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May 2001 Reviews by

 Absalom 3" Series
The Actual Tigers

Bee Gees
Jerry Bonham

Tim Buckley
Comment Piece
Continental Drifters

Alejandro Escovedo
Ex Models
Explosion Robinson
The Fleshtones
The Frogs

Greasy Beans
Ken Ishii
Jamie Janover and Michael Masley
Lady Lady Lady Lady
Last Days of April

Le Duc
Mark Lewis
Linus of Hollywood
LN

The Lucksmiths
Lunachicks
Masters of Reality

The Mercury Program
Midtown
Monster Magnet

Moods For Moderns
The Multiple Cat
Nasty and the Haters
NatarajXT
No Motiv
People With Kids

PlaceboJoey Ramone*
Heidi Saperstein

Silver Scooter
David Singer

Super Model
Theselah
Toothless Tina

John Vanderslice
Violet Indiana
The Weisstronauts
Rosa Chance Well

Wellwater Conspiracy

*Top Picks

RATING SYSTEM:
= GODDAMN!!!
= EXCELLENT
= VERY GOOD
= GOOD
= FAIR
= SHITTY

May 2001 Comment Piece: Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrity endorsements... This is a concept that amazes us for the simple and peculiar reason that they work on so many stupid and feeble-minded people. Celebrity endorsements are always obnoxious...but even MORE so when they are associated with selling a new musical artist. After all...who CARES if Sting (vomit!) or some other obnoxious rock star asshole is pushing some boring new rock band...? Apparently lots of people must care about such dumb bullshit...as the wealth of press releases that cross our desk are living proof. Biography after biography after page after page of people trying to sell a new artist...most often by tagging onto the coat tails of some other more well known "living legend." We here in the lovely yet increasingly obscure babysue offices are impressed first and foremost by talent, style, and the ability to get a point across. What does NOT impress us is...how an artist's latest CD is currently "charting"...what radio stations are playing their music (who the hell CARES?!?), what television shows they have appeared on (yeeeechhhhh...), and what big influential magazine or web site has done a goddamn FEATURE on the artist. Of course, we know that our ideas do not reflect those of the general public... But God oh God how we WISH that they DID...

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Absalom Recordings 3" Series (Limited edition subscription based 3" CD EP series)
We opted to review this unique label's subscription service rather than their individual artists because 99.9% of you out there have probably never heard of the individual artists anyway. Absalom Recordings is a wonderfully unique Canadian company with a curious mission...to present underground and unknown artists to a very esoteric audience by means of a subscription service whereby the purchaser receives cool little 3 inch CD EPs in the mail, each featuring a new and obscure artist. The best part? At least from what we've heard thus far, the quality KICKS ASS. The first disc we heard from The Autumns features wonderfully haunting pop music that is both atmospheric and melodic. This band's vocals and guitars are absolutely fantastic. The second disc from Songs: Ohia (who we have heard from in the past) features a 13 minute plus cut that is minimal and curious. This is neither "garage" rock, nor is it second rate home recorded junk. These discs are professionally recorded and produced. We're going to let you click on the label's web site (above) to find out more... Our initial opinion is that this is a GREAT series featuring some wonderful artists in a unique (and probably highly collectible) format... We continue to be amazed at the wealth of talent coming out of Canada these days... Very, very NEAT. (Rating: 5)

The Actual Tigers - Gravelled and Green (Advance CD-R, Nettwerk, Soft pop)
Very smart and well written soft pop music from The Actual Tigers. You can tell that the band and their producer spent a great deal of time on the arrangements on this ultimately rewarding collection of tunes. Produced by Dennis Herring (probably best known for his work with Camper Van Beethoven), Gravelled and Green sounds GREAT. Not only have these fellows penned some interesting tunes for this CD, but their execution (particularly with the vocals) is way above average. From listening to this, we had a hard time believing that this is a debut disc (?!?). It would take most bands five or six albums to reach this level of maturity and skill. These tunes don't smack you over the head, but rather grow on you gradually. We had to spin this one several times before we came to the conclusion that it is wonderful. That must surely be the trademark of truly good music...when it gets better the more you play it (instead of the opposite). Twelve fulfilling tracks here, including "Yardwork in November," "Halfway House," and "The One That Got Away." (Rating: 5)

Bee Gees - This Is Where I Came In (CD, Universal, Pop)
The "energizer" Bee Gees . They just keep on going...and going...and going...and going... And unlike most bands that keep on going and going...Australia's Bee Gees remain credible and still have something viable to offer. We recently obtained remastered CDs of some of their early material...and we found it to sound just as incredible as it did when it was originally released. We have always felt that it is unfortunate that the period that the band is best known for is that horrible Saturday Night Fever disco phase...eeeeeeeyuchhhhhh! Even though the band was peaking commercially, artistically they were at their lowest point. But that didn't last for long, as a couple of years later the band went back to recording what they record best...pure pop. So now it is 2001...and what do we have here...? First off, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb still look great (they always were dashing gents). In addition, their vocals still sound fantastic. Lastly (and possibly most importantly), the fellows still know how to write some DAMN good tunes. Oh sure, this is much slicker and more middle-of-the-road than the band's very early stuff...but that is to be expected. After all, we can't still expect them to sound the same now...can we? Maybe, maybe not. But whether the sound is similar or whether it is not, This Is Where I Came In contains some KILLER tunes. The first track to really scratch our fancy was "Sacred Trust," a completely irresistible upbeat dance tune that is catchy as hell. Also of note is "Wedding Day," which contains more of the band's trademark romantic lyrics. "Technicolor Dreams" is the real surprise here...a boppy little number that sounds like a cross between Harry Nilsson and The Bonzo Dog Band. We felt that Still Waters (the band's last studio album) was a great artistic success, but it was virtually overlooked by most people. Hopefully more ears will be open to this disc, as the music of the Bee Gees is just as vital and alive as ever. Almost all mega-famous artists fall prey to the unfortunate byproducts of fame. Mr Gibb, Mr. Gibb, and Mr. Gibb have managed to keep their egos in check and their talents in good standing. Another welcome release from one of the TRULY GREAT pop bands of all time. (Rating: 5+)

