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November 2005 Reviews by

Lynn Anderson

Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin Team

The Bellrays*
Tab Benoit et al.

Big Star

Comment Piece

Friends of Dean Martinez*
The Go! Team
Thea Gilmore

LD & The New Criticism*
Gretchen Lieberum

Lightning Bolt
The Mother Hips

Jay Nash
Rosa Parks

Wayne Peet Quartet
Ray Price
The Rakes

Kate Rusby
Sabrosa Purr*
Ashlee Simpson

Bruce Springsteen
10 Ft. Ganja Plant
Tall Dwarfs
Ten Words For Snow
Pam Tillis

The Twin Atlas
The Veronicas

*Top Picks

Additional Items Received


November 2005 Comment Piece:
The Beanie Baby Phenomenon: Past and Present

When Beanie Babies were all the rage, we hated the goddamn retarded little animals. Not only were they horribly overpriced, but the incredible excitement surrounding them was completely...nauseating. Yup, those were the days...when every teenage girl, every young woman, every middle-aged mom, and every grandmother wanted nothing more than to hoard and covet the dreaded Beanie Babies...stacking and storing them anywhere they possibly could. Stores couldn't keep them on shelves and lines of hypnotized customers waited eagerly outside to buy them. But times change and so do people...and nowadays Beanie Babies are discarded reminders of how everyone jumps on...and off...the bandwagon at the exact same time. Question: What is now thrown all over the place at yard sales that absolutely no one wants...? Answer: Beanie Babies.

A couple of months ago we were chatting with two nice ladies in Chattanooga, Tennessee who had tried all day long to sell their Beanie Babies at their yard sale...and no one would buy them. At that moment, we were suddenly struck with an idea. Now that no one wants them, this is the BEST TIME in the WORLD to start collecting them. Those nice ladies sold their entire Beanie Baby collection to us...for about four dollars. This is so cool, we thought...when you don't have to pay anything for 'em they actually are kinda cute. At that point, we decided that whenever we found absolutely perfect Beanie Babies complete with their tags that we would buy them...as long as we could get them for no more than a quarter each.

Over the next couple of weeks we weren't so surprised to find that most folks were ready and willing to sell last decade's treasures for a quarter each. So we happily scooped up even more Beanie Babies to add to our collection. But along the way we discovered something peculiar and startling. Some folks are still living in the clouded confusion of the media frenzy...and apparently they aren't about to sell their cherished treasures for next to nothing.

Possibly the most extreme example of this hostile type of yard sale coordinator was a middle-aged lady in Chattanooga. She and her friends were having a garage sale to make money to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina. She had three Beanie Babies on a table that weren't priced. When we inquired about them, she turned around flashing her most genuine, friendly smile and said, "I was asking $5.00 each for them but just give me whatever you want and you can take them." Not thinking much about it, we responded by saying "Well, we usually pay a quarter each." You would have thought that we had pulled up the woman's skirt and rammed a red hot ice pick into her vagina. That seemingly nice, calm lady suddenly turned RED with RAGE. "A quarter?!? A QUARTER?!?" she said as she began to tremble slightly. Her voice got louder and then she began yellling, "I'm not selling these to you for a QUARTER! I'll donate them to a CHARITY before I sell them for a QUARTER!" We almost couldn't believe what we were seeing and hearing. After all, the idiotic woman had just told us that whatever we wanted to pay would be acceptable. We looked at her calmly and said, "Okay then, bye!" And then we left.

What on earth would cause one person to give away their treasures for virtually nothing...while others would be horribly OFFENDED by the very idea...? Stupidity is probably the answer. Folks with any brains realize that you aren't going to get much for Beanie Babies these days. Other less informed individuals who are still living in the media-induced frenzy apparently still think there are millions of people dying to get their hands on the little creatures.

We had a Beanie Baby climax of sorts this past weekend. We found ten of them at a yard sale in Decatur, Georgia. When we walked over to ask about the price, the lady said that they were $2.00 each. Immediately deciding to pass, we looked down and found...160 perfectly clean Beanie Babies laying in plastic crates...all of them looking terribly forgotten and lost. We felt a wave of hot lust rush through our veins. After chatting with the woman for a moment, she finally agreed to sell her entire collection for $40 (which comes out to about a quarter each). The nice teenagers at the yard sale were very helpful...giving us a large trash bag (how appropriate!) to carry them away and looking around the yard for any Babies that had gotten separated from the pack. It was such a beautiful day...we were truly in Beanie Baby heaven.

But as we drove away, we couldn't help but remember the Chattanooga woman's hostile rage..."I'm not selling these to you for a QUARTER! I'll donate them to a CHARITY before I sell them for a QUARTER!"

If only she knew how many people will.

These days Beanie Babies bring out the best...and the worst...in people.

