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July 2005 Reviews by

Avenged Sevenfold
Beautiful Skin

Black Eyed Peas
Frank Black

The Black Halos

Broken Spindles
Kai Brown

Don Campau

Greg Carr
Colony of Watts
Comment Piece
Cop With Panty On

Michael Dean Damron
Daphne Loves Derby
Dirty On Purpose
Entre Rios*
The Evil Queens
Fart Sensations

The Fleshtones
Flotation Toy Warning*

Colin Hay
Von Hemmling

Robert Gordon
Houston Calls
John Wilkes Booze
The Kallikak Family*
The Makers
Miss Mary
Modern Giant

The Nervous Return
Salim Nourallah*
Palaxy Tracks
The Partridge Family
The Perishers
Iggy Pop
T. Raumschmiere
Holden Richards
Darrell Scott, Danny Thompson, & Kenny Malone

Brandi Shearer
Sixty Acres

So L'il
Sufjan Stevens
George Strait

Summer Lawns
T. Rex*
John Vanderslice
Denison Witmer*
Yinky Yinky Sassy Poo

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


July 2005 Comment Piece:
We were supposed to be on vacation this month.

We were supposed to be on vacation this month...but so much great stuff flooded into our post office box that we just couldn't stand to ignore it. Funny how music has its ups and downs. Some months tons of stuff comes out...and very little of it seems relevant or worthwhile. And then there are other months where there seems to be so much incredible music flying in our faces that it becomes difficult just to try and take it all in. Of course, in all of our evaluations...our own personal moods also come into play.

Such are the ebbs and flows of entertainment and technology...and mood swings.

When we were very small children we would eagerly wait to get our hands on a vinyl 45...virtually any record...being very lucky if we could talk our parents into letting us have one every couple of weeks or so. Nowadays...well, things sure have changed. Instead of spinning two or three records each month, we find ourselves plowing through continually growing stacks of free discs that are sent to us by kind open minded individuals and bands, super cool publicists (you know who you are), and enlightened businesses.

It's great. But you know what? We've become kinda spoiled.

Having all this music at our disposal every minute of every day has caused us to raise our standards in terms of quality and workmanship. Whereas we used to be rather easily entertained when we were kids...nowadays we only want to hear the best.

Fortunately these days there are a lot of artists who truly are the best. Sheesh...in this month's reviews alone we experienced brand new releases from Delaney, Entre Rios, Flotation Toy Warning, The Perishers, The Kallikak Family, Salim Nourallah, John Vanderslice, Denison Witmer, T. Rex, Sufjan Stevens, and Volebeats. Man oh man oh man oh man...it just doesn't get much better than this...

So...are we conscientious reviewers...or are we nothing more than GLUTINOUS PIGS...? We may never know the answer for sure, but one thing is certain...

Ahhh...this must be HEAVEN.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Avenged Sevenfold - City of Evil (CD, Warner Bros., Progressive rock)
Judging by the cover of this disc and the appearance of the band members, one would expect this CD to contain harsh death metal. You can't always judge a CD by its cover, however...and this is definitely a case where the music inside is a surprise. Instead of blaring out harsh hate noise, the guys in this band play progressive pop music with only the slightest hints of death metal. In actuality, these guys have more in common with progressive bands of the 1970s than with the intense satanic metal bands of the 1990s. But don't lump them into the limp wristed artsy rock category...because the tunes on City of Evil still manage to pack a mighty punch at times. The gentlemen in Avenged Sevenfold are playing for a very young audience. They have lots of tattoos and look relatively rebellious. The music, however, is basic pop with plenty of progressive rock jolts thrown in for good measure. Features eleven tracks including "Beast and the Harlot," "Bat Country," "The Wicked End," and "M.I.A." (Rating: 4+++)

Beautiful Skin - Everything, All This, and More (CD, Gold Standard Laboratories, Rock/pop)
Thank God the folks at Gold Standard Laboratories unearthed these recordings...! Beautiful Skin was a short-lived New York band which was originally the duo consisting of Nick Forte and Ross Totino. After releasing their first album in 2000, Forte and Totino added two additional band members (Charles Burst and Mitch Rackin) for touring purposes. Not long afterwards the band broke up...but not before recording an album's worth of tunes. Until now, those recordings were virtually forgotten. This CD features wonderful forgotten treasures. These tunes recall artists like Wire and very early Ultravox (before John Foxx made his exit). Forte and Totino's tunes effectively combine a hard rock attack with crazy electronics to create wonderfully insane tunes. Rather than sounding like a disparate collection of lost tracks, Everything, All This, and More spins with amazing consistency. Hearing these songs, it sure makes you wish these guys had managed to stick it out. Killer cuts include "Skin," "Lacerations," "Magic Solutions to Life's Many Problems," and "Happy To Be Here." (Rating: 5++)

Beulah - A Good Band is Easy To Kill (DVD, Music Video Distributors, Pop/rock)
This DVD was created to document the final tour of the band Beulah before they called it quits. The object of a good music DVD is to either entertain those who are already fans of the artist(s)...or to draw those in who aren't. We weren't familiar with Beulah prior to watching this disc. Afterwards well...we definitely ended up feeling like we want to hear more of their studio albums. Beulah was together for eight years and this DVD features songs from all phases of the band's career...performed in a wild variety of clubs in the United States and Canada. More than any other band, their music reminds us very much of the Young Fresh Fellows. Opening act John Vanderslice makes brief appearances here and there, making us wish that someone would produce a concert video of him in performance. Rather than being a mere concert feature, A Good Band is Easy To Kill is a tour movie...in which snippets of footage from virtually all aspects of touring are included. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on how you interpret it. If you've never toured with a small relatively unknown band then this may seem unique and novel. For those have have endured the torture of driving around playing in small clubs...well, at times this can be a depressing reminder of what it is really like. The best parts of this DVD are those in which the band happens to be "on"...playing for an excited and appreciative crowd. The downside is that the disc contains a lot of filler material of the band goofing around. Fortunately as the movie plays out more and more concert footage eventually fills the screen...making the last quarter of the movie the most rewarding part. Possibly the best segments of this disc are the bonus clips of the band performing seventeen (!) entire songs outside the context of the movie. This DVD requires a good bit of skipping around to get to the juicy spots, but if you don't mind hitting that fast forward and skip buttons a good bit...there are some really neat tidbits sprinkled in here... (Rating: 4++++)

Black Eyed Peas - Monkey Business (CD, A&M, Crap hop)
This album has an appropriate title. Question: How bad can music get? Answer: Really, really, really bad. Incorporating all the worst ideas from modern music, the folks in Black Eyed Peas are living proof of just how stupid the public at large has become in terms of intelligence and taste. Merging generic synthetic dance beats with one shitty white female vocalist and three retarded black crap hop assholes, the band now has millions and millions of fans...all of whom are too retarded to realize the inherent vapid nature of the band's image and music. The folks in this group are neither shocking nor funny...nor are they entertaining. This is shit...conveniently disguised as audio...and then sold to all of those who are truly willing to eat shit. Recommended for pathetic idiots. This means you. (Rating: 1)

Frank Black - Honeycomb (CD, Back Porch, Pop)
Has Frank Black transformed into a middle-of-the-road artist...? Pixies fans will likely be horrified by Honeycomb. The album bears little if any resemblance to Black's early groundbreaking twisted hard pop. As such...if you liked Frank Black before...you probably won't care for this album. But on the other hand, if you've never heard him before...chance are that you will find Honeycomb a pleasant and smooth spin. Recorded in Nashville, this album features eleven original tunes and three covers. After giving this disc a few spins, we found that we rather liked a few of the tunes. But we just couldn't help but compare this to Black's earlier work. For a man whose music was once so original and unique...nowadays he's sounding pretty much like everyone else. Kinda sad really...but after all these years Frank may just be burned out on music. Not a bad album...but not a great album either. Just pretty much...middle-of-the-road really... (Rating: 3)

