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February 2007 Reviews by

Alkaline Trio
Arms and Sleepers
Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound
Atlanta Attraction

Victor Bermon
Cloud Eleven
David Karsten Daniels
Loren Dent

Arthur Dodge
Brad Dutz
Rio en Medio*
Jessie & Layla

Glenn Jones
Fulton Lights
Future Hell
Grand Champeen
Heavy Metal Assholes

Ideal Free Distribution
Innocence Mission*
Lesbians Is Satan

Little Brazil*
Little Heroes
Los Angeles Attraction

Eleni Mandell
Mezzanine Owls

My Teenage Stride
Nudity Is Repulsive

Panda Bear*
Phony Fart Factory

Ral Partha Vogelbacher
Riverboat Gamblers
Sex Idiots
Sounds Like Violence

Time Toy

Two Girls
Ugly Skyscrapers

Unfortunate Piggy
Vinyl Skyway*
Chuck E. Weiss
Weak, Needy, Retarded

Western States Motel
Wrong Idea

Yndi Halda

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


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

Alkaline Trio - Remains (CD + DVD, Vagrant, Rock/pop)
This hefty little package features a 22 track CD and a 45 minute DVD. The guys in Alkaline Trio play a brand of modern hard power pop that is quite popular with present day kiddie boosters. The Remains audio CD features tracks previously recorded for inclusion on various compilations, EPs, B-sides, and overseas releases...plus live tracks recorded in Los Angeles in 2006. What many may find surprising about the CD is the consistency. Despite the fact that these tracks were recorded at different places and at different times...the disc spins like an album of brand new material (someone did a helluva job mastering this one). The DVD features videos from the band's albums From Here To Infirmary, Good Mourning, and Crimson as well as some bonus and live footage. While the audio CD is full of smart, catchy music...the DVD is pretty much a throwaway disc with the exception of one video that features some interesting animation (the rest of the DVD features way too many shots of the band members trying to act cute and funny for the camera). All in all...the audio CD is a hit...while the DVD is a miss. The main point, however...is that this band writes some killer pop tunes. (Rating: 4++++)

Arms and Sleepers - Bliss Was It In That Dawn To Be Alive (CD EP, Fake Chapter, Atmospheric)
This Cambridge, Massachusetts-based band has created an intriguing and rewarding EP. Although it might take a few spins to sink in, Bliss Was It In That Dawn To Be Alive is definitely worth the time and effort involved. These folks write and record music that ranges from atmospheric sound to progressive instrumentals. The band has managed to come up with a nice warm sound overall...and the songs themselves are strangely hypnotic and calming. There are lots of really cool keyboard sounds in these tunes that really draw the listener in. It'll be interesting to see where these folks head with their next release. Top picks: "Beneath Bricks and Books," "Warm," and "Moscow Pop." Intriguing. (Rating: 4+++++)

Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound - Ekranoplan (Advance CD, Tee Pee, Rock)
Imagine combining the psychedelic electronics of Hawkwind with the crashing rock of Jane's Addiction and the overdriven stoner rock guitars of Fu Manchu...and you might begin to have some idea of what San Francisco's Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound sounds like. Although the band previously released a limited pressing (500 copies) of their first vinyl album, Ekranoplan is their first disc to receive proper distribution and marketing. Improvisation is a key element in this band's sound. Some of their songs have verses and choruses and all...but many of the tunes are, for the most part, spontaneous explorations. Produced by Tim Green, this album has a nice, cerebral, thick sound that should appeal to just about anyone who has ever appreciated the more hallucinogenic side of rock. This l'il mindbender features nine tracks including "Mosquito Lantern," "Ellen Koray," and "Gemini 7." Truly good stuff. (Rating: 5)


Atlanta attracts

(Rating: 1)

Bayside - The Walking Wounded (CD, Victory, Pop/rock)
The guys in Bayside write and record music that might best be described as heavy metal pop. This band's music is probably too melodic for true heavy metal heads...and possibly too hard and heavy for pure popsters. Whatever the case...The Walking Wounded is a fierce and complex batch of modern hard pop. What impresses us most about this band are the guitars. Rarely have we heard blistering guitar solos like this incorporated into the framework of pop music. This is not a perfect album as some of the tunes seem a bit overproduced. But these guys definitely have the talent and the brains...by adding a bit more variety into their music they are most certainly capable of producing a true masterpiece. Top picks: "The Walking Wounded," "I and I," "Landing Feet First," "Thankfully." (Rating: 4++++)