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Adrianne - Down To This (CD, Kufala, Acoustic pop)
Only truly brave souls dare to record and release albums using only an acoustic guitar and voice. Adrianne is not only up for the task, but she succeeds with flying colors. Her songs are neither folk nor pop, but a unique combination of the two. On Down To This (her fourth album), Adrianna presents new recordings of three tunes from her last album (10,000 Stones) as well as eight new songs. Despite the fact that these are stripped down recordings, this young lady is remarkably focused and never falters. Vocals are the real draw here, as Adrianna's voice is extraordinarily personal and effective. This might be even more impressive when you consider the fact that she had a body tumor removed from her throat a few years back that--at the time--left her with nothing more than a whisper. Some of the tracks on this album are slightly reminiscent of 1990s folkster Kristen Hall (who unfortunately never received the recognition she deserved). Adrianna is certainly a strong new voice in the world of music, and Down To This is a smashing success. Killer tunes include "Shout It Out," "Symmetry," "Rocks and Water," and "Shooting Star." (Rating: 5+)

Lynn Anderson - Live at the Renaissance Center (DVD, Music Video Distributors)
Though it may be hard to believe, this is the first concert ever taped specifically for DVD release by country superstar Lynn Anderson. In this show which was taped at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, Tennessee in 2004, Lynn and her band present sixteen of her favorite songs. Anderson's strong, husky vocals still sound fantastic as she belts them out for a rather subdued but appreciative crowd. There are some great bits of dialogue too...like when Lynn introduces "What A Man My Man Is" by telling the audience that her ex-husband/ex-producer used to write songs for her to sing that were mainly about what a great man she was married to (!). It is also interesting to hear Ms. Anderson recall the true story of how "Ride, Ride, Ride" came to be (written by her mother when she was very young). This is not a perfect DVD. For some reason, the track numbers don't show up when you switch from one to the next. There are also a few segments where the sound doesn't seem to be correctly synched to the video. But the overall vibe is so strong here that these minor problems don't really matter. Live at the Renaissance Center is a great piece of history...capturing Lynn in concert in all her glory. In addition to the concert, this disc also features an interview, a biography, a discography, a slide show, and web links. Highlights include "Faithless Love," "Someday Soon," "Ride, Ride, Ride," and of course, "Rose Garden." (Rating: 5)

Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin Team - Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin Team (CD, Double Naught, Pop/rock)
Good solid pop/rock from Raleigh, North Carolina-based Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin Team. This is a really slick little album that, if marketed with some bucks, could catch on in a big way with a mighty big crowd. Unlike a lot of underground bands, these five fellows play accessible music. Each song sounds like it could be a hit...and they're all delivered with such positive energy and style that you can't help but be affected. The songs are catchy and simple, and seasoned with intelligent hooks and excellent lyrics. Instant classics include "Can't Get the One You Want," "You Know Me," "Raindrops," "Check Please," and "Rehab." The disc is packaged in a beautiful digipak sleeve and includes a mini-poster with lyrics on the back. Great music from a great band. (Rating: 5+)

Askeleton - (Happy) Album (CD, Goodnight, Pop/rock)
The third album in Askeleton's trilogy . The first two albums were entitled Sad Album and Angry Album (or Psychic Songs). (Happy) Album is somewhat of a departure for the band and songwriter Knol Tate...as this is a group endeavor (the band was originally a one-man project). The change in approach has its positives and negatives. On the positive side, the music has a much nicer flow...which should make the music more accessible to a larger number of listeners. On the negative side...Askeleton has lost some of its uniqueness in the process. (Happy) Album is a good spin, full of cool melodic pop numbers. But while it sounds very nice, we can't help but miss the more obtuse sounds we heard on Angry Album. It would be nice if Tate could merge the two worlds on the next album...retaining his quirky eccentricities while taking a more conventional approach. In the meantime...(Happy) Album is sure to please fans and keep folks interested... (Rating: 4+++)

BAG - BAG (CD, Sanctuary / Simmons, Pop/rock)
BAG is the first new album to be released on Gene Simmons' music label in over a decade. BAG is a one-man-band originally from South America but now residing in Canada. His tunes recall Prince at times but only slightly. This album sounds nothing like a one-man affair. The songs are tight...infused with heaping helpings of modern technology and focused to infinity with complex arrangements. But in the end it is BAG's songs themselves and his superbly effective vocals that make his music such a treat. There's something for everyone here. There are harsh abrasive rockers, dance tracks, and even some light pop numbers. While BAG himself says that his "music is not mainstream"...he may very well be surprised to find how many people will be eagerly seeking it out and scooping it up. Really groovy stuff with positive vibes. Top picks: "Uh Uh Uh Uh," "Blown Away," "Love Is What You Make It," "Ballad of Johnny Eunuch." (Rating: 5)

The Bellrays - @ The Barfly (DVD, Punkervision / Music Video Distributors)
We have been big fans of The Bellrays for years...but in all those years we had never managed to see the band perform until now. Wow. Wow. Wowwwww... The Bellrays once again prove that they are one of the best goddamn bands in the world. Captured live in a sizzling hot show at The Barfly in London, these four individuals are absolutely on fire...putting on a mesmerizing and intense show at this small club. Lisa Kekaula, Tony Fate, Robert Vennum, and Craig Waters put out so much energy in this performance that you'll have to see it to believe it. For those unfamiliar with the band, The Bellrays play a unique blend of punk, rock, and soul...all spun together and spewed out with such intensity that you can't help but be affected by it. There's not another band on earth like 'em...and this concert is pure proof of this fact. Fate, Vennum, and Waters play their instruments like the earth is about to end (bringing to mind The MC5 and The Ramones)...while vocalist Lisa Kekaula provides the jarring and intense soul that propels the group up, up, up into the sky and beyond. Kekaula is quite possibly the best soul/rock vocalist of the twenty-first century. She screams, she whispers, she howls, she preaches...all of the while shaking her thing in a tight black dress that accentuates her every move. The lady is pure dynamite. She's big and she's sexy...and she's purely magnetic in every way imaginable. There are so many highlights in this concert that it would be difficult to list 'em all, but we were particularly impressed by "Voodoo Train," "Pay the Cobra," "Street Corner," "Some Confusion City," "Revolution Get Down," and "Startime." These folks should already be incredibly famous. But things being as they are (the public at large has shitty taste)...The Bellrays are still a cult band. But the cult continues to grow each and every year as new converts convert others...who convert others...who convert others... In our world, these folks are already big stars. They've got the goods and they DELIVER. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6++)

