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Reviews from

May 2009

Aeroplane Pageant
Almost Charlie

Alt Tal
Ans. Andur

The Believers
Black Label Society
The CJ Boyd Sexxxtet*
Mary Bragg
Butthole Pudding

Jim Byrnes

The Division
Dolphin City
Linda Draper

Drifting In Silence
Drive A
Mike Evin
Ex Norwegian*
William Fitzsimmons
Future Future
Girl In A Coma
Good Food
The Handout Society
Hermit Thrushes

Adam Hill
I Need Sleep
Edward Ka-Spel

La Forza
The Last House on the Left
Iris Leu
The Lodge

Loop 2.4.3*
LSD March*
No No Yes

Luca Olivieri
Ozric Tentacles

Pale Air Singers
Rectal Bleeding Phenomenon
Margo Reymundo
Ring of Truth
Ronald of Orange
Secrets Between Sailors

Silversun Pickups*
Skold vs KMFDM*

Snot Eating Bunny Rabbits
The Southern Sea
Spain Colored Orange*
Spring Creek
Angie Stevens
Swine Flu
Paul "Snoflake" Taylor
Tender Loving Empire
U.S.A. (United States of Awful)

The Weather Station*
The Western States*
Wife Beater

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


Aeroplane Pageant - Even the Kids Don't Believe Me. (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
The last time we heard from Aeroplane Pageant was way back in May of 2007 when the band's album Wave to the Moon was a Top Pick here in babysueland. The band consists of Brian Kelly (vocals, guitar), Chris Aguis (percussion, guitar, keys), Mike Areephituk (guitar, keys), Tim Watson (bass, vocals), and Nisi Jacobs (live visuals). Even the Kids Don't Believe Me. was cut from the same fabric as the band's last album. Aeroplane Pageant tunes are relatively smooth and accessible and yet...we have the hardest time trying to come up with comparisons and/or possible influences. It isn't that the music is all that different (the tracks are, for the most part, very smooth and hummable)...it's just that the songs don't really sound much like any other band that comes to mind. The main obvious trademark of the band's sound is vocalist Brian Kelly...a fellow who has a nice warm voice with strange warbly qualities. The more we spin this album the more we enjoy it. Eleven cuts including "Memory Begins Elsewhere," "Even the Kids Don't Believe Me," and "After the Car Crash." Neat mentally absorbing stuff... (Rating: 5+)

Almost Charlie - The Plural of Yes (CD, Words On Music, Pop)
At first we thought this was an American band that just happened to sound very British. But upon reading the accompanying press release, we were surprised to find that this very British sounding band is actually based in Berlin, Germany (?!?). To make things even more confusing, the songs on The Plural of Yes sound very much like one of the great underrated American bands from the 1980s and 1990s...Redd Kross. Yup, the folks in Almost Charlie had us guessing on a variety of fronts...and that probably says something about their approach to music, because we can usually figure out just about everything a specific band is up to on the very first spin. Making things even more interesting is the fact that despite the fact that they make music together, the two men who wrote these songs have never actually met in person. Almost Charlie tunes are written by Dirk Homuth (the man who makes the music) and Charlie Mason (the man who writes the lyrics). There's a lot of depth to the pop tunes on Plural of Yes. Fans of classic pop will find plenty to love here. Our initial favorites include "Everyone Deserves To Love," "Beyond and Above," "For the Both of Us," and "The Plural of Yes." Very nice, smooth, melodic stuff... (Rating: 5+)

Alt Tal - Open the Gates! (CD, Aural Imaging, Modern jazz)
Offbeat modern jazz from the acoustic jazz trio consisting of David Alt, Kenny Annis, and Andrew Ryan. While all three are serious musicians (each actually studied and/or majored in music), the tracks on Open the Gates! don't have that stuffy, pretentious sound that can sometimes be associated with serious musicians. Rather and instead, the tracks on this album come across sounding spontaneous and totally inspired. Of course, with modern jazz most folks either love it or hate it. We tend to be fence sitters...unless we get the impression that the people are making music for the right reasons. In such particular cases, we can get a major jolt out of this genre. Gates! does what it is intended to do...entertain while allowing the players to inject their music with their own ideas and personalities. The playing is fluid and unpredictable...and the sound quality is impeccable. Eleven tracks here including "Mossad," "News From Milan," "Catch Me," and "Elaine." Rather neat sounding stuff... (Rating: 5)

Ans. Andur - Kiletron (CD, Seksound, Progressive pop)
The guys in Estonia's Ans. Andur return with another complex collection of underground pop tunes. The first thing we should mention is that all of the songs on this album are sung in the band's native language. So folks who for some puzzling reason require that their pop be sung in English will probably find this album a bit peculiar and/or puzzling. We have never felt that songs have to be sung in English in order to be appreciated...and the fact that some people do feel this way is confusing to us. But what is more confusing...is the fact that the songs on Kiletron go all over the map and back again. Instead of being a collection of predictable canned pop, these guys have recorded a batch of songs that, overall, defy description and easy categorization. The press release that accompanied this disc compared the music to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Yo La Tengo, Neil Young, Pavement, and Guided By Voices. While these comparisons do hold true to some extent, the songs on this album don't really sound too much like any of these artists. Kiletron is not an easy spin. In order to absorb these guys' ideas you will need to listen to this album over and over again. But we found that, over time, the songs ended up having more (rather than less) substance. Nifty obscure tunes include "Reede," "Praha Kevad," "Ester," and "Suhkur." Cool stuff indeed... (Rating: 5+)

Aritomo - Kowai Komorebi (CD, Beta-lactam Ring, Progressive/soft folk/experimental)
Talk about an obscure oddity. Kowai Komorebi was originally released as a limited edition vinyl LP in Japan a couple of years ago. Although it obviously didn't sell that many copies, word apparently spread about the strange music created by Aritomo. Putting a label on this fellow's music is difficult. The tracks on this album sound something like soft folky tunes recorded in a bedroom or apartment. The sound quality varies and is even slightly distorted at times...and the vocals sound as if they were recorded under water. But what is most peculiar about Aritomo's music are the slightly atonal and/or offkey sounds that creep into the mix. It is hard to tell if the slightly creepy and decidedly unorthodox sound is intentional or unintentional. Were these tracks recorded by someone who didn't understand what they were doing...or were they created by an individual whose acute objective was to skew their sound with unconventional ideas...? That point may be disputed by folks for years to come. In the meantime, Aritomo is bound to become somewhat of an underground celebrity simply because he is taking a different approach to music. Strange stuff with slight hints of psychedelia... (Rating: 4+++++)

Beehatch - Brood (CD, Lens, Progressive/experimental)
The second full-length release from Beehatch, the duo consisting of Mark Spybey (Dead Voices on Air, Reformed Faction, Download, zoviet*france) and Phil Western (Download, Floatpoint, Kone, Plateau). We were as impressed as hell with the debut self-titled Beehatch release...and we're pleased to report that Brood is just as good or perhaps even more satisfying. The album consists mainly of experimental sound collage compositions but there are also three vocal tracks. The first ("On Ideal Wings") almost sounds as if it could have been an outtake from Brian Eno's Before and After Science album. But that's where the similarities end, as the remaining two vocal cuts ("You Read Me," "In Silence, Too Silent") feature voices drenched in so many effects that they blur into the instruments and become downright spooky. The sound collage pieces are peculiar and perplexing. Spybey and Western are both experts in the field of electronic music and, as such, the sounds they create and/or combine sound light years better than the dribble spewed out by the average generic twenty-first century computer geek. Droning, ambient sounds combine with soothing warm electronics to create a strangely inviting world where anything can happen. In addition to the vocal tracks, we particularly dig "Edison Medicine," "Du Du Horn," "Softly Said," and "Breaking Shit for Mark." Housed in a stunning white cardboard sleeve which includes four cool limited edition artcards. Truly strange stuff, recommended... (Rating: 5+++)

