April 1998 Muffukin Reviews From

RATING SYSTEM | The Absolute Zeros | Adam F | The Amazing Royal Crowns | Astrud | Bagman | Michael Thomas Berkley | Black Grape | The Bogmen | Buffalo Daughter | Cable | The Celtic Heartbeat | Children Shooting Children | Clannad | Cubic Feet | The C*nts | De Infernali | The Drowsy Little Punks | The Dylan Group | Eltro | Evenrude | Falling Sickness | Floppy Houseburn | Foil | Galactic | GAM | The Getaway People | Gloritone | Hood | In Flames | The Itty Bittys | Ivy | Jeremy | Johan | The Kent 3 | Dan Kibler | Kiss My Jazz | Kleenex Girl Wonder | KMFDM | The Lamp Chompers | Liar's Club | Litany | Lord Runningclam | Ray Mason | Sammy Masters | Mystery Machine | Nebula | Not Breathing | Possible | The Push Kings | The Racist Uh-Ohs | Redboy | Red London | The Revelers | Semisonic | Todd Snider | The Specials | Spirit of Eden | Sully | Tribes of Neurot | Two | Ui | The Wallmen | The Wicked Farleys

*Additional Items Received*


THE ABSOLUTE ZEROS - Dreams Gone Sour (CD, Big Deal, Pop/rock)
Hmmm. I like the music, but the name of the band leaves something to be desired. After all, there was already a band called The Zeros. Anyway...The Absolute Zeros is the new project of Steven Deal, formerly of the band Chopper. This band has more of a garage rock sound than Chopper, but this is still basically pop music. Smart, upbeat, and hummable, this band has good tunes and the good sense to execute them in a direct and simple style. (Not Rated)

ADAM F - Colours (CD, Astralwerks/F-Jams/Positiva, Drum and bass)
Adam F is a drum and bass artist from Great Britain. This is his debut full-length. The CD is technologically intense...full of effects, unusual sounds, and tons more technostuff. Of all the subcategories of electronic music, for some reason the drum and bass usually sounds better. Though his emphasis is certainly on beats, bass, and rhythm, Adam throws in a ton of other stuff into the equation. He seems to be fond of using realtively straightforward rhythms and then laying sometimes unsettling chords and sounds over the top. The overall effect is both relaxing and somewhat unsettling. The only track I didn't like was "F-Jam," because of the rap vocals. A damn good debut from an up-and-coming artist... (Rating: 4)

THE AMAZING ROYAL CROWNS - The Amazing Royal Crowns (CD, Velvel, Rockabilly)
Kinda like the Cramps except faster and not as scary sounding. The Amazing Royal Crowns play believable, fast rockabilly with furious intent. The band consists of King Kendall (vocals), The Colonel (guitar), The Swinger (bass), and Jud Williams (drums). Word of mouth has it that the band puts on a damn good live show. They've already played at that goddamn Lollapolooza festival as well as opening up for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Crowns present fourteen rockin' tunes on this self-titled CD, including "Shiverin In The Corner," "Scene of the Crime," and "Swimming In Drinks." (Not Rated)

ASTRUD - Superman EP (CD EP, Sealed Fate/Acuarela, Soft pop/electronica)
Spain is such a cool country. It's unfortunate that we don't receive more Spanish bands to review, particularly if they're as refreshing as Astrud. Actually the duo of Manolo (vocals, guitar, songwriting) and Genis (keyboards, programming), this band's music is light, airy, and dreamy. The electronic programming is anything but canned, and the vocals are smooth and very European. It all adds up to a very soothing pop concoction that reminds me in some ways of early Ivy... (Rating: 4)

BAGMAN - Wrap (CD, Invisible, Electronic)
I'm not sure who's winning the war to see who can release the most music...Mick Harris or the guys in Sheep On Drugs... One or the other surely MUST win the prize for most prolific musician(s) in the nineties. Bagman is the latest project by Lee Fraser, who is half of Sheep On Drugs. This rhythm heavy batch of tunes is a heady mix of techno, dub, and more. Hell, some of this stuff even borders on "world music" (whatever the hell THAT is!). Not only is the music good, but I particularly love the cool minimal artwork on this disc. Go, Lee...go, go, GO! (Not Rated)

MICHAEL THOMAS BERKLEY - Images From Earth (CD, Numinous, Instrumental)
I started reading the explanation of this CD and record label and I started thinking..."Oh God...more new age philosophical bullshit." The basic premise of the Numinous record label is to promote mankind becoming more reconnected with the earth. But the more I thought about it, the better the idea sounded. After all...the biggest problems with the earth stem from technology, business, and the media. I absolutely believe that the world would be a better place if people were more connected with earth and nature. This music seems to achieve that effect. These hypnotic soundscapes are beautiful indeed, and if you close your eyes you can almost imagine all kinds of cool stuff happening... Call me a hokey pokey if you wanna, but this kinda thing sounds a HELL of a lot better than your average canned alternative rock band that everyone is fawning all over. Get a grip and take a trip. Michael Thomas Berkley has created a winner. (Rating: 4)

BLACK GRAPE - Stupid Stupid Stupid (CD, Radioactive, Dance/rock/collage)
Very thick, heavily produced dance music. Note that this is NOT disco or techno. Nope, England's Black Grape provide dance music that's heavy on backbeats and bass lines. Led by former Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder, this band's music is a heady trip into the technologically complex world of nineties dance music. Each tune is so completely overproduced and dense that it actually becomes interesting. There are enough melody lines and clear vocals in the tunes so that there is actually something catchy to latch onto. Apparently the band is BIG in the United Kingdom. They've yet to match that fame here in the sates, but that may change. Very commercial and upbeat. (Rating: 3)

THE BOGMEN - Closed Captioned Radio (CD, Arista, Pop)
Sounding somewhat like David Bowie at times, and at other times somewhat reminiscent of The Divine Comedy, The Bogmen's obtuse brand of highly produced, complex pop music is an acquired taste. In fact, I had to listen to the band's latest CD several times before even deciding whether I liked it or not. Thank God I had patience this time because this is a DAMN FINE collection of tunes that may not hit you over the head right away. And the more you listen, the better this band's music sounds. Personal faves here are "Failing Systems," "Highway of Shame," "Seadog," and (in particular) the unnamed thirteenth track. I keep hearing how incredible the band's live show is, so hopefully I'll be able to catch these guys' tour to promote this exceptional disc. (Rating: 5)

