Reviews-April 2001
Note: Reviews are in no particular order

Moonbabies "June and Novas"-Duckweed Records -

"Insideus Behindus Despiteall" - lyrics from 'Shining Sun'

Simply stated, the Moonbabies album, "June and Novas" is a stellar achievement of modern pop psychedelia! They permeate the disc with a surrealistic sound of images and color. Where to start? How about the vocals? Whether it is Carina or Ola taking the lead vocal, they strike a perfect balance. Plus their harmonies are especially spine tingling (see "Winter Broken Time").

Then there are the songs. The sub-title of the album is "easy pop beats & experimental electronic underwater moods". But that only scratches the surface of the musical journey inside. Both Carina & Ola write, with Carina penning most of the pop-sounding songs and Ola leaning more towards experimental tunes. But, like Lennon & McCartney, a combined diversity makes for extremely satisfying results! On this album, you have the catchy, infectious pop of "I'm Insane but So Are You" & "We're Layabouts"; the trance-like psychedelia of "June & Novas"; the experimental tunes of "Kissing Underwater" and "Piano Hammers"; the techno-psychedelia of "Count Stars Be Patient"; the punk-tinged "My Buddy Buddy". They even come close to a ballad on "Shining Sun", and new-wave pop on "City Walk".

The lyrics are artsy and poetic without being pretentious. They don't always have a clear meaning, but maybe they are not supposed to. Besides, my favorite lyrics are those which are up to interpretation by the listeners anyway.

As for instrumentation, the Moonbabies love of studio work has paid off. Ola's guitar work travels from delicate acoustic to biting electric. The leap from their previous indie cassettes is phenomenal! I only have one question - when can we expect the next album?!

Review by GPR


The Donnas "Turn 21"-Lookout Records -

This is a pretty decent sounding record, the fourth by Los Angeles rock-chick quartet, the Donnas. Once again, here they are using power-riffs as an accompanyment to lyrics that tell tall tales of sex, drugs and …well, other things. This particular album packs about the same kind of punch, kick and stomp as their 1998 sophomore release "American Teenage Rock 'N Roll Machine". But, needless to say, it's four young ladies doing what they do best, record after record.

Moving on to the songs, the opening track, "Are You Gonna Move It For Me?" takes a bite out of bad press and harsh criticism surrounding the Donnas performance, both on stage and on record. Next is "Do You Want To Hit It?", which basically says, "light it up and pass it around!" Later, you hear of suspected ragin male hormonal expression on "You Got a Crush On Me", followed by "Police Blitz", a song better known to those on the opposite side of Ice-T as "Cop F*cker". Last, but never least, is a flawless rendition of the Judas Priest classic, "Living After Midnight", to close this disc so you can finally catch your breath again.

In closing, I just have to say that this is the finest display of brilliance, intelligence and talent by four chicks with the same first name (not really). We wish only the best to them in the years to come and further beyond that. Although now, we may still have a lot of crap floating the airwaves (Britney, any of the Boy Bands, Rap-Metal, et. Al.), it's always a good thing to see that true rock and roll still lives, breathes and makes us all feel so good inside! God bless rock 'n roll and the Donnas! Girls kick ass? Sure do…

Review by Sean Manclerk


Flamin Anus "Fire in the Hole"-Ripchord Records-

Flaming Anus play a competent brand of mid-1980's hardcore punk. Their slower songs sound similar to Sloppy Seconds (The Flamin' Anus song "Waldo Sucks" is a brilliant rewrite of Sloppy Seconds "Horror of Party Beach"). Though this is hardly earthshaking or original music, Flamin' Anus mix enough spitefulness and charm to keep this from sounding like another tired genre exercise. In other words, they don't sound like another cookie-cutter NOFX/Green Day clone. "Trench coat Mafia" is the standout song on this CD - a brilliant anthem which will cheer the hearts of gun toting teenage sociopaths everywhere. Their G.G. Allen cover ("Automatic") shows their hearts are in the right place. Docked one ˝ star for not including a lyric sheet. For further information click here.

Review by DJ Ivan


Cheese "Let It Brie"-Pink Hedgehog Records-

I once read a critic who said "its unprofessional to lavish too much praise on a band's CD"(I'm paraphrasing what he said from memory). Bullshit! I just call 'em like I hear 'em. And "Let It Brie" by Cheese is an album that I can't say enough about! The band sounds like a mix of Megacity 4, 10cc and Badfinger without sounding like a carbon copy of these groups. Excellent, catchy, sometimes poignant songwriting abounds with pristine vocals and harmonies. From the opening track, "Popular Music" you are hooked - it is the prototype Cheese song - a fascinating intertwining of glistening, catchy guitar riffs, upfront & melodic bass and luscious harmonies.

