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March 2005 Reviews by

American Idol
A Static Lullaby
Bluebottle Kiss

The Blue Van
F. S. Blumm
Buffalo Nickel

Coralie Clement
Comment Piece
Le Concorde

Devin Davis
Diamond Nights
Linda Draper
Laurent Garnier
Jeff Hanson
Emily Hay
The High Speed Scene
Roger Hoover & The Whiskeyhounds
Jim Lauderdale

Los Lonely Boys

The Merediths
Orphan Train*
The Oscars

David Poe
Pom Titty and the Darkpeckers
The Residents (CD)*
The Residents (DVD)*
Scritti Politti

Liam Singer*
The Sound of Urchin
Sunset Valley

The Televangelist and the Architect

Chely Wright
Yellow Second

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


March 2005 Comment Piece:
Talking With Mommy About Humanity is Beautiful

Mommy...? Why is humanity beautiful...?

Awe honey...humanity is beautiful because all people is beautiful. Each and every one of us is unique and special things and that is what makes humanity so wonderful.

Is our maid unique and special Mommy?

Yes she is, honey. Even our maid Shequanna is special and wonderful. Even though she steals from us and never really does any work around the house, she will always be our employee because we like to help those who are less fortunate than we is.

What is less fortunate than we is meaning, Mommy?

Awe honey...you're so stupid sometimes that it just makes Mommy giggle...!

Please don't be mean to me, Mommy.

Why not...? Everyone else is. Your father beats you. Your grandparents hate you. Your brothers and sisters wish you harm. Why should I treat you any differently than anyone else?

Because Jesus doesn't like it, Mommy. The way you act makes Jesus really, really mad.

My, my my...! If Jesus has such strong feelings, why doesn't he send me a text message?

Jesus doesn't have a cell phone, Mommy.

Well, that just proves how out-of-touch he is.

You're a terrible mommy.

You're a terrible daughter too, honey.

Let's go to Hell, Mommy. Can we go to Hell together and wait for Daddy there?

Of course we can, sweetie pie! As soon as Mommy finishes this cherry pie she's baking...OFF we'll GO.

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

American Idol (Cheeseball television for masses of assholes)
What do assholes do when they don't know what to do...? They watch American Idol, of course. Featuring the worst no-talent jack-offs that the world has to offer, the television show proves (once again) that the American public has shitty taste. Who wants to hear young overly excited nobodies singing tired old songs that were never any good in the first place...? Retards, of course. And that is exactly why the show is so popular. Because 99.9% of the people in America are retards, the show is an obvious HIT. It doesn't matter that the judges are egotistical shitheads, that the contestants are shallow dummies, and that the music always sucks. What matters is that...there is a lot of MONEY to be made from all the shitheads who watch and support the goddamn show. American Idol...positive proof that the world is SHIT. (Rating: 1)

A Static Lullaby - Faso Latido (CD, Columbia, Rock)
Faso Latido is the second album from A Static Lullaby and their first release on Columbia. The album blends modern screamer rock with progressive hard rock to create credible music for the masses. The music might best be described as intelligent arena rock (which is somewhat of a contradiction in terms). Propelled by the harsh vocals of frontman Joe Brown, these guys have a very powerful and somewhat crazed sound. More often than not, the tunes are complex and unpredictable. These guys are playing the exact kind of music that today's twenty-something crowd craves. Accordingly, we expect that Faso Latido will be a huge and instant HIT. Hard and moody rockers include "Smooth Modulator," "Cash Cowbell," and "The Jesus Haircut." Smart stuff. (Rating: 4++++)

Bluebottle Kiss - Come Across (CD, In Music We Trust, Pop)
The fifth album from Australia's Bluebottle Kiss. Come Across presents an interesting mix of straightforward pop and moody (and rather complex) pop compositions. The gentlemen in this band aren't playing for the masses. There are no catchy choruses and no singalong phrases. Instead, the songs are mature and intelligent...often taking several listens to sink in. The vocalist seems to try just a bit too hard sometimes...but that matters little when the music sounds this good. Intriguing cuts include "Scouthall," "Last Playboy in Town," "Cross Purpose," and "Ministry of Fear." (Rating: 4+++)

The Blue Van - The Art of Rolling (CD, TVT, Rock)
Named after vehicles in Denmark that are used to transport mental patients ("blue vans"), The Blue Van is a decidedly American sounding hard rock band. These young gentlemen play 1960s influenced rock music that is influenced by early material from the Kinks and The Who...yet it is injected with energy from current bands like The Strokes. These guys sound and look the part. Their modern garage rock is energized and memorable. Many sources report that these guys are real crowd-pleasers in concert. The playing is tight and focused...and the vocals are rough and genuine. Featuring just the right balance of ingredients from the past and present, The Art of Rolling is an effective album that holds up to many repeated spins. Cool rockers include "Word From the Bird," "Baby, I've Got Time," "Revelation of Love," and "What the Young People Want." (Rating: 5)

