Black Sword Records
Unless you live under a rock (or out of state), you know that Bang Camaro has a whole lot of lead vocalists–17 on this disc. I’d call it shtick, except too many would take that as a negative, when, in actuality, it is the main reason I keep listening to this—the gang vocals lift this above the source material. Bang Camaro plays music that is very deeply indebted to hair-metal bands like Poison, Cinderella, et al. And it’s just as straightforward and simple-minded here as it was then (again, not to be taken as a negative—big, dumb rock is the best kind of rock). Actually, the guitar duties here are handled with a lot more aplomb than many of the “influencing” bands, and some of these songs have hooks that sink just as deeply as anything by Def Leppard (although “Pleasure [Pleasure]” sounds a bit too much like a Def Leppard cover). Lest you think they take themselves too seriously, the album’s ballad is called “The Ballad.” From what I hear, their live shows are great and attract lots of nubile women, which, so far, the disc has not. Not yet. (Tim Emswiler)
THE EVERYDAY VISUALS
Things Will Look Up
It’s tough to be a musician and admit something like this, but The Everyday Visuals are probably the best band around. 2004’s Media Crush was enough of a collection of catchy songs and great instrumental passages to warrant such consideration, but this band is now on a completely different level than they were three years ago. Yes, it’s another collection of sweet sentiments and pretty melodies, lots of harmonies and the occasional electro beat like their previous effort, but it seems like the band spent three years intensely studying psychedelic Beach Boys/Pink Floyd production: Every song has a twist or three that will catch you completely off-guard without being jarring. The centerpiece of the album is “I’ll Take It All In Stride,” an amazing collage of Fender Rhodes, Mellotron strings, spaced-out guitars and friggin’ TIMPANI underscoring one of the best vocal melodies I’ve ever heard. Granted, if you’re not a fan of pop/rock songwriting you’ll hate it, but for my money it’ll take an absolutely mammoth record to knock this out of my playlist. (Jason)
Beer Town: The Tabletop Collective, Volume 3
Here’s the idea: a bunch of local rock musicians get together around a beer soaked table with their acoustic instruments and sing a bunch of songs, some written by other local musicians, some out of what they refer to as “the great American song bag.” No egos, no big production, just some great songs stripped down to their bare essentials and performed with a real genuineness of spirit and emotional authenticity. Often, when rock musicians try to do acoustic music, or Americana, they go for the ironic approach—not Session Americana. They play these songs like they’re the songs they grew up on, which in many cases they are. This is just simple, bluesy/folky American music. And it’s beautiful. I’ll definitely be seeking out Volumes 1 and 2.& (Brian Mosher)
GIRLS, GUNS AND GLORY
Pretty Little Wrecking Ball
Traditionalists should rejoice: there’s not a trace of the inauthentic in GG&G’s presentation; they clearly respect the material and sweat over the details. The collection opens promisingly with the ominous tale of “Big Man,” and then there are several more than competent genre excursions into booze, murder and madness. The easygoing feel of songs like “Born Mad” and “Oh My” show the band at its most appealing. As for the other songs, “You Just Can’t Win,” “Wait a Minute,” and “Tennessee Rose” are the outstanding tracks if you can’t get enough of heartfelt and mordant excursions into the heart of country and western. (Francis DiMenno)
STEPHIE PEEKA & THE SEEKING 7
No Bullshite Rock and Roll Records
Inside the Big Picture
I know that bar rock means a hundred things to a hundred people, but what I mean by it here is that I picture this three-piece starting their set in a crowded, noisy bar, where the hipper-than-thou are trying to figure out how to drink a beer with both arms crossed over their chests, but are then forced to take notice of the music and remember why they’re in a bar that has live music instead of a bar filled with mirrors. Stephie Peeka is a multi-tasker extraordinaire–she handles all the vocals and guitars here, as well as keys and assorted other sound-making. She has a voice that I’m willing to bet soars out of a P.A. and right through crowd-noise. Now, all that said, the songwriting here doesn’t do much for me. Oh, it’s clever enough to be more than just pop rock, and the louder I play it, the better (Stephie’s no slouch on guitar). The rhythm section does what it has to do. Nothing sucks here. Beyond that, I’ll reserve judgment until I catch them live. (Tim Emswiler)
