, however, we had to listen over and over and over before coming to conclusions about the music. A great deal of time and energy was involved in recording this album and it shows. The band's thick, dreamy, moody pop recalls similar artists such as The Lassie Foundation, Teenage Fanclub, Starflyer 59, and even The Psychedelic Furs at times. This album did not blow us away immediately. Although it took a while for the subtlety of this band's music to sink in, the time was well spent. Effectively combining elements from pop, psychedelia, and shoegazer rock, these guys manage to do just about everything right on This is Grand Atlantic. Several of the band's tunes ("Prelude," "Wonderful Tragedy," "Burning Brighter") are easily right up there with some of the best pop songs we have heard this year. Other cool and classy compositions include "Slappin' on the Cuffs," "Take You For Granted," and "Missile Crisis." Great stuff, recommended... (Rating: 5++)

The Great Depression - Preaching to the Fire (CD, Fire, Progressive pop)
This band has been through its share of twists and turns during the past decade, but bandleader Todd Casper continues to keep the flame burning. The Great Depression was originally begun by Casper and Thomas Cranley in Madison, Wisconsin in the early 1990s. After releasing several CDs recorded in the U.S., Casper eventually opted to move to Copenhagen in 2003 and, with the help of some associates, built a state-of-the-art recording studio there (Cranley still contributes to recordings by either visiting in person or sending tracks via the internet). Preaching to the Fire is a cool, soothing, credible collection of modern progressive pop tunes. The band's multi-layered vocals are truly exceptional and, at times, somewhat otherworldly. This slick album cements elements from classic pop with modern computerized production techniques. The familiar collides with the unfamiliar...making this an album that is simultaneously accessible and ultimately adventurous. Odd, melodic tracks include "Quiet Out There," "Make Way for Nostalgia," "Lux," and "Bernadette." Lots of nifty sounding stuff here... (Rating: 5+)

Kurt Hagardorn - Ten Singles (CD, Bladen County, Pop)
Ten pure pop tunes recorded between 2000 and 2006. Over the past few years, Kurt Hagardorn has played with Brian and the Nightmares, Gumption, Thad Cockrell, and Caitlan Cary. Along the way, however, he managed to devote time to record some of his own tunes as a creative outlet. Ten Singles collects these tracks and makes them available to the world. Hagardorn's tunes recall classic pop artists from the past, most notably Harry Nilsson and The Beatles. The smooth, melodic tunes on this album are intelligent and thoughtful and feature instantly effective melodies. Our favorite track is the soft and pensive "Lemon"...which has a great uplifting chorus. Other neat cuts include "International Travel Advisory," "Please Make It Last," and "It's OK, It's Allright." (Rating: 4+++++)

Jesse Harris - Feel (CD, Secret Sun Recordings, Pop)
Jesse Harris writes and records upbeat feelgood pop music that emphasizes strong vocal melodies and interesting lyrics. In some ways, Jesse's overall sound reminds us of Grant McLennan (of The Go-Betweens) and even Paul Simon at times. Feel is, first and foremost, a pure pop album. But while the emphasis is on accessibility, Harris manages to inject plenty of his own personality into his music. His soft, subdued vocals are genuine and real...and the arrangements are well thought out and appropriate. This album has a nice classic feel. There are no obvious irritating elements (like harsh technology and hip-hop crap) to date the music. By sticking to the basics...Jesse has managed to come up with an album that succeeds on many different levels. Smooth, intelligent pop cuts include "Feel," "You and Me," "Where To Start," and "Fire on the Ocean." Nice. (Rating: 5)

Karrie Hopper - An Unusual Move (CD, Nobody's Favorite Records, Soft pop/folk)
Karrie Hopper sounds very much like a very young Suzanne Vega. She writes and records soft pop/folk tunes built around a gently strummed nylon string guitar. An Unusual Move is a very sparse album...utilizing only the essential elements necessary in order to get the point across. Like Vega, Ms. Hopper's lyrics are a large part of her appeal. Her words are simple yet honest and often rather thought provoking. This is an intriguing photograph that captures a young artist who has just found her voice in the world of music. Subtle yet stylish...An Unusual Move is delivered with pure sincerity. Rewarding tracks include "Twilight Song," "Prayer Before Nightmare," "True Rider," and "You Were Loved." Very nice. (Rating: 4+++++)

