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April 2008 Reviews by

A Whisper In The Noise
Balustrade Ensemble*
Bass Communion
Beat Circus
Boy Omega*
Greg Chako

Clock Hands Strangle
Democratic Failure

The Doc Marshalls
Extra Life
Fern Knight*
For Against

The Foxglove Hunt
The John Francis Imposters*
Dave Gahan
Ghost Bees
Ghost of the Russian Empire
God Bless
Green Fingers

Hairy Mad
Andy Hunter

Serena Jost*
Julie Ocean
Justice League: The New Frontier

Kensington Prairie*
King of Spain

Phillip Lambro
Lost Tricks
Old Man Luedecke
Make A Rising*
Mary Had
Mixel Pixel
Public Transportation
Push Puppets
Ready Fire Aim

Scrambled Egg
Shift F7
Shin Jin Rui
Shy Child
Sitting On A Wall

Stabbed Babies
Anna Stafford
Static Revenger
Colin Stetson
Jim Stubblefield

Twin Tigers
Unicycle Loves You
Sarah Vonderhaar
What Women Want

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


A Whisper In The Noise - Dry Land (CD, Exile On Mainstream, Progressive pop)
The third full-length release from Hanska, Minnesota's A Whisper In The Noise. After spinning this album several times, our opinion of different songs changed and evolved. We eventually came to the conclusion that this album has some excellent compositions...but, because it is a mixed bag, we found that we had to skip over certain tracks in order to enjoy it. The folks in this band have an intriguing sound that involves a variety of instruments including cello, violin, French horn, keyboards, bass, and various percussion instruments. We found the softer more subdued tracks to be the strongest. One song in particular ("Sons") would have been better left off this disc because it really destroys the flow of the album. So, in summation...when these folks are "on," their music is very cool and inviting. Top picks: "As We Were," "Awaken To Winter," "You, The Orphan." (Rating: 4+++)

Balustrade Ensemble - Capsules (CD, Dynamophone, Progressive)
Capsules is a truly intriguing and unusual album. Balustrade Ensemble is the trio consisting of Grant Miller, Scott Solter, and Wendy Allen...along with additional guest artists Liam Singer, Rich Vaughan, Ryan Rosenberg, and Matt Henry Cunitz who lend their ideas and support. Miller composed these tunes that teeter in and out of a variety of genres. Musical styles range from classical, ambient, soundtrack, progressive, electronic, and beyond...but be advised that trying to lump this music into any one category would be confusing and misleading. The subtle nuances in these tracks make them inviting and ultimately hypnotic. If you've ever been in a large vacant building alone at night, you might begin to have some idea of what this music sounds like. In such an environment the world seems to slow down...and everything around you appears to be particularly significant. Capsules is intoxicating, impressive, and...most of all...very beautiful. Lots of folks attempt to make music like this, but very few are successful. The folks in Balustrade Ensemble have created a real masterpiece. As such, this album is an easy Top Pick this month. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++++)

Bass Communion - Pacific Codex (CD, Equation, Experimental/sound/instrumental)
This is an excellent example of why we continue to write about music. The person (or persons) who make up Bass Communion are creating from the school of thought that says sound is music. Note that this is very different from the idea that noise is music. Pacific Codex consists of two long tracks: "Pacific Codex 1" and "Pacific Codex 2." Both pieces last about twenty minutes. These compositions are very subtle and strange. They sound something like music from Brian Eno's early ambient albums...except they are much more spooky and sinister and they focus on textures created by lower frequencies. We cannot recommend this for everyone. Most listeners will probably not have the patience nor the tolerance necessary to enjoy this kind of stuff. Here in the continually expanding babysue office suites, we absolutely LOVE IT. This is easily one of the most odd and hypnotic instrumental recordings we have heard this century. Not only is the music strangely hallucinogenic, but the packaging is the best. This release consists of a regular audio CD, a surround sound DVD-A, and a 36 page booklet all housed in a cardboard sleeve (designed by Carl Glover/Aleph). Even though this music is very subtle and restrained...if you turn it up really, REALLY LOUD...it can have wildly intense effects. Such an EASY top pick for this month... Highly, HIGHLY recommended without reservation... (Rating: 6)

Beat Circus - Dreamland (CD, Cuneiform, Progressive)
This is the second album from Beat Circus which is the band created by singer/songwriter Brian Carpenter. There's a lot going on here that makes describing this man's music a difficult task. When things get too difficult we tend to turn to promotional materials for assistance. Accordingly, the postcard that accompanied this CD sums up the sound quite well: "Beat Circus delivers weird American Gothic stories of children, dreams, fatherhood, revenge, redemption, and murder." Styles of music that seem to fade in and out of the equation on this album include gypsy folk, jazz, progressive pop, and soundtrack audio. Carpenter isn't making music to appeal to a specific audience or that will fit into a specific genre. Instead, this fellow is letting music take him wherever it may...and, in the process, creating some rather titillating music with a difference. Sixteen tracks here including "Gyp the Blood," "Dark Eyes," "The Rough Riders," and "March of the Freaks." (Rating: 5)