Jerry Bonham - Spundae Presents Interpretations II by Jerry Bonham (Double CD, Mute, Electronic/dance)
We once had an aversion to reviewing CDs by DJs. If you think that it is confusing in the world of rock music where every musician is now in three or four bands, the world of electronica and dance music is made even more complicated by the fact that every artist records under five, ten, twenty or MORE different names. Thankfully, we have now overcome our dumb aversion. How? By simply not trying to keep up with all of the names and just enjoying the music. After all...is it really necessary to keep up with all the individual band names? Nowadays with all the DJs on the planet picking and choosing the music for us, we can just let someone else do the work. DJ Jerry Bonham is a case in point. This whopping double CD set contains a whole slew of new material from artists we had never heard before (Lovesky, Second Hand Satellites, Chiller Twist, Minders, Cass, Souldriver)...but what almost all of these artists have in common is a desire to produce beat-driven electronic music with a minimalist sound. Minimalist dance music being our favorite, we had our hands all over this one as soon as it popped out of the envelope. In addition to spinning tunes, Mr. Bonham is also co-owner of Spundae Reckords in San Francisco and apparently is also a major club player in the area. In addition to lotsa great dance music on these two discs, the foldout artwork is also cool as hell. Lots of great stuff here...and the best part is, all YOU have to do is remember the name Jerry Bonham...and he will keep up with all the individual artists FOR you. Too bad everything ain't that easy...HUH? (Rating: 5)

Tim Buckley - The Dream Belongs To Me: Rare and Unreleased Recordings 1968/1973 (CD, Manifesto, Folk/pop)
Before we even begin here, let us state that prior to hearing this disc we were not familiar with the music of Tim Buckley...although we have seen and heard the name for decades. We are, however, quite familiar with the Manifesto label and can report from our experience thus far that just about anything this label puts out is worthy of attention. Such is the case with this disc containing rare and unreleased recordings by Buckley. Even though this CD is probably aimed at collectors and fans, for us it serves as a fine introduction to a man whose music for whatever reason escaped us over the years. For others who might be in the dark like we were, Mr. Buckley was a folk singer/songwriter whose main musical output occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. His career ended in an unfortunate heroin overdose. So...our reaction to this CD... Although we regret that we obviously weren't paying attention to what he was doing at the time, we are certainly pleased to be able to hear Tim's material after the fact. Buckley has a wonderfully sincere vocal style and his songs sound slightly familiar (which means we probably heard a few of these tunes in the past without realizing it). The disc is divided into two parts. The first six tunes are previously unreleased recordings from 1968, while the remaining eight cuts were recorded in 1973 (just prior to the recording of the Sefronia album). Buckley's story is an interesting one...he was a man more interested in the integrity of his music than selling lots of records. Still relatively obscure in the big scheme of things, hopefully this disc will make others (like ourselves) more aware of this talented fellow from the past... (Rating: 5)

Continental Drifters - Better Day (CD, Razor and Tie, American pop/rock)
Continental Drifters... We've heard the name, but to our knowledge we had never heard the music until now. Apparently these folks have captured the imagination of a great many reviewers...and we can now add ourselves to the list. What impresses us most about this band's music is the extreme lack of pretentiousness. The music is Americana roots based rock/pop with a decidedly commercial bend. Considering the overall sound of this band, we find it most interesting that both Peter Holsapple and Susan Cowsill belong to the group (the tunes on this CD sound like neither). The production here is slick, yet appropriate. Continental Drifters music is so void of attitude and gimmicks that a great many folks may simply fail to notice it because of the plethora of artists out there in the world. Make no mistake, however, that these six individuals are providing some genuine and heartfelt music that will just make you feel GOOD. Our favorite tracks are "Na Na," "Long Journey Home," and "Where Does The Time Go?" (Rating: 4)

Alejandro Escovedo - A Man Under the Influence (CD, Bloodshot, Introspective pop)
This is a very cool and very subtle collection of tunes. While A Man Under the Influence didn't grab us initially, after three or four spins we found ourselves helplessly pulled into the music of Alejandro Escovedo. Mr. Escovedo's music could best be described as the "singer/songwriter" variety...as melodies and lyrics seem to take precedence in these tunes. The songs on this disc are haunting, soft, and feature some absolutely stellar...if not wonderfully subtle...arrangements. The icing on the cake are those sexy vocals. This fellow comes across sounding sincere, thoughtful, and masculine. If you're like us, by the time you get to the end of this disc you'll be caught hook, line, and SINKER. Eleven great tunes, with our top picks being "Wave," "Rosalie" (wow!), "Don't Need You," and "About This Love." Though this disc will probably be reviewed, discussed, and played mainly in underground circles, in actuality Escovedo's music has the potential to be very big in a (gasp) commercial sense (and we mean that in a complimentary fashion). Produced by Chris Stamey (who was formerly a member of The Beatles). VERY good stuff here... (Rating: 4++)

Ex Models - Other Mathematics (CD, Ace.Fu, Rock)
Excellent hard rock with a DIFFERENCE. If you ever dug the jagged charm of Devo's first album (but hated everything that followed) or if you got off on very early Gang of Four (before they turned crummy), then you would do very well to check out New Jersey's Ex Models. This is one loud band that DOES NOT sound like all the rest. In the world of hard rock we get very tired of all those generic bands who simply turn all the way up and then do nothing but slam out power chords for an hour straight. Oh sure, the idea worked for The Ramones in the 1970s...but what few people realize is that everyone (unfortunately) cannot "BE" The Ramones (!). Ex Models use driving rhythms to draw the listener into their music...but then the yelping/squawking vocals and completely unpredictable liquid guitars slap you immediately into SUBMISSION. These guys are so much smarter than your usual hard rockers. In fact, they are probably over the heads of most folks. Top picks: "It's On Television," "The Birth of Disneyland," and "The Fun System." Even the lyrics cook on this baby. This is stuff that you can either dance to or simply overdose on with your favorite medication. Spastic, chaotic, nervous, and energetic...this is one HELL of a COOL GODDAMN BAND. (Rating: 5)

Explosion Robinson - The Luxury Leader (CD, Slabco, Electronic/dance)
Simple and slightly goofy dance music craziness by one man band Stephen Herman, who was a former member of Sukpatch. There are two kinds of electronic dance/party music...the kind that we like...and the kind that we DON'T like. The Luxury Leader comfortably fits in the former category, as it is almost impossible NOT to love these bouncy and upbeat tunes. By day, Mr. Herman designs Tommy Hilfiger clothing for children (?!?). Actually, that isn't so surprising...because if kids could actually get their hands on this music, they'd probably go APE over it. Bright and happy stuff by a man who isn't trying too hard (a rarity these days). This is easily worth a couple of hundred spins... (Rating: 4)