Tab Benoit, et al. - VOW: Voice of the Wetlands (CD, Rykodisc, Blues/cajun/pop)
This album features the talents of Tab Benoit, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, George Porter, Jr., Johnny Vidacovich, Jumpin' Johnny Sansone, and Waylon Thibodeaux. When these folks got together in January 2005 to record these tunes to raise awareness about the destruction of Louisiana's wetlands, they had no way of knowing how severe the destruction would soon be. Hearing this music now is an eerie experience. Hurricane Katrina made everyone suddenly jump on the bandwagon to assist the folks of Louisiana...but these folks had already gotten the ball rolling months in advance. As such, their message is more important now than ever before. But what makes this CD such a treat is not the idea behind the music...but rather the music itself. This all-star band recorded eleven tracks that capture the heart and spirit of Louisiana...incorporating all the great musical elements of the region. Top picks: "Bayou Breeze," "Clean Water," "Weary Silent Night," "We Make a Good Gumbo," and "Me Donkey Want Water." (Rating: 5)

Big Star - In Space (CD, Rykodisc, Pop)
The first new Big Star studio album in...30 years (!). In addition to original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens, the band also includes Posies members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. While some folks may be disappointed to find that In Space sounds markedly different from the original Big Star, those with an open mind are likely to find a lot to love here. Before hearing this album, Big Star fans should take into account the fact that three decades have passed. As a result, things are bound to sound different. What all four of these folks have in common is that they were either a part of--or were deeply affected by--the music of the original Big Star. That connection is what brought these folks together. Fresh, honest, hummable modern pop tunes are the result. While some songs recall the band's 1970s sound, others are much more modern. Over the course of twelve tunes, these folks make it clear that they are determined to keep the spirit of Big Star alive...and that is a very good thing. Top picks: "Dony," "Lady Sweet," "February's Quiet," "Hung Up With Summer," "Do You Wanna Make It." (Rating: 5+)

Bright - Bells Break Their Towers (CD, Strange Attractors, Abstract pop)
Unusual and spontaneous. Bright is the duo of Mark Dwinell and Joe Labrecque. The tunes on Bells Break Their Towers sound something like sound loops. Songs begin with one theme or idea and then fold and duplicate until things draw to a close. Recorded spontaneously in the studio, these compositions sound like pop mutations. Dreamy and hypnotic, the tracks are more like mood pieces than actual songs. Eight lengthy treats here...with the shortest ("Receiver") being 4:29 and the longest (the title track) clocking in at 12:16. Simultaneously trippy, soothing, and peculiar...Dwinell and Labrecque have created an album that sounds like no other. Meaty treats include "Manifest Harmony," "Flood," "Bells Break Their Towers," and "Night." Intriguing. (Rating: 5)

Charlemagne - Detour Allure (CD, SideCho, Pop)
Charlemagne is Carl Johns. Detour Allure, Johns' second album, is somewhat of a departure from his debut. Whereas he sang and played everything the first time around, Detour Allure finds Carl enlisting help and ideas from others. The result is...a more focused, polished, and well-rounded batch of pop tunes. Charlemagne songs are soft and direct. Carl's songs recall classic artists from the past like The Beach Boys, Harpers Bizarre, and Big Star. While there are many differences between this disc and the first album, the most noticeable difference is the quality of the songs themselves. Detour Allure is a much more straightforward adventure. The tunes are willfully catchy and upbeat and could easily be digested by the general public. Features eleven soothing tunes including "Greyhound," "Your Scars," "I Heard Something," "Tell Me," and "Hello September." Recommended for fans of Denison Witmer. (Rating: 5+)

Eagle*Seagull - Eagle*Seagull (CD, Paper Garden, Pop/rock)
Being big fans of Johnny Society, we were instantly drawn into the music of Nebraska's Eagle*Seagull. While the two bands' tunes are similar in many ways, they are also unique and stand on their own merits. The main similarity is the voice. Eli Mardock has a voice that is eerily similar to Johnny Society's Kenny Siegel...so similar, in fact, that you might very easily mistake one for the other. Similarities aside, Eagle*Seagull is--simply put--a truly credible band with truly credible songs. Released on the Nashville-based Paper Garden label, this is one impressive debut...chock full of intelligent songs with cool arrangements. Classy tracks include "Lock and Key," "Hello, Never," "Last Song," and "Ballet or Art." Excellent from start to finish. (Rating: 5)

Friends of Dean Martinez - Lost Horizon (CD, Aero Recordings, Instrumental)
We have never heard an album from Friends of Dean Martinez that we didn't love. The band now consists of Bill Elm (steel guitar), Mike Semple (guitar), and Andrew Gerfers (drums). On Lost Horizon, the trio continues keeping their standards high while providing their listeners with more brilliant stream-of-consciousness instrumentals. Elms' steel guitar playing sounds stranger and more hallucinogenic as time goes by, which may explain why Horizon just may be the band's best album yet. FODM tunes have always sounded moody and peculiar, but possibly never as much as they do on this release. These tunes are simultaneously calming and thought provoking...produced to perfection...and mentally perplexing. Nine compositions for thinking individuals. Incredibly effective music, highly stylized, and highly recommended... (Rating: 6+)

The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike (CD, Columbia, Pop/rock)
As the first tune ("Panther Dash") blasted out of our speakers, we were starting to really dig this group's sound...but as the album progressed, "scratching" and crap-hop entered the equation...and we just had to take the damn thing OUT of the player and toss it. Too bad. (Not rated)