THE TASTE OF SILVER
Hold True Recordings
Man, it’s frustrating when something’s this impressive but I still don’t wanna hear it again. Instrumentally, this is just ferocious. Insanely tight, cryptic prog-deathmetal-grind with more chops than a Bruce Lee festival. Although a much different animal, it recalls the brutality and precision of the late Big Bear. Like them, unfortunately, these guys aren’t interested in vocal melodies. I know the strictly-screech thing is big with summa youze kids today, and I believe the band means it, but they’re too good to paint themselves into this corner. If this thing was remotely hummable, I wouldn’t listen to anything else for a year. If I just wanna hear some dude scream in constipated agony, my own bathroom is just a few feet away. Oh, and it’s a concept album. According to the press sheet (granted, maybe someone else got paid to write this), it’s “more than simply a tale of epic proportions put to music. The listener will be forced to examine the questions that all who create must ask themselves: How will the world change from what I create?” I really tried to find some cohesive thread about all this through the lyrics, but maybe I wasn’t baked enough. I sympathetically suggest that this will not change the world, and that (again, technical prowess here aside) the existence of a million other bands with the same general approach who haven’t changed anything will back that up. With some real songs, that could, uh, change. (Joe Coughlin)
75 or Less Records
Let You Down Easy
The Masons have built a big album here, 14 songs and clocking at 55 minutes. That’s too much for me in one listen unless I’m zoning (read that to mean whatever you like). They could have split this into two albums—the material is that varied and good enough. However, that small issue aside, the disc starts with a refreshing punkish blast of songcraft, only to be followed by a laid back psychedelic groove on the next song. Just when you think you’re gonna get another punk song, they shift it DOWN even more with a harmonica-laden tune Neil Young would be proud to sing. More energy appears as the songs go on, proving that the guys didn’t get the hard on first and limp-dick it to the finish line later. Exact song critiques are out of the scope of this review, but let’s say that these guys have an excellent groove with great balance, power and musical sensibility. (Mike Loce)
KEVIN MACDONALD BAND
I read somewhere that the Kevin MacDonald Band is “prog-pop.” After listening to (expletive deleted), I think it’s an accurate description. The band itself consists of the standard trio of rock instruments: guitar, bass, and drums. On this CD, I hear shades of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and strangely, Tom Petty (for the pop part, I guess.). The songs are complex, with changes in dynamics and mood (the prog part) but are melodic and unpretentious (more of the pop part). The songwriting and arrangements are top-notch but I wish I could hear all of the lyrics. A favorite track is the last song, “Words Fail Me,” with its creative, techno-ish bass line. The only misgiving I have is that although Kevin himself is a very competent vocalist, the musicianship and arrangements are so strong and lush that they seem to overpower his somewhat spare vocal style. The styles seem mismatched, as if, well, Tom Petty were the singer for Rush. (Robin Umbley)
The Great Unwashed
Off-kilter garage-country vocalizing dates all the way back to The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, so the question isn’t one of novelty so much as whether it is worth our time to sift through the chaff of eccentricity to uncover the wheat. In the case of Green on Red it certainly was, and here, too, we find a few palpable hits; “Congo River Basin Blues” comes most readily to mind. The vocals are unpretentious and real, and the tune is thoroughly ingratiating. If “Keys” were better produced, it could well become an alt-rock radio staple. As for the skewed epic “Two Kites,” it judders to a deranged climax that is risky, and, at the same time, a near classic of barely-controlled dementia. (Francis DiMenno)