The Believers - Lucky You (CD, Chinese Baby, Pop/country)
The third full-length release from Seattle, Washington's The Believers. This band is driven by the talents of Craig Aspen and Cyd Frazzini...an interesting and slightly different male/female pairing. Most bands are either commercial or underground...but The Believers are actually a credible combination of the two. Aspen and Frazzini's songs effectively combine the world of commercial country/pop with the energy and excitement of underground rock music. Their songs have just the right amount of grit...while remaining largely accessible to the average music fan. The vocals are definitely at the center of the band's sound. Craig has a cool, deep, masculine voice that meshes surprisingly well with Cyd's smooth crooning. On the first spin some of the commercial elements had us slightly concerned...but by the fourth or fifth spin we found ourselves being helplessly pulled into these folks' musical universe. Killer tunes include "Higher Ground," "Mother Nature," "Read It & Weep," and "The Day the Circus Left Town." Really nice stuff...recommended... (Rating: 5++)

Black Label Society - Skullage (CD & DVD, Eagle Rock Entertainment, Rock)
The band Black Label Society has been around for about a decade now...so to celebrate, the folks at Eagle Rock Entertainment have released a CD and DVD to commemorate the band's career up to this point in time (FYI, the discs can be bought together in a single package or purchased separately). We were already fans of the band so rather than converting us, Skullage reminds us of what great, credible music Zakk Wylde and his associates have been making since the 1990s. The CD presents sixteen tracks...mainly focusing on the band's loud rockers although the last four tracks are acoustic. The DVD is particularly interesting as it presents several segments of the band live in concert as well as a smattering of commercial videos produced for television. One thing that this set makes perfectly clear...is that Wylde really is one of the most gifted guitarists in music today. Plus he has one hell of a great voice.. His playing is continually inspired and innovative. Killer tracks include "Machine Gun Man," "Bleed For Me," "Doomsday Jesus," and "New Religion." (Rating: 5+)

The CJ Boyd Sexxxtet - Fleur Du Mal (CD, Beta-lactam Ring, Modern classical/progressive)
This release is a bit out of the ordinary even for the folks with the ultra-weird reputation at the obtuse Beta-lactam Ring label. Fleur Du Mal is a different sort of album that treads in that unique territory where modern classical meets modern experimentation. Instruments used in these recordings include cello, ninja drum, saw, singing bowl (?), kalimba, double bass, piano, trumpet, acoustic bass guitar, electric bass guitar and double bass. The overall sound here...is something like a string quartet/quintet toying around with sounds and ideas not normally associated with classical music. This 53 minute album contains only three tracks: "At the End of Breath," "Here's To Thanatos," and "And Indeed There Will Be Time." To be honest, this disc has almost no commercial appeal whatsoever...it was obviously created as a labor of love. Sometimes soothing, sometimes haunting...these tracks are strange and peculiar...and yet oddly compelling and vibrant. A different flavor altogether. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Mary Bragg - Sugar (Independently released CD, Pop)
The package containing Mary Bragg's CD initially caught our attention because she hails from the unlikely city of Swainsboro, Georgia (where one of our staff members grew up). The second thing that caught our attention about Sugar...is that Mary has a really incredible presence and voice. This is Bragg's second full-length release (Certain Simple Things, her debut, was released in 2004). The press release cites Mary's influences...Patty Griffin, Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, The Dixie Chicks, Rufus Wainwright, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin... We can hear slight threads and traces of all of these artists in her music to some degree. For a relative newcomer to the world of music, this young lady sure knows how to deliver a tune. He music is classic and classy...and there's no doubt in our minds that Sugar will be warmly received by just about anyone who hears it. Hummable substantial cuts include "Let Me," "I Will Love You," "Give That Girl," and "Trying." Really nice stuff with just enough polish. (Rating: 5+)

Butthole Pudding - Chocolate is the New Vanilla (CD, E-coli Records, Pussy disco)
Butthole Pudding is the solo project created by Chocolate Fiesta...a transvestite with a vagina the size of Manhattan. She lives in a housing project in southern Mississippi and blows smoke to earn a living. Her clean things are wiped away and precious and yet she has nothing. The practical state of her knowledge is basic and toxic, yet she states her primitive memory has cavities for shippers. Tricky for the bitties, tacky for the batterers...Butthole Pudding is in the banana moving business. Tear the skin off the animals and wave. Wave to the damn it and push up the poppers. Chocolate is the New Vanilla is another name for chunks. The vanilla in your wafer is blowing Atlanta niggers. (Rating: 1)

Jim Byrnes - My Walking Stick (CD, Black Hen Music, Blues/pop)
Before we begin this review we're going to state right off the bat that blues/pop is not our usual choice of music here in the sometimes pretentious yet plush babysue office suite. This kind of music isn't necessary bad...it's just not the kind of thing that normally makes our sprightly little cheeks puff up right. But there are always exceptions to every rule...and before we knew it, we found ourselves enjoying this pleasant smooth album from Jim Byrnes. Of course, we have to admit that our opinion was swayed by the fact that producer extraordinaire Steve Dawson produced the disc (just about everything this man touches is worth its weight in gold). With Dawson producing and a stellar line-up of backing musicians, Brynes would probably have had a hell of a time trying to make a bad album. My Walking Stick contains pure, smooth, feelgood blues pop with the main focus being Jim's cool and slightly rough vocals. If you think white singers can't compete with the black guys, think again. Byrnes comes across as genuine and real as all those old black fellows from Louisiana. He's that good. Cool cuts include "Ol' Rattler," "Walk On Boy," "Drown In My Own Tears," and "I Want My Crown." (Rating: 4++++)

Dejnarowicz - Divertimento (Limited edition CD, Draw, Instrumental/modern classical/progressive)
Wow...such a cool little package...this entire project was executed to perfection. Divertimento is a limited edition CD release of only 500 hand-numbered copies. Each copy is designated with a specific letter of the alphabet. If arranged chronologically, the letters form a 500 character paragraph. And our guess is that the only folks who know what the paragraph says are the folks who were involved in this nifty little project. Although we're not sure why, we rarely receive independent releases from Poland. And that is a shame because...if this is any indication of what's going on beneath the surface...there are some wonderfully creative people there whose music just isn't being heard by folks in other corners of the world. This album presents five lengthy compositions by Borys Dejnarowicz. His music bears a slight resemblance to the music of Philip Glass mainly because his compositions use the same repetitious layering that Glass is known for. The real surprise here...is that this music was not created with keyboards and electronics. All of the instruments used are real (piano, acoustic guitar, violin, viola, double bass, soprano saxophone, glockenspeil). Some of these tracks remind us a tiny bit of Mike Oldfield (the man who scored the soundtrack for The Exorcist). Magical and strangely absorbing, Divertimento is a fantastic little underground gem that will most definitely remain in our library for decades. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)



Democracy used to be a
Good thing.
Now democracy is a
Bad thing.
A very, very bad

(Rating: 1)

The Division - Mantras (CD, Lens, Progressive/experimental)
The Division is the latest project created by Matthew Schultz who is probably best known for his work with the bands Lab Report and Pigface. Mantras is the first of a trilogy. The press release that accompanied this disc probably sums the music up best by saying that it "synthesizes world music, dark ambient and magick or Matgick." The droning hypnotic pieces on this disc involve a multitude of sounds and ideas from all over the planet. Some of the pieces are more upbeat and danceable...while others are much more stark and peculiar. The sound quality is pretty incredible...so if you turn this sucker up really loud there's no telling what you might hear going on in the background. Nine odd cuts including "Protection," "Do What Thou Wilt," "Monks," and "999." Considering the title of the last track on this album, we can't help but wonder if Schultz is heavily influenced by the 1970s Greek progressive band Aphrodite's Child...(?). (Rating: 4+++++)