The Fleshtones - Solid Gold Sound (CD, Blood Red Vinyl & Discs, Rock)
Some bands never give up, although in most cases we wish that they would. In the case of The Fleshtones, the boat is still chugging along nicely...and these guys still have whatever it was that made them so appealing back in the seventies. We're tempted to say that these four gentlemen were playing garage rock before it became hip, but that would be such a dumb statement seeing as how garage rock has always been hip and cool (?!?). In any event, these guys serve their meals up right. The tunes are still basic, straightforward, and bitchin'. Vocalist Peter Zaremba still has that throaty rasp thing down. Tunes like "New Song" and "Ten Dollars More" will more than please the band's devoted fan base... (Rating: 4)

The Frogs (Live performance, April 6, 2001 at The Earl, Atlanta, GA)
Heading off to this show, we weren't sure what to expect from this band in concert. And after the show was over, we weren't exactly sure what we had experienced. One strike against the band was thatThe Frogs made a very small audience wait an hour and a half to hear them play when they could have very easily started on time. Because we do not "hang out" in smoky bars, we had to wait outside wasting our time (which is something we are not crazy about).  At long last The Frogs hit the stage...Jimmy Flemion in his notorious green sequin bat wings and brother Dennis in blackface, along with an odd little bass player decked out in hot pink. The band immediately launched into a bunch of semi-punk/garage material, most of which we had never heard before. The first part of the set was loud and intense, and seemed to satisfy the small yet appreciative audience. As most readers are probably already aware, The Frogs are known for their odd sense of humor...and this was certainly intact, particularly as the show progressed. The band taunted the audience almost constantly, which we enjoyed very much.  They even spit a guitar pick at us, which was flattering... What was most disappointing about this show was that The Frogs played but a mere two tunes from Hopskotch Lollipop Sunday Surprise (and one of those tunes was barely recognizable).  Sure, the band got folks laughing, yelling, and having fun...but for the most part they failed to play what we consider to be the very best material they have. But judging from this performance, we would say that these men are not out to please people nor to perform the material that people want to hear. Instead, their point seems to be to alienate crowds and do everything in their power to ensure that they will always be toiling away in relative obscurity. That in itself is admirable and intriguing...but it still wasn't a plus in a concert setting. Of course, hearing Jimmy sing "F*ck Off" solo was more than worth the price of admission and the wait...as were other tunes he performed alone which showed just how great a singer and songwriter this man truly is.  But judging from the reaction of the audience, soft contemplative stuff wasn't what they wanted.  Unfortunately, The Frogs will probably never be appreciated for what they do best...because unless they are willing to compromise, virtually no one is going to take them seriously (which is most likely exactly what they want).  We personally love the band's "serious" music so much that we felt slighted that they provided so little of it at this show. Would it have required all that much effort to play "Bad Daddy" or "Better Than God"?  This concert ranged from being incredible and unforgettable...to being tedious and tiring. As a result, we aren't going to rate this...although it was, to say the least, a very INTERESTING experience (with some real HIGHS and real LOWS...) that we would not have missed.  We would suggest picking up the band's latest CD. No matter what the band does or does not do in concert, they more than make up for it with their studio recordings... (Not Rated)

Greasy Beans - Real Live Music (CD, Double Ought, Bluegrass)
Ahhhhh...if only ALL artists were as genuine and DIRECT as Asheville, North Carolina's Greasy Beans. These four guys obviously know exactly what they are striving for, and even more importantly...they SUCCEED. Real Live Music is exactly what it proposes to be...five bluegrass musicians playing direct to tape (using tube microphones) with no overdubs. What makes this disc even more interesting is that twelve of the thirteen tracks are originals. How many bluegrass bands can make this claim? No frills...no gimmicks...no fancy stuff. Just real good toe-tappin' music played from the heart with gusto and style. If'n ya'll wanna contact them nasty ol' beans you can e-mail 'em at artfund@earthlink.net or write to 'em at Double Ought Records, 825-C Merrimon Ave., Box 347, Asheville, NC 28804...or just click on that goddarn web site linky dink above... (Rating: 4++)

Ken Ishii - Flatspin (Japanese import CD, Sony, Electronic/dance)
We had previously experienced the music of Japanese technosuperman Ken Ishii, so you can bet your granny's doodoo that when this CD arrived we snapped it into our player IMMEDIATELY. Flatspin is...a FANTASTIC listen. Full of super heady electronic noodling, this thirteen track disc will make you want to move and laugh (Ishii's sense of humor definitely comes through loud and clear on many of these tracks). Just as is the case in the world of rock music, there are too many people all doing the same thing with electronics...and most of them tend to merge into one nonexistent BLUR. The fortunate thing about this social phenomenon is that those who don't take the standard paths really stand out BIG TIME. Mr. Ishii has been writing and recording music since the early 1990s, learning new recording tricks along the way. Flatspin is an amazingly mature and intelligent creation, and possibly his most impressive album ever. No mindless dance music here. While the standard dance beats are applied, the completely spaced out electronics will put you in a mental whirlwind. This is like organic L.S.D. for the mind as well as the body. Extremely technological in nature, these tunes still possess a unique individual spirit that is both credible and incredible. Fave cuts: "Grab It Attack It," "Flatspinning Loop 1," and the subdued jazzy flavor of "Frozen Reminiscence." Neat, neat, neat, neat, NEAT. (Rating: 5+)

Jamie Janover and Michael Masley - All Strings Considered (CD, Realm Music, Instrumental/Hammered Dulcimer)
Talk about different. It's not every day that we receive CDs featuring nothing but hammered dulcimers (?!?). The best part is that this CD contains some wonderfully dreamy instrumental music by two fellows who are intent on once again enlightening the public on the possibilities inherent in this ancient stringed instrument. Michael Masley has developed his own unique way of playing the dulcimer, and his efforts have paid off. He has played on recordings by Tom Waits, Butch Vig, Ry Cooder, and more. Jamie Janover has also made some impressive contacts, having played with Stanley Jordan, Bela Fleck, and others. Together, these gentlemen play like there's no tomorrow. Some of the tracks on All Strings Considered are soft and soothing...while others are strangely fast and furious. Particularly fascinating are the cool resonant tones of the instrument that come through crystal clear in these recordsings. This is a wonderful breath of fresh air for us, as we are always on the lookout for things that are unusual and unique. Eleven tracks, including "Ragasutra," "Mnemonic Harmonics," and "Twice Versa." Cool stuff... (Rating: 4++)