Victor Bermon - Arriving at Night (CD, Hefty, Progressive/instrumental)
Wonderfully dreamy and hypnotic progressive instrumental music. There are a lot of folks creating this sort of music lately, but very few who are as clearly focused and talented as Victor Bermon. Although some of his tracks have popped up in various places during the past couple of years, Arriving at Night is Bermon's debut album. These thirteen compositions are a pure delight...incorporating many of the best ideas behind ambient, trance, and modern progressive pop. The overall tone of the album is calm and hypnotic...and many of the tunes have a very inviting warm organic sound. Not a lot more needs to be said here...but we should mention that this is one of those CDs that gets better the more you spin it. Smoothly seductive cuts include "Farewell Lunch for Laura," "Unprepared," "On the Way Back," and "On This Night." Great stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Cloud Eleven - Sweet Happy Life (CD, Kool Kat Musik, Pop)
Cloud Eleven is, for the most part, the one-man-band consisting of Rick Gallego...although on this album he has also enlisted some assistance from Nelson Bragg (percussion and vocals) and Zane Drake (stringed instruments). Sweet Happy Life is an appropriate title for this smooth collection of melodic, well-produced pop. What might surprise a lot of people is that, despite the fact that Cloud Eleven is an underground band, the music is decidedly accessible and has the potential to reach a lot of people. Rather than trying to be overly clever and dramatic, Gallego writes songs that are extraordinarily mellow and memorable. His arrangements are always right on target...and he is never guilty of cluttering his tunes with unnecessary tracks. Rick has a great voice that is perfectly suited for the style of music he writes...and his overdubbed harmonies are totally incredible. This smoothly delicious album is a real treat. Twelve luscious tracks including "Home," "Sea and Soul," "Not Over You," and "Evaporate." Totally soothing stuff. (Rating: 5+)

David Karsten Daniels - Sharp Teeth (CD, Fat Cat, Progressive soft pop/folk)
Though this album was released on Britain's Fat Cat label, David Karsten Daniels lives, writes, and records in North Carolina. This album is apparently a departure from Daniels' previous efforts which were more noisy and experimental. Sharp Teeth is a smart and engaging album featuring ten tracks that are slightly unusual and unusually thought provoking. Despite the fact that a large number of folks were involved in the recording of this album (no less than nineteen players and vocalists are listed on the insert), the overall sound is surprisingly direct and sparse. Although these tunes are basically accessible and easy on the ears, it is indeed quite difficult to come up with comparisons (although Built To Spill does come to mind on occasion). Daniels seems to be one of those artists who is following his own muse...and just allowing things to happen as they may. Our guess is that Sharp Teeth will take a few spins to sink in...but we can already tell there is real substance lurking in these tunes. Nifty tracks include "Scripts," "Minnows," "Beast," and "We Go Right On." (Rating: 5)

Loren Dent - Empires and Milk (CD, Contract Killers, Electronic/experimental/modern classical/instrumental)
Beautiful soft and slightly abstract instrumental music. This is the second full-length release from Loren Dent. The tunes on Empires and Milk are reminiscent of Brian Eno's early ambient recordings. Using only the bare essentials, Dent records music that can be listened to or played in the background to create a mood. This fifteen track album features slow, methodical compositions that are subtle and intriguing. Pastoral and deceptively complex, Dent obviously spends a great deal of time on his recordings making sure that each and every sound and effect are precisely timed. Top picks: "Empires and Milk," "Shoot the Piano Player," "A Silent Extinction," "Colonial Blues." (Rating: 5)

Arthur Dodge - The Perfect Face (CD, Remedy, Folk/soft pop)
Arthur Dodge has previously released four albums under the name Arthur Dodge and the Horsefeathers...but this is the first solo album released solely under his own name. Dodge writes and records soft acoustic pop that seems heavily influenced by folk music from the 1960s. His songs are smooth and direct and he has a genuine, soulful voice that should appeal to a wide range of listeners. Some folks might find the tracks on The Perfect Face to be a bit sleepy and subdued...but our guess is that this was exactly how the artist intended these songs to sound. In some ways, Dodge's music sounds like a country/bluegrass version of Leonard Cohen. Cool melodic tracks include "She Wants A Cowboy," "Waiting for the World,""That's the Way That She Wants It," and "San Diego Serenade." (Rating: 5)

Brad Dutz - When Manatees Attack (CD, pfMENTUM, Modern jazz/modern classical)
When Manatees Attack is a peculiar album...which is nothing less than we would expect from Brad Dutz and and the almost-always-perplexing pfMENTUM label. On this album , Dutz plays a variety of odd percussion instruments and elicits assistance from Paul Sherman (oboe, english horn), James Sullivan (bass clarinet, G clarinet), Rachel Arnold (cello), and Jasper Dutz (clarinet). The compositions on this album are rather stark and slightly herky-jerky in nature...often sounding like the soundtrack to an avant garde cartoon. Our favorite track is the strange, lengthy "Biff the Salesman" which features some subtle and unconventional xylophone playing. Other bizarre compositions include "Spongy Bark," "Insulated Potato Wedges," and the title track. Brad Dutz never fails to entertain...and When Manatees Attack is another striking addition to his already impressive catalog. Intelligent and thought provoking. (Rating: 5+)