Dolphin City - Discretion (CD, Dolphin City, Pop)
On the first couple of spins, we admit that this album didn't have much of an impression on us. And it wasn't because the songs were bad or offensive...they just somehow didn't stand out from the pack. But after a half dozen more spins, we found ourselves slowly being drawn into the music of Newport Beach, California's Dolphin City. Although the band's music doesn't jump out at you at first, the subtle nuances in the songs grow warmer with every spin. Discretion features smart, well-produced songs that could have been popular FM hits in the 1980s or even the 1990s. These songs have commercial appeal by they are by no means throwaway pop...but neither are they noisy alternative rock. Ten calculated mid-tempo cuts here including "Old Romance," "I Am Love You," and "It Will (Don't Worry)." Nice, simple, and direct. (Rating: 4+++++)

Linda Draper - Bridge and Tunnel (CD, Planting Seeds, Soft pop)
Linda Draper's early albums were so sparse and frail that the average listener would probably hear them and fall asleep. True, her original sound was an acquired taste...but it also managed to separate her from the hoards of modern folk/pop artists treading around the planet. With the release of Bridge and Tunnel Draper has managed to adapt her sound and style to appeal to a wider audience. Our reaction is somewhat mixed. In some ways, the more accessible sound works in Linda's favor by making the music more appealing in more than one environment. For example, this is probably her first album that can be enjoyed while driving. But in other ways, we have to admit that we miss the strangely sad and more withdrawn sparse sound. Don't get the wrong impression. Draper is by no means rocking out and getting wild on this album. These tunes are, for the most part, slow to mid-tempo pop. The good news...is that the elements that made Linda's music so appealing in the first place are still intact. As such, we still found a multitude of these songs to be ultra-appealing and resonant. Top picks: "Limbo," "I Will," "Close Enough," "Last One Standing." (Rating: 5)

Drifting In Silence - Facewithin (CD, Labile, Electronic)
Drifting In Silence is the one man electronic recording project created by Derrick Stembridge. Facewithin features slightly spooky compositions with funky and/or dub-like beats and a decidedly industrial sound that harkens back to some of the darker underground artists in the United States in the 1990s. Stembridge makes music that has a cold harsh feel...but the beats are fairly simple and familiar enough to draw listeners into his audio universe. More than any other band, Drifting In Silence music reminds us very much of Front Line Assembly. Even though this style of music may have been all over the place in the late 1990s...nowadays we hear relatively few artists taking this particular path with their music. Eight cuts here including "Forever," "Coming Up For Air," and "Virus." (Rating: 4+++)

Drive A - Loss of Desire (CD, Dead Conflict / Adrenaline Music Group, Rock/pop)
Smart, fast, loud, thick modern pop with plenty of herk/jerks and stops and starts. This young Los Angeles, California-based band (all of the members are under 20) play catchy loud tunes that are more pop than rock...and, in most cases, rather overtly commercial. Loss of Desire is an album aimed mainly at very young listeners. These guys play fast and loud...but the focus is always on songs and melodies. Vocalist Bruno Mascolo has a voice that is perfect for this style of music. The guitars are way up front in the mix...and the rhythm section is chock full of focused energy. Twelve cuts here, all of which are like blasts of cold water in the face. Our favorite cuts include "Loss of Desire," "Everyone's Alone," "The Hell With Motivation," and "It's Getting Worse." Real rock and roll played with plenty of pop overtones... (Rating: 4+++++)

Mike Evin - Good Watermelon (CD, Just Friends, Pop)
Nice, warm, friendly, and genuine. Good Watermelon was recorded live to tape which may explain the cool, open, direct sound. By avoiding the pitfalls of layering too many overdubs, Montreal, Canada's Mike Evin manages to come across sounding like a real person singing real songs. That may not sound like such a big deal, but in the twenty-first century world full of too much technology...it actually is a really big deal. Mike's songs and presentation come across sounding something like a cross between Ben Folds and Andy Pratt without ever sounding too much like either one. Watermelon is a pure feelgood experience...simple, entertaining music without a lot of unnecessary fanfare. Just goes to prove that when you write good songs you don't need much else. Evin comes across sounding like a true entertainer whose heart is obviously in the right place. Instead of sounding like a man who makes music for money and fame, he comes across sounding like a guy who just likes to have fun. Cool toe-tappers include "Great Pop Song," "We Should Dance," "Piano Top," and "Goodnight Crickets." Plenty of really good songs here... (Rating: 5+)

Ex Norwegian - Standby (CD, Dying Van Gogh, Pop)
This CD arrived in our trusty little mailbox with no accompanying literature or press release whatsoever. And in this particular case that's fine with us...because the music on Standby speaks for itself. Ex Norwegian is the trio consisting of Roger Houdaille (vocals, guitars, mellotron, synthesizers), Carolina Souto (bass), and Arturo Garcia (drums, percussion, vocals)...along with a few friends and/or guest artists lending some additional support. This album presents twelve smart, clean, hummable pop tunes that are simultaneously accessible and artistically credible. Songs are the main focus of the band's energies...and they come up with a wealth of credible tunes here. The vocals are up front in the mix and easily understood...the guitars smart and precise...and the songs padded with just enough instrumentation to make them seem thick and full without coming across sounding overproduced. These folks combine some of the best elements from 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s pop...all the while presenting their songs with all the crystal clear clarity that twenty-first century technology allows. Super smart effective cuts include "Fujeira In My Dreams," "Something Unreal," "Add Vice," and "All Over Again." Great pop stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Flare - Cut (CD, Affairs of the Heart, Pop)
FYI, technically the precise name of the band listed on this CD is Flare Acoustic Arts League. It doesn't surprise us in the least that LD Beghtol's more recent releases come to the United States by way of overseas labels. After all, this fellow's eclectic style of music doesn't easily fit within the strict confines seemingly required by the average American music fan. In terms of lyrics, Cut finds Beghtol at the top of his game. This fourteen track album covers a lot of ground with regard to thoughts and ideas. The lead track ("Reminiscences of a Minnesota State Training School Alumnus, Class of 1905") details specifics about corpses...all the while being presented in a decidedly polite and soft spoken manner. As has been the case with past Flare releases, arrangements are critical to the overall sound. There are some odd surprises thrown in along the way as well. The pirate-esque sound of "Ballad of Little Brown Bear" is strangely puzzling. And the album ends on a peculiar note with "Recessional" (Make more! Spend more! Buy more things!)...a possible plea to the public to get off their whiny recession asses and do something...? After spinning this album a few times, we can't help but wonder if Beghtol might eventually end up composing material for musicals. After all, the essential elements are already there. Beautiful packaging on this one and fortunately a lyric booklet is included. Some of the lyrics are peculiar, some are funny and obtuse...while still others have a hint of sadness. Cut is bound to be misinterpreted by a wide variety of folks. And that is, of course, a very good thing. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

William Fitzsimmons - The Sparrow and the Crow (CD, Mercer Street, Soft folky pop)
This is a super soft and sleepy collection of sombre, almost whispered folky pop...so be forewarned. Fortunately, we came across this disc when we were in a sombre, almost whispered folky pop kinda mood...so The Sparrow and the Crow probably had its intended effect right off the bat. More than any other artist, the music of William Fitzsimmons recalls underground icon Sufjan Stevens...except the songs are much more subtle and restrained. If there's one thing that Crow makes perfectly clear, it is the fact that William has a really cool super satisfying voice that most girls will probably roll over and die for. Another thing that is rather remarkable about this album is how accessible many of the tunes are. With the right amount of luck, Fitzsimmons could very easily find himself right in the middle of the spotlight. His songs are remarkably effective and accessible...and his melodies are instantly absorbing. William's first two albums were self-produced. This, his first to be recorded in a professional studio, will undoubtedly be the one to put him on the map. Poignant killer cuts include "After Afterall," "We Feel Alone," and "They'll Never Take the Good Years." Wonderfully personal and slightly sad stuff with heart. Recommended for anyone who ever loved Donovan. (Rating: 5+)

Future Future - Future Future (Independently released CD EP, Rock/pop)
These guys have an odd attitude-driven sound that is something like a modern twenty-first century take on the music of The Frogs (the vocals are particularly similar at times). The seven songs on this EP range from pop to synth punk to rock...and then back to pop again. When they're really pumping, the guys in Future Future can deliver a mighty whomp. When they're going for pop...they come up with some strikingly catchy melodies. The band is the duo consisting of brothers Jordan Lawlor (vocals, guitar, bass, keys, electronics) and Jamie Lawlor (drums, percussion). Catchy driving cuts include "Television Glow" (a really great rock track), "Teeth," "Stephanie," and "Hard To Exist." Cool stuff that delivers a punch. (Rating: 5++)