F. S. Blumm - Zweite Meer (German import CD, Morr Music, Mostly instrumental/modern mood music)
The second album from Germany's F. S. Blumm. Zweite Meer is a subtle yet mesmerizing journey into the mind of a man who truly understands the meaning of the word restraint. The twelve tracks on this album sound as spontaneous as they are planned. Blumm's compositions are not obvious. Instead of playing the familiar, he tweaks and toys with his instruments to create soft, layered tunes that are sincerely thoughtful and honest. This man plays a wild variety of instruments...including xylophone, vibraphone, glockenspeil, drums, guitars, bass, harmonium, accordion and more. Only one track ("Nachhall/Chroma Key") features vocals (courtesy of David Grubbs). Hypnotic and peculiar, this album gets better the more you spin it. Heady and obtuse, Zweite Meer is a soothing, refreshing, and very different. (Rating: 5+)

Buffalo Nickel - Noise and Conversation (CD, Plow Handle, Pop/country)
Easy going pop/rock with hints of country and Americana. Mississippi-based Buffalo Nickel have been together since 1999. Despite the fact that these guys are an underground band, their music is anything but. The tunes on Noise and Conversation are extremely accessible. With the right money and marketing behind them, these guys could easily be playing to hundreds of thousands of people. That's not a cut, however...just an observation. Buffalo Nickel songs are easygoing and understated...and they touch on real human emotions. Super hummable cuts include "Find Me a Crowd," "Family Man," "Just Had a Feeling," and "Emmaline." Catchy, friendly music. Really good stuff. (Rating: 4+++++)

Cheyenne - I Am Haunted, I Am Alive (CD, The Record Machine, Pop)
Cool, flowing, subdued, soft pop with haunting qualities. Cheyenne is Beau Jennings (guitar, vocals), Ryan Lindsey (piano, vocals), Brian Brewer (guitar, lap steel), Ben King (bass), and Heath Fisher (drums). Some folks may remember Jennings' name from other bands he was in previously (Lewis, Lasso, Circle of Birds). Beginning with the lovely "You Were the Sound," the gentlemen in the band immediately set the stage for what is indeed a lovely introspective pop album. The tunes are laidback and thoughtful and feature some wonderfully satisfying melodies. The vocals are exceptional throughout. Other outstanding tracks include "I Learned About Drugs From a Textbook," "Anymore," and "Believe and Escape." Produced to perfection, I Am Haunted, I Am Alive is certain to sound great decades from now... (Rating: 5)

Coralie Clement - Bye Bye Beaute (CD, Capitol / Nettwerk, French pop)
Lush and thick French pop featuring the seductive vocals of Coralie Clement. The songs on Bye Bye Beaute are sung entirely in French and just ooze with kitten-ish personality. Arranged to perfection, a lot of thought (and money) obviously went into these recordings. After recording her first album (Salle Des Pas Perdus), Coralie took a break in order to determine which direction to go next. Now, three years later, Beaute is bound to make an even stronger impression. Featuring effective soft pop compositions with muscular fuzzy guitars, the album is instantly likable and upbeat. Moody and slightly surreal...Beaute is a wonderfully satisfying collection of soft, upbeat pop. Top picks: "Indecise," "Avec Ou Sans Moi," "L'impasse," "Bye Bye Beaute." (Rating: 5+)

Le Concorde - Universe and Villa (CD, What Are Records? / March, Pop)
Wonderfully bright and airy pop music. Fueled by the immensely satisfying songwriting talents of Stephen Becker, Le Concorde is a pop band that is certain to satisfy. Universe and Villa is an extraordinarily polished album full of classic tunes that are reminiscent of pop bands from the 1980s. The thick vocal overdubs recall Harpers Bizarre at times. Becker's breathy vocals are prefect for the tunes he composes. These songs get better the more you spin them...which is the trademark of truly great music. The only problem track is "I Hate Rock and Roll"...which detracts from the album and seems terribly out of place. Otherwise, this is a standout album full of great tracks like "People Mover," "Little Stabs at Happiness," and "It's the Minor Chords That Kill You." Great stuff. (Rating: 5+)

Devin Davis - Lonely People of the World, Unite! (CD, Mousse, Pop/rock)
Every once in a while we hear an album that is just plain good. And Lonely People of the World, Unite! is just that. Devin Davis has produced a good, solid album full of excellent tunes. Sounding like anything but solo recordings (Davis played virtually everything himself), this disc is full of highly melodic hard rocking energized pop. Recorded over a period of two years, the album features eleven tracks of pure classic pop. No alternative underground crap here. Just good, solid music that sounds great...even after multiple spins. At a time when every artist seems to be trying so desperately hard to sound so goddamn unique...hearing a genuinely talented artist like Devin Davis is ultimately refreshing. Standout tracks include "Iron Woman," "Moon Over Shark City," "Giant Spiders," and "Deserted Eyeland." Great stuff...! (Rating: 5+)

Diamond Nights - Once We Were Diamonds (CD EP, Kemado, Rock)
Great catchy loud rock played straight from the hip. Unlike most new acts, the guys in Diamond Nights make music that could easily appeal to millions of music fans. Instead of playing difficult underground noise, these fellows play classic rock music that makes people want to get up and dance. Playing accessible music while retaining artistic credibility is a difficult thing...but these guys make it all sound so damn easy. Five classy cuts here including "Destination Diamonds" and "Saturday Fantastic." Expect to see and hear a lot about these guys in the very near future... (Rating: 5)

