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May 2007 Reviews by

Aeroplane Pageant*
Bang Gang

Bitter Old Bitties
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club*
Black Tie Revue
Blktop Project
Cary Brothers
Brothers Martin*
Marc Broussard

James Chance & The Contortions

Dog Day
Dumpster Baby

Enders Room*

God Will Damn You

Goon Moon
Great Northern*
Kate Havnevik
Bobby Hebb

Darrin James Band
Jimi Hendrix

Joy Electric*
June Umbrella
Kite Operations
Living In Hell

Loose Salute

Magic Bullets
Graig Markel*
Marlboro Chorus

Abra Moore

Mother Hips*
The Nappy Headed Hos
No Big Deal

Orchard of Comradery
Payment Required
Pow. Wow.

Puppy Pops
Ray's Vast Basement
Luther Russell
Seven Storey Mountain
Sick Puppies
Spain vs. Mexico

Stafraenn Hakon
John P. Strohm

Laura Veirs
Jonathan Wilson

Winter Sounds
Without You
Zero Hero Today

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


Aeroplane Pageant - Wave to the Moon (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
Aeroplane Pageant is driven by the songwriting skills of Brian Kelly but also includes Chris Anguis, Mike Areephituk, Tim Watson, and Erik Deangelis. The band previously released an EP (He Is Fire) that went over well with many critics and listeners. Wave to the Moon features complex modern progressive pop that is sometimes reminiscent of Lilys. Mr. Kelly has a cool, warbly voice that really makes these tunes cook. The melodies weave all over the place...hardly the predictable blubber that many modern pop bands are guilty of producing. Some of Brian's melodies are absolutely out-of-this-world. Our guess is that this band will probably be embraced first by college kids...then later accepted by members of the general public. Smart and inventive cuts include "All the Days," "Wherever September," "Ghost and the Ballerina," and "New Parade." Classy stuff. (Rating: 5++)

Bang Gang - Something Wrong (CD, From Nowhere, Progressive pop)
Only occasionally do we hear new bands from Iceland...but when we do, they are usually intriguing and unusual to say the least. Bang Gang is a project driven by Reykjavik's Bardi Johannsson...an extraordinarily talented writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Previously only appreciated by fans in their own country, the folks in Bang Gang are now the central focus of a lot of people in the music business...mainly due to the fact that Ryko is now distributing their music in the United States. (As a side note, From Nowhere is the first Icelandic label ever to be nationally distributed here). Something Wrong features dreamy, articulately arranged tracks that are somewhat epic in nature. Johannsson's tunes are moody and unpredictable...and feature sweeping instrumental sections that have a cool, breezy quality. Considering the cerebral, odd nature of this album...it seems weird that the band would choose to include a cover of The Supremes' "Stop In The Name of Love." But even more peculiar is the fact that the track actually works (in many ways sounding as good or even better than the original...!). With the release of this album, the folks in Bang Gang immediately establish themselves as major contenders in the world of twenty-first century progressive pop. (Rating: 5++)

Bears - Shortest Day of the Year (Independently released CD EP, Pop)
A short EP with tunes that are slightly reminiscent of The Hang Ups. Though this EP only offers seven tunes, it will certainly serve to whet the appetites of the band's growing legion of fans. "Those Years" and "Losing My Love" are without a doubt two of the niftiest pop tunes we've heard thus far this year. Our only complaint is the length of this disc. After hearing sixteen minutes...we really wanted to hear more, more, more. Hopefully this will be followed up in the very near future with a full-length album... (Rating: 5)


Pity the bitter old bitties
Because they are bitter.
Give up on bitter old bitties
While you're on the shitter.

(Rating: 1)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81 (CD, RCA, Pop/rock)
We've been into this band's music in the past...but Baby 81 is a REAL knockout. Laced with traces of Marc Bolan from start to finish, Baby 81 is a fuzzpop masterpiece. The guys in Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were in the peculiar position of being labeled way too hip and cool way too fast...and we were worried that all the attention would go to these guys' heads. Apparently, at least up to this point, that is not the case. Despite the fact that this album features some super catchy tunes, it also packs a hearty punch. These guys have it all...a killer rhythm section, great lyrics, mind bending guitars, vocals drenched with attitude...and yet they seem to maintain creative control despite the fact that they are on a major label. We'll certainly be blasting this l'il sucker in our truck and MP3 player all spring long. Killer cuts include "Took Out," "Windows" (a real standout track), "All You Do Is Talk," "Killing the Light," and "Am I Only." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Black Tie Revue - Code Fun (CD, Gearhead, Pop)
Simple catchy pop played with genuine enthusiasm. The guys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Black Tie Revue have a sound that is decidedly unhip and uncool...both of which are impressive in this little corner of the internet. Instead of playing modern noise or (c)rap hop, these guys play hard power pop in the same general vein as some of the best bands from the 1970s. The appropriately-titled Code Fun is one great big danceable ball of catchy fuzzpop. This 10 song mini-album is a great introduction to a band with a real future ahead of 'em. The vocals sound superb. Pure feelgood tracks include "Red Everywhere," "Call Waiting," "Too Much Thinking," and "Absent Radio." Ultra positive pop with punch. (Rating: 5+)

Blktop Project - Blktop Project (CD EP, Galaxia, Instrumental)
Blktop Project began in 2002 when skateboarders Ray Barbee, Tommy Guerrero, and Matt Rodriguez went on a road trip and began making music together (the band now also includes Doug Scharin and Chuck Treece). This eight song CD features smooth, jazzy, almost lounge-ish compositions that flow by like puffy clouds in the sky. Rather than creating the abrasive (c)rap rock that many skateboarders are guilty of producing, these fellows create music that is much more cerebral in nature...sounding very much like a movie soundtrack. Our only complaint here...is that this disc is only about 24 minutes in length. With this sort of mood inducing stuff...it would have been far more effective if the disc were at least an hour long. A minor point, however, as quality is always more important than quantity in this fluffy office suite... (Rating: 4+++++)

Cary Brothers - Who You Are (CD, Bluhammock, Soft pop)
Okay, so it may not be the most original sounding album in the universe...but Cary Brothers' smooth, pensive pop still sounds mighty damn good to us. Who You Are is a collection of slick, polished, acoustic guitar driven pop music featuring excellent vocals and arrangements that sometimes border on orchestral. Cary's sound and style may be far too accessible for underground fans...but there's a large audience that we'd bet will welcome this guy's music with open arms. Although we're always impressed with super intelligent, creative artists whose music is challenging and bizarre...there are times when all you want is some easy pop to groove on. And there is plenty to groove on here. Excellent songs include "Jealousy," "Honestly," "Loneliest Girl in the World," and "Precious Life." Our guess is that the ladies are really going to love this guy... (Rating: 4++++++)

