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APRIL 2009
Reviews from

A Camp*
Justin Ashworth

Atomic Rooster
Big Blue Bonnet

The Boxmasters
Roger Chapman

Matthew Clay
Crank: High Voltage

E For Explosion

Bruce Friedman
Melissa Giges
Monika H. Band

Jesse Harris*
Have A Nice Day

The Humbugs*
Ill Ease*

Black Joe Lewis*
The Little Stevies
The Lumpy Dump People

Stephen Lynch*
Zera Marvel
Men Without Pants
Lauren Mulderrig

Bill Mumy*
Numinous / Joseph C. Phillips Jr.

Old Californio
On Ensemble
Beth Orton*
Johnny Parry

The Perms*
Vanessa Peters & Ice Cream on Mondays*
Pump A Dead Thing

Red Heart the Ticker
Ruby Throat*
The Silent Boys
Sin Nombre

Sometimes Why*
The Submarines
James Sudakow & Eric Zimmerman

Maria Taylor*
This Reporter

Carus Thompson
Tina's Bloody Period

Tiny Animals
Hermas Zopoula

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


A Camp - Colonia (CD, Wigpowder / Nettwerk, Pop)
The folks in A Camp are back with an album that will most surely be welcomed by their fans. On the first spin we were impressed with Colonia. By the fifth or sixth spin we found ourselves falling in love with the music. This band originally started as the duo consisting of Nina Persson (best known as a member of the band The Cardigans) and Niclas Frisk (best known as a member of the band Atomic Swing). The pair originally released a very well-received album in 2001 and then put the project on hold until 2007...at which point they added a third member, Nathan Larson (who used to be in the band Shudder To Think). Produced by Mark Linkous, Colonia is a pure blast of smart, cerebral, upbeat polished pop. At the heart of the music are some wonderfully inspired melodies and lyrics. And Persson's voice is absolutely amazing. Listening to these tracks, we get the same feeling we used to get when we originally heard the first three Kate Bush albums. This might best be described as escapist pop...because while listening to the music it is very easy to forget whatever else is going on around you. Smooth, genuinely rewarding tracks include "The Crowning," "Golden Teeth and Silver Medals," "Eau de Colonia," and "The Weed Had Got There First." An obvious and easy Top Pick for this month. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Alligators - Piggy & Cups (CD, Apple House, Pop)
Really nice, smooth, smart, well-rounded modern pop. Washington's Alligators have come up with a winner this time around. The confusingly-titled Piggy & Cups is a genuinely entertaining spin from start to finish. The songs are extraordinarily strong...and sometimes surprisingly reminiscent of babysue favorite The Hang Ups ("If You Want To" is particularly similar sounding). The press release/sticker that accompanied this album compared the music to Radiohead, The Beach Boys, and The Zombies. Good comparisons, but in our minds the music is much more current and modern than such comparisons might suggest. The band's vocals are incredible...super smooth and understated...and the harmonies are out-of-this-world. Killer cuts include "Where Does It Hide?", "Original Fear," "Snow Children," and "Magic Woman." The digipak sleeve features some truly beautiful photography. Quite a package here, recommended... (Rating: 5++)

Justin Ashworth - New Music To Fall Asleep To...(Lullabies by Justin Ashworth) (Independently released CD, Instrumental/experimental)
This album apparently achieves its intended function...because by the second spin we found ourselves feeling as if we were, indeed, slowly drifting off to sleep. And its not because the music is boring or unimaginative...it's because the music is strangely peculiar and calming. Melbourne, Australia's Justin Ashworth records music, writes poetry, and composes music for films, dance works, and visual art installations. New Music To Fall Asleep To...(Lullabies by Justin Ashworth) is something like subdued and hypnotic modern classical music. The songs are not particularly melodic as much as they are accidental and slightly perplexing. The titles say it all: "A Little Breeze," "Like Sunrise," "Taking Photos of Sunsets," "More Specifically, Nothing Happened Today"... Strangely surreal and hushed. Really cool stuff from a different universe... (Rating: 5)

Atomic Rooster - Anthology 1969-81 (Double CD, Angel Air, Rock/pop)
Excellent double disc overview of one of Great Britain's most underrated hard rock bands from the 1970s...Atomic Rooster. This set presents 29 tracks that cover the band's entire career from 1969 to 1981 with a good smattering of some of their best tracks. The guys in Atomic Rooster were one of a relatively rare breed of bands that, at the time, combined the sounds of heavy rock with the spontaneous improvisation of progressive bands (something like a cross between Deep Purple and, at times, Gentle Giant). As this set makes clear, Atomic Rooster was a much stronger band earlier in their career. As such, the first CD is the real treat here...including such excellent cuts as "Devil's Answer," "Death Walks Behind You," "Head In The Sky" (one of our all-time favorites), and "Break the Ice." The second disc isn't quite as mind-blowing...but the inclusion of three breath-taking live tracks ("Devil's Answer," "Death Walks Behind You," "Tomorrow Night") more than makes the disc worth its weight in plastic. If you never climbed aboard the rooster, this is the place to start. (Rating: 5)

Beau - Edge of the Dark: Unreleased Recordings 1972 - 1985 (CD, Angel Air, Rock/pop)
This is a really odd one...unreleased recordings from obscure British recording artist Beau (the first musician to release a record on the late John Peel's 1917 Revolution label). Beau released two albums (Beau in 1969 and Creation in 1971) before beginning work on what was to be his third album which was to be called High Mass. But the album was never finished and the five songs that were recorded never saw the light of day until now. The next five cuts are from yet another unreleased album recorded in 1975 (Twelve Strings To The Beau). Next up are five experimental recordings followed by several recordings Beau created in the 1980s. This is the first time we have been exposed to this man's music. To our ears, his music sounds something like a cross between Donovan and Bert Jansch (more the latter than the former). His songs are based around a simply strummed acoustic guitar and he has a nice, subtle, understated voice. This is definitely one of those cases where the man had the talent...but his music just never managed to reach a large audience. This disc is intended to make more folks aware of Beau and his music. It certainly turned our heads around. Damn, this guy is good. (Rating: 5)



Goddamn the world
And all the people on it.
Everybody sucks like a
Big blue bonnet.