Rio en Medio - The Bride of Dynamite (CD, Midheaven, Progressive soft pop)
Sounding something like a cross between Sweden's Cake On Cake and Donovan's A Gift From A Flower To A Garden album...The Bride of Dynamite is an odd and unusual spin. Thom Monahan produced the album...so you can be sure it is an interesting journey at the very least. According to the press release, Rio en Medio recorded the basic tracks for this album without any intention of releasing them to the public. This may offer an explanation as to why the songs are so personal and subdued. In a world where so many artists are trying so desperately to gain the admiration and attention of others...Rio's approach is unusual and refreshing. The Bride of Dynamite is an exercise in subtlety. en Medio plays extraordinarily gentle songs...and then layers wafer thin sounds and electronics over the top. The resulting sound is something like sitting beside a stream while listening to a fairy singing on the rocks nearby. While her music will probably only be appreciated by a very select audience initially due to the nature of the recordings, our bet is that Rio en Medio will be a major contender in music for many years to come. Superb tracks include "You Can Stand," "Tiger's Ear," "Kill the Messenger," and "I See the Star." Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)


Friendships are fleeting and
Friends are temporary and
Easily replaced.

(Rating: 1)

Goldrush - The Heart Is The Place (CD, Better Looking Records, Pop)
This is the second full-length release we have heard from Britain's Goldrush. This album is difficult to review because of the instant and immediate impact the last album had on us (Ozona, top pick August 2005). On The Heart Is The Place, the band takes a much looser, spontaneous approach to pop. The resulting tunes are decidedly less catchy...but perhaps no less effective in the long run. There are definitely some killer tracks here..."24 Hours," "We Will Not Be Machines," "Sun In Your Eyes," and "Yours and Mine" are all particularly effective. In some ways The Heart reminds us of Dumptruck's For The Country album because of the dreamy, subdued nature of the songs. We are not as immediately blown away by this album as we were by Ozona...but over the course of the next few months, this album could very well end up being an even more rewarding spin. So, at least for the time being, we're not giving this one a rating... (Not Rated)

Jessie & Layla - Kinetic (CD, Second-Shimmy, Soft pop)
The duo of Jessie Collins and Layla Collins (two sisters from Dublin, Ireland) is a credible act indeed. These two ladies' voices blend together so seamlessly that you could almost swear the vocals were overdubbed by the same person. Kinetic features eleven classic pop tracks that are chock full of soaring melodies and slick arrangements. Unlike most new unknown acts, the Collins sisters' album could very easily sell millions and millions and millions of copies. The songs are instantly accessible, clean, and polished. But it is these ladies' genuine sincerity that impresses us the most. You can tell that their music comes straight from their hearts. Lovely, dreamy tracks include "Nearly Over Now," "Rusty Old Camera," "Love Is On Its Way" (our favorite), and "Stellar Sunrise." (Kramer was involved with this one, which is almost always a good thing.) Great stuff. (Rating: 5)

Glenn Jones - Against Which the Sea Continually Beats (CD, Strange Attractors, Acoustic guitar/instrumental)
Meticulously crafted and thoroughly engaging acoustic guitar instrumentals from Glenn Jones (who is also in the band Cul de Sac). In listening to Against Which the Sea Continually Beats, it is not surprising at all to find that Jones was friends with John Fahey for a quarter of a century (one track is even dedicated to Fahey). This album features nothing but acoustic guitars, as Glenn demonstrates his ability to effectively evoke moods and emotions through his playing. His fingerwork is precise and exacting with overdubs that sound surprisingly spontaneous. In order to appreciate this album fully, you need to listen to it while you are in the right frame of mind. Otherwise, you might miss the point entirely. Tightly focused compositions include "Island," "Little Dog's Day," "Against My Ruin," and "Bill Muller on the Eric Lackawanna." (Rating: 5)

Fulton Lights - Fulton Lights (CD, Android Eats, Progressive)
Odd progressive modern soft pop that sounds not unlike Neil Young and Sufjan Stevens on occasion. The folks in Fulton Lights create slow, highly melodic tunes that are infused with a different sort of energy fueled by the intricate use of appropriately odd electronics. This self-titled album is alternately friendly and spooky. If one were to remove some of the strange sounds, this album would almost sound normal. But rather than leave their music stark and simple, these folks add weird technological layers that definitely push things to a totally different level. The more we spin this album...the better it sounds. Smart tracks like "Thank God for the Evening News" and "Fire In The Palm of My Hand" make this disc a puzzling and strangely exotic spin. A limited edition version of this album is also being released which includes a bonus disc with unreleased tracks (including remixes by Strategy, Nick Forte, and Still). Truly neat stuff. (Rating: 5+)


Our children are
Our future.
To hell with
The future.

