Some Notes About E-mails | General Info | LMNOP® | Official T-Shirts | Order Form | Review Policies
April 2001 Reviews by
 Alien Ant Farm
Terry Anderson
David Andrews
Autour de Lucie
Big dumb Face

Dave Brockie Experience
Calendar Girl

Michael Carpenter
Les Claypool's Frog Brigade
Comment Piece

Mark D*
Dark Fantastic

Mark Farina
Fire in the Boathouse

Film School
Gore Gore Girls

Guided By Voices
Hog Molly

Buzzy Linhart
Eleni Mandell
The Mullens

National Skyline
Paul Newman

JJ Nobody and the Regulars
Of Montreal
Organic Audio
Packy Doodoo and Stabs

Psychedelic Furs

Red Elvises 
Bob Schneider
Senor Coconut

The Sixth Great Lake
Sunless Day
The Supers

Amanda Thorpe

The Weakerthans

*Top Picks

Rating System:

April 2001 Comment Piece

We have no comment this month...

Alien Ant Farm - ANThology (CD, Newnoize/Dreamworks, Rock)
Loud and punchy riff rock. Judging from the title of the disc, we can't help but wonder if these guys have ever heard of...Adam Ant? (Here's hoping they drop the "ant" jokes real soon.) But that is an issue for the marketing department, is it not? Alien Ant Farm play pulsing hard rock with an emphasis on melodies. And though the music is rather aggressive, the songs come through loud and clear. Actually, if you took away those overdriven guitars these guys would sound like a straightforward pop band (the vocals remind us of Duran Duran). Our top picks are "Courage," "Summer," and "Smooth Criminal." Good loud stuff that oughta appeal to the kids... (Rating: 3+)

Terry Anderson - I'll Drink to That (CD, Not Lame Recording Company, Pop)
Instantly infectious upbeat hyper pop music. You've just gotta love anyone who can write a nice upbeat song with a chorus line like Daddy had a wreck and killed everybody in the car. The way Terry Anderson sings it, you'd swear that it's a good thing (which in the case of most families, it probably WOULD be). The tunes on I'll Drink to That are a cool mixture of 1950s pop and 1960s bubblegum. There is an overall mood of happy exuberance that we find MOST refreshing. There are some mind boggling tunes here. Our own peculiar favorites are "Boyfriend 2," "Nastiest House," and "Stay Away From Your Heroes." These tunes are smart, snappy, happy, catchy, crazy, and absolutely WONDERFUL. For a totally straight dose of pop with no filler added, you won't do much better than this. GREAT stuff...! (Rating: 5)

David Andrews - Get Me Out of This Place (CD, Siren Music, Americana pop)
With so many artists and bands out there with a gimmick and an image to sell, genuine and sincere folks tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Portland's David Andrews is not out to impress...or to shock...or to blow people away with volume. Instead, his intent is to simply write and record genuine heartfelt music. And on Get Me Out of This Place...he succeeds. Although Andrews may very well want to kill us for the comparison, his vocal style reminds us of very eary Rick Springfield (minus the accent). The songs themselves, however, are very different. The melodies are strong and the arrangements basic and appropriate. Particularly appealing are the lap steel guitar and fiddle that help to beef things up. Our favorites here are "Runnin' Away Again," "2,000 Miles," and "The Little Things." This is a nice slice of what American pop music ought to sound like if things were as they should be. Sadly, there are very few who take such a straight and real approach to making music. Accordingly, this makes David Andrews a very special experience indeed... (Rating: 5)

Autour de Lucie - Faux Mouvement (CD, Nettwerk, Soft pop)
Although we can't exactly explain why...for some reason super slick pop always sounds better when the lyrics are sung in French. Why is this...? Hmmm... Whatever the reason, this is most certainly the case with Autour de Lucie. We loved this band's last release, and Faux Movement is just as good if not better and more varied. At the forefront are those super sexy, breathy vocals that are just TOO good. But the arrangements...slightly accidental keyboards mixed with subtle guitars...make for some simultaneously heady and relaxing listening. This band sounds something like babysue favorite Ivy...except the music is much more moody and subtle. The production on this baby is impressive...the person at the board obviously paid great attention to detail in painting these audio portraits. Whether pumping out dub pop or pure ambient pop, Autour de Lucie provide a wonderful slice of French pop music that ought to sound right at home on both French and American radio... Very relaxing, very nice... (Rating: 5)

Benjamins - The Art of Disappointment (CD, MCA/Drive-Thru, Pop)
Nice melodic buzzsaw guitar pop with a slightly snotty attitude. This is the debut CD from the Benjamins, and it's chock full of smart and punchy hooks. The band sets a solid foundation with a super macho rhythm section that pumps like the ocean...and then adds layers of cool overdriven guitars with melody lines from a vocalist who can actually sing on key. But don't get the idea that these guys are wimps just because they can carry a tune. Quite the contrary, as is evidenced by such hard pop tunes as "Couch," Clover," and "Little Tin Heart" (the last track is definitely our favorite). What is really nice here is that while these guys have the ability to do some wonderful harmony vocals, they don't OVERDO it (as most bands tend to do). The nice balance of vocal styles adds a great deal of depth to the music...making The Art of Disappointment a disc that you can play over and over and over and over... (Rating: 4+)

Big dumb Face - Duke Lion Fights the Terror!! (CD, Flawless/Flip/Geffen, Rock)
This one-man-band took us totally by surprise for the one simple fact that it is just so damn SILLY. And it made us realize how tiring it can be listening to WAY TOO MANY bands who take themselves WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. Well, that's only our wurfliss l'il ol' opinion, mind you...but you can bet your bottom that Big dumb Face was the refresher course we needed this month. This music on this disc was written, performed, engineered, and produced almost entirely by Wes Borland (who just happens to be the guitarist for the notoriously overrated Limp Bizkit). This is far superior to anything "the biscuit" has thus far produced for a variety of reasons... The tunes on Duke Lion Fights the Terror!! sound something like a cross between Primus, Morbid Angel, Frank Zappa, and Nine Inch Nails. Sound ridiculous? IS. The band names of the "live band" are priceless. The players are The Three Headed Dimetrian Pup, The Tongue of Colicab, Joe Couch, and The Cardboard Urinal (and NO, we did NOT make these up ourselves). So you see, dear readers, the major labels still ARE releasing offbeat and crazy's just that there needs to be a "star connection" in order for this to occur. Naw, honestly...the folks at Geffen and Interscope deserve some bonus points for putting something this strange out there... Absurd and hilarious, yet still credible musically... (Rating: 4)