(Rating: 1)

The Boxmasters - Modbilly (Advance Double CD, Vanguard, Pop/rockabilly)
The third Vanguard release from The Boxmasters is a pure upbeat feelgood experience. This double CD set includes a disc of original songs and a disc full of cover tunes. For our bucks, the originals offer up the real meaty treats here. The band's original tunes merge ideas and sounds from country, pop, and rockabilly...and they are presented simply without a lot of unnecessary garbage muddying up the mix. At the heart of it all are those smooth, groovy vocals. The Boxmasters write and record the kind of music that could easily be appreciated by just about anyone who likes good, direct, toe-tapping pop music. Twelve kickass tracks on the first CD including "Heartbreakin' Wreck," "Hollow Walls," "New Mexico," and "I Never Let You Cry." The second disc is entertaining but not nearly as entertaining as the first (mainly because we think the band's own tunes are superior to most of the tracks they cover!). Some of the covers are rather effective ("A Dime At A Time," "The Lord Knows I'm Drinkin'") while others don't quite hit the target ("As Tears Go By," "Eleanore"). With springtime breaking out all over, this album is bound to be a big hit all around the globe. Smooth, slick, instantly likable stuff... (Rating: 5)

Carcrashlander - Mountains On Our Backs (CD, Jealous Butcher, Progressive pop/rock)
CDs like this are what keep our musical interests tweaked...and make us glad as hell we write about music so that we receive cool little obscure gems like this. We really dug the last album from Carcrashlander a great deal...and we're pleased as punch to report that Mountains On Our Backs is just as good or better. This band is the project created by Cory Gray who was originally in the critically acclaimed band Desert City Soundtrack. Gray's music can, on occasion, sound slightly like Pink Floyd...while at other times the music bears a strange resemblance to 1990s babysue underground favorite Radial Spangle. But make no mistake, Carcrashlander doesn't copy either band...but is just as solid and intriguing as both. This album is chock full of smart, melodic tracks with peculiar melodic twists...and plenty of cool, inventive guitar work. Sometimes the tunes are delivered directly...while at other times boundless improvisation takes hold. We are particularly impressed with the sounds displayed on the lengthy tune "Driveway." Gray has a wonderfully subtle, understated vocal style that is absolutely perfect for the tunes he writes. Killer tracks include "Mountains On Our Backs," "Capillary Ways," "Coast To Coast," and "Warm Behind the Walls." An obvious Top Pick for April 2009. Totally killer stuff...!!! (Rating: 5+++)

Roger Chapman - Live - Opera House, Newcastle, 2002 (Double CD, Angel Air, Rock/pop)
To celebrate his 60th birthday in 2002, Roger Chapman performed to a sold out audience at Opera House in Newcastle, England. These two CDs present the audio recording from that concert. Among diehard music fans, Roger Chapman has been something of a legend for decades...ever since his voice became the instantly identifiable variable in the wonderfully engaging band Family (a group that should have received much more widespread support in the 1970s). You'd think that a guy Chapman's age could no longer belt 'em out...but Live - Opera House, Newcastle, 2002 proves that this is most definitely not the case. Instead of sounding tired and haggard, Chapman instead sounds fired up and rather intense. He's one of those singers whose presence is so strong that it is very difficult to ignore him. For those still unfamiliar with the man, his voice sounds something like a cross between Joe Cocker, Don Van Vliet, and Tom Waits. This impeccably recorded collection features sixteen tracks including "Kiss My Soul," "Blind Willie McTell," "X Town," "Burlesque," and "In My Own Time." Really cool bluesy pop/rock from a man who remains an inspiration to so many folks... (Rating: 5)

Matthew Clay - Epic Twist (CD & comic book, Freakin Records, Pop)
Impressive CD and comic book combo from the unlikely city of Ottumwa, Iowa. Matthew Clay's comic and album play upon the familiar theme of a person searching for fame and some of the pitfalls that are involved. Clay's slick pop tunes bear a slight resemblance to some of Ben Folds' more orchestrated recordings but he is by no means a copycat artist. This is a slick little project...particularly when you consider the fact that it is a self-released endeavor (along with some financial assistance courtesy of the generous folks at Iowa Arts Council). Clay may be an underground celebrity in terms of how many fans he may have at this point in time. But in terms of his sound and style, he already plays and sings with the energy and professionalism of a star (except better, of course, because most stars' fame causes their output to go to hell). The vocals are excellent throughout. Nice, smart, hard rockin' pop cuts include "Be Somebody," "Special Purpose," and "King of the World." The comic book is nice and slick and features some wonderful full-color images. Quite a package. This one will definitely get folks talking... (Rating: 5+)

Crank: High Voltage - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Composed and Performed by Mike Patton (CD, Lakeshore, Soundtrack)
If you think all soundtrack albums sound the same, think again. Mike Patton has created a soundtrack album that is a wild and furious ride. Overall, this sounds very much unlike a soundtrack to anything. Patton is probably best known as the founder of the band Mr. Bungle and the lead singer in the band Faith No More. The film Crank: High Voltage presents the story of a drug-crazed man who is on a mission to save his girlfriend from the Mafia. As such, and as you might expect, the soundtrack to the film mirrors some of the feelings one gets when they are very high on drugs. There's a whole slew of stuff to take in here as Patton presents no less than 31 (!?!) tracks that skid all over the road. Actually and in fact, this CD spins more like an experimental electronic album than the soundtrack to a film. If you react to this like we did, after hearing this you will most definitely want to see this film. Excellent, heady stuff with a major RUSH. (Rating: 5+)

Darling - Burned by the Sun (CD EP, Cardboard Sangria, Pop)
Burned by the Sun is a really good EP. What makes an EP a really good EP? It is one that makes you say, "Shit...why wasn't this goddamn thing a full-length...???!" And yup, that's the exact and precise reaction we had to this cool little seven track disc from the three guys who call themselves Darling. The press release that accompanied this disc compared the band's music to a cross between Built To Spill and Television. That's pretty close...but we would replace Built To Spill with The Kinks. Some of the songs have decidedly Ray Davies-esque melodies and the lead vocals are particularly similar sounding. But as we played this disc over and over again...we found that the more familiar it became the less and less it sounded like any other bands. This is a band with a nifty and unique approach to making infectious pop music. We have fallen in love with smart tracks like "We Are Strong," "We'll Try," "Heads On" (our favorite), and "Fire Keeps Lit." Smart and vibrant. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

E For Explosion - Reinventing the Heartbeat (CD, Eyeball, Rock)
Nice atmospheric modern pop...breathtaking in many respects. E For Explosion is Jamison Covington along with help and assistance from some other folks and musicians...but this is mainly a one-man band. We had to spin Reinventing the Heartbeat a few times before drawing conclusions about the album. Jamison's songs have a nice, dreamy quality and feature some really lovely sweeping keyboard sounds. But his voice is the real focus of the music. He has a cool understated breathy voice that reminds us in many ways of Jason Martin (of Starflyer 59). Thirteen cool, effective songs here including "Sunday," "Behind Every Breath," "Unit 402," and "I Ain't Lost If I'm With You." Sincere, real music with a heart. (Rating: 5+)

Fireworks - All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion (CD, Triple Crown, Rock/pop)
Punchy melodically complex hard pop/rock based around loud fuzzy guitar riffs. Detroit, Michigan's Fireworks consists of Brett Jones (guitars), Chris Mojan (guitars), David Mackinder (vocals), Kyle O'Neil (bass), and Tymm Rengers (drums). These guys play a brand of loud constantly changing modern pop that was very popular in underground circles in the United States in the 1990s. Produced by Chad Gilbert (of New Found Glory), All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion is an impressive full-length debut. The album has a nice polished sound without coming across overproduced. The band's pop sensibilities are obvious...but their tunes have enough power and energy to please folks into harder stuff. Eleven cool rockers here including "Geography, Vonnegut And Me," "I Support Same Sex Marriage," and "When We Stand On Each Other We Block Out the Sun." Neat rockin' stuff... (Rating: 4++++)