Brothers Martin - Brothers Martin (CD, Tooth and Nail, Pop)
What an intriguing surprise to receive this release. These two ultra talented brothers have been writing and recording music for many years...and now they finally collaborate on an album together. Ronnie Martin is the man behind Joy Electric and Jason Martin is the man behind Starflyer 59. Both bands have been babysue favorites for years and years. So...what does Brothers Martin sound like...? Well, we are pleased to report that it sounds very much like...a cross between Joy Electric and Starflyer 59 (imagine that!). Songwriting duties are split up evenly between the two with the first track ("Communication") being the only joint writing endeavor. After hearing this...we can't help but wonder if this project will continue or whether this is a one shot deal...? No matter. This is like getting a new album by two of our favorite artists all rolled into one. Jason and Ronnie's sounds merge together surprisingly well...making this yet another remarkable collection of pop songs that we couldn't live without. Killer cuts include "The Harsh Effects of Time," "The Missionary," "Opportunities," and "Life on Strings." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Marc Broussard - S.O.S.: Save Our Soul (Advance CD, Vanguard, Soul/pop)
Marc Broussard's debut for Vanguard Records immediately recalls the music of Stevie Wonder. As a result, some people may tend to dismiss Marc as a copycat artist...but we don't subscribe to this theory. Actually and instead, since Stevie isn't exactly churning out quality material like he used to, we find Mr. Broussard's sound and style a refreshing reminder of how much we love great soul/pop from the 1960s and 1970s. Broussard chose to cover the icons here...Al Green, Staple Singers, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Womack, Allen Toussaint and more...and his versions are in most cases as good or better than the originals. Folks who long for the days when soul was the focus of most black artists are bound to fall in love with this music. Sure we may have heard it all before...but when it's delivered with this much integrity and style...it still sounds good. (Rating: 5)

James Chance & The Contortions - Soul Exorcism Redux (CD, ROIR, Funk/punk/jazz)
Remastered reissue with three bonus tracks added for extra punch ("Disposable You #2," "I Don't Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing," "Truth or Consequence"...all three taken from a four-track recording session in 1987). This disc is a live recording of the band playing in Rotterdam, Holland in 1980. Must've been a wild night. This hot, blistering session features throbbing rhythms, James Chance's raw and intense vocals, and some crazy instrumental improvisation. While tons of artists are playing this style of music today, way back in the early 1980s James Chance and his associates were treading new territory. The band's music incorporates ingredients from rock, punk, modern jazz, experimental, and progressive rock into one big bad nasty stew. On that fateful night, the band consisted of Chance, Patrick Geoffrois, Fred Wells, Lorenzo Wyche, Al McDowell, Richi Harrison, and Anya Phillips. This is some pretty wild stuff. Provocative and intense. (Rating: 5+)

Conformists - Three Hundred (CD, 54 40 or Fight!, Progressive/experimental)
Peculiar stuff, even by our standards. Conformists is neither a noise band nor a hard rock band nor a punk band...nor is it completely experimental. Instead, the folks in this band create music that is an odd congregation of elements from all of these and more. One minute they're angry, the next moment pensive, then they sound almost jazzy, then abrasive and noisy. The tracks on Three Hundred can best be described as...schizophrenic. Perhaps our favorite segment of this album is the beginning of "Black People"...which features the band playing their final crash of the evening as the vocalist says "Thank you, thank you, thanks, thank you very much, thank you..." And that is, of course, the beginning of the song. Obviously these guys have a sense of humor, and at times they are a total scream. This band is bound to lose almost all listeners as they attempt to expand the boundaries of what music is and can be. Although we find some of this to be rather amazing, we can only recommend it to folks who are really, really far out mentally... (Rating: 5)

Datarock - Datarock Datarock (CD, Nettwerk, Techno/pop/rock)
The two fellows in Datarock have a sound that is reminiscent of artists like The Frogs, Young Gods, Sex Pistols, and Kraftwerk. Datarock Datarock is almost certain to elicit a variety of reactions from listeners and reviewers. Datarock is the Norwegian duo consisting of Frederik Saroea and Ketil Mosnes...two fellows who apparently aren't gay but seem to enjoy singing about gay themes. The tunes on Datarock Datarock are basic modern techno with punk rock aesthetics. The lyrics are particularly inventive and humorous. The songs themselves...are somewhat of a hit and miss affair. When these guys hit the target, they hit it dead on ("I Used To Dance With My Daddy," "Princess," "Laurie"). But some of the tunes tend to be a bit on the generic side ("Computer Camp Love," "See What I Care," "I Will Always Remember You"). So...while this album may be a bit uneven, if you don't mind skipping around a bit you will find some really great songs. This is a good album...but the duo's next release could very well be a complete knockout. (Rating: 4+++)

Dog Day - Night Group (CD, Tomlab, Pop)
We had to do a double take here...a pop group...on Germany's obtuse Tomlab label...??? Strange but true, the folks in Dog Day play accessible alternative pop music that is melodic and hummable. Our initial reaction to this band was that...we didn't have much of an initial reaction to this band. But fortunately we came upon this l'il sucker on a day when we had some extra time to spare...and within a short amount of time we found ourselves happily tapping our toesies to this group's simple, catchy, feelgood music. This Canadian group plays modern progressive pop that is slightly reminiscent of The Wedding Present with vocals that remind us of Lou Reed's first solo album. Nifty keepers include "Lydia," "Oh Dead Life," "Gayhorse," and "Bright Light." A cool, uplifting experience. (Rating: 5+)


Here's the church and
Here's the steeple.
Open the doors and see shitty

(Rating: 1)


Put your baby
In a dumpster and
Leave it there.

(Rating: 1)

Earthless - Rhythms From a Cosmic Sky (Advance CD-R, Tee Pee, Rock)
Most bands end their concerts and albums with an intense jolt of chaotic noise...but that's how these guys chose to begin this album. Earthless is the trio consisting of Mario Rubalcaba, Mike Eginton, and Isaiah Mitchell...three guys in San Diego, California who have a really big, thick sound that combines elements of 1970s heavy metal with 1990s stoner rock. The lead track ("Godspeed") is an exercise in excess. Instead of offering a nice, catchy, radio friendly tune to begin their album, these fellows immediately launch into a crazed hard rock free-for-all...this wild track lasts over 20 minutes and never lets up. The playing is intense and the guitars are truly gripping. For folks who liked Black Sabbath or Fu Manchu but found the songs too commercial and accessible...this may just be your favorite new cup of tea. Noisy instrumentals that you won't soon forget. (Rating: 4+++++)

Enders Room - Hotel Alba (CD, Tuition Music, Progressive/jazz)
Johannes Enders has played saxophone with some notable artists including The Notwist, Billy Hart, and Roy Hargrove. Enders Room is Enders' own project in which he records with no less than ten other musicians...and the results are indeed impressive. Hotel Alba features twelve modern, funky, progressive tracks that incorporate influences from all over the map. Some of these recordings are slightly reminiscent of Britain's Grassy Knoll...except more jazzy in nature. In addition to saxophone, Enders also plays flutes, clarinette, piano, and klampfe and provides electronics, programming, and vocals. We are particularly impressed with Johannes' vocals. He has a deep, smooth, subdued voice that works perfectly with the style of music he records. While it isn't likely that this album will yield any commercial hits (the music is too mature and obtuse), critics and fans of musical undercurrents are bound to be wildly enthusiastic about this disc. Groovy cuts include "Tiki Land," "Just Red and Blue," "La La Bee," and "Morph 2." Super cool stuff. (Rating: 5++)


Your father is a liar.
Your mother is a bitch.
Your brother is a faggot and
Your sister is a witch.