The Black Halos - Alive Without Control (CD, Liquor and Poker Music, Hard rock)
Taking their cues from 1970s artists like The New York Dolls and The Dead Boys, the guys in The Black Halos play loud rock and roll music with determined attitude. These bad boys look extremely unhealthy. Their skin is pale, their hair dark and messy, and they have vacant stares that recall Sid Vicious and Johnny Thunders. These guys are more than a mere image band, however. They can really play. On Alive Without Control the band slams out thirteen hard rockers that are forceful and intense. The guitars are loud as holy hell and the vocals are pumped full of snotty attitude. This is a good album for folks who simply wanna turn up the volume and rock out. There is one problem however...some of the arena rock/overdone layered backup vocals detract from many of the tunes. A simpler vocal approach would do wonders for this band. Good loud rock, pure and simple. (Rating: 4+++)

Bodysong - Bodysong (DVD, Music Video Distributors)
Bodysong is a different kind of experience. Written and directed by Simon Pummell and featuring music by Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead), the film is jarring, funny, horrifying, puzzling, and more. The initial scenes in the film are so disgusting that many folks will probably be inclined to remove the disc before it really gets started. Disgusting scenes of mothers giving birth flash on the screen at a frightening pace...a sequence so nauseating that it is hard to put into words. Various snippets of film featuring children follow...before the horror of adult behavior takes center stage. This film is a collage of sorts in which Pummell combines various film clips from a dizzying array of sources...everything from documentaries to home movies. If you're looking for a DVD with actors and a plot...this ain't it. This is an artsy project which attempts...and succeeds...in shedding light on the complex enormity of the human experience. What is perhaps most interesting about this project is that it isn't just a DVD...the film is linked to a web site in which the stories of the hundreds of seemingly nameless people featured are detailed. Folks with a weak stomach will want to avoid this disc...included along the way are graphic, morbid scenes of sex and death. While this film is, overall, a very depressing reminder of how we live...it is also extremely riveting and enlightening. (Rating: 5++)

Boyracer - Insults & Insights (CD EP, Kittridge, Pop)
The nonstoppable Boyracer returns with yet another release. Stewart Anderson has been at it now for about fifteen years...but you'd never know it from listening to his band's latest EP. Insults & Insights is a peculiar yet fresh collection of eight indie pop tracks. These simple, hummable songs are counterbalanced by some very abrasive guitars that sometimes seem to jump out of nowhere to assault the listener for no apparent reason. Just as was the case with the band's earlier material on the Sarah and Slumberland labels, these songs have an odd accidental sound that is strangely appealing. Top picks: "Louise," "The Second Fiddle," "Roubideaux." (Rating: 5)

Broken Spindles - Inside/Absent (CD, Saddle Creek, Progressive pop)
As if playing bass in the bands The Faint and Beep Beep wasn't enough, Joel Peterson also manages to find time to record and release solo albums under the moniker Broken Spindles. Written during tours with both bands, Inside/Absent is somewhat of a departure for Joel. Some songs are more poppy than one would expect. And yet, overall, like previous releases this album is odd and unpredictable. Peterson recorded the album entirely on his own during March and April 2005. Thus, these songs have the feel of an artist working alone in isolation. Inside/Absent is a purely artistic endeavor in which Peterson explores his own mind and, in the process, causes others to think and explore. Thought provoking tracks include "Inward," "This Is An Introduction," "Birthday," and "Painted Boy Face." Odd, unusual, and peculiar. (Rating: 5)

Kai Brown - Better Now (CD, How Now Brown Cow, Pop)
Kai Brown played in a string of bands in his native Australia before uprooting and moving to the United States to pursue a solo career. Better Now is his first independently released solo album. Brown's songs recall artists like John Cougar. His guitar-based pop tunes are unusually accessible and peppered with definite threads of Americana. This young man is already making connections here (members of Vertical Horizon and The BoDeans make guest appearances on this album). Purely upbeat and easy on the ears, Better Now could easily connect Brown with a major label in the very near future. Cool cuts include "The Pain," "Up All Night," "Money & Love," and "See Through Me." (Rating: 4++)

Don Campau - Pen Pals 3 (Double CD-R, Lonely Whistle Music, Pop)
Talk about ambitious. This double CD-R set from home recording legend Don Campau covers a lot of ground. The first disc features lyrics and vocals by Campau with backing music by various pen pals. The second disc features lyrics and vocals by various pen pals with backing music by Campau. Interesting idea here. The pen pals include Jim Shelley, Michael J. Bowman, Ken Clinger, Ray Carmen, Dino DiMuro, Charles Rice Goff III, Russ Steadman, J. Mundok, Amy Denio, Kevyn Dymond, Al Perry, Heather Perkins, Robin O'Brien, and R. Stevie Moore. Policy prevents us from rating this release, so you might just want to check it out for yourself... (Not Rated)

Careen - Crash Couture (Independently released CD, Pop/rock)
Smart, well-thought-out modern pop with a backbone. Portland, Oregon's Careen have come up with a real winner here. Crash Couture is an uplifting album full of pure feelgood tunes. The band's songs are slightly reminiscent of Guided By Voices. Intelligent arrangements support killer melodic lines to create tunes that are not only danceable but extraordinarily catchy and hypnotic. The thick funky sound is provided courtesy of producer extraordinaire Joe Chiccarelli. The great thing about this album is that the more you spin it...the better it gets. Totally infectious tunes include "Lights," "Better Now," "The Craze" (a particularly impressive track), and "Vaporize." Killer stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Greg Carr - Technological Retreat - Mixes Vol. 1 (Limited Edition CD, Innova Recordings, Collage/cut-and-paste)
Long before the idea of collage and cut-and-paste music caught on, KFAI (Minneapolis) radio disc jockey Greg Carr presented a late night show from 1:00 to 6:00 AM in the late eighties. During the live show which aired from 1985 to 1989, Carr mixed, mutated, blended, and combined sounds and snippets from a wide variety of sources to create his own unique sound collage. Technological Retreat - Mixes Vol. 1 is the first in a series of discs designed to document the show. This disc is a weird spin...sounding something like two or three radios and televisions being switched from channel to channel during the course of an hour. It is difficult indeed to attempt to rate something like this...so we won't. Instead, we prefer to leave it up to the listener(s) to decide what to make of this. This is a limited edition release...with only 500 signed copies being produced (!). (Not Rated)

Colony of Watts - Mercenary Position (CD, Sector Five, Hard rock)
Hard rock done right. The problem with most bands in general (and particularly when it comes to hard rock) is that they all tend to sound very similar to one another. Accordingly, the facts of the situation make one really appreciate a band like Wisconsin's Colony of Watts. Packing a mighty different sound with a harder punch than your average band, these guys have talent and imagination. Mercenary Position, the band's debut full-length, is a charged up collection of eleven hard rocking tunes. The playing is spirited and tight...and the songs have real staying power. Killer tracks include "Sell Your Land," "White Prussian," and "Die Young." Intensely satisfying. (Rating: 5)

