September 2014 Comics, Poetry, and Reviews from
Stream "In The World"
|Masami Akita / John Duncan
A Shoreline Dream
Audio With A G
babysue comix #207
babysue comix #208
babysue comix #209
babysue comix #210
Dubb Nubb & Googolplexia
Electric Bird Noise*
|Michael J. Evans
Faded Paper Figures*
Hawks Do Not Share
The Hawks (of Holy Rosary)
Here & Here & Here
In Your Eyes
The Jigsaw Seen*
Just Like Papa
The Legal Matters
|The Lemon Clocks*
The Psycho Sisters
Ruud Van Eeten
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Yes, Yes, No
Additional Items Received
Masami Akita / John Duncan - The Black Album (Vinyl LP, Tourette,
Really strange packaging for this vinyl LP. The Black Album cover was actually shot to death with BB's (fortunately without the album inside so it should still play) for proper effect. The inner sleeve is bright pink and the record itself is pressed on a beautiful green vinyl. There is no writing on the record labels...one is pure blue and the other is pure black. There are no song titles given. Actually, the only information provided here is a small line of text on the back cover that reads "Recorded in Tokyo and Sasso Marconi, Italy from source recordings made by Duncan at Gran Sasso Nuclear Laboratory (LNGS)." Masami Akita is probably best known by his stage name Merzbow. He teamed up with John Duncan to record this album. So...what lies in the grooves of this strangely packaged LP? More confusion set in as we began the listening process. Our turntable automatically finds where to place the needle on the record. But for some reason it could not find the right spot on this album. Upon closer inspection we found that a couple of the BB's actually did find their way into the packaging and made some scuff marks on the vinyl. So perhaps that is where the problem lies? Even though we couldn't get this one to play...we still dig the cool visuals and neat ideas behind the sound. And...if we could hear it...we'd be willing to bet that we'd dig this one because we love just about everything we've heard on the Tourette label (quite possibly the strangest record label currently operating in the U.S.).
Shoreline Dream - The Silent Sunrise
(CD, Latenight Weeknight,
The fourth full-length release from A Shoreline Dream who, prior to this, had not released an album in about three years. The guys in this Barnum, Colorado-based band have made quite a name for themselves over the years by providing thick and dreamy shoegazer pop music with a difference. The Silent Sunrise is yet another cool and resilient addition to the band's catalog. The album features nine drony tracks drenched in reverb and effects. These songs have strange soothing effects and also give the listener feelings associated with dreaming. The band made the decision years ago to release music on their own label rather than sign with a company and, thankfully, they're sticking with their guns on that one. A cool spin from start to finish. Our favorites this time around include "The Heart Never Recovered," "Between," and "Sunday Afternoon."
Audio With A G - Sounds of a Jersey Boy: The Music of Bob Gaudio
(Double CD, Rhino, Pop)
To coincide with this past summer's release of the film Jersey Boys, the folks at Rhino are releasing several related items...an 18 CD set that includes most material released by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, an 8 CD set that features Valli's solo albums, and this, a double disc various artists set that focuses on hits written by Bob Gaudio. If you're a fan of music from this time period you're gonna love Audio With A G. This whopping double CD set contains 36 tracks by artists such as the previously mentioned Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Royal Teens, Jerry Butler, Nancy Wilson, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Diana Ross, Lene Lovich, and more. We have to admit that up until this point we thought that "Short Shorts" was a jingle written for a television commercial...we had no idea it was a hit from the past (?!). This is a great collection of feelgood radio pop from a time gone by when things were a lot simpler...especially in the lyric department. Groovy rockin' stuff for young and old alike.
Big Star - #1 Record (CD, Stax
/ Concord Music Group,
Pop/rock), Radio City (CD, Stax
/ Concord Music Group,
These two albums have been reissued over and over and over and over again. And the reason why...is that there continues to be a demand for the cool little pop band from Memphis who, over time, deeply and dramatically influenced so many people. If you want to read/hear our opinion, do a search and find prior reviews (every single Big Star release has been a Top Pick in these pages). These two releases will probably be the ones fans want most. This time the albums have been remastered from the original analog tape sources (and approved by John Fry) so fans can now have what is quite possibly the best digital audio available of the band's first two albums. Stax also offers both of these releases on vinyl. What more can be said that we haven't already said before? We loved 'em before they became ultra hip. We still have our original vinyl LPs. These will always be two of our all-time favorite pop/rock albums. It still seems sad that the original band never received much attention when they were actually recording together. But the memories continue to live on by all those who have been affected by the music. Once again...highly recommended. Top pick.
Borges - Radio Sweetheart (CD, Lonesome
Formerly the leader of the Boston, Massachusetts-based band Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles, this enchanting singer/songwriter is now striking out on her own. Radio Sweetheart is Borges' debut solo release...and it's a keeper. Sarah's music is slick and accessible...yet it's a far cry from the bad commercial slop that the general public seems to love. Although these songs will appeal to lots of listeners they're probably just a bit too smart for casual airheads...and we like that, of course. Borges writes songs that are immediately warm and familiar sounding...and she's got a voice that really gives her music depth and soul. The songs range from rock to pop to ballads...and no matter what style or sound she delves into this lady makes it work. Ten modern classics here and we love 'em all. Initial standout cuts include "Girl With A Bow," "Think Of What You've Done," "The Waiting and the Worry," and "Record on Repeat." Great resilient stuff that will still sound cool decades from now.
Greg Bowers - Rational Passions (CD, Navona,
Music from the more peculiar side of classical music. According to the press release that accompanied this release, this album "...takes its listeners on a trip through the psychological world of music." So you can bet that this is intelligent stuff and well outside the norm. To try and describe this music is somewhat difficult. Some of the passages in these pieces remind us very much of the music you hear in Looney Tunes cartoons when the characters are hopping around getting into mischief. Greg Bowers is currently a Professor at William and Mary College. On this album his compositions are performed by the Boston String Quartet and pianist Karolina Rojahn. Some of these pieces are more traditional sounding classical while others are more peculiar and experimental. "Eurydice Returns," the closing track, is perhaps the most bizarre...seven minutes of pure experimentation that may remind some listeners of The Beatles' "Revolution 9." A strange journey in so many ways, Rational Passions is a work of pure creativity.
Bracket - Hold Your Applause (CD, High Output, Pop/rock)
Bracket is one of our favorite bands ever and they never let us down. Hold Your Applause is yet another direct hit. This album will go down in history as a high point in the band's career because it effectively incorporates all of their previous ideas and sounds into one incredibly energized platter. Applause has a great big rockin' sound like the band's early releases and also features the superb vocal sound they've developed over time. To still be an underground band these guys have accomplished a lot over the years. And even though they're still relatively obscure, the folks who love their music really love it and tend to stick with them over time. The band began way back in 1992 with early recordings released on the Fat Wreck Chords and Caroline labels. Years later they built their own recording studio which is where this album was recorded. Fans may notice that the record label name (High Output) is actually the original name of the band which was later changed to Bracket. Few bands can do the balancing act like these guys. They have managed to retain their original idea and sound while managing to grow artistically. The rockers on this album are presented simply using the basics...which means the band still blows the roof off when they turn up. But there are also tracks that feature the more subdued and pensive sound of the band which, surprisingly, at this point is sometimes reminiscent of The Beach Boys (except the songs are much better). Sixteen killer tracks here and they're all keepers. The album begins and closes with softer tracks ("Not A Pear," "Warren's Song Pt. 27") but never fear...there are plenty of aggressive rockers here. The band is comprised of Marty Gregori, Angelo Celli, Zack Charlos, and Ray Castro. The great news is that the band is already apparently working on yet another brand new album that should be released in the near future. Hold Your Applause is highly recommended listening. An easy and instant TOP PICK.
The Britannicas - High Tea (CD, Jam,
The Britannicas is the unlikely trio of Herb Eimerman, Magnus Karlsson, and Joe Algeri. Unlikely only because the three are based in three different countries. In every other respect, these three men were surely somehow destined to play music together. Eimerman lives in the United States, Karlsson lives in Sweden, and Algeri lives in Australia. Because they are separated by space, the three use the internet to trade tracks and record. But what may surprise most folks is how organic and warm this band sounds. The Britannicas sound something like a cross between The Beatles and Teenage Fanclub. The songs are based around cool guitars and pleasing mid-tempo rhythms. These three guys released their debut album in 2010 and it received unanimous praise around the world. High Tea features the band's single "Got A Hold On Me" plus tracks from their 3 Sided Single (all of which have been remixed and remastered), some new originals, plus a cover of Del Shannon's "I Got You." Shimmering bright pop music with a decidedly upbeat sound and feel. Classic pop in every sense of the word. Really nice sounding sincere stuff.
Boys - Burn Baby Burn (CD, PopVirus, Rock/pop)
The first instrumental / soundtrack album from Germany's Bucket Boys. This band isn't at all what you would expect a German band to sound like. Instead of playing electronic or heavy metal music, these folks play guitar-based TexMex that is completely authentic and genuine. And they're tight, tight, tight on their instruments. There's a whole lot to take in here as these folks offer a whopping 20 tracks on Burn Baby Burn...which clocks in at close to 70 minutes (!). If you love guitars like we do well then...you're gonna find a wealth of tracks here to whet your appetite. Cool gripping cuts include "Revenge On Ruby," "Goldrush Girl," "Bullriding," "Lost Memories," and "Early Bird."