(Rating: 1)


She bludgeoned her husband
With a hammer.
She shot all her children
With a gun.
She took her own life
With a carving knife
Because she thought dying was

(Rating: 1)


When you wish upon a star
God will damn you.
When you do a good deed
God will damn you.
When you help those in need
God will still damn you.
When you don't do anything at all
God will continue to damn you
To infinity.

(Rating: 1)

Goon Moon - Licker's Last Leg (CD, Ipecac, Pop)
Goon Moon is the duo consisting of Chris Goss (Queens of the Stone Age, Masters of Reality) and Jeordie White (previously known as Twiggy in the band Marilyn Manson and also now a member of Nine Inch Nails). Surprisingly, the tunes on Licker's Last Leg don't sound much like any of these fellows' other bands. These tracks have much more in common with androgynous popsters like Peter Murphy and David Bowie. If the band's own tunes weren't an indication of where they are headed, then the inclusion of an intriguing Bee Gees cover ("Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You") is a dead giveaway. The thickly produced cuts on this album are, for the most part, pure pop played with plenty of modern pizzazz and kick. Goss and White write songs that are melodic and memorable...and the vocals are particularly impressive throughout. Although fans of those other bands may be confused by Last Leg...our guess is that these guys now stand to land an entirely new fan base. Nifty tracks include "Apple Pie," "An Autumn That Came Too Soon," "Tip Toe," and "Lay Down." (Rating: 5+)

Great Northern - Trading Twilight for Daylight (CD, Eenie Meenie, Progressive pop)
There was no press release that accompanied this disc and we could find no autobiographical information about this band on their web site so we can only offer a pure reaction to the music we hear...which is actually a good thing in cases like this. The folks in Great Northern offer smooth, thick, glossy soft pop music that relies heavily on melodic harmony and heavenly arrangements. While the tunes on Trading Twilight for Daylight are mainly soft and subdued, some elements creep in that are usually reserved for hard rock bands (crashing drums, loose guitars in overdrive). The combination of various elements and sounds gives this band a moody and often unpredictable sound that is inviting and occasionally peculiar. We're always a sucker for great melodies...and great melodies are the strongest aspect of this band's work. Driving rhythms...incredible vocals...and a wonderfully lush production...make this album a purely delightful spin from start to finish. Killer tracks include "Our Bleeding Hearts," "Home," "City of Sleep," and "The Middle." Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Kate Havnevik - Melankton (CD, Continentica, Pop)
Cool, dreamy, slick modern progressive pop. The first thing that struck us about Kate Havnevik was her voice. Man, what a voice this young lady has. Her vocals are so silky smooth that on the first listen it is hard to notice anything else on this album except for the vocals (!). After a couple of spins, however, you begin to notice to precise arrangements and subtle nuances of the music itself. Although probably too slickly produced for most underground music fans, we find the tunes on Melankton to be beautifully intricate and hypnotic. In some ways, various elements in Havnevik's music recalls other female artists like Kate Bush (except less dramatic), Lisa Germano (except less dark and depressing), and Yoko Ono (except more immediately accessible)...while never really sounding too much like any of them. Some of the techno percussion that creeps in from time to time seems a bit out of place...but overall, this is a very soothing and satisfying collection of tunes from a lady who is bound to make major waves in the musical world in the years ahead. (Rating: 5)

Bobby Hebb - That's All I Wanna Know (CD,
This is the first commercially available album of new material from Bobby Hebb since his 1970 album Love Games. As a key point of reference, Hebb is the man who wrote and sang the iconic hit "Sunny" (a new version is included on this disc). Although Hebb has recorded material over the years, the music never made it to the surface for one reason or another. That's All I Wanna Know features classy, classic pop/soul tracks...some of which are covers and some of which Hebb either wrote or co-wrote with others. Thankfully, Bobby and his crew opted to avoid incorporating modern cliches into this album...resulting in an album with the soul power of the 1970s combined with the super slick sound that modern studios allow. Bobby's voice sounds great. He still sounds remarkable and powerful...and his backing band is super tight. Spiffy cuts include "Different Strokes," "A Satisfied Mind," "We're Gonna Make It," "Cold Cold Heart," and "Love Love Love." Let's all hope that this marks Bobby Hebb's permanent return to the world of writing and recording... (Rating: 5+)

Darrin James Band - Thrones of Gold (CD, Bridge Street, Pop/rock)
Genuine, good, simple Americana pop/rock in the same general vein as artists like John Cougar, The Replacements, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan. Thrones of Gold is the debut album from the Darrin James Band. Many folks are bound to be impressed at how unpretentious this music is. Rather than jump on predictable bandwagons, James and his bandmates play simple, classic guitar pop that could easily be appreciated by millions of people. Darrin's songs are straightforward and real...presenting thoughts and ideas that most people should be able to identify with. If you're looking for the weirdest new underground band of the month, you probably won't be impressed with this. But if you're in the market for some good, hummable music that touches on real human topics...Thrones of Gold just may end up being your favorite album of the year. Quality cuts include "Trivial," "Thrones of Gold" (our favorite), "Had Enough of Me," and "In the End." (Rating: 4+++++)


Jimi Hendrix
Was cool
Because he
Took drugs.
You be cool

(Rating: 1)

Joy Electric - The Otherly Opus (CD, Tooth and Nail, Electronic pop)
Ronnie Martin was, to the best of our knowledge, one of the first pop singer/songwriters to bring the world of analog synthesizers back from the grave. Because he was doing this in the 1990s before the onslaught of modern bands emerged who now proudly rely on early analog sounds, Martin was largely ignored by reviewers and listeners...most likely because his sound was so loopy and unusual. Since he began his career, Martin has probably turned on about as many people as he has turned on. His songs are probably too upbeat and infused with too much Christianity for hipster underground listeners...while he's probably a bit too strange for fans of commercial music. Even though it has become a love-it-or-hate-it commodity...folks who love Joy Electric really, really love it. And we are proud to be among the group of people who appreciate the genuine sincerity and talent that goes into every Joy Electric album. The Otherly Opus continues where previous albums left off. The album is short (just over a half an hour in length) but once again...Ronnie delivers. Catchy, smooth, heady pop tracks include "Frivolity and Its Necessities," "Write Your Last Paragraph," and "A Glass to Count All the Hours." Great stuff, highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