Girl In A Coma - Trio B.C. (CD, Blackheart, Pop/rock)
Interesting and rather accessible female trio that has been picked up by Joan Jett's Blackheart label. Girl In A Coma consists of Nina Diaz (guitars, keys, vocals), Phanie D (drums, percussion), and Jenn Alva (bass, winchester). These girls write and record modern pop music with a nice masculine backbone. The vocals are way up front in the mix, allowing the listener to easily understand the lyrics and follow the melodies. Some of these tracks are straightforward pop while others have a more laidback bluesy feel. Underground pop fans be forewarned...Trio B.C. is a super slick album with a big super slick studio sound. Fortunately in this case the nice slick sound works in the band's favor. Thirteen nifty cuts here including "Static Mind," "Slaughter Lane," "Pink Lemonade," and "Empty Promise." (Rating: 4++++)



Shit in your food.
Then eat your

(Rating: 1)



So...your business is about to fail
Because you made poor business decisions?
Here, have some money so that you can
Stay in business.

So...your home is going to be foreclosed
Because you purchased a more expensive home than you could afford?
Here, let us help you lower your payments so that you can
Stay in your home.

So...you have no money now
Because you spent it all rather than save for a rainy day?
Here, have some money so that you won't have to work at all
For the next few months.

So you made wise business decisions,
Bought a home you could afford,
And saved your money?

Sorry...you get NOTHING.

(Rating: 1)

Hermit Thrushes - Slight Fountain (CD, Joyful Noise Recordings, Progressive pop)
This is one of those slightly offbeat albums that we had to spin several times before the music sank in. Hermit Thrushes is a five piece band based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These folks create music that sounds something like Athens, Georgia-based progressive pop bands from the 1990s peppered with some of the odd jagged musical fragments found in the music of Captain Beefheart. The tunes on Slight Fountain are simultaneously smooth and peculiar. While there are certainly enough solid melodies for satisfying listening, there are also enough surprises and oddities in the mix to keep things interesting without ever veering too far off the main path. Although it didn't occur to us on the first couple of spins, after becoming familiar with this band's music we realized that there are many elements here that Rob Crow fans should find very appealing. Fourteen intriguing cuts including "Snowflake Heart," "Golden Wounds," "Older Trees," and "A Good Dream." Nifty stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Adam Hill - Them Dirty Roads (Independently released CD, Folk)
Interesting stuff from a slightly different perspective. While we hear tons of underground pop and rock bands every week of the year...it isn't often that we are treated to a self-released CD by an up-and-coming folk and roots artist...and that is exactly how Adam Hill describes himself. Them Dirty Roads is a refreshingly sparse album that focuses on songs. Hill's songs sound something like early Bob Dylan but he has a much better voice and melodic sense. The tunes incorporate elements from folk, bluegrass, and pop. Adam doesn't necessarily follow tradition with his music. In some ways he sounds like a bluegrass musician who just happens to have a Ph.D. (i.e., instead of coming across like a simple guy he sounds like a fellow who is probably super intelligent). We wouldn't be surprised in the least if this guy's tunes end up being covered by some big names in the very near future. His songs are genuinely absorbing and substantial...and they are presented using simple yet appropriate arrangements. Cool cuts include "Angeline the Baker," "Fueled Up," "Golden State," and "Ribbons and Curls." (Rating: 5)

Hitch - Clair.Obscur (CD, Latest Flame, Rock)
Anyone who loved the more adventurous loud underground guitar rock bands of the 1990s will probably get a mighty big charge out of Belgium's Hitch. True to the claim of the press release that accompanied this disc, these guys write and record music that sounds something like a cross between Drive Like Jehu and The Jesus Lizard. Clair.Obscur is chock full of wonderfully skewed guitars, driving rhythms, and distorted vocals. Unlike most modern hard rock bands whose songs all sound alike, the guys in Hitch seem to purposely write songs that are all distinctly different from one another. So while the songs are mainly loud and abrasive, they are by no means carbon copies of one another. Plenty of big thick rockers here including "Art Nouveau!," "We Were All Wrong," "Dance Dance Dance," and "The Paper Beast." Good stuff, recommended... (Rating: 5++)

I Need Sleep - Welcome To Monsters (CD-R EP, Rock/pop)
A short little CD-R EP (less than 12 minutes in length) from some mostly invisible guys in Knoxville, Tennessee who sound like they're having some genuine fun with technology. There was no accompanying biographical statement or press release that came with this disc so we know nothing about the band other than what we hear on the disc. I Need Sleep tunes are hard techno pop with a slightly goofy slant. Our guess is that these guys definitely have a sense of humor about what they're doing. What is surprising...is that with a bit more polish some of these tracks could have a good degree of commercial appeal. But make no mistake, Welcome To Monsters is definitely an underground project from start to finish. Jagged and peculiar...rather interesting... (Rating: 4+++)

Edward Ka-Spel - Dream Logik X (CD EP, Beta-lactam Ring, Progressive/experimental)
More experimental sound collages from Edward Ka-Spel...who most folks know for his work with the band The Legendary Pink Dots. This EP features three tracks...all of which are strange and trippy as hell. We feel mighty goddamn stupid that we have only begun to pick up on this guy's work as of the past twelve months or so...but hey, better late than never. In any event, now that we've been turned on...we've been really, really turned on. Everything that we hear from this guy is absolutely mind blowing. Dream Logik X is another incredible experience from a man who always seems to push the right buttons. Fantastic heady stuff to put you in a dreamlike state of mind. More fantastic cover art courtesy of Jesse Peper. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

KTU - Quiver (CD, Hoedown / 7d Media, Instrumental/eclectic)
This disc initially caught our attention for two reasons. First, because we really enjoyed the last release from KTU (Armed Monkey) and second...because we're usually prone to enjoy just about any project that guitarist Trey Gunn is involved with. In addition to Gunn, this KTU release also features the talents of Kimmo Pohjonen (accordion, voice) and Pat Mastelotto (rhythmic devices, samples). Quiver is, not surprisingly, an odd album. These tracks incorporate elements of modern twenty-first century music with some of the ideas present in progressive music from the 1970s. KTU compositions incorporate elements from jazz, rock, and experimental electronica...and they're all presented and displayed with mindbending proficiency. This is heady stuff and probably a lot to take in for the casual listener. Our favorite track is "Purga" which features some really spooky Merry-Go-Round-ish organ sounds. Unpredictable, precisely presented stuff... (Rating: 5+)

La Forza - Dance Music For Your Mind (Independently released CD, Instrumental)
La Forza is the duo consisting of Divina Klein (keyboards, vocals) and Douglas Mackar (drum programming, sequencing). Dance Music For Your Mind is a bit different from your average twenty-first century electronic release. Klein and Mackar create instrumental music that sounds something like a cross between Muzak and techno pop. Instead of trying to blow listeners away with harsh weird noise, these folks seem driven by the desire to make nice smooth mid-tempo pop tracks that can be listened to and enjoyed by just about anyone. Very nice tri-fold digipak sleeve. Twelve smooth cool cuts including "Vision Quest," "Never Too Wild For Forever," and "To Connect To Eternity." (Rating: 4+++)

The Last House on the Left - Original Motion Picture Score: Music by John Murphy (CD, La-La Land, Motion Picture Score)
Have you ever noticed that the very best motion picture scores are almost always those associated with scary and/or suspenseful films...? It's true...and a good case in point is John Murphy's score for the film The Last House on the Left. According to the press release, the film (presented by Wes Craven and Sean Cunningham) tells the tale of "how far two ordinary people will go to exact revenge on the sociopaths who harmed their child." Murphy was an excellent choice to create music that is eerie and creepy and gives the listener the distinct feeling of being slightly uncomfortable. These strange compositions have a huge epic sound that should totally blow viewers away in theaters across the country. Gripping tracks include "The Crossing," "In The Woods" (this one is particularly peculiar), "Candles," and "The End." Richly rewarding and rather mind-bending stuff... (Rating: 5)