Cop With Panty On - Sniff These Tampons Or We'll Arrest Every Goddamn One Of You (DVD, VDM, Documentary)
This DVD is documentary what is portraying cop with panty. Cop with panty once very rare thing, but that thing is of past. Now many cop have panty. Policeman usual thing is to help control and enforcement of law. But when group of cop are getting together what for party of purpose, thing sudden for change. Extra policeman on duty for panty patrol. All kind of thing get fresh for pout when citizen find out. Newspaper print story about panty abuse and court get involvement. Then explosive media frenzy about how thing go wrong too much. Start to fret, start to worry...then put panty on head for escape. Bonus material at end of DVD contain fried noodle with fish. You want take out? We have plenty nice take out for you today. (Rating: 1)

Michael Dean Damron - A Perfect Day For A Funeral (CD, In Music We Trust, Pop)
Michael Dean Damron is best known as the lead vocalist in the band I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House. A Perfect Day For A Funeral, Damron's first solo album, presents the softer and more pensive side of his personality. The tunes on this album sound something like a cross between John Cougar and Paul Westerburg. Damron isn't writing songs to challenge people and break new barriers. Instead, he is providing the type of solid Americana-inspired pop music that goes over well with most folks. His loose raspy vocal style is perfectly suited for the type of tunes he writes. Eleven tracks here including "Little Girl Blue," "Montana," "Blame It On The Whiskey," and "New Paint." (Rating: 4+++)

Daphne Loves Derby - On the Strength of All Convicted (Advance CD, Outlook Music, Pop/rock)
Kent, Washington's Daphne Loves Derby is truly a result of the Internet age. The band got their start on the download sites purevolume.com and myspace.com. After their tunes became popular downloads, they then had the clout to land themselves--more or less--on the label of their choosing. The band made the decision to go with the independent label Outlook...and before long they had completed their first full-length. The gentlemen in this band play dreamy, pensive, upbeat pop music driven by fuzzy guitars. Unlike other guitar bands of the day, however, their pop tunes (thankfully) have more in common with artists like Ben Folds than with flavor-of-the-month acts like Blink 182. Despite the fact that they deliver some major punches with their music, these fellows seem more concerned with song structures, lyrics, and melodies than simply turning up way too loud and going crazy. In other words, this is smart modern pop/rock for thinking listeners. On the Strength of All Convicted is a pure upbeat experience...full of catchy hummable melodies and driving rhythms. Eleven kickass cuts here, including "Sundays," "Hammers and Hearts," "Birthday Gallery," "Middle Middle," and "What We Have Been Waiting For." (Rating: 5+)

Delaney - Delaney (CD, Pehr Label, Soft pop)
Hmmm...this certainly is a different kind of album from a different kind of artist. Singer/songwriter Christelle Delaney calls Paris, France her home. Instead of doing what everyone else does, Christelle has the honesty and courage to sing her songs in her native language. This will, unfortunately, alienate most American listeners as the average music fan in this country just can't take it when someone sings in a foreign language. Personally, however, we love French pop particularly when it is sung in French...and no one does it quite like Christelle Delaney. Singing in a deep, distant voice reminiscent of Nico, Ms. Delaney delivers tunes that are decidedly non-commercial, rather peculiar...yet aesthetically pleasing. Whether singing on her own alone with a guitar or with a backup band, Christelle has an unusual personality and unique view of the world. This album is so different in so many subtle ways that it is actually rather difficult to describe...yet it is easily some of the best progressive French pop we've heard in years. Fantastic cuts include "A Toute Alerte," "A Salamanque," and "Ne Rien Faire S'Entreprend." Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Dirty On Purpose - Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow (CD EP, North Street, Pop)
Dirty On Purpose is an up-and-coming New York-based quintet with a catchy and hypnotic sound. The folks in this band play music that sounds something like a cross between Oh, OK and Low. Strange that the basic tracks for this EP were recorded December 2003...and are only now seeing the light of day (?). Simultaneously moody and poppy, the five songs on this EP are fresh and inviting. These folks have a lot of people talking...and Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow explains why. Features "All New Friends," "Mind Blindness," "Cheat Death," "Girls & Sunshine," and "Spider Eyes." Neat. (Rating: 5+)

Entre Rios - Onda (CD, Darla / Elefant, Electronic pop)
The words "electronic pop" usually bring to mind images of sterile, generic, boring music. There are always exceptions, of course...and Buenos Aires-based trio Entre Rios is an obvious exception to the rule. Despite the fact that the band uses programmed sounds and rhythms they somehow manage to inject subtle funk and soul into their songs...giving their music a wonderful organic feel. Onda is perhaps the trio's most direct and accessible album yet. Smooth hummable melodies glide over impeccably prepared arrangements to create a pure feelgood experience. Light and airy...yet provocative, soothing, and slightly surreal...Onda is an album that is certain to put the listener in a great frame of mind. The band consists of Sebastian Carreras (lyrics), Gabriel Lucena (music), and Isol (vocals). These folks have a unique sound and style that clearly separates them from the pack. Eleven tracks here...including "Cerca & Extrano," "Claro Que Si," "La Luna," and "Sobra." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

The Evil Queens - First It Boils, Then it Spills (Advance CD, Addison, Rock)
After spending a mere two days each recording their first two albums, the guys in The Evil Queens adopted a different approach for this album...which took about a year to record. Contrary to the images the band name might conjure up, this is not a group of androgynous homosexuals. These bad boys play loud, heavy, stoner rock that is reminiscent of bands like Fu Manchu. Unlike many hard rock bands of the twenty-first century, the guys in The Evil Queens do not play generic overblown speed/metal/noise. Despite the fact that they play hard, their music is, first and foremost, pure rock and roll. Explosive rhythms...killer overdriven guitars...and a supremely macho vocalist...combine to create an upbeat and intense wall of sound. Heavy rockers include "Valentine," "American Cancer," "The Government Has Cloned You," and "Requiem For Antonio Pants." (Rating: 4++++)

Fart Sensations - Sticky Brown Splotches Tell the Tale (CD, Bant-AO, Potty music)
Music for children to shit by. Ohio-based Fart Sensations are taking advantage of stupid parents everywhere by recording music that is supposed to make children shit better. Sticky Brown Splotches Tell the Tale is a concept album of sorts...telling the tale of a dyslexic two-legged bunny who can't find a proper place to shit in the woods. When he finally comes to the right pooping area, symphonic music blares away...giving children everywhere the A-OK to go ahead and deliver the goods as necessary. Twelve tracks here including "My Boo Boo and My Other Boo Boo," "Wiping It All Away," "One Day My Feces Will Be Big and Firm Like Mommy's and Daddy's," and "Shitting Over The Rainbows of Doodoo" (Rating: 1)

The Fleshtones - Beachhead (CD, Yep Roc, Rock)
Few, if any, garage bands from the 1970s have survived intact. The Fleshtones have incredible staying power. Instead of breaking up or giving up, these guys continue to provide some of the best and most genuine garage rock the United States has to offer. Now on the Yep Roc label, the fellows in this band show no signs of letting up. Actually and in fact, Beachhead ranks right up there with the band's best recordings. What separates The Fleshtones from other bands who have been around for as long as they have is the fact that they have never sold out nor have they adjusted their music to suit a larger audience (which is what most artists do over time). Beachhead features the same fresh, upbeat, simple tunes that the band's fans have come to know and love. Instead of adding complicating factors to their songs, these guys still manage to deliver quality tunes straight from the hip. Eleven kickass tunes here...including "Bigger & Better," "You Don't Know," "She Looks Like a Woman," and "Late September Moon." (Rating: 5+)