June Umbrella - June Umbrella (Independently released CD-R EP, Progressive pop)
Very nice seven song EP from this up-and-coming four piece band from Eugene, Oregon. These tracks are exceptionally mature and polished, particularly when you consider the fact that the band recorded and produced these songs themselves. June Umbrella is driven by the songwriting talents of Brian Hall. This young fellow really knows how to turn a tune...and his vocals are truly exceptional. Dreamy, textural arrangements add extra depth to these ethereal pop tracks. We won't be surprised when the next June Umbrella album ends up being released on one of the super hip underground labels in the months ahead. Word is bound to spread quickly about this nifty little band because their music has true substance. Top picks: "Van Gogh," "Harvest," "Icicles." (Rating: 5+)

Kite Operations - Heart Attacks, Back to Back (CD, K.O.A., Progressive pop)
Kite Operations is, first and foremost, an artistic endeavor in which the musicians are free to do whatever they please. The first track on this album ("I Want To See") makes it perfectly clear that the individuals involved in this project have little regard for commercial potential and mass appeal. The tune begins with an extended meandering introduction before transforming into an all-out rock tune...and then gradually melts away into a sea of overdriven guitars. Beautiful stuff. Heart Attacks, Back to Back features the same sort of heady, puzzling compositions that can be found on this band's previous album (Dandelion Day). Unlike many artsy bands that use the recording process as a diving board for pure experimentation, the folks in Kite Operations always manage to include enough genuine substance in their tracks to ensure the music holds up to many repeated spins. The more we hear from these folks...the more impressed we are. If you're looking for easy, familiar music you would best be advised to steer clear of this album. But if you're in the mood for consciousness altering creativity...you will find a wealth of thought provoking material to digest here. Peculiar, unpredictable, crazy tracks include "Chimera," "Good Morning" (our favorite), "Comfort," "Killing/Afternoon," and "A Day Outside." Truly nifty stuff. We're big fans of this band... (Rating: 5+++)


Corporate accountants,
Financial agents, and
Attorneys are already dead
Because they are already living
In Hell.

(Rating: 1)

Lopside - When You're Finally Through Being Responsible (Independently released CD, Electronic/instrumental)
What a great name for a band...not Lopsided...but Lopside. Brilliant. And what an excellent album title. And not only is the title the title...but when you break it up into individual words, it also becomes the individual song titles. Some real creativity obviously going on here. We've just been going through a phase in our lives in which we have determined that being too responsible is just plain dull and boring. When all you've got is a great band name and CD title, that isn't saying very much...but when you happen to be Lopside...well then, you just happen to be doing just about everything right. Although it isn't specifically stated on the CD itself or the accompanying press release, our guess is that this is the one man project consisting of D. Linds. Linds composes and records thick, heady instrumentals that emphasize a thorough understanding of music technology. The tracks on this lengthy album (over an hour's worth of music here) are imaginative, spooky, funny, and thought provoking. So many one man electronic bands on the planet...and yet very few who actually stand out from the crowd. Lopside is sure one of these. Classy, impressive tracks include "When," "You're," "Finally," "Through," and "Being." Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Loose Salute - Tuned to Love (CD, Graveface, Pop)
Loose Salute was formed after Mojave 3 drummer Ian McCutcheon overheard Lisa Billion singing Bob Dylan songs while cooking at a rehearsal studio (the band now also includes Charlotte King, Pete Greenwood, and Alan Forrester). What will strike many folks is how strangely accessible the tunes on Tuned to Love are. These soft, catchy songs could have easily been radio hits in the 1970s and 1980s. Nowadays...who knows how folks will react to this music...? Subdued, reflective, and simple...Loose Salute songs have a light hippy sound that is somehow reminiscent of 1960s folk music from London and San Francisco. While the band's sound is soft and familiar...we're baffled in our attempts to describe the music. Exactly who does this album sound like...? Harper's Bizarre...? Fleetwood Mac...? Whatever it is, it's classic and timeless. Excellent tracks include "Death Club," "The Mutineer," "Why'd We Fight," and "Cold Water." There are some beautiful little gems on this one... (Rating: 5+)

Magic Bullets - A Child But in Life Yet a Doctor in Love (CD, Words On Music, Pop)
Magic Bullets is a peculiar little band in San Francisco that plays pop that is strangely out of place in today's musical climate. The band's unique sound is due in large part to the odd, slightly strangled vocals of Philip Benson (who sounds something like a cross between very early David Byrne and Robert Smith). The band's guitar driven tunes are direct and danceable...and yet there are peculiar elements in the music that are at times almost indiscernible. What is most appealing about this album is the fact that the band members don't seem to be copying the sound and style of other bands. The musicians seem driven by their own innate desires to make their own kind of music...and it shows. Clever pop ditties include "Yesterday's Seen Better Days," "Heatstroke," "Circumstances," and "Spent Nights." Groovy stuff, played with integrity... (Rating: 5)

Graig Markel - Via Novella (CD, Sonic Boom Recordings, Soft pop)
Graig Markel keeps the quality up on this short but satisfying collection of tunes. On the first spin, one might mistake Via Novella as just another batch of soft modern pop tunes. But closer observation reveals the intricacies and nuances that make this album so rewarding and fulfilling. Markel plays a whole slew of instruments (electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, vibraphone, etc.) and has an impressive crew lending helping hands (Shea Bliss, Jeremiah Green, Zera Marvel, Jeffrey McCallum, Jen Wood). This album features eleven personal, moody compositions that are infused with tasty reverb drenched guitars and subtle, heady arrangements. Graig has a cool restrained voice that is immediately genuine and soothing. Packaged in a beautiful diecut digipak sleeve...Via Novella is a wonderfully real experience. Top picks: "Black Mesa," "Knives Drawn" (our favorite), "Turpentine," "Silverlining." (Rating: 5+)

Marlboro Chorus - American Dreamers (CD, Future Appletree, Pop)
The more we hear from the folks in Marlboro Chorus...the more impressed we are. American Dreamers is, without a doubt, the band's strongest release yet. This mini-album (lasting just over 30 minutes) features dazzling, ultra-catchy guitar pop that is bound to put you in a great mood. B Patric's tunes just keep getting better and better with every passing year. This album contains some of the best pop songs we have heard thus far this year . "Love Is In Love," "American Dreamers," and "What Your Mama Said" (our top favorite...what a dynamite tune!) are just superb in every way possible. Some of the tunes don't quite reach the peak of the best tracks...but there's more than enough meat here to satisfy even the fussiest pop fanatic. Considering the hit potential of some of these tracks, it seems incredible that...at least at this point in time...Marlboro Chorus remains an underground band. Let's all hope these folks receive the recognition they deserve this time around... (Rating: 5++)

Maserati - Inventions For the New Season (CD, Temporary Residence Ltd., Progressive)
The first new Maserati release in four years. The band now consists of Matthew Cherry, Coley Dennis, newly recruited drummer Gerhardt Fuchs, and Steven Scarborough. Inventions for the New Seasons was recorded by Andy Baker at his home studio in Athens, Georgia. The album features eight impressionistic tracks...all of which are simultaneously hypnotic and slightly psychedelic. These guys combine elements of drone music with modern electronics and guitar loops...to create multi-faceted music that can be appreciated on several different levels. Only on occasion is the full power of the band evident, as most of this music is somewhat restrained and heady. At a time when most bands can easily be lopped into a specific genre...the folks in Maserati are creating their own brand of hard modern mood music. Nifty clippers include "Inventions," "Kalimera," "Show Me the Season" (our favorite), and "The World Outside." Interesting stuff. (Rating: 5)