Helloween - Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy (German import/Double CD, SPV USA, Rock)
Beginning with an introductory track ("The King For A 1000 Years") that would make Spinal Tap proud, the guys in Germany's Helloween quickly kick into high gear on the double CD Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy. This album is somewhat of an extension of two of the band's best albums from the late eighties (Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1 and Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 2). These guys have been writing and recording "smart metal" since they released their debut album way back in 1985. Of all the metal bands on the planet, these guys probably merge styles better than anyone. While the music has a definite edge, the tunes on The Legacy are laced with classical and progressive pop ingredients...which give the tunes a huge orchestral sound. Every musician's contributions are essential to the overall sound...and they are all as tight as holy hell on their instruments. Keeper of the Seven Keys was obviously a labor of love. There's no telling how many hundreds of hours were spent creating this opus. Monster hits include "Born on Judgment Day," "Silent Rain," "Do You Know What You're Fighting For," and "My Life For One More Day." Essential listening for metal heads. (Rating: 5+)

Thea Gilmore - Loft Music (CD, Compass, Pop)
A most impressive collection of well-chosen cover tunes. On Loft Music, Britain's Thea Gilmore presents her own interpretations of songs originally recorded by The Buzzcocks, Paul Westerberg, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Ramones, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Jimmy Cliff, Nigel Stonier, Gorney/Harburg, and Phil Ochs. Recording material by such a diverse group of artists might seem like an undaunting task...but Thea makes it seem as if the project required no effort at all. These smooth and effective covers show just how focused Ms. Gilmore is...and also shed some light on who has influenced her music over the years. Of particular interest are "Ever Fallen in Love" (a particularly smooth interpretation), "Bad Moon Rising" (a folk version), "Don't Come Close" (even poppier than the original), "Crazy Love" (particularly haunting and beautiful), and "When I'm Gone." Another brilliant album from one of England's finest... (Rating: 5+)

Imogene - Imogene (CD, Intrepid, Groove pop)
Imogene is a groovy band. These four gentlemen play melodic pop music infused with cool doses of R&B and psychedelia. Instead of sounding like any one band in particular, the tunes on Imogene sound like a hybrid of hundreds of other artists. Ultimately, however, this band manages to create their own sound by channeling their energies toward one common goal...to make quality music. The vocals are subdued and low in the mix...giving the songs a strange--almost creepy--sound. Fuzzy guitars and funky keyboards support melodies that glide by effortlessly...while the rhythm section keeps things steadily on track. This album may not blow you away immediately...but it will almost certainly grow on you over time. Neat cuts include "Sunny Day Child," "Dark Room," "Wasteoids," "Death," and "Slow Dive." (Rating: 4++++)

Invisible - Invisible (Independently released CD, Progressive pop)
The first thing that struck us about this release was the cover art. Invisible is packaged in an incredibly beautiful triple-fold digipak sleeve featuring a painting by Marty Schnapf. The abstract painting is a good match for the music on the CD. Invisible is Delaney Kelly, Chris Larson, and Zach Okun...three Portland musicians who are taking a different approach to music. The trio is heavily into visuals...incorporating them into their live performances. The trio's tunes range from experimental to progressive pop. After spinning this disc several times we still can't pick out any specific influences. Whatever style of music these fellows play, however, they play it well. This is smart progressive pop for thinking listeners. Twelve thought provoking tracks including "Rows of Unbending Lines," "Not the Next Anything," and "Far Too Clean." (Rating: 5)

Kobi - Dronesyndrome (CD, Silber, Experimental/instrumental)
Of all the experimental electronic artists of the twenty-first century, Norway's Kobi just may be the best. The only other modern act that we can compare them to is Sigur Ros. Dronesyndrome features nine compositions that are wonderfully rich with atmosphere. It may be difficult to recognize any familiar instruments as the folks in Kobi mutate and change sounds and instruments to suit their needs. Recorded over a two year period, this album was created by Kai Mikalsen, Fredrik Ness Sevendal, Per Gisle Galaen, Kjell Olav Jorgensen, Petter Pogo, Bjarne Larsen, Jon Birger Wormdahl, Tore H. Boe, and Michael Duch. To the untrained ear, these recordings may sound like abstract noodling. But more astute listeners will notice absorbing nuances and intriguing subtleties laced into these tracks. True to the claim of the accompanying press release, this album "sounds better the louder and longer you listen to it." Mind blowing experiments...and they all work. Includes "Faint Echoes Ran Round the Unseen Hall (Part 1)," "Anchored to a Central Core of Saturated Intensity," "The Existence of Another Goal" and more. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6+)

Landing - Brocade (CD, Strange Attractors, Instrumental/progressive)
Although founding member Dick Baldwin has moved on, the members of Landing move ahead. Baldwin chose synthesizer player Peter Baumann to fill his shoes. The band's sound has evolved a great deal since their earlier days on K Records. Brocade features five lengthy drony instrumentals. Like other bands on the Strange Attractors label, these folks create their music on-the-spot. As a result, these compositions sound something like modern jazz instrumentals played on electronic instruments. The band members create grooves and then use them as a canvass for creative noodling. This moody hypnotic album sounds better the more you play it. Peculiar soothing tracks include "Loft," "How To Be Clear," and "Music For Three Synthesizers." Cool stuff. (Rating: 5)