This reminds me of why I stopped listening to commercial radio twenty years ago. I’m sure all The Snowleopards are extremely talented musicians, and that they’ve worked very hard on honing their craft. I imagine they spent many late night hours in the recording studio with Bleu and paid plenty of money for the mixing and mastering process. But in the end, what they’ve got is an entirely forgettable, boring collection of recordings that sound like a pale imitation of Pat Benatar fronting Jefferson Starship. Judging by their list of “thank yous,” The Snowleopards have a lot of friends in local bands, and I’m sure some of them will write letters to T Max telling him what a terrible, irrelevant review this is. In fact, they even thank T Max himself. Nevertheless, this kind of music is exactly why punk had to happen, and it’s got me reaching for my Sex Pistols cassette. (Brian Mosher)
This sneaky bastard put the best song on first so I thought the whole thing’d be ferkin’ huge. It’s almost hard to believe the rest is the same dude, because that opener’s a damn-near doozie. (I can’t help but suspect it’s an earlier demo-type thing, because the rest is a whole ’nother direction, and not one I travel in if I can help it.) It’s just abstract and spacey enough to allow listeners to fill in their own blanks, while everything that follows seems totally premeditated. It’s kinda hard-folk at best. You want pensive? I’m gonna paste together a buncha random lyrics, and see if you can guess where one song ends and another begins. Ready? “When I looked into your eyes, they moved away. I want you to know I’m sorry. And when we awake, will you be by my side? Cuz the way that you move me is like a horse in the night. I’ve got no self-defense, this mysterious love I have for you. Full moon rising, can’t you feel the pull?” I feel something getting pulled, alright, get the picture? (Joe Coughlin)
Well. Rock ’n’ roll hootchie coo! Mama, Mama, light my fuse. Papa Mitt tuck it in my fusebox, Yow! These boys are “Ready to rock if you’re ready to roll,” which is a nice enough sentiment for say 1974. Crunchy, metal guitar embraces clear, well-sung vocals—all well played and produced but just induces yawns for this hot slut. I feel I’ve stepped into the way-back machine—Sherman, set the dials for the seventies to shake my booty with K.C. & the Sunshine Band.
I’d call this metal with serious classic rock influence and as we know metal is Satan’s square dance soundtrack. I, along with my sweetie, soon to be President Mitty, cannot condone anything that leads to decadence, depravity, defoliation, and debauchery though of course, we enjoy the practice of such. That’s the way, uh, huh, we like it. (Slimedog)
This Conspiracy Against Us
It’s too bad I didn’t get to spend too much time with this record before daylight savings time kicked in because it’s certainly not something best played in the company of sunlight. This is dark, dark stuff, both in terms of Eldridge’s vocals and the instrumentation, which ranges from sparse, haunting piano to raucous blasts of noise. Basically, it reminds me of a cross between the Velvet Underground and the Jesus and Mary Chain. There’s even a slow-building, dissonant guitar line that reminds me a lot of VU’s “Heroin.” For the first half to two-thirds of the record, this formula works very well, particularly when augmented by some melodic violin and the sweet vocals of Sarah Borges and Eldridge’s Beatings’ bandmate Erin Dalbec. After that, though, the whole approach gets a tad tiresome. It’s a solid record, but I wish it was shorter. There are worse things than being left wanting more. (Kevin Finn)
THE BOSTON ECLECTIC
2006 Local Compilation
This could also be called The Best Of The Bands Who Aren’t Ready. Okay, in fairness, because a) everyone here paid their own dough to produce this comp to GIVE AWAY, which is terrific, and b) crusty pricks like me were definitely NOT in that target audience, I shan’t shit on anyone by name. I will, however, shit on their songs, in order:
1. The longest minute and twenty-nine seconds of my life.
2. One-chord, new-age surf music with synth and accordions.
3. Kinda like Sublime meets 311, but without the illusion of fun.
4. Someone just heard “White Man In Hammersmith Palais” for the first time.
5. I’m sorry, were you playing something?
6. Zany band name and song title equals the usual (pointless).
7. Almost shoe-gazey, except they probably wear sneakers.
8. Fishbone isn’t SUPPOSED to be white.
9. Hey, it’s The Indigo Boys!
10. Y’know that band She Wants Revenge? Sounds like she got it.
11. Greatest example of utter wimpiness by a band named after a legendary screen tough-guy I’ve ever heard. Okay, so maybe the name’s a coincidence.