Mochipet - Girls Love Breakcore (CD, Daly City, Experimental/electronic/progressive)
The first thing that caught our attention about this disc was that it features babysue favorite Twink on one track ("Toy Piano Core"). The second thing that caught our attention was...the fact that this is one of the most over-the-top electronic releases to come out this year. The person or persons known as Mochipet butcher and mutate various musical forms on this wildly inventive album. Far from being a solo endeavor, Mochipet involves a whole slew of other artists here...Otto Von Schirach, Weasel Walter, Rotator, Aaron Spectre, Doormouse, Paul Costuros, Tralphaz...names that are probably only familiar to folks following the most serious undercurrents of modern electronic pop. This music is so crazy that the only thing most folks will be interested in...is how to make it stop. While we were confused initially...the closer we listened, the more fascinating this stuff got. Bizarre cuts include "Girls Don't Love Weird Voices?", "Tumbacore," "Wafflecore," "Weaselcore," "Hyphycore," and plenty more... WILDLY NERVOUS STUFF. (Rating: 5)

Montag - Going Places (CD, Carpark, Electronic pop)
Soft, smooth, melodic electronic pop. Montreal, Canada's Montag is the creation of Antoine Bedard. Bedard's third full-length release features intelligent, well-produced pop featuring shifting melodies and subtle shades of sound. Several of the tracks feature guest vocalists (Anthony Gonzales, Amy Millan, Ghislain Poirier, Ida Nilsen, Owen Pallett, Leah Abramson, Victoria Legrand, Au Revoir Simone). Antoine's songs are, for the most part, simple and straightforward...yet this fact is somewhat blurred due to the subtle but heady psychedelic sounds that bleed in and out of the speakers. Many folks would probably lump this album in the dream pop genre (which may be appropriate)...but in our opinion this music is much smarter than that. Puzzling, hummable pop tracks include "I Have Sound," "Alice," "Safe In Sound," and "Going Places." Nifty stuff. (Rating: 5)

Abra Moore - On The Way (CD, Sarathan, Soft pop)
Exceptionally effective smooth modern pop. After going through the ordeals of being embraced by hoards and being signed to the Arista label, Abra Moore opted to redirect her career. Released by the Seattle-based independent label Sarathan, On The Way is a refreshing return to form. Ms. Moore is apparently more interested in shaping her own career and honing her craft than merely raking in the bucks. And that is fortunate indeed...because we would hate to see a talent like this go to the dogs. Ms. Moore's music is an intriguing hybrid that merges accessible, commercial pop with creative arrangements and total artistic integrity. Her voice is mesmerizing...quite obviously one of the best female vocalists of the twenty-first century. Though these tunes may be too slickly produced for fans of the underground, On The Way is most certainly a success in more ways than one. The songs are great, the lyrics intelligent and insightful...and the overall sound is polished yet genuine and sincere. Snappy cuts include "Into the Sunset," "Sorry," "Birthday Song," and "No Turning Back." (Rating: 5+)

Morningbell - Through the Belly of the Sea (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
Smooth, melodic pop. The folks in Morningbell write and record dreamy progressive pop that sounds something like a cross between Alex Chilton and the softer side of Pink Floyd. The songs on Through the Belly of the Sea don't fit in with general trends in twenty-first century music. The songs certainly don't sound anything like commercial crap...but they also have very little in common with the vast majority of underground pop bands. We always admire bands and artists who follow their own instinctual tendencies rather than following the crowd...and this is most certainly the case with Morningbell. The band consists of Travis Atria, Eric Atria, and Stacie Thrushman. Using traditional instruments, these three individuals have managed to record twelve modern classics that will surely stand the test of time. Top picks: "The Speed of God," "The Octopus Walks Across the Coral," Utopian Fantasy at the Center of the Earth," "Sittin' On a Bubble." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Mother Hips - Kiss the Crystal Flake (CD, Camera, Pop)
This is the first new Mother Hips album since Green Hills of the Earth which was released in 2001. Kiss the Crystal Flake marks both a return to form as well as a slightly different direction for the band. Produced by Dylan Magierek (the man who founded Badman Recording Co.), this album has a thicker, more modern sound than previous releases. The songs are still upbeat and hummable...but the instrumentation and arrangements are more mature and progressive. Songs are what drew us to this band several years ago...and songs are what make Crystal Flake such a rewarding spin. These tracks sound slick and smooth without ever sounding overproduced...and the vocals are, as usual, right on target. Our guess is that this album will please the bands fans...while hopefully attracting an entirely new (and younger) audience. The band consists of Tim Bluhm, Greg Loiacono, Paul Hoaglin, and John Hofer. It would be great if this turned out to be the breakthrough album for these guys. They've worked hard through the years...always managing to provide quality recordings with heart and soul. Killer cuts include "Mission in Vain," "Wicked Tree," "White Headphones," and "This Bliss." Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

MUS - La Vida (CD, Green UFOs, Soft pop)
If we weren't already in love with the band MUS (which we were)...Darla's impeccably written press release would most likely have sold us on this album. Prevous MUS discs were released by the folks at Spain's Acuarela label, while La Vida is being made available by Green UFOs. La Vida is a bit of a departure from previous MUS releases in that the music is more accessible. While applauded by critics and underground fans, this band has been largely ignored by the general public...possibly due to the fact that they sing all of their songs in their native Asturian language. In recording this album, the duo of Monica Vacas and Fran Gayo have apparently decided that this will likely be the last MUS release. We can only hope that this is not the case. La Vida is a beautiful, seductive, exotic collection of intelligent soft pop tracks that are ultimately satisfying and genuinely unique. Twelve dreamy, longing tracks that will surely stand the test of time. Killer cuts include "Per Tierres Baxes," "Animas del Purgatoriu," "Les Patinadores," and "Anada Pal Primer Mes." Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)

The Nappy Headed Hos - Insecure Overly Sensitive Basketball Playing Prostitutes With Dirty Stinking Hair (CD, Blendorama, Folk/pop)
Freedom of speech...or freedom from speech...? The Nappy Headed Hos intend to butcher everything in their paths with this, their debut album. Inspired by recent controversy over whether or not people should be allowed to speak freely, the Hos have a sound and style that is frantic and mainly driven by dirty panty rings. When they're good they're good ("Ain't Nobody Gonna Make Me Respect Whitey No Mo") and when they're bad...well...they're actually pretty bad ("Flowers and Beef Stew Are Mighty Good For You and Boo Boo Until Somebody Says Something Mean About My Nasty Goddamn Hair"). We're not taking sides here...but The Nappy Headed Hos are worthless insecure turds that just can't seem to get through the hoops of life without whining their pussies off. (Rating: 1)