Iris Leu - Hushaboo (CD, Muzzlepuff Music, Soft pop)
Nice, smooth, intelligent mid-tempo piano pop from Iris Leu. Hushaboo presents ten compositions that spotlight Leu's fantastic vocal style--her voice sounds remarkably similar to Kate Bush on her criminally overlooked Lionheart album. Iris writes all of her own songs...and on this album she pretty much hits the target dead center with every track (this could be because forty tracks were originally recorded but only ten ended up being used for this album). The songs on this CD have a nice, light, open, airy sound that is particularly inviting because it allows the listener to focus on Leu's voice and lyrics. Not a lot more to say here...except that we wouldn't be surprised in the least if this young lady ends up being hugely successful over the course of the next few years. Intrinsically satisfying tracks include "For Keeps," "Hollowville," and "Manifesto." Cool smooth music with heart. (Rating: 5)

The Lodge - Take That Devil (CD, Gooseberry, Pop)
Although this wasn't an instant fix for us...over the course of a dozen or more spins we finally decided that we absolutely love the music of The Lodge. This band was created by Mike O'Neill (Inbreds, The Beginners), Charles Austin (The Super Friendz, Neuselland), Andrew Glencross (Neuselland), and Cliff Gibb (Thrush Hermit). So...what does the music sound like...? The tunes on Take That Devil sound very much like a mutated version of Redd Kross presenting smart progressive heady twenty-first century pop. The band's vocals sound very much like a cross between Jeff McDonald and Neil Innes (sometimes more the former than the latter and vice versa). But it is the songs themselves that make Devil such a totally pleasing and rewarding spin. The songs on this album are not obvious and immediately catchy. But we found that the more familiar this band's songs became, the more substantial they seemed. Cool guitars, unusual arrangements...and enough pop appeal to grab the attention of even the most jaded listeners. Wonderfully addictive cuts include "World In Me," "Thaw Me Out" (god, this one is incredible), "She's A Lightbulb" (another kickass cut), and "Forget the Silence." Some of these tunes are incredibly effective. (Rating: 5)

Loop 2.4.3 - Zodiac Dust (CD, Music Starts From Silence, Progressive/experimental)
Interesting. Very, very, very interesting. So many albums can be summed up in a few words and the music quickly digested in half a dozen spins. As of the writing of this review, we managed to spin this album twenty times or more...and we still can't quite find the words to describe it. The folks in Loop 2.4.3 write and record experimental music with a difference...and obtuse percussion played an integral part in its creation. The tracks on this album are peculiar and odd but unlike the crap generated by your average twenty-first century electronic artist...they are by no means unlistenable. Actually and in fact, quite the opposite is true. The way these folks craft and create their music, their really odd compositions have strange, warm qualities that make you want to hear them over and over again. There are no words...no catchy melodies...and none of the gimmicky goofy sounds one normally associates with experimental music. This band is the duo consisting of Thomas Kozumplik and Lorne Watson. These two guys are doing everything right. This is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting progressive/experimental releases we have heard this year. Incredible stuff that sounds even more incredible if you turn it up really, really loud... Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

LSD March - Uretakumo Nakunarutorika (CD EP, Beta-lactam Ring, Progressive/experimental)
The last full-length we heard from Japan's LSD March was so over-the-top that most folks would not even be able to get through a single spin. Uretakumo Nakunarutorika is more accessible...but don't expect to hear the retards on American Idol performing covers of Shinsuke Michishita's songs anytime soon. This album features tracks that have definite rhythms...but the vocals are what will probably scare away casual listeners. Imagine a world where tribal music meets industrial music...and accidentally gets intermingled with psychedelia...and you might begin to have an idea of what this music sounds like. The vocals...sound something like a malfunctioning robot who has taken too many tranquilizers. Casual music fans will want to avoid this one like the plague. Folks who are continually seeking out truly unusual and obscure things...will absolutely love this shit. Eleven bizarre cuts here including "Kumoitachikumo," "Uzunisase," "Tawayagaina," and "Warehayaenu." Totally fried mental/metallic stuff. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)



Are people inherently good?
No no no.
Is conservation important?
No no no.
Should you trust anyone?
No no no.
Is it better to destroy than create?
Yes yes yes.

(Rating: 1)

Luca Olivieri - La Quarta Dimensione (Independently released CD, Instrumental)
Smooth, intricate instrumentals from Milano, Italy's Luca Olivieri who some folks may already be familiar with as a member of the band Yo Yo Mundi. The compositions on La Quarta Dimensione come from a variety of sources. Some pieces were created for theatrical shows, others were created for "aged mute movies"...while others are just recordings that were created and not heard until now. Olivieri's music has strangely calming qualities that make it perfect music for that evening at home when you just want to relax and gravitate toward the unknown. Soothing peaceful cuts include "Angelina," "Un Mondo Segreto," "Alibi," and "Le Ali Del Tempo." Intriguing stuff... (Rating: 5)

Ozric Tentacles - The Yumyum Tree (CD, Snapper Music, Progressive)
Although still virtually unknown in North America, the folks in Great Britain's Ozric Tentacles have been a cult favorite for years in their own country. The band began way back in 1983 and since that time have released about 25 albums (!). This is the first new release since The Floor's Too Far Away which was released in 2006. The Yumyum Tree finds the band continuing in their quest to merge ideas from 1970s progressive rock bands with the modern techno sounds of the twenty-first century. Like some of the very best progressive albums from the seventies, The Yumyum Tree gives the listener the feeling of floating and/or traveling in space. The music has a slightly jazzy quality that reminds us very much of Clearlight Symphony. There are plenty of subtle trippy sounds floating in and out of the mix and some wonderfully fluid guitar playing that would make Steve Hillage proud. Eight cool reflective cuts here including "Magick Valley," "Oolong Oolong," and "Nakuru." Cool and heady progressive stuff... (Rating: 5)

Pale Air Singers - Pale Air Singers (CD, Flemish Eye, Progressive)
Pale Air Singers is a band that was created by two other bands combining their talents to create a record. The band consists of the five members in the bands The Cape May and Run Chico Run. This self-titled album features beautiful progressive free flowing stream-of-consciousness pop. We get the impression that this music was recorded with little regard for any sort of commercial appeal. These tracks combine elements from underground pop with Americana folk music to create an album that sounds strangely out of place in today's musical climate. Although we can hear traces of various bands threaded throughout this album...we'll be damned if we can come up with one particular soundalike artist. Peculiar heady tracks include "Alomeia," "Convict Escapes," "The last of Jim Prior," and "Swill and Grits." Subtle, slightly eerie modern progressive pop. The wonderful-but-slightly-warbly vocals are superb. (Rating: 5+)

Pomegranates - Everybody, Come Outside! (Advance CD, Lujo, Progressive pop/rock)
We were impressed with the last full-length (Everything Is Alive) from these folks...so we weren't too surprised to find ourselves digging the sounds on the new album. Cincinnati, Ohio's Pomegranates have a sound that is instantly likable...and just adventurous enough to hold your attention. Everybody, Come Outside! features energetic, vibrant, danceable modern pop delivered with a nice, slick, slightly sparse sound. While the band's last effort was well received, we can't help but think that this is the album that will truly put them on the map. Eleven melodic toe tappers with cool creative threads running in and out of the mix. We would have liked to have seen the actual complete release on this one rather than an advance CD. As such, this one definitely gets a thumbs up...but only a partial review because we received only part of the actual final product... (Not Rated)