(Rating: 1)

Grand Champeen - Dial T For This (CD, In Music We Trust, Pop)
Good hummable pop in the same general vein as early releases from Young Fresh Fellows. The folks in Austin's Grand Champeen recorded Dial T For This entirely on analog equipment. The result...is a warm and genuine sounding batch of catchy pop. The band consists of Alex Livingstone, Channing Lewis, Ned Stewart, and Michael Crow. Lewis and Livingstone write smart, direct songs that are delivered with precise arrangements that are appropriately sparse at times. This band has made the wise decision to not bury their tunes in too many overdubs...thus allowing the listener to appreciate the meat in their music. The band is apparently proud of this album...and they should be. Dial T For This holds up to many repeated spins and gets better over time. Nifty tracks include "Different Sort of Story," "Wounded Eye," "Gonna Be the Death of Me," and "The Songs You Want To Hear." Well done. (Rating: 5)


Look at all the
Heavy metal assholes
Dressing up like drag queens
And screaming like retarded

(Rating: 1)

Icicles - A Hundred Patterns (CD, Micro Indie, Pop)
Rarely have we seen such an adorable little quartet...and we are not being sarcastic. The folks in Icicles wear matching outfits and have genuine smiles that are absolutely contagious. These folks write and record pop that is decidedly out-of-synch with twenty first century pop. The band's music has a great deal in common with girl groups from the 1960s...but the overall approach seems slightly reminiscent of 1990s pop bands from Athens, Georgia and the British underground. At this point in time, the band has had their greatest success through a commercial (Motorola used their tune "Sugar Sweet" in an advertisement). A Hundred Patterns will appeal to a tiny and very specific listening audience. Many will be turned off by the ultra-positive upbeat sound...but others will be drawn into the genuinely melodic world of Icicles. The vocals are way up front in the mix...while the music almost seems to have been added as an afterthought. Making pure feelgood pop is never an easy task...but these folks make it sound as simple as peach pie. Delightfully giddy tracks include "Rock n' Roll Girl," "Bat in the Kitchen," "Porch Swing," and "Sugar Sweet." Great stuff. Note that the band will have a new album out (Arrivals & Departures) later this year... (Rating: 5+)

Ideal Free Distribution - Ideal Free Distribution (CD, Happy Happy Birthday To Me, Pop/rock)
Very interesting stuff that sounds something like a cross between mid-period Kinks and Apples in Stereo...which is interesting, considering the fact that Robert Schneider (the main apple himself who also mixed and pre-mastered this album) discovered the band and brought them to the attention of Happy Happy Birthday To Me ringleader Mike Turner. The guys in Ideal Free Distribution got their start in the late 1990s in Benton, Kentucky and have since been honing and refining their sound. Some of the tunes on this album are rather light and breezy...while others have a bit more of a bite. What impresses us most about this band is the fact that their songs seem to spin very much like dreamy stream-of-consciousness recordings. Obviously influenced to a great deal by the British Invasion of the 1960s, the guys in Ideal Free Distribution have an uncanny knack for writing smart and inventive tunes that stick. (Rating: 4+++++)

Innocence Mission - We Walked In Song (CD, Badman, Soft pop)
Despite the fact that the folks in Innocence Mission continue to record and release albums, most folks are probably only familiar with the band's output from the late 1990s when they were more of a commercially viable entity. That is a real shame, because the band's most recent albums are surely their most profound and expertly realized. Early Innocence Mission recordings featured good alternative pop, but over the years the band has softened their sound and approach...all the while becoming more focused and personal. We Walked In Song is another wonderfully fulfilling album. This time around, all of the songs were written by Karen Peris and dedicated to her mother and father. Not only is Peris one of the best female vocalists ever...but she is also a truly gifted songwriter. On this album the band consists of Karen, her husband Don Peris (engineer extraordinaire), and bassist Mike Bitts. Some folks might find Innocence Mission tunes to be a bit too subtle and sleepy...but that would be to miss the point entirely. Instead of creating drab and dreary slo-core...these folks create absolutely beautiful intricately crafted soft pop that will surely stand the test of time. Although released very early in the year, We Walked In Song will easily end up being one of the best releases of 2007. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6)


Whether they admit it
Or not
All lesbians is Satan.
Some is Satan
In cars.
Some is Satan
In bars.
While still others is Satan
In churches.

(Rating: 1)

Little Brazil - Tighten the Noose (CD, Mt. Fuji, Pop/rock)
A nifty band with their own sound, identity, and style. Tighten the Noose is the second full-length release from Nebraska's Little Brazil...and its a keeper. Chock full of bright, intelligent, hummable pop music, this album features smart arrangements, killer guitars, and ultra-catchy melodies. Rather than ape the sound of other bands or play safe and samey pop, these fellows have the good sense to follow their instincts...thereby allowing them to create fine, free-flowing pop music that is simultaneously energetic and uplifting. Little Brazil is driven by the songwriting skills of Landon Hedges, an incredibly talented new voice in the world of music. This fellow has something to say as well as the ability to say it with gusto and style. Rounding out the band are Greg Edds (guitar), Danny Maxwell (bass, vocals), and Oliver Morgan (drums). If you're in the mood for quality upbeat pop, you won't do much better than this. Killer tracks include "A Thrilling Entrance," "Shades," "Stretching Skin," "Packed" (our favorite), and "Killing Confidence." Consistent and fulfilling. (Rating: 5++)