Global warming.
It's no big

(Rating: 1)

Nonloc - Between Hemispheres (CD, Strange Attractors, Progressive)
Nonloc is the solo project consisting of Mark Dwinell who is also the guitarist in the band Bright. Dwinell's appreciation of Steve Reich and Terry Riley is obvious in his music. The compositions on Between Hemispheres revolve around repetitive rhythms and Robert Fripp-esque guitar loops. In addition to layering acoustic and electric guitars, Mark also incorporates piano, accordion, mandolin, and cello into his work. This twelve track album is subtle and peculiar...sometimes folky, sometimes rather droney, and sometimes as heady as modern classical music. Unlike many albums of this genre, the tracks do not all sound the same. Each song incorporates a unique approach...and yet the sum of the pieces is cohesive and solid. Dwinell's music doesn't easily fit into specific categories...but rather exists in its own parallel universe. Peculiar tracks include "Corpus Callosum," "The Golden Apple Pie," "A Popular Tune," and "Two Dreams." (Rating: 5+)

Orchard of Comradery - The Company (CD, OOC Music, Progressive pop)
Imagine a cross between Joy Electric, Ghost Stories, and Nine Inch Nails...and you might begin to have some idea of what Orchard of Comradery sounds like. This band is the project created by the one-man-band consisting of Edward Davidson (who also plays live with the British band Attrition). The Company is a long album...clocking in at over 75 minutes in length. During the course of these fifteen compositions, Davidson crafts some very precise, complex modern progressive tunes that combine the dark with the light. His overall sound is very different from what we normally hear from totally solo projects. Instead of catchy, happy pop...this album features dark, serious progressive tracks that range from soft and pensive to light industrial. A lot of time and thought was obviously spent creating this album...and it shows. Odd, obtuse cuts include "Ancient," "The Audition," "All I Need," and "Forever Gone." (Rating: 5)


This man will dance with you if you
Pay him to dance with you.
This man will take you on trips
If you will pay for the trips.
This man will stay by your side forever
If you pay him to stay by your side forever.

(Rating: 1)

Port-Royal - Afraid to Dance (CD, Resonant, Instrumental/progressive)
The second full-length release from Italy's Port-Royal. These recordings practically define the term modern mood music. Although the tracks on Afraid to Dance incorporate various elements from rock, electronic, trance, classical, and experimental music...there is really no easy, clearcut way of describing this band's sound. These sweeping, cerebral, heady compositions are far-reaching in scope...mentally absorbing...and thoroughly engaging from start to finish. And unlike some music of this genre that is best played at minimal volume, Port-Royal tunes sound better if you turn the volume way up. Some of the tracks on this album remind us of some of the more inventive bands we heard on the Planet Earth label in the mid 1990s. Although we can't adequately describe the sounds we hear on this disc, one thing is certain. This band's music is absolutely mind blowing and light years beyond the average modern day instrumental outfit. Classic, spacey tracks include "Bahnhof Zoo," "German Bigflies," "Internet Love," and "Attorney very Bad (Aka the Worst)" (what a great title for a song). Intensely beautiful music for the discerning listener. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++++)


The gun went pow.

(Rating: 1)


Boil the puppy
Until the skin

(Rating: 1)

Rasputina - Oh Perilous World (CD, Filthy Bonnet Co., Progressive pop)
Rasputina's Melora Creager created Oh Perilous World from real life events in the media that have occurred over the past couple of years. This is the band's sixth full-length release and, once again, Ms. Creager and company continue to carve out their own unique niche in the world of music. Many artists who get a taste of the limelight alter and adjust their sound to appeal to a wider audience. Melora seemingly has no intention of making such unattractive maladjustments to her career. The first Rasputina album was originally embraced by a small yet passionate group of folks...and the same will probably be true for Oh Perilous World. Once again combining the past and the present, Creager effectively captures the more peculiar elements of humanity in her music with precise dignity and poise. Rasputina tunes have always been too complex, intelligent, and heady for the casual listener...and this is most certainly the case with this album. Odd lyrics and obtuse modern classical influences dive into the world of alternative rock...with bizarre and often startling results. Striking compositions include "1816, The Year Without a Summer," "Cage in a Cave," "Child Soldier Rebellion," and "The Pruning." Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)

Ray's Vast Basement - Starvation Under Orange Trees (CD, Howell's Transmitter, Pop)
Cool subdued modern progressive pop that sounds something like a modern Leonard Cohen...if he was living and recording in Athens, Georgia. The oddly titled Ray's Vast Basement is the project created by Jon Benson that features a revolving cast of guest artists and musicians. This album includes contributions from Nate Query (The Decemberists), babysue favorite Michael Zapruder, Tim Cohen, and more. Benson's tunes focus first and foremost on vocal melodies and lyrics. The tunes on this album were originally written for the Actors Theatre (San Francisco) production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Benson and his associates incorporate a wide variety of sounds and ideas into these tracks and yet...the music never sounds busy or overproduced. This lovely fourteen track CD features a wealth of solid tracks including "Salinas River Theme," "Danny's Party," "Work Song," and "Palace Flophouse." Great stuff, executed to perfection... (Rating: 5+)

Retina.IT - Semeion (CD, Hefty, Electronic)
The folks at Hefty Records have a great ear for picking out some of the most unusual and original electronic artists around...and they've certainly hit the bull's eye again with Retina.IT. The band is the duo consisting of Lino Monaco and Nicola Buono. Rather than create club music or techno trash, these two individuals compose electronic music that has its own unique flavor and sound. Simeion serves as an introduction to Retina.IT. The CD features previously released and unreleased tracks...but due to some rather precise mastering, as a whole the album flows very smoothly. Monaco and Buono seem to draw their inspiration from various decades and locales...making it difficult to describe the music. Elements of ambience, techno, scratch, and cut-and-paste all find their way into these tracks. While not for everyone, Semeion is certainly an acquired taste for a specific eclectic audience. Uniquely crafted stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Luther Russell - Repair (CD, Adrenaline, Pop)
If you have become disillusioned by the mounting seas of overproduced artists who are more concerned with their hair and their clothing than their music...you may very well fall in love with the music of Luther Russell. In a world where so many folks try to hide the fact that their songs have little or no substance, Luther's approach is refreshing and ultimately very real. Although this is Russell's fourth album, it is apparently his first full blown pop release (earlier discs featured either bare bones acoustic recordings or instrumentals). This man is, first and foremost, a songwriter. Instead of using arrangements and overdubs to mislead the listener, the sounds and instruments in these tracks have one main purpose...which is to support the vocal melodies and the songs themselves. Russell's style of songwriting is reminiscent of Alex Chilton in many ways. His tunes are infused with reflective, personal lyrics that are delivered with surprisingly genuine integrity. We'd be willing to bet our britches that Repair will become a favorite underground classic in the months and years ahead. Fantastic cuts include "Rise and Shine," "Everybody Falls" (our favorite), "Blinking Star," "The Razor," and "Want You To Know." Classic, classy pop. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Seven Storey Mountain - At the Poles (CD, Thick, Hard rock)
Really great gritty hard rock that emphasizes melody over volume. Frontman Lance Lammer has an intensely killer voice and unique style of playing guitar that is sometimes reminiscent of some of Bob Mould's songs from the late 1980s. Super loud harsh rock bands are a dime a dozen these days...and the majority of them don't make any impression with their desire to blow everyone away with bad attitude and loud noise. Perhaps that is why Seven Storey Mountain is so appealing. The band concentrates first and foremost on songs, structure, and vocal melodies. But don't think these folks are wimpy popsters because nothing could be further from the truth. At the Poles is a rock album...a very loud rock album...that just happens to have substance lurking beneath the surface. This band's music may not be for everyone as it is probably far too odd, angular, and aggressive for the casual listener. But folks looking for something different in the world of intense rock will find a lot to love here. Crazy tracks include "So Cursed," "Sinking In," "Bad Day," and "Tunnel Vision." Great stuff that really rocks. (Rating: 5+)

