SILVER CIRCLE REVIEWS : March 2007

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EMILY GROGAN
One Way Productions
At Sea
13-song CD
      Emily’s second CD, At Sea, has me already scratching notes for the year-end poll. No doubt the year’s most exciting release—I can count nine of the 13 songs as possible radio hits. Emily’s wonderfully expressive vocals turn from sweet to demanding within a measure while dealing with break ups, moving on, and trying to work things out. “End of The Line” rolls in with Emily’s gentle advice then kicks into an aggressive march that ends with a stimulating feel-good romp complete with horns. “Psychedelica In A” delivers a drug-drenched, drum pounding, vivid experience as powerful as The Beatles ever dropped. She kicks up dirt, hoedown style, in “R/Evolution.” With “Wall and Windows” Emily lets the band mirror the well-known classic progression of “All Along the Watchtower” and makes it sound like a fresh new idea. Emily bares her vulnerability but also shows great strength—it’s that expansive expressiveness that makes this disc so lovable. A major note for the year-end poll (for producer Ducky Carlisle): the production is colorfully exquisite.   (T Max)

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THE LUXURY
Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
11-song CD
     You might say Jason Dunn’s new band sounds like his old band because it’s still his voice, his guitar, and some of his songs, but I’d say The Luxury is a step up musically from The Halogens; this incarnation can blow the doors off the club, as well as do the various elegant takes on better-than-Coldplay anthemic pop, (see the end of “Rockets and Wrecking Balls.”). There, and on “Let Go,” the record’s opener, the change of lineup has produced a rock band with some Oasis in the big hummable choruses, long wah-wah outro solos, and oddly, some REM in the driving pop of “Seven Stories.” For good measure, there are nods to Revolver-era Beatles in the weaving of strings and cool sounds into the CD’s sonic periphery on “Malcontent,” another track that blends the excellent singer at the piano with the big guitar sound in a way that’s classic sounding without being derivative.   (Glenwood)

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THE DOWNBEAT 5
Steel Cage Records
Smoke & Mirrors
12-song CD
         Listening to a live album can often be a bit of a dicey undertaking, particularly if you were at the show.  The mix might be a little weird, or maybe you pick up on a flub or two that you didn’t notice while you were swallowed up in the atmosphere.  Well, I was lucky enough to have seen The Downbeat 5 record this show at Q Division last year and my only real complaint is that they whittled two full sets down to 35 minutes or so.  There’s a nice mix of songs from their two albums, as well as some new originals and covers.  The best of the new stuff is their take on Sam Cooke’s “Shake,” in which Jen puts down the guitar and cuts loose with a raspy coo that trumps all the fine work she’s done previously.  The whole band is in fine frenzied form as expected, but Eric’s drumming deserves to be singled out, most notably on the rolling fills in “Laughing Out Loud.”  Kudos to those behind the mixing board for truly capturing the show’s energy and providing a suitable document of an excellent live band.   (Kevin Finn)

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THE PRIME MOVERS
Back in Line
11-song CD
      This CD could have easily been called No Deadlines, Just Headlines. The title track "Back In Line" is the freshest of the bunch, chronologically speaking. It’s a fine choice for an opener—it sets the pace for a collection of driving, upbeat, and uplifting mix of well-crafted originals and impeccably chosen covers. The shimmering “Left In The Dark” from the Vertebrats follows. Replacing the organ fill in the original, Cam delivers a wailing harp solo. “When He’s Down” is more fierce with Cam’s vocals plumbing darker depths. Live “Say Those Words” had one admirer shouting "Beatlesque!" Okay, maybe it is a bit of “Taxman,” but channeled through The Jam’s “Start!”—it’s a tasty morsel frosted with a three part harmony vocal sheen.  “King Of The World” has a swirling psychedelicate feel, but it comes off ballsier live. “In Shreads,” “Smash The Mirror,” “Chemical Reaction,” and “True To Me” are more downbeat lyrically, but the momentum never lags. “Always Be Here” is a slow burn. “Where It’s At” brings the CD full circle, ending like it began—FULL THROTTLE!   (Nancy Neon)