Dave Brockie Experience - Diarrhea of a Madman (CD, Metal Blade, Rock)
Though most people would probably not know him by his real name, Dave Brockie is the lead singer of infamous rock theater band GWAR. Apparently limited by the somewhat focused career of his "main" band, Brockie has been known to go off and perform his own musical experiments. The Dave Brockie Experience is his latest creation. This is a weird disc that contains all styles of music. At times the music is very reminiscent of mid-period Devo, while other tunes sound like 1990s California punk. It is difficult to tell how serious Mr. Brockie is with this release...or if he is even serious at all. No matter... Perhaps that is the point, as this teeters on that fine line between the silly and the serious. Whereas the music of GWAR is a bizarre hybrid of progressive rock and death metal, the music on this disc is an even odder combination of pop, rock, experimentation, goofy Zappa-esque progressive music, and punk. The intriguing part here is how well Brockie and his pals execute their ideas. This is by no means a "trash" CD. The recording quality is excellent and you can tell that a great deal of thought went into the arrangements as well as the recording. Our favorites here are the surprisingly catchy "Pants" and the relatively straightforward "I Clean Up Real Good." Very different and very difficult listening... (Rating: 4)

Calendar Girl - Everyone But You (CD, Intelligent, Pop/rock)
Good hummable guitar pop from Boston. Calendar Girl has been in existence since 1997 and although they previously released an EP entitled Cool Rocketships in 1999, this is the band's debut full-length. The band's music is characterized by loud overdriven guitars and driving rhythms, but the vocals are more in line with pure pop music. The compositions on Everyone But You contain straight shots of melody punctuated by clever lead guitars. Some folks might call this alternative rock, but that seems like such a meaningless phrase...doesn't it? "Long Time" is our favorite here. If it's upbeat melodic pop/rock you want, Calendar Girl will provide. A nice and consistent CD... (Rating: 4)

Michael Carpenter - Hopefulness (CD, Not Lame Recording Company, Pop)
Nice clean pop that combines elements from bands like Squeeze and the Beach Boys. Soaring melodies abound on Hopefulness, and the tunes harken back to pop music from the early eighties...when guitars were clean and vocal harmonies were the norm. Mr. Carpenter can write some mighty meaty hooks...and he's got a super confident vocal style that really brings the tunes to life. The arrangements fit the style of music perfectly...making this disc sound like a stream of "oughta be" hits. If you are tired of talented artists who simply don't have the writing skills to make it all happen, Michael Carpenter will be a breath of fresh air. His songs have a sincere and genuine quality sadly lacking in most of the throwaway artists of our time. Timeless and cool, this is a disc to play again and again and again... (Rating: 4+)

Cinerama - John Peel Sessions (CD, Manifesto, Pop)
For those who haven't been keeping up, Cinerama is the newest project spearheaded by David Gedge (formerly of The Wedding Present). And for those who haven't been paying attention, Cinerama is every bit as engaging and entertaining as Gedge's former band. The music is much David continues to get in touch with his obvious love of pop music. This is the third Cinerama release. The disc contains segments recorded for notorious British DJ John Peel's radio program--twelve tracks, most of which we had heard before (different versions this time). But it is refreshing to hear them with a slightly different slant...and with less polish (we like the sparse sound better). Of particular interest are the last two tracks that were recorded live at Peel's 60th birthday party. David Gedge has never received the attention he deserves in the United States. Will this ever change...? And why is it that all of the truly great British songwriters are always doomed to obscurity in the states? In any case, this is another recommended release from a truly entertaining band... (Rating: 5)