12. Is it possible to be funky while on Clearasil?
13. If you like Cold War Kids, you’ll love Cold Sore Kids.
14. Big galoots in cahoots, playing roots for no loot, it’s all moot. (Joe Coughlin)
Long Way Home
If you can imagine Irish folk music minus the thick brogue and lyrics about drinking, you can pretty much picture the sounds of Jo Henley. This 7-song sample of mellow-yellow folk tunes takes me back to nights of drinking at the Brotherhood of Thieves in downtown Nantucket. Jo Henley (a band, not a band member’s namesake) delivers some of that tavern vibe and would fit like a musical glove in any eclectic beer, wine, and tea hang out. Long Way Home is loaded with talented mandolin and fiddle performances from Tim Weed as well as a skillful drum performance from Tien-Yi Lee. Oh yeah, this is by no means a garage demo. Long Way Home is a full production EP. “Voyeur Love” would sit nicely between Bare Naked Ladies and John Cougar on any easy listening radio play list. All I need now is some curly fries and a signature frozen drink. Mmmm… (Lance Woodward)
SIX DAY SLIDE
Though formulaic in big sounding ’80s production at times (and wouldn’t you know it, there’s two songs in the same key next to each other—one of my pet peeves!), this is a really good album. It’s good in that the songs and presentation convey a sense of care. I’m not talking about care for the golden lab pup in your apartment building (though that ain’t a bad thing) but in the emotional impact of the music. These guys obviously have something to say in their music, and they earnestly (but not desperately) work on conveying it to the listener on the disc. I actually get the sense that they’re altruistic, which seems a lacking quality in a lot of bands that are obviously in it just for themselves. Talented musicianship all around and astute planning in vocal harmonies, guitar solos, and recapitulation make this one really enjoyable to listen to. (Mike Loce)
Crash Dot Burn
Is that a glockenspiel? No, it’s synthesizers. I like the second song, it’s “Driving in my Car.” On my planet we just float above the ground on roller skates. I like the car sound effects. The car and horn stuff reminds me of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn.” The singing is okay, it reminds me of when my aunt would sing at bullfights in Guatemala. The music sounds European. It does have that ’80s electro-pop feel. They have dispose-of-properly instructions on the cover. Do they think that everyone’s going to throw it away? Might mean it’s disposable pop. At the beginning I was very, very liking it but after the car song, especially the one that sounds like David Byrne hiccupping, I will take their permission and throw it away in the garbage because they authorized it. (Mrs. Slimedog and Zortar)
Well, this sure put me in a slow gear. One of the first noticeable things is too many songs in the key of D one after another (am I the only person who gets loony when they hear more than two songs in the same key next to each other?) Maybe I need to chill. I listen and am aware that these guys seem to have chosen an “alternate” tuning for their guitars. The problem is that all the riffery starts sounding the same after awhile. I warn people about basing their whole band’s repertoire around open drone type tunings. I think of jazz pianist Thelonius Monk when asked if the piano had enough keys (88) or if he wanted more. He said, “It’s hard enough just to play those 88.” What it lacks in interesting harmony to my ears, it makes up for in tight production, sincere vocalizing, and a sense of community vibe in the performances. (Mike Loce)