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27
Twenty27seven
2-song CD
     Some bands are like a fine wine, a warm fire, and a close friend.  27 has always been that kind of band.  Every release these guys have put out in the last several years never fails to leave a warm glow.  This little sampler from their upcoming Relapse Records release is certainly no exception.  Their cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” is a slow bump and grind reminiscent of Portishead’s live version of “Sour Times” with a heavy, sludgy guitar punctuating a vocal of longing and despair. The second track, the title track to their new album, is a lush sonic landscape with a lyrical message of hope.  Think of this release as a calling card for the greatness that is likely to follow.  Personally, I can’t wait.   (Joel Simches)

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SPITZZ
Tario Records
Touché Pussycats
12 song-CD
         What I raved about in my review of Spitzz’s first disc holds just as true, if not truer, now.  Back then, I name-dropped Hellacopters and Gluecifer, which never ceases to make me happy, so I’ll just do it again.  If there’s a difference between the two albums, I’d say that this leans closer to the punk side of the punk-rock equation, but it’s a matter of attitude, not stylistic quibbling.  There isn’t a song here that clocks in at over three minutes, because they all get the job done before then.  I wouldn’t mind if the band changed its name to something less, um, Spitzz-y, but spit is just what the music does here, spit and snarl and shout anthemically and rip guitar solos and generally raise a joyful ruckus that has roots sunk in the ’50s and branches slapping you in the face.  They don’t reinvent the wheel, but they hitch it to a nitro-snortin’ blown engine and paint it with black primer and teach the locals that fancy pinstripes don’t make you go faster.  Highly recommended.   (Tim Emswiler)

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THE HYPHENS
Get It Straight
7-song CD
         The Hyphens are one of the most fun live bands around right now, and this CD does a much better job of capturing that than their previous releases have.  From the soul inspired “Two To Tangle” to the Roy Orbison via Bruce Springsteen tearjerker “See You Soon” to the humorous “I Don’t Want Her No More” with its call and response vocals, all seven of the songs on “Get It Straight” are potential hits.  They list The Shods and The Real Kids among their influences, and I can hear it in their ability to sing believable harmonies and to write catchy melodies.  It’s more classic rock than punk, but more Costello than Presley on the recently developed Elvis-o-meter.   (Brian Mosher)

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THREE DY THRESHOLD
Hi-N-Dry
The Hi-N-Dry Sessions
5-song CD
        Okay, my bias is certainly showing for these guys for I am a huge fan. Listening to this EP is like slugging back some whiskey with some good ole buddies.  The music is tight and happening, though these sessions don’t always capture the live spirit of some of their more DIY releases.  Three Day Threshold seems as at home in the studio as they are anywhere else where music can be played.  Why are we already singing about the Ghost of Jimmy Ryan?  Last time I saw him, he was in great health. If you like your country music raw and old school, crack open a Pabst or a bottle of rotgut and give this a listen.   (Joel Simches)

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RAY MASON BAND
Hi-N-Dry
Don’t Mess With Our Routine
11-song CD
         It always warms my heart to think about how many dudes there are around town who are old enough to be my father yet have a youthful exuberance that far trumps my own.  Well, from the sound of this record and the pictures included with it, Ray Mason seems like one of those dudes.  This is roadhouse bar music at its best, but considerably more varied than that moniker would imply, as jazz, soul, rock, and pop are all generously mixed in with the boogie beats.  In lesser hands, this might result in a jack-of-all-trades master-of-none scenario, but Mason and his backing crew (featuring two ex-Scud Mountain Boys) are too talented for that.  I particularly like that Mason adds horns to the mix, most notably on the rocking “Don’t Turn Me Down,” and I appreciate the humor and humanity that runs through these songs.  More than a few young’uns could learn a lot from this record.   (Kevin Finn)

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CHILLGROOVE
Low Budget Records
Chillgroove
14-song CD
         Wow, this 14-song journey through Chillgroove’s enchanted recording is very impressive.  I have always found CDs similar to this useful for meditating and “Chilling” out.  However, there are several things that make this effort stand out above the rest.  This Boston-based project infuses jazz, spoken word samples, vocal harmonies, guitars, and a host of other ingredients into their super sonic full-length creation.  The first song opens with a thunderstorm followed by amazing vocal harmonies and haunting whispers worthy of a horror movie.  Somehow, by the end of the song, it all comes together.  There are many angles to this excellent yoga soundtrack. I’m serious; this stuff will take you there.  These wizards of computer-based recording have also done a superb job at mixing these songs into cinematic, audiophile quality soundscapes for the mind.  I need to light some incense and listen through this again.   (Lance Woodward)