Linda Draper - One Two Three Four (CD, Planting Seeds, Folk/soft pop)
Thoughtful, pensive, reflective, intelligent soft folk/pop from New York's Linda Draper. We are always searching for artists whose music is real and sincere...so naturally One Two Three Four instantly caught our attention. Draper's music is slightly reminiscent of Suzanne Vega's early material. Her songs are subdued...yet they feature outstanding melodies and truly exceptional lyrics. Produced by Kramer, these tunes are sparse and sprinkled with subtle yet effective studio tricks. Linda's vocals are wonderfully effective throughout. But what makes this album such an exceptionally rewarding spin are the songs themselves. Compositions like "Super Zero," "Baby Inchworm," "Needlessly," "Seven Black Crows," and "One Two Three Four" are unforgettable. Linda's inherent sincerity and uniqueness shine through on every track. A very warm album, One Two Three Four will appeal to anyone who ever loved great classic folk music. This one's a real TREAT. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Laurent Garnier - The Cloud Making Machine (CD, Mute, Electronic/dance)
Half of this album is GREAT. The other half is just...okay. The first five tracks on Laurent Garnier's The Cloud Making Machine are wonderfully atmospheric electronic compositions. Reminiscent of trance music from the 1990s, these compositions flow by wonderfully and have a calming effect on the listener. Some of the percussion effects are simply marvelous. The remaining five tracks on the album are marred by the presence of sampled vocals that give the music a generic sound that is slightly irritating. The music is fine on these tracks...but the sampled voices detract from the music. So...what we have here is an album that is uneven...which is unfortunate because the first half is so damn entertaining. Perhaps Garnier will make some slight alterations next time around...? We sure hope so...because this fellow obviously has a great deal to offer... (Rating: 4+++)

Jeff Hanson - Jeff Hanson (CD, Kill Rock Stars, Pop/folk)
To say that Jeff Hanson's music is an acquired taste would be one of the greatest understatements of all time. Despite the fact that this young man is obviously gifted and talented, there is one aspect of his music that is extremely difficult to get comfortable with and that is...his voice. We've heard thousands of men whose voices sound like women...but we have never ever heard ANY man before whose voice is so identical to that of a woman that it is almost impossible to believe that a man is really singing (!). The odd vocals are so extreme that it is hard to put into words. You just have to...hear it to believe it. For those who can get past this admittedly major stumbling block, there is some absolutely marvelous music here. So...just put the disc in and forget about the gender of the singer...and just let yourself be taken in by the fantastic songwriting and soaring melodies. Jeff Hanson starts off slowly but on particularly good footing ("Losing A Year" is an excellent lead track)...followed by the truly effective and haunting "Now We Know." But neither song prepares the listener for Hanson's "Welcome Here" which starts of slowly...before finally hitting the listener with the full force of his music. Jeff's music is complicated...yet strangely familiar. He incorporates sounds and ideas from a wide array of classic artists...while retaining his own unique image and sound. This album is an underground classic that will (unfortunately but most likely) get lost in the shuffle...because too many people will not be able to get past the obstacle stated earlier. Too bad...because this young fellow is most certainly one of the most gifted songwriters around. Other incredible tracks include "Someone Else," "Long Overdue," and "Something About." Beautifully moving material. (Rating: 5++)

Emily Hay - Like Minds (CD, pfMENTUM, Experimental/modern classical)
If you merely glance at the cover of this CD (featuring an extremely normal looking young blond lady) you might think that the disc would contain soft folk music...or soft, synthetic pop. Looks can be deceiving, however...and Emily Hay's looks are most definitely deceiving (!). Even though she may look like a young housewife or even an elementary school teacher, nothing could be further from the truth. Ms. Hay is an extremely far out, esoteric, adventurous, avant garde musician and vocalist. Like Minds contains recordings spanning from 1997 to 2004 which were recorded at a variety of locations. Hay surrounds herself with other like-minded, adventurous musicians...and the results are bewildering and peculiar. Most of the music is accidental and spontaneous. But what stands out the most are the vocals. Sounding something like a very young Yoko Ono, Hay uses her voice in ways that most people cannot. Instead of singing or speaking words, she utters and yelps...whispers and yeeps...gargles and heaves... Basically, whatever feels right she does. Vocally, Emily seems to just let it rip. This is an odd collection of recordings that will lose most people completely. Sad, but true. But for those with an adventurous spirit, there's a lot to grab onto here. These strange atmospheric recordings have strange passionate qualities that make them sound better with each repeated spin. Strange creations include "Call To Unarm," "Crooked Hopscotch," "Spar," and "Swamp Moss." Truly odd material. (Rating: 5+)

The High Speed Scene - The High Speed Scene (CD, Star Trak / Interscope, Pop/rock)
Great pop/rock without all the unnecessary ingredients. The three gentlemen in The High Speed Scene get back to basics on their self-titled album. Lead singer/songwriter Max Hart writes killer tunes that just burst at the seams with positive energy. There are some hilarious moments as well. Consider this chorus line: F*ck...and spend money...f*ck...and spend money (haw haw!). Rounding out the band are Domen Vajevec (bass) and Adam Aaronson (drums). These guys are one tight little unit...playing flawless tunes with relentless energy and enthusiasm. Anyone who ever loved Redd Kross and early Cheap Trick will surely appreciate this band's sound. Hooks and catchy choruses abound throughout this wonderfully uplifting album. The guitars are loud and fuzzed out...the bass solid and tight...and the drums resound with thumpy coolness. Tired of thinking about music all the time...? These guys provide tunes that just make you want to dance and sing along. Cool rockers include "For the Kids," "Assingear," "F**k & Spend," "Last Chance," and "All Swans." Truly rockin' great stuff. (Rating: 5++)