Rapoon - Dark Rivers (CD, Lens, Progressive/experimental)
During the period when we were spinning this CD, two friends stopped by to visit. After two or three tracks, one guest asked if we would play something else. The other guest said that the music was making them feel uncomfortable and asked if we would turn the volume down. Our guess is that these are the exact reactions Rapoon was shooting for when he recorded Dark Rivers. This band is solo project created by Robin Storey who was a founding member of the band :zoviet*france. (As an interesting side note, Storey has released over 40 CDs over the course of the past fifteen years or so.) Dark Rivers is not recommended for fans of commercial music. Storey records music that could probably best be described as experimental sound pieces. This album consists of eleven cuts, most of which are strange, otherworldly electronic drones. The sounds Robin creates are foreign, spooky, hypnotic, and weird. But he manages to present his unorthodox creations with taste and style. Thus, those who are willing to follow his mega-creativity will find a lot to love here. We found that the louder we turned this l'il sucker up, the better it sounded. Cool reflective cuts include "Edge of Nowhere," "The Messiah of Science," and "Where the Hills Brood." Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Rectal Bleeding Phenomenon - For All the Bloody Assholes in the World (CD, Paparus, Laboratory report)
Five, four, three, two, one...here comes Rectal Bleeding Phenomenon. This CD comes complete with a swab of rectal blood taped to the inside of the graphic digipak sleeve. The front cover shows all five members' buttholes, appropriately bleeding themselves silly. The compositions are vocal excerpts taken from actual doctor visits in the Philadelphia area in which the band members went in for a routine visit with their holes purposely bloodied up so much as to disturb the doctor. Some of the pieces work...while others seem somewhat pointless in nature. But hey...one bloody asshole deserves another, right? Thumbs up and down, thumbs all around...cram your thumb wherever it will go. All doctors are shitheads and this is proof positive. (Not Rated)

Margo Reymundo - My Heart's Desire (CD, OrganicaTunes.com, Pop)
Margo Reymundo's music has a smooth, slick, commercial sound that should be instantly appealing to fans of American Idol. Her music is melodic and well-produced and she throws in some familiar cover tunes to put the listener at ease. Reymundo's cover tunes are certainly credible...but in our opinion her own tunes are much more pleasing and real. Margo has a great sounding resonant voice that is particularly inviting. Some of the tracks have a slightly jazzy sound that seems to work really well. A total of sixteen tracks here including "My Heart's Desire," "Tell Me," "The Way Back," and "Couldn't Be More Wrong." A particularly smooth spin... (Rating: 4++)

Ring of Truth - Everything's the Same But in a Different Place (CD, Sound Archive, Progressive pop)
The debut full-length album from the United Kingdom's Ring of Truth. If you're looking for a band that easily fits within a specific genre, you won't find it here. The folks in this band have a surprisingly accessible sound. That said, their accessible sound seems to go all over the place within the scope of this album. At times the band's music is precisely timed commercial pop (with a few definite Beatles influences popping in from time to time)...while at other times their arena rock sound recalls some of U2's music from the 1990s. The lead vocalist has a particularly impressive voice...consistently managing to remain the focal point of the music. And unlike most lead vocalists, this guy has the presence to make it work. Smart pop cuts include "Well, I Walked" and "The Sweetest Heart." With a debut this solid, our guess is that these guys have the potential to hit the big time in the near future... (Rating: 5+)

Ronald of Orange - Brush Away the Cobwebs (CD EP, Velvet Blue Music, Pop)
Ronald of Orange is a new side project created by Ronnie Martin (of Joy Electric fame)...probably because the five songs on this EP present a slightly different side of Martin's musical personality. We've been followers of Joy Electric for years and years but we can certainly also appreciate Ronald of Orange. Ronnie's new band sounds more obviously commercial than anything we've heard from him in the past...so we can only hope that this project opens up new doors for this criminally overlooked musician. The instruments used here and the arrangements should be much more suited to the average music fans' ears...and the layered vocals are much more conventional than what Joy Electric fans may be accustomed to hearing. We have to admit that we prefer the more eclectic sound of Joy Electric over Ronald of Orange...but that doesn't mean these songs aren't super smart and crafty...and we were particularly pleased that Martin opted to include a very pleasing cover of "Today" by babysue favorite Innocence Mission. (Rating: 5+)

Secrets Between Sailors - Secrets Between Sailors (Independently released CD, Pop/rock)
Nice, direct, raw pop/rock. The guys in Bloomington, Indiana's Secrets Between Sailors play loud guitar-driven pop/rock with plenty of punch. More than any other band, the songs on this album bear a strong resemblance to early albums from The Who...although we can also hear traces of Husker Du creeping in as well. These fellows pepper their tunes with big power chords...and the rhythms throb with precise intensity. Also like The Who, the vocals are slightly raw and ragged which gives the music a cool, genuine urgency. Fans of real rock bands may be interested to know that these fellows do not layer and overdub their tunes to death. The tracks on this album have a nice live sound and there was apparently very little overdubbing used in the recording process. Cool loud guitar rockers include "In The Summertime," "Wolves and Thieves," "Dead Little Indians," and "Tiny Pieces." (Rating: 5)

Shplang - My Big Three Wheeler (CD, My Daily Creation / Jam, Pop)
Most bands have one sound or style...and they drill it into the ground over the course of a 45-minute CD. On My Big Three Wheeler, the folks in Los Angeles, California's Shplang present a variety of sounds and styles...and no matter what genre they're delving into, they always manage to come across sounding real. The band is the trio consisting of Peter Marston (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards), John Krause (bass, vocals), and Paul Angers (drums percussion). What makes this album an interesting spin is that these guys sound like they're mainly in it to have a good time. Although these tracks are accessible and have some commercial appeal, by no means do they sound calculated or canned. These recordings are upbeat and warm...with just enough spontaneity to keep things interesting. But the best thing about this album is the fact that it sounds better the more you spin it (the true mark of a good, solid disc). Really nice understated vocals. Eleven smart cuts here including "Spanish Galleons," "Let's Get High (And I Could Be Your Man)," and "Last Match In The Tinderbox." Good, real, sincere stuff... (Rating: 5+)

Silversun Pickups - Swoon (CD, Dangerbird, Pop/rock)
With a band name like this you'd sure better have some good guitar sounds. Don't worry...the guys in Silversun Pickups are happy to provide plenty of 'em here. We dug the first couple of releases we heard from these guys and then, for some reason, somebody out there in the world of music neglected to keep us up-to-date on this band. No matter. All that really matters at this point in time is that Swoon finds these guys in fine form as they present an album chock full of smart guitar-based pop/rock. Sounds like these guys have paid their dues now. Whereas on their earlier recordings it seemed as if the band was struggling a bit to find their sound, that is certainly no longer the case. This album features extremely focused tunes...and the band plays with fine-tuned precision. Imagine Jeff Martin of Starflyer 59 turning up the volume and rocking out really hard...and you might begin to have some idea of what this album sounds like. Produced by Dave Cooley and mixed by Tony Hoffer, this is one thick, throbbing, mother. Cool cuts include "There's No Secrets This Year," "Growing Old Is Getting Old," "Substitution," and "Surrounded (or Spiraling)." Super smart music...and the packaging is stunning. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Skold vs. KMFDM - Skold vs. KMFDM (CD, KMFDM, Electronic/industrial/techno)
There seems to be a gradual but slowly emerging revival of industrial/techno music from the 1990s lately. And what better way to herald in the revival than with a collaborative album from Tim Skold and KMFDM...? This is by no means a simple throwaway release...there's a lot of music here (almost 68 minutes total). And within that amount of space these two artists manage to toss out 22 thick technology-laced cuts that are sure to catch on with kids as well as folks who lived through this era of music in the nineties. There's plenty of danceable music here...but also enough strange experimental stuff to keep things interesting. As you might expect, the sound quality is top notch...these tunes absolutely throb like wormy pussies on ecstasy. Rather than coming across like a retro release, Skold vs. KMFDM instead sounds very modern and current. Kickass tracks include "Why Me," "A Common Enemy," "Alkohol," and "All Or Nothing." Great stuff, executed to perfection. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)



Drugs make you

(Rating: 1)

