Lisa Mychols,"Lost Winter's Dream" (Rev-Ola)
OH MY GOD…a good Christmas album! No, make that GREAT. When you go in your corporate music store this time of year, you see rows of Christmas-themed CD's by every platinum-selling artist under the sun. But these albums merely re-hash the same old songs (how many versions do you really want to hear of "White Christmas" or "Blue Christmas"?). To the rescue to save Christmas music for rock fans everywhere comes power-pop diva Lisa Mychols with a little help from the Wondermints. Instead of the rehash of classic Christmas tunes ad nauseum, the songs are mostly penned by Lisa, with sometimes help from the various Wondermints. The lyrics are sometimes wistful, sometimes happy, but capture the holiday spirit perfectly. Then there are songs without lyrics like "Blizzard of Aahhs", which is simply breathtaking.
The Wondermints weave their magic in the production of this album, striving to reach the summit of Phil Spector production and succeeding brilliantly. This album sounds like what would happen if Phil Spector produced a Bangles Christmas album. This aint your daddy's old Christmas album, but it might remind you of his old vinyl copy of Phil Spector's Christmas album. Find this "lost" classic today!
Adrian Baker,"Everyone Needs Someone at Xmas" (Adrian Baker Productions)
Not Brian Wilson-but an incredible simulation. This disclaimer isn't on the CD, but it should be. This 4-song Christmas CD has one original by Adrian Baker, 'Everyone Needs Someone At Xmas" and three classic yuletide tunes, 'White Xmas', 'Blue Xmas' and 'Silent Night'. The songs are done in a Brian Wilson/Beach Boys style which is just stunning. You would swear it was the originals. While I hate to slam anybody as Jesus' birthday approaches, this CD reeks of 'mall music'. That's not to say it is bad, but just typical. However, your parents will dig this.
Sha Na Na,"Rockin' Christmas" (The Gold Label)
Well, shama-lama-ding-dong-ho-ho-ho! What a great Christmas surprise - Santa in a '53 Chevrolet! I can't believe these guys haven't done a Christmas album before. The album is a mix between much-covered Christmas classics, plus some killer original Christmas songs. Most of the covers pale in comparison to the originals, such as "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" (I still love the original), "Run Run Rudolph" (how can you top Chuck Berry?!), "Blue Christmas" (great Elvis impersonation by Jocko - this version is so close to the original, you'd think it was an alternate take), "Santa Claus Is comin' To Town" (as much as it pains me, nobody has topped Bruce Springsteen's version), and "Christmas Baby Please Come Home". However, Sha Na Na's do-wop version of "Jingle Bells" is killer and my new favorite version of that song.
Where this album really shines is the band's originals, I was really blown away by the songwriting. These elevate this album from an ordinary Christmas album to almost "classic" holiday collection! "Christmas Bells" is one of those songs that you never get tired of hearing...man, I would love to hear this track instead of some of the other lame Christmas songs they play each year. There is also yuletide levity in the form of the band's comic, "Santa's On a Diet". "I Want To Rock 'N' Roll For Christmas" is another highlight of the album, with it's great lyrics such as "deck the halls with Buddy Holly". Not to leave out other religions, Sha Na Na includes a Beach Boys-style harmonies on "The Rockin' Dreidel Song". The CD ends with "Wish You Were Here" - another great song.
If you want to hear Sha Na Na's classic do-wop take on Christmas, pick up this CD. You will be pleasantly surprised!
To go to the patsgold web site click here
Grandpaboy,"Dead Man Shake" (Fat Possum Records)
Paul Westerberg's alter-ego raises his tattered head for the third time on this record, somewhat of a companion piece to "Come Feel Me Tremble". But the aim here is sloppy, off-kilter blues rock. The blues have always been a factor in Westerberg's arsenal- going back to "Cruella De Ville" from his 'Mats days. But here it seems to be a more refined focus that "Mono", with that CD's halted stops and sputtering starts. "MPLS" kicks off the record and Westerberg is off and running. "Vampires & Failures" has a killer Keith Richards style guitar line that goes down like aged whiskey. "Take Out Some Insurance" cops a melody line from "Fever" but it's still pretty slick and features a pretty mean harmonica solo (maybe that's Elwood Blues on harmonica-Paul's keeping the back-up players a secret).
But the stand-out original track is "O.D. Blues". Westerberg seems to be channeling the ghosts stuck at the crossroads-Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and whoever else is hanging by the gatepost. The covers are enjoyable as well, especially "What Kind Of Fool Am I?" popularized by Sammy Davis Jr. Perhaps a cover of "Candyman" on the next Grandpaboy-who knows? But even if you don't normally dig the blues, you will dig "Dead Man Shake". It's lowdown, mean, and ornery, like a flea-bitten mutt. But every lick will soothe your soul.