BUFFALO DAUGHTER - New Rock (CD, Grand Royal, Techno pop)
You've gotta hear this one to believe it. Buffalo Daughter is a weird mix of Yoko Ono, Suicide, The Normal, Wagon Christ and...and....sheesh. There are too many influences to name, and they span several decades and genres. The appropriately titled New Rock is just that. These three Japanese ladies have taken sounds and ideas from all over the place and transformed them into their own "new" sound (and they sound NOTHING like Shonen Knife!). It's rare when a CD hits this office that sounds different than the rest. This one really does. Sugar Yoshinaga, Yumiko Ohno, and Mooog Yamamoto write some really strange, off-the-wall, and at times goofy material that doesn't fit into any specific category. This is an experience you don't want to miss. Tunes like "New Rock," "Great Five Lakes," and "Super Blooper" are gonna be sending music fans into a feeding frenzy... (Rating: 5)

CABLE - When Animals Attack (British Import CD, Infectious, Pop/rock)
British riff rock. This quartet has apparently made some major waves in England, and now hopes to transfer that same success to the U.S. The music consists of basic guitar riffs supported by steady rhythms and simple melody lines. The band's greatest strength seems to be their ability to get in a groove and really stay there throughout each tune. Though I can't quite put my finger on it, there's something about these guys' music that's just a tad out of the ordinary. Eleven tunes, including "Souvenir," "Blubirds Are Blue," "The Colder Climate," and "From Here You Can See Yourself." (Not Rated)

THE CELTIC HEARTBEAT - Collection 2 (CD, Celtic Heartbeat, Celtic/Various artists)
The second in the series of various artists collections on the Celtic Heartbeat label is as good as the first. This intriguing slice of Celtic music gives an idea of where the music is at today. The collection features thirteen tunes by artists such as Bill Wheelan, Anuna, Luke Daniels, Kila and more. Interestingly (though not surprisingly), my least favorite tracks are the two which feature "famous celebrity" vocalists ("North & South of the River" and "He Moved Through the Fair"). Kate Bush, however, serves up an excellent track entitled "Mna Na Heireann." If you're not familiar with this form of music, this is a good place to start. Hey...could somebody tell me where the country of Celtia is? I can't find it on the map... (Rating: 4)

CHILDREN SHOOTING CHILDREN (Video compilation, Ragaroon Video)
This is an amazing video collection that presents a side of our world that many people don't want to face. This is a "best of" collection of some of the more famous mass murders of the nineties specifically commited by children against children. Once the child blood starts flowing, it just keeps on flowing all over the place so much so that you can't tell where one sequence ends and the next one begins. Little kids obviously kill for the same reasons that their parents kill. Everybody wants to be famous. Lower the lights, burn the candles, turn on conditioners, and play the videotape. The best part is foam worm rectum blood poking its hardly living little fumbler down the dokey poke that flops some testicles around somewhere. Okay, there. Whatever makes 'em happy. (Rating: 1)

CLANNAD - Landmarks (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
I've heard a lot of negative barking about this CD, the bulk of it being whiny critics slamming the band for having a more homogenous sound this time around. Screw the critics. Screw life. Screw everything. Okay, so this IS kinda schmaltzy in many ways. For me personally, the band still provides nice, mellow, relaxing music that is suited for a very select audience (namely people who don't want complexity, peculariarities, and violence in their music). I can take it hard or soft. Everything has it's place. Except little yellow ducks. They don't have any place to go anymore, and no one wants them. Poor ducks. But back to Clannad's CD. It's calm. It's pleasant. It's easy on the ears. I like it. (Rating: 3)

CUBIC FEET - Inside Rail (CD, Meteor, Pop)
This is the third full-length release from Baltmore's Cubic Feet. The band is led by Mark Davison and Woody Lissauer, who together co-wrote all the songs on this disc. The band plays basic, upbeat pop/rock music that's heavy on melodies and harmonies. Chiming guitars and upbeat rhythms complete the picture. These tunes remind me of a whole slew of other bands, yet these guys' inspired writing and playing make the music sound vibrant and alive. Our faves are "If I Only Knew" and "Wheel In A Wheel." Good stuff. (Rating: 4)

THE C*NTS - A Secret History Of (CD, Disturbing, Garage rock)
A true underground garage band. The more I hear them, the more I like them. These guys are playing music for the right reasons...to have fun and meet people. This shows in the band's music. This time around, The C*nts offer an anthology of different stuff they've recorded over the years. But they've done such a good job of compiling material that this sounds like a new studio album. And talk about tunes...twenty-one in all! The song titles are as good as the music itself: "Wound Too Tight," "Don't Shoot Me, I'm You're Mother," "Chemicals In The Mail," "There Are Electrical Filaments On My Hamburger"... Great guitar playing throughout This is a limited edition of 1,000 copies. Get yours today. Highly recommended for garage rock enthusiasts. Write to Disturbing Records, 3238 S. Racine, Chicago, IL 60608. (Rating: 5)

DE INFERNALI - Symphonia De Infernali (CD, Nuclear Blast America, Electronic/rock)
This technologically driven hard rock disc is interesting in that there are no guitars present...but that doesn't prevent these guys from cranking out some real noisy stuff. The loud and nasty bits are split up by some smooth electronic symphonic type stuff that helps to keep things from becoming samey. It's a shame that more bands aren't adventurous enough to throw odd curves at the audience like De Infernali does. The soft, atmospheric pieces work...but then so does the band's electronic brand of intense thrash. Interesting. (Not Rated)

THE DROWSY LITTLE PUNKS - Sleepy Little Deviants (CD, Somber, Slowpunk)
Somewhat out in Nebraska is a little clan of punk rockers who just haven't gotten enough sleep lately. The Drowsy Little Punks are exactly what their name suggests. These light and slow punk tunes float by like Sid Vicious mixed with Strawberry Shortcake. Interesting idea poorly executed. Your eyes are getting heavy, very heavy... (Rating: 1)