Flotation Toy Warning - Bluffer's Guide to the Flight Deck (CD, MISRA, Soft progressive pop)
The debut album from London's curiously-titled Flotation Toy Warning. To put it bluntly, Bluffer's Guide to the Flight Deck is going to stump most listeners. The five gentlemen in this band aren't going for any normally defined or easily categorizable sound.While the music might best be described as progressive pop, the confusion sets in when one tries to determine exactly what other progressive pop bands these guys sound like. Some appropriate comparisons have been tossed around by others...The Flaming Lips, Van Dyke Parks, and Sparklehorse...but in the end, this album doesn't really sound much like any of these...or anyone else for that matter (although on some tracks we hear definite traces of The Frogs...particularly in terms of vocals). The band members assemble their tunes using technology, found instruments (?), and traditional instruments...but it is ultimately the songs themselves that make this album such an unusual spin. Dreamy, classic, atmospheric, puzzling, and funny...Bluffer's Guide to the Flight Deck isn't like anything else currently on the menu. As such...we can highly recommend this disc without reservation. Unusual, imaginative, and very cool. (Rating: 5+++)

Halfway - Farewell to the Fainthearted (CD, Laughing Outlaw / Reverberation, Pop)
Australia's Halfway could easily pass for an American group. This band features no less than seven permanent members as well as four guest artists. The country-flavored pop tunes on Farewell to the Fainthearted recall other middle-of-the-road artists such as The Eagles and Wilco. The band's ultra-hummable songs feature a variety of traditional bluegrass and country instruments including pedal steel guitar, dobro, mandolin, banjo, and more. Upbeat and accessible, this album features twelve feelgood pop tunes that feature smart arrangements and lyrics that come from the heart. Includes "Patience Back," "Compromise for a Country Girl," and "Call Anytime." Smooth and easy. (Rating: 4++++)

Colin Hay - Going Somewhere (CD, Compass, Pop)
As the man behind the band Men At Work, Colin Hay's music should already be familiar to many people. But those same folks will likely be surprised by the tunes on Going Somewhere. Originally released in 2000, the folks at Compass have reissued this album due to critical response and overall demand...adding two bonus tracks in the process. Whereas Men At Work was a purely pop endeavor, on his own Colin Hay doesn't seem as concerned with writing hit tunes. As such, this album has a much more laidback sound and feel. Presenting his songs using nothing more than a single acoustic guitar and one vocal track, Hay proves that his songs stand up well on their own without extra padding and unnecessary overdubs. The style of the tunes on this album recall both Bob Dylan and Huey Lewis. Melodies and lyrics take center stage...as Hay lets his personal side shine through. Considering the sparse recording style, this album has a surprisingly full and dense sound. This is most likely because of the excellent Colin's exceptional voice. Absorbing tracks include "Beautiful World," "Going Somewhere," "Don't Wait Up," and "I Don't Know Why." (Rating: 5)

Von Hemmling - Wild Hemmling (Independently released CD, Skewed underground pop)
This is the first and only CD featuring material recorded by Von Hemmling, one of the founding bands in the Elephant Six Collective. This anthology features material recorded between 1995 and 2004 at the Pet Sounds Studio. There's an incredible amount of material to digest here...26 tracks in all. Recorded in between various recording sessions with Elephant Six bands, these songs are obviously meant to be appreciated by a small, esoteric audience. Von Hemmling's tunes are strange and often fragmented...and the instruments in many cases sound as if they were recorded spontaneously. Created as a pure artistic endeavor, the songs on Wild Hemmling are almost certainly destined for obscurity. And that may have been the songwriter's exact purpose to begin with...to create truly underground music. We aren't even going to begin to try to rate this...what can be made of tunes like "That's What You Get for Praying 1997," "Peanut Butter Lymphoma," and "Suck, C*nt, Cock, F*ck, and Price 1997"...??? (Not Rated)

Robert Gordon - Satisfied Mind (CD, Koch, Pop)
Originally a member of Tuff Darts in the 1970s, Robert Gordon eventually opted to take off on his own. His mission: To reinvent rockabilly and present it in a way that could be appreciated by younger listeners. Gordon records music that comes straight from the 1950s...owing a great deal to the King of Rock, Elvis Presley (his Fresh Fish Special album even featured Presley's backup singers The Jordanaires). Despite the fact that decades have passed since he began his solo career, Robert still has the same spark that has always made his music so refreshing. This spark could be the fact that his music sounds so genuine and authentic...or it could just be the fact that this man obviously still loves what he does. Satisfied Mind finds Gordon in fine form. He's still surrounding himself with some of the best players around and his voice still sizzles with energy. Fourteen cool cuts here including "Dear One," "Little Boy Sad," "When I Found You," and "These Boots Are Made For Walking." Great fifties revival stuff. (Rating: 5)

Houston Calls - A Collection of Short Stories (CD, Rushmore / Drive-Thru, Pop/rock)
The debut album from Northern New Jersey's Houston Calls. This album is, in a word, punchy. Produced by the one and only Ed Rose, this disc is brimming to overflow with loud, fast, smart, hooky pop music. Prior to this release, the band put out two independent EPs and toured the United States. Now they're ready for the big time. A Collection of Short Stories features eleven fast catchy buzzsaw pop tunes. The band's music is upbeat and positive...and should appeal to young fans of alternative rock. The band consists of Tom Keiger (vocals, guitar), Jarrett Seltzer (bass), Ryohei "Okie" Okamoto (keyboards, vocals), Kenny Ryan (guitar), and Joshua Grigsby (drums). Adrenaline fueled tracks include "Sunrise Goodbyes," "Bob and Bonnie," "One More Won't Hurt," and "The Better Part of Valor." (Rating: 4++++)

John Wilkes Booze - Telescopic Eyes Glance the Future Sick (CD, Kill Rock Stars, Rock)
Citing some of the odder musicians of the past few decades as major influences, the guys in John Wilkes Booze impressed a lot of folks with their previous concept album entitled 5 Pillars of Soul. As a matter of fact, we were fortunate enough to be included among those folks. And fortunately for everyone, Telescopic Eyes Glance the Future Sick is cut from the same basic fabric. This band's skewed garage pop/rock is driven to another level by peculiar vocals and mind expanding lyrics. Add the fact that the tunes have a strange bluesy influence...and you have a modern band that manages to reinvent the ideas of their favorite artists all the while retaining their own unique identity. The songs are neither easy nor conventional...but rather a skewed mutation of the very idea of rock. The main difference between Pillars and Future Sick is the inclusion of some experimental mood pieces. The inclusion of these selections works well and adds yet another layer to the band's conceptual sound. One of the very best hard art rock bands around...the fellows in John Wilkes booze continue to do everything right. Hypnotic tracks include "Gonna Die Tonight," "War Drums," "Cultural Hurricane," "Know Your Enemy," "Can't Take It," and "So Much Mahal." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

The Kallikak Family - May 23rd 2007 (CD, Tell-All, Progressive/electronic/experimental)
Very, very, very strange. This CD initially caught our attention because it is on the increasingly intriguing tiny San Francisco label Tell-All. But we were inevitably drawn in by the obtuse and ultimately bizarre sounds of The Kallikak Family. Adequately describing May 23rd 2007 would be a formidable task. These compositions go so far off the map...back and forth from one genre and style to another...that it is difficult to sum up this album as a whole. According to the press release, this album "explores the meaning of specific days and locations in the life of one person, all leading up to May 23rd 2007, the date on which a fortune teller predicted the artist's death." Okay then...that explains everything (!!!???!!). We're not even going to try and explain this album because it is virtually impossible to do so. But we can say this. Whereas the average ultra-experimental album tends to be grating and unlistenable...this one is engaging and entertaining from start to finish. While we can't exactly explain why...we are extremely impressed with this album because it is so different...and it satisfies. Seventeen bizarre tracks. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