Les Claypool's Frog Brigade - Live Frogs Set 1 (CD, Prawn Song, Progressive jazz rock)
Dear Mr. Claypool:
Why do you put out stuff like this? You are such a talented and amazing fellow. You obviously are one of the most superb musicians on the planet. But we cannot help but be honest and say that Live Frogs Set 1 does not live up to the high standards we have come to expect from you. Your material is usually very funny as well as mentally challenging. The material on this CD is neither funny nor challenging. We refuse to stop believing in you because we believe that all creative people have lapses from time to time. Could you please just promise us one thing...? Could you promise us that you will never ever cover another Pink Floyd song again?

~~~ TOP PICK FOR APRIL 2001 ~~~
Mark D - The Silent Treatment (CD, Tee Pee, Defies categorization)
This is easily the WEIRDEST music release we have heard thus far in 2001. That in itself is something, but even more importantly this is also one of the BEST things we've heard thus far. There's a great difference between weird and good. Many musical artists are weird but not good. Mark D is both. And his music is one big dose of heady and intelligent confusion. The best part? The more you listen, the STRANGER it gets. If you want to experience what it is like taking drugs but don't want the health risks, playing The Silent Treatment will most certainly take you to that higher level. The overall sound is something like an abstract painting put to music. This guy deserves MAJOR POINTS for this creation. Why? Because this CD has virtually no commercial appeal whatsoever. But artistically...sheesh... This thing hits extreme highs as well as lows...that you hardly EVER hear in modern music. And whereas most folks seem concerned with spewing out music that fits in one or two genres...this spills over into everything at one time or another during the course of these sixteen tracks. But let's see...we still haven't gotten around to describing exactly what this sounds like. Well, there's a reason for that. In this particular instance we cannot describe it. And that is the beauty of this release. It is purely its own entity. One thing is for certain. It is definitely not for everyone. This is beyond the comprehension of most folks (that includes us). It doesn't get much better...or much stranger...than this. This is one of our TOP PICKS for 2001. TOTALLY INCREDIBLE AND MIND EXPANDING... (Rating: 6)

Dark Fantastic - Goodbye Crooked Scar (CD, Up, Rock/pop)
Wonderful. Just wonderful. Dark Fantastic is the latest project spearheaded by Mark Pickerel (who has played with Screaming Trees and Truly). We never understood why Truly never made much of an impact, because we loved the band's music. As much as we loved Truly, Dark Fantastic is even more...fantastic. The tunes on Goodbye Crooked Scar are built around beautifully soaring melodies and feature incredible vocals and mesmerizing arrangements. These compositions are as polished and professional as anything on a major label...and possibly even more so. There's no telling how many hours went into creating this masterpiece. We can hear traces of a great many bands but no one in particular comes to mind. The guitar lines in particular are ASTOUNDING. Only eight tunes here, but they are all meaty, heady, and super intelligent pieces... (Rating: 5+)

Darwa - More Life More Trouble (CD, Abstrakt Reality, Dance pop)
Super slick...super thick...super heady...and super smooth. Darwa is the duo of Darja Klancar and Mario Marlot from Ljubljana, Slovenia. The two traveled to Los Angeles to cut the tracks for More Life More Trouble. Obviously the results were worth the trip. Studio polish and effects drip all over the place on this disc. And that might be obnoxious...except for the facts that (a) the band has good songs and (b) Ms. Klancar has a remarkable voice. Though the music has definite commercial appeal, there are enough abstract electronics noodling around in the background to keep things from getting boring. The music has a nice calming effect on the listener...but this is not just mood music. A lot of thought and imagination went into the creation of this CD. Our favorite cuts are "Hard Times," "Take A Walk," "Eternal Fire," and "Now and Then." We hope that the band doesn't hate us for saying this, but this music may very well appeal to Madonna fans (that includes us, of course). Hot stuff... (Rating: 4)

Mark Farina - Mushroom Jazz 3 (CD, Om, Various artists)
We rarely review various artists compilations mainly because it is difficult to write a single review that covers a dozen or more artists. In this case we make an exception...because DJ Mark Farina has created an overall groove that is both inviting and appealing. Mushroom Jazz 3 features nineteen smooth tracks of light dance-flavored jazz and pop that seem to flow by like the clouds above. Included are tracks by virtual unknowns like King Kooba, Raw Instinct, Daddy's Favorite, People Under the Stairs, and more...but the real surprise is the inclusion of a track by Herb Alpert. His third release in the Mushroom Jazz series makes us wish we had heard Farina's previous two compilations. Cool and just slightly trippy... (Rating: 4)

Who FREAKS is? Freaks is not what is those people what is trying to act and look very different. Freaks is those people not even having idea of how freakish they selves is. They is people what is work at regular job...have regular hobby...have regular friend...listen to any kind of music. But they is not only freak. Freak is also what is shopping in store, buying of grocery, and applying for scholarship. Freak is also inclusive of all people small nature as well as large. Also include is regardless of all age, regardless for young and old. People for religion is freak as well as people of not having religion is. Everything else other than man not freak. Man and woman only creature capable of freak. But there is reason. They good at it. They very, very, very good at it. Look in mirror and stare closely at facial feature. Very soon to be able to spot secret hidden lines of ugly freak. Stare at for seven hour, then sleep. (Silver Plating: 879773)

Fire in the Boathouse - Fire in the Boathouse (CD, Accurate, Pop)
Every once in a while you come across music that doesn't seem to be very different from the rest...but when you actually pay close attention you come to the conclusion that there is something substantial creeping underneath the surface. Such is the case with Boston's Fire in the Boathouse. The band plays a loose, country-ish sort of pop that sounds like hundreds of bands we've heard before...but there is a certain determination in the music...and particularly the vocals...that makes this band a real treat. The songwriting is way above is evidenced by super hummable tracks like "Catacombs," "Different Hat," "Set in Stone," and "Last One on the Train." Though this may confuse the band (as much as it confuses us) some weird manner the overall sound reminds us of Howard Devoto (?!?). These guys are anything BUT calculated and contrived. This is real genuine stuff played from the heart with conviction and soul. (Rating: 4+++)

Film School - Brilliant Career (CD, Metoo!, Moody rock)
Decidedly uncommercial and extremely moody rock music. Most bands have a sound that is easy to pinpoint. Film School do not. The band merges abstract guitars and keyboards into an odd texture that supports very restrained vocals. The overall effect is very dreamlike in nature. There's an intriguing drug-like effect to this music in that while you are listening to it you feel as if you have taken something. Perhaps that is the intended effect, perhaps not. But whatever the case, the odd formula works. Film School is spearheaded by songwriter Krayg Burton who has a very unique vocal style. Actually, perhaps the most fitting term here would be "restrained psychedelia" the music is certainly far out...but it is also as soothing as it is surreal. Honestly we can't really seem to come up with the right words here... But our overall opinion is that this is a disc with substance...and that in and of itself is a rarity... (Rating: 4+)

Gore Gore Girls - Strange Girls (CD, Get Hip, Rock)
WHEW! We honestly can't remember when we last heard an all-girl group with this much energy and attitude. If you think girls can't rock as hard as guys, then you haven't been paying attention to what's been happening during the last decade. Girls not only play much better than they once did, but they continue to play harder and harder as time goes by. This is the most aggressive girl band we've heard since The Red Aunts (a criminally overlooked experimental California punk band from the 1990s). We still have our copy of the Gore Gore Girls debut 7" vinyl single that came out a few years back, but it didn't prepare us for Strange Girls. These three ladies have come a long way, and this monster of a CD is bound to create an instant and permanent buzz. This disc has a nice thick sound that gives you the impression that the band is right in your living room kicking out the jams. Killer tunes like "Hunt You Down," "Star Struck," "Gore She's Got It," and "Getting A Room" make this disc a must have. The band's cave woman leopard skin dresses help to create the perfect image. This is primitive stuff...coming straight from the gut and bursting with ballpower. GREAT stuff that must be heard to be believed... (Rating: 5)

Guided By Voices (Live Performance, March 9, 2001)
This concert was an unusual experience for a variety of reasons. This was the first time we had ever seen Guided By Voices in concert. The band was NOTHING like we had envisioned. We had this mental picture of some serious little singer/guitarist with a backup band...but what we experienced was a total ONSLAUGHT of loud rock music by a group of five musicians who were anything BUT serious. These guys were extremely loose and their behavior verged on silly for the entire show. Guided By Voices is a five-piece band in the truest sense of the word. All five members provide key pieces of the puzzle here. Watching the band play, we couldn't help but think of how much these guys are to 2001 what the Psychedelic Furs were to music in the 1980s. The music is loud rock...but it has a skewed quality that makes it sound somewhat atonal and strange (this is particularly true in regard to the electric guitars). In addition, the lead vocalist's presence reminded us very much of Richard Butler (although the two look and sound NOTHING alike). The Echo Lounge (still the BEST club in Atlanta in our opinion) was completely SOLD OUT for this show...and the fans were ready to rock (that sounds trite, but it actually applies here...). When the band hit the stage they immediately took off like a rocket. The sound was so loud that whenever the drummer hit the kick drum it went all the way through our chests. Lead singer Bob Pollard was nothing like we expected. Instead of a thoughtful skinny guy playing guitar, he's sort of a chunky middle-aged guy who looks more like a business professional than a singer in a band (?!?). To our delight, the band played a great many songs off of their brand new CD Isolation Drills. For us, the highlight of the show was the delightfully Big Star-ish "Glad Girls." The audience wasn't familiar with the new tunes, as the CD had yet to be released...but the new tunes were our favorites as we had already been playing this disc into the GROUND. While we normally complain about Atlanta audiences, this was one concert where the audience was RIGHT ON TARGET. Lots of folks dancing, yelling, waving their arms...which is just what Guided By Voices wanted. This band interacts with the audience, and in the case of this particular evening it all worked just perfectly. This was, overall, an excellent show by an excellent band. The only slight complaint we had was that the sound was so VERY loud that it was difficult to discern exactly what was going on at times. But that was a relatively minor problem as there was so much good energy in the club that we couldn't help but have a BLAST. The club goers obviously knew every note and every word of the band's earlier material. The bassist in particular gave off so much positive energy...sweating and smiling his way through the whole show...that we couldn't help but be taken in by his presence. Great music, great environment, great fun... (Rating: 5)

Hog Molly - Kung-Fu Cocktail Grip (CD, Kool Arrow, Hard rock)
Truly hard rock with meaty riffs and a real screamer of a vocalist. Hog Molly tunes are razor sharp, super loud slices of asskicking rock and roll. And unlike many bands who are merely posers or volume freaks...these guys can really play. The combined force of these four guys is truly AMAZING. This is Tad Doyle's new band, who some folks will probably remember from his previous band TAD. The tunes on Kung-Fu Cocktail Grip borrow sounds and ideas from a variety of sources. We can hear traces of Black Sabbath, The Melvins, early Alice Cooper, and dozens upon dozens of thrashy punk bands. But despite the many influences, this band has their own sound. Lots of great tunes here including "Mr. Right," "Alcohog," "Blood Pusher," and "Short Bus." Tasty guitar riffs combine with some thick and nasty bass lines and drum beats to create a great big MONSTER of a rock band. You'll need to turn this one up really, REALLY loud. Ain't that what it's all about? (Rating: 5)

Buzzy Linhart - Buzzy Linhart Loves You: Classic Recordings (CD, Razor and Tie, Rock)
One of the nice things about reviewing music is that you are constantly exposed to music that you might otherwise never have known existed. Such is the case with this, the latest Buzzy Linhart CD from the folks at Razor and Tie. Oh sure...we had heard the guy's name before, but to our knowledge we couldn't remember having ever heard any of his music. Thankfully that has changed now, as this disc offers a nice introduction to the man's music (as well as a retrospective overview) . Mr. Linhart only recorded a few records from the period 1969-1974...but his music lives on, thanks to digital remastering and live performances that continue to the present. Linhart's music is a bluesy blend of rock and pop with a heavy emphasis on snazzy guitar licks. His voice has a nice husky quality that is simultaneously pensive and masculine. Along his musical journey, Buzzy has played with some mighty big names including Jimi Hendrix, Harry Nilsson, and Carly Simon (to name a few). We're very late hearing this material...but even though, Mr. Linhart has won us over with his finesse and integrity. Included is what may be Buzzy's most famous tune, "Friends" (which he co-wrote). The sound quality is great. Even though these tracks were recorded decades ago...they sound anything BUT dated... (Rating: 5)