Boy Omega - Hope on the Horizon (CD, Acuarela, Pop)
After releasing two albums in 2006 (The Black Tango and The Grey Rainbow), Martin Henrick Gustafsson (the man who calls himself Boy Omega) took his time creating his next album. Hope on the Horizon was recorded over the span of a two year period with aid and assistance from a variety of guest artists. Gustafsson's songs don't sound like other Swedish pop artists that we have heard over the past few years. Instead of super hummable upbeat simple pop, his songs have much more depth and are much more reflective and personal. Some of the tunes on Horizon recall the introspective longing of Big Star's Third / Sister Lovers album (particularly the cuts that feature string arrangements). Gustafsson's tunes are smooth and appealing...made even more so because of his uniquely fragile voice that comes across sounding extraordinarily sincere and real. In a world full of throwaway pop, Hope on the Horizon is a refreshing reminder that there are still credible pop artists in the world whose music exists on several different levels. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Greg Chako - Everybody's Got a Name (Independently released CD, Jazz)
Nice, smooth, fluid jazz played with integrity and style. Guitarist Greg Chako has been through more than his fair share of occupations in his lifetime. He's been everything from an egg packer to a construction site worker to a real estate broker to a chef to an English teacher to a... Well, you get the picture...this guy has done a lot of stuff. Everybody's Got a Name is Chako's ninth full-length release and it's a keeper. This album features eleven classy and reserved compositions that really showcase this guy's skills on the guitar. His intricate playing recalls some of the jazz greats from the 1950s and 1960s and his backing musicians (Mark DeRose, Yasuhiro Hasegawa, Hiroshi Tanaka) provide the perfect rhythmic backdrop. There are so many self-released CDs that just don't cut it. Everybody's Got a Name is clearly an exception to the rule. Top picks: "Boppin' at Berlitz," "The Lamp is Low," "Mimosa," and "From This Moment On." Well done. (Rating: 5)



When she was whole
She was such an old nag.
Now she's just chunks
In a bag.

(Rating: 1)

Clock Hands Strangle - Redshift/Blueshift (CD, Team Grizzly, Progressive pop)
The folks in Orlando, Florida's Clock Hands Strangle make music that sounds very different than the average Florida band. The band consists of Brian Bo (bass), Nick Hill (guitar), Todd Portnowitz (vocals, guitar), Adam Burguet (drums, percussion, guitar, violin), and Cristian Duran (trombone, organ, piano, glockenspiel, percussion). The songs on Redshift/Blueshift incorporate elements from folk and pop music, combining them with more fluid instrumental passages that do not usually fit within such strict confines. In a world where everyone wants things that easily fit into simple categories, the folks in Clock Hands Strangle may have a bit of an uphill climb finding an audience. Our guess is that this band's music will be instantly embraced by a relatively small but truly passionate group of fans. The more we spin this CD the better it sounds. Top picks: "Redshift," "My Brain," "White Blazes," and "Prison." (Rating: 5+)



Democracies will always fail
Because the majority of people
Will always vote for the wrong

(Rating: 1)

The Doc Marshalls - Honest For Once (Independently released CD, Country/pop)
The guys in New York City's The Doc Marshalls are different from the average young twenty-first century country pop band. You would think, considering how young these guys are, that they would be playing phony alternative country crap. But instead, these fellows play traditional country music that has extra pop and zip. This is the follow-up to the band's debut 2005 CD No Kind of Life. This band is driven by the skills of singer/songwriter Nicolas Beaudoing who wrote all eleven songs on this album. Beaudoing's songs come across sounding ultimately sincere and should please anyone who loves dancing to country music. He has a great masculine voice that really makes these tunes cook. The rest of the band is killer as well and includes Mat Kane (fiddle), Matt Walsh (lead guitar), Terence Murren (bass), and Doug Clark (drums). If you think all great country music is created by middle-aged folks in Nashville, think again. These guys prove that it isn't where you create the music that matters...but how you create it. Cool catchy cuts include "Ticket Out of Texas," "Lonely at the Top," "Honest for Once," "Dakota," and "Never Found My Emmylou." (Rating: 5+)

Extra Life - Secular Works (CD, Planaria, Progressive)
Extra Life is the latest band/project created by Charlie Looker who was previously in the bands ZS, Ocrilim, and Dirty Projectors. Secular Works is a very peculiar spin. We're not going to be the first to make such a comparison...but the tracks on this album sound something like a cross between Gregorian monk chants and progressive bands from the 1970s. Although that doesn't really sum up the band's sound adequately, this will at least give you some indication of what this album sounds like. Looker and his associates obviously aren't interesting in trying to come up with the latest catchy hit here. Nor are they likely to nab an appearance on Oprah or Ellen anytime soon. Instead, the guys in this band are creating odd, obtuse, unpredictable music that will only appeal to a very small segment of listeners. Namely, those folks who want something different and difficult. We listened to this album several times...and we still aren't quite sure what to make of it. Rarely do albums leave us puzzled...but this one most certainly does. So, at least for the time being, we're going to leave this one unrated. Hmmmmm......? (Not Rated)

Fern Knight - Fern Knight (CD, VHF, Progressive)
The folks in Fern Knight return with another unique album that is wonderfully out of place in today's musical climate. This band is the project headed by Philadelphia-based guitarist/cellist/vocalist Margaret Wienk. Wienk and her associates create otherworldly progressive pop that seems to be influenced by some of the best British progressive art bands from the 1970s. Some of the compositions on this album could be compared to Curved Air and even Henry Cow at times...but that only gives a slight idea of what this music sounds like. The songs on this self-titled album are soft and thoughtful and feature some truly absorbing and unusual (and extremely subtle) arrangements. At the heart of the music are Margaret's beautiful, heartfelt vocals. This album is the perfect fusion of folk, pop, and classical music. Folks who may be becoming increasingly tired of the same old generic throwaway pop of the twenty-first century will find a lot to take in here. Cool, classy cuts include "Bemused," "Sundew," "Loch Na Fooey," and "Magpie Suite: Part II, Part III." Highly recommended... (Rating: 5+++)