THE DYLAN GROUP - It's All About (Rimshots & Faulty Wiring) (CD, Bubble Core, Instrumental)
Into vibraphones? Just can't seem to find a band that centers its music around the instrument? If this strikes a familiar chord, then The Dylan Group is the band that you may have been searching for all your life. For anyone else, this is one band that certainly doesn't fit into any specific category. The band is actually the duo consisting of Dylan Cristy and Adam Pierce. The music is heady, sparse...and atmospheric. Something like a fusion of trance and jazz, these tunes are very easy on the ears and the mind...creating a mighty cool "vibe" right in your very own living room. Not only is this very different, it's also quite excellent to boot. Makes me wanna start playing the goddamn vibraphone myself... (Rating: 5)

ELTRO - Information Changer (CD, Miner St., Pop)
Eltro music reminds me of Seely, except the sound is not as thick. The tunes on Information Changer are trippy, somewhat droning atmospheric pop. Each piece is lengthy, with the shortest tune clocking in at 3:27 and the longest at 13:59. This is not "hit" sounding pop music. The compositions are much more abstract than that, sometimes even having a jazzy feel. The female vocals are mysterious and sometimes strangely off key. In the space of seven tunes, the band is not afraid to experiment with a variety of styles and sounds. Very image oriented stuff to ber sure. Includes "Grand Canyon," "To The Side," and "I Begin To Believe." (Not Rated)

EVENRUDE - Superabsorbent (CD, Pinch Hit, Rock)
Evenrude is a competent band with a lot of variety in their sound. They switch rhythms and speed in unpredictable ways while always staying in a groove. Sort of like a cross between rock, pop, jazz, and hip-hop, this band goes all over the place and then back again. This, the band's debut, contains fourteen tunes including "Precious One" and "Year of the Rat." (Not Rated)

FALLING SICKNESS - Because the World Has Failed Us Both (CD, Hopeless, Rock)
This band is the real thing. Pure youthful chaos and attitude reign supreme on the latest CD from Falling Sickness. These guys are full of tight energy, but there's also a certain looseness to their sound that keeps things from becoming predictable or samey. Pounding, frenetic drums...driving bass lines...extra loud guitars...and a real snotty singer drive this band's nervous sound. These guys have just the right sound and image to please all the punks out there because this is NOT artifically created record company punk. Fourteen knockout tunes including "Gonna Try," "All That You Paid For," and "Life of the Party." Rockin' stuff! (Rating: 4)

FLOPPY HOUSEBURN - Slaw and Banner Razor Phasers (Video)
Was that them there floppin' down that alley way there? They is there, they stand on top of all. See them spread the slaw, very smooth, very precise. Brand new video tape going shoppity shoppity down the truck zone...and Helen, why is that worthy? "How worthy is your head check!" proclaims the banner. Two hundred or more razor phasers operate with a "click click" kind of function. Now they march, proud as cancer...as proud as insecure lesbians. Now send hate mail. Send hate mail to the witches, the bitches, the sickness...slaw it on the opening scene, the middle sequence. Stop the tape and rewind, erase and start to die. Blue in your dead hole, blue in your dead goddamn stinking hole. (Rating: 1)

FOIL - Spread It All Around (CD, Mute/13th Hour Recordings, Rock)
What?!? An all out rock band on Mute?!? Hey, there's nothing like variety...and Mute always seems ready to supply more variety than most folks can tolerate. This Scottish band plays loud rock with attitude that sounds at times like early Stranglers, except not nearly as violent and hateful (there's also a Jam like sound that pops in and out). We particularly like the opening instrumental "A.C. Rocket," with it's neat explosive energy. There's definitely a seventies sound to many of these tunes, but the band's progressive, obtuse style of punk is a style you don't hear much these days. Other cool tracks include "Penicillin," "Soup," and "Are You Enemy?" (Not Rated)

GALACTIC - Coolin' Off (CD, Fog City, Jazz)
Cool, funky, upbeat jazz that COOKS. To hear them play, you'd never know that these four guys are white. They've got a loose, snappy sound that sounds as good as a black jazz band. As a kiddie booster, I absolutely hated jazz (probably because jazz musicians didn't wear make up and shiny clothes and sing about homosexuality). Now that I'm older and somewhat more stupid, I really get off on jazz music...particularly when it sounds as fresh and authentic as this. Fourteen tunes including "Go Go," "Something's Wrong With This Picture," and "Mystery Tube" (???). Neat. (Rating: 4)

GAM (Live performance, March 19, 1998)
Savannah's GAM is already legendary, despite the fact that they've yet to snag a record deal. (C'mon A&R folks...get HIP, will ya?) Over time, most bands become more mellow or accessible. Lately, GAM have become even more harsh and aggressive than before. This could be due to a line up change. New drummer Scott provides a much simpler...but much harsher...backbeat for the band, pushing the tunes into overdrive. As usual, Kevin (guitar), Mike (bass), and Keith (vocals) put everything they had into the show. This performance found the band playing to a steadily growing, extremely devoted group of fans who were mesmerized during the entire show. This band is not to be missed whenever and wherever they play. GAM continues to be one of the VERY BEST LIVE BANDS in existence today. (Not Rated)

THE GETAWAY PEOPLE - The Getaway People (CD, Tangerine/Columbia, Soul/pop)
I like this because it doesn't seem to fit in with music that's currently out there on the horizon. And the odd part is that (considering how American this music sounds) the band hails from Norway. The best description for The Getaway People would be soul pop for the nineties. The band comes up with some cool grooves that'll make you wanna move, but they update the basic soul sound with loops and samples which make their concoction seem to pump harder than soul music of the past. Kinda like Morcheeba with male vocals, if you will. Commercial music usually rates the Big Number One here in babysueland...but this radio friendly band sounds fresh, genuine, and very sexy. YES, WE LIKE. (Rating: 4)