Sick Puppies - Dressed Up As Life (CD, Virgin, Pop/rock)
We don't mind admitting that we generally tire very easily of bands with a sound similar to Australian's Sick Puppies. There are millions of generic modern thrash/pop bands in the world and most of them are so interchangeable that it becomes virtually impossible to tell one from the next. So...what makes these guys different...? Good melodies first of all... And secondly...some very punchy and smart arrangements. So many modern rock bands play at one constant loud pace...making each song sound just like the one before it. The guys in Sick Puppies are not guilty of this. Their music is smart and involved...chock full of plenty of stops and starts and cool, crunchy guitar riffs. Dressed Up As Life features twelve cool tracks including "World," "What Are You Looking For," "Issues," and "The Bottom." (Rating: 5)

*SONS - Viracochas (CD EP, Fractured Discs, Rock/pop)
This EP is reminiscent of some of the more peculiar acid-drenched pop bands from the 1990s. *SONS is driven by the songwriting talents of Scott Endres and William "Josh" Bratcher. These two fellows and their associates produce reverb drenched pop music that is swimming and swirling in a sea of effects. The tunes on Viracochas are melodic and structured...but the proceedings get downright strange due to the amount of echo and reverb present. The odd overall sound may turn some folks off...but when you consider the sound these folks are striving for, the idea works surprisingly well. The seven tunes on this EP range from spooky psychedelia to almost normal rock. If you like your pop peppered with plenty of mental elements...you are likely to find a lot to love here. This thick sea of swarming sounds includes "Wax Museum," "F Train," "Gigolo Aunt," and "Cielo." (Rating: 4+++++)


Spain is
Mexico is

(Rating: 1)

Stafraenn Hakon - Gummi (CD, Resonant, Progressive)
Stafraenn Hakon is Olafur Josephsson...an underground recording artist who resides in Iceland. Gummi presents nine atmospheric tracks...some of which are instrumentals while others feature soft, subdued vocals. Some of Josephsson's tunes recall the music of his label mates Port-Royal...while others are more direct and almost pop oriented. Olafur is a master arranger...obviously spending a great deal of time tweaking his music until it sounds exactly the way he intends it to sound. This is his fourth release on the Resonant label...a stunning collection of intelligent compositions clocking in at just over an hour in length. While he plays most of the instruments, Josephsson also has plenty of help on this album from no less than eleven associates. These thick progressive tracks are extremely lush and produced to perfection. Imaginative and rewarding music packaged in a stunning cardboard wallet sleeve... (Rating: 5)

John P. Strohm - Everyday Life (Advance CD, Superphonic, Pop)
We've been fans of John P. Strohm ever since we were first turned onto his music in the 1990s. In addition to releasing solo albums, Strohm was also previously a member of Blake Babies and Antenna and played in The Lemonheads. The appropriately titled Everyday Life marks the return of John's solo career. The album features the same style of catchy guitar pop that originally made Strohm a favorite among critics. Although he has always been treading in the undercurrents, John's music remains surprisingly accessible. Everyday Life just may be his most commercial sounding endeavor yet. These tracks seamlessly combine elements of pure pop with Americana...providing plenty of smooth effervescent pop that should appeal to a wide range of listeners. Drew Glacken and Konrad Meissner (rhythm section for The Silos) provide the perfect foundation for these upbeat tunes. Cool pop tracks include "Sha La," "Waiting for the World to End," "The Long So Long," and "Another Losing Season." A direct hit. (Rating: 5+)


The world is
Full of stuff and
None of it means

(Rating: 1)

Tenderhooks - Vidalia (CD, Rock Snob, Pop)
Our first reaction to Knoxville, Tennessee's Tenderhooks was that we really liked the female vocalist. That was until...we realized that the lead vocalist is a guy (!). Vidalia reminds us in many ways of the Massachusetts pop band Claudia Malibu. These folks play the same sort of genuine, melodic, feelgood guitar pop. Tenderhooks tunes harken back to the days of 1970s pop/rock when bands concentrated more on song structures, vocal melodies, and lyrics than ultra complex digitally enhanced arrangements. This short little mini-album lasts just over 30 minutes but in that amount of time these folks clearly prove that they are a real force to be reckoned with. Delightfully catchy cuts include "Kid Stuff" (an incredible tune), "Mouthful of Rain," and "Armchair Pharmacist." (Rating: 5)

Touchers - The Underwater Fascist (Independently released CD, Rock)
The guys in Touchers represent the seedy underside of ski resort towns like Bozeman, Montana. While yuppy visitors are slipping down the slopes in their overpriced retard gear, these guys tuck themselves away in the background and play absolutely rip-roaring abrasive rock music (most likely to vent their frustrations about the yuppy visitors who are slipping down the slopes in their overpriced retard gear). The Underwater Fascist works. This self-recorded album succeeds because of the inherent sincerity of the delivery. Instead of trying to sound like the latest hipster band or drown their instruments and vocals in effects, these guys play like hell and just let the machine capture their sincere harsh energy. Fast, loose, and slightly trashy...these tracks are refreshingly effective. Top picks: "Aphrodite Has Gone Mad," "Country Killer," "77," "Fire When Ready." (We absolutely love the ad featuring sea monkeys who have been transformed into underwater fascists.) (Rating: 5)

Laura Veirs - Saltbreakers (CD, Nonesuch, Pop)
Laura Veirs writes and records smooth, intelligent pop music that should appeal equally to average mom and pop listeners and fans of the underground currents. While smooth and melodic and accessible, her songs are different enough to engage listeners who are wanting more than just the usual fluffy pop. Like so many people, Veirs recently made the move from Seattle to Portland. The emotional ups and downs of this transitional period in her life are documented in this, her third album for the Nonesuch label. More than any other artist, Laura's music recalls the musical, lyrical, and vocal stylings of Suzanne Vega. Her tunes feature honest and sincere observations in her life. While Saltbreakers features mainly pensive soft pop, on occasion Laura can release her more aggressive side ("Phantom Mountain"). Unlike most commercial artists, Laura Veirs presents catchy, smooth music with substance. This album effectively captures the genuine and sincere nature of her personality. Cool cuts include "Pink Light," "Drink Deep," "Black Butterfly" (our favorite), and "Wrecking." Intriguing. (Rating: 5+)