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THE SELF RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS
Black and Green Records
The Self Righteous Brother
12-song CD
           Whoah!  This is a strange and wonderful record.  Think Pixies with more of a jazz influence.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like The Self Righteous Brothers before.  When’s the last time you heard a song about Alan Watts?  And isn’t “Didjeridon’t” a great song title?  I guess they play what you kids like to call post-punk, but without a lot of the forced irony usually associated with that label.  And by spicing up the basic guitar/bass/drums lineup with horns and other assorted instruments, they’ve really created something fairly unique.   (Brian Mosher) 

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FORGETFUL JONES
Demo EP
4-song CD

Holy fuckin’ fuck!  This new material rocks like it needs to find a bathroom break and fast.  Formed just a few years ago, Forgetful Jones has been packing rooms with their high energy blend of funk, metal and reggae combined in just the right places to create an original sound that hasn’t been heard around these parts in many moons.  The bass slapping is gratuitous and unnecessary, but the vocals are powerful, the guitars are nice and spanky and the drumming is hard-hitting and inventive.  Though the first two songs on this new demo are straight up and rocking, the second half of this EP is where the blending of styles really shines.  I hope they put out more soon.   (Joel Simches)

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MOES HAVEN
The Personalized Musical Invitation to Select Friends and Members of the Press CD
46-song CD
        What a couple of wackos.  This two-member musical entity released 365 albums during the year 2006.  True.  So, of course they have to have an eight-day listening party, right?  What else would one expect but a CD of musical invitations to every one of the invited guests?  Yup—46 different songs.  They’re weird as shit, some of them are so catchy it’s beyond belief, some of them are toss-offs, and a great deal of them will actually make you laugh out loud (assuming you’re one of the chosen who gets to hear this).  Of course it wouldn’t be fair to review this as an album per se, otherwise I’d be obligated to mention that the joke wears a bit thin after, oh, 15 tracks or so.  But hey, T Max gets the catchiest song here (and some other Noise hack gets mentioned, too, whose name just sounds great when sung), and it actually made me want to hear a couple of these 365 albums (note: I said a couple.).  It’s better than planting flashing signs around the city.    (Tim Emswiler)

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KID:NAP:KIN
Sidehatch Entertainment
Touring The Riot Scene
5-song CD
        Sidehatch Entertainment seems to have a great thing going on, with some powerful up and coming indie rock on their roster and Kid:Nap:Kin certainly is their best and most promising offering.  Rarely has the emo/metal/post-punk genre sounded this urgent and this volatile.  Kid:Nap:Kin throttles from a whisper to a scream faster than a hooker on fire and thrown off a cliff.  Their range of style and mood is immediate and inventive, and takes no hostages and certainly doesn’t take no for an answer.  If anyone told them that you can’t have sweet Jeff Buckley kicking into a psycho rant with axe chops of guitar, or a jazz chord break in a punk song, then I am glad they haven’t listened. I hope this short CD is just the tip of a mighty large iceberg! This record makes my testicles feel funny.   (Joel Simches)   

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THE TULLAMORES
Flying Scotsman Music
Demons and Dolls 
10-song CD
        I get the feeling that the band knows its limitations and is giving 100 percent—still, I can’t help thinking that the band is also just smart enough to know they ought to have a gimmick to jazz up their four-chord raunch but are not quite shrewd enough to realize just how often their brand of blues-based imagery has been exploited, from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to The Cramps and beyond. That said, there are a few noteworthy songs here: “The Ballad of Ophelia”: Hamlet meets “Ommie Wise” by way of “Route 66”; a kickin’ live version of “Rocky Top”; and, finally, a song about a lost love named “Wendy Brown” that is more entertaining than any of the novelty tunes.   (Francis DiMenno) 

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THE BIG BIG BUCKS
Demo
4-song CD
      This band is impressive.  Their sound may have the typical collegiate DIY trappings and melodies reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, Weezer, and Sonic Youth, but the grunge of guitars and the heavy sighs of emo ennui are peppered with playfully vintage keyboard sounds and humorous twists of musical irony.  The vocals need some serious work, particularly the first song, but the ideas are strong.  All this band needs is time to find its own voice within their confined box of sensibilities.  The Big Big Bucks may very well be on their way to making some, if they continue to impress as much as this demo has.   (Joel Simches)