The Makers - Everybody Rise! (CD, Kill Rock Stars, Rock)
Prior to hearing this disc, we were already big fans of The Makers. It seems particularly fitting that the band has now found themselves on the Kill Rock Stars roster. Hailing from Spokane, Washington, The Makers' music has somehow unfortunately eluded most folks. This could be simply due to the fact that there are so many rock bands around...or due to the fact that the guys in this band aren't into dumb gimmicks or selling themselves for money. Instead, The Makers simply play rip-roaring great rock without unnecessary frills. This band plays with the same focused fury that made Redd Kross such a favorite here in babysueland in the 1990s. All the necessary elements are here: great tunes, throbbing rhythms, infectious guitars, and gripping vocals. Everybody Rise! features the return of original member Timothy Killingsworth and new drummer Aaron Saye. This album is not a collection of sloppy underground rock crappers. It is, instead, a collection of new rock classics for thinking individuals who like their music played stylishly fresh and loud. This unique disc contains eleven satisfying cuts including "Matter of Degrees," "Everybody Rise," "Ordinary Human Love," and "She Walks in Color." Refreshingly genuine. (Rating: 5++)

MC5 - Kick Out the Jams (DVD, Music Video Distributors, Hard rock)
Kick Out the Jams is a bit different from what you normally find in a music DVD. Rather than being a biography or a live concert, this disc features a collage of sounds and images from the MC5 in their heyday, lovingly cut and pasted together by Destroy All Monsters co-founder Cary Loren. Live audio of the band plays while various images fade in and out...rare film clips of the band playing live, flashing psychedelic colors, home film clips of the band at play, and various odd segments featuring the hippies and weirdos of the era. Explosive in the best way possible, MC5 tunes were not only very far out at the time they were recorded...but they have stood the test of time well. Few bands incorporated so many sounds and styles as these guys. Their music embraced acid rock, hard rock, pop, and psychedelia...while their image was glittery, wild, and peculiar. The disc closes with a piece entitled "John Sinclair Live at Crazy Jim's 11/19/03" in which John Sinclair recalls various memories of the band. The ideal thing would be to go back in time and experience these guys live. Seeing as how that is unfortunately impossible, this disc effectively gives the viewer an idea of what that experience might have been like. Hmmm...interesting... (Rating: 5)

Mercurine - Waiting For Another Fall (Independently produced CD, Pop)
Mercurine is Mera Roberts (vocals, programming) and Byron Brown (guitar, programming). Roberts was previously in the bands black tape for a blue girl, Faith and the Muse, Cassandra Complex, and Obliva. Brown was previously in Kommunity FK, The Superfiends, and New Ambassadors of Love. Waiting For Another Fall is the second full-length from the duo, the follow up to their debut Music Is Chemical (2003). Roberts and Brown write and record pop that recalls 1980s new wave combined with hints of 1990s industrial rock. At the forefront are Mera's vocals...which provide an easy focal point for Mercurine tunes. Some of the songs on this album are surprisingly commercial and hummable...while others are more artsy and surreal. We prefer the odder material where the vocals almost seem to merge with the instruments. Nine cuts here including "Bluemouse," "Nu Groove," and "Another Ending." (Rating: 4+++)

Miss Mary - Ready 2 Pop (CD, Waxfruit / Stereorrific / Dren, Pop)
True to the claim of the press release, Miss Mary's music is reminiscent of current artists like Sahara Hotnights and Raveonettes. Miss Mary was formerly the singer and guitarist in the band The Oscillators. Now a solo artist, this young lady is providing hard driving modern pop peppered with fresh and subtle jolts of technology. Despite the fact that some of her tunes sound a bit abrasive in terms of instruments, her smooth vocals rise above it all and absorb the listener's attention. Ready 2 Pop is outlandishly upbeat and hummable, yet there are subtle traits bubbling underneath the surface that make the songs stand up to many repeated spins. Slightly sexy cuts include "The One," "My Friend," "Ordinary, All The Same," and "Dreaming Of You." Includes two bonus tracks. (Rating: 5)

Modern Giant - Satellite Nights (CD, Popboomerang, Pop)
Modern Giant was formed from the remnants of the bands Half Miler and Disneyfist. Blasting out of the gate with one of the best tunes of the year ("I'm Not Broken"), this Australian band immediately caught our attention. Sporting a sound not unlike The New Pornographers, Australia's Modern Giant is a four piece group with tunes that are absolutely jammed with lyrics. The folks in this band tend to pack lots of words into their songs...lots and lots of words. Whereas the average band expands their tunes with lengthy instrumental passages...these folks flesh out their tunes with extra...words. Fortunately...they actually have something to say. While the rest of the tunes don't quite reach the peak of the first track, there are some really juicy cuts here...including "Hell Is Other People," "If I Close My Eyes," "San Sebastian," and "Angie Hart." There are only a couple of tracks that don't quite work ("Tie One On" and "I Thought That You Were Somebody Else")...but overall, this is a very solid album from a very entertaining band. (Rating: 4++++)

The Nervous Return - Wake Up Dead (CD, La Salle, Pop/rock)
If you loved the first two or three XTC albums (before the band softened their sound) and the first couple of albums from Squeeze (before the band sold out)...chances are you'll go nuts over Wake Up Dead. The Nervous Return is one of the first groups signed to Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker's new La Salle label. Based in Los Angeles, the fellows in this band mix catchy hooks with a bold, brash, masculine sound that is instantly addictive. This album artfully blends the harsh with the harmonic. This is smart loud pop/rock with a difference. Combining elements of rock, metal, pop, new wave, glam rock, and psychedelia...these guys seem to move effortlessly from one genre to another (often several times in the course of a single tune). If you think all loud pop bands sound the same, think again. Wake Up Dead is a welcome reminder that creativity is not dead...it just always seems to linger in the background. Killer cuts include "Dramahead," "Siberian Queer," "So and So From Such and Such," and "Skin Flavored Lollypops." Great stuff. (Rating: 5++)

Salim Nourallah - Beautiful Noise (CD, Western Vinyl, Pop)
Salim Nourallah is one of the greatest songwriters of our time...and yet at this point in time he remains virtually unknown. Beautiful Noise, Nourallah's second album, is another wonderfully effective, mind-boggling collection of classic soft pop. Anyone who ever loved Ray Davies (The Kinks) and very early Paul McCartney will likely go absolutely nuts over these tunes. Salim writes songs that are instantly likable and inevitably sound better and better the more you hear them. Super smooth, smart, and absorbing, Beautiful Noise sheds light on a man who is peaking early in his career. Nourallah's tunes are definitely not underground indie slop pop. This young man writes absorbing tunes with real substance. In a perfect world, each and every one of the songs on this album would be a hit. Things being as they are...Beautiful Noise will probably only be appreciated by a small but incredibly passionate audience. Extraordinary tunes...each presented with refreshingly simple sincerity. This will easily end up being one of the best albums of 2005. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)

Palaxy Tracks - 12 Rooms (CD, Peek-A-Boo, Progressive pop)
Some might categorize this band as emo...but we won't...because we don't use that obnoxious word. Rather and instead, we would prefer to abuse and overuse italics. These guys make great music. Really great. But what we really appreciate are the lyrics. Instead of the usual crummy thoughtless idiotic lines one usually hears...these fellows manage to come up with intelligent words that actually mean something. And that is rare these days. Rare indeed. Because you see, dear readers, most people can't write anything that matters. Writing things that matter isn't easy. And neither is anything else. For you see, in this world nothing is easy. Which brings us back to 12 Rooms. Soft. Pensive. Soothing. Smart. All of these are proper descriptive words for Palaxy Tracks. And so much more insightful and honest than emo (which all thinking people do, of course, find to be an incredibly obnoxious word). This album is an exercise in subtlety. An intricately prepared lyric book is included so that one can easily contemplate the meaning of the lyrics. Dreamy, insightful, and solid...12 Rooms is a cool and wonderfully inviting album. Features twelve tracks, including "Speech With Animals," "Grey Snake," "Lamplighter," "The Criminal Mind," and "Twelve Rooms." Excellent stuff. Different. (Rating: 5+)