Bardi Johannsson - Haxan (French import CD, Discograph / Bongo Beat, Instrumental/soundtrack)
Many may already know Bardi Johannsson's name because of his involvement with the Icelandic bands Bang Gang and Lady & Bird (both of which are truly outstanding, particularly the latter...). This French import CD features music Bardi recorded with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra...the results of which are a soundtrack for the silent 1920s film Haxan. Beautiful compositions that will take some time to sink in... (Not Rated)
*A miniblurb is a short descriptive summary of a disc that we found intriguing. We did not have sufficient time to write a proper review but we did not want the disc to go unnoticed. Note that miniblurbs are not rated...but we encourage readers to check out releases receiving miniblurbs because, in some cases, these discs may very well turn out to be the best releases of the month.

The John Francis - On The Moments We Share (CD EP, Rerum Novarum, Pop)
Although he has been recording music for several years now, we were only recently introduced to the music of California's Jack Francis. The first release we covered (The Earnest Manboy Suite in E Major) was a curious collection of experimental loud rock...but lurking underneath the currents was a voice that was intriguing and unique. This EP is a softer and more direct collection of tracks that reveals the substance that is inherent in this man's work. These recordings sound something like a cross between John Vanderslice and Ian Anderson. Francis presents eight reflective cuts here, all of which spotlight his inventive way of weaving tunes. Discovering obscure artists like this is what keeps us focused on writing about music. Although we're not sure why, for some reason we get really excited when we discover obscure artists few people seem to be aware of. Excellent tracks include "Grace For One," "Future Americana," "Sliding Any Way I Can," and "On the Moments We Share." This is the first CD to be released on the newly formed Rerum Novarum label. (Rating: 5+)

Kelt - Tomorrow Is Another Today (CD, Popboomerang, Pop)
The debut album from Australia's Kelt Twidale. The overall approach of Tomorrow Is Another Today reminds us of some of Leonard Cohen's very early work...although the music itself is actually quite different. This album emphasizes songs first and foremost. Twidale is a singer/songwriter with a real gift for penning memorable melodies...and his lyrics are unusually genuine and effective. Instead of over arranging his music to death, Kelt only uses the bare essentials in order to get his point across. Considering how many guest artists lent their talents to the disc, this must have required a great deal of restraint. No less than ten musicians and four producers were involved in this project and yet...the end result is rather simple and straightforward. In a world full of albums with very little or no substance, Tomorrow easily stands out. Smooth, contemplative tracks include "Wake Myself Up," "Life Is Not a Race," "When We Lose Our Way," and "Van Diemen's Land." (Rating: 5)


Natural disasters
Are always good
For a few

(Rating: 1)

Chris Letcher - Frieze (CD, Sheer Group / 2 Feet Music, Pop)
Chris Letcher's first brush with success came through his involvement with the South African band Urban Creep in the 1990s. Letcher now resides in London and focuses on his solo career but still tours successfully throughout South Africa. Frieze is an amazingly mature collection of modern progressive pop tunes. The overall sound of the album is something like an orchestrated version of Sufjan Stevens. Letcher has an amazingly restrained voice and he and his band members seem to pay particularly close attention to arrangements. These tracks might be far too thick and slickly produced for underground pop fanatics...but those who don't mind the excesses will find a lot to love here. These songs seem to ebb and flow in terms of volume and energy...but the vocal melodies are almost always the central focus of the music. Peculiar and intelligent, Frieze is bound to confound and entertain... Nifty cuts include "Deep Frieze," "Bad Shepherd," "Robotic Soldiers," and "Lopsided." (Rating: 5)