To go to the Fat Possum Records web site click here
Facetious,"Pop Happy" (People's Temple Records)
The dynamic duo of Aaron Dunn and Shane Ballard recorded this four song cd ep in Shane's bedroom using a Radio Shack CTR-66 cassette recorder. Guitar ramblings sandwiched between white noise expolsions. The la la la guitar parts remind me of that guy sitting on the staircase in Animal House singing "I gave my love a cherry" right before John Belushi's character grabs his guitar and smashes it to pieces. I love that part. The white noise brings to mind The Screamin Mee Mees. This might be good if you just smoked a big one, on the other hand it might just scare the hell out of you.
To go to the People's Temple Records web site click here
Kings Of Leon,"Youth & Young Manhood" (RCA)
O.K., O.K… So, Rolling Stone thinks their great and Spin says their the next big thing. Well, don't write them off so quick. Sometimes even a fashion magazine can get one right. Hey, I was afraid that after I wrote such a brown nosed review of their debut cd ep eariler this year that the first official full length would suck out the ass. But the very first new song "Red Morning Light" put my worries to rest. This band has all the right ingredients and "Youth & Young Manhood" has all the right songs. The five from their debut ep plus six new ones. Not one bad apple in the whole bunch. If you're a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd or the White Stripes it doesn't matter. You'll both love this cd. A soon to be classic.
Fountains of Wayne,"Welcome Interstate Managers" (S-Curve Records)
No band has the right to be this damned clever!!! Just kidding, I wish MORE bands were this clever - in my never-to-be-humble opinion, THIS is the album of the year (sorry Damone, you are a close second…). A pure power-pop masterpiece of majestic proportions. The first three songs immediately grab your attention and you are HOOKED - these 3 songs make this CD the pinnacle of uber-pop, but then you've got 13 more songs that are guaranteed to make the most lackadaisical power-pop enthusiast drool. The lyrical subjects of the songs range from songs about yuppie goals, having crushes on your girlfriend's mom and of course the mainstay of power-pop…love songs. There seems to be a theme to this album and that is traveling the gamut of power-pop from The Nazz, Big Star, 10CC, Cheap Trick, McCartney & Wings, Simon & Garfunkle, Gram Parsons to Wheezer. Bonus points for the uncanny Gram Parsons-like song, "Hung Up On You"!
Goddamn, sometimes I love reviewing CD's at EAR CANDY, especially when you get stuff like this. Fountains of Wayne are the reigning kings of uber-pop.
Various Artists,"Moments of Suspension" (It's Twilight Time)
This oughta be called "moments of pretentiousness". Various artists doing arsty fartsy electronic new age-ey music that makes Yanni seem like a fucking genius. Music to cut your wrists by.
email Twilight Time at KBTwilght@aol.com
Cari Lee & The Saddle-ites,"The Road Less Traveled" (El Toro Records)
Hot damn!!! This disc hit me from the 'grassy knoll' -the packaging looks like a reissue of an old vinyl record from the '50s, and the sound is authentic. At first I thought I was listening to an old recording that was re-issued on CD! Supposedly, hillbilly-bop is the newest 'thing', kinda like swing was the bandwagon several years ago (with Brian Setzer leading the way-the only man to lead TWO revivals, rockabilly and swing!). Well, this is the first disc I've heard of the new 'fad' (god, I hate that word!) and I gotta say I'm impressed. What is so cool about this disc is that the band plays a big chunk of ORIGINALS.
And if the music doesn't knock you out, the CD contains two 'video's (which seems to be the order of the day on all releases). Damn, I hope this band plays Georgia soon! This disc takes me back to my youth in Texas, the 'kicker' beer halls where western swing bands were the order of the day (thanks for the deja-vu experience!). Makes me wanna find my cowboy hat and head out to the nearest kicker beer hall…too bad I'm in Georgia and not back in Texas. If this is the new 'thing' then all the other groups that follow are gonna have a tall order to fill - they've gotta follow the standards that Cari Lee and the Saddle-ites have set...
To go to the El Toro Records web site click here
The Woggles,"Ragged But Right" (Telstar)
I usually don't pay much attention to the promo materials that bands send me when then send their CD for review - on the few occasions that I have read their propaganda FIRST, I'd swear that I was hearing a different band on the CD! They all start to sound alike, telling how "X" band will "change the face of music" (this is one of the many in the formatted assembly line approach to marketing bands these days). However, I DID read the Woggles promo material for RAGGED BUT RIGHT, where they refer to their newest album as their "masterpiece"…and damned if they didn't pull it off!
If there is a such thing as a "masterpiece" for garage rock bands, this CD is it! Every track permeates the high- octane energy that the Woggles deliver with every live performance. In my opinion, this is the first time that the band has truly captured the energy of their live act. But, don't think that is a slight, I would recommend ALL The Woggles albums. Just think of the early WHO, who took several albums to capture the energy of their live performance!