~~~ TOP PICK FOR APRIL 2001 ~~~
Eleni Mandell (Live performance, March 29, 2001)
Driving 20 minutes at midnight on a Thursday to see a concert is not exactly our favorite activity. Accordingly, when we entered a small club in East Atlanta to hear underground favorite Eleni Mandell and found her alone on a stage with an acoustic guitar we had an instant BAD REACTION. But then within a matter of seconds all of our fears were put to rest. This show was without a doubt one of the most unforgettable and wonderful concert experiences EVER. If you are like us, seeing a girl along holding an acoustic guitar usually means (a) they're playing some crappy folk music with a political agenda or (b) they are retarded and sound shitty. Neither was the case with Eleni Mandell. This cool and spellbinding young lady put a spell on the crowd and had them under her control for the entirity of her set. We have enjoyed Ms. Mandell's first two CDs immensely...but the music on those discs did not prepare us for the live show. Eleni has a voice that is right up there with the timeless and best female vocalists OF ALL TIME. Yup, that's right...and you can be sure that we are NOT exaggerating. She is every bit as good as Sarah Vaughan, Chris Connor, Hell, what's the point in trying to draw comparisons? This young lady blends and merges acoustic pop with jazz and country and throws it back at her audience with all the gusto and finesse of the best female vocalists from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Watching this show, we were so blown away that we had difficulty believing that we were lucky enough to be able to witness this event. This is an artist who could easily have been playing for an audience or 5,000 or 10,000 people...and there we were, standing around with about 50 folks to enjoy and appreciate one of the most fascinating musical artists of the century. Not only was Mandell a commanding performer whose concentration never waned, but she also has a sense of humor that is both inviting and real. (We particularly enjoyed her introduction to the last tune when she stated that it was from her first and currently out-of-print album and that "this would be a great time to put it up on eBay.) We honestly can't remember when we were so affected by ANY concert EVER. Our emotions literally ran wild and we couldn't count how many times we got chills. If you want to experience a show that you will never forget, catch this lady now...before she gets scooped up and transformed into a BIG STAR. If she keeps heading in the direction she is heading in, that is most certainly bound to happen. You just don't find folks with this kind of talent anymore at any level of financial or artistic success. Eleni Mandell is one of the truly GREAT vocalists and performers of all time. Get in on the ground floor now so that you can tell your friends that you saw her before she hit it big. Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW. (Rating: 6)