For Against - Shade Side Sunny Side (CD, Words On Music, Progressive pop)
Have the folks in For Against...really been making music for 25 years now...? Hard to believe, but true. We were turned onto the band's music very late in their career and must admit that we are by no means experts on their entire career. But we can say that, based on the past few releases, Shade Side Sunny Side is our favorite album so far. The album features hummable moody progressive pop tunes that are presented simply and without unnecessary fanfare. The tracks on this album seamlessly combine elements of smart mature pop with odd atmospherics. The resulting sound is something like hearing mid-tempo pop music with dark shadows fading in and out of the equation. The band's vocals are particularly impressive this time around...all kinds of smart vocal layering and harmonies really add depth to these tracks. Nine cool satisfying cuts here including "Glamour," "Underestimate," "Game Over," and "Irresistible." This album is a bit of an acquired taste but well worth the time and energy spent getting into the music... (Rating: 5++)

The Foxglove Hunt - Stop Heartbeat (CD, Common Wall Media LLC, Pop)
Highly melodic synth pop heavily influenced by late 1980s British artists. The songs on Stop Heartbeat remind us very much of Fine China and Joy Electric. But wait...there's a reason for that. The Foxglove Hunt actually is the duo of Rob Withem (of the band Fine China) and Ronnie Martin (of the band Joy Electric). Withem writes most of the music here and Martin handles the programming. The end result...is an extraordinarily nice, smooth, upbeat collection of tunes. These two guys obviously share similar tastes in music and this collaboration is like a match made in heaven. In addition to original tunes, there is also a decent cover of The Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way." Cool danceable upbeat cuts include "A Concealed Weapon," "Business Casual," and "The Pure In Heart." We'd be willing to bet that these guys will be working together again in the very near future... (Rating: 5)

The John Francis Imposters - Sunkfrancisco Frankenstance (CD, Rerum Novarum, Progressive pop)
Interesting, irregular modern progressive pop. Led by John Francis, The John Francis Imposters includes former members of the bands We Be The Echo, Last of the Blacksmiths, Planets, and Impaled. We have made this comparison before but it still holds true. Francis writes songs that are slightly reminiscent of underground icon John Vanderslice...which should not be too surprising considering the fact that this album was recorded at Valderslice's Tiny Telephone studio. John's style of music is becoming increasingly focused. This ten track album features some really nice, well-developed moody songs that are intriguing and memorable. This is the kind of artsy thoughtful pop that gets better and better the more familiar it becomes. Francis is quickly becoming an underground favorite...and Sunkfrancisco Frankenstance is yet another remarkable addition to his impressive catalog. Cool keepers include "Riding on the Plain, Gliding in a Dream," "A Night at the Movies," and "Riding on a Rainbow." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Dave Gahan - Hourglass Remixes (Advance CD, Mute / Virgin, Dance/electronic)
We're going to have to admit right off the bat that, prior to hearing this album, we were not familiar with the music of Dave Gahan. As a result, offering insight and opinions on a remix CD seems a bit like diving into the deep end with no life preserver. But being uninformed never stopped us before so here goes anyway... Hourglass Remixes features techno dance pop that would not have sounded out of place in underground American clubs in the 1990s. The tunes are driven by persistent electronic rhythms and plenty of smart modern keyboard sounds. Gahan has a nice, deep, resonant voice that is slightly distant. A variety of artists provided remixes here including (but not limited to) Juan MacLean, Booka Shade, Maps, T. Raumschmiere, and Onur Ozer. In some ways, this album reminds us of a dance mix of Nine Inch Nails (?!?). Interesting...this disc makes us want to check out some of Gahan's original mixes... (Rating: 4++++)

Ghost Bees - Tasseomancy (CD, Youth Club, Progressive pop)
Is this the folks from Mazzy Star...on helium...??? Nope, Ghost Bees isn't connected with the band in any way...but their music sounds something like an odd updated take on the same general idea. This band is the duo of sisters Romy Lightman and Sari Lightman. Though Tasseomancy only features six tracks, it is not an EP. This is an album that will probably be slightly confusing for most folks. Romy and Sari write and record odd folky pop that features their strangely ghost-like vocals. In many ways these tracks seem to draw inspiration from musical styles from long ago. The mood is soft and subtle and the instrumentation basic and sparse. Some of the lyrics may remind some listeners of the intellectual wordplay of Rasputina. Though it takes a few spins to sink in, Tasseomancy is an acquired taste that is well worth acquiring. Neat dreamy cuts include "Vampires of the West Coast," "Erl King," and "Goldfish and Metermaids." Neat stuff...! (Rating: 5+)

Ghost of the Russian Empire - The Mammoth (Independently released CD, Progressive pop/rock)
The guys in Ghosts of the Russian Empire got together in 2004 to make music, eventually releasing their With Fiercest Demolition EP in 2006. The Mammoth is the band's first full-length album. These fellows play slightly drony progressive atmospheric pop/rock that is drenched in reverb. Unlike many shoegazer type bands, however, some of their tunes pack quite a punch in terms of volume and energy. In some ways, the sound quality of this album gives you the impression that you are listening to a band playing in another room. The swirling instruments and effects are dizzying at times. Twelve tracks here including "A Decade Without a Death," "Mandroid," "Bleeding Machines," and "The Butcher." (Rating: 4+++)



God bless
This food that we are about to eat.
God bless
Our blenders and our washing machines.
God bless
The feces that rests quietly at the bottom of our septic tanks.