Sadly, this was the last album that the band made with the Mighty Montague on guitar before he passed to that big garage land in the sky and is therefore a very fitting tribute. But never fear - The Woggles have got a new guitarist and they are still around to preach the gospel of garage rock. I guess the music that The Woggles do is simply bigger than us mere mortals!
Sure, you might have heard more of The Hives…but if you wanna hear the REAL deal they pick up the Woggles new disc! The band is the simply the standard among which all 'new' garage rock bands will be measured…
Generation X,"Anthology" (Chrysalis/Capitol Records)
I know, I know-5 cans? Well, this 3 CD set kicks some serious ass. For those of you raised by wolves as children, Generation X was Billy Idol's first band. Along with bassist Tony James, they would follow in the footsteps of legendary English bands like The Clash and The Damned and carve their own niche in punk rock legend. This is not surprising since one of Tony James's pre-Generation X projects was London SS, which also featured Mick Jones from The Clash and Brian James from The Damned. Sadly they never got a record together.
From the ashes of Chelsea, Tony and Billy recruited Bob "Derwood" Andrews on lead guitar and eventually brought Mark Laff in on the trap kit. This is considered to be the definitive line-up. Disc 1 highlights this, with "Dancing With Myself" (which Billy of course re-worked for his solo career), "Ready Steady Go", and "Your Generation" all true punk rock barn-burners. But for no other reason you should own this for 2 songs "100 Punks Rule" and "Kiss Me Deadly". If you don't think these are punk rock anthems, then maybe a short psychological examination may be needed. Both these tunes stand tall against anything that The Sex Pistols or The Jam put out in their time.
Disc 2 features an unreleased album-"Sweet Revenge" that had never seen the light of day until now. Basically the original line-up had briefly re-convened and recorded this, then promptly broke up again. So this was shelved as "Kiss Me Deadly" came out with Terry Chimes (The Clash) and James Stevenson (Chelsea) back in the fold. "Triumph" simply swaggers along with a biting guitar riff-it sure as shit blows away "Cradle Of Love". "Modern Boys" perfectly captures the dejected outlook that had overtaken the English punk rock kids during this time period.
Disc 3-(yes I know there's a lot-like a good Thanksgiving dinner-gluttony is good) is another rare live set from Japan where Generation X was-really big. All the hits are featured in an incendiary performance and some covers of some unlikely artists (Led Zeppelin?) are thrown in for good measure. But it tops off a near perfect collection-only "Dancing With My Wealth" is an uninspired and ironic clunker. Pick this up and maybe Billy will call Tony and do a tour for the fans-both new and old.
To go to the Generation X page on Billy Idol's web site click here
To go to the AMG page on Generation X click here
Milo,"Darkside of the Rumours" (Gloomy Tunes)
Milo has made a huge leap from his first record. Sure, he's still the "Minimalist" of his first record, but DARKSIDE shows a more confident Milo (and the better fidelity this go around helps, too). Although the subject matter of his songs are still 'strange' and sometimes 'avante garde' ("Maggie's Tale" is a true story about his dog), this is Milo's version of Springsteen's NEBRASKA. I HATED that Springsteen album, but Milo captures the essence of the 'classic' album without sounding…well, so damn depressing! This album delves more into blues and country than his first and I admire an artist that progresses. But don't get me wrong; Milo still rocks in a country-punk way on tracks like "Subway Girl". My favorite track is "Work" which captures perfectly the dissatisfaction of a dead-end job. Anybody that's been there can relate. That just about sums up Milo's second album - it is more accessible and I think more people will 'relate' to the themes inside. The album ends with a hilarious and infectious "Jesus Loves Me Why Can't You?"
Milo has developed from an eclectic indie artist to an artist to be reckoned with in the future…mark my words!
The Undertones,"The Undertones" (CD Re-release on Sanctuary)
Sanctuary has done an excellent job of reissuing four from the back catalog of Northern Irelands Undertones. I've loved this band ever since Scott Sundburg (who used to put out the very cool and sorely missed music zine "Snake In The Grass") was kind enough to send me a taped copy of "Hypnotised". I soon wore that tape out and had to go out and buy a copy on cd. The cd had a bonus track version of The Chocolate Watchbands "Let's Talk About Girls" that blew me away. That particular bonus track isn't on the re-release of "Hypnotised" but is included on the re-release of "The Undertones".
Originally released in May of 1979, "The Undertones" climbed the charts all the way to number 13. The album included the singles "Teenage Kicks", "Get Over You", "Jimmy, Jimmy" and "Here Comes Summer". A great place to start for the uninitiated Undertones listener.