Metroscene - First Light at Last Orders (Independently released CD, Pop)
Let's start out here by stating that this band sounds NOTHING like other bands from Atlanta, Georgia. Even more intriguing is the fact that Metroscene has created a sizable buzz totally through their own energetic efforts. This, their self-released first full-length CD, is as slick and impressive as anything one would hear on bigger independent...or even major...record labels. The music is nicely propelled melodic guitar pop with just slightly spacey arrangements. But what we admire most about these folks are those soaring vocals. The vocals are way above average, and the melody lines have a cool flowing quality that is both dreamy and arresting. Combine the unique arrangements with the great vocals and what do you get? A band that combines elements of commercial music with pure artistic integrity. The mix is a hit, as First Light at Last Orders is like a non-stop string of hits that you've never heard before. And from all reports, the band is apparently superb in concert. We can't find anything negative whatsoever to say here... This is an excellent debut from a band that is simultaneously credible and occasionally incredible... (Rating: 5)

The Mullens - Tough To Tell (CD, Get Hip, Rock)
The Mullens hit the ground running a few years back with their fabulous self-titled debut CD. The band instantly had the critics and fans showering them with praise. The band's second disc was good, but failed to live up to the high standard set by their debut. For various reasons, the band then split up. Thankfully after a two year absense The Mullens decided to get back together to record a solid new CD that is as good, if not better, than their debut. The thing that originally drew us into the band's music was their simple, straightforward, and stripped down approach. That approach is back and fully intact, as these Dallas, Texas gentlemen plow through the twelve tracks on Tough To Tell. The band sounds something like a modern version of the New York Dolls mixed with everyone's mental favorites The Ramones. There's a lot to love here, but our top picks are "Talkin' To My Baby," "Shady Deal" (our favorite), and "Out With the Boys." These guys are too good to be missed. If it's a straight dose of rock and roll you're after, you won't do much better than this... (Rating: 5+)

National Skyline - This = Everything (CD, File 13, Dreamy pop)
Cool drony pop music with lots of electronics and studio noodling. National Skyline was formed in 1996 by Jeff Dimpsey (formerly of Hum) and Jeff Garber (formerly of Castor). The first thing that drew our attention to this disc was the seems inconceivable that anyone could POSSIBLY photograph an expressway tunnel in such a way as to make it appear attractive...??? But dammit if a graphic artist who goes by the name Ohiogirl managed to do so. No photos of the liner notes...just beautifully enhanced photos of an expressway tunnel. Actually the cover photos fit the music. These compositions are somewhat drony and very heady pop pieces. There's a lot of experimentation going on amidst the obvious melodies in these tunes. It's kinda like listening to bubblegum music while doing three hits of blotter. The listener is bombarded with a whole lot of stuff...but the band's experiments work, mainly because they manipulate technology to their own advantage. Our top picks here are "A Million Circles" and "A Night at the Drugstore." Based upon our listening habits of late, we would highly recommend just about ANYTHING on the File-13 label... (Rating: 4+)

Paul Newman - Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package! Re-evaluate the songs" (CD, My Pal God, Art rock)
If we didn't know better, we would swear that this CD was a various artists compilation. It seems that a certain someone would have already initiated a lawsuit to get this band to change their name, but apparently that hasn't happened yet. As the title suggests, this is a collection of previously-released tunes by Paul Newman that first appeared on the Temporary Residence, Trustworthy, Zum, and My Pal God labels. The music on this disc ranges from melancholy to mild to furious to violent. The band does some absolutely wild guitar stuff (particularly on the tracks "Popcorn" and "Grady No. 101"). Our top pick here is the beautifully moody "December '91 Or So," a subtle and sparse composition. Most bands can be lumped into one or two categories at most. Paul Newman virtually defies categorization, and in today's world that is impressive... Very experimental and different. (Rating: 5)

JJ Nobody and the Regulars - Rock'n'Roll Doesn't End at 2:00 (CD, Hopeless, Hard rock)
Loose and hard bar rock. JJ Nobody does his normal chores with underground faves The Nobodys. The band is taking some time off to rest, but apparently JJ has energy to kill. So he's temporarily off on his own, recording and touring with his own band The Regulars. As you might expect, this is loud buzzsaw guitar rock played at high speed. But the melodies are solid and you can understand the words (a peculiarity in today's music market) the band has bullets to burn as they speed their way through these fifteen tracks. It's a rip roaring party for sure, and you can't help but love tunes like "Light You Up," "His Girl," and "Let's Get Drunk." Major attitude combined with major hooks... (Rating: 4+)

Of Montreal - Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse (CD, Kindercore/Emperor Norton, Schizophrenic pop)
With so many bands and CDs slamming us in the face day after day we often become weary from hearing music from so many artists who release material that has little substance and no style at all. Athens' Of Montreal continue to be an intense source of the band's unusual and extremely inventive brand of pop just keeps getting weirder and more complicated as time passes by. (And that's saying something, seeing as how these folks started out on a complex and daring level in the first place.) If you're looking for an easy pop band that offers a basic "verse chorus verse chorus" style...then we would suggest that you LOOK ELSEWHERE. Call if "difficult pop" if you will, Of Montreal is simply offering a style of pop music that is too heady and complicated for your average listener. The music sounds something like a cross between The Archies and Lilys...the former in terms of vocals, the latter in terms of a general refusal to write tunes that follow any sort of traditional framework. If this is confusing, then that may be exactly the point. Listening to Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies may very well give you the feeling that you are switching from station to station during Saturday morning cartoons. That is, the music is decidedly wacky, schizophrenic, unpredictable, and generally bizarre...all the while retaining an eerie thread of bubblegum (although this is by no means bubblegum music). To our knowledge, there is no other band currently recording this style of music. And the more we hear, the more we get into it. Accordingly, we find this to be the band's best (and oddest) CD yet. It's certainly not for everyone... (Rating: 5)