Hillstomp - One Word (Independently released CD, Hillbilly stomp/acoustic/blues)
Hillstomp is the duo of Henry Kammerer (vocals, guitars) and John Johnson (percussive stuff, vocals). Together, the two create killer blues infected hillbilly music. The overall sound is sparse yet energetic. Kammerer and Johnson do a lot with a little. The percussion is tight and effective...and the slide guitars sound absolutely great. The duo's original tunes sound like they were written by some of the great black Mississippi blues artists of the 1930s. Kammerer has a great rough vocal style which is perfectly suited for this style of music. This is a great little eleven track album that will cause even the most jaded listeners to start tapping their feet. Instantly addictive, One Word is an instant underground hit. Superb classics include "Graverobber's Blues," "Nope," "Lucy's Lament," and "Landlord Blues." Great stuff... (Rating: 5)

Roger Hoover & The Whiskeyhounds - Panic Blues (CD, Bandaloop, Blues/rock)
Traditional blues rock played the way it ought to be played...with sincerity and style. The Whiskeyhounds were formed in 2001 by Roger Hoover and Freddy Hill. Shortly after forming, the band released their first album, Golden Gloves. From that point on, the band has done nothing but move forward. After signing the band, the folks at Bandaloop combined five tracks from Gloves with ten brand new tunes...releasing the newly titled album Panic Blues. The album features passionate playing and a nice clean produced sound. Most pleasing, however, are Hoover's deep soulful vocals...which make virtually all of these tunes sound like home runs. Some might call this Americana...others might call it blues rock...in the end, descriptive terms matter little. It's the music that counts...and this album is full of kickass material. Memorable cuts include "Keep Me Away From You," "Bridge," "Vagabond," "Nashville City Limits," and "Dead Man's Shoes." (Rating: 5)

Jim Lauderdale - In Concert (DVD, Inakustik, Country/pop/rock)
This is an intriguing DVD featuring one of country's more elusive new stars, Jim Lauderdale. Taped in a live studio in Baden-Baden, Germany, In Concert showcases a young man who just may end up being one of country music's biggest stars. Lauderdale doesn't play by rules that normally apply in country music. He doesn't surround himself with fifty-something session men who play the same old tired lines from the 1950s. Jim's ultra-hummable country tunes are heavily influenced by rock and the blues...and his band consists of young men who are obviously very familiar with both. Folks in Germany certainly seem to enjoy and appreciate Lauderdale's "new country" sound. The audience appears to be having a great time during this show. Lauderdale projects well in a live setting. He comes across sounding confident and relaxed with himself. This kickass little concert features fifteen cool cuts, including "This is the Big Time," "Divide and Conquer," "Grace's Song," and "Mojo Workin'." Refreshingly different. (Rating: 4+++++)

Leatherface - Boat in the Smoke (CD, Music Video Distributors / Punkervision, Progressive/art rock)
Much has been made over Britain's Leatherface in the American media machine...most likely, perhaps, because of the band's use of visual images from the film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Perhaps putting things in perspective, Boat in the Smoke presents this band for what they are...a good, loud rock band. The DVD is divided into three segments. The first segment features the band playing live at Camden Underworld in London on March 23, 2004. The second segment features an additional seven tunes taped at Sunderland on June 17, 2001. The final segment is an interview with singer/frontman Frankie Stubbs. Watching the band play, we couldn't help but be reminded of Husker Du. The loud guitars...the aggressive vocals...the crashing drums...the overall sound is quite similar. In concert, these guys don't rely on effects and gimmicks. Instead, they simply play their asses off for the crowd. One slight drawback in the band's presentation is Stubbs' lack of eye contact with the audience. He tends to either look down or keep his eyes closed while he sings. If he were to direct his gaze at his listeners, it would vastly improve Leatherface in concert. Still, the band has some great songs and plays them with gusto and style...making Boat in the Smoke good for a least a few rousing spins... (Rating: 4++)

Los Lonely Boys - Live at the Fillmore (CD, Epic, Asshole rock)
If you're like most listeners, you want the same old tired generic crap shoved down your throat every single day of every goddamn year. If this is the case, there's no doubt you'll absolutely love the music that is randomly farted out by Los Lonely Boys. Playing cheap arena rock with all the excitement and energy of six-month-old soft tacos, these guys are one big LAME ball of CRAP. And yet...just look at all those fanatical music fans just eating up their sloppy pig vomit. You'd think that people would learn over time, wouldn't you...? But noooooooo...music fans enjoy getting ripped off time and time again...because they are just too goddamn lazy and stupid to search out the good stuff. The guys in Los Lonely Boys are an excellent example of everything that is WRONG with rock music. So...do yourself a favor...go buy the new album...then head off to T.G.I.F. for a big overpriced dinner...and then spend the rest of the night in some vapid rathole of a bar listening to blues music played by generic drunks. Enjoy yourselves...assholes... (Rating: 1)