Lady Lady Lady Lady (Whatever we want them to be kind of things)
Have a little champ full of Lady Lady Lady Lady. Them's four that you can't seem to keep straight, and what then? Ain't no rhyme nor reason as to what it's all supposed to reach for anyway. Them kinda fish is what ain't got no washin' today in the first place. You try spillin' their scales and tippin' their trunks, and they still lay way down low in the bottom trying to breathe and keep their lungs clean. It's a poor old pail of worms that gets caught in the sticky warm truckerload. For the pure strength of mission, there's nothing better to bend down on and push. String 'em up low now...and screw them tit clamps on good and tight. This little lady is good for the night. (Rating: 1)

Last Days of April - Angel Youth (CD, Deep Elm, Eclectic pop)
Wow. And wow. And...WOW, goddamn it! This is really cool as well as really different music. When we slammed this baby into our player, the first band that came to mind was the wonderfully inventive Starlite Mints...although there are only slight similarities between the two bands. Perhaps the reason the Mints came to mind is that Sweden's Last Days of April sing very upbeat and happy tunes that are counterbalanced by some very unorthodox arrangements. On the first listen, the tune that really bent our minds the most was "Make Friends With Time," a simple little harpsichord-based tune that is so damn beautiful...that we had to pause and listen closely to the lyrics (you can bet yer bottom buttons that don't happen often in THIS here padded muffin hole). This band doesn't sound like they're from Sweden...or the United States...or from Great Britain...or anywhere in particular. They have somewhat of an androgenous sound that is slightly offbeat...and yet strikingly familiar. Great melodies abound throughout this disc...and the vocals are to DIE for. This is one of the best new bands we've heard in some time. Killer tunes like "From Here To Anywhere" (Jesus Christ!) and "Will the Violins Be Playing?" are unforgettable gems that make us feel like we are flying through the sky... RECOMMENDED LISTENING. (Rating: 5++)

Le Duc - Celebration (CD, Nutone, Dance/electronic/Middle Eastern)
We've taken a particular fancy to dance music (again) during the past year. Le Duc has captured our minds and imagination in a rather BIG way. This band's computer-driven dance music has a great deal more to offer than most. Certainly the repetitive beats are there (obviously a necessity in dance music)...but the strange orchestrated layers of sound that the band casts over the top are mind expanding and wonderful. We particular love the segments on this disc where the beats drop out altogether and the listener is left with nothing but spacey sounds (makes one feel as if one is floating aimlessly). Some tunes have vocals while others are pure instrumentals. Unlike most dance bands that have one sound and stick with it, the folks in Le Duc are much more varied. Our initial favorites here are "Paccaya," "Kali," "Deus," and "Mission"...but in all honesty, the entire album kicks our holy souls. This will most certainly appeal to folks who are into Banco de Gaia and Transglobal Underground. CoooooooOOOOOOOL stuff! (Rating: 5)

Mark Lewis - Global Frequencies: Tokyo (CD, Phatt Phunk, Electronic/dance)
Mark Lewis is originally from South London, where his neighborhood friends were Carl Cox and Paul Oakenfold (wish we had friends like that in OUR neighborhood). Lewis has now planted roots in Los Angeles where he has teamed up with the Phatt Punk label. Their mission? "To translate the sounds, sights, tastes and possibilities of the amazing locations a DJ visits." (That's a quote from the press release, natch.) Not a bad idea...but even better when it is executed so well. In addition to cool packaging, this disc also includes some lovely photography work in booklet form by Ray Klein. Klein will be contributing photographs to more Global Frequencies releases in the future. But jeez...you may ask...what about the MUSIC? Well, as you might expect, the tracks here are computer generated dance music. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Lewis seems comfortable spinning tracks that are quite basic (a good reference point would be DJ Hooligan's "Eichelruck"). Other artists featured include Alpha Project, Timo Maas, Base Twelve, and Future Cast. If you either don't have the money or don't feel like flying around the world to discover other places and be exposed to some ass whipping music, this CD series may just be your ticket to enjoying the sights and sounds of the world in the privacy of your very own living room. And there's nothing wrong with that...because that's exactly what we'll be using this disc for... (Rating: 4+)

Linus of Hollywood - Let Yourself Be Happy (CD, Franklin Castle/Oglio, Totally pure and happy pop)
If you don't like happy music, you'll want to completely avoid this artist. Our first reaction was...Linus of Hollywood? What is this, some kind of a joke band? Not only is this an incredibly upbeat and happy artist, but you can be quite certain that Linus is no joke...despite the fact that he does an amazingly pleasant and preppy cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Goodbye to Romance" (?!?). To make matters even stranger, Linus has also been involved in records put out by Smashing Pumpkins, Puff Daddy, and Lil' Kim. Still confused? We are definitely confused...but we are also mighty impressed. Being very much into breaking traditional boundaries regarding who hangs out with who, we can identify with where Linus of Hollywood is coming from. Why distance yourself from groups on the other side of the pond when you can merge with them and everyone comes out ahead? Variety is the spice of life, and this artist is a case in point. One thing you can almost bet your dandy britches on...folks in "hip underground circles" are going to HATE this guy. Not because he's not good...but because his music is so purely and amazingly upbeat, melodic, and happy. If it weren't for the fact that many of these tunes are actually quite complicated, we would categorize this as bubblegum music. Here in this thumpy little rotunda, we like happy bubblegummy stuff just as much as we like the loud and violent brands. Accordingly, this Linus fellow gets the thumbs up from us. His songwriting is well above average, his vocals are as clean as Polident, and the man's got a sense of humor as well. This one doesn't seem to fit in anywhere...and for that reason alone, we dig it. (Rating: 4)

LN - Plum Brook EP (CD EP, Velvet Blue Music, Pop)
Subtle and abstract heady soft pop. LN is the trio of Gary Murray (vocals, guitars), Denny Kopp (bass), and Nathan Abel (drums) who live in Bowling Green, Ohio. The band was originally titled Love Neptune but later decided to shorten the name (?). The tunes on this EP are slow, soft, droning, and atmospheric. In a way, these tunes are almost jazz-like because of the abstract instrumentation. The vocals are as subtle and odd as the guitars...making each of these tunes something that would be very easy to fall asleep to. Because we are always so nervous and uptight, we can certainly appreciate anything that calms us down. This does it. Easy does it. Does it...easy? Why certainly, dearie... Five tunes. "Le Sabre," "Could This Be True?," "Goodbye Rain Song," "L'Avenir," and "The Plum Brook Station." Those groovy people at Velvet Blue Music sure know how to pick 'em... (Rating: 4+)