GLORITONE - Cup Runneth Over (CD, RCA, Pop/rock)
Good band name, as well as a good band doing a lot of things right. I don't hear a lot of bands from Arizona, so this one stood out automatically from a geographic point of view. Gloritone is a trio led by a lanky fellow named Tim Anthonise. Mr. Anthonise sure can write a good melodic tune, and he's got an excellent voice for making his tunes work. This is very radio friendly stuff (which may turn some folks off), but underneath the commercial gloss this band is offering solid, quality music...and that's something you don't come across often in the overground (em datt uh WUDD?). This is one of those bands that could very well become big, big, BIG. ANYWAY (to try and be concise)...this is a thoroughly entertaining CD with plenty of good tunes. (Rating: 4)

HOOD - Rustic Houses, Forlorn Valleys (CD EP, Domino, Progressive)
Very soothing, very real sounding stuff. This lengthy six song EP features very slow, thoughtful pieces that drift by smoothly and gracefully...much like the clouds on the cover of the disc. The "spoken" vocals take a backseat to the music, becoming almost inaudible at times as the music sweeps by in a hallucinogenic daydream. Sort of like a cross between modern trace music and progressive seventies rock music, Hood is presenting a sort of music that I don't hear much of these days. These tracks are very beautiful pieces that are excellent for reflecting or just relaxing. This is a band I want to hear more from FOR SURE... (Rating: 5)

THE ITTY BITTYS - Shitty Itty Bitty CD (CD, Packy Doe, Unknown)
Interesting publicity stunt. Fresno, California band The Itty Bittys have released a 1" compact disc. Of course, the problem here is that there is no way to play the disc...making the band (at least temporarily) a confusing obscurity. The press release accompanying the disc states that the follow up CD will be even smaller. I guess there's some kind of point here, though I'm not sure what it is... (Rating: 2)

IVY (Live performance, March 17, 1998)
An excellent live show from one of my favorite pop bands of the nineties. I saw Ivy play a couple of years ago and they put on a good show then. Since that time, the band has gotten much tighter and more confident. In particular, lead singer Dominique Durand seemed much more comfortable and friendly with the crowd. It was interesting that, even though Ivy was the opening act, by the time the band came on there was already a crowd of folks huddled up next to the stage. Though I don't know his name, the drummer that Ivy chose for this tour was EXCELLENT. The guy seemed completely in a trance during the entire set, providing perfect rhythms for the band's music. And of course, Andy Chase and Adam Schlesinger's chiming guitars sounded like HEAVEN. The addition of a horn player added a nice touch to many of the tunes. Though they continue to get slammed in many underground publications because of their soft, soothing sound, Ivy continue in their mission to simply provide some of the most memorable, hummable pop tunes around. This was one of those cool nights when the band and the audience seemed as one. A killer show indeed... (Rating: 6)

JEREMY - Celestial City (CD, Kinesis, Pop/rock instrumental)
Very interesting. Independent recording wonderkid Jeremy has approached music from several different angles over the course of the past few years in a seemingly endless string of completely entertaining music releases. Celestial City, his latest endeavor, harkens back to the progressive sounds of the late seventies (with tinges of nineties New Age music). Some of these instrumentals remind me of Camel, an absolutely great band that never received much attention. These tunes are heavy on keyboards and extraordinarily cool spacey guitar licks. Jeremy has got to be one of the best (and still virtually unrecognized) guitarists around. On this disc, some of the wilder instrumental passages sound very much like Steve Hillage. This voyage into the world of spaced out progressive music is a resounding success. Most artists tend to fall flat on their faces when they try something different. Jeremy always seems to land on his feet, no matter what he's doing. If you can't find this one in stores, you can e-mail the man at jeremy.morris@juno.com. Uplifting and beautiful. (Rating: 5)

JOHAN - Johan (CD, spinART/Sire, Pop)
Nice, pretty, noisy, thick, melodic, produced nineties pop. The band is from the Netherlands, but they play around like they're British. Very radio friendly, the band's tunes play like a string of top hits. They're at their best when they alter the pure pop for a somewhat different sound, as in the tune "Porneaux." Very commercial stuff. Some definite keepers here... (Not Rated)

THE KENT 3 - Peasant Musik (CD, Super Electro Sound Recordings, Rock/pop)
It's hard to put a label on The Kent 3. Is it pop? Surf? Retro? Futuristic? Redneck rock? Or art rock? Actually, this band draws elements from all of these styles of music, and more even. The band consists of Viv Halogen (vocals, guitars), Tyler W. Long (drums, vocals), and Adam Grendon (bass, vocals). For a three piece, these fellows have an impressively big sound. This could due in part to Kurt Bloch's production (which is top notch, as usual). Throughout all ten tunes, this band effectively treads on that peculiar thin line between goofy and intellectual. Really good upbeat stuff from a band that is on fire. I'd betcha they're a real parakeet treat in concert... (Rating: 4)

DAN KIBLER - Capsule (CD, Big Deal, Pop)
This is the first release I've heard on the Big Deal label that actually has the potential to become a big commercial hit. This is not a bad thing. Commercial sounding music does not have to be bad, and Dan Kibler is a case in point. This fellow's songs and particularly his voice have a sense of humanity and maturity that is missing in many a modern pop band. The emphasis here is on melody, guitars, and words. I like this guy's lyrics. He has something to say, yet he says it in a very unassuming way. There's a nice earthy feel underlying these tunes, making the music come across very sincere and genuine. Eleven tunes, including "So Wendy Says," "My Girl," and "All Over Now." Produced and engineered by Jeff Murphy. (Rating: 4)

KISS MY JAZZ - Stained Glass (CD EP, Heavenhotel, Progressive)
I sure wish this wasn't an EP, cuz the five tunes on this CD left my mouth watering. Perhaps that's the point. Kiss My Jazz is a very cool experimental group of folks who tend to redefine music simply by not following standard formats and structures. Somewhat jazzy in feel, this music is not jazz in any traditional sense of the word. The only other band that comes to mind hearing this is Bud Collins (whatever happened to them anyway?). Really cool and very different. Five tunes, including "Stained Glass" and "Mute Fish." (Rating: 5)