Organic Audio - Last One Home (CD, Nettwerk, Dance/electronic)
If there's one thing that is tiring and tedious, it is folks who produce one sort of music...and try to disguise it as another. Over the years, we have heard countless numbers of bands who produce dance music...but they try to dress it up and pretend that it is something else. Accordingly, it is always refreshing when an artist or band comes along who is honest about what they are doing. To put it bluntly, if you're going to make mindless music...then make mindless music, goddamn it. And don't try to fool the listener into thinking that it is something else...because it doesn't need to be. Organic Audio seem to adhere to this rule. The music on Last One Home is, admittedly, mindless. But contrary to what most people may think, that is not necessarily a BAD thing (!). In fact, it can be a big plus...particularly when it applies to dance music. The tracks on this disc are based around very simple 4/4 dance beats...and there is very little layered on top. There is no attempt made to hide the fact that these folks provide a beat for people to dance to. The tracks with the least are the ones we like best ("Play to the Music," "This Could Really Happen," "Last One Home"). This is a cool electronic blast that goes straight for the target. NEAT. (Rating: 5+)

Packy Doodoo and Stabs
Packy Doodo
and Stabs nver see each other anymore. They used to hang out with each other practically all the time but those days are gone. Their familiarity with one another eventually caused each to take the other for granted. The contempt that developed finally become intolerable and so both had to go their separate ways. Packy Doodoo moved to Seattle to start a new career shipping noodles while the life of Stabs pretty much remained the same as it had always been. Packy Doodoo and Stab are very much like you and your friends. When you met each other initially each of your personality traits probably fascinated the other. But as you became better and better acquainted the fascination faded. This will happen every time you meet a new person. In the back of your mind you will always think, "This is just another Packy Doodoo" or "This one is just another Stabs." Unfortunate but true, newness ultimately wears off of everything...even people. But it is better to be aware of this feature of human nature rather than let it bring you down. Nothing can bring you down. Not evil. Not Santa. Not hatcher buns. Not dominant axes. Not your stupid television set. Not the firm and distant peanut approaching sacks and sacks of onion. Nor the beevil and dowset jowels of Manger Bunny. But may ask...what about Packy Doodoo and Stabs? They are now stored permanently in your memory. In your memory they will STAY. (Grating: XX-3kCC)

Powderfinger - Odyssey Number Five (CD, Universal/Republic, Pop)
Though this band has already become a smashing success in their native country of Australia, Odyssey Number Five is the band's first album to released in the United States. We approached this CD with concern, mainly because they have already been chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as "Band of the Year." This concerned us mainly because Rolling Stone does not have now...nor has it ever had...any credibility whatsoever. Occasionally something decent slips through the seams, however, and we can honestly report that Powderfinger is a pleasant...if not extremely slick and commercial...pop band. Sure, this music may be aimed at a target audience consisting mainly of people who still listen to commercial FM radio and watch MTV...but considering the nature of the beast, there are some good tunes here. The band comes off best when they stop trying so hard and just let things happen...which occurs on the nicely flowing "The Metre" (this one sounds like it could've been written by the Chainsaw Kittens). The tune features great arrangements, and the softer sound allows the listener to appreciate Bernard Fanning's vocals to the fullest. Also entertaining are the slightly skewed "Odyssey #5" and the acoustic "Whatever Makes You Happy." There are some throwaway tunes here, but that is to be expected. Folks into obscure underground stuff are going to hate this...but, as usual, we try to find something good in the cracks even if it means exposing ourselves to things that we might otherwise ignore... We would expect that this band will be popping up more and more in the media... (Rating: 3+)

Psychedelic Furs (Life performance, March 31, 2001)
And now Earthlink presents...Sweatin' To The Oldies With The Psychedelic Furs... As we know all too well, any and all band reunions have the potential to be horrible nightmares. While we usually avoid all band reunions like the plague, our curiosity got the better of us in regard to the current Psychedelic Furs reunion tour. After all, the band was one of the more incredible and unique acts of the 1980s. And at their peak, their concerts were like wild free-for-alls where everyone was so fucked up that the music and the crowd melted into one drug-induced psychedelic trip. This particular show was not sold out, but it came mighty close. The audience was a peculiar mix of young preppies and almost-middle-aged folks trying to relive their past by dressing in "new wave" clothing. When the lights finally dimmed, the Furs started off with a very smart selection ("India" from their first album). They attacked the tune with such intensity that we almost could not believe our eyes nor our ears. Unfortunately, the band never reached this peak for the remainder of the concert (although they came close on "President Gas"). Now don't get us wrong...this was not a bad show as there were some great things about this concert. First, Richard Butler's voice sounds as good as ever. But whereas in the 1980s Butler literally fell and pawed all over the audience as if he were molesting them, nowadays he is shaking hands in a manner that one would normally associate with a politician. The drummer is an impressive powerhouse, and given the opportunity we felt that this man could really mow the lawn. What happened after "India" was that the band more or less just churned out the hits (which is what the audience wanted). This was to be expected, as they made the questionable decision to tour with no new album to support. (In our opinion, the Furs comeback would have been much more appropriate if the band had just recorded and released a really loud and blistering new CD...but our guess is that the new LP--which is now in the works--is going to contain lots of mid-tempo numbers.) Some of the old hits sounded quite good, but others were lacking. What really hurt the band were the programmed keyboards which were very distracting, virtually ruining great songs like "The Ghost In You" and "Love My Way." One fellow sitting behind us almost got it right when he yelled out "CUT THE TAPES!" Of course, what he was meaning to say was "CUT THE PROGRAMMED DIGITAL KEYBOARD STUFF!" did the audience react? Strangely enough, "Heartbreak Beat" seemed to be the biggest crowd pleaser (unusual since we never cared for that particular tune). Even more interesting than the show itself was the big six-and-a-half-foot redneck sitting next to us getting drunk all by himself. At the end of every tune, he kept slapping us on the back yellling "This is GREAT! Isn't this GREAT!?!" But the most priceless moments of this particular evening were when the drunk redneck began imitating Richard Butler's effeminate hand movements. What a SCREAM! That's the great thing about can laugh right in their faces and they don't even have a CLUE. So to sum things up...we are glad that the Furs have decided to make a go of it again...and with some luck and determination they may be able to reignite their career. But we just hope that in the future they opt to show the world what new things they have to offer...rather than going on tour (and charging $25.00 a ticket) to churn out the oldies. Not a bad show, but not a perfect one either... (Rating: 4-)