Snot Eating Bunny Rabbits - Ellen DeGeneres is a Fucked Up Whore (One half CD, Delvotrack, Bluegrass)
Our guess is that the Snot Eating Bunny Rabbits will have a hell of a time selling their music because they are presenting what is most certainly a very unpopular viewpoint in today's closed-minded world. As everyone already knows, Ellen DeGeneres is indeed a fucked up whore. And its nice to see a band who isn't afraid to tell the truth about this obvious fact. But the problem is that they sell only half of their CDs at a time...which means, of course, that you have to buy two copies and then try to glue the halves together in order to hear the music (this is assuming that you bought opposite halves...if not, you have to buy another copy hoping to get the correct half...!!!). We tried this twice and it tore up a computer and a CD player. After spending several hours trying to make a playable disc, we finally decided that it just wasn't worth the effort. So, as much as we applaud Snot Eating Bunny Rabbits for being obnoxious and honest...we can't recommend this disc because it is just too much trouble. We would like to eat the Rabbits' shit...but we can't. We just...can't. (Rating: 1)

The Southern Sea - Theoretically, Yes. Honestly, No. (CD, Old House, Progressive pop)
In 2005 the folks in The Southern Sea released their debut disc...an EP titled Simple Machines for Complex Problems. The EP was well-received. Since that time, the band obviously took their time writing songs and recording this, their debut full-length album. It was worth the wait. Theoretically, Yes. Honestly, No. is an extremely intricate and well-crafted album full of wonderfully cool modern progressive pop tunes. The best frame of reference would probably be to compare these songs to The Flaming Lips. But unlike other bands whose music fits in such a category, the folks in this band do not sound like copycats. The smooth, smart tunes on this album rely heavily on studio technology...but the vocal melodies are never buried underneath too many messy layers of crap. These songs are not predictable and yet...they are extremely easy on the ears (and mind). Smooth and just slightly different...Theoretically, Yes. Honestly, No. hits the bull's eye dead on. Cool tracks include "These Things Always End Badly," "Quarks Chasing a Hypochondriac," and "I Bought A Used Camera From a Website" (gotta love them song titles). A super nice album from start to finish...really nice warm sound quality courtesy of producer T. W. Walsh. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Spain Colored Orange - Sneaky Like a Villain (CD, Shout It Out Loud Music, Progressive pop)
The first keyboard riff on Sneaky Like a Villain is sneaky indeed...for a minute you will probably be expecting The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields" to begin blasting out of the speakers at any moment. Hailing from the unlikely city of Houston, Texas, the guys in Spain Colored Orange have created an intoxicatingly tasty collection of intelligent pop treats. The band consists of Gilbert Alfaro (vocals, electric piano, synthesizers), Eric Jackson (trumpet, keyboards), Steve Torres (drums, percussion), Steve Aikey (bass), and Mike Dugat (guitar). Villain seamlessly combines pure pop elements with modern progressive music to create an album that is a smooth spin while simultaneously presenting subtle surprises that keep things interesting. Alfaro's vocals are to die for...this guy has a truly great understated voice that is immediately soothing and genuine. The arrangements are rather complex and intricate...and yet they somehow never seem to overshadow the main melody. This album will definitely be greeted with open arms by fans of substantial underground pop. Classic cuts include "Who Am I?", "Music Box," "It Was Christmas Time," and "You Think You Know." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Spring Creek - Way Up On A Mountain (CD, Rebel, Bluegrass/pop)
The folks in Spring Creek play a very appealing brand of bluegrass pop that has been made famous worldwide by artists like Alison Kraus. Prior to releasing this CD the band released two well-received independent releases (Rural & Cosmic Bluegrass and Lonesome Way To Go). This album will probably be the one that puts the band on the map. Way Up On A Mountain is a smooth and entertaining spin...full of toe-tapping feelgood tunes peppered with plenty of precise banjo picking and fiddle playing. Even though these songs are far too slick to be considered traditional bluegrass, we get the impression that these folks are making music for all the right reasons (i.e., to please themselves and entertain others). The band consists of Chris Elliott (banjo, vocals), Jessica Smith (bass fiddle, vocals), Taylor Sims (guitar, vocals), and Alex Johnstone (mandolin, vocals). The vocals...and particularly the harmonies...are dead on center from start to finish. Quality cuts include "My Love Is Way Up On A Mountain," "Try And Catch The Wind," and "'Til You Come Back To Me." A real winner of an album. (Rating: 5+)

Stephaniesid - Warm People (CD, Nine Mile, Progressive pop)
Asheville, North Carolina seems to be a hotbed of talent these days with more and more creative artists cropping up in what used to be a very unlikely city for underground bands to reside (could be the new Athens, Georgia perhaps...?). The folks in Stephaniesid create music that sounds very much unlike what most folks are accustomed to hearing from bands in the Southeastern United States. The tracks on Warm People have a cool progressive sound with the trademark being vocalist Stephanie Morgan, a young lady whose voice occasionally reminds us very much of Bjork. A word of warning. The songs on this album do not immediately jump out at you and remain in your head (i.e., this is not easy catchy pop music). But we found that over the course of a half dozen spins this band's music seemed to have more and more depth. Cool heady cuts include "Fore!", "The Weakling," "Big Grey Peepers," and "Warm People." Nice warm intelligent music. (Rating: 4+++++)

Angie Stevens - Queen of This Mess (CD, Boss Koala, Pop)
The photo on the front of this album is an immediate attention grabber...featuring Angie Stevens standing alone in a forest wearing a vintage evening dress and holding a butterfly catcher's net. The press release that accompanied this disc compared Stevens' music to Patty Griffin and EmmyLou Harris...and this gives a pretty good indication of where this young lady is coming from with her music. Angie is quite a songwriter...and she has a remarkably warm and inviting voice. For an up-and-coming artist, Stevens has a remarkably mature and inviting sound. She could very easily make the transformation from an underground newcomer to major league player overnight. The tracks on Queen of This Mess are smooth and understated...and prove that Angie is most definitely a real force to be reckoned with. Eleven smart, reflective cuts here including "Hold Me Close," "This Time Around," "This River," and "Ship Song." (Rating: 5+)



Go swine flu go.
Knock 'em down and
Take 'em away.
They weren't worth a goddamn

(Rating: 1)

Paul "Snoflake" Taylor - Share It! (CD-R, Makeshift Music, Pop)
We're the kind of reviewers that like to sum up the description of an artist's music in clever little catch phrases, so we'll describe the music of Paul "Snoflake" Taylor by describing him as the love child of John Lennon and Prince with Todd Rundgren and Alex Chilton as uncles and Joni Mitchell as an aunt (actually this is totally tongue-in-cheek because the press release that accompanied this disc suggested that we use this comparison). Share It! is an interesting album. Underground releases usually sound like underground releases...but this album does not mainly because Taylor writes classic pop songs that could easily be appreciated by a wide spectrum of listeners. His songs are warm and inviting...and he has a nice understated vocal style that is particularly appealing. And in all honesty, he does indeed have a good bit in common with at least some of the well-known artists mentioned above (we can hear definite threads of Lennon and Chilton in his music). Nine feelgood tracks here including "Just Can't Wait That Long Anymore," "Make Your Echoes Go Away," and "Perfect Reflection." (Rating: 4++++)

Tender Loving Empire - Friends and Friends of Friends Vol. 2 (Double CD, Tender Loving Empire, Various artists compilation)
Okay, so in this instance we're going to admit that we didn't even have time to spin this one. So...what on earth are you doing reviewing it then, you retarded babysue folks...??? Well...we rarely (if ever) review various artists compilations. But in this instance we can guarantee you that there are plenty of choice nuggets on this release just because it was put out by one of the best underground labels in the country...Tender Loving Empire. We have yet to hear anything on this cool little label that we didn't love. So we are certain there are plenty of juicy mcnuggets clustered all over these two CDs. Support this label and their bands...because they deserve it. (Not Rated)


U.S.A. (United States of Awful)

America is

(Rating: 1)