The Merediths - A Closed Universe (CD EP, Ebauchery, Progressive pop)
Light, wispy, and airy soft pop. Kentucky always seems to spawn interesting bands...and Louisville's The Merediths are certainly one of the most intriguing. Combining catchy melodies with intricate arrangements, the band has a fresh sound and unique style that are immediately arresting. "Marmalade Maggie" is a superbly written tune that features excellent vocals. "Right There" is upbeat and bright...reminiscent of The Beatles. "Cruel Kind of Love" is a hard rocker. "Homo Erectus" features top-notch lyrics and wonderfully moody instrumentation. "Let's All Live Underground" is a softer yet ultra-hummable cut. A Closed Universe is a cool initial taste of a band with great potential... (Rating: 5)

Orphan Train - Orphan Train (CD, Surprise Truck Entertainment, Soft pop)
Orphan Train is the latest project created by Aram Arslanian (who previously released recordings using only his first name). Since releasing his last album, Aram served as musical director and guitarist for Lisa Marie Presley and also toured with Sandra Bernhart. Although he makes a living supporting others...that is likely to change over time as he continues to pursue his own career. Arslanian's tunes keep getting better...and Orphan Train offers a wealth of superb soft pop compositions that are incredibly genuine and unique. Aram's music sounds something like Peter Gabriel if he were playing straightforward soft pop. The lyrics are reflective and the arrangements subdued and subtle. But the songs are the real treat here. Heartfelt and sincere, Arslanian's compositions strike real emotional chords. Beautiful tracks include "Raise the Rent," "Bundleful," "Shine On," and "Isobel." Our favorite track is "Lucy's Gone"...which will easily end up being one of the best songs of the year. A remarkable and thoroughly rewarding album. Highly recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

The Oscars (Pathetic awards ceremony kind of thing)
What watches this shit? And who cares who wins which goddamn award...? One of the best examples of what is wrong with our world, all the excitement that surrounds The Oscars is pure living proof that people are worthless TURDS. (Rating: 1)

David Poe - Love Is Red (CD, 7Twenty, Soft pop)
Exquisite moody soft jazzy pop music. Recorded in what used to be a fortress in Berlin, Germany, Love Is Red just gushes with articulate emotion. Poe's tunes are subtle and understated...but his messages come across loud and clear. The arrangements are sparse and yet they are a perfect match for the tunes. David's vocals are caressed in just the right amount reverb...giving these tunes a laidback sexy feeling. This short album (clocking in at about 35 minutes) is extraordinarily effective. Already a favorite in Germany, this may be the album that will spread Poe's fame to other corners of the globe. Top picks: "You're the Bomb," "So Beautiful," "Reunion," "You Got a Reputation," "Love Won't Last the Afternoon." (Rating: 5+)

Pom Titty and the Darkpeckers - The Darkest Peckers Come in Larger Buckets (CD, Borchlet, Rock)
Once upon a time many years ago a long blond guitarist named Pom Titty came out of nowhere and delivered several newborn baby hits. The hits grew up over time. But as they did, Pom Titty's pecker turned dark. Trying to make something out of anything, Pom capitalized on the occurrence...and eventually founded The Darkpeckers. Titty's songwriting skills combined with the band's penchant for playing in dirty crystallized underwear created hysteria all over several countries. Those countries poured tons of money into Pom's bank account...allowing him to continue playing with The Darkpeckers for several decades. Now that they're all worn out (and none of their peckers work no more)...Titty and his band sound like a bunch of sissyfied feminine napkins. The tunes are trite, the players sound bored...and Pom's voice sounds like he's smoked about fifteen tons of powdered snoot. The Darkest Peckers Come in Larger Buckets is living proof that success has a lot to do with something...if you can remember what it is. Sorry suckass tunes include "The Darker Part of My Mystery Hole Is Shoved Way Back Up Underneath My Testicles," "Girls Like It When I Perch On Their Faces So Long That They Suffocate," and "Pussy Park." Crummy music that just gets crummier all the time. (Rating: 1)

Ray (Shitty film kind of thing)
One of the worst films ever made starring one of the shittiest actors ever. Don't waste your money on this puddle of vomit. In a word, Ray...STINKS.

Recife - New Arms (L.E. French Import CD, Dead Bees, Progressive pop)
Wonderfully refreshing music from France's fertile progressive pop underground. Recife is a revolving group of musicians whose mission is to provide unusually refreshing pop music with a difference. Recorded by the band themselves, New Arms is an amazingly professional sounding album. The songs range from relatively straightforward pop to extended spontaneous musical explorations. There's a lot going on in these tunes...the band incorporates vocals, guitars, drums, bass, keyboards, and electronic programming into their music...creating an intoxicating musical wall. The best thing about the folks in Recife is that they really don't sound like any other band in particular. The songs are fresh, energized, and quite memorable indeed. Cool cuts include "Sao Paulo," "Fitz Roy," "On the Roof," and "Haight-Ashbury." There were only 500 (!) copies of this CD pressed so...get yours now (the label accepts payment though Paypal). Recommended. (Rating: 5+)