Red Elvises - Welcome to the Freakshow (CD, Shooba-Doobah, Siberian rockabilly)
Any band that dubs their music "The Best Rock'n'Roll From Siberia" deserves some attention. Particularly when they are even willing to strip naked for the CD cover. These guys do an excellent job of attracting attention. Everything about their name and image grabs you by the nuts. The story goes like this... Red Elvises are a Los Angeles based band consisting of three Russian guys plus a drummer from Texas. The music is unusual and gives us the same sort of reaction that we have when we listen to Shonen Knife. Hearing Russian guys do rockabilly is an unusual experience. But what is most appealing is that (at least vocally) they don't try to sound American (much like the aforementioned S. Knife). Instead, they allow their accents to take center stage...and this works to their advantage. The songs are intelligently written and have a surprisingly good deal of commercial potential. Will they catch on in a big way...or become a short-lived fad? In today's world, there is absolutely NO WAY of knowing. (Rating: 4)

re: - mnant (CD, Constellation, Abstract electronic)
The band and CD names here are a SCREAM. If you think we've made a typographical error, think not. Bands keep getting more and more obscure and difficult with their names. This is among the most completely uncommercial we have seen thus far. re: is the duo of Aden Evens and Ian Ilavsky. The two use electronics to create electronic soundscapes...rather than what one would normally call songs. The basic idea is not unlike babysue favorites Pan Sonic...except that these two gentlemen occasionally do throw in some melodies along the way. While we absolutely LOVE this kind of stuff...we cannot, unfortunately, recommend this to most folks out there...for the simple reason that your average listener does not want curious electronic noise drooling out of their speakers. We can't imagine why...since big selling electronic dance music is 100% "bad noise." There's an obvious sense of underlying is suggested by the titles of the tracks..."scue," "duce," "solute," "cipe," "straint," etc. There's a pattern happening here...get it? Actually, there's a good chance that most folks aren't going to "get" this band or their music. This fits somewhere in the bizarre territory between ambient and modern classical. If you want something you can sing along with, then this is definitely NOT your baby. But if you like your baby tempered and skewed with far out experimentation, then you have found a new duo to love. As with all Constellation releases, the packaging is beautiful. Great stuff, but only for a very select listening audience... (Rating: 5+

Bob Schneider - Lonelyland (CD, Universal, Folk/pop)
Trying to pin down Bob Schneider's music is not an easy task. The man skips from one musical style to the next as easily as Dorothy skipped down the mighty yellow brick road. Lonelyland is Schneider's debut album, and it is an impressive and mature collection of tunes. Bob's tunes range from folky pop to funky pop to slightly noisy pop with just a slight hint of an industrial edge. The man sounds something like a combination of Evan Dando, Ron Sexsmith, Trent Reznor, and Martin Sexton...but not quite. He's got a silky smooth vocal style...yet he can get kinda growly if the mood strikes him. For our own (admittedly peculiar) tastes, we dig the tunes centered around an acoustic guitar ("Metal and Steel" and "The World Exploded Into Love") . Now some folks might call these tunes schmaltzy...and to be honest, if we weren't in such a great frame of mind at this point in time...we might also. But at least for this time on Spring is breaking out and yard sales are just beginning...we find Mr. Schneider's music to be quite engaging. This isn't breaking any new ground, that's for sure...but that's not always the point then, is it? (Rating: 4)

Senor Coconut - El Gran Baile (CD, Kindercore/Emperor Norton, Instrumental)
Senor Coconut made quite a splash with reviewers with the release of his last CD which featured mind-boggling Latin instrumental covers of Kraftwerk tunes. Much to our delight...and instead of taking the easy route of providing more of what people probably were expecting and wanting...Mr. Coconut instead embarks upon a completely different journey on El Gran Baile. We liked the last disc...but this one is even BETTER. On El Gran Baile, Uwe Schmidt (that's this fellow's real name) effectively combines electronics, lounge music, Latin beats, and ambient sounds into a very soothing and exotic mixture. We particularly like the electronic noodling in "La Noche Cool" and "4-D Cha Cha" (great song title), although in actuality all of these compositions have a great deal to offer. Despite the fact that he has recorded over 140 (!?!) albums under various pseudonyms, this is unfortunately only the second release we have heard. Mr. Schmidt is a unique new talent making waves by using his imagination and his understanding of technology to create some wildly colorful music. (Rating: 5+)

The Sixth Great Lake - Up the Country (CD, Kindercore, Acoustic pop)
Relaxing, refreshing, and genuine. The Sixth Great Lake is a band consisting of Jeff Baron, Chris Ziter, Sasha Bell (all three are members of The Essex Green) along with Zachary Ward and Mike Barrett. These five individuals contributed equally to the creation and recording of this disc...which may explain the unique diversity presented here. The music is basic soft pop based around (mostly) acoustic and electric guitars. The ideas and melodies are subtle and understated...and the band leaves great open spaces in their music that make the compositions extremely effective and affecting. In our neverending search for sincerity in the world (and in the world of music in particular), it is rare indeed to find musicians playing for the right reasons. These folks obviously have their hearts in the right place, as these tracks are about as direct and real as you can get in today's world. Nice homespun tracks like "Duck Pond," "Canno Beach," and "You Make the Call" flow by like a cool bubbling brook. We have to love any band that would end their liner notes by urging their listeners to "save our open spaces." Now there's a philosophy to live by (and we only wish that everyone would). Sort of like a modern-day American adaptation of Fairport Convention. This is one of those CDs that will NEVER leave our permanent collection. A real GEM. (Rating: 5+)