Leyode - Fascinating Tininess... (Advance CD-R, Eastern Developments, Progressive pop)
Leyode is the duo consisting of Yuseke Hama and Laurel Wells. Hama plays the instruments and manipulates the electronics while Wells provides layers upon layers of vocals. These folks play a heady sort of technology-based pop that sounds not unlike a cross between Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, and The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots album. Fascinating Tininess... features strange cut-and-paste electronics, dreamy instrumentation, and smooth, ghostly vocals. Considering the fact that Leyode tunes are so strangely obtuse...it seems odd indeed how easy the duo's music is on the ears and inner consciousness. These moody electronic-based pop concoctions are intelligent and different...yet never so far out that they can't be digested and easily appreciated. The more we spin this one...the better it sounds. Classy, odd compositions include "Sophie," "Isabelle," "Dominique," and "Elizabeth Chateau." Neat stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Ferraby Lionheart - Ferraby Lionheart (CD EP, Nettwerk, Pop)
This is not a review but rather a reminder. Way back in June 2006 we reviewed this EP by Ferraby Lionheart. Since that time, Ferraby has landed on the Nettwerk label (with a full-length album due out soon). So...if you missed the independent release of this EP, here's your chance. We still think that Lionheart sounds something like a cross between Ray Davies, Faris Nourallah, and Eric Carmen. (See review in June 2006 section).

LKN - Postulate II (CD, Greyday, Pop/rock)
The more we hear from Lauren K. Newman...the more impressed we are. Although her sound is completely different, Newman's overall approach reminds us very much of Elizabeth Sharp of Ill Ease. Both ladies are proficient multi-instrumentalists who can really smash at their drum kits...and both are also creating music that doesn't fit into easily defined, predictable categories. There are few ladies we can think of whose one-woman recordings rival the power and energy of all-guy bands. Postulate II certainly proves that women can crank it out with as much macho machismo as men. But while there is energy and passion in the playing, it is the songs themselves that make this album such a rewarding spin. At this point in time, Lauren's music is simply too intelligent and difficult for most listeners. Although this album kicks some mighty butt, you can be sure there won't be any hit songs sliding off this little platter. The songs are just too peculiar and odd. A resounding artistic success, Postulate II proves that there are still many unchartered territories in the world of music. Thrilling compositions include "On My Back in the June Night," "Systematic Minimalism," "Stragegem," and "Sarah." Great stuff, recommended... (Rating: 5++)


When in doubt
Lob a turd.

(Rating: 1)

Lola Dutronic - The Love Parade (CD, Bongo Beat, Pop)
The second album from Lola Dutronic, the Canadian duo consisting of multi-instrumentalist Richard Citroen and vocalist Francoise Hart. The Love Parade picks up where the duo's last album (The World of Lola Dutronic) left off. Citroen and Hart create soft, groovy, mood pop with an international feel. This album features tunes sung in English and French as well as Japanese. In addition to original tunes, Love Parade also features some rather intriguing covers of songs made famous by Brigitte Bardot, Sylvie Vartan, Kraftwerk, and Charles Trenet. The inclusion of tracks from the duo's first album on some well-known television shows has dramatically increased their global following. This album should please the band's current fans and draw in legions more to the fold. Beautiful, laidback, subtle pop tracks include "Lolatron," "Song For Edie," "Driving In The Rain," and "Here Comes the Winter." (Rating: 5+)

Mobile - Tomorrow Starts Today (CD, The Militia Group, Rock/pop)
Instantly catchy upbeat rock/pop that is bound to cause movement. This is the debut U.S. album for the guys in Montreal's Mobile...and it is absolutely guaranteed to create waves. The band has already had a good deal of success in Canada...and they now seem perfectly poised to transfer that success to the states with the aid and support of the fine folks at The Militia Group. Mobile's thick, commercial, hard pop sound is exactly what many young listeners are looking for. This band is at their best when they play direct rock ("Montreal Calling," "Hands Tied") while some of their more heavily arranged tunes don't work as well ("Out of My Head," "See Right Through Me"). We'd love to hear this band record an album that is more stripped down. They've got the goods...but they are sometimes buried beneath multiple layers of overdubs... (Rating: 4+++)