"Hypnotised" was originally released in April of 1980 reaching a chart position of number 6. The singles off the album were the annoyingly catchy "My Perfect Cousin" as well as "Wednesday Week" and "You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?). Recorded in Holland in just three weeks time this cd has absolutely no filler as far as I'm concerned and I'm on my third copy so I should know.
1981's "Positive Touch" didn't do as well on the charts but still reached a very respectable number 17. Singles "It's Going To Happen!", "Julie Ocean" and "Beautiful Friend" had a new pop feel that showed little of the bands rawer punk side. Although, "Fascination" had a sixties garage band feel and is my favorite song from the album the rest of the album is just a little too pop for my taste.
"The Sin Of Pride" is by all accounts The Undertones soul album all soaked in reverb. Even though I feel they're only at the top of their game when they do the pop punk spill they do pull off a few numbers quite nicely. Sorry guys, but when you do something as well as you do pop punk we can't help but wish you'd stick to it. Recorded in March of 1983 and climbing only as high as 43 on the charts. The album deserves better in my opinion if only for "Luxury". The singles this time out were "The Love Parade", "Got To Have You Back" and "Chain Of Love".
All in all, I would recommend all of these albums to anybody I knew but I would definitely put "The Undertones" and "Hypnotised" at the top of the list every time. A great band that you should seek out and give a listen.
Various Artists,"Rockabilly Riot!" (Sanctuary)
There's a new kid in town…it used to be that Rhino was the only game in town if you wanted to hear cool classic compilations. But now Sanctuary has presented a classic collection of rockabilly that is a "must own" for music collectors. What is so cool about this compilation is that you not only get the well-known classics, such as Elvis, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Jerry Lee Lewis the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison - but you also go a few of the lesser-known rockabilly legends such as Billy Riley & His Little Green Men, Ray Smith, Warren Smith and many more. And for those who have only heard the Yardbirds or Aerosmith version of "The Train Kept-A-Rollin'" - you are in for a treat with The Johnny Burnette Trio version! My only complaint about this collection is that the Everly Brothers are represented with their track "Claudette" - just my opinion, but I think their greatest rockabilly song is "Poor Jenny"!
Wanna hear the original inspiration for the Stray Cats? Well, by all means pick up this classic! A perfect representation of an original music genre - if someone asked, "what is rockabilly?" I would play them this disc…
Funky like a monkey, make ya shake your ass, stick it in the groove and get one while they last.
Todd Steed And The Suns Of Phere,"Knoxville Tells" (Apeville)
"Everybody's got a hometown they were once or still may be stuck in. This record is for them. Probably." guesses Mr. Steed. Former members of the V-Roys and The Windbreakers as well as members of Dixie Dirt, French Broads, Apelife, Smokin Dave and the Premo Dopes plus local poet and musician R.B. Morris take part in this six-month project that produced 16 songs about things, people and places in East Tennessee. I live close enough to the area that I'm familiar with most of the subjects found in the songs and find them quite clever and amusing. But, I think it would be safe to say, even a tourist will find the songs entertaining. Alt-Country with a sense of humor and that's the way it should be.
To go to the Apeville web site click here
Scrape,"Up The Dose" (RCA)
This time around the band decided to lose the keyboard and go with a two guitar attack like they had originally envisioned. It worked. There's a heavy, urgency surrounding the title track that'll grab you by the collar and scream listen damn it. The Orlando-based quintet upped the dose a bit from their 2001 "New Killer America" release. Touring with Pantera, Slayer and Morbid Angel and facing the aforementioned fans night after night gave the band a whole new perspective. A hard and heavy perspective. So, if you dig hard and heavy then it's time to "Up The Dose".
The Halley Devestern Band,"Superhero Killer" (Indie Release)
Halley Devestern has a big, ballsy voice and knows how to use it. Shes got the funk too! But I would really love to hear her wrap her pipes around an original rockabilly tune or a hardcore country song. Something a little less contemporary sounding. I bet she could tear it up. "It's A Girl" comes close with its bluesy groove. "Strangled In The Park" harkens to the great Maria McKee and Lone Justice. Better yet, forget the rockabilly and country, I'd like to hear her with a rawer sounding blues version of Lone Justice backing her up. The music just seems a little too polished and pretty for a woman that can get down and dirty like this.