Bruce Friedman - O.P.T.I.O.N.S.: Optional Parameters To Improvise Organized Nascent Sounds (CD, pfMENTUM, Improvisation/instrumental)
An odd spin indeed. O.P.T.I.O.N.S.: Optional Parameters To Improvise Organized Nascent Sounds is one of those albums with a heavy improvised, spontaneous sound. Friedman plays trumpet and is accompanied by Lynn Johnston (clarinets), Ellen Burr (flutes), Eric Shar (euphonium), Michael Intriere (cello), Andrea Lieberherr (violin), Emily Beezhold (keyboard synthesizer), Jeremy Drake (electric guitar), and Rich West (drums and percussion)...whew (!). Some of this music has that peculiar herky-jerky sound that we normally associate with modern classical music. Four strange heady compositions here: "Monochromatic Textures (MCT-1)," "MCT-2 with Solos," "MCT-3 with Solos," "MCT-4 with Duos." Peculiar dreamlike stuff that keeps you on your guard. Intriguing. (Rating: 5)

Melissa Giges - Evident (CD, Engine Company, Pop)
Although Melissa Giges is a classically trained musician, these days she's making pure pop music. Giges began playing classical pieces on the piano at the age of four...later majoring in classical voice at George Washington University. After reading this, you might get the impression that Melissa's music would be stuffy and/or pretentious. But we are pleased to report that this is definitely not the case with Evident. Although the tracks on this album are super slick and totally commercial sounding, Giges' soul and spirit shine through loud and clear. And man, what a voice. This young lady has a cool, smooth, understated vocal style that is immediately inspiring and gripping. And don't expect canned techno pop here. The songs on this album feature nice, smooth, warm, organic sounds that are a far cry from generic twenty-first century pop dribble. Cool dreamy cuts include "Silent I Will Be," "Hey Lion," "Movie Scene," and "Before I'm Barely Seen." Nice, cool, cerebral stuff... (Rating: 5)

Monika H. Band - Disguised As Umbrellas, We Slept (Independently released CD, Progressive)
The second full-length release from Monika H. (full name: Monika Heidemann). The press release that accompanied this disc probably sums up the overall sound best, describing Monika's sound as "...dreamy, psychedelic avant-rock with jazz fringes." Yup, that pretty much hits the nail on the head. Disguised As Umbrellas, We Slept is interesting and decidedly unconventional. Heidemann isn't going for any kind of conventional sound that modern-day crap/pop artists strive for. In fact, when listening to this, we get the impression that her main ambition is neither to sell CDs nor to make money (i.e., this is one of those albums that seems to have been recorded purely for artistic expression). The more we spin this album...the more engrossing Hiedemann's voice becomes. She has a slightly distant vocal style that reminds us of some of the more intriguing British female vocalists from 1970s progressive dinosaur bands. Plenty of cool lyrics and adventurous instrumental segments make this album a really cool spin. Eleven inventive tracks including "Moonshine," "Appropriate," and "Ride." (Rating: 5+)

Jesse Harris - Watching the Sky (CD, Secret Sun Recordings / Mercer Street, Pop)
We liked the last release we heard from Jesse Harris in 2007 (Feel). Since that time, Harris has apparently really found his footing in the universe, as Watching the Sky is an even better and more satisfying album. We still think it would be difficult to review and/or describe Jesse's music without comparing him to Paul Simon. His songwriting style as well as his voice are remarkably similar. But instead of coming across like a copycat artist, we get the impression that Harris just happens to coincidentally sound very similar. On this recordings Jesse enlisted assistance from Mauro Refosco on vibes, marimba, and keyboards and Tony Scherr on bass and guitar. The vibes and marimba add just the right subtle exotic texture to these tunes. Add to this the fact that Harris really outdid himself with the vocals...and you have an album that is inspired, smooth, and memorable. Fifteen smooth, subdued pop tracks here including "On A Day," "While We Slept," "Had A Feeling," and "Everybody Knows." Really nice stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)



Have a nice day
Ugly smelly retards.
Have a nice day
Generic mindless sheep.
Have a nice day
Stinking shitty children.
Have a nice day

(Rating: 1)

The Humbugs - On The Up Side (CD, Obvious, Pop)
Purely optimistic upbeat feelgood pop with wonderfully uplifting melodies. This band is driven by the precise songwriting skills of Adam Marshall...a young man who is obviously passionate about throbbing melodic pop. Produced by Jacques Wait (who has also worked with the bands Semisonic and The Soviettes). On The Up Side features nice, thick, slick pop tracks with just enough polish to make them palatable...while featuring arrangements simple enough so that the vocal melodies don't get lost in the mix. But it is the songs themselves that make this album such a pure audio delight. There's no artsy crap going on here...no abstract bursts of noise...no ultra-weird electronics causing chaos. The folks in The Humbugs play unapologetically pure pop that is direct and easy to absorb. Pop music lovers will no doubt go apeshit over tracks like "One More Day," "Employee of the Month," "Walking Home To You," and "Mic Stand." Such a groovy sound...from a totally groovy little band. The vocals on this album are totally KILLER. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Ill Ease (Live performance, March 27, 2009)
We've been huge, huge, HUGE fans of Elizabeth Sharp (the young lady who calls herself Ill Ease) for years...but up until this point we had never been fortunate enough to catch her in concert. This particular show took place at one of the coolest small rock clubs we have ever been to in our entire lives...a place called The Basement that is located underneath Grimey's music store in Nashville, Tennessee. Considering how different Ms. Sharp's music is from all other twenty-first century musicians, we really weren't quite sure what to expect from her in concert. In person, Elizabeth is extremely soft spoken and polite...so much so that when she starts blasting out her tunes it all seems rather...schizophrenic. Not surprisingly, we were totally blown away by this show in the best way possible. Instead of a conventional musician playing songs, Ms. Sharp was more like an experimental performance artist. She plays alone and switches back and forth from playing live drums, bass, and electric guitar...using pedals to record loops of each instrument as she needs it for each song before going on to the next instrument. This girl is, without a doubt, one of THE most powerful drummers we have ever seen. She is downright PRIMAL and CRAZY...and a total blast to watch. While she was trotting around from one instrument to the other, she was also casually inviting the audience to participate. Several songs included audience clapping...at one point she threw a shaker into the crowd which caused one fellow to transform into an automatic additional percussionist. For another song, Elizabeth invited a total stranger on stage to play drums for one song. Even though the fellow couldn't really keep a beat, it hardly detracted from the song because the intent remained intact. This show confirmed what we already knew. Ill Ease is one of the most original musical acts on the planet. With just a bit of tweaking and fine tuning, her music could easily become hugely popular. We can't help but wonder what would result if Brian Eno were to produce one of Elizabeth's upcoming albums...such a pairing would be like a dream made in heaven. If you ever get a chance to see an Ill Ease show, by all means do it. It is so goddamn refreshing to experience such a genuinely unique talent in a world full of generic copycats. We left this show feeling revitalized and even more excited about this band than ever before. We should also mention that--in case you haven't seen it--there is a totally fantastic video out now for the song "Dear Krazy" (from the album Turn It Loose!). (Rating: 6+++)