My American Heart - Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather (Advance CD-R, Warcon, Pop/rock)
My American Heart is a five piece group based in San Diego, California. Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather is the band's second full-length release. The album features plenty of thick, melodic, guitar-based rockin' tunes that should become quite popular with teenagers and college students. Since the release of their debut (The Meaning in Makeup), the guys in this band have done a great deal of touring...most likely in hopes of developing a following from the ground up. Producer James Paul Wisner has definitely left his mark here. On some of the tracks the extremely thick and busy arrangements work in the band's favor while in a couple of cases the tunes seem to get buried in the mix. Overall, however, this is an uplifting album that features a wealth of entertaining, danceable tracks. Top picks: "Boys! Grab Your Guns," "The Innocent Letter," "All My Friends." Good stuff. (Rating: 4+++)

New Amsterdams - Killed or Cured (Double CD, Curb Appeal, Pop)
We were big fans of The Get Up Kids...but we're even bigger fans of New Amsterdams. Both projects were/are driven by the songwriting skills of Matt Pryor, a fellow who is as prolific as he is talented. This is an interesting double CD. The first disc offers personal acoustic versions of ten songs Pryor wrote during the breakup of The Get Up Kids. These same songs were later fleshed out and re-recorded with New Amsterdams...which result in the very different versions that are found on the second CD of this set. Accordingly, these discs offer an interesting glimpse inside the recording process. Like Ben Folds, Matt Pryor has the rare ability to write songs that are obviously commercial...and yet somehow totally sincere and credible. After spinning both discs, we can't decide which we like best...mainly because each has its own unique appeal. These discs offer more positive proof of the relevance and credibility of New Amsterdams in the twenty-first century. Cool tracks include "Your Red Hand," "Maybe I'm A Fool," "Full Thunder Moon," and "Strangled By The Thought." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)


Animals is nuffin.
People is nuffin.
Earth is nuffin.
Nuffin is nuffin.

(Rating: 1)


Show me a
Nurse with balls
And I'll show you
A cow that makes
House calls.

(Rating: 1)

Pandatone - Happy Together (CD, Music Related, Progressive)
A different kind of listening experience. Pandatone is a mostly one-man-band recording experiment. The man who is the band writes and records tunes that don't follow familiar paths and traditional formulas. The tracks on Happy Together might be best described as modern mood pop. The cuts on this album have a nice, flowing quality and feature wonderfully serene sounds. A lot of the totally experimental music recorded in the twenty-first century tends to be unlistenable garbage. Pandatone tunes are anything but unlistenable. While coming up with new ideas and sounds, Pandatone manages to keep the music smooth and listenable...always seeming to keep his listeners' best interests in mind. Dreamy, hypnotic, delicate, and warm...Happy Together is a truly entertaining spin and it gets better the more you hear it. Our favorite songs include "The Last To Remain," "The Fog of Memory," Accountable," and "Because I Can." Neat. (Rating: 5+)

Andrew Pask and Jonathan Besser - Griffith Park (CD, pfMENTUM, Modern jazz/modern classical)
Sparse, peculiar, and odd...but also soft, soothing, and serene. Andrew Pask and Jonathan Besser teamed up to record twelve compositions for this album. Pask plays saxophone, bass clarinet, and handles live processing while Besser plays piano. The resulting overall sound is something like the soundtrack to a weird art film from the 1980s. There is no percussion in these tracks...so if you're looking for some happy upbeat jazz music, you probably won't be too pleased with this. The players keep things simple, allowing their improvisational technique to take them where it may. What this music does (and most likely what it was intended to do) is set a mood. These tracks will give listeners the same feeling one may experience while watching a pebble fall down a bank...a feather float down a stream...or a balloon rise into the sky. These strangely flowing pieces are subtle yet hypnotic...but always precise and exacting. Pask and Besser are, indeed, an excellent match for one another. Top picks: "Magnificent Photon," "Coldwater Light Bulb," "The Fried Judge," "Wellington Harbour." (Rating: 5++)