LD & The New Criticism - Tragic Realism (CD, Darla, Pop)
The latest project from LD Beghtol who has previously released albums under the names Flare, The Moth Wranglers, and The Three Terrors. Most of Beghtol's previous projects were very slick and calculated affairs...articulately recorded with acute attention to detail. LD & The New Criticism is a band with a much looser sound and overall vibe...and a much more obvious sense of humor. Lyrically, Mr. Beghtol has never been more quick-witted, violent, and entertaining. True, there are lots of laughs to be had while spinning Tragic Realism...but these tunes are definitely not joke compositions. Companionship betrayal seems to have fueled many of these songs and yet, while there are large rivers of sarcasm running through this landscape, the music itself somehow maintains an upbeat aura. Surviving defeat seems to be the main point here...and that is something that all of us should learn as we go through life. The songs on Tragic Realism have true substance...presenting the realities of the world and the humor that is necessary in order to survive. Intelligent tracks include "Elegy For An Ex-," "Apathy!", "Laughing At You," "Too Old To Die Young," and "Unpaid Endorsement." This is LD Beghtol's best work to date. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)

Gretchen Lieberum - Siren Songs (CD, Gogogerty Music, Soft moody pop/female vocal)
More soft, soothing, pensive, moody pop from Gretchen Lieberum. Lieberum's songs and voice recall the great vocalists from the 1940s and 1950s...an era when people wanted music that was calming and relaxing. But don't expect an old outdated sound, because Siren Songs is a slick modern recording...lightly orchestrated and arranged to perfection. The instruments caress Lieberum's smooth, absorbing voice throughout all eleven tracks, creating a truly rewarding collection of soft pop compositions. In so many cases, the best artists are those no one has ever heard of. Gretchen is definitely a case in point. Siren Songs easily beats out 95 percent of what is being released by major labels. Cool calming tracks include "Key Largo," "Opus," "Keep On Walking," "The Fall," and "Grace." Beautiful music, well produced, and totally in focus. (Rating: 5+)

Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain (CD, Load, Rock)
Lightning Bolt is an underground band in the truest sense. Begun in 1995, the band has continually broken molds and charted their own territory. Now nearly a decade later, the band's music is still raw, rough, and difficult. Hypermagic Mountain is a thick and crazy spin. The tunes consist of frenetic rhythms, out-of-control overdriven guitars, and distorted vocals that are secondary to the music. Lightning Bolt could be compared to early Butthole Surfers, as their music will almost certainly only capture the hearts and minds of very young listeners. With so many underground bands on the planet, it gets harder and harder to tell one from the other. These guys stand out because their music is just so goddamn...intense and crazy. Swell tracks include "2 Morro Morro Land," "Mega Ghost," "Bizarro Zarro Land," and "Infinity Farm" (love those song titles)... (Rating: 4++++)

The Mother Hips - Red Tandy EP (CD EP, Camera, Pop)
The Mother Hips are BACK. After the band took a break in 2001 many thought that was the end. Fortunately, the band is back together writing and recording the same kind of super melodic pop that has garnered them so many fans over the years. Four tracks here: "Red Tandy," "Colonized," "Blue Tomorrow," and "Red Tandy (Alternate Version)." The best news...is that here will be a brand new full-length in 2006. We can't WAIT. (Rating: 5+)

Jay Nash - Some Kind of Comfort (CD, Kufala, Pop)
Classic pop that most people have never heard...at least not yet. Unlike most up-and-coming artists, Jay Nash isn't playing music that is trendy nor modern. His words and music have depth and are timeless. Some Kind of Comfort features the friendly kind of pop music that has been popular on radio stations for decades. Nash's cool deep vocals and soaring melodies are bound to keep his fans coming back for more. This album features ten upbeat guitar pop tracks including "Eleanor," "Saturday," "Oogly Boogly," "Make Up Your Mind," and "High on the Hill." Comforting and real. (Rating: 4++++)

Rosa Parks (Dull and uninteresting miscellaneous kind of thing)
Ding dong the witch is dead. (Rating: 1)

Wayne Peet Quartet - Live at Al's Bar (CD, pfMENTUM, Jazz)
This appropriately-titled CD (recorded in 1999 at Al's Bar in Los Angeles) features the talents of Wayne Peet (organ), Nels Cline (guitar), Russell Bizzett (drums), and G.E. Stinson (guitar). This concert captures the four as they present three lengthy improvisational compositions ("Five Swirls," "Five Doors," "Inner Funkdom"). The music crawls, swells, curls, and builds upon itself...often recalling some of the more adventurous jazz/rock artists of the 1980s. Peet and Bizzett provide the rhythmic foundation while guitarists Cline and Stinson go off the deep end...much to the delight of the audience. These complex pieces showcase the dynamic talents of these four individuals while providing quality entertainment for the more involved jazz enthusiasts of the world. (Rating: 5)

Petracovich - We Are Wyoming (CD, Red Buttons, Soft pop)
A couple of years ago we reviewed an intoxicating debut album (Blue Cotton Skin) by Petracovich, whose real name is Jessica Peters (the name was taken from her grandfather). The album was incredible, particularly considering the fact that it was self-released. Jessica and her musical partner Tad Wagner have returned with We Are Wyoming. Cut from the same fabric as Blue Cotton Skin, Wyoming is another soothing and incredible album that features Peters' remarkable voice. Although still virtually unknown, this young lady is easily one of the best vocalists of the twenty-first century. She has a voice that is so smooth and effective that it rivals well-known artists like Allison Kraus. The songs feature absorbing melodies that are bathed in intricately crafted arrangements. Every once in a while an unknown artist comes that totally blows us away. Petracovich started out on a high note...and just keeps getting better. This mind-blowing album features fourteen killer cuts including "Clair De Lune," "Telephone," "What If I Came To Get You?", "Paper Cup," "Dearly Departed," and "We Are Wyoming." Beautiful stuff. Highly recommended. (Rating: 6++)