KLEENEX GIRL WONDER - Graham Smith Is The Coolest Person Alive (CD, MOC, Pop)
Sixties flashback music with one distinct difference: It wasn't recorded in the sixties. This is new stuff that sounds amazingly like authentic sixties material. In a lot of cases this kind of thing can be a major bummer, cuz when folks try to recreate the past they often fail miserably. Kleenex Girl Wonder succeed, most likely because they have some very fine tunes. The band packs a lot of songs onto one disc...twenty in all. Instead of just milking one sound or one idea, the band manages to pack a lot of variety into their material. Plenty of excellent tunes here including "The Bostonians," "Moses Alone," "Data For the Turtle in the Maze," and "May Be Icy." If you can't locate this one, e-mail MocRecords@mailcity.com. (Rating: 4)

KMFDM - MDFMK (CD EP, Wax Trax/TVT, Techno/dance)
Call them the Energizer Bunnies of the techno dance set, or call them whatever the Hell you want...but KMFDM are one of the best (and longest running) techno dance bands of the century. This EP offers up more of the same thick, dancy music the band is known for. As always, the disc features some FANTASTIC artwork. Six tunes. Either you love this band or you hate them. There are few fence sitters. (Rating: 4)

IN FLAMES - Whoracle (CD, Nuclear Blast America, Rock)
A good disc. Not perfect, but good. This loud band has a lot more skill in the instrumental area than most other loud rock bands. This is particularly evident on the brilliant "Dialogue With the Stars," a swirling instrumental piece driven by some very compelling guitar work. The vocalist is fine for this style of music (he's one of those ferocious growlers), but it's the songs driven by cool guitar lines that are the strongest. The only track I didn't care for is the cover of "Everything Counts." In Flames is a good band with potential. (Rating: 3)

THE LAMP CHOPPERS - We Cut Lamps Up For Cheap (CD, Landerson, Cheers)
This collection of cheerleading yells performed by ten transvestitates wearing lamp shades on their heads is somewhat of an obscurity that will be landing up all over the place during the next decade or two. Used record shops will crawl all over themselves trying to scarf an original copy of the disc, while millions will place extremely high bids at auctions for an authentic copy. I guess it just goes to show that people will buy anything. (Rating: 1)

LIAR'S CLUB - "The Town That Bears Your Name" b/w "Liars" (7" vinyl single, Leeroy's Rocket Recordings, Pop)
Atlanta's Liar's Club is a band that doesn't sound like all the rest. "The Town That Bears Your Name" is a lengthy piece, clocking in at 5:22...but despite the length, it doesn't get boring. The tune is a somewhat droning number that builds momentum as it progresses. Nice, simple, and clean...with some subtle studio trickery that adds just the right effect. "Liars" is oddly reminiscent of some of Curved Air's later material, although this tune is more accessible. There are two bands out currently using the name "Liar's Club," but to my knowledge this is the REAL one. If you can't find this, write to Liar's Club, P.O. Box 57062, Atlanta, GA 30343. Great stuff. (Rating: 5)

LITANY - Peculiar World (CD, Time Bomb Recordings, Pop/rock)
I couldn't resist reviewing this, simply because these four women are approaching music from a different angle than other bands. Formed within the structure of an Australian organization called Rock 'N Roll High School (okay, so it's NOT such an original title...), this band is...for the most part...a pop band. Many of the tunes are reminiscent of one of my favorite, almost completely ignored girl pop bands of the nineties, Fuzzy. But it's those odd, out of place segments on this CD that separate it from the pack. These ladies throw odd time changes into their tunes...and even some classical type pieces to keep things from getting dull. If there's one thing that is often missing in bands, it is freewheeling creativity. Not the case with Litany. You never know what you're going to get, but it always comes out sounding good. (Rating: 4)

LORD RUNNINGCLAM - Fun For the Whole Family (CD, Moonshine, Electronic)
This is the one man band consisting of Dave de Laski, formerly of Electric Skychurch. This is an interesting mix of electronic music. Some of the tunes are kinda trance-like with spoken vocals layered over the top (courtesy of Ken Nordine), while other parts are techno and dub. My favorite here is the somewhat trippy "Wrinkly," with it's sliding melody lines that almost make one think one is on a topsy turvy ship. I also particularly like "Sweet Little Hats," not only for the great song title...but because the music is a nice, upbeat heady mixture of stuff that's just the slightest bit odd. I like where this guy is coming from. Neat. (Rating: 4)

RAY MASON - Old Souls Day (CD, Wormco, Pop)
Amazingly unpretentious, credible music from an obscure artist who is obviously worthy of greater recognition. Ray Mason writes nice, homegrown feeling pop music with excellent melodies, good simple arrangements...and his voice is particularly suited for his music. There's just a hint of country to some of these tunes, but it's only slight. In a way, Ray's vocals remind me of Martin Mull when he was just starting out. Thirteen cool tunes including "When She Walks By," "Honey-Dip Eyes," "Ego-Up," and "Forever Out of Town." Very memorable, well thought out music worth checking out. Members of the Scud Mountain Boys even play on the disc. If you can't find it, write to Wormco, P.O. Box 266, Northampton, MA 01061 or e-mail 'em at wormco@javanet.com. (Rating: 4)

SAMMY MASTERS - Everybody Digs Sammy Masters (CD, Dionysus, Rockabilly/pop)
Though I'm not familiar with Sammy Masters' releases on the 4-Star Records label in the late fifties, that doesn't make it difficult to find instant entertainment on Mr. Masters' "comeback" CD. This music sounds very much as if it were recorded in the fifties or early sixties. The instrumentation is simple and direct, but it's those husky vocals that make these tunes come across so well. Producer Skip Heller gets major bonus points for the sound on this disc. Not only is the quality excellent, but the man somehow managed to recreate the sound of music from this era of music gone by. This disc is a real treat, featuring standout tunes like "Is Anybody Goin' To San Antone," "Telephone Baby," "Who Can I Count On," and "Help You Dream." A super trip back to the simpler days of music. (Rating: 5)