The Residents - Animal Lover (Advance CD, Mute, Eclectic/experimental/progressive)
Animal Lover features rhythm tracks that are "based entirely on animal noise mating patterns generated primarily by cicadas and frogs." The back insert of the disc also states that the sounds of mating whales and humans were used for longer tonal passages. So...what does this mean...? In essence, it means that Animal Lover is yet another wildly imaginative trip into the mind(s) of the eternally perplexing Residents. The band has made incredible gains since the early days when their music was (mostly) absurd and ridiculous. The band's later releases have featured incredibly complex and challenging compositions that are anything but mere comedy recordings. But whatever the band has recorded and/or produced, there has always been one constant. The music remains too far out for the average listener. The Residents have always been...and probably always will be...adored and appreciated by a limited number of fans. Animal Lover will (fortunately) do nothing to change this. There are no hits and there are no obvious songs. The album features curious, puzzling tunes that are confusing and yet (as is the case with all Residents releases)...there are odd insights to be gained. Part of what makes this band's music so fascinating is the fact that there are plenty of jarring real-life observations intertwined into the music. As such, the more closely you listen...the more you can extract from it. Animal Lover is beautiful, odd, intricate, and very real. Residents fans will eat this up. Others will naturally...be lost in a confused hazy cloud. Highly recommended music from one of the most original musical acts EVER. (Rating: 6+)

The Residents - Icky Flix (DVD, Music Video Distributors, Progressive/art rock)
Possibly the best compilation of music videos ever released, Icky Flix is MANDATORY VIEWING for all progressive thinking music fans. The original release was getting harder and harder to find, so the fine folks at Music Video Distributors did the right thing and reissued Icky Flix. Music videos have a terrible reputation mainly because...99.9% of them are terrible. The Residents are one of the few artists who have made good use of the medium. Most artists create videos because they need a goddamn commercial. The Residents' videos are anything but commercials. Icky Flix presents a mind-boggling collection of some of the most creative music videos ever produced. Beginning with the band's very early material ("The Third Reich 'N' Roll," "Constantinople"), things quickly kick into high gear as the visuals get progressively weirder and weirder. The band's "One Minute Movies" are confusing and peculiar. The videos by Renaldo and The Loaf are particularly heady and intense. The Residents' take on James Brown's "This is a Man's Man's Man's World" is disturbing and incredibly surreal. Some of the best footage can be found in the final two lengthy pieces: "Bad Day on the Midway (Concentrate)" and "Vileness Fats (Concentrate)". The biggest problem with this DVD for most folks is that...much of it does not make sense. That is, perhaps, exactly the point. Why do videos have to make sense...? Icky Flix is too much for most folks to take...but don't let that stop you. If you're looking for the very tip-top of creativity in music film and video...you won't do better than this. This DVD is absolutely ESSENTIAL. (Rating: 6+++)

RPG - Full Time (CD/DVD set, Arclight, Rock)
Richmond, Virginia is a very cool city...made even cooler by the fact that the band RPG calls it their home. Playing loud, out-of-control redneck rock with a vengeance, these guys mean what they play. There's a lot to digest here. The CD features 13 songs and the DVD is a documentary which features interview segments and plenty of live footage of the band playing all over the country. These guys are real hairslingers for sure. You rarely (if ever) get to see the bass player and guitarist's faces because their hair covers their entire upper bodies. Far from just being posers, however, this is one hell of a powerful band. The guys in RPG play intense riff rock that is simple and direct. Their music derives as much from 1970s Southern rock as it does from twenty-first century heavy metal. Smart and harsh, this band is doing virtually everything right. While their music is a bit too harsh for the average listener...fans of underground hard rock oughta lose their nuts over this band. Cool stuff... (Rating: 5)

Scritti Politti - Early (CD, Rough Trade, Pop/rock)
Some may find it funny or entertaining that we are not familiar in the least with the music of Britain's Scritti Politti. But for some reason...even though we know the band's name...this trio's music has always evaded our consciousness. Thus, Early serves as an introduction for us. This could be very fortunate because this probably impresses us more than the band's later material would (as they began to concentrate more on soul music). True to the claim of the press release, early Scritti Politti has a great deal in common with early material from bands like Wire and Gang of Four. The jagged, angular beats and guitars are peculiar and nervous. Considering the fact that the tracks on this album were drawn from several different sources, the sound quality is oddly consistent. The album features thirteen tracks including "Skank Bloc Bologna," "28/8/78," "Hegemony," and "Doubt Beat." Strange stuff that was on the fringes when it was recorded...and still is... (Rating: 5)

Settlefish - The Plural of the Choir (CD, Deep Elm, Progressive rock)
Difficult, complex, progressive rock. Settlefish tunes are simultaneously harsh and calming. The gentlemen in this band play an unfamiliar brand of peculiar rock music. While there are enough familiar threads to latch onto, there are just as many strange and foreign ingredients in the mix. Propelled by the lyrics and vocals of frontman Jonathan Clancy, the songs on The Plural of the Choir are anything but obvious and ordinary. The rhythms and bass lines are particularly tasty...providing a solid foundation for the sometimes confusing musical gymnastics. There's a lot to digest here...fifteen odd tunes that are mostly moody in tone. Clever mental rockers include "Kissing in Chaos," "Sparrow You Will Fly," "Ice in the Origin," and "We Please The Night, Drama." Odd and intriguing material. (Rating: 5)

