Robert Mirabal "Mirabal"(1997) -Warner Western -
Robert Mirabal "Music From A Painted Cave"(2001) -Silver Wave Records-
Although MUSIC FROM A PAINTED CAVE (hereby labeled MFAPC) is Robert Mirabal's newest CD, I've just gotta sing the praises of his 1997 CD,MIRABAL. I stumbled onto this CD quite by accident, in a batch of radio station discarded CD's. Its a good thing I did...MIRABAL is a stunning, powerful synthesis of rock 'n roll & Native American themes, which grows on you with every listen. Although some of these songs are found on MFAPC, they are more potent here in their original recordings. Plus, there are other very strong songs on this CD, which didn't make it to MFAPC, like "Witch Hunt" (which is truly mesmerizing!). If you LIKE the CD, MUSIC FROM A PAINTED CAVE, then you will LOVE the CD, MIRABAL!
MFAPC is a very good "introduction" to the music of Robert Mirabal. Coinciding with the video of the same name, MFAPC is a sort of live anthology of his works, with some great new songs thrown in for good measure. There is some narration and you must see the video to get the full effect (portions of which are on heavy rotation on PBS). But, Robert Mirabal's music does evoke surrealistic images on its own. A natural storyteller, each song is like a mini-epic, giving you a different vision with each listen. With every new release, Mirabal evolves musically, which you don't see much of in the music world anymore! All in all, MFAPC is an excellent view into the musical vision of Robert Mirabal. So, if you are tired of the stale, "new" music out there, get this CD for a breath of fresh air. You won't be disappointed...
The Lead Feathers "The Lead Feathers" -Indie Release-
I recently listened to this album after an extremely bad day. I had a flat tire in the rain, my tire tool was broken & my flashlight was dead. But, the Lead Feathers album was perfect for this mood. It is a calming, serene, dreamlike album. Like the Lovejoys, the Lead Feathers show what can be done with a limited recording budget-you CAN get your message across. My only complaint is what can't be heard, the lyrics! But, maybe they are going for that early REM approach of discernable lyrics, where the vocals are treated as another instrument. Well, they do achieve that interweaving of all the vocals and instruments. Just a personal preference, I guess.
Speaking of REM, the Lead Feathers' CD is like a psychedelic version of MURMER. But, the Lead Feathers fall short of REM's diversity within the confines of a total album sound. There are just a few too many songs that are interchangeable. But, the songs that do stand out are stunning in their soaring psychedelic sound! And again, like MURMER, there are little instrumental tracks that pop up that really fit the mood of the album! I'm talking pure, haunting, dreamy, psychedelic effervescence. The standout track is the majestic, "How It Goes".
As with the Lovejoys, I can't wait to see what the Lead Feathers do in their follow-up.
AthFest 2001 "AthFest 2001" -Ghostmeat Release-
Since this is a comp CD with a sample of some of the bands playing this years AthFest, I'm approaching this review different than our normal CD reviews. Therefore, I'm not rating it per-se, but rather giving you the percentage of good songs herein. Out of the 17 bands represented, seven were VERY GOOD (beared repeated listening) and three were EXCELLENT (would make me want to search out their CD immediately!). While not as varied and eclectic in style as last years AthFest CD comp, this year's CD probably had more that appealed to my specific tastes.
First, the very good: WORKHOURSE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT/RECREATIONAL INDUSTRY (country with a great slide guitar), FIVE EIGHT (local faves here in Atlanta), BOULEVARD (power-pop "supergrass" style), BLUESTRING (jazz/rock with sax & violin) TRUNKFIRE (bluegrass/country), SCIFU (instrumental, modern progressive rock) and FLASH TO BANG TIME (experimental, "art of noise" type voilins & interesting vocals). Now for the excellent: THE ESKIMOS (very cool, with an "all the Young Dudes" type melody!), DONKEY PUNCH (driving, hard rock) and THUMB ATTACK (with their distinctly British arranged horns).
Would I be inclined to visit this years AthFest, simply based on this CD? The answer? A resounding "yes"! So, there you have it...the simple odds based on this CD, definetely give this year's AthFest a more than passing grade!
Shameless plug: if any of the bands on this CD want us to review your complete CD, contact us!
Theadore Muddfoot "The Beauty of the Swamp"-Indie Release -
I was fairly impressed with Theoadore Muddfoot, a band from Leesburg FL. I always enjoyed hearing a female voice over hard music and this band satisfied the craving. This CD is filled with sharp guitar riffs, enough so to please those who like harder music. Just recently the Mayor of Leesburg Florida asked them to play a benefit concert. I'm impressed !