Cancers - Fatten The Leeches (CD-R, Kandy Kane, Pop/rock)
If there's one band we totally loved in the 1990s it was The Fastbacks. Almost universally overlooked by everyone but a small group of devoted fans, the band put out some of the best power pop/punk albums of the entire decade. The folks in Athens, Georgia's Cancers have a sound and style that reminds us very much of The Fastbacks. Fatten The Leeches is a superbly recorded batch of cool melodic bubblegum/buzzsaw pop played with conviction and true style. Loud guitars in overdrive...pulsing rhythms...and a female vocalist with a cool detached breathy voice...and songs that are totally cool. What more could you ask for? This band is comprised of Ella (guitar, vocals), Lenny (guitar, drums, vocals, bass), and Luke (bass). Produced by Jack Endino (who has worked with Nirvana, Hole, Babes In Toyland, and Soundgarden), Fatten The Leeches has a nice big fat sound. There just aren't enough loud guitar bands on the planet these days...so the folks in Cancers are providing some welcome relief for those addicted to the nifty sound of ultra-loud fuzz. Killer tracks include "Be Cool," "Hole In My Head," "I Change," and "Dig." Love this one. Top pick.
Strangers - Casual Strangers (Independently
released CD-R, Pop)
Casual Strangers is a new four piece band based in Austin, Texas. If you think you know what Austin-based bands are supposed to sound like, think again. These folks play slightly trippy psychedelic pop music that is hypnotic and sometimes strangely catchy. The band is comprised of Katey Gunn (vocals, lapsteel, triwave), Paul Waclawsky (vocals, guitar), Jaylinn Davidson (synth, bass), and Jake Mitchell (drums, samples). Housed in a really nice 3D cardboard sleeve, this self-titled album features a wealth of creativity and cool sounds. The rhythms here are instantly addictive...and the lead guitars are totally exceptional. The press release that accompanied this disc compared the music to "...American guitar rock of the 90s, British dream rock of the 80s, and acid-tinged Krautrock of the 70s." That pretty much sums things up nicely. The more we spin this one the better it sounds. Ten gripping tracks including "Tune Your Brain," "Looking Good," "Don't Worry About A Thing," and "Put Your Mussy On My Mussy." Top pick.
Charlton - Sharp/Sharp Re-Loaded (Double
CD, Angel Air, Pop)
Born in Spain in 1941, Manny Charlton is best known as the guitarist and one of the original members of the band Nazareth. He also produced the band's best known album (Hair of the Dog) which sold over two million copies. After leaving the band Charlton has continued on as a solo artist. Although he hasn't had as much commercial success with his solo releases, it has nothing to do with the quality of the music. Sharp was originally released in 2004 and Sharp Re-Loaded originally came out in 2005. Both have since gone out of print until now. This double disc set presents both albums in their entirety and adds two bonus tracks to each. Manny's twenty-first century music comes from a very different space than Nazareth. These songs are more subdued and mature...but they're just as effective and memorable if not more so. With the right exposure and marketing, our guess is that Charlton's songs could probably outsell Nazareth. Charlton now lives in the United States and continues to tour with the Manny Charlton Band (link above). This double CD set offers a wealth of credible material by a man who's done it all. Twenty-seven tracks total here. Our favorites include "Muddy Water," "Hang On To A Dream," "Cold Front," "Cinema," "Wicked Messenger," and "Pushin' Daisies."
SB - Crickets Were The Compass (CD,
Silber / Facility,
Up to this point in time Chvad SB is probably best known as a former member of the bands Things Outside The Skin, Tongue Muzzle, The Qualia, and Controlled Bleeding (he also runs the record label Facility). Crickets Were The Compass is the third album released under his own name. Chvad has had ties to the Silber label as far back as the early 1990s but this is the first time the two have officially begun working together. Co-released by both labels, Crickets is a wonderfully inventive collection of experimental compositions that comes across sounding like abstract mood pieces. These tracks are peculiar and mostly brooding in nature...utilizing sounds from a variety of sources including synthesizers, found objects, hand-built instruments, guitars, and voice. This release bodes well for future releases from these two well-known underground labels. The music is strange and unorthodox...and yet still completely effective and listenable. Six perplexing cuts including "It Haunts Her," "People Keep Asking And I Say You're Well," and "Crickets Were The Compass And The World Goes 'Round." Truly creative stuff. Top pick.
Chrome - Feel It Like A Scientist (CD, King of Spades,
Who could have guessed that in 2014 we'd be hearing a new album from Chrome? One of the true underground bands begun in the last century, Chrome returns with a totally cool and relevant album. The band began way back in 1975 and, at that time, was considered very peculiar and unusual. Original vocalist Damon Edge unfortunately passed away back in 1995 but guitarist Helios Creed opted to pick up the ball and continue...with the same basic idea and focus, except updated in many ways. So...what does Feel It Like A Scientist sound like? Interestingly, the first comparison that came to mind is...Hawkwind. These tracks are kinda drony and peculiar and the spacey electronics are coming from the same general territory that the Hawkwind folks flew in way back in the 1970s. But there's actually more to it than that. These Chrome songs are more abstract and unpredictable and they remind us of many of the more adventurous underground bands treading around the United States in the late 1990s. Sixteen cool tracks that prove Chrome is just as relevant today, if not more so, than ever before. Cool rockin' spacey stuff.
Mouth - Go! (CD, Elm City Music,
If we hadn't read the press release that accompanied this CD we would never ever have guessed it was being released to celebrate this band's 25th anniversary. And judging from the energized sound of the songs on Go!...our guess is that no one else would know either. After being around two and a half decades most bands would either calm down or change their approach to suit a more mature audience. But not the folks in Cowboy Mouth. This is one loud rockin' album that captures all the excitement and energy of musicians who have just learned to play. But these folks, of course, learned how to play long ago...and now they're hitting the target dead center every single time. Housed in a beautifully-designed triple fold cardboard sleeve, Go! is a pure dose of buzzsaw pop/rock energy. These guys are putting the punch back into rock...something that is sorely needed with all the techno / computerized artists currently flooding the marketplace. Eleven killer cuts including "Go!," "My Little Secret," "Too Much Work," and "Dare."
DeMeyer - Savannah Road (Independently
released CD, Pop)
The sound associated with Nashville, Tennessee is slowly changing over time. As far as the national spotlight is concerned, it still shines on all those glossy schmaltzy superstars whose music pretty much all sounds very similar. But there are currents flowing through the city that prove that the future is looking mighty bright. Brigette DeMeyer is yet another up-and-coming Nashville artist whose music doesn't fit the mold. Instead of canned country, DeMeyer plays cool folky/bluesy Americana-based pop that is resilient, smooth, and depthy. Brigitte's got a really great voice that really gets her ideas and feelings across and she isn't afraid to tackle topics that are deep and intriguing (a good example is "Build Me A Fire," a tribute to her mother's journey through World War II Nazi Germany). This is DeMeyer's sixth full-length release and this just might be the one that pushes her career to the next level. The title track made the U.S. American Top 40 chart earlier this year. Housed in a beautifully designed cardboard sleeve complete with glossy lyric booklet, Savannah Road offers the best that Nashville has to offer in 2014. Killer tracks include "Say You Will Be Mine," "Please Believe Me," "Home Ground," and "My Someday." Top pick.
Society - In The Shade (Independently
released CD, Rock/pop)
We were blown away by the last release we heard from these guys (Emerge which came out in 2013)...and we're pleased to report that In The Shade is another direct bull's eye. Along with several other artists, these guys are helping to herald in the seventh wave of guitar bands. The songs on In The Shade delve into the genres of buzzsaw rock, melodic pop, independent pop, and more. Recorded at New York City's Flux Studio in January 2014, this album is light years better than anything being released by major labels these days...and it is an independent release, of course. Cool propulsive rhythms...killer guitars...superb vocals with heavenly harmonies... These guys have it all. Twelve precisely-crafted cuts and they're all keepers. Our initial favorites include "Heal Me Friend," "Emerge," "No Reason," and "Laughing Song." Top pick.
Nubb & Googolplexia
- Missouri's Hat Split EP (3" CD-R EP, Pancake
Productions / Special Passenger,
This is a true split EP from two underground bands who obviously like and admire one another's music. We're always impressed by the packages we received from the cool folks at Pancake Productions because they remind us of the 1980s and 1990s when independent releases truly looked and sounded like independent releases. (Most twenty-first century independent releases nowadays are so slick that you can't even guess they were recorded in someone's guest bathroom.) Housed in a plain brown sleeve with some xeroxed artwork pasted to the front and back, this cool 3" CD-R EP features two tracks by each band...and each is followed by the same band doing a cover of one of the other's songs. How cool is that? Even cooler is the music. We dig the sounds of both Dubb Nubb and Googolplexia. Our favorite cut is Dubb Nubb's Googolplexia cover "Chopping Up Onions" that tells the tale of a very unhappy restaurant worker. Simultaneously hilarious and poignant to say the least. A totally nifty...and totally independent disc. This is being released in advance of a band tour featuring both artists.