Shurman - Jubilee (CD, Vanguard, Americana/roots rock)
Los Angeles-based Shurman did a good deal of talking and negotiating with several labels...before making the wise decision to let the fine folks at Vanguard release Jubilee. Led by singer/songwriter Aaron Beavers, his band Shurman plays nice, genuine Americana without unnecessary frills. The band's initial success is probably due to the fact that their music seems to be extraordinarily unpretentious. Jubilee is a slick album without sounding too slick. The playing is spirited and the overall mood is laidback and real. The band is already very popular in California. This album is likely to generate hordes of new fans from other areas of the country as well. Moody rockers include "Drownin'," "Impossibilities," "So Happy," and "Tonight I'm Drinking." Very good barroom rock. (Rating: 4++++)

Liam Singer - The Empty Heart of the Chameleon (CD, Tell-All, Soft progressive pop)
Combine the music of Sufjan Stevens with modern classical piano...and you might have some idea of what Liam Singer's music sounds like. The Empty Heart of the Chameleon is Singer's debut album...and it is indeed an impressive collection of compositions. Liam is quite a pianist as well as a killer vocalist. His music is subdued and personal...somewhat fragile...and very unique. What we like best about this man's music is that it gets better the more you hear it. His songs are heartfelt and genuine and feature astoundingly effective melodies. This is easily one of the best debuts we've heard recently. Killer tracks include "The Last," "Father I See," "When I'm Laid in Earth," and "Hannah's Dance." Beautiful stuff...highly recommended... (Rating: 5++)

The Sound of Urchin - The Diamond (CD, Hybrid, Rock)
Crazy loud rock music with a sense of humor. The guys in The Sound of Urchin are really paying their dues. They've already hit the concert trail with artists like Mike Watt, Cracker, Cobra Verde, and The Ziggens. The Diamond is a loud rock album with tons of polish and studio tweaking. The band obviously spent a great deal of time recording these tracks. What is interesting about The Sound of Urchin is how little they sound like other bands...particularly when you consider how many ideas they borrow from others (!). This band's music should appeal to those who enjoyed the progressive bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s. There's a lot going on here...good instrumental breaks...thick walls of vocals... Crunchy dance rockers include "The Jack-O-Lantern," "White Dove," "Howling at the Moon," and "Last December." Good stuff. (Rating: 4+++)

Sunset Valley - Goldbank 78 Stack (CD, In Music We Trust, Pop/rock)
Originally an independent release, Goldbank 78 Stack is being reissued by the fine folks at In Music We Trust. This is the fourth album release from Sunset Valley and it presents the band in fine form. Unlike most artists, these guys aren't easily pinned down to one sound or style. Instead, their tunes head out all over the place. Sometimes very loud, sometimes very subdued...the band knows the meaning of restraint and yet they also know how to pull out all the plugs. The songs range from slightly crazed to surprisingly insightful...something like a cross between The Flaming Lips, The Beatles, and The Pixies. One thing is certain...the more you spin this album the better it gets. Entertaining cuts include "G.B. 78.s," "Pull the Trig," "I'm a Bull," and "Gaze My Shoes." Good stuff. (Rating: 5)

Supagroup - Rules (CD, Foodchain, Rock)
There ain't nothin' better than great loud rock music played by young guys with really long hair. If you feel the same way, you may very well want to rock your goddamn socks off to the magnetic, killer sound of Supagroup. Playing rock and roll cliches like there's no tomorrow, these guys are obviously having a great time playing music. Damn right, yo! This record knocked us off our asses when we first heard it. Slamming out of the gates with the instantly addictive "Ready To Go," the guys in Supagroup instantly had us by the balls. If you're tired of thinking about and analyzing the music you're listening to (which can become extremely tedious and tiring), you may very well find Rules to be the electric JOLT you've been needing. Hot rockers like "Bastard," "It Takes Balls," "I'm Gonna Change," and "Rouge Edge" make Rules a necessary and effective injection of rock and roll speed. Great stuff indeed...without unnecessary frills... (Rating: 5+)

The Televangelist and the Architect - The Mass Exodus From California (CD, Undetected Plagiarism, Progressive pop)
The Televangelist and the Architect is a side project created by Jerry Chen, who is better known as a member of the band Grand Unified Theory. This project is an outlet for Chen's more pensive, introspective side. The press release probably sums up this album best, stating that it is "a road trip album for those without a destination." The Mass Exodus From California is a collection of progressive, subdued compositions that feature expanded instrumentals and unconventional melodies. This music might not grab you at first. We had to spin the album several times before finally determining that we were sufficiently impressed. The lyrics are particularly intelligent and appealing. Perplexing, satisfying cuts include "The Road Converges Up Ahead," "The Birth of a Salesman," "The Architect's Song," and "With Resignation." Unpredictable and creative, this is an unusual album in many ways... (Rating: 5+)