Little Heroes - Cinematic Americana (CD, Wednesday, Pop)
The guys in Little Heroes are off to a good start with this album. The playing is tight and inspired and the songs are instantly catchy and upbeat...and could very well appeal to a broad range of listeners. At this point in their career, however, the guys in Little Heroes sound much too much like R.E.M. If they can (hopefully) ditch the bad influence, this band could very well become a major contender in the years ahead. They obviously have talent and skills. Taken as is however, Cinematic Americana is just a bit more Stipe-ish than we can stomach. (Rating: 3)


Los Angeles attracts

(Rating: 1)

Eleni Mandell - Miracle of Five (CD, Zedtone, Soft pop)
We've been big fans of Eleni Mandell for several years now. While other artists are crawling all over one another, each one trying to sound more bizarre and peculiar than the next...Eleni continues writing and recording soft, pensive pop that recalls female vocalists from the 1930s and 1940s. Miracle of Five is yet another solid addition to the Mandell catalog. Encased in a simple but appropriate digipak sleeve with accompanying lyric booklet, the album features twelve subtle compositions that focus on melodies and lyrics. Eleni has a wonderfully soft and subdued voice that is perfectly suited for her style of music. Listening to these tunes, one would never guess that no less than eleven musicians contributed. Rather than sounding busy and overproduced, these tunes sound exactly the opposite (perhaps as a result of some very restrained arrangements). Satisfying from start to finish, Miracle is yet another bull's eye from an artist who never fails to please her fans... (Rating: 5++)

Mezzanine Owls - Slingshot Echoes (Independently released CD, Pop)
One's first impression might be to dismiss this band as just another underground guitar band with decent tunes. But upon closer observation, it becomes obvious that the folks in Mezzanine Owls are actually much more than that. Produced by Andy LeMaster in Athens, Georgia, Slingshot Echoes is pumped full of melodic, memorable pop music that is, at times, slightly reminiscent of The Tyde. Rather than ride the tides of fads and ape the sound of other bands, the folks in this band seem to be writing songs for their own self-fulfillment. The melodies and lyrics are both rather intriguing...and the band's guitars are soothing, effective, and occasionally perplexing. Although it may take several spins to sink in, Slingshot Echoes is an album that is surely worth the time and effort involved. Groovy tracks include "Moving Ground," "Coyote," "Counting Backwards," and "Flashing Lights." (Rating: 5)

MySpace.com (A big mistake for everyone but...)
Much has been made about the web site MySpace.com...mainly because of the fact that so many people (and recording artists in particular) are using it. If you haven't done so already, DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE...! If you are the least bit serious about creating your own identity in the world, DO NOT use MySpace.com. Why? The answer is simple, yet many may fail to recognize the serious problems. The main problem is that you are creating your own identity as a SUBSECTION of another web site's identity. What if they go out of business...? Then you are left with a MySpace.com web address (that may very well appear on your stationary, business cards, CDs, DVDs, etc.) that will be USELESS...and all the work you put into creating your web site will have been a big WASTE. It is so easy and cheap to buy YOUR OWN domain name and host YOUR OWN web site...we can't imagine why ANYONE would opt to use MySpace.com. Oh sure...it may be just a bit simpler to set it all up initially...but in the LONG RUN you are setting yourself up for real problems and eventual failure. MySpace.com is a big mistake for everyone EXCEPT the folks at MySpace.com, of course...because they are the only ones to gain from your use of their site. So...here's hoping you and your friends will have the good sense to go the extra mile and create your own identity...so that your future endeavors won't be tied to the eventual downfall of someone else's selfish, dull, and impersonal business entity. (Rating: 0)

My Teenage Stride - Ears Like Golden Bats (CD, Becalmed, Pop)
Mid-tempo guitar pop that seems slightly reminiscent of The Go-Betweens and even The Television Personalities at times. This is the third full-length release from Brooklyn, New York's My Teenage Stride. The band currently consists of Jedediah Smith, Jenny Logan, Brett Whitmoyer, and Dakkan Abbe. This album is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair but the good news...is that the good tracks are really and truly exciting and wonderful. For our bucks, the best tracks here are "Reception," "That Should Stand for Something," "Heartless & Cruel," and "We'll Meet At Emily's." (Rating: 4++++)


Nudity is repulsive
Because people are

(Rating: 1)