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VARIOUS ARTISTS
The Boston Eclectic
14-song CD compilation
      I like Jaye at thirteenthstory.com and his local compilation, The Boston Eclectic. The CD mixes cool underground garage with some great blues, reggae, and funk.  The first band up, Olde Men On Acid, actually sounds like they recorded in the basement with a Radio Shack cassette tape recorder.  However, their song “Medusa” is a fun little tune that would make a nice backdrop to a strange independent film.  Track two from Riding Shotgun tears a page out of the Tangerine Dream rulebook, and will surely please you rave-goers. The CD also showcases local New England talents The Blue Sky Traffic, SunDown, The Freeways, Fetish Chicken, The Velvet Elvis Conspiracy, VMF, Delhill, Desolation Bells, Cassavettes, Malocchio, Drugs Delaney, and The Crumb Sullivans. I think we all feel The Crumb Sullivans’ pain when we tune into the lyrics “I’ll be back on December 32nd you whore.”  SunDown should be commended for doing a convincing job with their reggae track, “Rudeboy Riot.” The vocals are grade A!  Not an easy feat with reggae. I would actually like to listen to CDs from most of these bands, which is not always the case with compilations.  I’d love to run my mouth (pen) some more but I don’t want to spoil surprises like the punksters Chicken Fetish and their soon-to-be family classic, “Suck Off a Snow Man.”   (Lance Woodward)

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VARIOUS ARTISTS
Rodfest V
10-song CD
      A great and really tasteful sampler of two songs each from the following bands: Three Day Threshold, Kalvin Koolidge, Girls Guns & Glory, Cassavettes, and BeaglePuss. I dig all these bands’ sounds, humor, and musicianship; as such it’s tough to pick favorites on a compilation. While most of the songs are good-time, shitkickin’ rockin’ numbers that are intoxicating, the album and name Rodfest come from a sobering place. It’s a tribute disc and collective of bands dedicated to the memory of Greg “Rodney” Moynahan, who sadly died in a car accident at the age of 23. Cousin Kier Byrnes, who is known on the local music scene, runs the project. Other classmates and friends of Greg’s are very true in maintaining the musical spirit of life and positive energy that is so important in this fucked up world.   (Mike Loce)

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ORB MELLON
V-Hold Records
Love Above
13-song CD
         Orb Mellon is the acoustic blues alter ego of Mike Malone from the late lamented Dirt Merchants.  Love Above is a collection of original material in the style of delta bluesmen like Son House and Bukka White, and Mellon displays a real affinity for this kind of material.  He doesn’t try to write about life on the plantation or about runnin’ from the devil; he writes about the real life experiences of a 21st century man living in a major urban metropolis.  And that’s the key to his being able to pull this off: he sounds sincere, not like he’s mimicking the masters but rather that he’s paying tribute to the style they created by making it his own.  Very good stuff.  (Brian Mosher)

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THE VINYL SKYWAY
From Telegraph Hill
15-song CD
        A Boston-San Francisco band offers here a retro feast: a lush and highly melodic collection with elements of stuff like Beatles, Left Banke, Harper’s Bizarre, and The Merry-Go-Round (a good deal of this reminds me of Emitt Rhodes, if only in its melodic precocity). A song like “Down” could have come out during that period in the late 1960s when, for a brief moment, rock took a melodic turn and looked ready to aim for something more artistic and enduring. Like, y’know, jazz. We all know what happened next—prog rock took this bent as far as it could go and eventually collapsed under the weight of its own pretensions, then punk happened. The most ambitious song is “Deadly” (reprised as the final track, “D.I.A”): it has a telepathic guitar line and an irresistible vocal hook and the sound of a stone classic. The band is nothing if not versatile, however; the opening track, “Hangin’ On” is a full-court press of harmony vocals and rippling guitar, and “Don’t You Like It” is an uptempo love song replete with gnarly guitar solo, while a song like “Lovely Day” showcases a more introspective and acoustic side.    (Francis DiMenno)