Ray Price - Live at the Renaissance Center (DVD, Music Video Distributors)
As of this date, this is the only full-length concert by Ray Price to be made available to the public. Taped in the late 1980s but never-before-seen until now, this concert presents the "Perry Como of country music" at a later stage in his career. Nowadays a smooth crooner like Price would probably be overlooked, but when this man's songs rocked the charts decades ago people were truly moved by his soft and subdued demeanor. Ray and his band present twelve tunes, all of which go over exceedingly well with the audience. It is a shame that many of country music's greatest artists of the past seem to be getting lost in peoples' memory banks. Thankfully, the Live at the Renaissance Center DVD series is shining a light on some of the greatest of the greats...which will hopefully turn younger artists and fans onto the music that has so obviously influenced them. Includes "San Antonio Rose," "Heartaches By The Number," "Help Me Make It Through The Night," and "For The Good Times." (Rating: 4+++)

The Rakes - Retreat (CD, Dim Mak, Rock/pop)
A fine little EP featuring six rockin' tracks. The fellows in Britain's The Rakes make modern rock music that is eerily reminiscent of Wire (the vocals sound almost identical) and Television Personalities. Being big Wire fans for years, we couldn't help but be drawn into Retreat. The band plays hard yet their music is obviously inspired by underground pop. This, the band's American debut, is a strong release that showcases their superb songwriting skills. Cool tunes like "Retreat," "Strasbourg," and "22 Grand Job" will no doubt whet most rock fans' appetites for the next full-length release. Great stuff. (Rating: 5)

Kate Rusby - The Girl Who Couldn't Fly (CD, Compass, Folk)
There have always been sad fragments running through Kate Rusby's music...but probably never as much as on the engrossing and emotionally jarring album The Girl Who Couldn't Fly. In a very short amount of time, young Kate has managed to rise to the top of her game. No other female folk singer on the planet has a presence and a voice anywhere near as engrossing and refreshing. Like previous albums, Fly contains a mixture of traditional and original songs. While previous efforts have all been direct hits, there's something even more absorbing and effective about The Girl Who Couldn't Fly. It could be due to the song selection...or it could just be the direct and uncanny honesty of the artist herself. Kate's cover of "You Belong To Me" is so fantastic that it will bring tears to the eyes of many. Other highlights include the beautiful melancholy "Moon Shadow," the intricately arranged "Fare Thee Well," the light and airy "The Game of All Fours," and the soothing and touching "The Lark." There aren't many artists in the world who can create cool atmospheres like Kate Rusby. She is a true gem, unlike any other. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Rating: 6+++)

Sabrosa Purr - Music From the Violet Room (CD EP, Dangerbird, Rock/pop)
Although they are very, very different, Music From the Violet Room makes us feel the same way The Smashing Pumpkins' Gish did the first time we heard it. This is a very exciting collection of tunes. The folks in Sabrosa Purr make music that doesn't sound like other bands...yet the songs are gripping, intense, and wildly unique. The songs are sometimes creepy and subtle...and at other times harsh and violent. The studio effects are trippy and unusual...and the vocals range from subtle to out-of-control. The band consists of Will Love, Jeff Mendel, and Jacob Thompson. These folks deliver a mighty big mental punch here. This EP is destined to be highly cherished in the years to come. Features eight tracks including "Sabrosa Purr, Pt. 1," "...By The Water," "God Damn You," and "Liars, Petty Thieves and Pets." Highly recommended for fans of previously mentioned Smashing Pumpkins as well as Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails. Totally killer stuff... (Rating: 5++)

Ashlee Simpson - I Am Me (Really popular nothing kind of CD)
With all the great musical artists and bands in the world...this is what most folks choose to listen to...? Sad, sad, sad. Ashlee Simpson is dull. Dull and boring. Dull and boring and ugly. Dull and boring and ugly and pretentious. Dull and boring and ugly and pretentious and crappy. Dull and boring and ugly and pretentious and crappy and small-minded. Dull and boring and ugly and pretentious and crappy and small-minded and shitty. We hate her. You should hate her too. (Rating: 1)

Bruce Springsteen (Really boring and dull kind of thing)
How on earth did Bruce Springsteen ever become so popular? It just goes to show...once again...how dull and unimaginative most music fans are. Instead of supporting someone who is truly unique and talented...they would rather support a man with no originality or real talent. Hint for retards: Just because he can raise his fist in the air and yell like a retard, it does not mean he is a great songwriter. Bruce is just a sorry old fart with an irritating shitty voice. He writes totally forgettable songs and has a boring personality. Sorry to hit you with the truth, Bruce Springsteen fans. But hey...you shouldn't be reading this anyway. You belong on mainstream web sites designed by airheads like yourselves. (Rating: 1)

Suplecs - Powtin' on the Outside, Pawty on the Inside (CD, Nocturnal, Rock)
If Ilka at Los Angeles, California's Fly PR is a fan...you know it must be good. New Orleans rockers Suplecs play blistering hard rock in the same general vein as bands like Nashville Pussy. The energy level is high, the rhythms fast, and the guitars are in perpetual overdrive. It's time to get high and rock out like there's no tomorrow...which is exactly what the band does on Powtin' on the Outside, Pawty on the Inside. The band consists of Danny Nick (bass, vocals), Andrew Preen (drums), and Durel Yates (guitars, vocals)...three sexy bearded gentlemen who can really pound the hell out of their instruments. This album features heavy melodic rockers with subtle pop hooks thrown in for good measure. These guys play genuine, authentic hard rock for folks who like masculine hard stuff. Kickass tracks include "Tsunami," "Gotta Pain," "Four Legged Love Song," "Burnt," and "Meatballs and Spaghetti." Great album from start to finish. These guys are the real thing. (Rating: 5+)

