Garfields Birthday "Words And Pictures"-Pink Hedgehog Records-
The new album by Garfields Birthday is a classic case of "less is more". Unlike last years' excellent GB album, "Peepshow", "Words and Pictures" was recorded only with a porta-studio. Its ironic that two of my fave albums this years (this album and Peter Lacey's "BEAM!") were both recorded on a porta-studio. Hmmm…makes you think?
Quite simply, the quality of songs more than makes up for any sonic deficiencies. And it is this consistency of songs that makes "Words and Pictures" an even stronger album than their last record. The harmonies are more evident and more confident. Plus, the band retains its British-ness…which I like… not trying to sound "American" on their vocals. I'd compare them to the old Kinks in this respect.
Standout tracks include: "Baby Let Me Drive You Home" (with a wickedly tasteful slide guitar), "Meet the Wife" (with it's "World Without Love" reminiscent guitar riff"), and "Last Night I Slept With Your Mother" (simply THE funniest/sarcastic pop song I've heard in years!). The title track, "Words And Pictures" best describes Garfields Birthday's approach to the quintessential power pop song - 2 ½ minutes of pure, harmonic, power-pop ecstasy!
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Through The Woods "Over the River and..."-Is There More Records-
The advance I received of the upcoming Through the Woods album was of an "in the works" project. My advance copy only has 9 tracks and the final Through the Woods CD release will have 14 songs. But, from what I've heard, I feel the album merits review! Although they have elements of rock and roll, "Through the Woods" aren't your average rock band. And although they have influences of vaudeville, they are not a strictly vaudeville band either. They are one of the most visual bands I've heard, and I mean that truly in a sonic sense. I would best describe Through the Woods as "TV imagery with a Phil Spector soundtrack".
The songs are humorous, thought provoking and just plain interesting. How many bands can write about postal shootings ("Valerie"), the true old-west legendary Siamese twins ("Chang and Eng's America"), dating in prison ("The Darker Side of the Street") and the fall of Superman ("Crutches") in one single album? The album also has my favorite lyrical line from this year - "Life's a free admission when you're on exhibition" (again from "Chang and Eng's America"). I give this album such a good rating (based on an incomplete version) because the songs that are represented are so damn good. Even if the remaining 5 songs are total crap, my rating would stand.
Plus, the first 500 CD's will include the deluxe packaging, which is truly worth obtaining. Visual art has been a dying format since the advent of the CD from vinyl. The early CD's will contain a 3-D fold out, with a must-see mural of all the songs in cartoon format!
*Note: this review will be updated when I get the final CD.
Wheatus "Wheatus"-Columbia -
Although I tend to discount the printed bios that most band's put out, the promo for the Wheatus album pretty much rings true! Most band bios make Nazi propaganda of the 30's sound tame. I mean it gets pretty deep, if you get my drift. Wheatus is described as "a quirky, clever, unconventional three-piece rock band from Long Island. They combine rock, hip-hop and three part harmonies with hit '80's pop sensibilities to create aggressive pop with unforgettable melodies." But, this time, the written word is TRUE and I can't add much to that! This is one of those rare albums, which I would have liked as much when I was 14, as I would at my present age (in my 30's). Plus, it has "Teenage Dirtbag" which perfectly captures teenage angst in the best of that Pete Townsend school. If that song brings you in, you will love the rest of the CD!
Paloalto "Paloalto"-Columbia Records -
These guys try to sound like some great bands: Son Volt, Wilco, Buffalo Tom and U2. The only problem is, they fail miserably! God...I want the hour back that I wasted listening!