Electric Bird Noise - Kind of Black (CD, Silber,
Another puzzling, hypnotic release from Electric Bird Noise. Brian Lea McKenzie is one of those cool guys out there who makes music because that's what he enjoys doing...rather than being motivated by possible fortune and fame. So it's no wonder that he's a perfect fit for the eclectic roster on the Silber label. If you've never heard Electric Bird Noise before well...the band name will give you at least some indication of what to expect. McKenzie writes and records experimental music that is at least to some degree melodic...but not in the traditional sense. Listening to this album, we can't help but be reminded of some of the more bizarre musical segments presented on Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (it's probably those slightly warped sounding instruments that make it seem as if something is slightly wrong with the music). We've loved everything we've heard thus far from this band. Kind of Black is yet another stunning collection of mind-bending music from one of our favorite underground artists. Top pick.
J. Evans - Cipher: Variations on a Theme
by Felix Mendelssohn (CD, Navona,
When utilized to its full potential, the piano can quite possibly be the most emotionally gripping instrument on the planet. Prepare to be affected by this album of beautifully interpreted Michael J. Evans compositions as presented by pianist Karolina Rojahn. There's a lot to take in here as this album contains no less than 40 (!) tracks...ranging from 16 seconds in length to four and a half minutes (many are less than one minute long). The album begins with the strange sounds of "Original Words" and fourteen other short translations...electronically distorted spoken word pieces that discuss "...the inadequacy of words as a means of expression compared to music." The album then proceeds to prove this point, as these expertly executed compositions are much more expressive than words could ever be. Evans began making music on the piano and saxophone when he was ten years old and has been continuing on his journey ever since. Now based in Washington, D.C., he composes orchestral, chamber, and solo instrumental works. Beautiful music that hypnotizes and calms.
- An Original MGM/FXP Television Series: Music by Jeff
Russo (CD, Sony
Classical, Television soundtrack)
Fargo is a new television series based on the popular 1996 film of the same name. That unforgettable film tells the story of a murder-for-hire gone terribly wrong. The television series stars Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, and Martin Freeman and is meeting with similar success. The music for the show was created by composer/songwriter/arranger Jeff Russo, who is also the lead guitarist and co-songwriter of the multi-platinum selling rock band Tonic. Some of the music threaded across these twenty-eight tracks may remind viewers of the music from the original film. These compositions are, for the most part, subdued and brooding...and have strange ominous qualities. We're big fans of the Fargo film. And after hearing this disc we're thinking we'd best get on the bandwagon and see how the television show compares. Intriguing stuff for Fargo fans...as well as anyone who loves some cool unsettling instrumental music to set the right mood for an intriguing evening.
Paper Figures - Relics (CD, Shorthand, Electronic pop)
The folks in Faded Paper Figures are helping to dispel the myth that all modern bands are comprised of alienated misdirected urban hippies with wealthy parents. The folks in this band are focused, hard working, motivated...and successful. Heather Alden is a doctor, R. John Williams is a Professor at Yale University, and Kael Alden writes music for film, television, video games, and advertisements. Yet even though they all have their professional individual careers they still manage to find time to make music. The three originally began playing together in 2005 in Irvine, California. The response to the initial recordings was so strong that it prompted all three to continue making music. But as their other careers evolved it brought distance between them as they ended up living in different cities. Rather than quit or be drug down by this they continued working together long distance over the internet. Now in 2014 their following is larger and more devoted than ever and their fans will obviously be loving the cool melodic tracks on Relics (the band's fourth full-length release). The album has the overall sound of indie pop but it's much more slick than such a descriptive phrase might imply. The songs on this album are smart and resilient and they feature some wonderfully insightful lyrics. The arrangements are impeccable as are the band's vocals. There's not a bad track to be found here but our initial favorites include "Breathing," "Wake Up Dead," "Who Will Save Us Now?", and "Forked Paths." Great stuff that holds up to many repeated spins... Top pick.
The fluffy thing
That was your dope.
Where is it now?
Friedman - Chinatown (CD, Wolfgang,
There have been so many unexpected reappearances in the world of music over the past few years. But here's one that probably caught almost everyone by surprise. This is the first new album from Ruthann Friedman in...40 years. Yup, you read that right. Up until now, her only proper release was an album released on the Warner/Reprise label way back in 1969 (Constant Companion). So many may still be asking...just who is Ruthann Friedman? Well even though you might not know her by name...you most certainly know one of her songs. Ms. Friedman write "Windy" for The Association way back when which ended up being a huge worldwide hit. Unlike other singer/songwriters, instead of pursuing music as a full-time career Ms. Friedman headed off into different directions. And only recently has she become publicly involved in music again. Produced by John Muller in his home and mixed at Jackson Brown's studio, Chinatown offers proof that Ruthann still has that charm that made so many love her music years ago. Joining her on this album are John Muller, David Jenkins, Bill Lane, Aaron Robinson, David Goodstein, Helene Renault, Andy Paul, Yvette Dudoit, Haroula Rose, and, last but not least, Van Dyke Parks (whose name seems to be popping up all over the place lately). Chinatown features eleven intelligent folk/pop tunes that will, once again, stand the test of time. Our favorites include "That's What I Remember," "Chinatown," "All I Have," and "Sideshow."
Glowfriends - Gather Us Together (CD, Jam,
This is the first release we've heard from Glowfriends in quite some time. This band has certainly grown and evolved since we last heard from them. The band is comprised of April Zimont (vocals, tamborine), Mark Andrew Morris (vocals, guitar, banjo, vibes), JW Hendrix (drums, percussion), Jenn Hendrix (vibes, glockenspiel), and Adam Zimont (guitar, bass). Gather Us Together features thirteen well-crafted tracks that seamlessly combine sounds and ideas from dream pop and shoegazer. More than any other band, these tracks often remind us of the overall sound of babysue favorite Starflyer 59. The guitars are heavenly and the vocals are wonderfully dreamy. Every single track here is a keeper...but our initial favorites include "There Is Grace," "Over and Out," "Tremors," "Without A Sound," and "How We Seldom Think." Really smart stuff, executed to perfection.
Gordon - I'm Coming Home (CD, Lanark, Rockabilly/pop)
The first new album from Robert Gordon since 2007. On I'm Coming Home Gordon returns to his rockabilly and rock and roll roots to give his fans a treat. Originally the front man in the band Tuff Darts way back when, Robert was reviving the rockabilly genre way, way, way before everyone else. At the time he was doing it very few folks were. On this album Gordon is reunited with bass player Rob Stoner and guest artists include Marshall Crenshaw and David Uosikkinen (The Hooters). Robert's still got that deep resonant voice that clearly cuts through the mix. We're particularly impressed that Gordon chose to cover the tune "Walk Hard," from the criminally overlooked film of the same name featuring the incredibly talented John C. Reilly. Even though the film was a comedy many of the songs (including the title track) were anything but throwaway comedy tracks. Twelve cuts here delivered with class and style. This one will be hit the bull's eye with Robert Gordon fans for sure.
Gregoire - Sounds From the Delta (CD,
Big Round, Jazz)
If there are two words we would use to describe Jean-Philippe Gregoire's guitar playing those words would be...smooth and fluid. This cool fellow has been making music in Paris, France for many years. And now, on his debut release for the Big Round label, he seems poised to transfer some of his success to the United States and beyond. Gregoire's music combines elements from rock, jazz, progressive, blues, and even classical music. This fifty minute album features ten groove-oriented tracks that are slick, moody, and intricate. The overall sound reminds us of a cross between 1950s classic jazz and some of the more subdued progressive rock bands from the 1970s. If you love guitars, there's a good chance you'll go ape over this one. Our favorite cuts include "No Te Preocupes," "One For Mr. K," "Unresolved," and "Just Friends."
Haglof - Western Holiday (Independently
released CD, Pop/rock)
For some reason the world of serious guitar players is still mainly a man's world. Although there are, of course, tons of ladies who play guitar and sing there are still relatively few whose main emphasis is playing guitar. For that reason along, Karen Haglof instantly stands out from the pack because she is mainly known for her guitar playing. She has played in various bands and with various artists in the 1980s and 1990s including The Crackers, Band of Susans, Rhys Chatham, and Robert Longo. Karen's focus eventually shifted to her career as a hematologist/oncologist affiliated with New York University Hospital. But because music was in her blood she eventually made the wise decision to return to it and thus this, her first solo album, was born. Joining Haglof here are Steve Almaas (bass, vocals) and C.P. Roth (drums, percussion). Interestingly, Mitch Easter plays slide guitar on one track ("Musician's Girlfriend Blues") and the late great Faye Hunter sings on another ("Lincoln Letters"). Western Holiday is one helluva groovy album with plenty of cool vibes, friendly tunes, and of course, the cool guitar sounds that seem to be Karen's trademark. We're sure hoping this album is warmly received because it's a pure dose of totally cool music that comes straight from the heart of a true musician. This is just the beginning of what will surely be a long and rewarding solo career. Well done.