There aint a bad song in the bunch. "Late" is moody and dreamlike, with beautiful, 10cc-like harmonies. "He's Hardly Officer Material" blends social commentary with power-pop. And "Forever Dumb" is just plain fun in a silly lyrical way. But its not all fast pop - Cheese have also mastered the acoustic ballad on: "All Change" & "Meaningful Meaningless". You even get a British version of California surf music on "Wyke-Five-O" and psychedelic pop on "All the Wrong Drugs"(which contains the cool wordplay of 'cold turkey for Christmas, humble pie for you').

Although released in 2001, "Let it Brie" is a compilation of songs from the band between 1994-97. I just hope that the band continues…it would be a pity to lose future music by Cheese!

Review by GPR

Marlowe "They Woud've Hated You Anyway"-Pink Hedgehog Records-

Well, here it is, boys and girls…the debut CD by a couple of Radiohead wannabees called Marlowe. At least that's how I look at it. Yet, this is more folksy-artsy-fartsy, touchy-feely kind of Radiohead-esque slush that kind of drives the listening mind into a deep slumber after hours upon hours of non-stop Donnas.

The reason I say this is because the songs are way too slow, tired, and too damned depressing for a three-chord, rock afficianado such as yours truly. It appears as though they rely solely on digital drums machines for beat and senseless lyrics that seem to have been totally uninpired and inimagined. I mean, I don't know about you , but I cannot understand a bloody word the guy is singing, especially through all the sound effects and sampling used in some of the songs.

Well, all I have to say in closing is this CD sounds like crap. I know, I know. They would have hated me anyway. Well, &*#$ 'em! Think I'll go to sleep know.

Review by Sean Manclerk


Cheap Trick "Silver"-Cheap Trick Unlimited Records-

"Silver" is not your simple throw-away, obligatory live album by a band. Most bands put out a live album as they are running out of steam - or to fullfill contractural obligations (a recent example of BOTH cases being the lackluster Oasis live album). The new Cheap Trick live album is neither of these. It is a CELEBRATION of 25 years of great songs and one of rock and roll's premier, quality live acts. Since it is their 25th anniversary (hence the title), the band plays selections from every single album they have released, plus recent 'hits' like the theme from "That '70s Show". It is an excellent collection of songs showing that Cheap Trick is still the same hot band that they were on the Budokan live album back in 1979! Sure, there are a few songs missing that I would have loved to see (like "Everything Works"), but I understand the contraints of a band which has tons of great material to chose from. Hell, I would have been satisfied with 4 CD's!

The biggest surprise is the inclusion of "I'm Losing You". Yep, it is the John Lennon song from his last album, DOUBLE FANTASY. Two of Cheap Trick's members, Rick & Bun E. played on the original recording (see last months interview with Bun E. Carlos on the subject), which was cut from the final album. The Cheap Trick version ROCKS! You can see why a tamer version was used by Lennon; the Cheap Trick version was much harder than anything on the final DOUBLE FANTASY mix.

Forget those 'greatest hits' albums by Cheap Trick. This is a great overview of the bands catalogue AND what they are still capable of live.

Review by GPR

The Lovejoys "Don't Forget to Smile"-Indie Record-

O.K., so the fidelity on this recording is bad. But, I'm not an anal-audiophile who lets that blind me to the jewel-in-the-rough that this CD really is. Although simple in arrangement (3 piece: guitar, bass & drums) and lyrics, the passion and energy of the Lovejoys overcome any of the sonic deficiencies of this CD! The songs are short & sweet - almost a power-pop version of the Minutemen, and that is a unique approach that I like. There verse/chorus verse/chorus songs have sometimes serious, sometimes humorous lyrics dealing with everyday life ("TV Life") to scorned love ("Apple"). The standout track is "Jen" with its hilarious girl-slut lyrics and its crescendo building power chords.

I just can't wait for these guys to get into a proper recording studio, cause the Lovejoys have got something good going - a new, fresh take on an old formula!

P.S. visit their website cause they were giving away FREE copies of this disc!!! Click here to visit the Lovejoys web site

Review by GPR

Geddy Lee "My Favorite Headache"-Atlantic Records-

MY FAVORITE HEADACHE is the first solo work by long-time RUSH bassist/vocalist, Geddy Lee. This is a MUST HAVE recording for any RUSH fan. Though the work bears some resemblance to RUSH, listening deeper you will see that Geddy is his own man doing his own work. Recorded all over Canada and in Seattle, this awesome recording sees Lee taking on a number of instruments - along with his voice and bass duties - guitar, percussion, and various programming elements, as well as piano. For his first solo effort Geddy Lee is joined in the studio by long time staple of the Canadian music scene producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, Ben Mink. The drums are well covered by Matt Cameron of Sound Garden fame, now with Pearl Jam.