Various Artists,"Bonnaroo Music Festival 2003" (Sanctuary)
How often do you see The Dead and Sonic Youth share the same bill? Or, James Brown and Emmylou Harris? Or, The Roots and Nickel Creek? Well, at least once this year if you went to the 2003 Bonnaroo Music Festival. Bonnarro is a jam bands festival for the most part but their fans are receptive to a variety of genres. I wish all festival goers were as receptive to different styles of music. There's bound to be something for your taste buds on this double cd release. Twenty one cuts taken from the four day event. Songs by The Allman Brothers Band, Jack Johnson, The Flaming Lips, Galactic, My Morning Jacket, Warren Haynes, Jason Mraz, Ben Kweller, The Polyphonic Spree, Widespread Panic, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Medeski Martin and Wood, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon, OAR, Keller Williams, Buddahead as well as the oddly billed bunch previously mentioned. I was a little disappointed to see Lucinda Williams, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Moe and the Drive By Truckers didn't make the final cut but I guess there's always next year.
Viva Stereo,"Last Scene / Resistance" (Indie Release)
Stuck somewhere between R.E.M., Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Gus Gus lies this Glasgow quintet. I received last years 5 song "Last Scene" ep and this years 6 song "Resistance" ep in the same mailing and decided to review the two as one. Both are very similar in sound which is understandable since they both come from the same band but usually a bands sound will change somewhat with each release. These eps almost sound like they were recorded at the same time. The vocals on "Honesty" remind me of R.E.M.s Michael Stipe and I really like the groove of "Chorian" and would have to say these two are my favorite tracks of the lot.
Various Artists," Promenade Food Compilation #1" (Promenade Recordings)
Hey, I don't remember signing any release form to put a closeup shot of where the indian shot me on the back cover of this 7" ep! Somebody should have asked for my permission. Well, don't think I won't check into it. Anyway, this 7 song compilation about food was the brainchild of Promenade Recordings. Actually, it's the first in a trilogy of food themed compilations. "A Delicious Buffet Of Wonderful Songs" is what the cover promises. Pueblo, Hormones In Abundance, Cat And Dog Dialogue, Fuck, Dennis Driscoll, Uzi Street and Hello Ladies are all the bands on this particular buffet. I have to give Promenade an E for Effort as well as a B for having the balls to put together such a slab of vinyl. You've got to listen to this one yourself. I will have to own the trilogy. There's just no way around it.
To go to the Promenade Recordings web site click here
Vue,"Down For Whatever" (RCA)
Well, the singer for this band has obviously listened to "Never Mind The Bullocks" a time or two. It's especially noticeable on "She's Sweet" and "Frozen Juice", my two favorite songs off the cd. He's like some kind of garage punk Frankenstein, half Johnny Rotten and half David Johansen. Hey, that's a hell of a compliment in my book. Two of the best rock 'n' roll singers to ever whip a befuddled audience into a frenzy. Most of the songs remind me of the Dolls, maybe a little more polished but just as rawkin'. With everybody jumping on the garage rock bandwagon nowadays it's a nice surprise to hear a major label band actually pull it off. This one's a keeper.
Zucchero,"Shake" (Koch Records)
What the hell…Italian rock!? At first when I saw the cover of this CD I thought that the actor that plays Sean Finnity on "Grounded for Life" had made a solo album - Zuchero is a spitting image of this actor. Then I notice that the cover has a prominent sticker that says, "from the worldwide super star who's sold over 14 million albums". This guy rocks, but the songs are so damned…well, 'European'. I like the songs, they are sometimes really catchy, but that language thing gets in the way of pure enjoyment. But then again, America is the country that made the "Macarena" a hit. And Zucchero rocks a lot harder than those lame old guys. My only problem is that he sings lyrics half in English and half in Italian. That is fine in Italy, you can count all the lira that you've made in album sales. But my friend, ENGLISH is the international language of rock 'n roll, no exceptions…Take a lesson from the Scorpions.
Oh, also comes with the obligatory DVD…
This is an eighties alternative art band that was somehow time warped into 2003. Think Psychedelic Furs, The Cure, Talking Heads, Echo & The Bunnymen… They also remind me a lot of eighties local favorites Love Tractor and Pylon. But, somehow this sounds fresher than it did the first time around. Maybe it's because everything on the radio sounds so stagnate now that anything different seems refreshing. What was old is new again and all that. Most of the songs sound as if they could have come directly from the "Pretty In Pink" soundtrack. Anyway, for some reason I really dig this cd. Makes me wish it was on vinyl.
Red Bee Society,"Debut Single" (Gantry Records)
While there are only two tracks on this demo, there is enough to hint at a future brilliance. Great songs, great performance and better yet - they don't sound like every other damn band that's coming out of Britain! Can't wait to hear a full CD from these guys…come on guys, don't disappoint me, you've got the muse…
Alterstate,"Songs From William Rd." (Indie Release)
South Africa's answer to Hootie And The Blowfish. The newly relocated Alterstate, they're now based in Atlanta , have a very polished and commercial sound. Written, recorded, engineered, produced and mixed by the band, "Songs From William Rd." is a little too bland for my tastes. However, given their due, they are very accomplished and tasteful musicians. Unfortunately, I have no taste. I thought the Sid Vicous version of "My Way" was tastefully done. Anyhow, if you're a Hootie fan this should be right up your alley.