Pirates of the Caribbean at World's End - An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack (CD, Disney, Soundtrack)
We don't mind admitting right off the bat that we do not care for Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean film series featuring the "never believable as a pirate" acting skills of Johnny Depp (a man whose talents we have very much admired in other films). As a result, we were rather surprised to discover that when you remove the film and hear nothing but music...there are some real gems to be harvested here. The music on this CD was composed by Hanz Zimmer who provides thirteen super slick and effective compositions. Zimmer's music sounds something like a cross between classical and world music. The sound of the orchestra on this disc is amazing. Super big productions can often be rather pretentious and unlistenable. But in this case...Mr. Zimmer has come up with a disc that sounds absolutely incredible and works from start to finish. And the louder you turn it up, the better it sounds. Lush tracks include "Singapore," "Up Is Down," "What Shall We Die For," and "I Don't Think Now Is The Best Time." (Rating: 5)

Quarter Acre Lifestyle - Quarter Acre Lifestyle (Independently released CD, Pop/funk/dance)
What drew us into this band's music were the bass lines. Wow...wow...wowwwwww...throbbing, infectious bass lines that simply cannot be ignored. Quarter Acre Lifestyle is New Zealand brothers Aaron Pollock and Cameron Pollock...who have now been joined by Jack Wilcox, Kristin Brown, and Sarah Anderson. Although this album was released in June of 2006, it is only now receiving a larger degree of national recognition. The tracks on this album sound something like a cross between The Grassy Knoll, early Peter Gabriel, and Scorn...but not really. These folks slip and slide into so many musical territories that it can be rather confusing at times. But no matter what type of music they tackle, they do it right. We had to listen to this little pancake several times before we finally decided that we loved it. Groovy tracks include "Massive Aggressive," "Tiny Patch of Sky," "What It Is," "I Can Tell," and "I'll Be O.K." (Rating: 5++)

Schooner - Hold On Too Tight (CD, 54 40 or Fight!, Pop)
Subtle and unassuming underground pop from Chapel Hill, North Carolina's Schooner. This band's music has been compared to a wide variety of other artists including (but not limited to) Guided By Voices, Wedding Present, My Bloody Valentine, and Wilco. While all of these comparisons can be made, the songs on Hold On Too Tight don't really sound that much like any one particular artist. These pieces are restrained and subtle...rather soft and dreamy...and only on occasion does the band get noisy. This music is, for the most part, extremely laidback. Thus, in order to appreciate this album you need to be in the right frame of mind. Cool, slightly puzzling tracks include "Carrboro," "There's Enough To Do," "Married," and "Hospital Floor." (Rating: 4+++)

The Sea - The Boats are in the Bay (CD, Music Related, Progressive)
Sounds similar to ambient music...but this isn't ambient music...sounds similar to soft pop...but this isn't really soft pop...sounds like improvisational instrumental music...but there are vocals involved... The folks in The Sea (Esker, Bernd Hamblin, Berling Yeoman) are the same folks who are also in the band The Boats. The main difference between the two bands is that The Boats is an instrumental project while The Sea includes vocals. The Boats are in the Bay is a collection of slow, soft, methodical compositions. Traditional instruments merge with modern electronics to create otherworldly sounds and mood pieces. These tracks are serene and cerebral...smooth yet bizarre...subtle yet mesmerizing... This band is definitely treading in some new, interesting arenas. Odd tracks include "A School of Cherry Blossoms," "Kokoo," and "No More Wasting Chances." Neat stuff. (Rating: 5+)

$hane - Music For Bathtubs (CD, Phantom Powers, Electronic/instrumental)
A different sort of album featuring different types of music. Austin's $hane $helton has spent a great deal of time in the bathtub...so he finally decided to create an album inspired by and recorded for the experience. While it may sound like some kind of a joke, Music For Bathtubs is a surprisingly real and sincere album. The CD features eleven tracks that delve into experimental noise, ambience, and electronic pop. The music is mostly inspired by water or related topics ("Frog Pond," "Snowflake," "Tub," "The Big Ship", etc.). These tracks are solo recordings with some extra sounds and recording expertise provided by Cisco Ryder. While others are trying way too hard to make music that is way too complex and overproduced...$hane succeeds because he gets his point across using only the bare essentials. Nifty sounding stuff that kinda reminds us of babysue favorite Twink. (Rating: 5)