Hammock - The Sleepover Series, Volume One (Independently released
CD, Ambient/atmospheric), The Sleepover Series, Volume Two (Independently
released double CD, Ambient/atmospheric)
One of the world's greatest atmospheric bands...is located in Nashville, Tennessee (!). We've known about Hammock for quite some time now but for folks who don't...the band is the duo of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson. And they're probably better known in other parts of the world than in their own hometown...because the music certainly doesn't fit the Nashville mold. The first CD is a reissue of an album originally released in 2006 and has since gone out of print. These tracks were recorded for a sleepover event in which Byrd and Thompson played their ethereal guitar music in order to soothe an audience and put them to sleep. This reissue features new artwork by Pete Schulte and was remastered by Taylor Deupree...and man oh man does it sound niiiiiiiiiiice. We have an entire section of our music library devoted to music designed to calm and sedate. The Sleepover Series, Volume One will instantly be a favorite for us because we love cerebral subtle stuff that helps us to phase out into dreamland. Far from boring by any means, these tracks have a cool heavenly sound that is remarkable and rather majestic. These guys always hit the target here in babysueland. This reissue is just...the best. As if this wasn't enough to push Hammock fans into a dreamy state of bliss, the band has also released The Sleepover Series, Volume Two...a double CD (!) featuring more of the subtle ambient soothing atmospherics presented on the first album. Three killer CDs featuring the intoxicating sound of Hammock...yesssssssSSSSSS... Both of these are, of course, highly recommended. Top picks.
Do Not Share - Hawks Do Not Share (Independently
released CD, Progressive)
Hawks Do Not Share is the Portland, Oregon-based trio comprised of George Lewis III (vocals, bass, other instruments), Jeremy Wilkins (keyboards, programming, backing vocals, other instruments), and Britt White (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals). So...is this techno pop...dream pop...or shoegaze...or what? Actually the music these folks create combines elements from all of these and more. There are plenty of dark threads blended into these tracks and yet...the overall sound is not a downer at all. These fellows have created some rather startlingly original tracks here that ought to please a large number of underground music fans. The songs on this self-titled album feature layers upon layers of sounds and plenty of effects...especially reverb. We checked out the band's web site and found a truly lovely video for the song "Break Even" (which, by the way, has some strangely depressing lyrics...or at least it seems that way...?). Ten groovy cuts and they're all keepers. Our favorites include "Forgiveness," "Break Even," "Crumble Lines," and "Disappear." We love the lyrics on this album. Neat.
Hawks (of Holy Rosary) - What Team Am I
On? (Independently released CD-R, Pop)
The sound of the real underground. This is the second full-length release from the San Antonio, Texas-based band The Hawks (of Holy Rosary). The band began as the duo of Frank Weysos and Chuck Hernandez but now also includes Christine Roberts, JC Noriega, David Manzano, and John Dalley. The songs on What Team Am I On? should instantly appeal to just about anyone who ever loved The Pixies and The Flaming Lips. This is intelligent underground pop with a peculiar overall vibe and yet the songs are actually rather warm and friendly. We love the fact that these recordings sound very much like a real band playing instead of music that has been hyper-perfected by technology. Eleven groovy cuts. Our initial favorites include "Robert DeNiro," "It's Just Work," "Who Is Myself," and "First Punch." These folks are going places fast because they're doing everything...right.
Here & Here & Here - Here & Here & Here (CD, pfMENTUM,
The curiously titled Here & Here & Here is the experimental quintet comprised of Michael Vlatkovich (trombone, percussion), Anna Homler (vocal, percussion), Jeff Kaiser (trumpet, flugelhorn), Scott Walton (acoustic bass), and Rich West (drums, percussion). If none of these names rings a bell then you've probably not yet made the proper mental connection with California's more adventurous experimental/improvisational music scene. Recorded in a single day (January 20, 2014), this self-titled album is a pure dose of experimental magic. Many folks think that anyone can just pick up a musical instrument and improvise. But the truth is that great improvisation is a skill that is actually practiced and learned over time...although some do seem to have more of an initial knack for it than others. It's kinda like stream-of-consciousness conversation. Some of it is just dribble...while in other cases it can be incredibly stimulating and intriguing. These five musicians are extremely good at what they do...and it seems miraculous that they could have recorded all of this in a single day. Perplexing tracks include "Dragon Beware," "Round Triangles," "Salute," "Choir Hose," and "Potozo."
Hyperbubble - Attack of the Titans: Original Soundtrack Music (German
import CD, Pure Pop for Now People,
We sure dig Hyperbubble. The band's music is decidedly out-of-synch with almost everything that's out there and yet...instead of altering their course of changing their music to suit a wider audience these musicians stick to their guns and maintain their original focus. That focus being...writing and recording upbeat danceable synth pop that recalls early classic electronic pop artists from the 1980s. The band's songs might best be described as techno bubblegum...because they seem to incorporate equal elements of both. This time around the Hyperbubble folks deliver the soundtrack to the film Attack of the Titans. Because these songs were created as a soundtrack they waver a bit from the standard Hyperbubble approach...but not by much. The rhythms are still addictive and those groovy vocals still sound as cool as ever. So much modern music is way too complex and overblown. That is perhaps why these folks succeed whereas so many fail. Their music is simple, direct, and instantly lovable. Eleven classy cuts here including "The Devastation Was Incredible," "Sky Smasher," and "Condition Red." As always, highly recommended music from this wonderfully clever band. What we're wondering now is...how long will it be before these folks team up with Twink to record an album together? Now that would be something. TOP PICK.
Your Eyes - Original Motion Picture Score:
Music by Tony Morales
(CD, Lakeshore, Motion
In Your Eyes is a new film about falling in love. The film features Zoe Kazan, Michael Stahl-David, Nikki Reed, Steve Harris, and Mark Feuerstein. Although we haven't seen this film yet our guess is that the score created by Tony Morales is just as integral in this one as the actors and actresses. Up to this point in time Morales is probably best known for the music that he and John Debney created for the History Channel's mini-series Hatfields & McCoys...although he's been involved in a whole slew of other projects as well. Because mega-action and tech-driven films seem to be the main focus these days love stories may be mainly overlooked because of the more subtle nature of the stories. But our guess is that the pensive, calm, introspective sound of this score will probably be one of the main things that sticks with folks. Twenty dreamy cuts including "In Your Eyes," "10 PM Date," "Quirks and Insecurities," and "Together At Last." Beautifully written and executed material that sometimes has a majestic feel.
Jane - Level (Independently released
Mesa Jane has a simple and direct image and sound...and boy do we dig both. So many folks overdo it when they get to the recording process but Ms. Jane has the great intuitive sense to use only the basics in order to get her point across. We never heard Mesa's debut album (Spandex Heart) but apparently it went over well with a great many folks. The appropriately titled Level offers smooth rhythm-driven tracks with smooth sounds, groovy melodies, and Mesa's ultra velvety voice. What is perhaps most interesting about this album is how much commercial appeal it has...all the while totally retaining artistic integrity (it's rare to hear an artist who can effectively combine both these days). Jane's enchanting presence and personality shine through on every track here. Our initial favorites include "Haunt You," "Love You Endlessly," "Why Don't We," and "I Can't Feel." Intoxicating and real.
- The Solar King (CD, Jam,
Pop), Guitar Heaven (CD, Jam,
The Jeremy Band - All Over The World (CD, Jam, Pop)
Jeremy Morris is one of the hardest working individuals in the world of music as well as one of the most prolific. He's been writing and recording for decades as well as running his own Jam label. Unlike most folks who burn out or give up, Jeremy's optimistic view of life is probably what drives him to continue. This past month we received not one...but three releases from Jeremy. And, not surprisingly, they're all extremely entertaining. The Solar King is particularly interesting because it offers insight into Jeremy's beginnings. The album was recorded way back in 1980 and was intended to be the first full-length release. But instead it remained on a shelf never to be heard...until now. This truly is a lost gem that has been unearthed to the delight of pop fans. The playing is inspired and the material is extremely strong. There are many elements of Jeremy's music from that time period that remain in his songs to this very day. The guitars and vocals are wonderfully resilient and magnetic. Close to 68 minutes' worth of heavenly pop here. Wow. Guitar Heaven is yet another instrumental album featuring Jeremy and his guitar. The instrumental universe is different, but just another avenue for Jeremy to display his talents. Although he's mainly known as a singer and songwriter, this fellow should also be recognized just as much for his guitar playing. Guitar Heaven is subtle and soothing and can be appreciated by just about anyone who loves the guitar. All Over The World released under the name The Jeremy Band is a bit of a different album as it was recorded live. The first eleven songs were recorded in San Diego, California in 2013, six others in 2009 (also in San Diego), while the remaining two live tracks were recorded in Chicago in 2003 and Liverpool, England in 2006. This discs show how groovy Morris and his band sound in concert. In many cases the sound quality is so good you'd almost never know these are live recordings. Jeremy Morris is an important man to so many people around the world. Not only because folks enjoy and appreciate the music he makes but also because of his continued support of underground pop. Do yourself a favor and pick up any and/or all of Jeremy's recordings. This man is one of the true originals in the world of pop.