The Lucksmiths - Why That Doesn't Surprise Me (CD, Clover / Drive-In, Pop)
Intelligent low-key pop music that reminds us of Cinematic (David Gedge's current band). The Lucksmiths hail from Melbourne, Australia...but from the sound of this disc you'd swear the band was British (that's not a cut...we have always admired English style pop). The band writes extremely melodic yet complicated mellow pop music. Not only are the tunes strong, but the arrangements are impeccable. This is a very lushly produced CD with a nice thick sound and wonderfully clear vocals (we can understand almost every word, which is a feather in this band's hat). Even though this is an "indie" release, we would bet that with the proper marketing and promotion this band could become HUGE in the world of commercial music. These tunes bop along so nicely that before you even realize it you will find yourself tapping your toesies and humming happily along. Our top fave here is the slightly strange "Broken Bones," which features some really clever lyrics. Quite good indeed... (Rating: 4+)

Lunachicks - Babysitters On Acid (CD, Go-Kart, Rock)
For those who are familiar with Lunachicks, this reissue of the band's debut album will come as a welcome surprise. For those who have never heard of the band, Lunachicks are five gals with image and attitude to spare. Hard to believe that these ladies have been at it now for over a decade. Hearing the band's first album, it sounds even better the second time around. The music is stark, loud, snotty, and raw. The Lunachick chicks have always had a rather masculine sound, but this is particular true on Babysitters On Acid. Theo's vocals sound particularly nasty. For us, the lyrics have always been the big draw with this band. So few people seem to be able to write really good lyrics that are also funny. The lines on this album remind us very much of early Redd Kross. If you never picked up on the band, this is an excellent place to start. If you already know them, well then...you probably already have this then, don't you? (Rating: 4+)

Masters of Reality - Welcome to the Western Lodge (CD, Spitfire, Rock/pop)
For some silly reason we were expecting Masters of Reality to be a heavy metal band. Boy were we wrong, as this band has virtually nothing in common with the disappointing world of those who are overly loud, usually drunk, and almost always overweight and hairy. Instead what we have is a very heady and thickly produced batch of tunes that border on pop...but they're a bit more adventurous than the term would lead you to believe. The band is headed by Chris Goss who many may know for his production work with bands such as Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss. So, as you might expect, the sound quality KICKS PANCAKE NUTS. But even more importantly the songs are slightly seductive and creepy and feature very inventive vocals that suck you in like banana putty. Cool atmospheric guitars creep around each and every bend, and the rhythm section is superb (and somewhat unpredictable). If you're looking for catchy material, you won't find it here. There are no singalong choruses. But if you're looking for something intelligent and challenging, then you may have just found your long lost baby. Studio tricks abound throughout, making Welcome to the Western Lodge a disc that will hold up to many repeated listenings. This disc reminds us very much of Reeves Gabrels. Damn good stuff. (Rating: 5)

The Mercury Program - All the Suits Began to Fall Off (CD, Tiger Style, Instrumental)
Something like a cross between labelmates Tristeza (who we love) and vibraphone kings The Dylan Group (who we also love), The Mercury Program play a heady sort of instrumental music that borders on jazz. There seems to have been an increasingly varied appreciation of music over the past decade in the world of underground rock and pop. Whereas fans once grasped one style of music and were loyal until the end, nowadays a great many folks (including ourselves) appreciate a wide spectrum of musical styles from the present as well as the past. This sort of mind expansion almost gives us hope for the human race...but not quite. By its title, All the Suits Began To Fall Off seems to even suggest this new and more varied ideal of music appreciation. Though only an EP, there's a lot to love about this CD. The songs are atmospheric, heady, and just slightly obtuse...and yet there is also a definite calming quality to the music. This is the sort of thing that won't clobber you over the head...but if you have the patience to listen for two, three, or four times...you will be greatly rewarded. Those damn folks at Tiger Style really have their act together...great label name, killer tiger logo (who DREW that anyway?), and GREAT music to boot. We hope we have adequately conveyed the point in this band's music, as we are most impressed...yes indeedy doo. To make the point concise and simple...GET IT. (Rating: 5)

Midtown - Save the World, Lose the Girl (CD, Drive-Thru, Rock/pop)
Loud and fast punchy pop with smart hooks and clever guitars. A lot of people will probably compare Midtown to Green Day, but the similarities are actually few and far between. What initially caught our attention about the four guys in this band is that they look normal. Refreshing...because virtually every day of the year our mailbox is inundated with photos of self-conscious freaks. Midtown tunes are reminiscent of California power pop/punk bands from the 1990s. The songs are very melodic, but they are also just as powerful. The loud crunchy guitars sound great against the throbbing bass lines. The vocals are up front in the mix (with lots of harmonies happening), and in most cases you can understand the words. While some may immediately mistake Midtown as just another bunch of pretty faces, in actuality these guys are smart and right on target. Big upbeat fun. Our top picks here are "Just Rock and Roll," "Another Boy," and "Knew It All Along." (Rating: 4+)

Monster Magnet - God Says No (CD, A&M, Hard rock)
Rough rockers Monster Magnet have caught on in a big way with the music buying public...as well as with those sick faggots in the plush and hostile offices of the babysue empire (and believe us, them's two trains what don't hardly NEVER meet one another NO day, NO way). This is a band that not only has raw and groovy hard rock tunes...but they have a killer image that compliments the music perfectly. Just as is the case with Marilyn Manson, the band photographs on the CD inserts (courtesy of photographer Joseph Cultice) probably have a great deal to do with this band's popularity (which is not to say that their music isn't also cool). This band rocks hard and they play loud...but unlike other hard rock monsters on the horizon, their songs actually have structure and (gasp) you can even SING ALONG. The tunes on God Says No have some definite seventies influences...but the overall sound is very modern. All the components of this band are well above average...from the throbbing rhythms to the fluid and tripped out guitars...to the terrific vocals of John Kay lookalike frontman Dave Wyndorf. Cool cock rock for jocks with long locks and black socks. (Rating: 5)