"My Favorite Headache", the RIPPING title track, starts with the expected bass rumble you won't soon forget. This upbeat track had me on my feet in amazement. The second track, "The Present Tense", starts with an addicting guitar riff that really sticks in your head. Matt Cameron does a wonderful job on drums for this song. Things slow down a bit on "Window to the World", yet it still holds your attention nicely. "Runaway Train" starts with a driving beat that smells of a top 10 hit. The guitar work here is a masterpiece. This song remains one of my personal favorites. Track 6, "The Angels' Share", offers a nice acoustical break with a fascinating bass line. Geddy taps into his funk side on "Home on the Strange". This is one of those songs that just won't get out of your head. The song rocks and is worth the price of the CD alone. The song "Still" remains one of my favorites as well. I like the heavy drums in a slower song. The bass and drums blend well here in a wonderful timeless song about one man's journey through life. Finally, "Grace to Grace" is a moving, driving song filled with catchy riffs. It slows down at times but loops back to this driving beat that will have you wanting more. The bass work here is among the best I've heard.

Overall, Geddy should be commended for this awesome piece of work. Most of the CD is up-tempo and should satisfy your RUSH cravings for now. The latest news is that RUSH is back in the studio as of January.

Review by John Thomas


Dog Fashion Disco "Dog Fashion Disco"-Spitfire Records-

I don't know about what any of the mainline publications such as Spin or Rolling Stone might make of this ongoing distribution of elephant dung they call music. They may still look at it as "revolutionary" if not at least still vital to the no-life drag I like to call "Tenth Generation-X". How long does it take for people to finally come to the occurrence that maybe, just maybe, what you are hearing now is the same goddamn thing you heard last year or, hell, even eight years ago and beyond for that matter? And to prove that is the debut album by Manson/Tool wannabes, Dog Fashion Disco.

I had to give the band a smidgen credit for the keyboards, saxophones and the other funky little gadgets that turn up periodically throughout the disc, BUT, I simply can NOT excuse the deliberate re-replicating of techniques delivered by such offbeat hardcore bands such as Soundgarden and Alice in Chains.

Believe me, the similarities are that obvious. The context of the music imagines both a trip through a bloody, violent, sadomasochistic interpretation of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus (complete with all the major necessities of the latter), and a dark, stormy, aciduously lonely heroin high. I mean, seriously folks; I would have to be quite strung out and suicidally depressed to like any of this. Of course, I'm sure you would too, knowing some of you. The content of the lyrics, now discusses what I view it to be as the joys of bizarre life. You get to hear a few ditties about "hermaphrodites with x-ray eyes" that "shape-shift into paradigms/march like nazis to a polka dance/to conjure the spirit of Lucifer", from the song "Valley Girl Ventriloquist". Hey, wouldn't YOU say that "the cure for clinical depression is a lobotomy"? That's what DFD vocalist Todd Smith seems to think in the lead track, "Leper Friend". Whatever you say, Todd…

Anyway, to make a long story short, the name of this band is Dog Fashion Disco. Sound's more like Dog Shit Disco to me. Can't wait to see 'em live.

Review by Sean Manclerk


The BorderCollies "Live at the Variety Playhouse"-Indie Release -

This is "Celtic pub music" in its ideal format - LIVE. Recorded on Oct. 30, 2000 at the Celtic New Year's celebration in Atlanta, this CD features Atlanta's own BorderCollies playing traditional Celtic music with a polished ferocity and excellent, stop-on-a-dime instrumentation. The mandolin/violin interplay is especially impressive. All of the players are more than proficient; the bass, guitar bodhran, mandolin and fiddle meshing perfectly like intricate Celtic knotwork. Caeri's expressive vocals are simply icing on the cake. "Willie Taylor" especially shows off her vocal chops, just listen to her amazing annunciation. My other fave on the album is "Wild Mountain Thyme", which you rock fans might recognize from the Byrds version in the '60s. The BorderCollies' version is more traditional, but just as impressive as the Byrds version. My ONLY complaint about this CD is that you can't hear the percussion very well - and that is a vital part of the band's sound!

If you are in the Atlanta area, grab a pint at the pub and hear these guys live. You won't be dissapointed.

Review by GPR


The Swinging Neckbreakers "The Return of Rock"-Telstar Records-

I finally got the kick in the ass that I oh so needed. This of course comes from Trenton, N.J.'s the Swinging Neckbreakers! The whole fuckin' thing is a perfect blend of high energy, barre-chord rock 'n roll with excellent songwriting creativity. Now, while I don't know shit about this band (this, their latest, is only the first I've heard, so I'm bound to be delighted by their others). I really liked this record, although I've yet to see them live. Complete with farfisa organ and other assorted goodies, this record is a MUST KILL for the average garage-rock renaissance band connoisseur (wherever you might be hiding out in your shameful domain), trust me!

However, I think a title like, "the Return of Rock" (with its cool cover), is kinda being used in the wrong way because it's not really the return of "rock", but the return tot he stripped down BASICS of rock, ya know?

Review by Sean Manclerk

Our rating system:

Almost perfect...
Moments of brilliance...
Slightly redeamiing...
Worthless piece of $#%@...