MYSTERY MACHINE - Headfirst Into Everything (CD, Nettwerk, Pop)
A easy "5." Mystery Machine play hummable, melodic pop brimming with brisk harmonies. But then so are a thousand other pop bands. The reason these four fellows rate higher than your average pop band is that there's a certain something in these tunes that makes them sound unlike the rest of the pack. It could be that the band uses unconventional arrangements...or it could just be that these songs sound like they're coming straight from the heart. Whatever that "something" is, it makes these tunes leap off the disc and seem alive in your head. The twisting, turning melodies...the semi-thick production...the layers upon layers upon layers of vocals... These guys are doing lots of things right, creating a totally tantalizing pop confection in the process. Check out "YTV" or "Doubt Is All You Know"... Hell, check 'em ALL out. Not a bad song on the entire disc. (Rating: 5)

NEBULA - Let It Burn (CD, Tee Pee, Rock)
Featuring former members of Fu Manchu (one of the best rock bands of the nineties), Nebula sound very much like their former band...which is a VERY GOOD THING. Fu Manchu survived losing these band members, and the ex-band members themselves have created a very credible, similar sounding rock band. The music is very much rooted in marijuana injected seventies psychedelia to be certain, but the playing is TIGHT and the sound is B-I-G. This is thick, intense, masculine rock music that will turn off a great many folks because it's just so damn ballsy. But for folks who like big bitchin' rock CDs...this is IT. The disc opens up with "Elevation" (not the Television tune thank God), and then just continues to rip your head open. Super tight rhythms and superlative guitar playing abound. Great fun. (Rating: 4)

NOT BREATHING - The Starry Wisdom (Double CD, Invisible, Electronic)
Not Breathing is back, and they've bitten off a big chunk of touchy lesbian tenderloin with their latest dinky plop. Disc One is fun, upbeat, thick, rhythm oriented stuff to please to vast majority of people who want a beat to hang onto while listening to their electronic headfood. It's Disc Two, however, that is the real prize here. Full of commercially unviable material to the max, it's a weird trip into the mental void of experimental music. Scarey, spooky, and surreal, the music transcends mere electronics...becoming a moody, peculiar backdrop for some really bizarre dreams. I'd like to see this group devote more of their time and energy into the almost uncharacterizable nature of the second disc in this set...because this is when they come off sounding the most unique and peculiar. Very, VERY heady stuff. (Rating: 4)

POSSIBLE - Sonics Everywhere (Double CD, Possible/Invisible, Various artists compilation)
Trying to keep up with Mick Harris is like trying to follow a hurricane. The man seems to be everywhere at once, doing more than one human being should be able to possibly accomplish. Thanks to the ultra hip folks at Invisible Records, we are now treated to a compilation CD of stuff that Mr. Harris has released overseas on his own Possible Records label. The roster is as cool as the music, including such someday legends as PCM, Scorn (a long time fave around these parts), Jupiter Crew, Ambush, SIMM and more. With so much electronic dribble out these days, it's discs like this that lend credibility to the genre. (Sheesh....that bordered on sounding...intelligent, eh?) If Mick Harris has his hand in the deal, you can always bet it's at LEAST worth checking out... (Rating: 5)

THE PUSH KINGS - Far Places (CD, Sealed Fate, Pop)
Pure pop with a surprising amount of variety. This Boston based band ought to appeal to fans of early Squeeze (the vocals sound amazingly like the band). The Push Kings' pop music is highly melodic and driven by crystal clear vocals. The band shows a great deal of diversity and versatility in their arrangements...much more so than your average pop band. Top picks on this ultra-catchy CD are "Sunday On The Westside," "Shadows of San Francisco," and "We Don't Have To Say Goodbye Forever." (Rating: 4)

THE RACIST UH-OHS (Type of people)
"Hey! That's RACIST!" he proclaims. "That's not funny, that's a RACIST statement!" she declares. "You're a RACIST, aren't you?" they accuse. " "I like everything except for the RACIST material," they explain. Who are the real racists? Them. They are the real racists. The ones who accuse of racism are the real racists. They accuse others because they are insecure, afraid, nervous, and frightened by words. The skinny runt pigs and the fat lazy uglies. They're everywhere offering their words of support. Accusing everyone of everything, they are the shit of the world. Lay in your shit, doves, because that is your destiny to be. Lay in your racist accusations until you double over, fart, and explode. (Rating: 1)

REDBOY - Contact From The Underworld (British Import 12" Vinyl Single, Pussyfoot, Electronic)
Produced by Howie B., this slab of imported red vinyl contains of what could either be termed as dub, techno, or electronic...depending on who you are and how you define your music. Side A consists of the lengthy "Weeding" while the flip side contains "Making A Noise (Midnight Special)" and "Out Skirts (Butter Mix)". Nice, trippy music good for dancing or waxing furniture. (Not Rated)

RED LONDON - Days Like These (German Import CD, Knock Out, Rock)
Basic rock music very reminiscent of rock bands from the seventies, particularly The Jam. The biggest difference between Red London and The Jam are lyrics. The Jam's lyrics were smart, inventive, and thought provoking. Red London's lyrics are simple. On Days Like These the band plays loud and steady. This CD represents a comeback for this band that originally started over fifteen years ago... (Not Rated)

THE REVELERS - Hard Times, Sunday Spirits (CD, spinART, Pop/rock)
Very entertaining. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, The Revelers play smooth, absolutely pure pop that reminds me of stuff from the late sixties and early seventies. Cool guitars, floating melodies, and some really excellent harmonies fill out the tunes on the band's latest CD. There's a slight British feel to many of the tunes. I had to give this one a few listens before passing judgment, which is a good sign when reviewing music. What I found was that the music gets better the more you hear it (a rarity indeed). My particular faves on this spinner are "Meet Me At The Station," "Lost Again," and "Smile Like A Prize." Shimmering, ultra catchy stuff that may be destined for commercial obscurity...while receiving vast critical acclaim. (Rating: 5)

SEMISONIC - Feeling Strangely Fine (CD, MCA, Pop)
GREAT STUFF. The last Semisonic CD had a lot of music writers around the country scrambling for the right words to describe the band's instantly addictive pop music. Despite all the praise amidst underground writers, the disc didn't sell too well. Whether or not this disc will be more commercially successful is anyone's guess...but at least artistically, this CD is another RESOUNDING SUCCESS. This Minneapolis-based trio consists of Dan Wilson (vocals, guitar), John Munson (bass), and Jacob Slichter (drums). The band's music is extremely uplifting and catchy, yet there's a certain maturity about it that makes it hold up to many repeated listenings. For top notch pop, there are few bands that can touch Semisonic. Twelve tunes including "Closing Time," "Never You Mind," and "She Spread Her Wings." This is another MUST HAVE from a fantastic band. (Rating: 5)