Moods For Moderns - Loud & Clear (CD, Doghouse, Rock/pop)
Mmmmmmm...ZESTY! This CD is one big shot of FUN. Big, big, BIG fun. Cathy, loud, direct, and totally terrific, Moods For Moderns recreate a sound and style so well that you'd swear this disc was a reissue of some great material from the mid-1970s that you somehow never heard the first time around. But don't get 'em wrong...these three boys are very current and their material is very timely. The band is based in Detroit, but their sound is different from what you would normally associate with that city. These gentlemen dispense pure pop ditties with ease and style. The album was recorded entirely on analog equipment, which may help to explain how the band got such an authentic 1970s sound. Moods For Moderns have a cool upbeat bubblegummy sound so uplifting that we haven't had such a positive pop reaction since we heard the last Pooh Sticks album. (Hey...whatever happened to the wonderfully under appreciated Pooh Sticks anyway?). If you ever dug The Raspberries or even the aforementioned Pooh Sticks, then you're going to want to check out Loud & Clear. This band takes a wonderfully sincere approach to making music, injecting it with excitement and energy that is sadly missing in many of today's current acts. Tracks like "Lust for Luster," Popstar," "Two Tracks Left," and "So Long Canada" will stick in your head for years to come... Beautiful packaging completes the picture, making this CD a MUST HAVE for pop fans worldwide. This is GREAT. (Rating: 5)

The Multiple Cat - The Golden Apple Hits (CD, Plow City Record Company, Pop)
With most musical artist it like..."thank GOD they gone now." But when you' talk to The Multiple Cat...the response is "YES and HAPPY for RETURN." Happy because is band what for is producing very genuine wonderful thing from couple of years back. In actual, prior and several CD still have home in permanent collection. See, Multiple Cat always obscure and with delight because no one has familiarity with. But unfamiliar not because of lacking, for Pat Stolley of total remarkable yet remain to be obscured. All would be taking fame for is some super hip to suddenly say, "What is Multiple Cat but for being My Number One Favorite Band of Ever!" And although while we try saying this, those word of own not hold enough water in big picture for swaying of large number. But thinking about The Golden Apple Hits. No, is not collection of what is greatest. Is rather new continuation of most wonderful and rare Multiple Cat sound...although obvious surprise is to happen all along this way ("My Country" for this example). Great "who cares" vocal style that we go crazy about, and many tune for making of excited response. "Julliet," "Canvassed and Spent," "King Me." What IS this man for singing about? THIS VERY VERY GOOD THING YES. Yes, yes, YES. (Rating: 5+)

Nasty and the Haters - We're All Bent Out Of Shape and Confused (Enhanced CD, Lorto, Tribal)
Ho hum and la dee da. Another band of stupid looking retards spewing out anger and hate. Though it may be difficult to remember, once upon a time when a band spewed out intense venom it actually MEANT something. But alas, that was long ago. And whereas once upon a time it was novel and different, in these modern times hateful bands are a DIME A DOZEN. Nasty and the Haters are the lastest dime in the gutter, and they're not even worth the metal they're printed on. Nasty is a three-butted groaner, prone to throwing temper tantrums and throwing up on the audience. The backup band consists of some nameless high school dropouts that Nasty met at an underage drinking party. Song titles like "I'm Going To Rape Your Banana Windshield" and "Tore My Hole Out With Your Granny's Rib Cage" do nothing to stir any emotion whatsoever. Poor Nasty and the Haters. They probably think they're being very cool and different with all of their tatoos and body piercings...but in the end, they actually end up looking...and sounding...just like MILLIONS of others... (Rating: 2)

NatarajXT - Tandava (CD, Nutone, Dance)
Strange...yet not so strange. The music of NatarajXT (unlike a great many musical artists of late) can be summed up easily. This band combines traditional Indian music with electronic dance music. The hybrid is slightly exotic in nature as well as somewhat of a bizarre mental trip. The group consists of Rishi on sarod and esraj, Moltram on sitar, and Kpi on the Rm1x and octapad. To be honest, we're not even sure what some of these instruments are...? What we find most interesting is how effectively these three individuals have managed to merge these two distinctly different styles of music. What ought to sound foreign and awkward sounds about as natural as warm cow juice in the sunshine (and things don't get much more natural than that). If you have the same reaction we did to this music, you will most likely find yourself dancing around the room with the phone book...trying to decide which Indian restaurant you want to head off to for dinner. This is cool, creative, and well executed. Readers may want to take note that Nutone is a new dance label started by the always pleasing and clever folks at Nettwerk... (Rating: 4++)

No Motiv - Diagram For Healing (CD, Vagrant, Power pop/punk)
These guys have come a long way since their inception in 1995. Over the past few years the band has gained a sizable following and has also played with many solid acts like Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids, and others. Diagram For Healing is the most pop-oriented release that we have heard from No Motiv. Oh now don't go getting upset that the band has "lost their edge" (God how we HATE that goddamn phrase!!!). The music is still loud and the guitars are still turned up all the way...but the tunes on this CD are built around solid melodies. And the vocals are surprisingly restrained, which actually works in the band's favor. In all honestly, we prefer the more subtle side of this band's music. "Broken and Burned" and "Only You," both mid-tempo tunes, are our favorites on this album...although the entire damn thing rocks in a rather studious kinda way. Don't be misled by folks who lump No Motiv in the punk category. This band's music is much too intelligent and varied to be thrown into the briar patch. Another cool release from a band that refuses to give up... (Rating: 4)

People With Kids (A directed message)
People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. People With Kids should not have kids. (Rating: 1)

Placebo - Black Market Music (CD, Virgin, Pop)
Hmmmm... Imagine mixing vocals from the Bee Gees with the songwriting style of the Chainsaw Kittens...add in the undivided support of David Bowie...and then blend it all together with abstract guitars from the twenty-first century. What do you get? Well...you get a band that is becoming very successful in terms of units sold (at least). Actually, there are some rather engaging tunes on Black Market Music...and the band is obviously at their best when they do mid-tempo stuff. The more aggressive, loud tunes tend to sound somewhat awkward and forced (although perhaps that is the point...?). As much as we love the Bee Gees, the biggest problem we have with this band are the vocals. The singer's voice isn't bad...but it just does nothing to draw us into the music. This is a band with potential, and they've obviously already garnered a great deal of attention doing things their way. (And besides...who are we to be telling others what to do? Our top favorite bands are usually the ones who seem to flop on all commercial levels.) So perhaps we should just shut up and say that this is light but listenable stuff... (Rating: 3+)