Sunless Day - Electric Ahhh... (CD, Amazing Grease, Rock/pop) often is it that you hear a HEAVY pop band? Our answer to this question would be..."not very often." What probably turns most folks off pop music is that it either sounds too light and fluffy...or else they are concerned that someone might think they are a sissy for liking it. Whatever the case (and back to the POINT, dum dee dum dum...), Sunless Day has a nice fresh way of assaulting the listener with a dense and rocking sound that is heavy on the bass and drums. But the vocals are from another universe altogether. No spitting into the microphone...the singer actually...well, he SINGS. And that is precisely what makes Sunless Day sound UNLIKE other rock bands out there. They are not afraid to turn WAY UP and let things crank...but they are also not afraid to put the vocals up front and sing in a manner that can be understood. It's something like a mixture of The Archies and Gotohells (but that isn't really an adequate description). What we like best is that these four San Francisco gentlemen pull it off wonderfully. The music rocks, but the tunes themselves take center stage. Overall, this is a lovable band with a very cool way of turning a tune. Our favorites here are "Mustard," "Road Trip," "Wicked King Wicker," "Pulse of the Future," and the title track in particular. Very refreshing and very PURE. (Rating: 5)

The Supers - Spklanng! (CD, Permanent Press, Pop)
If there's one thing that we have learned over the past couple of years it is that any release on the Permanent Press label is a release that is worthy of attention. A perfect case in point is the effervescent new CD by The Supers. This band tosses out perfect pop tunes one after another in such an effortless manner that you'd think this was recorded in an afternoon...but we KNOW better. Stuff this good requires work, dedication, and effort. But you'd sure never know it by listening to this. These guys obviously had a great deal of fun recording these tracks, and that overall good mood comes through our trusty fat speakers crystal clear throughout all twelve tunes on Spklanng! Actually, it is tempting to put these four cartoonish fellows into the power pop category...but the phrase has become so meaningless in recent years that it no longer applies to anything. Onto specifics...whether the band is bashing out macho pop ("Secret," "So Many Crooks") or going for a more pensive mood ("Only You," "Even Fools") they never fail to entertain. This is a project that was well conceived and well executed. Even the art on the inserts is a delight. Recommended listening for Spring 2001. (Rating: 5+)

Amanda Thorpe - Mass (CD, Cropduster, Moody pop)
Ahhh...what a relief to come across an artist that is different from the rest. Amanda Thorpe first entered public consciousness through her previous New York-based band the Wirebirds in 1996, but two years later she embarked on a solo career. Mass is a thickly produced effort, combining the talents of no less than 18 musicians and vocalists (!). Ms. Thorpe has a soothing yet distant vocal style that is slightly disarming, yet strangely familiar. The tunes have more than a hint of a jazz flavor...and the more sultry the music, the more we like it. An example of Amanda at her best is the smoky and sexy "By You," which strolls along with sudden ease before finally ending on a nice lazy bass buzz. Our favorite is "Frances," with its understated guitars and cool atmospherics floating around in the background. Ms. Thorpe is an unusual voice in the world of female songwriters. And although her music has a very different overall sound, we can't help but feel that her general approach is similar to Patty Larkin...for the simple reason that she is following her own muse rather than trying to fit into any specific category. Cool and different... (Rating: 4)

Tinstar - Dirtybird (CD, V2, Dance/pop)
Big, thick, meaty dance pop from London. In some ways this band reminds us of Charlatans U.K. because....although the music is definitely dance-oriented...the band uses lots of cool guitars that do a great deal to fatten up the sound. (We have never understood why most dance music in the United States seems to be void of guitars...?) Tinstar start off with "The American" (a lazy rocker that is reminiscent of David Bowie) and then proceed to keep the hip and heavy groove going for the remaining ten tunes on Dirtybird. A word of caution: This is very slick and commercial if that's not what rocks your boat you probably won't get into this. In our opinion, commercial music usually sucks...but not ALWAYS. This band is a case where a slick commercial approach is actually rather engaging and appealing. Of course those super slick and sexy vocals don't hurt...nor do the infectious rhythms...or creative arrangements... The band consists of David Tomlinson, Tim Bricheno (formerly of Sisters of Mercy), and Tim Gordine. Good stuff. (Rating: 4)

Toadies - Hell Below / Stars Above (CD, Interscope, Rock)
We have heard this band's name in the past, but this is the first release we have heard from the Toadies. That may give you some idea of how isolated we are from the "real" world of music...seeing as how the band's previous album (Rubberneck) was a platinum-seller. Of course sales and popularity mean nothing to we are bound to judge based upon instincts and pure emotional reactions. The Toadies have a nice raw pop sound that is propelled by hard rhythms and jagged, overdriven guitars. They continually throw good guitar riffs in their tunes and have good songs. The vocals are the weakest link of the chain here. We don't dislike the's just that they have a generic quality similar to a million other bands. If the vocals were more dynamic and interesting, the Toadies would get a much higher rating in this neck of the woods... (Rating: 3+)

Unloco - Healing (CD, Maverick, Rock)
Although our first reaction was to throw this into the "generic 2001 loud sludge grunge rock band category"...upon further inspection we determined that this band's music is too smart to be disregarded as such. Unloco hail from the hot shit city of Austin, Texas...but they're different than your average Austin band. The music is an intriguing hybrid of moody groove rock mixed with thrashy elements. The vocals are particularly good for a hard rock group. Instead of screaming constantly (which is the usual fare in loud rock), the vocalist concentrates on getting his emotions across rather than simply abusing his vocal chords. Another thing that sets Unloco apart is that they insert some very uncommon musical breaks into their tunes. They don't just flail...they flail for a minute or two, and then stop suddenly with a jagged musical passage that grabs your interest. The top notch production doesn't hurt either. This disc has a nice fat sound that is masculine and solid. So...we have no choice but to give these guys a "thumbs up." All twelve tunes SMOKE. (Rating: 4+)

The Weakerthans - Watermark (Enhanced CD, Sub City)
One of the best bands of the past decade, Canada's The Weakerthans thus far in their career have done NO WRONG. We have loved each and every release (as well as each and every song). This is not a new full-length disc (damn!), but rather a cool video of the tune "Watermark"...featuring lots of colorful images flying by at 100 m.p.h. plus two live tracks ("Illustrated Bible Stories for Children" and "The Last Last One"). Ahhhh...this whets our appetite for the next album... Can't WAIT. (Rating: 5)

Home | Table of Contents | Order Form

©2001 LMNOP ®