Jigsaw Seen - Old Man Reverb (CD, Vibro-Phonic, Pop)
We've been impressed with every release we've heard from The Jigsaw Seen. That said, the folks in this underground pop band have really outdone themselves this time. Old Man Reverb features the most fully focused and realized songs the group has ever written and recorded. And, considering past output, that is really saying something. This album features classic pop that harkens back to the 1960s when melodies and lyrics were the main focal point...but the overall sound is much more current...sometimes reminiscent of 1980s alternative pop bands like Game Theory (except much more accessible than such a comparison might imply). The band is comprised of Dennis Davison (vocals), Jonathan Lea (guitar), Tom Currier (bass), and Teddy Freeze (drums). These guys have received rave reviews from around the globe but, at least at this point in time, still remain a cult favorite. But the folks who love their music really love it. Once again, the packaging is fantastic...a beautiful silver cardboard sleeve with the CD attacked to the back...and designed so that it looks like a big ol' reverb knob. How cool is that? Killer cuts include "Let There Be Reverb," "Idiots With Guitars," "Madame Whirligig," and "Grief Rehearsal." Easily one of the best pop bands currently making music in the United States... TOP PICK.
JUST LIKE PAPA
Just like Papa.
Just like Papa.
Just like Papa.
Just like Papa.
Klein - Tumbleweed Symphony (CD, Sowie Sound, Pop)
For just about every well-known celebrity out there on the planet there are several folks just as talented backing them up. But because of the plethora of talent out there you can always bet there are some true stars whose names and music you will probably never hear. Because, after all, none of us can hear it all. Ann Klein is one such talent who is just now stepping into the spotlight. In the past Klein has played with many well-known artists including Joan Osborne, Ani DiFranco, and Kate Pierson. And now, with the release of Tumbleweed Symphony she immediately establishes her own niche in the world of music. This is a great album chock full of feelgood tunes that should appeal to almost everyone. The toe tappers here are great but the softer numbers are where Ann seems to really shine. "Remember to Forget" and "Real Love" are so great that it seems almost impossible that they would not become hugely popular at some point in time. Klein's got it all...great songs...a killer voice...and a great backing band. Exceptional stuff. Recommended.
Partners - Seven Seas (CD, Pravda, Rock/pop)
This cool Dayton, Ohio-based band's sound immediately grabbed our attention. None of that annoyingly slick sounding processed stuff here...these songs have a neat gripping sound that is driven by hypnotic rhythms and loud overdriven guitars. The sound of the tracks on Seven Seas reminds us very much of many of the cool underground bands in the United States in the mid to late 1990s. There's so much to like here. Instead of sounding like computer generated recordings, these songs sound very much like a real rock band playing. These folks have been at it for about fourteen years now but, if memory serves correctly, this is the first time we've been introduced to their music. These songs tread the line where shoegaze meets alternative underground rock. The guitars are swirly and drenched in reverb and the vocals delivered with an entirely appropriate attitude. Ten totally groovy cuts. These folks get in a groove and stay there for the entire album. Our favorite tracks include "Simple Machine," "Six Times," and "Seven Seas."
Legal Matters - The Legal Matters (CD,
We weren't quite sure what we were expecting from a band called The Legal Matters (...hardcore? ...or electronic perhaps?)...but whatever we expecting, this wasn't it. Instead of music that is serious, harsh, or related to legal issues, these three guys write and record pure uplifting pop with a heavy emphasis on vocal melodies and harmonies. This band is comprised of three guys who are not newcomers to the world of music. The Legal Matters is/are comprised of Keith Klingensmith (formerly of Hippodrome and The Phenomenal Cats), Andy Reed (formerly of An American Underdog) and Chris Richards (also formerly in Hippodrome and The Phenomenal Cats as well as Chris Richards & The Subtractions). These guys have recorded an album of super smooth melodic guitar pop that will instantly remind many listeners of Teenage Fanclub (the vocals are eerily similar). Songs are what make an album of course...and songs are what make this debut album such a cool spin. Recorded in just six days, these guys have created something that could take some bands years to create. Killer pop cuts include "Rite of Spring," "Stubborn," "Mary Anne," "It's Not What I Say," and "We're Enemies."
The Lemon Clocks - Now Is The Time (CD, Jam,
The Lemon Clocks is the all-star trio comprised of Jeremy Morris, Todd Borsch, and Stefan Johansson. Now Is The Time seems to suggest that the all three fellows have a deep appreciation for psychedelic 1960s pop. These tracks are spilling over with cool vocal harmonies, driving rhythms, and incredibly trippy guitar sounds that rival just about anything we've heard. While the music is infused with psychedelia, the lyrics are chock full of positive messages about peace, love, and understanding. Morris, Borsch, and Johansson are a perfect match for one another. Their instruments and voices seem to merge into one cohesive wall of sound. If you ever loved any of the bands these guys are involved with you're certain to love this album. Every single one of these thirteen tracks sounds like a potential hit. Thus, Now Is The Time for any other band would be a "best of" collection. But for Jeremy, Todd, and Stefan this is just an excellent and intelligent collection of instantly memorable pop. Our favorite cuts include "Garden of Eden," "The Man Who Lost The Time," "Built To Last," "Now Is The Time," "Not Your Puppet," and "Lemon Clock Land." Top pick.
Negin - The Cheeze Chronicles: Volume V
(CD, Passing Phase, Progressive/experimental)
Looking for something truly different and unique? Well look no further...because few folks out there have a sound, image, and style as unique as Lee Negin. If there's a reason why this guy isn't already hugely famous, it's probably because his music is just too intelligent and unusual for most listeners. Negin describes his music as "...a blend of Techno - funk - psychedelic - jazz - world - rock - ambient - electronica - experimental - social satire - irony - mysticism - prog - surrealism - dadaism - industrial - pop - metal - Musique concrete - Western Classical - impressionism, etc." This is quite possibly the longest and most complex descriptive term we've come across yet to describe an artist's music and yet...it fits. This is complex stuff for certain that swerves all over the map...and even off the map at times. In the 1980s Negin was an instrumental player in the indie/techno/new wave movement in the Detroit area and received a good bit of attention for his work. He is now based in Korea where maintains the ranking of the #1 electronica/experimental artist in Korea on Reverb Nation. This album features some absolutely wild sounds and ideas...and you never know what will come next. After reading the press release and listening to the album we got curious about Negin's videos so we did a search on You Tube and viewed a few. Wow. WoooooooOOOOOOOW... If you dig trippy psychedelic sounds and visuals you will love this guy's video work. It is nothing short of incredible. Negin has been compared to a variety of well known artists and yet...he doesn't really sound like anyone else. Fifteen tracks of pure audio creativity. This guy is a genius. Top pick.
Saxon - Blood and Thunder Live (CD,
Angel Air, Hard rock)
Oliver-Dawson Saxon was formed in 1995 by guitarist Graham Oliver and bass player Steve Dawson, both of whom were previously in the band Saxon. The band also includes Haydn Conway, Brian Shaughnessy, and Paul Oliver. Over the past few years the group has managed to have a great deal of success and, in the process, they have become one extremely tight well-oiled heavy metal machine. And for anyone needing proof, Blood and Thunder Live will provide it. Recorded in Germany in 2013, this concert captures these guys on a night when they were absolutely burning white hot. Pummeling drums, throbbing bass lines, nasty guitars, and a real screamer of a vocalist...what more could a heavy metal fan ask for? The crowd was obviously loving every minute of this show as the band plowed through fourteen loud crowd pleasers. Excellent sound quality here that rivals the band's studio recordings. Killer rockers include "Schwemetal Fur Immer," "Whippin' Boy," "Princess of the Night," and "And The Band Played On."
Chariots - Take Me To Somewhere (Independently
released CD-R Pop)
We rarely review EPs and CD-Rs so you can be sure this one affected us in a powerful way or it wouldn't be appearing here. Onward Chariots is the Brooklyn, New York-based duo of Ben Morss and Rus Wimbish. These guys have a pure pop sound that is slick and stylized. Smart melodies...exceptional vocals...and an overall upbeat positive vibe that is almost impossible to dislike. Five cuts here: "It Doesn't Even Matter," "Vacation," "I Know We'll Find A Way," "The Sound," and "Take Me To Somewhere." Cool sounding stuff.
Origami Arktika - Absolut Gehor (CD, Silber,
Ever wonder what experimental music from Norway sounds like? If so, the music of Origami Arktika may enlighten or confuse you...depending on the mood you're in when you hear it. We can honestly say that we've never heard anything quite like this before. This band is an artist collective and they combine mutated traditional Norwegian folk music with modern drones and experimental electronics. The result...is a bizarre mixture of the past and present...a world where sounds from the past are strangely rooted in the music of the twenty-first century. Listening to this is kinda like watching pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fitting together that really shouldn't fit together at all. Forty-four plus minutes of unorthodox recordings from the true underground musical climate of Norway...