Panda Bear - Person Pitch (Advance CD, Paw Tracks, Pop)
Panda Bear is Noah Lennox, a member of the often-mentioned Animal Collective. Person Pitch is Noah's third release...an eight track CD that sounds something like a twenty-first century reinvention of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Lennox spent a good deal of time writing and recording these tracks which may explain the precise arrangements and intricate attention to detail. On the first spin Person Pitch may sound deceptively simple and accessible...but upon closer inspection it becomes obvious that there are several layers happening here at once. Noah's reverb drenched vocals are certainly reminiscent of Brian Wilson...but the decidedly unconventional arrangements give these songs other strange dimensions. The overall sound makes us feel as if we are listening to The Beach Boys after having eaten some special mushrooms. These modern hallucinogenic pop creations are odd and peculiar...as well as strangely addictive. Cool cuts include "Comfy in Nautica," "Bros" (our favorite), "Carrots," and "Ponytail." A truly different experience...highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)


Hollywood is a
Factory for phony

(Rating: 1)



Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and
Broke his crown
But Jill was
Too busy to notice
Because she was
Taking pictures with her cell phone and
Diddling with her MP3 player.

(Rating: 1)

Ral Partha Vogelbacher - Shrill Falcons (Import CD, Monotreme, Progressive pop)
Ral Partha Vogelbacher is the name of a band rather than an individual. Shrill Falcons is an intriguing collection of progressive pop compositions that is somewhat reminiscent of babysue favorite Ghost Stories...except the music is more abstract and noisy. This band is driven by the songwriting skills of Chadwick Bidwell, a fellow whose ambitions are obviously not driven by the desire for commercial success. Despite the band's unusual approach to making music, this San Francisco-based outfit has managed to rack up some rather solid reviews from around the globe. What impresses us most about Bidwell and his associates is the fact that they are able to tread that fine line that separates progressive pop from abstract music. While there are some pop elements to grasp onto...there are also plenty of extended noise segments that are bound to scare off shallow airheads. Peculiar and sometimes even slightly soothing, this is an album with genuine depth. Our favorite tracks are "Three Gorges," "New Happy Fawn," "Silver Mines," and "Swimming With the Sturgeon." (Rating: 5+)


Those who reproduce
Should not be in the business
Of reproduction.

(Rating: 1)

Riverboat Gamblers - To the Confusion of Our Enemies (CD, Volcom Entertainment, Rock)
Playing with all the unbridled enthusiasm of early punk bands from the 1970s and hardcore power pop bands from the 1990s, the guys in Riverboat Gamblers are apparently the real thing. The band's music sounds something like a cross between Richard Hell and Bracket. This album features fourteen loud, rip-roaring rockers with instantly catchy melodies. The word on the street is that the band's live show is an intense experience...and the tracks on To the Confusion of Our Enemies seem to confirm these claims. This thick, slick sounding batch of tunes is bound to satisfy those who like it really loud and decidedly catchy. The best hard rock bands are those who keep things simple and just let the music happen. These guys are obviously playing for the right reason...which is to turn it all the way up and have a good goddamn time. Killer rockers include "True Crime," "On Again Off Again," "Year of the Rooster," and "Rent Is Due." Great loud and harsh stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Scruffs - Pop Manifesto (Independently released CD, Pop)
Although the band has yet to achieve big time fame and success (despite the fact that it has been in existence since the late 1970s), that hasn't kept bandleader Stephen Burns from pursuing his dreams. Skipping around from Memphis to New York and then to Glasgow, Scotland before finally ending up in Portland, Burns has managed to keep his band afloat. Pop Manifesto features fourteen smart guitar pop tracks. The band's current sound is slightly reminiscent of some of the later releases from the Young Fresh Fellows. Burns keeps things simple in terms of vocals and arrangements, allowing the listener to concentrate on the inherent substance in the songs. Pop Manifesto won't blow you away on the first spin...but will, instead, slowly creep into your subconsciousness. Nifty tracks include "There's A Girl I Know," "Situation Critical," and "Noise Noise Noise." (Rating: 5)


Idiots dwell upon sex
Because they are

(Rating: 1)

Sounds Like Violence - With Blood On My Hands (CD, Deep Elm, Rock)
Despite what many people may think, all blaring rock bands do not sound the same. A case in point in Sweden's Sounds Like Violence. With Blood On My Hands is the band's debut full-length which features twelve intelligent, harsh rockers. These four guys play very hard...but there is always substance lurking beneath the surface. The band's music is fueled by a super tight rhythm section, overdriven guitars, and a vocalist who sounds rather nervous most of the time. In some ways, the band's sound seems to harken back to some of the harder British progressive rock bands of the late 1980s and 1990s. Combining hard rock with catchy hooks is no easy task...but these fellows manage to find a comfortable balance between the two on this album. Smart buzzsaw rockers include "Nothing," "Changes," "Heartless Wreck," and "Longing for A Warm Embrace." (Rating: 4+++++)