Joey Ramone (Tribute to the world's most unlikely rock star)
We haven't been this bummed by a rock star's death since the death of Marc Bolan. The Ramones will always be at the top of our list of favorite bands. Who could ever forget Joey Ramone adopting that awkward backward-knees stance center stage at a Ramones concert and then proceed to yelp out lyrics promoting child abuse, drug abuse, and spouse abuse? Never has there been or will there be a more unlikely candidate for the position of rock star. The odd part was that even though Joey sang about such odd topics, one always had the feeling that he was actually a genuinely nice and cool guy who just happened to have an odd sense of humor. Sure, the band lost their center of gravity as years went by...and sure, the last few albums weren't so good...but in their prime, there was no band on the planet that could match the pure intensity of The Ramones (particularly the Leave Home and Rocket To Russia tours...we highly recommend the Ramones Alive album, currently available as a British import CD). And so...hats off to you Joey. Thank you for making us laugh, scream, and go completely nuts on so many occasions... (Rating: 6)

Heidi Saperstein - The Devil I Once Knew (CD, Kimchee, Pop)
Possessing slight similarities to a wide range of other artists...and yet not sounding quite like any other...Heidi Saperstein is approaching music from her own cool perspective. Prior to her solo career, Ms. Saperstein was the singer/guitarist in the Boston band Shiva Speedway (a band we were not familiar with). The songs on The Devil I Once Knew go all over the place. Some tunes are fairly straightforward pop while others have a slight skewed quality that give the listener the feeling that something awkward is going on behind the scenes. Heidi has a vocal style that could very easily be applied to the commercial world of computer generated digital crap that the public seems so hungry for these days. But instead of going the easy route and giving the morons what they want, this young lady is opting to provide music that requires more effort from her listeners. (We always love it when an artist could easily alter their sound to gain more listeners but instead chooses artistic integrity over commercial success.) A word of caution. This disc takes a few listens to sink in, so don't expect to be blown away immediately. With a little patience, however, you will find that there are lots of cool and inviting tracks here. "Away," "Lady Killer," and "The Night" are tops with us. Great stuff. (Rating: 4+)

Silver Scooter (Live performance at the Forty Watt Club in Athens, GA, April 14, 2001)
If there is one CD that has really made an impression on us this year, it most surely is The Blue Law by Austin's Silver Scooter.  While we would normally never drive to another city just to hear a band play, when we heard that the band's latest tour did not include Atlanta (smart decision...Atlanta SUCKS), we packed up our patio furniture and headed off to Athens to see the band play.  Because Athens is a college town and it was Easter weekend, most students had left for the weekend (which was a plus for us since we hate crowds).  We ran into the four band members outside the club before the show and found them to be genuine, friendly, and polite (note that they displayed these traits BEFORE we told them that we were writers...a BIG PLUS for Silver Scooter!).  Fortunate for us, the majority of this show consisted of material from The Blue Law...which was just what we were hoping for. The band line up for this tour was Scott Garred (vocals/guitar), Shaun Camp (keyboards/guitar), Tyler Mallory (bass), and Tom Hudson (drums).  (Shaun and Tyler also play in another band called The Bright and Hollow Sky which is stylistically similar to SS.)  Seeing the band play their material live, it became obvious to us that the new songs aren't quite as simple as they sound on the CD. There are a great many slight twists and turns in the band's material that is probably anything but simple to play, particularly in a concert setting where it isn't always easy to hear what one is playing. As the band played on, more and more folks made their way into the club and to the front of the stage. By mid-show, there was a decent-sized crowd who seemed pleasantly mesmerized by the band's haunting and beautiful tunes. For us, the highlight of this particular show was the slow and succinct "Dirty Little Bar," a tune that seemed particularly fitting on this particular evening. In our humble opinion, there are few bands out there right now who can match the pure melodic highs of Silver Scooter.  This show was easily the highlight of April 2001 for us, and we felt lucky indeed that we were able to witness this particular event... (Rating: 5+)

David Singer - The Cost of Living (CD, Deep Elm, Experimental pop)
Unpretentious music from an unpretentious one man band. David Singer played and sang virtually every track on The Cost of Living (although a few friends did lend a hand or two). But what we find most interesting is that this doesn't sound anything like one man bands usually do. This could be because instead of overdubbing everything to death (as one would expect), Mr. Singer leaves tons of wide open space in his tunes. His songs are very honest. David's voice ranges from extremely soft and plaintive to somewhat of an aching yelp. Overall, this album is so subtle and understated that it is likely to go unrecognized by most folks. Unfortunate, as there is something about the undercurrents of this music that we find both arresting and bewitching. We can't really come up with any comparisons for this one. Our top faves here are "The Accident," "I Need To Be Able To See You," and "Madonna Complex." Very different, yet very pleasing... (Rating: 5)

Super Model - It Ain't Pretty (CD, Magic City, Pure pop)
Clean, loud, melodic, energetic, and extremely hummable punchy pop. We're honestly not sure if it is this particular band that is affecting us this week...or if we're just in such a fantastic frame of mind that almost everything sounds good...?!? But in any case, after giving Super Model a few spins we finally decided...that we LOVE it. Oh sure, on the first or second listen we were thinking "Oh no...not ANOTHER upbeat and hummable POP BAND!" But you know, you have to attempt to have an open mind...particularly when you're being hit with thousands and thousands of new bands each year. And as most of us already realize, there are so many great acts nowadays that there is really no way to take them all in. But back to It Ain't Pretty. Well, they may call it that...but this here is one damn PRETTY collection of tunes. Our favorites include "The Drink Song," "Do You Believe?," "Caitlin," and "Timmy Dugan" (this last track absolutely ROCKS our SOCKS off). This band's music has a super killer bubblegummy feel to it that is MOST appealing...and addicting. Excellent soaring vocals throughout. Recommended. (Rating: 4++)

Theselah - No Sleep, More Fun (CD, K.O.A., Pop/rock)
This is a very different sounding CD for a variety reasons. It is also difficult to describe. Theselah is a four piece New York-based band that is not taking a conventional approach to making music. The songs on No Sleep, More Fun were all recorded on a four-track cassette deck. Considering this fact, the recording quality of this CD is not only impressive...but appropriate as well. The band's soft pensive vocal tracks are particularly appealing, and blow us away both in terms of melodies as well as lyrics. The understated beauty of tracks like "Nothing Special," "Lazy Dresser," and "Little Song To Self" are extremely subtle. Other tracks are somewhat experimental instrumentals that are interesting...but not nearly as intriguing as the band's soft vocal material. The louder stuff ("Take It Fast or Take It Slow," "Anthem of K.O.A.") seems almost out of place here, unless the idea was to add variety (?). In any case, despite the fact that this disc contains hits and misses...we still recommend it because the hits are great little obscure gems that will most likely slip through everyone's hands (except yours, supposing you get your hands on a copy). If this band can latch onto the best aspects of their music and focus on them, they could easily score a higher rating in this campground with their next release. An obscure oddity that you'll probably NEVER find in stores, so we suggest visiting the label's web site (link above). (Rating: 4)