The Partridge Family - We Eat Bloody Flesh and We Drink Fresh Warm Piss (CD, Dannyboy, Pop/death metal)
Bubblegum dinosaurs The Partridge Family return with a somewhat...um....different sound and image. Folks who remember the television family as super clean and fresh will be horribly disappointed by the strange turn of events in the band's career. Listen in horror as the band tosses off disgusting hard rockers with titles like "Robins Are Turd Birds," "We Take Acid For The Hell Of It," "Incest Is Cooler Than The Jackson Five," "Happy Pussy," and "Rape the President's Whore Twins." In the bonus video, Ms. Partridge runs around completely naked while the rest of the band cuts her up with tiny little sharp knives. They then roast her over an open fire and eat her while singing, leaving her breasts to rot away quickly in the solid sunshine. If this is what God intended for this family, then so be it. Thank you God. Thank you for sending The Partridge Family back to us. (Rating: 1)

The Perishers - Let There Be Morning (CD, Nettwerk, Soft progressive pop)
Smooth, dreamy, reflective, and effective progressive pop. The four men who call themselves The Perishers don't seem concerned with following current trends in popular music. Let There Be Morning is an intricately crafted collection of well-written tunes. The band's melodies are strong...but they have even more of an impact than normal because of the exceptional arrangements. Despite the fact that the overall sound is soft and laidback, a great deal of thought and energy went into the recording of these songs. Subtle instrumentation and acute attention to detail make these compositions really shine. Main songwriter/lead vocalist Ola Kulft has a real and genuine presence...making Let There Be Morning a superb spin with exceptional lyric content. Top picks: "Weekends," "A Reminder," "Trouble Sleeping," "Let There Be Morning." (Rating: 5+++)

Iggy Pop - A Million in Prizes: The Iggy Pop Anthology (Advance double CD-R, Virgin / EMI, Rock/pop)
Long overdue, this double disc retrospective is a loving tribute to Detroit's king of sleaze, Iggy Pop. Featuring 38 tracks, these two CDs cover everything...from Mr. Pop's early days with The Stooges through his illustrious and compelling solo career. Longtime Iggy fans (such as ourselves) no doubt already have all of these tunes as the discs feature the more well-known and popular tracks. Pop's last few efforts haven't done so well in terms of sales...so perhaps this CD set will have the effect of making fans pick up the newer releases. Few artists have had the longevity and staying power of Iggy Pop. Despite the fact that he's been at it for decades, the man remains with his credibility totally intact. While others have come and gone, Iggy has never sold out or lowered his standards. In addition to the obvious tracks ("1969," "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog," "China Girl," "Lust for Live", etc.), the disc also features two tunes recorded live in 1993 ("TV Eye" and "Loose"). (Rating: 5+)

T. Raumschmiere - Blitzkrieg Pop (CD, Mute, Electronic rock/pop/ambient)
Aggressive electronic rock in the vein of Nine Inch Nails. T. Raumschmiere calls Blitzkrieg Pop a "punk-rock ambient record." "Sick Like Me," the first single from the album, certainly fits the punk category. The song is an intense exercise in merging metallic industrial noise with the feel of punk rock. It's a real screamer of a track with impressive energy. What makes this album interesting is the fact that the louder numbers are offset by more offbeat experimental tracks. So...instead of an album with one sound...this sounds something like two styles merged into one. Our favorite tracks are the stranger ones ("Untitled," "Rumpelkammer," "Der Grottenholm"). Raumschmiere seems to be at his best when he's not concerned about commercial appeal...opting instead to just let things happen spontaneously. Blitzkrieg Pop is an adventurous album that reinvents the genres that influenced it. Unusual and inventive. (Rating: 5)

Holden Richards - What I Gave Away (Independently released CD, Pop)
For every well known musician in the world there are several thousand toiling away in relative obscurity. Despite the fact that he has been writing and recording for many years, North Carolina's Holden Richards remains virtually unknown. And that is a shame...because this man writes and records some absolutely wonderful pop music. Richards was previously in the bands The Pound Notes, One Plus Two, and The Swamis. What I Gave Away is a pure pop album. The tunes ring with chiming guitars and hummable melodies. This is not underground crap, but rather pop music in the classic sense. There are no weird sounds nor dumb studio tricks to get in the way of the melodies. If properly marketed, many of these tracks could easily be digested by the general public. We get the feeling that--whether he is ever commercially successful or not--Mr. Richards will continue making music for all the right reasons. Upbeat tracks include "What I Gave Away," "Stop the Clock," and "Walking Through Walls." Smooth and easy. (Rating: 5)

Rufio - The Comfort of Home (CD, Nitro, Pop/rock)
Smart hard melodic pop. Produced by Mike Green and mixed by Joe Barresi, The Comfort of Home is a highly polished collection of hard hitting pop tunes with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. The guys in Orange County, California 's Rufio have a big, thick sound that is characterized by interesting guitars and heavy layered vocals. For better or for worse, these fellows play music that will appeal to a very young audience (most middle-aged folks probably won't be able to follow the slightly spastic swerves on this album). Kids who like it fast and furious will find a lot to like here. Instead of sounding like another generic twenty-first century band that does nothing more than hash out the same old crap...these guys fuel their music with their own unique energy and vision, making The Comfort of Home a delightfully rewarding spin. Kickass cuts include "Out of Control," "A Simple Line," "Questions and Answers," and "My Escape." (Rating: 5)

Darrell Scott, Danny Thompson, & Kenny Malone - Live in NC (CD, Full Light, Country/pop)
Darrell Scott is one of the most important and influential country/pop artists of the past decade. Not only has he written tunes that have been recorded by artists that include Tim McGraw, Dixie Chicks, Travis Tritt, and Sara Evans...but he has also played with a vast array of top notch musicians including Kate Rusby, Jim Lauderdale, Faith Hill, Steve Earle, and Randy Travis...and that's just the beginning. But while he has managed a great deal of commercial success, Scott's music is anything but commercial crap. His soulful country-influenced soft pop tunes are poignant, personal, reflective, and completely genuine. Not only does he play a wild variety of instruments...but the man has a voice that is so soulful that you have to hear it to believe it. Live in NC is Scott's first live album and it captures all the magic of his live concerts. While success seems to ruin many musical artists, thus far it does not seem to have had any negative effects on Darrell and his music. The nine tracks on this album showcase a man with real talent...as well as a man who is sincere in what he is doing. Memorable cuts include "Miracle of Living," "River Take Me," "Helen of Troy, PA," and "Wayfaring Pilgrim." Outstanding. (Rating: 5+)