Kobi - Acousticks (CD, End of Hum, Electronic/experimental)
The third full-length release from Norway's Kobi...one of the best and most unique electronic noise artists that we have heard in the twenty-first century. The appropriately titled Acousticks presents what we would expect from Kobi...odd, peculiar, spooky, unpredictable noise compositions with plenty of strange overtones. Totally unconventional stuff obviously created without any consideration whatsoever for commercial appeal. The music is so precise and well-recorded that it can be deceptively inviting. All kinds of odd sounds and effects blur and transform into one another as these seven tracks float by. The music of Kobi is hypnotic, absorbing, and mentally challenging. These seven tracks have abstract names that somehow seem very appropriate and accidental. Turn this sucker up really, really loud...and you'll feel like you're sure to feel like you're tripping your brains out on something. Totally cool stuff. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)



Governments are lame.

Lame is the name
Of the game.

Technology is lame.

Lame is the name
Of the game.

The sky is lame.

Lame is the name
Of the game.

Animals are lame.

Lame is the name
Of the game.

Meemaw is lame.

Lame is the name
Of the game.

(Rating: 1)

Black Joe Lewis - Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! (CD, Lost Highway / UMG Recordings, Soul/funk/pop)
Cool soul/funk with the sound and feel of the very best funk/pop of the 1970s...all revved up with the slick power of twenty-first century recordings. Black Joe Lewis has a raw, raspy voice that immediately recalls the legendary James Brown. He whoops and hollers...and the man ain't afraid in the least to let it all hang out. Produced by Jim Eno, Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! is a powerful and immediately effective collection of tunes. All the tracks except one ("Humpin'" by Alexander/Cauley/Jones) were written by Lewis and his band The Honeybears. The songs are peppy, punchy funk/pop with steady beats laced with cool horns and funky guitar playing. So many rap and hip hop artists on the planet...but none of 'em can even come close to the power and cool vibes in this man's music. Rip roaring dance-infectious tracks include "Gunpowder," "Big Booty Woman," "Master Sold My Baby," and "Bobby Booshay." Totally cool in every way possible. Recommended. (Rating; 5++)

The Little Stevies - Love Your Band (CD, MGM, Pop)
The debut album from Melbourne, Australia's The Little Stevies. If we didn't know better, we would have thought that this trio was based in the southeastern United States (!?!). Their melodic pop music has slight threads of country and bluegrass that are more commonly heard in our little corner of the universe. The band consists of sisters Sibylla Stephen and Bethany Stephen along with Robin Geradts. These three folks write and record smooth, organic modern pop music with a heavy emphasis on vocal melodies. What strikes us most about Love Your Band is the fact that these sisters' vocals do not sound over-rehearsed and phony. Because of the advantages modern technology allows, most artists are guilty of tweaking their vocals so much that they end up sounding very un-human. So the slight irregularities in the voices adds a real warmth to these proceedings. Love Your Band features thirteen smart smooth cuts including "Sunshower," "Grandma," "Somewhere We've Just Been," and "Almighty Friend." Nice, warm, and inviting. (Rating: 5)

Loxsly - Tomorrow's Fossils (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
The folks in Loxsly return with something a little off the beaten path on this, their third full-length release. The band's overall sound is something like a cross between Eels and The Flaming Lips (more the former than the latter, particularly in terms of the sound of the vocals). The band began as the one man project created by Austin's Cody Ground...but now also includes Justin Douglas, Garrett Johnston, Eryk Lugo, John Kelley, and Ben Swan. Tomorrow's Fossils is a strangely moody album with enough solid melodic appeal to satisfy just about any fan of underground pop. The tunes on this album have a strange playful sound and feature some slightly offbeat arrangements. What probably impresses us most about this disc is the fact that the songs are not predictable. Sure, they're easy on the ears and hummable...but the songs never come off sounding canned and phony. Cool, pensive cuts include "Pedal to the Coast," "Mouse Petals," "As the Constellation's Arms Uncurled," and "Sunk Alone" (gotta love them song titles...). Really nice, smooth, absorbing stuff. (Rating: 5+)

The Lumpy Dump People - Papa Loves His Little Lumpy Dump (CD & DVD Combo, Damperage)
Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, The Lumpy Dump People are putting poodle mixtures back in the pudding bucket. Their engrossing music consists of wiglets, coin purses, taggy things, lift-ups, jelly discs, and pinpoint pushers. The band consists of Allen Allen, Bridgeport Netticut, Salvaged Salmonella, and Trixie Wagonpuller. The band's image is complex...they wear leather and glitter and then cover themselves with mud. Their look is something like Marc Bolan if he had been born in southern Mississippi and liked getting really dirty before his concerts. As for the music on Papa Loves His Little Lumpy Dump...it's kind of difficult knowing what's going on here because the songs aren't actually on the CD and the DVD doesn't feature anything. So it seems that the point of The Lumpy Dump People is...that there really is no point. Hey, who cares? When it's all made up anyway nobody gives a fuck. This one gets a low rating mainly because it gets a low rating. (Rating: 2)

Stephen Lynch - 3 Balloons (CD, What Are Records?, Pop/comedy)
Before we begin this review, we have to give a little background on how we were exposed to the music of Stephen Lynch. A few months back we bought an MP3 player at a yard sale, brought it home, and began listening to some of the stuff the seller had loaded onto it. The songs were a mix of lots of stuff that all sounded the same when all of a sudden a Lynch song popped up. We suddenly found ourselves laughing our asses off as we digested the lyrics. We immediately made a note of the man's name and began following his career. For those who haven't been exposed to Stephen's music, it can be summed up very simply. He writes and records what would be very smooth and accessible pop music with one MAJOR exception...the LYRICS. While singing in the most sincere, genuine way possible, Mr. Lynch delivers lyrics that are deceptively filthy and bizarre. 3 Balloons presents what Lynch's fans want...soft, pretty, pensive tunes with jarringly harsh lyrics. There will no doubt be much debate about the opening track ("Waiting") that goes into gory precise details about waiting to get the results of an A.I.D.S. test. If you've never heard Lynch's music, 3 Balloons is as good a place to start as any. Fortunately the lyrics are included so you can read along (which you will definitely want to do with this one). Totally hilarious laugh-out-loud stuff...! Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Zera Marvel - Birds and Bullets Fly (CD, In Spades, Soft pop)
The first thing that impressed us about Zera Marvel's press kit was the publicity photograph. Goddamn, this woman has one of the most beautiful big black and white cats we have ever seen. The second thing that impressed us about Zera Marvel...was her music. Marvel was previously in the Seattle, Washington-based band Tagging Satellites. The band released three full-length albums and two EPs before deciding to call it quits. Birds and Bullets is Zera's debut solo full-length...and it's a keeper. All of the songs on this album are originals...mostly moody, soft pop numbers in which the central focus is Marvel's super smooth voice. Ex-Tagging Satellite member Graig Markel co-produced these tracks with Zera. The overall sound is nice and full without sounding overproduced. Ten nifty tracks here including "Honeymoon," 'Every Detail," "Wholesale Murder and Suicide," and "Roll Your Luck." Really nice sounding stuff...totally consistent. (Rating: 4+++++)