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THE ‘MERICANS
75 or Less Records
’Merican Recordings
8-song CD
         Former members of Rhode Island’s Purple Ivy Shadows, along with some friends, bring us this emotionally raw, musically sparse ode to the records that Johnny Cash made with Rick Rubin over the last years of his life.  The result is reminiscent of Lucinda Williams, solo Paul Westerberg, and Gillian Welch much more than the Man in Black.  The fact is that ’Merican Recordings is a very effective collection of contemporary folk music.    (Brian Mosher)

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THE BILTMORES
Same Story, Same Ending
13-song CD
         High quality goods, here, but also food for thought. Where would indie rock be without the influence of the Velvet Underground to (belatedly) steer rock from oafish 1-4-5 to jazzy slow-and-numb 1-7-1, and from flatlining dynamics to the slow build and the stop-and-start blurt-and-lurch? Or without the overreaching and unearned grandeur of prog rock to (supposedly) define itself in opposition to?  Big If. There’d be no Only Ones, no Savage Republic, and no Guster, and likely there’d be very different sort of dynamic to the Biltmore’s sound and a very different set of influences. What I’m really getting at is that this collection strikes me as all hat and no cattle, know whut I’m sayin’? Fitfully creative, with production values up the wazoo and a high Magoo factor, but overall, seemingly calculated-to-pander-to-the-preferences-of-alt-radio-programmers-and-do-little-else. Artists often express themselves within the idiom of their times, but it surely helps if they express themselves originally within those parameters, and except on the first three minutes of “Pigeonhole Blacktop,” all I hear is an urge to be eagerly inoffensive and likable—not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it just doesn’t stick. Next time, throw the kid gloves out the window.   (Francis DiMenno)

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THE NEW THIRTY
FOC Records
Racecar
12-song CD
         The vocals on the first song of this disc, “Transparency,” remind me of The Nails’ “Eighty Eight Lines About Forty Four Women,” and not in a good way.  Things get better after that, but not enough.  Simple, throbbing guitar parts alternate with angular, Television-inspired lead lines to create a certain amount of tension on “Luminous Flux,” but the lyrics are fairly insipid and the vocals are weak.  It’s hard to say what The New Thirty sounds like because each song sounds really different—and while that can sometimes be a good thing, in this case it comes across as confusing and unfocused.   (Brian Mosher)

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VERIDICAL
Advantage
5-song CD
         The band name sounds like a new pharmaceutical product.  “I have herpes, but she doesn’t and I’d like to keep it that way, so I take Veridical!”
         Seriously, these guys have some interesting ideas.  There are cool sonic textures and interesting shifts in mood, but the saxophone and the vocals are so painfully out of tune, that no dose of Veridical is going to control these symptoms.  Side effects include vocal intonation issues, delusions of grandeur or self-importance, lots of cool groovy jams, and certain sexual side effects.  Please consult with a physician to see if Veridical is right for you.  I think I’ll stick to homeopathy.   (Joel Simches)

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HEADED FOR THE SMOKE
A.T.S. Records
Dance and Destroy
6-song CD
         If you go out drinking and then come home and get drunk then HFTS is like a classic New Hampshire bar band, ready-made for the smoke-filled dive where the smell of stale beer and cheap perfume compete and Keith Richards not only rules the juke but is chief role model for half the town drunks. This isn’t mere stumbo rock by a long shot; “Inman Square Sidewalks” makes all the right moves for a local anthem: bad-boy attitude; insistent, hooky riff; lasciviously sexual wolf-call. Y’know, if you closed your eyes you might almost mistake this sort of thing for, um, Aerosmith.
         Me, I’ve long since lost my taste for this sort of absurdly strutting ritual display, but it doesn’t mean I can’t still spot some likely lads when I see ’em and smile a little when I hear ’em. Honestly, if you’re looking for this sort of punked-out Rolling Stones flag-waving, a song like “Issues” is nearly as good as its model and better than about 96 percent of the other disciples.   (Francis DiMenno)    

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TALKING TO WALLS
Naked
7-song CD
         Connecticut’s Talking to Walls is a three-man band centered around singer/songwriter Brian Kelly’s Lloyd Cole/Del Amitri-inspired take on the world of adult contemporary album rock.  The music is moody and predominated by mid-tempo ballads.  The lyrics tend to be a bit over the top, in an “I’m a poet” sort of way, and the vocals tend toward the melodramatic rather than the sincere.  The girl on the cover is hot, though.   (Brian Mosher)