Toothless Tina (Poor old homeless bitch)
Walk, walk, walk on down the sidewalk. Just mind your own business and enjoy the sunshine. Then out from under the side of a cardboard swag comes that torn up old nothing, Toothless Tina. There ain't no bar of soap on the planet what can clean up a mess like hers is, so she just goes on about trailing her stink in and out of anyone's point of view. With a dress that could frighten game show hosts, Tina tinkers back and forth, back and forth...barely able to stand up at times and always thirsty for something. The only thing nice about Tina is that she is good to kick. You can kick her hard and you can kick her silly, you can kick her ribs in, and you can kick her willy. Teeth come first, and without them...nuthin' ain't nuthin. (Rating: 2)

John Vanderslice - Time Travel Is Lonely (CD, Barsuk, Pop)
Some folks may remember John Vanderslice as a member of the band Mass Suicide Occult Figurines. We did not, although we certainly dig the band name. Even though this is his second solo release, this disc serves as our introduction to the music of Mr. Vanderslice. This guy is damn GOOD. His vocals and his style of songwriting remind us of David Bowie and Guided By Voices (more the former than the latter, although his overall sound isn't that familiar to either). The songs are basically pop music, but there are odd little audio snippets zipping in and out of the speakers that keep them from sounding normal or familiar. This is a disc that we're going to have to play many, many times to fully appreciate and "catch" all the intricacies and nuances. Our top favorite here is "Emma Pearl"...although we haven't quite "gotten" what the lyrics mean. Another keeper in this camp is "Gainesville, Fla" (probably the most Bowie-influenced). This guys is not only good...he's approaching things from his own distinct viewpoint...and he has his own unique sound. IMPRESSIVE. (Rating: 5)

Violet Indiana - Roulette (CD, Instinct/Bella Union, Atmostpheric pop)
Violet Indiana is the duo of Robin Guthrie and Siobhan de Mare. Mr. Guthrie has worked with an amazing array of artists in the past, including the Cocteau Twins, Wolfgang Press, Harold Budd, Frente, and more. Ms. de Mare was previously in another band called Mono. The combined talents of these two combine to create heavily produced, thick, atmospheric pop soundscapes. The tunes on Roulette are heavy on overdubs, but what makes the tunes really cook are the vocals. Ms. de Mare has a nice heavenly way of turning a tune that is most inviting. Add the impressive production courtesy of Mr. Guthrie and you have soft, heady pop music that is not all that unlike the previously mentioned Cocteau Twins. Our favorite compositions are "Air Kissing," "Sundance" (top pick), and "Killer Eyes." In addition to twelve neat tracks, this disc also contains a video of "Purr La Perla." Neat stuff, very well executed... (Rating: 4++)

The Weisstronauts - Featuring "Jaunty" (CD, Stereorrific, Instrumental)
Absolutely and thoroughly entertaining.This is the debut full-length release from The Weisstronauts...and we are proud to report that it is a MINDBLOWER. If you were ever keen on guitar instrumentals, then this is the new band that you are going to LOVE. Instead of sticking to one particular genre of music, these five folks instead opt to whiz all over the place...playing whatever strikes their fancy. The music has a nice simple open sound that one would normally associate with music from the 1950s. Melodies are key in this campground, and the guitar playing is about as sharp and sassy as two dozen woodchuckers in Texas. The cool toe tapping rhythms are certain to put you in a good mood, and that seems to be the main point here. In all honesty, there ain't a loser in the bunch here...but our own particular favorites are "Mornin' Ma," the title track, "Psychedelic Whiplash" (this one's SUPER!), and "Topaz." Totally KILLER stuff by a band that is anything BUT pretentious. We're always on a search for the sincere and genuine...and in this case, that hits the nail on the head. Extremely great music to drive by...YES!!! (Rating: 5+)

Rosa Chance Well - Rosa Chance Well (CD, Kimchee, Pop)
Mmmmmm...tasty. Mighty tasty stuff. As much as we have tried, we cannot come up with any appropriate comparisons. Rosa Chance Well is the duo of Vanessa Downing (formerly a member of The Wicked Farleys) and Dean Taormina. The duo possesses a great many traits that are usually absent in modern pop acts. Specifically we find these elements to be (1) a wonderful sense of melody, (2) great lyrics, (3) superb vocals, and (4) an admirable lack of restraint. Regarding element #4, we have become oh-so-tired indeed of all the unnecessarily overproduced crap that comes down the pipeline lately. And it is always so obvious to us that all the overproduction is usually to hide the fact that there is nothing inside. There is a hearty meatball to be found hiding inside the juicy red center of Rosa Chance Well. And if you are industrious enough to obtain a copy of the CD and give it a spin you will see just what we mean. These folks are genuinely and truly talented. But what makes them even more engaging is the fact that they aren't trying too hard (another common stumbling block for many new artists). Fabulous tunes like "A Wonderful Life" and "And So Then Were We" make this disc a fantastic listen. Most intriguing. (Rating: 5)

Wellwater Conspiracy - The Scroll and Its Combinations (CD, TVT, Rock/pop)
TVT hits the jackpot...for the second time in 2001 (!). The latest Guided By Voices was their first score...and now comes the SECOND HOME RUN. We were already impressed by the first two CDs from Wellwater Conspiracy...but they didn't really prepare us for this. The band has really gotten tight and focused their style...to the point that they are now quite accessible and (gasp) even marketable (usually a crummy word in this office suite). We're not even going to bother to mention that the band features former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and Monster Magnet founding member John McBain...because there is no reason why you would need to know this information anyway. And besides...the band's music sounds like NEITHER ONE ANYWAY. This whole CD is one meaty chunk of munchy nuggets...but the more obtuse and spacey tracks are the best ("What Becomes of the Clock" is our top pick). Production is top notch, as is the songwriting overall. This is an extremely satisfying and unique CD from a band that just keeps getting BETTER... (Rating: 5+)

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2001 LMNOP