The Psycho Sisters - Up On The Chair, Beatrice (CD, Rockbeat,
This is an interesting and entertaining album...and just as interesting and entertaining is the way it came to be. The Psycho Sisters are Vicki Peterson and Susan Cowsill. Peterson originally played guitar in The Bangles while Cowsill is one of the original members of the 1960s family band The Cowsills. In the early 1990s the two got together and began making music and quickly became in-demand background singers supporting artists like Jules Shear, Belinda Carlisle, Hootie and the Blowfish, and more. They later became members of The Continental Drifters. Eventually other events in their lives took precedence and a Psycho Sisters album never came to be...until now. Finding they finally had some extra time Vicki and Susan got together and began plowing through cassette tapes of songs they had written years ago and chose the best to record for this, their debut album (along with three well-chosen covers). The strange part here is that...this sounds like anything but a rehashing of old material. The tracks on Up On The Chair, Beatrice have a cool, fresh, vibrant sound that is instantly appealing...and man oh man do these ladies' voices sound great these days. The Psycho Sisters' time has finally come, as their own music is finally available for all to hear. Killer cuts include "Heather Says," "Never, Never Boys," "This Painting," and "Cuddly Toy."
Esther - The Other Side (Independently
released CD, Soul/pop/rock)
We had to do a double take when we saw the artist this time because...we're absolutely certain that we have a strange childhood connection with Queen Esther. This lady is the real deal. In a world where so many artists are carbon copies of one another or rely on technology to hide a lack of talent or originality, Queen Esther comes across like a real lady with real talent who isn't afraid to bare her soul to the world. Originally from the south (Atlanta, Georgia and Chareston, South Carolina), Esther eventually relocated to New York City where she has worked with an amazing variety of different well-known artists. She composed all thirteen tracks on this album and they're all rather...amazing. Folks are bound to react to the cool vibes on The Other Side. Esther has a voice that really makes her tunes sizzle. And the songs are, for the most part, presented with no filler added...only the essentials necessary in order to get the point across. We love all of the cuts on this album but particular favorites include "Sunnyland," "Jet Airliner," "The Other Side," and "I've Come Undone Again."
This is your
Spend it however you
Rickity - Greatest Hits Volume 1 (CD, Hyperspace, Rock/soul)
We love the world where soul meets hard rock...but for some reason we rarely hear bands treading in this particular avenue in the world of music. The folks in Rickity remind us very much of babysue favorites The Bellrays. Like The Bellrays, Rickity is basically a hard rock band fronted by a black female vocalist who can belt out a tune like there's no tomorrow. The band is comprised of Perrita (lead vocals), Paul Gifford (vocals, percussion, samples), Teddy Rondeinelli (lead guitar, vocals), Neil Cicione (drums), Paul Latimer (rhythm guitar, keyboards), and Randy Pratt (bass, harmonica). Nine nifty rockers here including "Out of Bounds," "She's The One," "Sizzle," and "Black Limousine."
Rockit - If I Could Fly (Independently
released CD, Pop)
Riff Rockit may be an artist whose image and music are targeted at children...but we're absolutely certain that teenagers and adults will find a lot to love here as well. This is Riff's third album...and it's chock full of ultra-hummable upbeat pop music that is sure to lift up even the most jaded listeners. Riff's real name is Evan Michael. As a teenager Evan was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia which was certainly devastating. But after having a risky bone marrow transplant he managed to overcome the illness and today he is cancer free. The experience undoubtedly had a profound on Evan and may have been one of the main motivators inspiring him to make music. To present the music Riff's band now features puppets created by the folks at Swazzle (who have been involved with the television shows The Simpsons, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, and Sprout). Kids, teenagers, and adults...if you're looking for a completely fun upbeat experience Riff Rockit and his band will certainly be just what you're looking for. Riff Rockit may be full of image gimmicks...but it all seems to work beautifully in his favor (!). Ultra-catchy cuts include "New Shoes," "Backyard," "Food Groups," and "Wintertime."
Rubenstein - New Metal From Old Boxes
(CD, Tonecluster Music,
The sixth full-length release from San Francisco, California's Jason Rubenstein. When many current artists try to recreate the sounds and ideas of progressive rock bands from the 1970s the music comes across sounding tired or like a bad imitation. That is certainly not the case here. Rubenstein's music is credible and inspired...and it has all the spark and sizzle that made the progressive era so exciting in the first place. In Jason's own words, this album "...features classic, loud rock production, and a movie-like tension-filled soundtrack vibe. Imagine if King Crimson, ELP, NIN, Wendy Carlos, and Philip Glass got together to score the soundtrack for a heist movie." Rubenstein is no newcomer to the world of music. He was in a progressive rock band in the 1980s (when the genre was no longer cool) so in some ways New Metal From Old Boxes marks a return to his roots. In addition to making music Jason has also worked as a software engineer at Google and at Pono Music. When Pono folded he suddenly found himself jobless. But instead of sitting around moping he immediately began work on this album. These tracks work on so many different levels. The songs themselves are great. The playing is precise and intricate. And the sound quality is impeccable. If you love progressive instrumental music there's a good chance you'll go apeshit over this one. We sure did. Top pick.
Sassparilla - Pasajero / Hullabaloo (Double CD, Fluff
and Gravy, Pop)
With most albums we can sum up the overall sound after one or two spins. But this band's music...required several listens to begin to understand where these folks are coming from. Apparently the folks in Portland, Oregon's Sassparilla have gone through quite a few changes since they began making music in 2007. Over time the band has begun to focus more and more on their recorded sound rather than just their live shows. And based on the various sounds and styles presented on this double album the time was well spent. So...exactly what kind of music do the folks in Sassparilla play? Hard to say, really...because in the end these tunes stand squarely on their own. Band leader Kevin Blackwell's songs delve into all different styles and terrains...pop, progressive pop, blues, Americana, rockabilly, rock, punk, and more. This double album shows just how diverse his songs can be. But rather than coming across sounding like haphazard scraps that don't fit together, these discs have a nice smooth sense of continuity. Pasejero, the first disc, is focused more on arrangements and studio production while Hullabaloo captures the more playful and spontaneous essence of the live band. While we initially couldn't figure out what was going on here during the first and second spins...by the time we heard these discs ten times or more...the pure substance inherent in the music sank in. We're mighty impressed with this band's music. You could listen to it on all kinds of different levels...as background music...as music to dance to...or as music to probe thoughts by. A great collection of tracks featuring standouts like "Dark Star," "When The Devil Don't Know," "Through the Fence," "It Ain't Easy," and "The Hoot Song." Top pick.
Ghosts - Love & Other Ephemera (Independently
released CD, Progressive pop)
Silvery Ghosts is the name of the new project created by New York's Hank Kim who has released two full-length CDs over the past few years. He chose to use a new moniker/band name because, in his own words, "It really seems to fit with the sonic approach that we took with this recording." Recorded at Twin Buffalo Studios in 2013, Love & Other Ephemera is a smart and calming collection of moody pop with intelligent lyrics and slightly atmospheric arrangements. Although this band is basically a solo project, several guests appear on this album to support Kim. Nate Martinez, Kelli Scarr, Tom Zovich, Dan Brantigan, Josh Kaufman, and Karen Waltruch are all here and offer their expert skills. At certain points, Hank's voice and music are slightly reminiscent of Roy Orbison...except much more modern and moody. Ten well-crafted cuts including "At One Arm's Length," "Frozen Summer," and "Arise Lover Surprise."
Priest - More Nasty (Independently released
Although the trend is kinda starting to die down now we're still finding it funny that some artists are choosing to release cassettes (with download cards, of course) rather than CDs or vinyl. The idea is, of course, that because almost everyone downloads their music now the physical thing is just that...any physical thing...because most folks are just going to want to get the music off the internet. This cool little cassette looks very much like something we would have received in the mail way back in the 1980s when independent cassettes were still being released by tons of folks. Street Priest is Jacob Felix Heule. According to his own web site, Heule "is a percussionist and electronic musician focused on sound-oriented improvisation following the traditions of electro-acoustic improv, noise, and 20th-century composition." That pretty much sums things up nicely. This release features four lengthy tracks: "Turk," "Taylor," "Sixth," and "Market." These cuts are experiments that sound as if they were purely spontaneous. Joining Jacob on these recordings are Matt Chandler on bass and Kristian Aspelin on guitar. Strange stuff that blends experimental sounds with modern classical ideas. Neat.
Strike Back - Music From the Cinemax Series: Music by Scott Shields
(CD, Varese Sarabande,
This CD presents the music created for seasons three and four of the British television series Strike Back. With the exception of the first track ("Short Change Hero" performed by The Heavy), the music was composed and recorded by Scott Shields who is best known up to this point in time as a member of the band Gun. At one point Shields was working with Joe Strummer (The Clash) who invited him to co-write the soundtrack to the comedy Gypsy Woman. Ever since, Scott has been active in the world of music creation for film and television. Seventeen of the eighteen tracks on this album are instrumentals but unlike most soundtracks the music on this one has much more of a rock and electronic sound. Plenty of great big sounds and cool atmospherics here and it really sounds great when turned up super loud. Killer tracks include "Gas Station," "Killing The Love," and "You Got Your Man."