Signal To Trust - Golden Armour (CD, Modern Radio, Progressive)
Complex, progressive rock/pop with a twist. Golden Armour is reminiscent of many bands including but not limited to Wire and Sonic Youth. There's a lot going on in these twelve tracks that would take some time to digest. Odd, angular, and unusual stuff. Really nice packaging on this one... (Not Rated)
*A miniblurb is a short descriptive summary of a disc that we found intriguing. We did not have sufficient time to write a proper review but we did not want the disc to go unnoticed. Note that miniblurbs are not rated...but we encourage readers to check out releases receiving miniblurbs because, in some cases, these discs may very well turn out to be the best releases of the month.

Stand - Travel Light (CD, New World Music, Progressive pop)
The fourth full-length release from Ireland's Stand. These fellows have apparently made some major waves in the United States since moving to New York in 2002 and yet this disc serves as our introduction to their music. More than any other artist, Travel Light reminds us of the overall sound and approach of Copeland. The guys in Stand write and record melodic pop music that is propelled by some unorthodox rhythms and the songs feature wonderful layered vocals. While technology plays a major role in the band's overall sound, songs are always the main event. This album is a perfect marriage of artistic ideas with slick commercial sound quality. Lots of bands get carried away in the studio and overproduce their music to death. While the fellows in this band do tweak, twist, and overdub a great deal...it all serves to support the vocal melodies. Travel Light is a thick, heady album that just happens to contain great songs. To top it all off, the CD comes in a beautifully designed die-cut digipak sleeve. Killer tracks include "Carousel," "White Elephants," "Everything You Do Is Right," and "My Theory." Well done. (Rating: 5+)

Brett Ryan Stewart - Necessary Lies (Independently released CD, Pop)
Our first impression of this independently recorded and released CD was that it was going to get tossed to the side because it would probably sound like a thousand other generic underground artists. First impressions can be deceiving...and we don't mind admitting that we were totally wrong on this one. Although he's a complete unknown at the present time, Carthage, Tennessee's Brett Ryan Stewart is an incredibly talented man who writes some truly killer songs. What surprises us most about these recordings is how incredibly accessible they are. Instead of writing weird and noisy underground pop, Stewart composes classic pop songs that are timeless and surprisingly mature. And the man's voice has to be heard to be believed...what a voice (!). A great deal of time and energy obviously went into recording these tunes. The sound quality is nice and warm...a far cry from much of the overproduced music that clutters our mailbox. We wouldn't be surprised in the least if this guy gets picked up by the Vanguard label. His music would fit right in. Killer tracks include "Yet Again (Politic)," "Finding My Way," "Needle & Spoon," and "Disappear." Quality material from start to finish. (Rating: 5+)

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? - Pick Up Sticks (CD, Kill Rock Stars, Progressive)
Marching music...? Strange but true, this band's peculiar skewed rock/pop tracks are recorded to beats reminiscent of a marching band. The folks at Kill Rock Stars have a way of picking out some of the oddest bands...and this is no exception to the rule. Sounds a bit like XTC at times. Digesting this album would take some time...but our initial reaction was very positive... (Not Rated)
*A miniblurb is a short descriptive summary of a disc that we found intriguing. We did not have sufficient time to write a proper review but we did not want the disc to go unnoticed. Note that miniblurbs are not rated...but we encourage readers to check out releases receiving miniblurbs because, in some cases, these discs may very well turn out to be the best releases of the month.

Three 4 Tens - Down The Way (CD, Rainbow Quartz, Pop)
Soft and subtle pop with traces of mild psychedelia. Unlike some Rainbow Quartz artists who play purely upbeat catchy pop. the guys in Three 4 Tens write and record soft moody pop tunes that slowly make their way into your subconscious over time. What we find most puzzling about this band is that...despite the fact that their overall sound is very familiar...we have a very hard time coming up with possible influences and similar sounding artists. One thing is certain...we have heard very few pop bands in the past few years who can effectively combine drone and soft pop like these guys do. Down The Way is repetitive and hypnotic and yet...the vocal melodies are actually strangely catchy and accessible. Listening to this is kinda like...tripping and listening to college radio music from the 1980s. A word of warning. In order to get the full effect of this disc you need to play it several times. Only then will the subtle nuances of the music begin to sink in. Cool moody creations include "Everyday," "I Get High," "All the Pretty Girls," and "Gold Medal Moment." (Rating: 5+)