LITTLE WOODEN MEN
Songs Of Praise & Joy
They’re growing some pretty powerful pot up in Vermont these days. The letter accompanying this quotes the band name as above. Another enclosure calls it Little Wooden Men & Women. The website says, “You may call what the music projects Little Wooden Angels or Little Wooden Love Machines or Little Wooden Pretty Things.” (The site also quotes a review of a previous effort, whose intro letter promised the listener a pile of horseshit if they guess the number of typos in the lyrics. These kids today with their brilliant PR tactics, I tell ya.) The cardboard cover (which doesn’t call them anything) has a painting of some tiny, mutant life forms. Maybe all their stuff is similarly (cough) personalized, but mine also came with an oddly-shaped cut-out, featuring a short poem and a color photo of an ox. I’m not done. There’s also a bio that throws just the first names of the players around like you’re supposed to know who they are. I will say, it sounds a lot like it looks, which is “fucked.” The music’s actually almost interesting in a loose, acoustic-jam sorta way, with a few really nice surprises, even, but half the songs are five- to thirteen-minutes (too) long, so the few bust-outs never pay off. And the vocals are so non-melodic and the lyrics so insular, that it comes off as precisely the hazy private party they describe the recording process as having been. And no, I don’t wanna hear what they can do on crack. (Joe Coughlin)
Looking Forward to Looking Back
According to a note from the band, this CD was recorded in 2005. I think that was a typo, and it meant to say 1995. Strains of Sunny Day Real Estate, Superchunk and maybe a little of Hum and Smashing Pumpkins can be heard throughout the record. It sounds a lot like the majority of what was on WFNX before soft-loud-soft became a total cliché. If you can bring yourself back to that time, then this is by no means a bad record. The longer song structures are sometimes quite interesting, and it’s got a nice mix of hooks and power, with “It Was Nice Having You Aboard” being a particular standout. Strong points aside, though, it just sounds too dated. The guys are apparently getting back together, though, and I’m interested to see what they do, since there’s some talent and taste here; it just needs its own stamp. (Kevin Finn)
THE MYSTERY TRAMPS
Cure for the Common Misconception
Mostly unextraordinary late-’70s early ’80s style rawk, presented with more enthusiasm than purpose. The collection is redeemed here and there by lively pop numbers like “You’re So Alone” and with heartfelt declamatories like the truly outstanding “A World Like This.” (Francis DiMenno)
Zortar here. Ding-ding-ding—time to dish out the frosty treats of milk-derived substance from my truck. And time to sample some tasty musical treats. But, alas, I weep, as there is none for me today.
I wish for a tub of Cherry Garcia. But all I hear is pleasant strumming, pleasant female voice projections from whom I believe is a Hollywood image projection star. It’s what you call tasteful on your planet. But there is nothing for me to sink my alien, robotic teeth into, nothing to taste here. It tastes like empty Kleenex boxes to me.
It’s got no guts, no beat, a flute that sounds like it’s coming from your neighbors new age CD, and a violin to further annoy. Where, oh where, is the accordion to completely descend my audio receptors into an even lower level of hell?