(Rating: 1)

Goldbergs - Under the Radar (CD, Kool Kat Musik, Pop)
Extremely smooth, slick, hummable pop. The guys in Goldbergs create pure pop that would not sound out of place on the Rainbow Quartz label. The songs on Under the Radar are super hummable, feelgood tracks...almost all of which sound like hit tunes. There's something about the band's chiming guitar tunes that recall some of the better guitar bands from the 1990s. Lots of cool harmonies weave in and out of the mix, and the rhythm section provides the perfect backdrop by sticking to the basics. Some of the tracks on this album remind us of Crowded House at times. Lots of Beatles influences are woven into this album as well. Neat driving music to play with the windows DOWN. Happy little cuts include "Please Won't You Please," "Feel the Sun," "Better Times," and "A Hand To Hold." (Rating: 5)



Where oh where is Grammar?
She's out in the fields
All covered with blood
Where the trees and the clovers

(Rating: 1)



Black and white
And everything in between.
God hates them all so much
That his fingers turn green.

(Rating: 1)



Hairy Mad, the little blotch,
With sneeze and glossy browers
And fairly where the congos bent
Her freezie fists benched blouse.

(Rating: 1)

Hilotrons - Happymatic (CD, Kelp, Pop)
Peppy upbeat smart pop that combines elements from bands like The Cars, Elvis Costello, early XTC, Thomas Dolby, and even Prince at times. This is the third full-length release from Ottawa, Canada's Hilotrons but it serves as our initial introduction to the band's music. Unlike a lot of modern pop bands who make very complex sounding music, these guys write clean and simple tunes that immediately stick in the mind. The songs on Happymatic feature guitar and keyboard sounds that recall the late 1980s and early 1990s. We're not the first to compare the band's vocals to Ric Ocasek...other writers have already drawn this comparison. This slick, well-produced album spins like a "best of" collection of hits from the late 1980s that you never heard before. Refreshing in many ways and slightly goofy at times, Happymatic is a short but satisfying collection of riveting tunes. Top picks: "Lost in Yichang," "Streets of Science," "Lovesuit," "Girls," and "I'm A Parade." (Rating: 5)

Andy Hunter - Colour (CD, Nettwerk, Dance/pop)
It has been about three years since DJ Andy Hunter released his last album. He now returns to the world of recording with the new full-length release Colour. Hunter writes and records the kind of happy, upbeat dance pop that was popular in the United States in the mid to late 1980s. His songs are built around beats similar to disco and the vocal melodies are simple, direct, and catchy. A whole host of guest artists appear on this album including Mark Underdown, Shaz Sparks, Midge Ure, D'Morgan, and Cathy Burton. Colour is an appropriate title for this album as the music is multi-layered and slightly exotic. The bright, abstract artwork is excellent. Hunter is an interesting artist because his music could just as easily be appreciated by the average listener as well as the discerning connoisseur. Nifty catchy keepers include "Sound Pollution," "Stars," "Technicolour," and "Out of Control." (Rating: 5)

Serena Jost - Closer Than Far (Independently released CD, Pop)
A few years back Serena Jost was a member of the modern progressive cello trio Rasputina. We hesitated to even mention this fact, however, because Jost's own music comes from an almost completely different universe. Whereas Rasputina incorporated elements of industrial rock and chamber/classical music, Closer Than Far presents subtle and intriguing modern progressive pop. But instead of writing and recording modern pop that sounds like every other twenty-first pop artist on the plant, Serena instead presents tunes that have much more in common with some of the more artsy British bands from the late 1970s. Pop fans seeking something immediately familiar and catchy may be somewhat confused by this album. Instead of writing easy pop, Serena composes rather complex and mature melodies that involve different elements from folk music and beyond. Subtlety is the key word here. These songs may not clobber you over the head at first. But multiple spins will reveal cool nuances that are not immediately obvious. Beautiful compositions include "Our Town," "Halfway There," "I Wait," "Awake In My Dream," and "Stowaway." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Julie Ocean - Long Gone and Nearly There (CD, Transit of Venus, Pop)
Nice, bright, hummable pop that sounds instantly familiar. We loved the opening line of the press release that accompanied this disc: "Just because a CD will hold 80 minutes of music doesn't mean it should." We sure as Hell agree with that statement (!). This is a very short album that lasts just over 25 minutes...but in terms of quality, it beats the heck out of many albums that are twice or three times as long. Julie Ocean is the quartet consisting of Jim Spellman (guitar, vocals), Terry Banks (guitar, vocals), Hunter Bennett (bass), and Alex Daniels (drums). Folks may remember Spellman as a prior member of the 1990s band Velocity Girl. Long Gone and Nearly There features ten direct, upbeat, catchy guitar tunes that sound something like a cross between The Undertones and The Beach Boys. While this band's music may be too happy and accessible for underground noise snobs, pop fans are likely to get a mighty big charge out of this album. Groovy tracks include "The Lonely Words," "My Revenge," "Complications," and "Looking At Me/Looking At You." (Rating: 5)