WHAT LIES WITHIN
Hold True Recordings
Complete Discography
11-song CD
         Ripshit rock thrash screamo music with marvelous sensibility. Soft intros, melodic implications, then the Chevy Imapla screeches into the wall and explodes all over your mind. I never understood how these hardcore/thrash vocalists could push their voices to these limits without guaranteeing serious uvular damage in later years. It’s worth it for the art I guess. This band claims to have been deceased since 2003 (the band, not the members) and this disc is a compilation of tracks that were rarely played live during their gigging existence. The songs as a whole impart good song crafted blasting with minute amounts of space to let you breathe—just for a second or two. As such, the final lineup of performers on the disc is Brenton on vocals, Steve on guitar, Ethan on bass, and Josh on drums. No last names are given or necessary.   (Mike Loce)

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THEREFORE I AM
You Are Connected– sampler
3-song CD
         Matt Squire, who worked with Panic at the Disco, The Receiving End of Sirens, and Boys Like Girls produced their leadoff track, “Farewell, Via Park.” While this is the strongest song Therefore I Am has, their sound is certainly nothing new if you’re into the usual glut of emo/post hardcore that everyone seems to be.  I would personally rather listen to Slint or early Mars Volta.  For a band that claims to be outgrowing “the confines of outdated genre tags,” Therefore I Am seems to do a great job of emulating the nuances of the genre, rather than rising above, much like most bands that start out playing stuff they hear on the radio.   (Joel Simches)

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THE TELEVANGELIST & THE ARCHITECT
Undetected Plagiarism
Diaries of the Intelligentsia
10-song CD
         For once, it’s nice to see a band’s press release make a lofty comparison that actually makes a bit of sense, with Bright Eyes being the comparison here.  While The Televangelist & the Architect do not yet approach the impressive heights of Conor Oberst, the comparison is valid, as this record is a winning mix of folky acoustic guitars, weird blasts of noise, emotive singing, and creative songwriting.  Importantly, none of this comes at the expense of good hooks—which could have been an issue given the ambitiousness at play here.  My only complaint is with the pacing of this album, as the slower, quieter numbers are packed too closely together on what would theoretically be side two.  Otherwise, though, this record stands above the vast majority as it will certainly keep the Pitchfork-reading hipster happy without seeming cloying, contrived or too smart for its own good.   (Kevin Finn)

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BRIAN KELLEY & SOCIAL LUBRICATION
LSK Records
A Life on the Way
5-song CD
        Despite a rather lifeless audio mix, Brian Kelley shines with his latest trio’s release.  While Brian’s drumming is certainly not front and center, despite the billing on the marquee, this piano trio pushes the boundaries of traditional jazz, while remaining true to its essence and roots.  This is in no small part due to the choice of material presented here: Miles Davis and John Coltrane covers mixed with and original and even a Steely Dan tune.  Social Lubrication presents this material with aplomb, while at the same time they make it their own with tasty phrasing and subtle changes in mood and rhythm.  If you like your jazz by candlelight, this CD will fit the bill.   (Joel Simches)

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MOES HAVEN
Motern Media
November the ‘Tar
24-song CD
         Simplish acoustic indie arrangements and introspective energy create the framework for what is really a funny collection of songs, in my opinion. The theme of this 24-tune work is the good old “I like the girl, I want the girl,” but then we get into “The girl delivers my pizza, the girl ruins my life.” In terms of the sound of the music, fans of The Beatles and Ben Folds would dig this. Hell, fans of Slayer would like it too. It’s a musical parodic travelogue of the 1987 movie Ishtar, which I have never seen but now would like to. This album is the 11th album Moes Haven released in 2006, and I think that’s hilarious too. One album a month. Good for them, I can’t really explain what makes these guys funny, and cannot tell the story of the group in this review, but suggest you check out their website and check out if their humor appeals to you.   (Mike Loce)