Track a Tiger - We Moved Like Ghosts (CD, Deep Elm, Progressive pop)
Totally cool and groovy moody soft pop that sounds something like a cross between Starflyer 59, Pink Floyd, and Yo La Tengo...but not really. Jim Vallet is one of the best new male vocalists we have heard this year. He has a soft, deep, breathy voice that is nothing short of fantastic. Add to this the fact that Track a Tiger tunes are smooth, melodic, and catchy...and you have a magnetic band whose music is bound to catch on with the right audience (i.e., thinking listeners who require intelligent pop with substance). This band's first album (Woke Up Early the Day I Died) was released on the increasingly influential Future Appletree label. We Moved Like Ghosts, the band's second full-length, is an unforgettable listening experience. Thick, dreamy tracks include "Saint About to Fall," "All These Accidents," "Not Far From This Anger," and "Without Fail." This album is destined to be one of the best pop releases in 2007 without a doubt... [Note: This is part of a new series offered by the folks at Deep Elm whereby only 1,000 actual physical copies of the CD are being pressed (to encourage downloads) so if you want one...you'd better grab at this one QUICK.] (Rating: 5+++)

The Truly Me Club - Popstar on the Lam (CD, Sonic Boom Recordings, Pop)
Soft, progressive free-flowing pop music with exceptional melodies. The band is driven by the songwriting talents of Portland, Oregon's Jason Parker. Parker writes pensive, thoughtful tunes that are soft and slightly haunting. This one proves to be an intriguing spin... (Not Rated)
*A miniblurb is a short descriptive summary of a disc that we found intriguing. We did not have sufficient time to write a proper review but we did not want the disc to go unnoticed. Note that miniblurbs are not rated...but we encourage readers to check out releases receiving miniblurbs because, in some cases, these discs may very well turn out to be the best releases of the month.

Universe Narrows - What Makes a Weed? (Independently released CD, Pop)
Simple, direct, hummable pop tunes from the father/son duo of JJ and Mark O'Connor. What Makes a Weed? is refreshing in many ways, not the least of which is these guys' ability to write genuine songs with lyrics that most people should be able to relate to. Instead of creating super weird and artsy underground pop, JJ and Mark record pop tunes that are remarkably normal sounding. The songs are presented simply using traditional instruments. You can tell by the sounds on this album that these guys had a good time recording these compositions. Nice, smooth, fluid cuts include "Stickball," "Spinach Green Eyes," "Lost and Found," and "Looking Through a Pane." Sincere, thoughtful, real music. (Rating: 5)

The Wellingtons - For Friends in Far Away Places (CD, Popboomerang, Pop)
The music of The Wellingtons practically defines catchy modern buzzsaw pop. This young band plays with such genuine, vibrant energy that you can't help but be affected by their enthusiasm. One's first impression might be to lump them in with a thousand other hard pop bands because they have a thick loud sound...but closer inspection reveals songs with super cool melodies that zip and glide all over the place. The Wellingtons' songs sound something like revved up versions of early recordings by Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. But while many of their tunes may be rooted in classic pop acts from the past, the overall sound is decidedly twenty-first century all the way. These ten punchy tracks are thick, catchy, clean, and addictive. Clever keepers include "Top 10 List," "If We Feel OK," "Penny," and "She Gave Up." Neat stuff. (Rating: 5+)


Life is neat.
Life is cool.
Life is replaceable.
Life is uncomfortable.

(Rating: 1)



When you wish
Upon a star
It goddamn sure as Hell
Makes a great big
Goddamn difference
Who the Hell
You are.