Time Toy - Fly Swatter / Ice Water (CD, Iron Horse, Progressive rock/pop)
The folks at Iron Horse have unearthed a really interesting one here. Fly Swatter / Ice Water is a sixteen track album recorded by the folks in Time Toy with producer/engineer John Keane. After being recorded, the album was promptly tucked away for the last 20 years. Only now are these tracks being offered for public consumption. The timing is fortunate because the master tapes were apparently about to fall apart. This album offers an interesting look back at the 1980s music scene in Athens, Georgia...and serves as a reminder that there was a lot more going on than just the well known acts like R.E.M. and The B-52s. The folks in Time Toy were apparently not seeking fame and fortune. Their tunes were quirky, obtuse, peculiar, and mostly unpredictable (at times sounding a bit like early Gang of Four). Plenty of weird rockers here...with our favorites being "Daddy Crisp," "Fangs," "Old Whine," and "3rd Story." (Rating: 4++++)

Trucks - Trucks (CD, Click Pop, Pop)
This all-girl band is marketing their album in a unique way...fans and listeners are invited to mix one of their tracks ("Titties") and enter it into a contest. The ladies in Trucks write and record simple, playful pop that harkens back to the early days of new wave...partially the result of the band's reliance on early analog synthesizers. It sounds as if these ladies had a great time recording this album...there are plenty of spontaneous segments where accidents become a part of the mix. Strangely, some of the vocal melodies on this album recall Fanny...one of the all-time great female bands that has never received proper recognition. Trucks consists of Kristin Allen-Zito, Marissa Moore, Faith Reichel, and Linday McIntyre. What impresses us most about these ladies' music is that it doesn't sound similar to other all-female twenty-first century bands. The songs are smart and original...and played with genuine guts and soul. Not only is this album a fun, upbeat spin...but it also features plenty of pensive, insightful lyrics. Killer cuts include "Introduction," "Shattered," "Old Bikes," "Comeback," and "Why The?" (Rating: 5)

Two Girls - Dog Will Bark (CD, Lisa Falzone Recordings, Rock)
Huh? A CD and record company without a web site? This cannot BE. Huh huh huh...actually, this may be indicative of the approach this band is taking. Instead of relying on technology, these folks are tapping into their raw primal powers to produce heavy duty rock music. Listeners who like really big thick guitars are very likely to fall in love with the music of Two Girls. These three guys (Joel Madigan, Alex Stoner, Andrew Sledd) write songs in the grand style of some of the best 1970s heavyweights. Although some of the band's tunes might fall into the stoner rock category, in actuality their music extends far beyond the normal boundaries of the genre. Some tunes sound like possible hits...while others are extended jam sessions during which anything can and does happen. Dog Will Bark is a trippy well-produced album that doesn't fit into easily defined categories. One thing is certain...the guys in Two Girls sure can PLAY LIKE HOLY HELL. Killer cuts include "Stardust," "Moods," "Heart of Rock," and "Classic Bout." Wild stuff, often rather amazing... (Rating: 5+)


All tall buildings are

(Rating: 1)


This little piggy went to market.
This little piggy stayed home.
This little piggy had roast beef.
This little piggy had none.
But this little piggy experienced
A fatal cranial fracture
That caused him to bleed profusely from both ears
And hobble sideways onto an expressway during rush hour
Where he was run over simultaneously
By three hundred thousand

(Rating: 1)

Vinyl Skyway - From Telegraph Hill (Independently released CD, Pop)
Superb free-flowing melodic pop in the vein of some of the greatest 1990s guitar pop bands like Gigolo Aunts and early Teenage Fanclub. This band's debut 2004 impressed many folks around the globe...but From Telegraph Hill is sure to make an even sharper impression. The fellows in Vinyl Skyway have really refined and focused their sound in a short amount of time...and can now compete with just about any pop band on the planet. These songs are smart and instantly catchy...and chock full of perfect harmonies. Rarely have we heard a self-released album that sounds this professional. With the release of this CD, the guys in Vinyl Skyway have paved a solid foundation for what will (hopefully) be a long and rewarding career. Killer cuts include "Hangin' On," "Don't You Like It?", "Lovely Day," and "Solilequy." Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Chuck E. Weiss - 23rd & Stout (CD, Cooking Vinyl USA, Soft bluesy pop)
This is the first time we've been exposed to the music of Chuck E. Weiss. Upon spinning this CD, within the very first few seconds we were immediately reminded of Tom Waits...which is perhaps interesting, because Weiss and Waits have apparently been friends for many years (the two have even performed together). Like Waits, Weiss seems to get his inspiration from the seedier side of humanity...and his music is heavily influenced by blues artists from the past. It is unfortunate that Weiss's connection with Waits may very well be ultimately detrimental to his own success. Chuck is clearly a true and real talent himself, but invariably most folks are going to focus on the connection between the two. We are so familiar with Tom Waits that it is indeed difficult to listen to this music without making comparisons. After spinning this one a good bit the mental connection may start to fade...but perhaps not...?. One thing is certain...Weiss has strong songs, a great voice, and a real knack for arranging... (Not Rated)


We pray because
We are weak.
We work because
We are needy.
We live because
We are retarded.