10 Ft. Ganja Plant - Bass Chalice (CD, ROIR, Reggae)
Folks who really, really, really dig 1970s reggae music are likely to loose their panties over 10 Ft. Ganja Plant. The band's music sounds so authentic that you'll swear you're tripping in time. Interestingly, the band is from upstate New York...but you'd never know it from spinning Bass Chalice. Guest artists on the album include members of John Brown's Body and The Meditations. The rhythms and bass lines are intoxicating and soothing...while the guitars and keyboards are ultra-focused and often slightly hallucinogenic. Whether the band is playing cool instrumentals or dance-inducing pop, their overall vibe is bound to please reggae fans worldwide. Ten classic cuts including "Blood Money," "Last Dance," "Burning James," and "Deliver Us Jah." (Rating: 5)

Tall Dwarfs - Weeville (CD, Flying Nun / Cloud Recordings, Pop), Fork Songs (CD, Flying Nun / Cloud Recordings, Pop)
Reissues of two Tall Dwarfs albums: Weeville and Fork Songs. Tall Dwarfs was the New Zealand-based duo consisting of Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate. Together, the two made recordings that affected a tiny but incredibly devoted group of listeners around the world. As such, these reissues are sure to receive a warm welcome. Prior to hearing these reissues, we had never heard either album in its entirety. Weeville was originally released in 1990 and has now been remastered and reissued thanks to the folks at Athens' Cloud Recordings. Weeville is a peculiar album that bears little if any resemblance to other music that was recorded at the time. Knox and Bathgate apparently weren't interested in any sort of commercial success as the album is a purely artistic endeavor. Each song bears little resemblance to the others and yet the album has strange threads that hold it together. These sixteen odd little tracks have managed to capture the hearts and imagination of folks in Yo La Tengo and Neutral Milk Hotel among others. It's no wonder. The albums sounds something like a more subdued version of The Bonzo Dog Band...except not nearly as goofy. This disc includes a 20-page lyric booklet. The reissue of Fork Songs (1991) also includes the Dogma EP (1997). By the time Knox and Bathgate had recorded Fork Songs they had managed to tighten their sound and focus their energies...resulting in a smooth and more easily digestible collection of tunes. While still created out of artistic freedom, the duo's tunes were becoming just slightly catchy. Whereas Weeville was more fanciful and unpredictable, Fork Songs is stronger and more cohesive overall. Our favorite inventive underground pop tunes include "Dare to Tread," "Lowlands," "Life Is Strange," "Two Humans," and "Think Small." The Dogma EP is stranger than either of the full-lengths. These six home recordings provide a fitting, peculiar ending for the disc. Tall Dwarf fans will undoubtedly scoop up these treasures immediately...while it may take others some time to digest the material on these discs. Esoteric and difficult to pigeonhole, Knox and Bathgate both managed to solidify their future careers with this project... (Rating: 5+)

Ten Words For Snow - D-NA (CD, Contraphonic, Pop/rock)
Intelligent, catchy, upbeat guitar pop/rock. Ten Words For Snow is Justin Berger, Kraig Sagan, Shannan Hibbard, and Dave Melkonian. Together these four individuals create music that sounds something like a cross between Guided By Voices, XTC, and The Beach Boys. The band's articulately crafted recordings seem to work as they have already built up a credible following and impressed reviewers across the country. One thing is certain...D-NA sounds nothing like other Detroit bands. These folks have managed to encapsulate influences from their favorite bands and recycle them with their own unique vision and style. The guitars and vocals are totally out-of-this-world. Killer tracks include "Sexy Grunge Story," "Shake You Off," "Beneficial Compost," and "It Will Hide Your Face." (Rating: 5+)

Pam Tillis - Live at the Renaissance Center (DVD, Music Video Distributors)
Pam Tillis is a colorful entertainer...and we're not just talking about the flashy rainbow-colored outfit she wears in this event. During this show which was taped at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, Tennessee, Tillis and her band really put out for the crowd. Pam has a really cool stage presence herself of course...but this concert is made even more engaging because of her choice of backup musicians...all of whom really add their own special touches. Compared to most country superstars, Tillis chooses young players...and interestingly has two female musicians playing center stage with her. The band consists of Darin Favorite (lead guitar), Bethany Dick (fiddle), Mary Sue Englund (acoustic guitar), David Spicher (bass), Tim Lusby (steel guitar), Weston Mays (keyboards), and Kent Slucher (drums). Pam and her band present some great up-tempo numbers, but the slower moody tracks are the real standouts. Of particular interest are "Walk In The Room," "Spilled/Pony/Good One Medley" (truly fantastic), "Calico Plains," "In Between Dances," and "Mandolin Rain." Throughout this show Pam and her band prove themselves to be true professionals, playing with and for the crowd...instead of at them. Presented in stunning 5.1 surround sound, this is a truly entertaining DVD. After watching this, we immediately wanted to go out and pick up everything that this magnetic lady has recorded. Outstanding. (Rating: 5++)