Faith, the lead vocalist, is said to have a 5 octave range. She uses it well on several songs. I don't understand why people are calling this Heavy Metal though, it's just hard rock. In fact I believe they have created their own style. Swamp Music ! (a good thing) The rhythym is held together by the steady beat provided by Red (drums) and Amanda Williamson on bass. This duo is VERY tight. Guitarist Ian Rose is to be complimented for his excellent guitar sound and creating his own style. Over all the CD is quite powerful. The band seems to think highly of itself, and this is fine. They have a unique sound that demands attention. I don't like the way they have the sound of crickets between so many songs, but I can live with it.
I must admit that I haven't heard too many bands like this one. I think that Faith might be one of the better female vocalists out there right now. The bassist fills the music with solid bass lines that sound just right in this unique style. If you like female fronted rock bands, check these guys out. I enjoyed this CD and you will too. Worth a listen.
The Secret Admirers "Modern Album"-Monster Muse Records -
Imagine a Village Green/Muswell Hillbillies-era Kinks, if they were fronted by a female vocalist. That's what came to mind the first time I heard this album. Also, this is the album that Mary Chapin Carpenter would make if she was truly hip! Lead singer Lisa Knouse's voice is eerily similar to Ms. Carpenter's voice, and the pop/country songs by the Secret Admirers, with their prominent 12 string guitars also bring to mind her songs. That's where the similarities end, because a) the Secret Admirer's don't have a songwriter of the caliber of Davies (but, I'm NOT knocking them), and b) they take way more chances that Mary Chapin ever would.
Aside from Ms. Knouse's superb vocal chops, the instrumental textures of this album are impressive. You've got everything from 12-string electric, mandolin, accordion, pedal steel and more - all played with finesse and expression. And, the Secret Admirer's show off their versatility and command of various styles, all within the confines of sounding like a cohesive album. You have the 12 string pop of "Saving Grace"; the swing of "A Certain Mood"; the 1968 Kink's feel of "You Never Did" and the folksy "You Were Once a Mountain".
Ironically (with my love of power-pop), my favorite songs on this album are those NOT in the rock/pop genre. "Don't Be the One" is simply a beautiful, folksy song that begs for repeated listens. My other fave is the sexy jazz of "Meeting of the Minds". However, there ARE some catchy-as-hell pop songs, such as "Look Easy". All in all, a very good album that is ONLY hindered from being a great album by the inclusion of a few songs that aren't that strong and memorable.
Our Lady Peace "Spiritual Machines" -Columbia Records-
Why is it that rock groups nowadays feel they simply HAVE to write the SAME F***ING SONG OVER AND OVER AGAIN to make a F***ING CRAPPY-ASS record? WHY? Thatís JUST what I get with the latest piece of sh*t by Our Lady Peace. EVERY STINKINí SONG on the dump has the same beat and rhythm patterns put to some of the most depressing, saddening lyrics and whiny nasal drooping vocals Iíve ever heard in my entire life. QUIT TRYING TO BE SOUNDGARDEN or PEARL JAM or whatever f***ing band you sound like! Thereís TOO MUCH of that SH*T going on (for the past TEN F***ING YEARS FOR CRYINí OUT LOUD!), and it NEEDS TO STOP!!! Thatís not just to them, but to everybody else in the pop music world nowadays. You SOUND the same, you LOOK the same! Anyway, all Iíve got left to say is that this album sucked. I didnít like it at all, and furthermore, it bored me to death. Good luck guys.
The Lovejoys "The Lovejoys"-S&L Records -
O.K., I kind of did this back-ass backwards - I already reviewed the Lovejoys' second CD, before I heard their first. The CD says, "the lo-fi reaction sounds of the Lovejoys". The Lovejoys have nothing to hide - these guys are brutally honest about the sound quality (or should I say "lack of"). However, you should not let that blind you the minimalist, power-pop brilliance within (just like their second CD)! However, where their second CD is of a little darker tone, this first CD of the Lovejoys virtually reaches out of your CD player and grabs you, begging you to jump up and dance (But, NOT in the style of Britney or LypSync)! The Lovejoys have tapped that energy of the Monkees and the Ramones - where nothing else matters during the duration of two and a half minutes of power-pop ecstasy!
What about the CD, you ask? How about Psychedelic power-pop? You betcha! With its cool guitar tremolo, "Collection Plate" is a killer intro to the Lovejoys! Reminiscent of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The song, "Virgin Whore" is simply brilliant. This is easily my FAVORITE SONG OF 2001 (even though it was released in 2000). I've played the song at least 20 times at work today. Sure, there are some slower songs, but the Lovejoys "lure" you in thinking its a slow song and WHAM, they hit you like on "Ground" - cool effect! Curiously, there are more harmonies on this CD than their second, the prime example being, "You Don't Have To Say It". Sure, their harmonies are not unique, but they really add to the song. "Shot" has the hilarious double lead guitar attack of old Slade songs. Then there is the guitar riff you can't get out of your head, set to social commentary, no less. I'm talking about the song, "Slacker". You've even got the Mersey-beat rock of "You're The One", albeit a modern translation of that sound. I've only touched on a few songs; I could go on all day about this CD...there ain't a bad song in the bunch.