Let's Active,"Cypress/Afoot" (re-issue) (Collector's Choice Music)
Although Mitch Easter is primarily known as a producer in the indie world (with R.E.M.'s "Murmur"-the holy grail of college rock at the top of the list) he also had a band. Let's Active was a huge influence on many up and coming bands in the late 1980's up until today. Too bad that never translated into mega record sales. Thankfully their shamefully out-of print catalog has been re-issued starting with this CD. Let's Active also featured Faye Hunter on bass and Sara Romweber on drums. But for a compact trio, there are a wide range of stylistic touches that make this record a treat for any fan of jangly guitar pop with a hint of darkness under the record cover.
Easter's "Waters Part" sets the stage with a cool riff and an equally infectious chorus. Hunter even gets a few vocal takes and especially shines on "Blue Line". Why "Blue Line" was never on a John Hughes soundtrack I'll never know. From the "Afoot" EP (which was tacked onto the end even though it was recorded first by the band) "Every Word Means No" shines like a lost diamond in the rough. One play and you'll be humming this so much that you'll drive all your neighbors crazy. Two bonus tracks are added to this CD, but make sure you get the other two re-issues as well. Maybe this will help Mitch with his new band, The Fiendish Minstrels get out there and cause as much of a stir as Let's Active did back in the day. Power pop fans can only hope.
To go to the Mitch Easter web site click here
Charles Manson,"All the Way Alive" (Peoples Temple)
My views for this album did not live up to my expectations after hearing it. This is a collection of Charles Manson's first foray into a recording studio in 1967. Maybe I expected to 'hear it'…the same thing that all those people 'heard' when they heard Charlie's music live at that time. I mean all the record/music people that encouraged him, Dennis Wilson, Terry Melcher and maybe even the Manson girls themselves. But, what do you get? A second-rate folkie, who is obviously very nervous at his first recording. Maybe he did use drugs to control and mesmerize people…it certainly wasn't THIS music! Or maybe this is just an indictment of hippie mentality - the drugs and free sex that Manson offered 'enhanced' his music to give you the impression that is was what was 'happening'. The best thing about this CD is Charlie's chat between songs…his Manson-speak is fascinating. But, if you want the best CD of Charlie's music, go find LIE.
To go to the Peoples Temple Records web site click here
Daniel Pruitt,"Demo" (Indie Release)
Daniel Pruitt has that distinct folk/blues groove going, but he is NOT boring like most 'folkies'. For a "demo" CD, this is definitely top-notch: good recording and great songs. It does everything a demo should do: gives you a quick "taste" of the artist and makes you look forward to a full CD. His songs are good, but his guitar playing seems to attract your attention. While his voice is not really distinctive (but then again, that's pretty hard to do in this genre), his guitar playing is OUTSTANDING! He captures that 'country blues' feeling of the Rolling Stones perfectly. Lucky for me, this guy is based in Atlanta, so I've caught him live and he lives up to the promise of this demo. Another artist where you can't wait to hear that full-length CD!
Oceancolourscene,"North Atlantic Drift" (Sanctuary)
Celebrity support from the likes of Paul Weller hasn't hurt Oceancolourscene any. Neither did the invite to fill the support slot on Oasis' 'Live Forever' tour from Noel Gallagher. Although, to be completely fair, it took more than celebrity support to place and keep them in the top ten on the U.K. charts for more than six months. Maybe it was the top notch songwriting and hook laden arrangements that kept the band on top. From anthem to ballad and back again with grace and conviction. If you listen to The Beatles, Oasis, Paul Weller, U2 or anything in the same vein you should dig this.