- Original Score by Ceiri Torjussen
(CD, Wenallt, Film score)
To get ideas for the score to this film, composer Ceiri Torjussen listened to a lot of 1980s music (artists like Brian Eno, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, Cabaret Voltaire, Tangerine Dream, Georgio Moroder, etc.) in order to make music that was appropriate for the time period in which the story of Test takes place. This time is 1985 and two guys in San Francisco have fallen in love with one another...while the AIDS epidemic has just begun to have it's dramatic effects. Sounds like an emotionally charged film (we haven't seen it yet). The score is bound to take listeners back to this time period when keyboard/synth bands were all the rage and folks who were slowly coming to the conclusion that choices in life sometimes had dire consequences. Sixteen precisely-crafted cuts here that can be appreciated as a film score as well as an instrumental album featuring sounds from times gone by. Our favorite tracks include "Dawn," "Star Dancer," "Bad Dreams," and "Hello Sunrise."
Twink - Critter Club (Independently released CD, Toy pop)
There are very few artists in the world who have an image, style, and sound as clearly defined as Twink. The toy piano project created by Mike Langlie, this band's image and sound have become so stylized that Langlie really has no competitors because he has created such a unique presence in the world of music. The latest Twink album is, once again, a direct bull's eye. Although possibly the most accessible album yet (?), Critter Club is cut from the same wonderful fabric as previous releases but this time there is a heavier reliance on traditional instruments backing up the toys. Even though you might not recognize the band name there's a very good chance you've already heard Twink music before. Langlie's music has been featured/included on various television shows on MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. The tracks on Critter Club are ultimately creative, fanciful, humorous, and emotionally gripping. Rather than coming off like novelty tracks featuring toys, these songs have all the characteristics that make great pop music. Cool melodies, superb arrangements, and an overall vibe that is simultaneously offbeat and extraordinarily appealing. Assisting Mike this time around are musicians/audio engineers Casey Paquet, Groundfish, Joel Hagglund, Rafi Sofer, Paul Meurens, Matt Renzi, George Berlin, and Mike Quinn. Although more commercial sounding than previous releases, Club is by no means a sellout in any way, shape, or fashion. Mike is not only a songwriter and musician of the highest caliber, but his artwork is also nothing short of fantastic. This album is housed in an imaginatively designed cardboard sleeve complete with three professionally produced playing cards inserted inside (to tie in with the image of three masked animals on the front playing cards). Thirty-six minutes of pure audio bliss. Reward yourself with the sounds of Twink. It will quickly release your inner child and simply make you feel...great. Highly recommended... TOP PICK.
Sum - Aun No Has Demostrado Nada (CD,
We haven't received any physical releases from the fine folks at Spain's Acuarela label in a while so we were quite excited to receive the latest disc from Umbra Sum.This band is the project created by Ed Sanchez-Gomez. Originally from Costa Rica, Ed now lives in Chicago. Aun No Has Demostrado Nada is an unusual listening experience. Sanchez-Gomez combines the harmonies of the Beach Boys with guitar feedback (a la The Jesus and Mary Chain)...along with a curious dose of Hammock-like atmospherics. The end result is an exotic and somewhat intoxicating batch of intelligent underground pop tunes. This is the first official Umbra Sum release...a curious mini-album that firmly sets the stage for what we fell will be a long and rewarding career. We dig all of Ed's tunes...but particular standout cuts include "Anos Como Flores," "Nuestro Imposible," and "Dulce Reposo."
Van Eeten - Inner Music: Works for Saxophone
Quartet, String Quartet, & Piano (CD, Navona,
The debut Navona label release from The Netherland's Ruud Van Eeten. Inner Music is divided into three sections. First is the brief (under three minutes) "Punctus Einz for Saxophone Quartet" which is followed by the more lengthy (almost twenty minutes) "Jhero for String Quartet." The third piece ("Piano Quintet No. 1") is divided into four sections. Playing on the album are the Amstel Quartet, the Matangi Quartet, and pianist Saskia Lankhoorn. The music here evokes emotions in the mind of the listener. Van Eeten's compositions are smart, intricate, and involved and yet he leaves plenty of open space in his works so that the listener can easily comprehend the music. His music has a great deal in common with the great classic composers which will thrill many classical music fans. Another exceptional release from the fine folks at Navona who seem to be drawing from an endless well of twenty-first century talent.
Wakey! - Salvation (CD, MummaGrubbs
/ Thirty Tigers, Pop)
This band got their big break a few years back when one of their songs ("War Sweater") was used in the finale of the sixth season of the television show One Tree Hill (bandleader Michael Grubbs even appeared in the show as a bartender). The day after the show aired the song went to #13 on the iTunes chart and led to a signing with the Family Records label. The resulting album (Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said The Last Time I Saw You) went on to become quite successful, reaching the number one position on Billboard's Heatseekers Chart. According to the band web site, as a child Grubbs considered becoming a preacher when he grew up. This could explain some of the sounds and ideas presented on the appropriately-titled Salvation. These songs seem to celebrate life. They have a decidedly uplifting sound and feel and there are some slight threads in the songs that could be interpreted as a form of modern gospel...although the songs definitely fall within the confines of the pop genre. Grubbs has a great voice and his songs could easily appeal to millions upon millions of music fans. Eleven groovy cuts here including "All It Takes Is A Little Love," "I Like You," and "Homeland."
Zhongle - Raised High / Brought Low
(Vinyl LP, Edible Onion,
It isn't often that we are able to compare a twenty-first century recording artist with the strangely creative British band Henry Cow...but this is most definitely one of those rare cases. Raised High / Brought Low is the second full-length release from Chicago's Wei Zhongle. And hopefully without scaring folks away, we can safely say that this music isn't for everyone...nor does it try to be. The folks in this underground band combine sounds from East Asian classical music, Balkan folk, modern classical, and progressive rock from the 1970s to create a strange musical world where things just sound...different. The music is strange on its own...but just as strange here is the cover of this vinyl album. The front features a disturbing close up shot of a deceased deer's head (courtesy of photographer Rob Jacobs). Quite an unusual package here for those with more eclectic musical tastes...
X-Men: Days of Future Past - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by John Ottman (CD, Sony
The music for X-Men: Days of Future Past was created by John Ottman...so you know it's good. Ottman is something of a genius in the world of film and music. A leading film composer and award-winning film editor, Ottman has also served as producer on many films. But music seems to be his main interest these days and on this soundtrack he once again shows why he is so in-demand in the twenty-first century. These slickly-produced tracks have a huge smooth sound and, like any great soundtrack should do, they evoke a range of emotions in the mind of the listener. Some of these tracks are subdued and atmospheric while others feature rushing walls of sound. The bulk of the album consists of Ottman originals but the album closes with two well-known classics from the past: Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" and Robert Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Over seventy-six minutes' worth of music here. Recommended for X-Men fans as well as serious film soundtrack fanatics.
YES, YES, NO
Does you liking cheese?
Yes, yes, no.
Does your riding thing working?
Yes, yes, no.
Does you shake up when thirsty?
Yes, yes, no.
Does you say yes twice then no?
Yes, yes, no.
Additional Items Received:
Activator - Activator
Seth Adam - Steel tempered pride
Juan Alamo - Marimjazzia
Amen Ittys - Pliers
Alana Amram & The Rogh Gems - Spring river
Amigo - Might coulc
Annette - Dream with me
Apollo Chamber Players - European folkscapes
Arrested Development - At long last...music ans songs from Arrested Development
August: Osage Countyk - Original motion picture soundtrack
Auris + Gino - Rub
Baby Baby - Big boy baller club
Sherman Baker - Sherman Baker
Cheryl Barnes - Listen to this
Brian Baugus - Actor songster sage
Bee Bee Bee Bee - Eee Eee Eee Eee
Bend The Riever - So long Joan Fontaine
Marie Nelson Bennett - Orpheus lex
Bezobratri - Bezobratri
Bim Skala Bim - Chet's last call
Erica Blinn - Lovers in the dust
Blue Skies for Black Hearts - Blue Skies for Black Hearts
Sam Boshnack Quintet - Exploding syndrome
Boswell - Beryllium
Roger Bourland - Four quartets of songs and arias
Bowed Piano Ensemble - Ice and fire
Michael Bradford - The long night
Phillip Brandon - Phillip Brandon
Brushfire Stankgrass - Micro climntes
Buenos Diaz - The love balloon
Buffalo Clover - Live at the Five
Buffalo Clover - Test your love
Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical - Original broadway cast recording
Ellen Burr / Michael Unruh - Where am i from, where am i going
Rosemary Butler - You just watch me
Calvary - Original motion picture soundtrack
Eileen Careyk - Let it go
Azure Carter & Alan Sondheim - Avator woman
Sergio Cervetti - Unbridled chamber works
Che Prasad - Christmastime in the apocalypse
Che Prasad - Shiva me timbers
Cinderella - Rodgers and Christopher's Cinderella: A new musical
Conrad Clifton - Picture in picture
Susan Clynes - Life is...