TODD SNIDER - Viva Satellite (CD, MCA, Pop)
It's hard not to like Todd Snider. Though the guy uses formulas and ideas you've heard a thousand times before, he's so energetic and believable that he makes it all seem fresh. Todd and his band The Nervous Wrecks are based in Memphis, and recorded this funky batch of pop tunes at the famed Ardent Studios. Simple, feelgood pop music played with conviction. Fourteen tunes including "Rocket Fuel" (this one KICKS), "Out All Night," and "Can't Complain." This is good music for road trippin', ya'll... (Not Rated)

THE SPECIALS - Guilty 'Til Proved Innocent (CD, MCA, Ska/pop)
I'm always very wary of comebacks, so I'm probably hearing this from a skewed perspective. I bought the first vinyl album by The Specials, and found it rather pleasant and enjoyable. The band was certainly coming from a different direction at the time than most other bands. The Specials have undeniably influenced many a band over the past decade and a half. Now they're back. I'm not sure why. Is it because they have something to say...or is it because they need money? I'm not certain, but it almost seems as if the group could've just used a new name instead of using the old one. It's almost like cashing in on past glory. The music is very listenable and nice, but many years later there are just too many folks out there playing this style of music. So many, in fact, that it all turns into a big blur. This is not bad, but not great either. (Rating: 3)

SPIRIT OF EDEN - The Sun and the Moon and the Stars (CD, Celtic Heartbeat/Universal, Celtic/new age)
Odd mix of celtic, world music, electronics, ambient, and more. This is extremely polished studio stuff, so if you don't go for the sound of folks going wild in an expensive studio this may turn you off. A great amount of attention given to technical details went into this project. State-of-the-art effects abound throughout this heady, thick mix of tunes. For celtic music, this is certainly on the more modern end of the spectrum. Ten shimmering tunes including "Sleep With The Ancients" and "Orinoco Flow." (Rating: 3)

SULLY - I Have Much To Report (CD, Nettwerk/Random Sound Recordings, Pop)
This band's name bothers me because it's too similar to Seely, particularly since the band has a very similar sound. (Didn't Seely come first? I'm not certain but I believe they did.) In all honesty, this band's music sounds just fine...but the Seely similaries are just too great for me to be objective, so I'll have to forego a rating on this one... (Not Rated)

TRIBES OF NEUROT - Static Migration (CD, Release, Experimental noise)
There are few labels that I can recommend, regardless of the artist. Release is one of those labels. Everything that I have heard on this unique label is challenging and unusual. Tribes of Neurot is a collaborative effort of eleven different individuals...which may explain the sometimes thick sound of some of these pieces. Not songs in the traditional sense of the word, these soundscapes are eerie trips into the surreal and imagined. This isn't just electronic noodling. These folks incorporate real instruments into the mix which may explain why the sound as a whole is more organic than what you normally hear in an experimental noise band. If you don't like experimental stuff, stay away from this. If you like this sort of thing, then you will want to check this one out. Very obtuse. (Rating: 5)

TWO - Voyeurs (CD, Nothing/Interscope, Rock/pop/industrial)
Huh?!? THIS is Rob Halford? I almost didn't recognize the man's face or his music. Rob has done a MAJOR OVERHAUL of his image and career. While I never cared much for his former band, at this late point in his career Mr. Halford has finally won me over. I guess Trent Reznor's magic touch has once again done wonders for a talented celebrity from the past. These dense, production heavy tunes are somewhat of a hybrid of rock and industrial music. And God, what a GREAT voice this guy has. He's not screaming as much as singing...and his vocals fit this style of music to a T. This is one of those cases where it wouldn't even matter if the man was a legend in his prior musical career. He's got enough balls and chops to cut it against any of the current slew of rock star wannabes. Hard, touch, and very cool... (Rating: 5)

UI - Lifelike (CD, Southern, Jazz/Instrumental)
This project was a year and a half in the making, and it's easy to understand why. This here's wuttcha call one o' them thar TEKK-ner-LOGIC-ull wunders. Hell, a couple uh decades ago makin' this here kinda music wouldn't even have been POSSY-bull! Times have changed, and so has music. Nowadays the spinning of knobs and manipulation of computer technology is an integral part of music...and this CD is a good case in point. Often the technological emphasis on many a CD can be tedious, annoying, and trite. But when an artist knows what they're doing...and Ui obviously do...it can make for some stunning experimental stuff. All the cuts are exceptional, but my personal favorite is "Molloy's March" with it's curious double bass lines. Very heady and VERY DIFFERENT. (Rating: 5)

THE WALLMEN (Live performance, March 19, 1998)
An absolutely KILLER concert by one of the great ultra-bizarre cult bands of the nineties. The Wallmen play really, REALLY obtuse pop/rock tunes that are characterized by totally strange guitar sounds and odd falsetto vocals. Live, the band is something like watching a thrash band mixed with Tex Avery cartoons. These four guys are simultaneously mean, loud, and silly. The band was touring with a new drummer who added an incredible amount of macho punch to their sound. This Syracuse band has been around for a very long time, and it's about time that more folks picked up on what they're doing. There is no band that comes to mind that is anything like The Wallmen. Honest. Their new CD (Electronic Home Entertainment System ) is great, but the band's live show is even better. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5)

THE WICKED FARLEYS - Sentinel and Enterprise (CD, Big Top, Rock)
Jagged, crunchy guitar rock with soaring, crisp vocals. This Boston-based band combines harsh sounds and frantic rhythms with a nice, soothing sense of melody and structure. It's an odd combination that makes the band stand out amidst a sea of bands that only tread in one territory or the other. Odd shifts in rhythms and guitar riffs keep things very interesting throughout. On first listen this band may not stand out...but give 'em a chance. Their music grows on you slowly...like moss in the forest, like evil ninner in Wonderland, like Mary does the floors. Very cool music. Way hip band. Our faves are "That's Fine," "Feel The Mores," and "Electricity before Wire." (Rating: 4)