The Weather Station - The Line (Independently released CD, Progressive)
Extraordinarily unorthodox music here...and decidedly uncommercial. The Weather Station started out as the one-woman band created by Tamara Lindeman but has since morphed into a full blown band with additional members. The music...is rather difficult to describe and/or compare with other artists. The only real reference point that comes to mind is some of the very early material from the 1970s British progressive band Curved Air...and this comparison only holds true because some of Lindeman's soft, breathy, ghost-like vocals sometimes remind us of Sonja Christina. The songs on The Line come across sounding like soft, progressive, stream-of-consciousness pieces. The overall sound is slightly spooky and odd and yet...most of the songs have a strangely calming quality that is difficult to pin down. The instruments used are peculiar as are the arrangements. This is not direct music...but rather something that comes from a slightly different universe. Although we're having difficulty finding ways to describe this album there is one thing we're certain of. The more we play The Line...the better it sounds. Twelve odd dreamy tracks here including "The Waltz," "Amaranth," "The Hunter," and "Waltz Pt. 2." Strangely hypnotic. Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

The Western States - Bye and Bye (CD, Dollar Tone, Soft pop)
This album has a nice, warm, analog sound...because it was recorded on nice, warm, analog music. This was a particularly interesting approach for this band (foregoing digital recording and effects in favor of a traditional analog set up)...because it probably forced the folks in the band to focus on their playing and the songs themselves rather than drowning themselves in technology. Winnepeg, Canada's The Western States is a band that is all about songs. Bye and Bye has a really wonderful and inviting sound. This band's music reminds us very much of a cross between Big Star's Sister Lovers album, Neil Young, and Dumptruck's For The Country album. The songs are smooth and seem to come straight from the heart. Singer/songwriter Sean Buchanan has a really great understated voice that is remarkably effective for this style of music. The more we spin this one...the more substantial the tunes become. Eleven modern standards here including "Time To Lose," "Right of Return," "Outstanding Balance," and "I'll Be Free." Recommended. (Rating: 5++)

Whitetree - Cloudland (CD, Ponderosa Music & Art, Electronic/instrumental)
This disc first caught our attention because two of the members in this band are Robert Lippok and Ronald Lippok of the critically acclaimed To Rococo Rot. The third member of Whitetree is Ludovico Einaudi, an up-and-coming classical pianist. Cloudland is a peculiar spin and features just what one might expect from such an odd trio. Piano-based compositions laced with the sounds of electronics and technology. Some of the pieces sound something like a cross between a very subdued George Winston crossing paths with Brian Eno...while others sound quite different. We're not sure why...but modern electronic albums rarely include the sound of a regular piano. As such, this album delves into territory that seems rather unchartered at least at this point in time. Einaudi's piano playing is precise and understated...and the Lippoks add just the right amount of peculiarity to the proceedings to keep things interesting. Nine serene tracks here including "Slow Ocean," "Koepenik," "Tangerine," and "The Room." Beautiful and rather hypnotic... (Rating: 5+)



A man who beats
His wife
Is a man who has
A good life.

(Rating: 1)

Additional Items Received:

Abraham/Clements/Tellander - Between stops
Adam's Attic - Skylines and city lights
An Asshole A Day Keeps The Doctor Away - Selling away the snort
Annabel - Each and every one
Antennas Up - Antennas Up
Mike Arroyo - Transition

Baak Gwai - Find a stranger in the alps
Aidan Baker - Gathering blue
Before Day - Enjoy the show
Black Rio 2 - Original samba soul 1971-1980 compiled by DJ Cliffy
James Blackshaw - The glass bead game
Sazarin Blake - The air your lungs forced out
Don Bodin - The radio active werewolf and other tales from the southwest
Bonnie's Blue Bucket - The empty done gone fullest of it
Rachel Taylor Brown - Susan storm's ugly sister and other stains and superheroes
Brunnen - Swoon

Conduit Trio - Beond liquid glass
Cool Devices - Cool Devices
Corduroy Road - Just one drop
Tony Cox - Unpublished
Cracks In The Cracks - Smacks in the smacks
Crap Detectors - Cornfield savages
Crup Up Yo Bup - Ram it in pam
Curtain Rod Character - Schizophrenic trooper escorts witness

Daddy Wants His Pancake Cooked - Syrup is as syrup does
Marc Davis - Eye.sea.land
Day of the Outlaw - Black mountain majesty
Deaf Judges - All rise
Death By Sexy - Curse the curse
Delicate Noies - Filmezza
Arthur Dobrucki - ...All you need
Dumb Retards - We can't stand being dumb retards

The Energy - Realize your sin

Floating Men - No clocks, no calendars
Frontier Brothers - Space punk starlet

Grass For The Homeless - High on the sidewalk
Sparky Grinstead 7 Eric Kampman - Winter comes and goes

Jason Heath & The Greedy Souls - The vain hope of horse
Fritz Helder and the Phantoms - Greatest hits
Hoots and Hellmouth - The holy open secret
Tim Posgate Hornband featuring Howard Johnson - Banjo Hockey

The Informers - Original motion picture soundtrack

Eilen Jewell - Sea of tears
Jupiter Rising - The quiet hype

Ted Russell Kamp - Poor man's paradise
Kicksville - The singles - season 1
Kick the Nun's Head Off - Having fun snorting cleaning products

La Snacks - Newfangled
Lemming - Dandelions
Longmont Potion Castle 7 - Longmont Potion Castle 7

Matt Macaulay - Wish i could make you dance
Kawabata Makoto & Michishita Shinsuke - Sex, voyage, and echo chamber
L'Tanya Mari - A teardrop of sun
Tina Marie - Congo square
Larry McDonald - Drumquestra
Midival Punditz - Hello hello
Mommy Likes Pussy - Dealing with the heartache of your lesbian mama
Money/Paper/Hearts - Money/Paper/Hearts
Morakestra - Witness to connection

Naked Ambition - Original motion picture soundtrack
Naked Nig - As ugly as naked white
New Day Dawn - The company we keep
New Tomorrow - We're counting on the youth
No Go Know - Time has nothing to do with it

Ogogo - Lunar surphase
Oprah's Feces Infested Uterus - The ugliest thing in the universe

Heather Perry and the ____s - These appetites
Jeff Presslaff Trio - Red goddess
Provocative Whites - Evolym
Push-Pull - Between noise and the indians


Roy Rogers - Split decision
Rook - Rook
Rumpy Do Dah - Lassie gets her pussy nipped

Schleusolz - Running out of time
Seven That Spells - Cosmoerotic dialogue with lucifer
Andy Shaw Band - Ways of the world
Shiftless Decay - New sounds of detroit
Shitties - The right to tight holes
Larry Slezak - No worries
Snowglobe - No need to light a night light on a night like tonight
Soft Targets - Soft Targets must be destroyed!
Brandon Stanley - Big old world
Dan Susnara - My august mac

Totally Totally - Motor up your motor up
Tun Tun - Hunchy punchy funky funk
Tyler - Boring name, boring music

Ugly Girls - How to trample your pets with volume
Unless They Won't - Decline of the best vests

Various Artists - Creative Belfast presents sounds of the city
Various Artists - Dumb shitty people performing dumb shitty songs
Various Artists - Pussies for change
Various Artists - How many times can you shit in a row?
Various Artists - Go to hell, assholes
Various Artists - I hate Ellen DeGeneres
Various Artists - But Oprah is much, much worse.

Scott Walker - 30 Century Man
Angi West - Love is a special way of feeling
Why Do It Not Work - Ain't no reason for it not to
Worked Up and Down - Right to the left
Wump Wump Do Wump - Thing thang tinky train
Wykle Trink - Taxi Dermie

X-Ray Spocks - Spicks and spocks
Xtra - Give it all yer extras
Xu Xu Fang - Seven days now

Yaw muffukuz! - So very nice to meet you today
Jienan Yuan - We saw everything
Yucky Shux - Down with the uppity snackers

Zombie Pussy - Ain't no pussy like come-back-to-life pussy
Zozo and the Bashful Bananas - Tricia's little petunia patty

LMNOP * babysue * dONW7

©2009 LMNOP
©2009 dONW7