Justice League: The New Frontier - Soundtrack From the DC Universe Animated Original Movie: Music by Kevin Manthei (CD, La-La Land, Soundtrack)
The soundtrack to the film Justice League: The New Frontier was created and composed by Kevin Manthei who is by no means a newcomer to the world soundtrack recordings. Manthei has been composing music for film, television, and games for over fifteen years now. Justice League is based on the graphic novel created by Darwyn Cook and was produced by Michael Goguen. The film is based around a league formed by comic book superheros like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manunter, and The Flash. Some of these tracks are slightly reminiscent of the Star Wars soundtracks...while others are less obvious and more experimental. In his own words, Manthei explains how he approached this project: "The biggest challenge of the score was keeping a cohesive feel while still addressing all the different characters and thematic elements. I chose to write major themes for the Centre, Flash, Hal, Green Lantern and J'onn J'onzz while letting the other super hero characters be supported by scene specific underscore." There's a lot to take in here...twenty tracks and almost an hour's worth of music. After hearing this...we would be willing to bet that the film must be great... (Rating: 5+)

Kensington Prairie - Captured in Still Life (CD, Anniedale, Pop)
Kensington Prairie is the Vancouver, Canada-based pop band driven by the songwriting skills of Rebecca Rowan who some folks know as the singer/songwriter in the band Maplewood Lane. Rowan and producer Jonathan Anderson created this album together along with a bit of assistance from guest artists Michelle Masters, Joel Willoughby, and Brian Chan. Captured in Still Life is a wonderfully free-flowing collection of super melodic soft pop tracks. The focal point is Rebecca's super smooth, super inviting warm vocals. Not only does this lady have a killer voice, but her harmony overdubs are impeccable. All ten tracks were written by Ms. Rowan. Smooth, focused, and genuine, these super smart pop tracks not only sound great now...but they are bound to sound just as fantastic in the decades ahead. Wonderfully satisfying cuts include "Time On Our Side," "Snowflakes and Great Lakes," "Golden Days," and "Disappear From View." An easy top pick. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

King of Spain - Entropy (CD, New Granada, Pop)
In the 1990s Matt Slate made a name for himself as a member of the bands Pohgoh and The Maccabees. But by the time the twenty-first century arrived, he decided to take a breather and stopped recording for about five years. In 2006 he started recording again, initially making home recordings and handing them out to fans and friends. These recordings were well received and eventually paved the way for Slate's new project, King of Spain. Matt himself says his new compositions were influenced by everyone from Brian Wilson to Brian Eno. Probably rather accurate, as the songs on Entropy sound something like a combination of these two artists (with a multitude of other influences tossed in the mix). Slate has dropped the volume and energy...but upped the creativity in his tunes. These soft pop tracks are nice and hummable...and feature subtle, warm electronics fading in and out of the picture. Cool satisfying cuts include "Mold Eats Paper," "The Walk and What Follows," "Useless, Mostly," and "The Great Continental Divide." Nice, relaxing, smart stuff... (Rating: 5)

Phillip Lambro - The Film Music of Phillip Lambro (CD, Perseverance, Instrumental/soundtrack)
This is not a soundtrack from a single film but, rather, a collection of soundtrack music Phillip Lambro created for four different films (Mineral King, Father Pat, Celebration, and Git!). These are not the first soundtracks Lambro recorded. He has previously released soundtrack albums for the films Murph The Surf and Crypt of the Living Dead. In addition, he has also written and released a book entitled Close Encounters of the Worst Kind (great title, that...). The Film Music of Phillip Lambro offers an interesting overview of this man's musical ideas. Most of these pieces range from slightly offbeat classical to modern classical to experimental...but there are other oddities tossed in the mix that don't fit into these specific genres. There's a lot to take in here...a total of 25 intriguing pieces. This disc makes one thing perfectly clear. Phillip Lambro is a serious force to be reckoned with in the years ahead. We expect this man's skilled music to be incorporated into major motion pictures in the very near future. Excellent from start to finish. (Rating: 5+)

Lost Tricks - Keep It Together (Independently released CD EP, Pop)
We can never tell a great deal about an artist based solely on an EP mainly because they usually don't offer enough to get an overall picture of where someone is coming from. But after hearing Keep It Together we have a rather firm image in our minds of what Lost Tricks is about. The band's singer/songwriter is a young fellow named Trev Oswalt who has a clever way of crafting tunes. The guy has a great voice. His keyboard-oriented pop tunes are smart, upbeat, and effective. Our guess is that reviewers worldwide will react favorably to this fellow's music... (Rating: 4++++)

Old Man Luedecke - Proof of Love (CD, Black Hen Music, Folk/pop)
The third full-length album from Old Man Luedecke. It is particularly interesting that this album was recorded live in the Factory Studio in Vancouver. As such, this album captures the true spirit of Luedecke and his band playing without lots of unnecessary studio tweaking and overdubs. Chris plays banjo on most of these tracks which adds threads of bluegrass into the music. There were lots of players involved here...more than a dozen friends and associates played on the album including producer/guitarist/songwriter extraordinaire Steve Dawson. In a world full of processed generic artists whose lack of talent is hidden by the use of too much technology...a genuine, true, credible artist like Chris Luedecke easily stands out from the crowd. Thirteen warm classy tracks here including "Proof of Love," "The Drawing Near" (a particularly appealing track), "In the Beginning," and "Thrown by the Bull." (Rating: 5)

Make A Rising - Infinite Ellipse and Head With Open Fontanel (CD, High Two, Progressive)
Another complex and often riveting listening experience from the folks in Make A Rising. The folks in this band impressed quite a few folks with their last offering in 2005 (Rip Through the Hawk Black Night). As was the case with the last album, describing the songs and sounds on Infinite Ellipse and Head With Open Fontanel is a difficult task. These folks create music that is influenced by a wild variety of artists from different decades. And because the songs shift in and out of different random genres, the average listener is bound to become confused and inundated. To try and describe the overall sound... Some of the softer vocal passages are sometimes reminiscent of Robert Wyatt...while the instrumental sections combine elements from soundtrack music with progressive dinosaur bands from the 1970s. Interestingly, while the music is indeed complex and unusual, this CD is by no means a difficult listening experience. Rather and instead, the album as a whole flows by effortlessly and is (at least most of the time) very easy on the mind and ears. At this point in time when there are far too many interchangeable generic carbon copy bands...the folks in Make A Rising are refreshingly different. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)



Mary had a little lamb,
She cut off all its nipples
And everywhere that Mary went
She got knocked up by cripples.