Men Without Pants - Naturally (CD, Expansion Team, Pop/rock)
Men Without Pants is the duo consisting of Dan The Automator (best known as a member of the bands Dr. Octagon, Deltron 3030, Handsome Boy Modeling School, and Gorillaz) and Russell Simins (of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion). Naturally was originally intended to be released in 2008 but that was before Dan and Russell decided to go back into the studio to tweak things a bit and add additional material. This album features a non-stop string of punchy, noisy modern pop/rock. The guitars are loud and up front in the mix and there are enough jolts of noise to please most underground music fans. A host of well-known folks stepped in to contribute...Sean Lennon lends his talents as well as members of Cibo Matto, The Mooney Suzuki, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. We really love the rhythms and overall vibe of this album. It's a groovy ride from start to finish and the tracks absolutely demand movement. Top picks include "And The Girls Go," "Superfine," "Keep On Movin'", and "Goodbye." A really thick, killer sound here... (Rating: 5)

Lauren Mulderrig - Planes, Trains, and Clean Getaways (CD, Inner Eye Music, Pop)
The second full-length release from Orange County, California's Lauren Mulderrig. Amazingly, Mulderrig is only 18...but you'd never know it from listening to these tunes. Lauren's voice sometimes bears an uncanny resemblance to Suzanne Vega (a compliment of course, as we have been big Vega admirers for years). Planes, Trains, and Clean Getaways is a nice, clean, slick album...but the tracks never come across sounding overproduced or phony. The arrangements are kept to a reasonable minimum which allows the listener to focus on Lauren's personal lyrics and sincere vocal delivery. Thirteen killer cuts here including "Out of Here," "Amber's Song," "Something's Bound to Happen Soon," and "Here To Stay." This young lady is most surely on the right path to success with this one... (Rating: 5+)

Bill Mumy - Circular (CD, GRA Group, Pop)
Although Bill Mumy has been an overachiever his entire life, he remains somewhat of an underground obscurity...probably still due to the fact that so many folks only think of him as the child actor who played Will Robinson in the 1960s science fiction television program Lost in Space. Since that time Mumy has been involved with a wide array of different projects...far too many to name and/or mention within the confined space of this review. Bill impressed us a great deal when he got involved with Wild Man Fischer a few years back...mainly because he was one of the few people who seemed genuinely interested in helping Fischer rather than simply treating him like a freak and laughing at him. Also in the musical realm, Mumy impressed lots of people with his oddball band Barnes & Barnes (who most folks will remember for the hilarious underground hit "Fish Heads"). Snap forward to 2009...and Bill is still writing and recording like there's no tomorrow. Circular is an impressively normal and accessible album full of smooth, hummable tracks. The album is appropriately dedicated to John Stewart who died in 2008. After spinning this album a few times, we can't help but feel that the time has come for the world at large to forget everything previously known about Mumy in the past...and simply recognize him for what he is today: a genuinely gifted and talented singer/songwriter. This fourteen track album is, for the most part, a solo project...although Bill does get some assistance from Chris Ross on drums and Sarah Taylor provides some backing vocals. Pensive, thoughtful tracks include "Never Gonna Stop," "Man of Pride," "History," and "I'll Seeya Around." Very nice smooth stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Numinous / Joseph C. Phillips Jr. - Vipassana (CD, Innova Recordings, Progressive)
Nice, smooth, heady, orchestrated modern progressive music. Numinous is the name Joseph C. Phillips Jr. uses for the 25 piece New York ensemble that he collected together to perform Vipassana (a word that, in the Pali language, means "to see things as they really are"). The album is divided into four lengthy segments: "Of Climbing Heaven and Gazing on the Earth," "Stillness Flows Ever Changing," "Into All the Valleys Evening Journeys," and "The Nothingness That is the Source of Everything." Phillips writes nice, flowing pieces that are simultaneously soothing and thought-provoking...and he utilizes mostly traditional instruments which gives the music a nice, warm, organic sound. Some segments of these pieces recall early Phillip Glass...but only slightly. Mr. Phillips apparently wrote these pieces to capture some of the sounds and feelings inspired by nature and the world around us. These inspired compositions reflect this man's apparent fascination with things in the world that are real. Beautifully executed music that should appeal to fans of classical, modern classical, world, and jazz music. (Rating: 5+)

Old Californio - Westering Again (CD, Californio, Pop/rock)
If there's one thing we dig here in the plush babysue office suite its when we receive an album that simply provides good direct music. And that's the exact feeling we got when we slammed Old Californio's latest album into our player. Instead of gimmicky rock or calculated pop these guys just provide good, super hummable, toe-tapping music that is refreshing and real. This, the band's second full-length release, was released on their own label. The tunes were recorded in a chicken coop/garage that the band transformed into a recording studio. There are so many bands and artists on the planet who try so hard to make an impression that they end up sounding kinda...stupid. By not trying too hard and just letting the music flow, the guys in this band have managed to come up with a totally winning album that will most certainly stand the test of time. Excellent playing throughout and the vocals are delivered with genuine warmth and sincerity. Ten groovy cuts including "Mother Road," "Riparian High," "Warmth of the Sun," and "California Goodness." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

On Ensemble - Ume In The Middle (CD, Turtlefield Music, Electronic/experimental/world music)
Truly interesting and innovative stuff. On Ensemble is the quartet consisting of Masato Baba, Kristofer Bergstrom, Shoji Kameda, and Kelvin Underwood. These four individuals are heavily integrated into the world of music with hefty connections as far as the arm can reach. They are well-respected teachers, workshop leaders, and composers as well as performers. Ume In The Middle is a beautifully packaged album featuring a die cut front insert as well as a clear plastic sleeve that caresses the jewel case. The exquisite packaging is a perfect fit for the music contained within. Ume features nine tracks full of boundless imagination. Some of the tracks are surprisingly accessible while others are rather progressive and spontaneous. Instead of going for one style or sound, these folks apparently just let their imagination run wild. The results...are intriguing and strangely hypnotic. Our favorite cuts include "Yamasong," "Hiroya vs. Miniboxx," and "Bounce Back." After hearing too many generic pop bands, this one comes across like a cool blast of fresh air... (Rating: 5+)