Ticonderoga - Ticonderoga (CD, 54 40 or Fight!, Progressive pop/rock)
Cool and unpredictable progressive pop. The three gentlemen in Ticonderoga have been playing together in various bands for over ten years...and it shows. Describing this band's music is difficult because they incorporate so many different sounds and styles into their compositions. These fellows do not use traditional formulas to make music...opting instead to simply let their tunes take them wherever they may. Interesting and sometimes obtuse arrangements abound on Toconderoga. The album is decidedly progressive...and yet it contains enough elements of pop to make it entertaining. The vocals are wonderfully understated and effective. Don't expect to get an immediate jolt out of this album...it takes several spins to sink in. But once you "get it"...you may very well find that you are totally hooked on this band. Excellent tracks include "Over the Hill," "Drunkmare," "All the Proud Dead," and "High Score." Excellent. (Rating: 5+)

Chely Wright - The Metropolitan Hotel (CD, Dualtone, Country/pop)
Chely Wright has paid her dues...and seems poised for major success in 2005. Having already received numerous awards for her music as well as her personal contributions to the world, Ms. Wright is currently generating a lot of attention with her single "The Bumper of My S.U.V." (included on The Metropolitan Hotel). Interestingly, the tune is probably our least favorite track on this album (!). It's not a bad song...but it is very obvious. The rest of the album is much more satisfying and very cool. Ms. Wright writes and/or co-writes most of her material herself. Bonnie Raitt fans will find a lot to love here. Chely's music is upbeat and personal and features excellent melodies and slick arrangements. Her voice is confident and she effectively conveys emotion. Superb cuts include "It's the Song," "Back of the Bottom Drawer," "Your Shirt," and "What If I Can't Say No Again." Great stuff... (Rating: 5)

Yellow Second - Altitude (CD, Floodgate, Pop/rock)
Thoughtful and sincere modern pop/rock. Yellow Second is made up of former members of Five Iron Frenzy and Rocket Summer. Instead of playing noisy underground rock, these fellows play surprisingly accessible upbeat pop music featuring excellent vocals and intelligent arrangements. But that doesn't mean that these guys' music doesn't rock. Altitude combines the best elements of rock and pop. The album features twelve credible compositions that are instantly effective. Superb vocal melodies abound throughout the album...and the harmonies are always top notch. Truly hummable stuff. Killer cuts include "Silhouette," "Chance of Sunbreaks," "Plume," "Seed," and "Imaginary Friend." (Rating: 5)

Additional Items Received:

Adelaide - Over tired and ill-prepared
The Arts and Sciences - Hopeful monsters
Autumn Productions - The real underground volume 6
Avarus - Ruskeatimantti
Awesome Cool Dudes - Slam dunk contest
Blivit - Unhand the world
The Blue Seeds - The Blue Seeds
The Bradbury Press - The front
Billy Don Burns - Heroes, friends, and other troubled souls
Cadiz - Breakers
Camaro Hair - Far from OK
Ceramic - Ceramic
Chevreuil - Chateauvallon
ClockWorkMusic - Radio Rhapsody
Comomusic Anthology - 1990-2005 Volume 1
Consafos - Tilting at windmills
Jay Davis - The Thomsky fluke and other tales
Dead Language - Writing on walls
Drive-Thru Records and Purevolume.com - Bands y ou love, have heard of, and should know
Duff - 400 miles
El Oso - Whichever chapter covers now
Eleven Minutes Away - Arson followed me home
Elkland - Apart
Elkland - Golden
Deke Falcon - Sand in the shower, ruse on the road
The Famous - Light, sweet crude
Fingers Cut - Megamachine
Folk? - Folk?
Foot In Mouth Productions - Comp 2: Ohio 2
Forever Changed - The need to feel alive
Great Lake Swimmers - Great Lake Swimmers
Greenlight the Bombers - American executive
Petra Haden - Sings The Who sell out
Heavy Trash - Heavy Trash
J.C. and Anphibius - Resurrection jingles
Jeff Kaiser / Andrew Pask - The Choir Boys
Kava Kava - Maui
Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers - Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Kittridge Records - Homemade Hits Vol. 2
Audra Kubat - Since I fell in love with the music
Lackwanna Blues - Music from the HBO film
Tim Miller - Our of the box
Craig Morgan - My kind of livin'
Murdocks - Surrender ender
David Neuer - Maple tree
Harris Newman - Accidents with nature and each other
Nightlife - At castle danger
One Scene to Another - Plumline Records Tribute to Canadian Indie Rock
Over It - Silverstrand
Kat Parsons - No will power
The Press - Noxious saucy beast
Purchase New York - In vitro veritas
Amy Ray - Prom
Reeks and the Wrecks - Knife hits
The Rocket Summer - Hello, good friend
Run Away From the Humans - We exist
Sadaharu - The politics of dancing
Screamfeeder Take you apart
Seconds Before - Further destinations
Signal Hill Transmission - Tomorrow, the stars
Soul Junk Remixed - 1937
South San Gabriel - The carlton chronicles: Not until the operation's through
Standtransmissions - Standtransmissions
Taz Taylor - Caffeine Racer
Tell-All Records - Vol. 1
Tongues - Ugly
Chris Tsefalas - I'm all right?
Used Alien Mind - Positive Mental Theme
Various artists - Interesting Flavours
Volume One - Volume One
west4east.org - Volume 1
The Willies - Low ceiling
World War IX - Panic attack

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