Jose Contreras - Jose Contreras
Copernicus - Immediate eternity II
David G. Cortes - Time away but home again
Cosmic Punlch - FM stereo
Crap Detectors - On the psycho path of life
Reginald Cyntze - Elements of life
Keith Davis Trio - Still
Spencer Day - Daybreak
Dear Darwin - An abecedarium for soprano and piano
Matija Dedic, Antonio Sanchez, Scott Colley - Sentiana
Frank Dibussolo Group - Songs to write home about
Doors - A psyche tribute to The Doors
Bob Dorough - Bob Dorough
Doug Richards Trio - Jazz in the living room
Down Home Band - Monrovia
Rob Drabkin - Little steps
Drockulette - Smock
Duo526 - Ballade
8-Bit Operators - Enjoy the science
Dave Ellis - Everything in between
Jace Everett - Terra rosa
Jace Everett Bad things
The Everydays - The Everydays
Ezzeethere - Not so...
Fair Ophelia - 2
Falling Birds - Native America EP
Fankhauser Cassidy Band - On the blue road
Far West - Any day now
Fearing & White - Tea and confidences
Feel No Other - Feel No Other
Julian Fleisher - Finally
Footnotes - Comin' home
Foundations - Modern works in the clasical tradition
Jeremy Fox - With love
Carl Franklin - Been a while
Morgan Frazier - Morgan Frazier
Danny Freyer - Must be love
Frozen - Original soundtrack
Amos Funk - Black rose
Nick Gallant - Wanderlust
Matt Garrison - Patchwork
Robin George - History
Ferrill Gibbs - Significant trees
Glass House - Long way down
Global Unified - Global Unified
Good Grief / Eureka California - Rusty nail & another round b/w Turn on autopilot, DC sniper
Goodnight Tonight - Watch the rain
Nancy Goudinaki - I wanna be your star
Chris Greco - Standards, vol. 1
Matt Hannah - Let the lonely fade
Hard Soul - Seize the year
Harrington/Lowewen Duo - Metropolis
Dave & Emma Hart - Hold on
Cyndi Harvell - Heartache & revolution
Heavy Glow - Pearls & swine and everything fine
John Michael Hersey - Adirondack
Sydney Hodkinson - A keyboard odyssey
Amanda Homi - Till I reach Bombay
Kandia Crazy Horse - Stampede
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - The musical
If/Then - Original Broadway cast recording
I Love Rich - Respect the rich
Il Rumore Bianco - Mediocrazia
Il Sogno del Marinaio - Canto secondo
Indies Scope - 2013
Intimate Dream - Wonderful thing
In Your Eyes - Original motion picture score: Music by Tony Morales
The JAC - Love dumb
Daena Jay - Subdivision
Jersey Boys - Music from the motion picture and Broadway musical
Noel Johnston - Salted coffee
Jokeless - Smoke free
Carolyn Lee Jones - The performer
Nate Jones Band - EP
Shaman Juan - Soothsayer
Just A Machine - Piqured jacks
Just A Season - Just A Season
Just A Tarzan - Just A Tarzan
Just A Zoo - Just A Zoo
Kaak - Licked and licker
Dave Kain, Thomson Kneeland, Joe Abba - Raising Kain
Ricky Kej / Wouter Kellerman - Winds of Samsara
Kelly's Lot - Live in Brussels
Madison King - Onward and upward
Elly Kouri - I love you too much
Adrian Krygowski - Roam
Daniela Kuri - Sway
Bae Kuang - These darling wings
Joe LaCascio and Woody Witt - Absinthe: The music of Billy Strayhorn
Michael Lake / Gerry Pagano - Roads less traveled
Lalama Brothers - Erie Ave.
Ronnie Lane - Memorial concert: One for the road - Royal Albert Hall, London
Jacob Latham - Midnight train
John A. Lewis Trio - One trip out
Lilla - The awakening
Jackie Lomax - Against all odds
Michelle Langara - Songs of blue
Lovers Key - Here today gone tomorrow
Lowman - Garden of rainbows
Lucky Bone - Borderline
Vincente Lyn - Live in New York City
Machine Don't Lie - Nobody panic
Magnolia - Magnolia
Ray Majors - The 7% solution
Matthew Malsky - Geographies & geometries
Terry Marshall - Arrival
Dan Masterson - Learn to live
Josh Matthews - A sides
Josh Matthews - Co-patriot
McCormick Percussion Group - Soli for soprano with percussion orchestra
Mark Meadows - Somethin' good
Meanies - Cover their tracks
Michael-Ann - Heavy load
Tim Levan Miller - Boredom longs for fear
Jim Mize - Jim Mize
Moistboyz - 5
Mike Montrey Band - Song by song by song
Monuments Men - Original motion picture soundtrack
Patricia Morehead - Brass rail blues
Morning Birds - Bloom
Ken Will Morton - Slow burn
Motel Life - Original motion picture soundtrack: Score by David Holmes and Keefus Ciancia
Mud - Original motion picture soundtrack: Score by David Wingo
My Education - 5 popes
Kris N. - The thankful parade
Namb - Namb
Nekozurashi - Ahostractions
Nine Times Blue - Matter of time
Nishe - This is Nishe
Nissy - Program the hissing thing
Non-Stop - Original motion picture soundtrack
Noisy Noses - Noisy Noses
Brian Noyes - Journeys after...
Nylon Jail - My heart soars like a hawk
Oak Street Blues - Calico
Old Cabin - Old Cabin
Alejandra O'Leary and the Champions of hte West - Heartspace timepiece
One Chance - Original motion picture soundtrack
Oooooo - Noooooo
Orchestra of Spheres - Vibration animal sex brain music
Alexandra Ottaway - Tetrahedron dreams
Charlie Parr - Hollandale
Pawns or Kings - Pomme de terre
Period 2 - Period 2
Perry Project - Can't steal soul
Troy Petty - Fairy tale pen
Simon Phillips, John Lawton, Joseph Williams - My kind o' lovin': Intelligent music project II
Steve Picataggio - Two feet on the ground
Aaron Poehler & Ryan Tullyt-Doyle - Dietrich
Random Order - Black lipstick kiss
Reacta - Refraction
James Tristan Redding - Walking into Brooklyn
Marty Regan - Scattering light, scattering flowers
Charlee Remitz - These veins
Edward Rogers - Kaye
Jefferson Rose Band - Feel like dancing
Roxanna - Exotica
Royal Oui - Royal Oui
Chris Sanchez - Guilty
Sarah - Featuring Bruce Barth
Save The Radio - Calculating the sum of your life
Scan Hopper - Mariana bridges
Scattered Bodies - Talking songs
Scenic Route to Alaska - Warrington
Scientist - World EP
Erik Scott - And the earth bleeds
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - The perfect quirk
David Serby and the Latest Scam - David Serby and the Latest Scam
Shameless - Music from the television series
Sherlock - Original television soundtrack
Ships Have Sailed - Someday
Herb Silverstein - Monday morning: 10 original tunes
The Silvertones - Silvertone avenue
Sine Qua Non - Simple pleasures
Donna Singer - Destiny: Moment of jazz
Soatoa - Latent
Sours - Sours
Spell Kasters - Kastin' the spell
Spycker - Voted away
Neville Staple - Ska crazy!
Ann ie Stela - Whiplash blues
Richard Stoltzman - Resolve
Isobel Stover - Her own sweet world
Stray - Life in Japan 2013
Joe Sullivan - Whiskey jack waltz
Mason Summit - Absentee
Sunshine Riot - A fresh bottle and a brand new day
Sweet - Sweetlife
Julian Temple Band - Upsidedownbackwards
That Awkward Moment - Original motion picture soundtrack
Third World - Under the magic sun
Beth Thornley - Septagon
Dinah Thorpe - Lullabies & walke up calls
Tippy - Getting Tippy
Alex Tjoland Band - Silent revelry
Darryl Tookes and Joe Beck - Precious child: Love songs & lullabies
Toothe - Talons EP
Tower of Song - In cityi and in forest
Matt Turk - Cold revival
Ugly Quartet - Mars needs Maurice
Uncommon Evolution - Uncommon Evolution
Unrepeatable Quartet - Edmonton 2012
The Use - What's the use?
Van Burens - Van Burens
Vanilla Beans - FFFF
Various artists - Made in Iceland VII
Various Artists - A blues tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival
Various Artists - Sweet relief: Love is everywhere
Vaudeville - Vendetta
Vices - Vices
Videoing - Treasure house EP
Vinny Vegas - The big white whale
Vlatko - Subjective experience in a commerical free zone
Vosque Dots - Toska
Sean Wagner - Word came with the evening
Tommy Wallach - I meant it to be sweet
Week of Wonders - Piggybacks b/w The end of the day
Stan Wells - High tide
Jeremy Wilms - Diamond people
Winchester Revival - Eyes in the canopy
Winter Pale - Red sun
Woodshedders - Wildfire
Rik Wright - Fundamental forces
Yippee - A, D, and U
Frank Zappa - Everyone hates my wife now
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Missing Dog Head
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