(Rating: 1)

Additional Items Received:

Ants - Ideabreaker
Josh Aran - Water to wash water away
Arks - The international
A Study In Her - Another year in philadelphia
Steve Barton and the Oblivion Circle - Flicker of time
Bitter Bitter Weeks - Peace is burning
Bodies of Water - Ears will pop and eyes will blink
Brighton MA - Brighton MA
Brown Shoe - Vanity
Bumbalo - Bumbalo
Tyler Burnett - Tyler Burnett
Gene Butler - Concrete country
Meryn Cadell - Angel food for thought
Liz Carlisle - Big dreams
Chemic - Fever on the forest floor
Chiba-Ken - Are we innocent?
Circus Diablo - Circus Diablo
Confession - Requiem
Contrast - Underground ghosts
Cut City - Exit Decades
Damien Dempsey - To hell or barbados
Dappled Cities - Granddance
Malan Darras - Who is Malan D?
Mark Davis - Don't you think we should be closer?
Mark Davis - Mistakes meant to make
Day After - A different way to get by
Dear & Departed - Someting quite peculiar
Delettantes - 101 tambourines
Deleted Waveform Gatherings - Complicated view
Diet Kong - Diet Kong
Doom Loop - The original mark edwards
Firescape - Dancehall apocalypse
Hannah Fury - Through the gash
Emerson Hart - Cigarettes and gasoline
Heartbeat Club - Lamecore
Hyperbubble - Airbrushed alibis
Isenheart - Isenheart
Gaslight Anthem - Sink or swim
The Ghost is Dancing - The darkest spark
Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara
Great Outdoors - Food, booze, and entertainment
Matthew Hope - Black tea nights
Kevin House - World of beauty
Howard Hello / Greenness - Howard Hello / Greenness
ILAD - National flags
Jena Campaign - A panda for amanda
Jupiter Watts - Jupiter Watts
K-Chari - Out of line
Kleveland - Kleveland
Last Star Shining - Shuporhero
Steuart Liebig / Minim - Sulphur
London Sofa - Everybody wants to have a good life
Steven Mark - Racing grey
The Measure [SA] - Historical fiction
Look Mexico - This is animal music
Madhouse - Everything kills
Mandrake - Featherweight
Manteca Beat - Manteca-licious!
The Masons - Let you down easy
Mandy Mercier - Run out of darkness
M'lumbo - Sacrifices ot the neon gods
Monahans - Low pining
Monument - Decades
My Morning Jacket - At dawn/tennessee fire demos package
Mystery of Two - Arros Are All You Know
Nouvelle Vague - Presents new wave
Once - Music from the motion picture
One Hand Loves the Other - One Hand Loves the Other
Patient Patient - Professionals and convicts
People Noise - Ordinary ghosts
Private Eleanor - Sweethearting
Project Jenny, Project Jan - XOXOXOXOXO
Blake Rainey and His Demons - The dangerous summer
Red Cloud - Hawthorne's most wanted
Reed KD - The ashes bloom
Rikters - Don't you get it
Sapiens - Vs. the hornet
Peter Searcy - Spark
Second Dan - Bringing down goliath
Session Americana - Beer town: The table top collective vol. 3
Bernie Shanahan - You
Trick Sensei - Summer sessions: Notes from a free cascadia
Slant - A thin line
Sleeping Revolt - Nightmare
Eric Smith - Rocky road
Soldier - Chamber music
Dave Soldier - Da h iphop raskalz
Soul Junk - 1959
Splurge - The cure for the cure
Start - Ciao, baby
State Champs - State Champs
Strezo - This balance
Swati - Small gods
Tears Run Rings - A question and an answer
Three Leaf Clover - Whiting tennis
Toasters - One more bullet
Turbo Fruits - Turbo Fruits
Two Dollar Pistols - Here tomorrow gone today
Various Artists - Essential dub
Various Artists - Deep Elm: Cover your tracks
Various Art ists - Kohalik JA Kohatu Vol. 2 - Compilation of Estonian Independent Music
Various Artists - The trials of Darryl Hunt: Official motion picture soundtrack
Veil Veil Vanish - Into a new mausoleum
Viarosa - Where the killers run
Kate Voegele - Don't look away
Wailsounds - Wailsounds
Wildbirds - Suzanna
Gretchen Witt - Six
Zu-Pa! - Fun

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