Brandi Shearer - The Sycamore (CD, Vinyl Tiger Music, Soft moody pop)
This young lady has been through a lot with her musical career thus far. Brandi Shearer grew up in rural Oregon, eventually moving to Europe for a few years before returning to the states...finally ending up in San Francisco. The press release that accompanied this album presented some odd stories that have happened to her along the way...but they probably actually ended up adding character to Brandi's music. The Sycamore is an exceptionally well written and well executed independently released album. Her soft, personal, mature tunes recall Leonard Cohen, Sarah McLaughlin, and even Carole King at times. Some folks are beginning to take notice of Brandi's music...as some very positive reviews have begun bubbling up underneath the surface. This album can only further ignite those initial flames. There's not a single bad apple among these eleven tracks. The arrangements are sparse and precise...and Shearer's vocals are right on target on every single cut. The more you hear Brandi's tunes...the deeper her messages sink in. Gripping cuts include "Can You Hear Me," "Portrait," "I've Had Enough," "Monster In Love," and "Would You Care to Dance." Refreshing...full of real substance. (Rating: 5+)

Sixty Acres - Banjos and Sunshine (CD, Dren, Pop)
Reissue of the first Sixty Acres album originally released in 1997 with six bonus tracks added ("Long Way Down," "No Lights, No Sirens," "Cats in a Bag," "Middle of Nowhere," "Silence Before the Sound," "Lyin'"). Banjos and Sunshine presented Americana pop before it was trendy and fashionable. The thirteen original tracks are reminiscent of bands like Sun Volt. The melodies are strong, the vocals exceptional, and the arrangements are simple and to-the-point. The more you spin this album...the better it gets. Pure feelgood pop tunes include "Colors," "ATF," "Cold Turkey," and "House of Cards." Upbeat and sincere. (Rating: 5)

So L'il - Dear Kathy, (CD, Goodbye Better, Progressive pop)
Brooklyn trio So L'il sound something like a modern version of Oh, OK with electronics added for good measure...but they're actually much stranger than that. The band consists of Robin Mapes, Ben Malkin, and Evan Sobel...three individuals whose main motivation is obviously not commercial success. Dear Kathy, (yes, a comma is included in the title) is a very peculiar spin. At times the tunes seem almost normal...but more often than not the poppier elements are drenched in electronics and atmospheric sounds that give the tracks a weird progressive slant that is difficult to digest. The best way we can describe this album is to say that it sounds like what you might hear if you pressed your ear up to your computer and there was a pop band playing inside...something like a more subdued technology-based Jesus and Mary Chain (?!?). If you are seeking familiar and easy music, you won't find it here. Dear Kathy, is perplexing and confusing...but even more so, it challenges and entertains the listener with unfamiliar ideas and sounds. While not for everyone, these tunes are certain to grab a very small audience and hold them securely in a trance. Includes "Enamel Animal," "Birds," "Receive," and "The Outwordly Ugly Secretly Beautiful." Really weird cerebral stuff...! (Rating: 5)

Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise (CD, Asthmatic Kitty, Progressive pop)
Rarely do our opinions parallel those of the music community at large. But despite the fact that everyone seems to love Sufjan Stevens these days...we still do. Success hasn't spoiled the man yet...and Illinoise is yet another stellar collection of superb, inventive tunes. This is the follow up to Michigan, which was the first in a series of 50 albums Sufjan plans to record (one for each state). Lots of folks were, understandably, blown away by Michigan. The album stood squarely on its own as one of the best albums of the decade. Thus, following up the album would not be an easy task for an ordinary individual. But Stevens is by no means ordinary. Instead of delivering a mere follow-up, he has written and recorded a magnificent and thoroughly rewarding album that rivals Michigan. Many compare his music with Nick Drake and Elliott Smith...the in actuality, Sufjan's music sounds like few other artists we have heard. His intelligent, articulately arranged tunes are smooth, easy, and dreamlike. This man does his homework. Before recording an album, he does research to gather information and ideas about each state before beginning the project. Illinoise will surely please Sufjan's growing legion of fans. Twenty fantastic tracks from a man who never lets his fans down. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)

George Strait - Somewhere Down In Texas (CD, Country)
The dullest man in country music just keeps getting...duller and duller and duller. (Rating: 1)

Summer Lawns - First We Waited...Then It Started (CD, Stunning Models on Display / Isidore, Progressive pop)
Brooklyn, New York based Summer Lawns is an articulate progressive pop quartet. First We Waited...Then It Started features nine strangely subtle and fragile compositions. True to the claim of the accompanying press release, the band's music is reminiscent of artists like Nick Drake, Yo La Tengo, and Low. Dreamy and hypnotic, the subdued tunes on this album are peculiar and enlightening and they tend to settle in the listener's subconscious...eventually taking up permanent residence. Unlike many new art bands, Summer Lawns tunes have staying power. These folks write intelligent compositions with real substance. The band consists of Jeremy Linzee, Matt Heslinga, Laurel Birkey, and Kieran Kelly. Amazingly mature in terms of focus and overall sound, First We Waited is a thoroughly absorbing album full of intriguing melodic twists. Includes "Piano Song," "This Little Light of Mine," and "How to Furnish Life in the Desert." Great stuff. (Rating: 5)

T. Rex - Born To Boogie (Double DVD, Rock/pop)
At long last...finally...Born To Boogie has been reissued on DVD (!).This would be a big deal anyway, but it's an even BIGGER deal because this double DVD package features TWO ENTIRE FULL-LENGTH CONCERTS filmed by Ringo Starr and his crew. We can only thank our lucky stars that Ringo was there to film these shows. Otherwise there might not even be a decent quality documentation of the band at their peak. These concerts capture Marc Bolan at the point where he had become a supernova...burning so brightly that there was no way he could sustain such an intense public persona. Marc was so unique and so charismatic in the early 1970s that he could entertain a crowd with his mere presence. The original Born to Boogie film itself has been lovingly restored with acute attention to detail...but the two bonus concerts are what make this package a MUST HAVE. As advertised, these discs really are "the ultimate T. Rex experience." Marc Bolan in the prime of his life and career. So...if you weren't there...watching this footage most certainly IS the next best thing. The concerts feature multi-camera angles that give the viewer a chance to see the band from several perspectives. Remixed by Tony Visconti, the sound quality is superb throughout. Among the additional goodies included is an ultra rare bit of film featuring a very early Tyrannosaurus Rex performing Sarah Crazy Child for a tiny audience in a small, smoky club in the 1960s. Truly amazing. If you never cared for T. Rex well...you probably aren't even the slightest bit interested in this. But for those who have been touched by Bolan's words, music, and personal magic...this package is guaranteed to give you CHILLS. Watch in amazement as Marc effortlessly plays four roles simultaneously. Not only does he constantly switch back and forth between rhythm guitar and lead guitar while singing...but he is also the quintessential dancing showman and the constant focal point for everyone within eyeshot and earshot. Utter sheer brilliance and purely magnetic stage presence. The bottom line is this. If you have always been disappointed with live T. Rex audio and video...this is one instance where you WILL NOT be disappointed. This box set is a chilling and insightful reminder that Bolan remains the greatest vocalist, songwriter, poet, lyricist, and all around entertainer of all time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 10+++)

John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt (Advance CD, Barsuk, Pop)
Pixel Revolt is being touted as the album fans have waited for John Vanderslice to record. But in our minds, prior to this release he had already recorded three albums that we had waited for him to record. Vanderslice has been a favorite in babysueland for years...and Pixel Revolt is as good or better than anything he has recorded. For those unfamiliar with the man, John writes and records personalized mid-tempo pop with a heavy accent on inventive arrangements and pensive lyrics. Those who already know his music will most certainly already be planning on scooping this up as soon as it becomes available (August 23, 2005). The biggest difference between this album and previous releases is how smooth the tunes are. Possibly the result of writing and recording and producing for so long, Mr. Vanderslice has managed to come up with a batch of tunes that are ultimately soothing and just slightly surreal...while still retaining all the elements that made his music so intriguing in the first place. Assisting Vanderslice on this album is John Darnielle (of The Mountain Goats). Pixel Revolt will easily end up being on many "best of" lists for 2005. This album will stand up to thousands of spins. Stellar tracks include "Letter to the East Coast," "Plymouth Rock," "Trance Manual," "Farwell Transmission," and "The Golden Gate." Truly fantastic stuff. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)