P.S. Do yourself a favor and visit their website - because they give away FREE copies of their CD's!!! Click here to visit the Lovejoys web site
The Groobees "Buy One Get 11 Free"-Downtown Records -
Sure, this CD is in the Alt-Country genre. But, the Groobees add something that is lacking from bands such as Wilco and Son Volt. Maybe it is the combination of male/female singing; I have always been a sucker for that Gram Parson/Emmylou Harris style. And then it just might be that the songwriting duties are split between Susan Gibson and Scott Melott. While both write about love and relationships, Gibson's songs are more introspective. She writes about falling in love ("Cloud Nine"), laughs about herself ("My Best Feature") and longs for a perfect world ("Perfect World").
On the other hand, Scott Melott penned my favorite song on the album, "Cheap Trucker Speed", a hilarious ode to those little over-the-counter pills you can get at any truck stop! His "Ballad Of An Opening Band" would be appreciated by anybody whoís ever been in a band. The instrumentation is impeccable, this is one hot little band. I especially love the guitar lead on "Perfect World", its a cool take-off of the "Rock Around the Clock" guitar lead! The CD ends with what I think is the album's strongest song, "George & Lucille", a touching tale of enduring love. A very strong album by a group that I hope to see live!
The Drysdales "The Drysdales"-Time Warp Records -
(Bonus points for those who count the number of times I use the label "power-pop"!) The Drysdales are unashamedly influenced by the British invasion, power-pop of the mid-sixties, and rightly so. In the right hands, the power-pop approach wins hands-down every time. And the Drysdales are no exception. Out of the twelve songs on this CD, six of them are outstanding, glimmering & shimmering examples of power-pop brilliance, making this an above-average debut album. These guys have been eating their power-pop wheaties!
The album opens with one of the strongest tracks on the album, "Deep of the Ocean Blue", which is two and a half minutes of pure, transcendental, power-pop bliss. The '60s classic, "I Go to Pieces" is a song that I never get tired of hearing-in the right hands, that is. And the Drysdales rise to the challenge, giving an excellent interpretation. The highlight of the album, for me anyway, is "Lost In Your Smile", which features former Raspberries member Scott McCarl on bass and lead vocals-it is another power-pop gem! "Oscar" has great lyrics set to a ballad, which brings to mind Utopia's "Bad Little Actress". The Drysdaleq explore Byrds-like country rock on "Something About You", with superb guitar leads. Finally, "The Twain" is another standout vrack, with its Faces-like style.
Like I said before, half of this album is great and half is only so-so (the melodies of thgse don't stick in your head like a power-pop-song-supreme should). But, the good half is worth the price of the album alone.
Mercy Crush "Last Glass Ceiling" -Indie Release-
Oh Boy! Another Nu Metal band just on the rise. Definetely gonna make it, if they hurry. Too much Soundgarden/Tool /Deftoles in there. Not enough Kiss/AC/DC/Van Halen...in fact NONE! I"apologize for writing such a short review, but there are only four songs on this CD, non of which was too impressive. Atlanta hcs some really good bands, those who KNOW what rock 'n roll is. Too bad for MERCY CRUSH, though. Just another one of those gloomy, dark, "Nu Metal" bands trying to play the same music made famous by people like Korn, Bizkit, Staind, etc. To make a long story short, it's crap
Donna Lee Van Cott "Donna Lee Van Cott"-Indie Release-
This isn't a bad album...it just isn't my cup of tea. I just can't stand that whole Joni Mitchell, Ricki Lee Jones, Edie Brickell mentality. The CD consists of various jazz rock, slow samba and even a power-pop attempt. But mostly, you get song after song of interchangeable acoustic "chick rock". But, if you are into that Lilith Fair-type of music, you will probably love this album!
Don't get me wrong, there is more than competent singing & instrumentation (even though the guitar leads borrow too heavily from Edie Brickell). The problem is the material, it just isn't memorable. I always listen to a CD several times before I even start writing, to see if any of the songs stick out in my head-it just didn't happen here. The one hidden gem on this album is "Shaking Me Down". Its a great song & would make a cool, power-pop song with the right arrangement. Unfortunately, this version is a little tame, with its acoustic guitars and slightly dragging tempo. This songs virtually scrams for a Masticators-type attack. Donna should really pitch this song to that group to get proper treatment.
Docked one star for going into pretentious French during one song...