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MARK NELSON
World Gone Cool
12-song CD
         Greetings, Zortar here reporting while driving my ice cream truck through the streets of Boston in the cold of winter—such is my plight, my destiny.  I am relating “folk music” in this review.  From what I gather, it is music made by very tired people who can barely bring themselves to sing or play their instruments.  I have a feeling it’s related to some kind of handicap, but it might be more mental than physical, hard to tell.
       I can see people recovering from a nervous breakdown might find this music handy, others, not so much.  I, myself, can see this music as a sleep enhancer, though I would much rather experience this CD while I was already asleep or in another room far away.
       So for those recovering from massive head injuries I would strongly recommend this CD, as I believe this is for whom it’s intended.  Or perhaps such victims created it—hard to tell.  Excuse me, must ring my bell for the new humans to alert them of milk-derived substances they can procure.   (Slimedog)

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INBLACKANDWHITE
The Thermocline
5-song CD
        Evoking immediate comparison to Fugazi and At the Drive In, Inblackandwhite’s debut is a compelling strong and powerful release.  Their sound is hard hitting, loud and lo-fi, and the songs scream with energy and urgency.  Though their sound is hardly original or thought provoking and the vocals leave something to be desired, the post punk angst and energy of these five songs make me yearn for more.  Hopefully a full-length will show this band in a greater scope, and certainly some production values will keep their songs from all sounding the same.   (Joel Simches)

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FETISH CHICKEN
Outer Sewage Records
Volume=Talent
12-song CD
         Fetish Chicken? Is this a joke or some angry, punkish garage band trying to reinvent the wheel?  None of the above.  This band is certainly no joke.  In fact, if Led Zeppelin made a baby with Queens of the Stone Age and then that infant went on to make a baby—an illegitimate baby with Jim Carroll—this child’s nickname would be Fetish Chicken.  This bad-ass musician child may even be New Hampshire’s answer to The White Stripes.  The eclectic mix of murderous, grungy progressive rock gave up just enough reminiscent sounds to keep me tuned in.  Besides, it’s hard to be over critical of a CD with a cover photo like this. It features a large man in a lab coat with massive pork chops (mega side burns) pointing to the equation that is the CD title Volume=Talent while standing in front of several 100-watt guitar amplifiers.  Phew!   (Lance Woodward)

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HANDS AND KNEES
Banazan Records
Hands and Knees
11-song CD
        Hoo boy, did this ever end up in the wrong mailbox. The following is, perhaps, the only sentence worth reading in this review: I hate this kind of music.  It’s overly clever, twee, and precious, and just generally annoys me.  Fortunately, I didn’t see them called “art pop” until after I listened to this, so at least I approached this without preconceptions.  Now, it seems to me that pop is pop.  In order to make “art-pop,” one would have to either make really fucking good pop, or really pretentious pop.  Art is the label people slap on something so that when it gets slagged, they can say, “Oh, they just don’t get us.”  And perhaps I don’t; see the important sentence above.  I did catch some references to Mazzy Star and Jesus and Mary Chain, which, merited or not (I say yes to the former and no to the latter), will at least give you the glimmerings of what this sounds like, which is probably more than I can do without being an even bigger dick than I’ve already been here.     (Tim Emswiler)

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… AND PEOPLE AND CROCODILES…
Indoors
10-song CD
         This starts out with a nice, jazzy instrumental with mellow guitar and brush stroke drums, followed by a grungy, fuzzy rock tune with vocals.  From there, the album alternates with subtle jazz passages and grungy rock grooves, and I think it mostly works. 
         I would categorize it as prog rock, and the band reminds me of one of the few bands of that ilk I could stand, namely, King Crimson.  And I mean the early days of King Crimson.  They too, would shift from subtle quiet moments to hard thrashy ones. 
         One time Mrs. Slimedog and I were watching TV. She fell asleep, and when someone mentioned “crocodile” on the TV, she said, “Ooh, I don’t like crocodiles.”  I would wait about five minutes and whisper in her ear, “crocodile” and she’d say, “Ooh, I don’t like crocodiles” in her sleep each time.  Just thought it was important for you all to know that.   (Slimedog)