Volebeats - Like Her (CD, Turquoise Mountain, Pop)
The seventh full-length release from Volebeats. Heavily influenced by the British Invasion, the gentlemen in this band write and record surprisingly catchy and sincere pop tunes that come from the heart. The band consists of Jeff Oakes, Scott Michalski, Russell Ledford, John Nash (who is also in Electric Six and babysue favorite The Witches), and Matthew Smith (who is also in babysue favorite Outrageous Cherry). Though this band has been around since 1987, they have put out relatively few albums during the course of their career. This could be due to the fact that the members have other projects going on simultaneously. In any event, fans of this band are probably always ready for more...and Like Her is certain to satisfy their needs. Folks who are already into Smith's other band (Outrageous Cherry) will find a lot to love here. The band's tunes feature chiming guitars, creative melodies, and the some of the purest vocals around. Volebeats tunes are simple and clean, allowing the listener to concentrate on the exceptional melodies and lyrics. Great tracks include "Like Her," "Can It Really Be?", "In The Garden," "Touch Me One Time," and "Time Travel." Killer from start to finish. (Rating: 5++)

Denison Witmer - Are You A Dreamer? (CD, The Militia Group, Pop)
We just knew there was something special about Denison Witmer the first time we heard his music. A couple of years have gone by...and now others obviously share this same feeling. Witmer has covered a lot of ground recently. Nowadays he's obviously hanging out with the right people. Featured on this album are Don Peris and Karen Peris (of babysue favorite The Innocence Mission), Sufjan Stevens (another babysue favorite), James McAlister, and Shara Worden. In addition, Witmer has been touring recently with Copeland (yet another of our top favorites). Are You A Dreamer? continues in the same tradition Witmer has created for himself. The album presents ten soft classic pop tunes. The songs are smart and effective...and they feature perfectly crafted arrangements. What sets this man apart from so many others is the fact that his music could easily be appreciated by millions of people...if they only had the chance to hear him. Top notch cuts include "Little Flowers," "Everything But Sleep," "East From West," and "Finding Your Feet Again." (Rating: 5++)

Yellowcard - Where We Stand (CD, Takeover, Rock)
This is one of two albums the band Yellowcard released while they were still in high school (before frontman Ryan Key joined). Originally released in 1999, Where We Stand offers a good snapshot of the band in their early days. One can't help but be impressed by the fact that folks so young could create a project such as this. The songs are solid and the playing is tight and focused. Yellowcard fans should find this to be a very interesting collection of tunes as it offers a glimpse of what the band was like before they hit it big. In addition to the ten tracks, this disc also includes a mini photo album and a video performance featuring the original lineup. Includes "Lesson Learned," "Uphill Both Ways," "Doesn't Matter," "On The Brink." (Rating: 4+++)

Yinky Yinky Sassy Poo - Stinky Stinky Yassy Foo (CD, BCTR, Rooster doodle)
This is not music. This is Yinky Yinky Sassy Poo. The name is stupid. So are the "tracks" that are included on this CD. You can't find this anywhere. In fact, you won't ever find anything anywhere. This is the end. The end of your consciousness. We have now taken over. When you sleep, you will hear this refrain: "Little pop stars in the sky, little pop stars kink and die." There is no obvious conclusion to anything. There are no solutions to problems. There is only peace. Peace and tranquility in sleep. Night comes quickly and hides the waste. The waste blows over the cold shoulders of the horizon...taking those in who are clever enough to ignore.

The remnants of everything lay in the palm of your hand. Observe them closely with resolve...because there is no tomorrow.

Hey, there ain't really no band called this. So...go ask your local retailer for the new Yinky Yinky Sassy Poo album. Do it before midnight TONIGHT!

We've been watching too many episodes of Lost In Space this month...and now it's beginning to show (!). Danger, Will Robinson...DANGER!!!

(Rating: 1)

Additional Items Received:

Agape - Agape
Alcibiades Jones - Refraction mirage
American Zen - Level 1
Glyn Bailey - Toys from Balsa
Bill - Bat man
Biohazard - Means to an end
The Boroughs - Ostrich
Bunnygrunt - Karen hater's club
The Burning Effigies - Pipe dream
Chicago Blues Explosion - Buried alive in the blues
The Chicharones - When pigs fly
CKY - An answer can be found (sampler)
Whitney Cline - Bring on the rain
Crimson Sweet - Eat the night
Cult of Sue Todd - Nothing noteworthy happened today
Daikaiju - Daikaiju
Damage - Velocity
Dexter Danger - Hellafornia
Dark Skin - Flo food
DeNunzio - Continuous vaudeville
Dimension Mix - A tribute to Dimension 5 Records
Dog Men Poets - Dog Men Poets
Drums & Tuba - The Peleton
Echo Revolution - In the wire
Ellery - Make your troubles mine
Esthero - Wikked lil' grrls (sampler)
Fine China - The jaws of life
The Garden Party - Pointed at the sky
Gigantic - Some suburban road
The Grievous Angels - The Grievous Angels
Sara Hamilton - Call my name
Heavy Duty Felt - for the time being
Hootie and the Blowfish - Looking for lucky
Husky Bus - What done to Husky Bus?
Khali Hustle - Tha story behind tha scarz
Khierstin - Lost in this
Indicia - Identifying marks
The Indigo Vaginas - Politics and fishes
Innaway - Innaway
Issobella - Surrogate emotions of the silverscreen
The January Taxi - Keep quiet, they might hear us
Joe Kile - Kings avenue
David Levin - Stepping on my hat
Life Before This - Life Before This
Lowlights - Dark end road
Steven Mark - Aloneaphobe
Mayaflyer - All the stars
Adam McIntyre - Nothing means anything
The Mispent - All there is, is now
Mopa - Mopa
The Muggs - The Muggs
The Myriad - You can't trust a ladder
The Naptown Amplifier Co. - Captain Ahab's graveside seafood stand
Near Miss / Reeve Oliver / The Matches - 3-way issue #2
New Estate - Considering...
Nita - Let's dance
North Atlantic Explorers - Skylines
Nuclear Assault - Third world genocide
Patriotic Country - 2
Players Club - Coextinction
Eliot Popkin - Endless ride
Red Pony Clock / Cat & Dog Dialogue - Split CD
Rockers - 25th anniversary edition (DVD)
The Route 66 Killers - Murder on beaver street
Charlie Scopoletti - Charlie Scopoletti
Stephen Sebastian - Play
Shadow Project - And then there was death (DVD)
Silversun pickups - Pikul
Songs From a Big Town - Songs From a Big Town
The Starvations - Gravity's a bitch
The Subjects - The Subjects
Sumitra - Indian girl
Swamy / Astro & Glyde - Le souk Sunday sessions
Tan Sleeve - American blood
Towers of London - F*ck it up
Two girls - Rock n' roll songs about rock and roll
The Unheard Of - The struggle
Uptown Creepers - What they want
Various Artists - Listen to Bob Dylan - A tribute
Veta - The weight of an empty room
Steve Walsh - Shadowman
Wooden Hand - Harem of the sundrem & the witness figg
Wooden Hand and the Vanishing Voice - Xiao
World Leader Pretend - Punches
Wunky Tunky Boofer - Wunky Tunky Boofer
Kathy Zimmer - Dreamin'

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