(Rating: 1)

Mixel Pixel - Let's Be Friends (CD, Mental Monkey, Pop)
Our first impression of this band was that they were far too giddy and happy. But that was before we began reading the lyrics on the front insert. While on the surface the folks in Mixel Pixel might give the impression that they are a super happy commodity, bubbling beneath the surface are some unusual ideas. The lyrics to the lead track ("What Ever Happened To One") might at first seem light and easy...until you hear the band sing the line "And I like to think think of all the drugs we can do." So...while the songs may seem initially light and fluffy...some of the band's messages most definitely are not. Musically, some of the band's tunes sound like a casio-ized version of Shonen Knife...while others recall some of the strange sounds of Britain's cult favorite Television Personalities. This band presents an interesting universe where childlike ideas meet mature sociological observations. Nifty stuff that gets better the more familiar it becomes... (Rating: 5)



Public transportation
Is a bad idea because
It moves people around
Who really need to stay in one

(Rating: 1)

Push Puppets - A Living Experiment (CD, Waterweight Music Ltd., Pop)
Push Puppets is the Chicago-based duo consisting of Erich Specht (lots of instruments and vocals) and Chris Morrow (drums). Specht was previously in the bands The Likens and Devastation Wagon. A Living Experiment is a pop album with tunes that sound something like a cross between Bracket and Peter Gabriel. The band's web site (link above) allows listeners to doodle with interactive art while they listen to this album. The lead (title) track is our favorite, with its ultra-hummable melody and cool guitar and banjo interplay... (Rating: 4+++)

Ready Fire Aim - This Changes Nothing (CD, Expansion Team, Pop)
The debut full-length album from Ready Fire Aim. This band is the new project created by Sage Rader and Shaun "Stakka" Morris. The tunes on This Changes Nothing have a sound that is reminiscent of late 1980s British techno pop bands...but updated to fit within the scope of twenty-first century dance music. Rader and Morris aren't trying to be super artsy or demanding of their audience, as virtually all of these twelve tracks sound like hits. The beats are persistent and infectious, the synthesizers fat and groovy, and the vocals right on target. By keeping their songs simple and to-the-point, these guys have created a modern feelgood album full of danceable pop tracks that are instantly memorable. Nifty cuts include "End of Over," "Wannabe Your," "I Would For You," and "Better You Than Me." Housed in a beautiful tri-folk digipak sleeve. (Rating: 4+++++)



Scrambled egg.
My ex-wife hopped off on her one leg.
She took me to court and made me beg.
Oh I believe in scrambled egg.

Suddenly I'm one-tenth the man I used to be.
I can't get it up or even pee.
Oh scrambled egg...did this to me.

Why she had to go I suppose
She hated me.
I said something smart now I fart
And she smells partially
Digested egg.

(Rating: 1)

Shift F7 - Crimson Diablo (CD, SML, Pop)
The first thing that caught our attention about this album is the fact that the guys in Shift F7 make music that doesn't sound like other bands currently treading around the planet. The band is the Canadian duo consisting of Mihn Dihn Chin Chilleo and Van Roland. Chilleo and Roland write and record peculiar technology-driven pop that recalls the music of past progressive pioneers like Peter Murphy and John Foxx. Crimson Diablo is a strangely inviting album with cold, distant lyrics and unusual vocals. The words are intriguing...but even more intriguing is the way the words are delivered. The phrasing is odd and difficult to sing along with...and yet the tracks on this album are impressively catchy and memorable. These tunes are much smarter than the average dribble churned out by the average twenty-first century band. Cool calculating tracks include "First in Line," "Cure for the Pure," "God Speed," and "Forevermore." Neat sounding stuff... (Rating: 5+)

Shin Jin Rui - Zutiqua (CD, Ex Libris, Pop/rock)
Shin Jin Rui is a British trio whose guitar-based pop/rock is highly reminiscent of some of the better alternative underground American guitar bands from the 1990s. On Zutiqua these guys keep their music simple and straightforward...concentrating first and foremost on getting their point across rather than burying their tunes in layers of overdubs. The sing/speak vocals are a perfect match for these driving rock tunes. The cool fluid guitars sound absolutely great...and the rhythm section provides a super solid foundation. After spinning this album several times we still can't come up with any obvious bands whose music may have influenced these guys. Sixteen effective rockers here including "Dress Up," "Temporary," "The Queens Complaint (Her Highness Gets Low)," and "Kill Your Heart." Good powerful stuff...! (Rating: 4++++)

Shy Child - Noise Won't Stop (CD, Kill Rock Stars, Pop)
This band has an interesting sound that merges sounds from late 1970s punk with mid-1980s new wave. Something like a cross between early Ultravox and Duran Duran. The songs on Noise Won't Stop are rhythm-driven sharp abrasive synth pop tracks with persistent non-stop qualities. Listening to these songs, our guess is that these folks can probably drive a crowd into a swarming mass of sweat. This, the band's second album, seems decidedly out-of-place in today's musical climate. Even though the folks in this band are recreating many sounds from the past, their overall vibe is decidedly modern and current. Shy Child is the duo of Pete Caparella and Nate Smith...but several guest artists also make appearances on this CD. These guys have already made some major waves overseas. Our guess is that, as usual, folks in the United States will catch on sometime in the months ahead... (Rating: 5)



Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Sat on the wall too.
Everybody sat on the stupid goddamn

(Rating: 1)



Babies that are stabbed
During the first three months of life
Are ten times more likely
To succeed.