(Rating: 1)

Western States Motel - Western States Motel (CD, Firebird Field Recordings, Pop)
This is a very soothing album featuring smooth soft pop tunes that are often reminiscent of Dark Side of the Cop (the vocals are particularly similar). Western States Motel is the one-man-band created by Carl Jordan. Carl writes subdued pop songs that are remarkably memorable and melodic. Unlike many modern recording artists, he does not bury his songs under layers of overdubs and obnoxious technology. The arrangements on this album are appropriately sparse and simple...allowing the listener to focus on Jordan's lyrics and melodic flair. This eleven track album is amazingly consistent and absolutely entertaining. Killer cuts include "If Your Life is Just a Dream," "Powerlines" (our favorite), "Rows of Homes," and "I Won't Be Going Back to San Diego." Great stuff. (Rating: 5+)


Those who support
Abortion are wrong.
Those who oppose abortion
Are also wrong.
Everyone is wrong about

(Rating: 1)

Yndi Halda - Enjoy Eternal Bliss (CD, Burnt Toast Vinyl / Big Scary Monsters, Instrumental/rock/pop)
Thus far in their career, the fellows in this five man British band have received a good deal of positive feedback from underground writers all over the globe. The exceptionally strong word-of-mouth about Yndi Halda is probably the result of people reacting to their purely entertaining and obviously inspired instrumentals. These fellows combine traditional instruments with not-so-traditional ones...creating grand, epic compositions that are inviting and ultimately heady and intense. The band writes and practices in a barn in the small village of Kingsdown which is located in the southeastern tip of the United Kingdom. The strangely unpretentious and warm, organic sounds on Enjoy Eternal Bliss may be the result of the band's surroundings. Instead of nervous, grating urban rock...these fellows play stunning and cerebral instrumentals with a difference. This album features four lengthy tracks that allow the band members to flex their imagination. The disc comes in a beautiful cardboard sleeve created with no glue (!). Beautiful stuff, recommended... (Rating: 5+)


Additional Items Received:

31 Knots - The days and nights of everything anywhere
Agency - Turn
Michelle Anthony - Frozen star palace
Asono - Asono
Asteria - Slip into something more comfortable
Autumn Shade - Ezra moon
Adam Balbo - 6 outta 9 w/ beats
Anton Barbeau - In the village of the apple sun
LD Beghtol - 69 love songs (book)
Woody Bradshaw - Lightning in a bottle
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo - Brent Amaker and the Rodeo
Bosa Nova Beatniks - End civil twilight
Campbells - The kid from gillette, wyoming
Career Club - The new record
Clair de Lune - Assisted living
Dali's Llama - Chordata
Dawn of Man - In the bronze age
Dirty Novels - Pack your pistols
Drats - Welcome to...new granada
Erie Choir - Slighter awake
Evil Beaver - In the spirit of resilient optimism
Chris Garneau - Music for tourists
Robert Grenier - Streets of L.A.
Albert Hammond, Jr. - Yours to keep
Heise Bros. - The continuing saga of...
I Walk The Line - Desolution street
Kapakahi - Twisted, bent, and confused
Kissing Cousins - EP3
Dodd Michael Lede - Sophomore jinx
Lesbian - Power hor
Ligion - External affairs
Lillydale - The act of becoming one's own shadow...
Little Heroes - Cinematic americana
Lost in the Trees - Time taunts me
Love Me Destroyer - The things around us burn
Modern Red - A wonderful, beautiful angle
Gary Murray - The revenant waltz
October - Bye bye beautiful
Old Ceremony - Our one mistake
One AM Radio - This too will pass
Painted Veil - Original motion picture soundtrack
Paulson - All at once
Prosser - Prosser
Frank Royster - Thru the years
Sand - Red riding hood
Sarandon - The completist's library
Self Against City - Telling secrets to strangers
Erin Sax Seymour - Good girl
(S)he - Animal
Spanking Charlene - Dismissed with a kiss
Standish Arms - The reasoning engine
Stemage - Strati
Telograph - Little bits of plastic
Tigers and Monkeys - Louse mouth
Tiny - Starring someone like you
Toy Gun Cowboy - Reload
Tricky Bizzniss - st
Tricky Bizzniss - Day to day
Various Artists - New arrivals: Vol. one (MPress)
Various Artists - Vol. two (MPress)
Various Artists - Lots of nothing junk for junky nothings
Various Art ists - The pie in the pie of the pie bucket
Various Artists - Laffy nunners for plahkie
Various Artists - Drifniss pinchburt dillywipe
Various Artists - Frannie liptide rupture
Various Artists - Boatmilk inside speeders
Various Artists - Take Action! Volume 6 (Sub City/Hopeless)
Various Artists - Play (DeSoto)
Warm in the Wake - Gold dust trail
White Barons - Up all night with...

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