The Twin Atlas - Sun Township (CD, Tuppersize, Soft pop)
The Twin Atlas is Sean Byrne and Lucas Zaleski, two Philadelphia gentlemen who write and record their music at home. Sun Township features ten light, breezy, airy pop compositions with super smooth harmony vocals and gently strummed guitars. The albums' words and melodies are subtle and user-friendly...and slowly grow on the listener with repeated spins. Despite the fact that the songs are soft and pensive, this album actually sounds better if you turn up the volume. Only by doing so will the listener be able to hear the nuances in the arrangements. Songs are what will keep listeners coming back to The Twin Atlas, however...and this is where Byrne and Zaleski really shine. Their tunes are simple and easygoing...yet rather unique and ultimately satisfying. Top picks: "Roll On," "Wrap the Days," "Nylon Test," "Current Below." (Rating: 5)

The Veronicas - 4ever (CD, Warner Bros., Pop)
No, The Veronicas are not an offshoot of The Archies. There is no connection. The band The Veronicas is a new upbeat buzzsaw girlie pop band consisting of two 20-year-old twin sisters from Australia. While the duo's super-energized positive vibe may turn some folks off, others will be immediately turned ON (we fall into the latter category). True, there are a lot of bands playing this style of music. But intent is everything...and intent is what makes 4ever such a cool spin. Lisa and Jess Origliasso write killer songs...and they deliver them with such genuine enthusiasm that you just can't help but be drawn into their world. Both of these young ladies have killer voices...and their harmonies are nothing short of spectacular. These twelve tunes are slightly bubblegummy, instantly catchy, and perfect for hyperactive dancing. Top picks: "4ever," "Secret," "Leave Me Alone," "Heavily Broken," "Mother Mother." Great stuff. (Rating: 5)

Additional Items Received:

Acumen Nation - what the f**k?
Aeroplane - Changing modes
The Afterglow - Modern life virus
Annabella - songs of goodbye
Anti-Social Music - sings the great American songbook
Atomic Violet - Rock widow
Awesome New Republic - ANR so far
Bang Sugar Bang - Thwak thwak go crazy!!
Berry - Marriage
The Black Angels - The Black Angels
Bonk - Western soul
Bush Chemists - Raw raw dub
Tim Chaplin - Chrome plated on nickel silver
Cheeseberger - Uitgebergerd
Coretta Scott - Scream & shout
Days Like These - Inventure
Dear and the Headlights - Dear and the Headlights
Default - One thing remains
The Defilers - Metal mountains
Degenerate Art Ensemble - The bastress
Alice Despard - Vessel
The Drinks - Grr!
Dr. Israel - Patterns of war
Drywall - Barbeque babylon
Face To Face - Shoot the moon: The essential collection
Fielding - Fielding
Jody Friendman - Est. 1980
Fumosonic - Different place and time
The Gene Pool - 3rd and main
Leah-Carla Gordone - Dancing on the dragon
The Grabs - Sex, fashion, and money
Kirsty Hawkshaw - Meta-message
The Hideous North - Your mother called and said she doesn't love you
Hudson Bell - When the sun is the moon
Jana Hunter - Blank unstaring heirs of doom
If Thousands - I have nothing
I.Inside - The mood that shapes you E.P.
Jai Alai Savant - Thunder statement
Blake Jones & The Trike Shop - Pop songs & kyries
Lisa Karp - Fucsia blues
Vic Latino - One night in NYC
The Lifted - A reason to live
Listing ship - Time to dream
Michael Lloyd Band - Highwaters EP
The Lonely Hearts - Dispatch
LU - Issues
The Lucy Show - Mania
Hilken Mancini and Chris Colbourn - Hilken Mancini and Chris Colbourn
Mary-Jane - What I came here for
The Meadows - The Meadows
Merry Mixmas - Christmas classics remixed
Jeffrey Michaels - Jeffrey Michaels
The Mother Hips - Red tandy EP
Natalise - I came to play
Wally Nichols - Sharpie
Only Now Existing - Voodoo doll
Gregory Paul - Awake from the flash
The Pit That Became a Tower - Behold! the unseen
The Positions - Bliss!
Program the Dead - Program the Dead
PTI - Exhaust
Radio Whales - Infinite number of sounds
Mike Rickard - Stirred not shaken
Ris Paul Ric - Purple blaze
Saboteur - Saboteur
The Saturday Nights - "Stranded" b/w "Julianna Convince Me"
Saving Jane - Girl next door
Saving Jane - Gril next door (CD single)
Sepultura - Live in Sao Paulo (CD)
Sepultura - Live in Sao Paulo (DVD)
Sevendust - Next
Shipwreck - Origin
A Skaggs Family Christmas - Volume one
Something Must Break - Volume one
SOS - A guide to better living
Southeast Engine - Coming to terms with gravity
Spider - Spider demo
Leo Stokes - Good place to start
Stromkern - Light it up
The Super-Scary Monster Show Featuring Little Gloomy - Walker and Jones
3rd Alley - After school special
Terminus Victor - Under surveillance
The Terms - Smalltown computer crash
The Thin Man - Greasy heart
The Thunderlords - Noisy songs for noisy kids
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland - Soundtrack
The Transit War - Ah discordia
UHF - All our golden tomorrows
Vaistron 1: Breakdown - Boussourir and Andrew Dabb
Various artists - I love Guitar Wolf very much
Various artists - 20 nights of wine and song
Various artists - Noise research program volume 2 - summer 2005
Vessel - Stay alert, watch your neighbors
The Village Green - The Village Green
Voxtrot - EP
The Westport Sunrise Sessions - The Westport Sunrise Sessions
Wren - Wednesday
Yoko Solo - The beeps


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