(Rating: 1)

Anna Stafford - Staring at the Sky (CD, San Gabriel Music, Instrumental)
We were impressed by Anna Stafford's last album (String Music)...but slightly turned off by the choice of songs. While her playing was exquisite, the choice of material seemed rather obvious and unimaginative. Since the release of that album, Anna has been incredibly busy...playing with and supporting a variety of hugely popular performers. Staring at the Sky is very different from String Music mainly because Stafford herself wrote almost all of the tunes. This is a huge plus because, as this album proves, this young lady doesn't need to be covering anyone else's material. Her own songs are intensely solid and satisfying. Anna plays violin and keyboards and is accompanied by her husband John Krovoza on cello and electric cello. Even though conventional rock instruments are absent on this album...Staring at the Sky still manages to successfully combine the worlds of rock and classical music. The playing is truly gripping and inspired. Cool tracks include "Youth and Meaningless," "On An Airplane," "Oklahoma California," and "Crazy in October." (Rating: 5+)

Static Revenger - Love Song Surprise (CD, D-Dub, Progressive pop)
Very nice, smooth, smart, and absorbing modern pop with a slightly soulful backbone. Static Revenger is the one man project consisting of producer/DJ/multi-instrumentalist Dennis White. Love Song Surprise is a cool and rewarding spin. The songs sound much more warm and organic that what we normally hear from twenty-first century electronic artists. This is probably because Mr. White has obviously mastered the art of solo recording. Instead of merely throwing random instruments over canned beats, Dennis creates some really cool grooves that pull the listener into his musical universe. His arrangements are intriguing and appropriate...and his vocals are superb. Ten nifty songs here that sound better the more you spin 'em. Our favorites include "I Feel Love" (not the Donna Summer tune), "Don't Give Up" (reminds us of David Bowie), "Life Carries On," and "Happy People." Very nice stuff, polished to perfection... (Rating: 5)

Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Volume 1 (CD, Aagoo, Instrumental/experimental)
If Charlie Parker came back from the dead and immersed himself in the world of modern progressive music, the result might be Colin Stetson. This young man plays saxophones in a fast and unorthodox manner...drawing comparisons to many early jazz and be-bop artists. On the first cut, Colin makes it perfectly clear that he isn't playing the game by the normal set of rules. On the lengthy eight-minute-plus "And It Fought to Escape" he uses wind instruments to create an odd piece of modern classical music that sounds not unlike a cross between Phillip Glass and John Cage. What many may find interesting is the fact that all of the tracks on this album were recorded live. There are no overdubs and no loops were used. While this album definitely isn't for everyone, fans of offbeat modern jazz and/or modern classical will certainly be intrigued... (Rating: 5)

Jim Stubblefield - Guitarra Exotica (CD, Natural Elements, Instrumental)
Some folks may remember Jim Stubblefield as a member of the band Incendio. Ten or fifteen years ago the music on Guitarra Exotica would have probably been described as world music. Nowadays the genre has either disappeared...or at least the term is used much less frequently. As such, the best way of summing up these instrumental tracks would be to say that Jim writes and records exotic modern instrumental music that incorporates sounds and ideas from a wide variety of sources from all over the world. Stubblefield surrounds himself with some really classy players. His band features Anna Stafford (violin), Bryan Brock (percussion), and Ruben Ramos (bass, guitar). These tracks are polished to perfection and were recorded with minute attention to detail. Ten cool cuts including "One Quiet Night," "Eye of the Sun - Part 1," and "A Gypsy's Kiss." (Rating: 5+)



Let's take turns so that
Every turn we make
Will be a wrong turn.

(Rating: 1)

Twin Tigers - Curious Faces/Violet Future (Independently released CD EP, Pop)
The folks in Twin Tigers record an interesting kind of alternative guitar pop that is reminiscent of some of the better underground British bands from the early 1980s. The band's hard drony pop is slightly peculiar and features some really cool abstract electric guitar work. The vocals remind us in many ways of The Frogs. Only six tracks here...but serve as a great introduction to a cool little obscure band that may very well deliver some totally killer albums in the years ahead. Top picks: "Red Fox Run," "Golden Daze," and "Invisible Zombies." (Rating: 4+++++)

Unicycle Loves You - Unicycle Loves You (CD, Highwheel, Pop)
This band was originally a one man project named Unicycle that was created by Chicago's Jim Carroll. After adding additional players into the band, Carroll changed the name to Unicycle Loves You. The band now includes Jon Pollock, Nicole Vitale, Adam Labrada, and J.T. Baker. This self-titled album features ten cool upbeat pop tracks. The band's sound is something like an odd cross between Cinerama, mid-period Kinks, and Howard DeVoto. The band's overall sound really isn't that similar to any of these three bands, but this will give you some of idea of the general ballpark in which this music exists. These guitar-based pop tracks are catchy, upbeat, and ultimately hummable...a pure feelgood listening experience that features complex arrangements and top notch vocals. Our guess is that reviewers and underground pop fans around the world will instantly give this one an easy thumbs up. Nifty tracks include "Great Bargains for Seniors," "Highway Robbery," "Woman Bait for Manfish," and "Dangerous Decade." (Rating: 5)