Operahouse - Genius Child (CD, Tiswas, Pop)
Super slick, super glossy commercial pop. There. We got that out of the way right off the bat so artsy folks can immediately skip to the next review. In all honesty, this is just a bit more slick and overtly commercial than we normally dig. Not that this band doesn't have a lot to offer. The songs are memorable and the vocals are really good (the vocals remind us of The Frogs at times). But the tunes seem to be buried beneath too many unnecessary layers of overdubs. But if that's your bag, this EP may totally be up your alley. Five tracks here including "Genius Child," "Criminals," and "Change in Nature." (Rating: 4)

Beth Orton - Trailer Park: Legacy Edition (Double CD, Arista, Pop)
Beth Orton's ground breaking album receives the deluxe double disc reissue treatment here...and the results are nothing short of astounding. The first CD features a digitally remastered version of the album...and it sounds absolutely fantastic. We hadn't listened to the original album in several years and we found ourselves amazed at how well these songs have held up over time. Here in 2009 they sound just as fresh and vital as when they were first released. Now for the juicy part... Instead of one of those double disc sets where the second disc contains nothing but junk tracks and live stuff, this bonus disc is chock full of credible goodies. The disc includes live version of two songs ("Galaxy of Emptiness," "Touch Me With Your Love") as well as early demonstration recordings of "Demons" and "Best Bits" and two collaborative tracks recorded with Terry Callier ("Dolphins," "Lean On Me"). There's more...a total of thirteen tracks on the second disc. Packaged in a beautiful tri-fold digipak sleeve encased in a clear plastic slipcover. This is most certainly a must have for Beth Orton fans. (Rating: 5++)

Johnny Parry - More Love & Death (CD, Lost Toys, Progressive pop)
The third album from Johnny Parry...a young fellow who is quickly making some major musical waves around the world. For those who haven't yet been exposed to his music, Parry writes and records moody pop that sounds very much like a cross between Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. But unlike your average copycat artist, he isn't trying to ape either one. The appropriately titled More Love & Death presents songs that analyze some of life's more critical issues. We were impressed with Johnny's last album (Songs Without A Purpose)...and this one has the exact same effect. We couldn't help but notice the fact that this time around the vocals are smoother and probably easier for the casual listener to absorb. His voice still has that raw, raspy sound...but just not quite as extreme. The cool haunting strings on this album add just the right amount of extra polish. Eleven pensive cuts here including "God Loves Me," "Dine Alone," and "Love Will Hunt You Down." Parry's lyrics are the best. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

The Perms - Keeps You Up When You're Down (CD, Hugtight, Pop/rock)
Nice thick feelgood power pop from Winnipeg, Canada's The Perms. On this, the band's fourth full-length release, these guys spew out tight upbeat catchy pop like there's no tomorrow. The band consists of Shane Smith (bass, vocals), Chad Smith (guitar, vocals), and Maime Carrasco (drums). Keeps You Up When You're Down is a total and complete upbeat experience. No downers to alter the mood, no experimentation to upset the vibe... And that's just fine with us because when the songs are this good, who needs variety? On the first spin we were impressed, by the second spin we were reading the press release very closely...and by the third spin we found ourselves totally in love with this album. Unflinchingly memorable tracks include "Give Me All Your Lovin'", "As You Were," "You Don't Know," and "Salvation." These guys are truly great. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Vanessa Peters & Ice Cream On Mondays - Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up (CD, Little Sandwich Music, Pop)
No peculiar underground slop here. Vanessa Peters is one super talented young lady who hasn't been swept up by the superstar bandwagon...yet. This is Ms. Peters' third full-length release and it's definitely a keeper. The tunes on Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up are basic mid-tempo pop with slight threads of Americana and bluegrass. Sure, there are thousands upon thousands of artists recording this style of music these days. But very few indeed whose songs are as strong as Vannessa's...and even fewer who have such a smooth and inviting voice. Nothing but solid stuff here...with each song as memorable and cool as its predecessor. This album gives us the same feeling we used to get when we heard the first few solo albums by Neil Young. Fourteen outstanding cuts here including "Good News," "The Next Big Thing," "First Lesson," and "Okay From Now On." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Popidiot - Antenna of Love (Estonian import CD, Seksound, Pop)
Wow. This is definitely the most accessible album we have yet to hear from Estonia's obtuse Seksound label. Popidiot is the duo consisting of Matti Juhani Peura and Hendrik Luuk (along with guitarist Rein Fuks). These two guys create smart techno pop that makes us feel like we're reliving 1985 all over again. Antenna of Love is the duo's second full-length release...and it hits the target dead center. Anyone who ever loved the sound of 1980s pop/dance artists like Depeche Mode and New Order will find these songs instantly intoxicating. The 4/4 beats and steady and insistent...the bass lines throb with simple focus...and the overall sound absolutely incites movement. We can say without a doubt that this is one of the most important techno/dance/pop albums we have heard this year. Groove-oriented cuts include "Logic," "Friday's Revenge," "Cassetteboy," and "Dream Song." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)



When you're sad and all alone,
Pump a dead thing.

When the world starts to get you down,
Pump a dead thing.

You can pump a dead thing
Every day of your life.
You can pump it forever
Because it feels nice.

(Rating: 1)

Red Heart the Ticker - Oh My! Mountains Below (CD, Auger Down, Soft pop)
Red Heart the Ticker is the Marlboro, Vermont-based husband and wife duo consisting of Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons. The songs on Oh My! Mountains Below feature a distinctly vintage sound overall. Not surprising, as the album was recorded in the 200 year old house that was originally owned by Robin's grandmother Margaret MacArthur (who was a singer and folklorist). Robin and Tyler present soft, subdued songs with a heavy emphasis on vocal melodies and lyrics. The press release that accompanied this disc compared the duo's sound to Gillian Welch, Will Oldham, Wilco, and Iron and Wine...which should give you a general idea of what the music sounds like. Robin and Tyler both have great voices that work really well within this particular musical framework. The guitar playing is restrained but inspired...and the subtle arrangements give the songs a certain precise magical quality that is difficult to describe. Thirteen lovely tracks here including "Off With Our Heads," "(I Used to Wear) The Head of a Lion," and "Winter Air." Magical and slightly peculiar... (Rating: 5+)

Ruby Throat - The Ventriloquist (CD, Sleep Like Wolves, Progressive soft folk/pop)
Ruby Throat is the duo consisting of Katie Jane Garside (Daisy Chainsaw, Queenadreena) and Chris Whittingham. The Ventriloquist was originally a very limited release in Great Britain that was bound in vintage red Indian leather. Now the album is being made available to a wider audience with more conventional packaging. Thank goodness...because this album is one hell of an interesting spin. The tunes are slow, sparse, almost folky soft pop. At the core of the tunes is Garside's strange and peculiar subdued voice. This lady really knows how to evoke emotions. The songs on this album are simultaneously eerie and soothing. The slight psychedelic sounds in the background add just the right amount of odd ambience. Magical stuff from start to finish. All of these tracks are decidedly unconventional and sound nothing like the average twenty first century recording artist. Although no longer packaged in vintage leather, the new packaging is striking and beautiful...and includes a lovely foldout poster with lyrics printed on the reverse. Cool heady cuts include "House of Thieves," "Dear Daniel," "Lie To Me," and "Happy Now Part 2." Engaging stuff delivered with honesty and integrity. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