All The Pretty Horses - Queens and Angels (CD, TRG, Rock/pop)
American Paint
- American Paint (CD, No Alternative, Pop)
Ann Beretta - Bitter Tongues (CD, Ramen, Rock)
Anti-Heros - "Truck Stop Toilet"/"At The Edge" b/w Blanks 77 - "I Don't Wanna Be" (Split 7" vinyl single, TAANG!, Rock)
Athenaeum - Radiance (CD, Atlantic, Pop)
Aware 5 - The Compilation (CD, Aware, Various artists compilation)
Bastard Masher - After the Masher (CD, No Air, Country)
Battalion of Saints - "Muscle of Love" b/w "I Don't Know" (7" vinyl single, TAANG!, Rock)
Beauty In Darkness
- Vol. 2 (CD, Nuclear Blast America, Various artists)
Bootyz In Motion - D.J. Magic Mike Presents (CD, Jake/Interscope)
The Burdens - Working Class Joke (CD, GMM)
The Bushy Vaginas - Hark Hark the Blowtorch Jock (Video)
CIV - Thirteen Day Getaway (CD, Atlantic/Java, Pop/rock)
Coax - Fear of Standing Still (CD, Paradigm, Pop)
Cola - Whatnot (CD, Interscope, Pop)
Gerald Collier - Gerald Collier (CD, Revolution/Warner Bros., Pop)
Creature Did - Plan B (CD, Thirstin' For More, Rock)
Larry O. Dean - Throw The Lions To The Christians (CD, Zenith Beast, Pop)
DiMitri From Paris - Sacrebleu (CD, Atlantic)
Econoline Crush - The Devil You Know (CD, Restless, Rock)
Era - Era (Advance cassette, Mercury)
Essential Media (Discount Counterculture Catalog, Spring 1998)
Facilities (Magazine, Feb./March 1998)
Fastball - All The Pain Money Can Buy (Advance CD, Hollywood, Pop)
Tom Ferguson - Hangin Out At The Billionair's Club (Comic book
The Flashing Astonisher (Magazine, Spring 1998)
Frenzel Rhomb - Once A Jolly Swagman, Always A Jolly Swagman (CD, Liberation, Rock)
The Gandharvas - Sold For A Smile (CD, MCA, Rock/pop)
Gig (Magazine, April 1998)
Girl Grazy
- Anything Goes When You Go Girl Crazy (Vinyl LP, Remedial, Various artists)
John Wesley Harding - Awake (CD, Zero Hour, Pop)
The Impossibles - Back 4 The Attack! (CD EP, Ramen)
Iodine - Baby Grand (CD, Sol 3, Pop/rock)
Jason & the Scorchers - Midnight Roads & Stages Seen (Double CD, Mammoth, Rock/pop)
The Jesus Lizard - Blue (Advance cassette, Capitol, Rock)
Kilgore Smudge - A Search For Reason (CD, Revolution, Hard rock)
Lemonlime - Vol. 2 (CD, spinART, Various artists compilation)
Libido - Killing Some Dead Time (CD, Velvel, Pop)
Michelle Malone - Beneath the Devil Moon (CD, Velvel)
Maxine's Radiator - Fuzz Bites On Your Neck (CD, Windago Records, Pop)
Meshuggah - The True Human Design (CD, Nuclear Blast America, Hard rock)
Mustard Plug - Skapocalypse Now! (CD, Hopeless, Ska)
Neutrino - "Flight Paths," "Figure 2" b/w "Dropped," "Figure 1" (7" vinyl single, Box Factory)
Willie Oteri - Perseverana (CD, JSW)
Pansy Division/Adolph's Dog/Joan Jett - Selections From We Will Fall (The Iggy Pop Tribute) (7" vinyl single, Royalty/Lifebeat)
Pressure Point - Youth On The Street (CD, GMM)
Pro Sound News (Magazine, March 1998)
JonBenet Ramsey - Make Up All Over My Lily White Ass (CD, Glorytune, Pop)
The Randumbs - It's About Time! (CD, GMM)
Rebel Hearts - Runnin' Free (CD, House of Tunes, Country)
REO Speedealer - "Double Clutchin' Finger Fuckin'" b/w "Get A Rope" (7" vinyl single, Royalty)
Replication News (Magazine, March 1998)
Ricky Numbers - Dokky Dokky Number Tokky (CD, Drowsy, Teddy)
Saline - Couch Mythologies (Independently released CD)
Sliding Doors - Music From The Motion Picture (CD, MCA, Various artists)
Small Stars - "It's Getting Late" b/w "Santa Barbara" (7" vinyl single, Up)
Smartbomb ca - Smartbomb ca (CD, Creativeman Disc, Rock/pop)
The Spiky Joys/The Attacked - Just Another Punk! (CD, Knock Out, Punk)
Steve Stoll - The Blunted Boy Wonder (CD, Novamute, Electronic)
Test Dept - Tactics for Evolution (CD, Invisible, Electronic)
Clara Thomas - Clara Thomas (Advance cassette, Mercury)
Type O Negative - After Dark (Video, Roadrunner)
The Uninvited - The Uninvited (CD, Igloo/Atlantic, Rock)
Various Artists - More of Our Stupid Noise '98 (CD, Nettwerk, Various artists)
The Vaynes - "Stuck in Minonk"/"These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" b/w The Psychodelics - "Song About Corruption"/"Josh Is Close To A Car Crash"/"Ballroom Blitz"/"Ed McMan"/"Rock-N-Roll Transvestite" (7" vinyl single, Fanatic)
The Webstirs - Rocket To The Moon (CD, Ginger, Pop)
Joe Whiting - Trouble On The Line (CD, Free Will)
Wit's End - Wit's End = Music (CD, Sound As Music, Experimental)
Yoolie Dringle Orchestra - Franky's Little Rocky Pop (CD, Davetown, Classical)
The Ziggens - Pomona Lisa (CD, Skunk, Rock)

©1998 LMNOP

[Back to Table of Contents]