This CD is very good, very nice, peaceful, pleasant, relaxing, subtle… but I say ding-ding-ding and run my ice cream truck through your front windows and defecate in your fireplace. I am not appeased! (Slimedog)
There Were Four Who Tried
I get the feeling that Senior Discount is a really young band, and although that makes me want to give them the benefit of the doubt, there’s no way of getting around the awfulness of this record. I blame the Warped Tour for exposing the kids of America to so much horrible “punk.” Basically, this is Blink 182 disguised with a slightly heavier sound, most notably with the vocals, which are shared by one boyish-sounding singer (the Tom DeLonge of the band) and one who is a dead ringer for Mark Hoppus. Like with Blink 182, the band does have a good pop sensibility, but it’s too often worn down by cliché as well as some truly horrendous lyrics. One particularly uninspired tune asks the listener not to “hate me because of what I’ve seen.” Not a problem there—I’m sure these are nice kids who aren’t deserving of hatred at all. Their music on the other hand… (Kevin Finn)
Funk Majal Records
A real mixed bag here, that actually shakes down into a recipe that works better behind the wheel of a car than it does here in the cave, where there is no steering wheel upon which to drum. I’m far from an expert on soul, funk, groove or reggae, but I have ears, and this pleases them. Loud volume works best, because much of this is so damned smooth that it verges on easy-listening territory otherwise. A mighty fine rhythm section holds it all down without getting too wanky, but it’s Adam Payne’s voice that is the signature sound here, and a damn good one it is for music that sounds like calypso-fied reggae one minute, almost-old-school funk the next, and silky-smooth croon the time after that. UB40 and George Benson, the Maytalls and Seal, I hear ’em all here, and they’re all grinning. This isn’t going to blow the roof off of the houseparty, but I’ll be damned if it won’t make the drinks go down easier and get the ladies to dance with even the dorkiest of guys. (Tim Emswiler)
Nine Mile Records
One Town Tasted
Paddy Saul obviously remembers the Australian band The Church. His voice is reminiscent of their lead singer Steve Kilbey. One Town Tasted also reminds me of early efforts from Midnight Oil– another Aussie product. To be fair, Paddy puts his own spin on this compelling combination of folk and rock. I like the dark edge of his writing. Paddy is a long way from his home in Ireland and has many stories of his travels to relate to us. He has a convincing way of delivering his lyrics and strums his acoustic with the conviction of a surgeon. There is plenty of love coming from a Telecaster on many of these 12 tracks as well. If I were to make just one suggestion, change the name the CD to One Woman Tasted. Yeah Boi! Now were talking! (Lance Woodward)
28 DEGREES TAURUS
2007 Tour Compilation/Sampler
Atmospheric, dreamy, trance inducing, kind of like codeine high. 28 Degrees Taurus sing a lot about drinking and partying with their friends in Allston, with a sound that is half Enya and half Japanese folk. It’s all very repetitive, almost like a series of tape loops, but actually played on real instruments. I like the idea, but the execution is lacking. Unless, that is, their objective is to make me nod off over my keyboard as I type this. In which case it’s a smashing success. And by “smashing” I mean what just happened to my face when it crashed on my desktop. (Brian Mosher)
Take Me To Your Room
I propose that Karen Barnicle replace all manufactured female pop stars. Radio should embrace her. All her songs are simply fun and catchy. She has an innate pop sensibility, her songs cover pop territory like desire and relationships, she has a fresh girly voice, and she has a great group of musicians working with her; Jamison Hodge adds some notable guitar work. She’s genuinely exuberant and she sings with conviction—possibly because she wrote everything on this CD. I just love the title track, “Take Me To Your Room,” with its breezy melody. Listening to this CD is like eating lemon sherbet on a July day:it’s just yummy and refreshing. Barnicle also gets my vote for best CD cover of the year: the titles are painted on a female torso a la Goldie Hawn in the original Laugh In. (Robin Umbley)
ANTHEMS FOR ODYSSEY
Come Blister The Sea