The Silent Boys - Progression: 1986 - 1991 (CD-R, Walrus, Pop/rock)
Originally formed in the 1980s, The Silent Boys reformed in 1999 and have since released three new albums (Beauty Tips, Wishing Well Eyes, One Step Closer). This CD collects some of the band's best tracks from their early days. Some of the low fidelity pop cuts on this album bear a slight resemblance to The Television Personalities...while others sound just like what they are: lost garage pop nuggets from the past. The sparse sounds on this album are probably too peculiar for the casual listener, as the guys in The Silent Boys were (and probably still are) playing for a very select audience. There's a lot to take in here...23 tracks of smart and slightly rough guitar pop. The more you listen to this band's music...the more it grows on you. Our favorite tracks include "Band From Heaven," "Scream," "Black and White," "India," and "Dreaming Away." (Rating: 5)

Sin Nombre - Original Motion Picture Score: Music by Marcelo Zarvos (CD, Lakeshore, Motion picture score)
This motion picture score is a bit different from what we normally hear mainly because some of the tracks on this disc are driven by the subtle, moody sounds of a Spanish acoustic guitar. Composer Marcelo Zarvos has created a haunting and mesmerizing score for the film Sin Nombre. Director Cary Fukunaga's film made its debut at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and is probably now on its way to becoming an underground favorite. The film involves the journey of a young Honduran woman who befriends a Mexican gang member and the journey they embark on together. Okay, so while the story doesn't sound so interesting (snore...)...the music most certainly is. So many orchestrated scores and soundtracks are so busy with multitudes upon multitudes of layered instruments. Here the sound is sparse and reserved...and rather poignant. Nineteen tracks here including "The Journey," "Tierra Blanca," and "Sayra In The Church." Nice, serene stuff... (Rating: 5)

Sometimes Why - Your Heart Is A Glorious Machine (CD, Signature Sounds Recording Co., Pop)
Sometimes Why is the female trio consisting of Kristin Andreassen, Aoife O'Donovan, and Ruth Ungar Merenda. All three have previously been associated with the well-received artists/bands Crooked Still, The Mammals, and Uncle Earl. Perhaps because they were already seasoned professionals before getting together, the sum of the parts results in one massive and impressively mature sophomore album. It would be next to impossible for us to cover this album without making comparisons to Mindy Smith, Janis Ian and, most appropriately, Alison Krauss. Your Heart Is A Glorious Machine is an absolutely moving and captivating collection of soft pop tunes. The songs themselves are genuine and real...and the vocals are completely out-of-this-world. After spinning this disc a few times, we can't help but feel that within months this trio will be selling millions. Beautifully moving tracks include "Aphrodisiaholic," "My Crazy" (one of the true knockout tunes on the album), "Diamond," and "The Sound Asleep" Incredible stuff. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

The Submarines - Honeysuckle Remixes (CD EP, Nettwerk, Pop)
Interesting compilation of remixes of tunes by up-and-coming buzz band The Submarines. This EP features tracks that were originally offered as internet downloads (in two parts)...the physical EP is only being offered directly from the band at their shows. As the title suggests, the original songs on this album were featured on the band's last full-length release Honeysuckle Weeks. On this disc, nine tracks are remixed by AmpLive, Tonetiger, Morgan Page, Ra Ra Riot, Alaska In Winter, Wallpaper, Free the Robots, Styrofoam, and Subs' Section Quartet. So...which is better...the original tracks or the remixes...? Probably depends upon the frame of mind you're in. To our ears, both sound great. Nifty soothing tracks here include "1940," "Submarine Symphonika," and "Xavia." Nice and smoooooooth... (Rating: 5)

James Sudakow & Eric Zimmerman - There Is No Sound In Space (Independently released CD, Progressive)
Really nice, heady, spacey instrumental rock from James Sudakow and Eric Zimmerman. Sudakow plays electric violin while Zimmerman handles the programming and plays guitar. The tracks on There Is No Sound In Space seem to be heavily influenced by British progressive bands from the 1970s. In particular, Zimmerman's guitar playing reminds us a great deal of the vastly underrated Steve Hillage (one of our favorite guitarists ever). Some of the best progressive dinosaur bands gave us the impression that we were traveling through time and/or space...and that's the exact same feeling we get from this album. These cool, cerebral tracks glide by like clouds overhead...and the slight psychedelia adds just the right amount of extra flavor. Groovy cuts include "Hail the Victorious Dead," "When I Am King," "Waiting for a Miracle," and "Strange Orange Glow." Cool and rather trippy at times... (Rating: 5+

Maria Taylor - Ladyluck (CD, Nettwerk, Soft pop)
We were (and still are) huge fans of Azure Ray. Even though we were saddened when the duo split, we understood and the dissolution actually made sense. We admit that we were somewhat disappointed by Maria Taylor's last solo album (Lynn Teeter Flower), not because the album was bad but well...it was just more commercial and accessible than what we would have hoped for. Now the good news. Taylor now blasts back in a BIG way...as Ladyluck quickly reaffirms what we already knew. Maria is one of the most gifted singer/songwriters around. And her voice has never sounded better. There's still that slight sad, yearning quality to her voice that made us first fall in love with her music. When this girl grabs at your heart and does it right, she can really strum some incredible emotional chords ("My Favorite...Love" almost makes tears well up in our eyes). Ten cool reflective tracks here including "Ladyluck," "100,000 Times," "Green Butterfly," and "Cartoons and Forever Plans." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5++)

This Reporter - Five Smooth Stones (Independently released CD EP, Progressive pop)
This Reporter is the Brooklyn, New York-based quartet consisting of Jennifer Curtis, Sonny Ratcliff, Robert McCullough, and Vani Kannan. Five Smooth Stones features interesting, slightly haunting tunes that in some ways remind us of babysue favorite Lisa Germano. The songs are subdued and somewhat off-kilter...with arrangements that are strangely dreamy and somewhat surreal. Curtis has a cool voice that comes across sounding rather ghostly at times (simultaneously distant, fragile, and friendly). This is definitely one of those cases where the short disc leaves you wanting more. Only five cuts here ("Stop Me," "Letter," "Fragment 31," "Set Me," "Seven States")...but enough to give us the impression that these folks are on the right path to true artistic success. Really cool sounding stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Carus Thompson - Creature of Habit (Double CD, Music Plug, Pop)
Beautifully packaged double disc set. The first CD features the newest studio recordings from Carus Thompson while the second disc is a live recording containing nine tracks. In addition, the package also includes a lyric booklet featuring the words to the newest songs. Carus Thompson writes and records music that is instantly familiar sounding and immediately accessible. None of that noisy artsy stuff here. This guy writes smooth, sincere songs based around a gently strummed acoustic guitar and he has a nice, smooth, understated voice that is appealing. This guy has apparently paid his dues...touring constantly for the past decade. This could explain the mature, seasoned sound of these tracks. Listening to these two discs we can't decide which we like best. The more polished studio sound...or the live sound of Thompson alone with his guitar. Ultimately what matters are the songs...and there are plenty of choice cuts here. Our favorites include "For the Rest of My Life," "Creature of Habit," "I Found Love," and "Prisoners of the Rodeo." Nice smooth stuff. (Rating: 4+++++)