Kick In The Eye,"Rock And Roll Needs A…" (Indie Release)
The husband and wife team of Donnie and Marian Lochrie have put together a perfect 5 song ep here. “Shake Yer Hips” is a funky ZZ Top meets The Go Gos version of the Slim Harpo classic. Marian Lochrie’s voice was made for rock ‘n’ roll. She’s got the right attitude and just the right amount of country in her voice to flavor things perfectly. Mary Huff from Southern Culture On The Skids is the only other woman that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when she gets down on something like “Nitty Gritty”. Donnie’s voice meshes well with his bandmate and wife for a mix that anyone would dig. “Hurricane” has all the Beach Boys type harmonies and hooks on the chorus, “Stop Messin My Heart Around” is Chuck Berry meets Brian Wilson on a long lost episode of The Monkees. “No Depression” gives me the Jason and the Nashville Scorchers fix I’ve been needing for a long, long time and they pull off A. P. Carter’s classic without sounding hokey or sarcastic. They seem to truly love country and rock ‘n’ roll like both were their children. No matter how different they may be you still love them equally. And, lastly we have “Thirty Miles”, a Buddy Holly stomp that rounds out the disc quite nicely. Get this cd now! I’m pretty sure it’s available through www.cdbaby.com as well as directly from www.kickintheeye.com
Kick In The Eye,"Garage Sale – Big Time!" (Indie Release)
Donnie and Marian Lochrie are back with their first full length offering. Twelve songs that clock in at just over 45 minutes. First up, “All Night Long” is a rocker that rocks with the best of them but the second track “Honey Bee” is the standout single if I ever heard one, falling somewhere between the White Stripes and the 5,6,7,8’s. This song is so catchy you’ll need an antibiotic just to get over it. “Treat Me Right” has a slow, smooth Lucinda Williams groove to it that kinda seeps into your brain like wine into a white cotton shirt. You just know it won’t come out. “Big Waves” has a KISS guitar riff surfing in a New York Dolls ocean of longing for love lyrics. “Wastin’ Time” sounds like a stripped down Redneck Greece with rev’ed up backing vocals and rounding the whole package out are two Christmas songs just in time for the holidays, “Hopin’ For Snow” and “Christmas Is Comin’”. A great cd at a garage sale price. For fans of Southern Culture On The Skids, The Muffs, The White Stripes and Sit n’ Spin.
Diffuse Light,"Winter Trails" (lordsirskronk)
Former Preppy Relatives and Horshoes & Handgrenades alumni Warren B. Auld has released “Winter Trails” under the band name of Diffuse Light. Recorded in a cabin in rural Vermont, “Winter Trails” is a moody album by all accounts. You know how you feel when you go long periods without feeling the sunshine on you face or even seeing the sun peek through the clouds for just an instant. Well, that’s what Auld has accomplished here. Auld sounds like Jack Logan on most of the tracks but especially on “She Wrote”. This kinda sounds like The Connells “Boylan Heights” album.
To go to the lordsirskronk web site click here
Snatches Of Pink,"Hyena" (MoRisen Records)
Hey, I’ve noticed a very positive shift in the rock n’ roll planets this past few months. Everything I’ve been sent to review this time around has pretty much been straight out rock n’ roll. Yeah, it’s rock n’ roll and I like it… I said I like it… Yes, I do. It’s about time we got back to the real nitty gritty. Back to what scared the hell out of middle America in the first place. I mean, guitar, bass, drums and a singer with attitude… that’s all you need. Snatches Of Pink fit the bill perfectly. “Hyena” has some Ziggy And The Spiders From Mars Bowie influences with a much harder edge. Maybe if the MC5 had backed Bowie. “Otto Wood” is a snarling rocker and so is “Reptile”. I love rock n’ roll and this is rock n’ roll. Check it out.
Kevin K & The Real Kool Kats,"Kiss of Death" (Lollipop Records)
Kevin K is a dead ringer for the late great Dead Boy Stiv Bators and “Kiss of Death” sounds like Stiv during his Bomp years. The great thing about this record is Kevin K has as much love and respect for rock n’ roll as Bators did and it shines through on every track. “Ain’t It Fun” is exactly that with it’s Leader Of The Pack lyrics like “I met her at the pizzeria.”, “That sweet senorita.”, “I knew I had to meet her.”, “Extra cheese on her pizza.” This sounds corny but he pulls it off and not only does he pull it off but you’ll be singing along with him after a couple of listens. “Road To Ruin” is the coolest Ramones tribute I’ve ever heard and every punk band worth their salt should add it to their set list. I’ve been playing this for two days straight and I still love it. Even the cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” sounds cool.
To go to the lollipoprecords web site click here
Neurotic Swingers,"Artrats" (Lollipop Records)
The punk rock fairy must have put in some overtime this month. Another cool release from Lollipop! Hey, I’m really beginning to dig this label. “Artrats” is chocked full of by the numbers punk rock songs but the intensity that these guys put in the delivery take the songs to a whole new level. “Girl In A Broken Car” rocks with a vengence as does “Go Back Home”. Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones as well as Vines, Hives and White Stripes fans should dig this ten song old school punk rock workout. “We accept you! One of us!” “Gabba, Gabba, Hey!”
Blue Epic,"Love & Hate EP" (Empathic Recordings)
Now this sounds like the majority of the cds that land on my desk. Well, the cds that would land on my desk if I had one. Anyway, this five song cd ep rocks as well as anything you’ll hear on the radio. Hell, better than most of what you hear. The whole cd has a haunting feel that is a little hard to describe. Hell, who does this band remind me of? I can’t seem to put my finger on it but I’ll keep trying. Maybe an early U2? No, that’s not quite it. Thinking… Thinking… I got it! The Smashing Pumpkins! Yeah, somewhere between U2 and the Smashing Pumpkins lives a band called Blue Epic.