Jonathan Wilson - Frankie Ray (Advance CD, Koch, Soft pop/rock)
Cool soft folkie pop delivered with honesty and style. Ex-Muscadine member Jonathan Wilson originally released Frankie Ray on his own Pretty and Black label. The album created such a buzz that it was picked up and re-released by the folks at Koch. Wilson's music is free-flowing smooth folk/pop with a heavy emphasis on lyrics. There are plenty of beautiful melodies on this album...all caressed in articulate arrangements and featuring Jonathan's soothing, subdued voice. One word of warning. In order to enjoy and appreciate this album, you must be in the right frame of mind. If you're in the mood for upbeat pop, you won't find it here. Wilson's music is subtle and often times odd...evoking definite moods in the minds of his listeners. Cool classy cuts include "Your Ears Are Burning," "Alabaster Dove," "You Can Have Me," and "Dreaming." (Rating: 4+++++)

Winter Sounds - Porcelain Empire (CD, Livewire Recordings, Pop)
Another intriguing pop band from Athens, Georgia. The folks in Winter Sounds create smooth, melodic music that is reminiscent of XTC's pop recordings from the 1990s. Porcelain Empire is the band's debut album...and it is chock full of stunning, cerebral, smart pop. These folks seem to be on the fast path to success. They were signed to Livewire Recordings in December 2006 and managed to record this album in the first two months of 2007. Although the actual release date is June 26, 2007, the band is doing a good bit of touring in advance of the album's release. Our guess is that based on positive word-of-mouth, the folks in Winter Sounds will already have a solid fan base before their album is even released. The vocals are...truly exceptional. Classy tracks include "Windy City Nights," "Sound Forged Like Spine," "Oblivion," and "The Tournament of Getting Older." (Rating: 5)


I used to think
I couldn't live without you.
Now I know I'm
Better off
Without you.

(Rating: 1)


When everyone
Is hero today
No one
Is hero today.

(Rating: 1)

Additional Items Received:

1000 Miles From Home - Collusion
1888 - Honey, i'd kill...
2Adam12 - 2Adam12
Abe Lincoln Story - Kings of the soul punk swing
American Catastrophe - American Catastrophe
Andy the Door Bum - Mt. holly sessions
John Ashfield - Love is blue
Band Marino - The sea and the beast
Bastard Fairies - Memento mori
John Beach - Scenes of abandoned industry
Bees and the Birds - Bees and the Birds
Christopher Blue - Room tones
Bottom of the Hudson - Fantastic hawk
Bowmans - Far from home
Boy In Static - Violet
Brokedowns - New brains for everyone
Corey Brown and the 11:11's - Time is now EP
Cat-A-Tac - Past lies and former lives
Child Bite / Stationary Odyssey - Physical education
Chow Nasty - Super (electrical) recordings
Chris and Joylene Show - Pupa's window: a family portrait
Cola Wars - Red flag day
Gerald Collier - How can there be another day?
Comas - Spells
Cringe - Tipping point
Rob Crow - I hate you, rob crow
Johnny Cuomo - American idle
Dandeikon - Spidermnnofferings (sorry, couldn't READ it!!!)
Death of Jason Brody - Death of Jason Brody
J. DiMenna - Hf he could speak now
Alexa Dolan - Americana
Dub Trio - Cool out and coexist
Paul Duncan - Above the trees
Dying Californian - Coarsegold
Eastern Conference Champions - Away
Eastern Conference Champions - Home away
Eggshell Egoz - Funky poetz
Electric Soft Parade - No need to be downhearted
Empire 44 - Rise
Feature Presentation - Limited edition
Fishbone - Still stuck in your throat
Five2 - Sweet end
Foreign Elfest - Blue dirt / red carpet
Bob Frank and John Murry - World without end
Fussy Bloody Tippy Toppy Carcass - Have a pretty thing in your blister snack
Ground Components - An eye for a brow, a tooth for a pick
Brian Grosz - Bedlam nights
Hallelujah the Hills - Collective psychosis begone
Headquarters - O and O
David Hillman - Americana hour
I Am The Pilot - Crashing into consciousness
Jim Jacobi - Tryin' to stay positive
Johnbenders - Johnbenders
Johnny and the Moon - Johnny and the Moon
Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers - Glassjaw boxer
Terry Kitchen - Heaven here on earth
Avril Lavigne - The best damn thing
Limbeck - Limbeck
Limits - Good songs...bad hair: 80's video collection
Little Aida - Mad country
Lovelights - Problems and solutions
Keith LuBrant - Searching for signal
Mad Juana - Acoustic voodoo
Mooney Suzuki - Have mercy
Moontagu - Written in stone
Morning State - Retreat
Mustangs and Madras - La LeChuza
Myself - myself
Casey Neill - Brooklyn bridge
Neon Horse - Neon Horse
New Years Day - My dear
Tiffany Nicole - Just a girl
Octoberman - These trails are old and new
Only Children - Keeper of youth
Ono - Open your box
Oxblood - first blood
Parish Festival - Handshakes and heartaches
Parker Longbough - Commander comatose
Patsys - Have you got soul?
Patsys Both sides never
Plants - Photosynthesis
Plok - You tie a rock to yoru leg cuz it fits you
Praxis - Tennessee 2004
Reality Serum - Hop in
Condoleezza Rice - Reddy tuh kleen duh terlitt, massuh
Rumskib - Rumbskib
Graham Russell - The future
Nitin Sawhney - In the mind of...
Zoe Scott - Beautiful to be alive
Scott & Aimee - Sitting in a tree
Sea Wolf - Get to the river bevore it runs too low
Self-Evident - Self-Evident
David Shultz and the Skyline - Sinner's gold
Skidmore Fountain - Break
Sound the Alarm - Sound the Alarm
Speaker Speaker - We won't march
Spraydog - Karate summer camp
ST - People i barley know
Stillpoint - Bleed every note
Strata - Strata presents the end of the world
Sunspot - Neanderthal
Dan Susnara - Bicuspids
Sheila Swift - The shape of things
Fred Thomas - Sink like a symphony
Tiger Saw - Tigers on fire
Trembling Blue Stars - The last holy writer
Tunes N Tones - The rolling stone effect
Ugly Beats - Take a stand with the ugly beats
Unseen Guest - Out there
Various Artists - American Bhangra
Various Artists - Bob Dylan uncovered
Velcro Stars - Hiroshima's revenge
Vertigo Butterfly - 1932
Eric Victorino - Coma therapy
VNV Nation - Judgement
Von Robinson and His Own Universe - Jostle it
Vulture Whale - Vulture Whale
We Is Shore Dedicated - We Is Shore Dedicated
Wooden Wand - James and the quiet ecstatic peace
Holly Wood - Kill

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