Tina's Bloody Period (Caramel covered splotches with little colored things on top)
We don't usually review food items so this is a little out of our space. We received a lovely covered box of Tina's Bloody Period. The packaging was so thoroughly delightful that we couldn't help but pull out some toilet paper and get down to business. All the moist covered splotches went down right away and carried us onto the next thought cloud. The porridge liver edition was a bit of a turn off...buy the elevated pinto had us gassing up our leopard pumps. Sort of good, sort of bad...Tina's Bloody Period is a mixed bag of splotches...so you take the good with the bad... (Rating: 2)

Tiny Animals - Sweet Sweetness (CD, North Street, Pop)
Pure thumpy toe-tapping guitar pop from New York's Tiny Animals. The band is driven by the songwriting skills of Chris Howerton who many folks are already familiar with, as he is the owner of North Street Records. More than any other band, Tiny Animals tunes tend to remind us of Fountains of Wayne in many ways. The vocals are particularly similar at times and, like F.O.W., this band creates slick, pure, feelgood pop with nice gliding melodies. Sweet Sweetness features twelve tracks of good clean fun. The only track that didn't work for us is the Devo cover ("Freedom of Choice")...the rest all pretty much hit the target. Our favorite tracks include "Youth Today," "All The Way Down," "Avalanche," and "Answer Me." Good hummable stuff, perfect for springtime driving... (Rating: 4+++++)

Hermas Zopoula - Espoir (Double CD, Asthmatic Kitty, West African folk/pop)
The public relations for this album are being handled by folks who normally promote underground pop and rock acts...which is probably very appropriate because most American music fans should find West Africa's Hermas Zopoula's music surprisingly inviting and accessible. This is despite the fact that Zopoula sings in no less than four different languages across the span of these two CDs (French, English, Dioula, and Sissali). We have to hand it to the folks at Asthmatic Kitty for taking a gamble on this one as this is not the type and/or style of music their listeners are accustomed to hearing on their label. Sixteen smooth, hummable cuts here including "Wend Nana Dounia," "Attention," "Alpha et Omega," and "Seigneur Apprend Moi." A neat, different flavor. (Rating: 4+++++)


Additional Items Received:

Aimee Allen - A little happiness
A Love Like PI - Atlas and the oyster
A.M. Vibe - Capricorno
Jason Antone - Start to move

Eric Bell - Live tonight...plus
Adrian Bewley - Guilty white boy
Big Ideas - Steady state
Brody Blackburn - Life love happiness
Boom Box Repair Kit - My dear antagonist
Broadcast Live - Boomerang metropolis
Taylor Brown - Bar stool ferris wheels
Shauna Burns - Anamnesis

Carbon leaf - Nothing rhymes with woman
Casiotone For the Painfully Alone - Vs. children
Casper and the Cookies - Modern silence
Cinema, Cinema - Exile baby
Clint Michigan - Hawthorne to hennepin
Common Market - The winter's end EP
Jeff Cook - Ashes won't burn
Jason Cutitta - Tired by tuesday EP

Daddy Barfed All Over His Chewing Gum Package - Self-titled
Bo Diddley - Rock ' n' Roll All-Star Jam 1985

Eat The Goddamn Shit or Else - You don't have to eat it
Enter The Haggis - Gutter anthems
Everything Is Every Thing - Whisky tits

Foreign Cinema - Non-synchronous sound
F*ck Knights - "Kristina!" b/w "Mod/Kilos"
Fzzz - Iznb li

Gooseberries - Portraits
Gorrest Fump - This film is even shittier than the last one
Groad ls kdalaw Grene - Jia gio

Heavyweight Dub Champion - Rise of the champion nation
Hell - Teufelswerk
Robin Horlock - Music

I Love You, Man - Music from the motion picture
Isles - Troika

Jason and the Beast - Birth of the beast
Juju for Booboo - Yogi's little pal gets the magic buster

Lindsay Katt - Picking out boxes
Marianne Kesler - Pear in the pink thing
The Kokoon - We didn't go

Ladytron - Tomorrow
The Lanterns - Postcard picture
Tracy Lawrence - Up to him
Lemonade - Lemonade
The Library - The Library EP
Like Bells - Like Bells
Jackie Lomax - The ballad of liverpool slim...plus
Loudspeaker Speaker - Recorded sound
L'Renee - Second chances
L'Renee - Special song
Luengliss - Motion in mind

Ben Mallott - Look good, feel good
Marasol - Futures
Eric Margan & The Red Lions - Midnight book
Merit - Arson is for lovers
Morton Valence - Bob and veronica ride again

The Number 12 Looks Like You - Worse than alone

Aria Orion - Let the sharp stone fly
Olkdjljkd plil alie a;ldjk - El;aid lkd i bibieuilp

Papermoon - Only during thunderstorms
Pears are Pears for Pears - Apples are apples not pears
Peelander-Z - P-pop-high school

Qurek ldlib ldldi - Ble alih
Quuker Bli - Driajb lk ald tooa bla

Collin Raye - Never going back
The Revolution - Present revolution
Cliff Richards and the Subtractions - Sad sounds of the summer
Romance and Noise - Romance and Noise EP
Rude Punch - Killin' it

Shotgun Jimmie - Still jimmie
Jean-Pierre Simons - Sentimentally...to africa
Stupid Beautiful Heaven - Stupid Beautiful Heaven
Swallows - Songs for strippers and other professions

Brett Terry - Instant history
Aaron Thomas - Follow the elephants
Tin Drum - Where have you been?
Trip LAva - Oddball in the corner pocket

Ultimate Power Duo - New normal
Unknown Instructors - Unknown Instructors

Bobby Vacant & The Weary - Tear back the night
Van Atta High - Doin somethin right
Various Artists - Mythical records presents odyssey of rapture vol. 1
Various Artists - Southport weekender: King Britt / Ashley Beedle
Various Art ists - Reciprocess: +/VS.
Versailles - Broken dolls
Von Ehrics - Loaded

Westport Sunrise Sessions - 2
White Rabbits - It's frightening
Wilkins - No expiry date
Wuuuuuuuuuuu - Puuuuuuuuuuuu

X2328 - How many times do i have to tell you?
XX8-7 - Seven more times and you'll get the bullet

Yakky Doodle's Little Mystery Hole - Chopper gets down on it

Zombie Makeup - How to do it in twelve easy ways

LMNOP * babysue * dONW7

©2009 LMNOP
©2009 dONW7