Sarah Vonderhaar - Are You Listening Now (Independently released CD, Pop)
This album features an absolutely wonderful cover photo that immediately sticks in your head like glue. The photograph features young Sarah Vonderhaar standing on some mountainous terrain with puffy white clouds behind her while she proudly and defiantly stands in place with her microphone (and stand) in hand. The cover actually may be a bit misleading. One would expect the music on the CD itself to be intense and majestic. But in reality, Vonderhaar is a pure mid-tempo popster all the way. Sarah has already accomplished a lot...particularly when you consider the fact that--as of the release of this CD--she is only 21 years old. Thus far, she has been a contestant on America's Next Top Model, photographed a spread for Forbes magazine, and delved into acting. Now she has her sights on becoming a successful recording artist. Are You Listening Now features nine nice, smooth, upbeat pop tracks that showcase Sarah's slick vocal style. This may not be the most unique album ever recorded...but our guess is that it will most certainly please Vonderhaar's target market. Catchy pop tracks include "All Mine," "I Got Sunshine," and "Everything I'll Be." (Rating: 4+++)



Women want to be

(Rating: 1)

Additional Items Received:

16 Second Stare - 16 Second Stare
Chris Alleyne - Saturday's hero
American Plague - Heart attack
Cristian Amigo - Kingdom of jones
Analog America - A four course meal of found sound
Michael James Anderson - Wake up for the shake down
Awesome Color - Electric aborigines
Bangkok Five - Bangkok Five
Bearsuit - Oh:io
Sarah Bettens - Shine
Chris Beirne - Freezerburn
Black Watch - Icing the snow queen
Blue Skies for Black Hearts - Serenades and hand grenades
Boo and Boo Too - Boo and Boo Too
The Boroughs - The Boroughs
Natasha Borzilova - Cheap escape
Braille - The IV edition
Jason Bravo - Between head and heart
Broadway Calls - Broadway Calls
Stacy Bugg - Defined
Carbe Durand - Sketches
Paul Carr - Musically yours
Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Susquehanna
Colorstore - Bonefish: The legend of mahogany cass
Crash Romeo - Gave me the clap
Daguerreotypes - Tropical trust
Dominici - 03 a trilogy - part 3
Steve Dooks - Cocktails, heartaches and cigars
Doomsday - Original motion picture soundtrack
Drunk Stuntmen - State fair
Michael Dyer - Compli-intricated life
Robert Een - Hiroshima maiden
Everest - Ghost notes
Robert Rolfe Fedderson - Leaving Indiana
Fiance - Please, ambitious, please
Trey Forbes - Coffee shop girl
Trey Forbes - Show me your smile
Ghosts in the City - History
Golan - Silhouette
Fanny Grace - Rise and shine
Golden Chariots of Mars - Tales of talos...
Guns of Detroit - Monsterattake's
Haale - No ceiling
Halcyon High - To be infinite
His Name Is Alive - Firefly dragonfly
IAMX - Kiss + swallow
IAMX - The alternative
Iglomat - Iglomat
In Flight Radio - The sound inside
Island Gospel - The accident that led me to the world
Randy Kaplan - Ancient ruins
King Dust - Full denim jacket
Kyle Sowashes - Yeah buddy!
Leopold and His Fiction - Leopold and His Fiction
Gunnar Madsen - I'm growing
Manakin - Manakin
Nathan Moomaw - 26
Moreland & Arbuckle - 1861
Moving Mountains - Pneuma
My Blueberry Nights - Music from the motion picture
Narayan - A king declares strength
No Doctors - Origin and tectonics
Onya - Secrets and lies
Pagans - The blue album
Plutois - The problem is not a problem anymore
Polar Bear Club - Sometimes things just disappear
Red Plastic Buddha - Sunflower sessions
Red Romance - Red Romance
Jason Ricci - Rocket number 9
Bess Rogers - Decisions based on information
Al Rose - My first postnumous release
Sable - If i fell EP
Sarandon - Kill twee pop!
Scotland Barr & The Slow Drags - All the great aviators agree
Set & Drift - Brass
Shutter - Original motion picture soundtrack
Slipshod Swingers - Transistor radio
Steve Smith - This town
Sort - Resentment, despair, & other amusements
Freddie Stevenson - All my strange companions
Sybris - Into the trees
Take No Damage - Mushroom clouds and silver linings
Teachers Pet - Teachers Pet
Team Genius - Hooray EP
T4 Project - Story-based concept album
Glenn Taylor Orchestra - Glenn Taylor Orchestra
Ashley Lennon Thomas - Sparkle plenty
Tickley Feather - Tickley Feather
Tripping Horse - Tripping Horse
Under the Flood - The witness
W-S Burn - Pleiades
Various Artists - Dorm sessions 5: Heavy rotation reccords
Various Artists - Red leader records sampler 2008
Vetiver - Thing of the past
Wallpaper - T rex
Westran - 3 in the morning
Gregg Yeti & The Best Lights - Heart palpitations of the rich & famous
Jason Yudoff - Tragic hero

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