Robert Wheeler,"Look" (Indie website mp3 release)
If you like the first Robert Wheeler mp3 album, you are gonna love this one. Actually, this is like part-II of his first album. The same formula, the same minimalist approach, but with the same great little pop songs. Some artists just work the best with the same formula album after album. Robert must have some kind of Beach Boys SMiLE fascination, since two of his song use the same title, "Look" and "I'm In Great Shape". Actually, "I'm In Great Shape" has that kind of SMiLE feel to it. Another very good collection from the "Billy Bragg of keyboards".
Jennyanykind,"Peas and Collards" (MoRisen Records)
What the hell? I’ve spent the last few weeks working my way through this huge stack of rock n’ roll and punk cds and all of a sudden I feel like I’m in Muscle Shoals with Alex Chilton at the helm. “Lemon Lite Blues” insists I “get my butt out on the floor”. “The Good Life Is Half Night” is a slow spooky ride through the blues with a heavy Cramps feel to it. “Hot Soup” has got the same lip smackin’ good taste of “Memphis Soul Stew”. “Rainy Night Blues” is an instrumental number that will put you behind the wheel of a ’59 Buick in the middle of the night with the wipers swishing back and forth to its slow hypnotic groove. “Don’t Bother The Devil” starts off in a juke joint frenzy before going into its spoken word verse then back again. This is a strange but enjoyable cd. Strange because it comes from the same label that sent most of the rock n’ roll stuff I’ve just reviewed and enjoyable for the same damn reason. “Peas and Collards” is soul food for the ears.
Marat,"Marat" (MoRisen Records)
“Miami” sounds like Mick Jagger fronting a pissed off Smithereens. Sounds cool huh? Well, it is. John Ensslin can sing like Jagger used to ‘cause he’s got the spunk that Jagger lost years ago. “Salt” still has that Stones link but it’s a little less noticeable. “Crush” sounds like a cross between Jack White of the White Stripes and Tom Verlaine of Television. “Straw Dog” still has the Tom Verlaine thing going on. “Startime” mutates into a Robin Zander / Tom Verlaine outting. Hey, I’m beginning to get this guy. The only way I know how to describe it is Tom Verlaine meets Jack White with flashes of Jagger in the mix. The band is tight and rocks with the best of them. I’m not trying to be critical about the vocals, I’m just trying to describe what I hear. Personally, I think the whole album well worth a listen.
To go to the morisen web site click here
The Talk,"No, You Shut Up!" (MoRisen Records)
These guys sound like Cheap Trick in their prime. I mean, if I heard “Fine Miserable Day” or “Bad Scenery” on the radio, I would bet money it was Zander and company making a comeback. Hey, sounding like Cheap Trick ain’t a bad thing. I think their great. I saw them live on VH1 recently and they still rock. I really got into the whole “Live at Budokan” era and have been a fan ever since. Their love of British pop songwriting with crunching power chords not to mention the whole geek / pretty boy deal. What’s not to like? They were the missing link between 60s pop, heavy metal and punk. Anyway, this is cool stuff. You should give it a listen. I dig every track and how often can you say that.
To go to the morisen web site click here
Various Artists,"The Best of Bluegrass" (Sanctuary)
First Sanctuary did it with a rockabilly compilation and now they display the same excellence with a bluegrass compilation. This collection ranges from classic Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys, Lester Flatt, The Carter Family to more recent bluegrass artists as Alison Krauss. This is an excellent sampler for anyone who needs an introduction to bluegrass.
The Waukees,"The Waukees" (Indie Release)
This is punk rock. I mean punk rock done right. A pop punk power trio (try saying that three times fast) from Pisa, Italy fronted by Valeria. This gal can strum like Johnny Ramone and belt ‘em out like Joan Jett. Checco on bass thumpin’ like a knot on a tire at 90 miles an hour and Ciondolo on drums crackin’ the whip in perfect 4/4 time. Four of these six songs appear on a split cd from All-Nite Records (UK) with two other female fronted pop punk bands. Somehow I can’t see them being as good as The Waukees but I want to check ‘em out all the same. I love this cd and can’t wait to hear a full length outing by Valeria and her co-horts. Hey, you hear that Valeria?
Marti Brom,"Wise to You" (Goofin Records)
Marti Brom's music is retro rockabilly/country/swing in a derivative way. However, it is Marti's spitfire vocal delivery that makes this CD shine. Marti sounds like Pasty Cline possessed with the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis, especially on songs like "Voodoo Voodoo". There are cover songs by classic writers such as Leiber/Stoller and Neil Sedaka, but the big surprise is the Ray Davies cover of "I Go To Sleep". Very enjoyable for a retro genre.
To go to the goofinrecords web site click here