Even though I have no idea what that title means, and I can’t decipher most of the lyrics (for which I blame blown eardrums, as the production is flawless), and at least one of them wears a necktie, and they probably wouldn’t give someone like me the time of day at a party, I’m smitten into total stupidity by this. It ain’t stupid by any stretch, mind ya, I just appreciate being sideswiped by something which would clunk out bigtime in lesser hands. It’s moody and fizzy and euphoric and sad and atmospheric and thoughtful and gorgeous and lush (AND sparse, go figure) and completely assured, just off the bat. I felt like I was sitting in a bathtub fulla Rice Krispies and club soda on a brainload of heroin or something (not that I’ve tried that yet, and not that it’s at ALL druggy music, just that it feels that nice). If anything, it’s almost new-wavey pop droplets, but nothing hyper or quirky (Cocteaus, Sundays, etc., if you must), and more importantly, each number stands alone, so you never feel like you’re hearing x-number of variations on a single idea. Inspired, inspiring, and the rare kinda thing that actually gives a burnout like me hope. If I could grow more thumbs, they’d all be up. (Joe Coughlin)
Sam Cabral wasted no time working on his solo project upon the demise of his band, Ghost 24, with whom he had put out two albums, which got some airplay and critical success. On this new project, Cabral adeptly plays all the instruments with a style that is dark, driving, and hauntingly melodic. Evoking some of the poppier elements of Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden, but with the melodic sensibilities of Led Zeppelin, Jeff Buckley, and Alice in Chains, Mademoiselle sounds like music from a forgotten era of dark, edgy nineties indie rock. Despite the sonic trappings and the occasional embarrassingly cliché lyric lines, Mademoiselle’s melodic style and presentation seem immediate and fresh. Cabral’s voice is smoky and soulful with an approach that I can only describe as “real.” I hope to hear more from this “band.” (Joel Simches)
Say We Are Not Brothers
This second release is a marked improvement from their debut, The Thermocline. Their brand of collegiate indie rock could easily be lumped in with all the usual suspect, which had been pointed out in their last review. Their sound is less lo-fi, but their sensibility and approach are still very DIY. The vocals are slightly better and the production is cleaner and less raw, reminiscent of Deathcab for Cutie just before they signed to a major. The songs on this release have a lot more drive and angst than their previous release. This is definitely a band with something to prove. They seem to be trying really hard to make an impression. The music is tight, driving and urgent. Stylistically, there is nothing new that hasn’t already been explored by Deathcab, Fugazi, At the Drive In, and the rest of the usual suspects, but Inblackandwhite are determined to do it well, and they do. (Joel Simches)
I don’t know who Jamie is or what made her so bad, but these displaced New Yorkers (by way of Australia) named a band after her and her snarling cartoony visage on the cover seems to fit the music to a T. At times garagey and at times harmonious, Bad Jamie is filled with angst, and irony. If Sweet was fronted by Jack White, it would sound like this. The pop sensibilities are undeniable, the lyrics are clever, and there are hooks a-plenty all over this. Clearly these guys can churn out a good tune as easily as most can pass gas. Let’s hope there will be more music from these guys soon and that they stay in Boston for a while so we can all drool. (Joel Simches)
Collective Digital Apocalypse
Youngest Children EP
Granted, it’s been a lot of years since I listened to Echo & the Bunnymen, The Smiths, or The Cure, but various songs by these bands surfaced in my memory as I listened to this, so I’m gonna name-drop ’em. Frankly, I can think of few local bands that sound less local, and that isn’t a bad thing. The disc’s strong points are well-constructed songs, polished and atmospheric musicianship, and excellent production values. Does it work for me? No. To trot out the old saw for the thousandth time, this just isn’t my style. But there is absolutely nothing to bitch about other than a simple matter of musical tastes, so how can I slag it? The songs vary in dynamics nicely, the synthesizer sound doesn’t sound out of place, and every song has at least one moment that made me think, “Hey, that was pretty cool.” So, if the aforementioned bands tickle your fancy, or if they ever did, seek this out, you moody kids. (Tim Emswiler)
Lead vocalist Karen Zanes has a very sweet voice, and there are some promising ideas, but this CD is so horribly recorded that it is almost unlistenable. The Freeways are taking the ideals of lo-fi pop to a very predictable conclusion with clever little pop ditties that sound like they were recorded on a four track at three in the morning after a Jaeger-binge. This band is raw and polished and sounds like it could be an opening act on a new band night. The influence of the Velvet Underground and the Ravonettes is keenly felt. I just wish that the band had more edge and the recording wasn’t so amateurish. Hopefully this band will take some time to perfect their craft before they record another CD, and maybe even buy a guitar tuner. (Joel Simches)