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JEKUS CROBE
The Search for Something More
8-song CD
      It’s quite the lucky coincidence that I was given this album to review.  Just the other day, I was sitting around my apartment thinking to myself, you know what the world needs?  It needs an act that at various times tries to be both an Operation Ivy for the Abercrombie crowd and a James Blunt-ish get-in-dumb-coeds’-pants crooner.  Ugh.  The majority of the tracks on this album are safe, middle-of-the-road rockers, often colored with an unconvincing disguise of punk, ska, and reggae.  It makes me think of those kids who wear their CBGB T-shirts, but have never been inside a club other than Harpers Ferry.  As for the love songs, do girls really swoon over lines like “I’m sorry I can’t be as beautiful as the sky and the trees?”  The acoustic “Rich Man Sings the Blues” is one of the worst songs I have ever heard, featuring such lyrical gems as “If I spontaneously bought a candy factory, it wouldn’t be as sweet as you.”  I remember when Evan Dando wrote this song years ago and called it “Being Around.”  But the difference is Dando’s song was good, and it was supposed to be funny.   (Kevin Finn)

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OUIJA BOARD REUNION
Semi Stellar Radio Galaxies
9-song CD
     Great walls of acid guitars and huge drums are in abundance on the new CD from Ouija Board Reunion.  It sounds like an interesting mix of garage rock influenced by early Cure and Talking Heads. I would actually love to score them high marks but we have a slight problem, Houston.  The vocals go out of tune a bunch and struggle in too many places.  I know, I know, not everyone can be Chris Cornell.  I’ll admit that most of the songs have some promise, but the vocals and lyrics are distracting—and not in a good way. This cranky listener is having trouble appreciating the work done here.  Track 2, “Devil’s Tattoo,” has a nice fat Nirvana-like hook but most of this fruit just needs a little more time on the tree.  The boys at New Alliance Studio do a nice job at breathing some life into Semi Stellar Radio Galaxies though.  Fix it in the mix, baby!   (Lance Woodward)

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THE GONERS
Drink, Dance, Die
6-song CD
         Now, these boys are from Providence. And from what I’ve read Providence has one of the highest alcohol consumption rates per capita in America—and they have highest, in more ways than one, cocaine usage.  So they’re fucked up even more so than their puritan/decadent neighbors in Boston. That’s a big plus right there.  Depravity in any form is approved by me and my S.O. (in private at least), President-to-be Mitt.
         These guys sound like old school garage punk with a touch of hardcore and horror rock tossed in—i.e. “Sex in the Morgue,” “Head,” not by Prince or my favorite pastime, but about driving around with your dead girlfriend’s head in your car—and it’s swell. 
         I bet these Goners are great live.  I’d like to see them with another sick Providence band, The Sleazies, while enjoying a pomegranate martini or 12.  “Drink, Dance, Die” is my pick for best song and a perfect recipe for life.   (Slimedog)

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THE ROAD
Drift
11-song CD
         The first song sounds like the old theme to Entertainment Tonight, as performed by Survivor.  I can almost see John Tesh and Dixie Whatley talking about the new Eddie Murphy film.  Granted, The Road are certainly capable players and have some interesting ideas and instrumentation, but stylistically they are deeply entrenched in Mullet Land 1986.  The lyrics are as clichéd as the metal riffs, both of which are in unabashed abundance. The production is lush, except for the drums, which sound like they were recorded in a cardboard box in the middle of the road.  I am glad that the guitarist was able to work in a few pieces from his classical recitals, but they seem as out of place here as Shakespearian dialogue in a Ron Jeremy film. I need a shower.   (Joel Simches) 

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TILTED BACK
Tilted Back
4-song CD
         In the spirit of Aerosmith, The Steve Miller Band, and The Rolling Stones comes the debut 4-song CD from Tilted Back.  Bluesy drinking music accompanied with cowbell, hand claps, and cheesy vocal breakdowns is exactly what Tilted Back offers—and it’s just what I expect.  The band name gives it away. Joe Nicolazzo and Tim Sullivan deliver tasty dueling guitar work and bring rock ’n’ roll legitimacy to this new classic rock EP—can I say new classic rock?  Song two, “Get Away,” is worthy of a few listens—it’s the strongest track.  Mark Topping’s raspy voice is also worthy of mention.  It fits the music so well that it makes me want to tilt one back and spank a waitress. Who knew the next Black Crowes would be rolling out of Charlestown?   (Lance Woodward)

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BLACKS R BORING
Single
1-song CD
            This sounds like someone with a cassette recorder captured one hour and forty minutes of a couple of stoned guys playing with a couple of toys in the aisle of a Walgreens at 3:00 am.  I can do this any given night of the week.  Does that mean I should record it and put it out?   (Joel Simches)

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