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The Doom Buggies

13-song CD
Genre-wise, call this psycho-delic: the mutant offspring of "20 Flight Rock," The Purple Gang, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Throughout the '60s it may have clawed out our hearts via any number of moronic garage bashers as collected on Pebbles, Boulders, et al.; by the '80s the high madness of Roky Erickson and The Aliens may have refined this stuff to a 200-proof brew, but here The Doom Buggies distill the redeye further still, with production as crisp as a poisoned apple and a headlong, demonically careering dynamism that partakes in equal parts of acid garage punk and metallic Saturnalia. Check out "Galaxy Girl"-a non-nonsense update of all those trippy recitatives beloved of toked-up California DJs. "Salvation" culminates in an ominously hysterical offering of spiritual redemption. Dig the seductively Mansonesque narrator of "Real Good Time"-revealing how the summer of love curdled into nihilism. "Weight of the World" could be the bummer-ific follow-up to "Night Time" by The Strangeloves; "Mary Baker Eddy" could be the lost b-side of "Action Woman," and the almost excruciatingly accurate blues-aggro of "Mr. Nice" is worthy of The Pretty Things. This is an absolutely seminal album, and a must-have for all collectors of psychedelia. (Francis DiMenno)


Yellow Trout Records


14-song CD
Going "unplugged," LRP marks Robby Roadsteamer's first real solo album. While many tracks are reworked older tunes, Robby has written more introspective lyrics, than he hasin his early songs. The album opens up with the catchy new Springsteen-inspired "Allston City," giving hope that "maybe everything that sucks one day becomes rad." "The Boston Music Scene" is about how every band in the area is just another drop in the sea: "Red Hot Chili Peppers, eighty times a day/ Ya ask for Darkbuster, it's never on the way." "Altered Beast" features the same chords as the previous track, "Comfortable Shoe," making it sound more like a reprise, leaving the listener confused. The last new song of the album "It's the Best Time of the Year" is another gloomy holiday song similar to "Xmas in Allston." The melancholy melody illustrates the hopelessness of the cold season. Basically, Robby Roadsteamer is writing songs about the aspects of normal life that no one even thinks about touching. LRP is cynical acoustic rock for the indie fans sick of white belts and messy haircuts. (Brett McCabe)


Something Hot Communications

Heart in the Sky

12-song CD
These songs, many previously unreleased, are like opening a time capsule from 1987 to find all the con-ventions of the synth-pop genre intact -the wheezy keyboards, the repetitive song structures, the mysterioso vocals, the percussion-heavy arrangements, the theatrical balladry. Yet, in their heyday, Ball and Pivot filled venues such as the Paradise and Spit/Axis. The thing is, while all the hipsters were grokking on Big Dipper and Dumptruck, the cognoscenti were snobbishly missing out on the decidedly mainstream pleasures of this equally fine band, Boston's answer to OMD (see, for instance, "Blue Angel"). MTV-hit "Down" and horn sections, as on "Downtown," may not have screamed indie cred, but they shouldn't have deterred rock's true believers from being able to appreciate Ball and Pivot. Maybe some of their repertoire was dance fodder, but that's not all it was; this offshoot of The Atlantics, led by Tom Hauck and Bruce Wilkinson, featured carefully thought-out songs spilling over with sophisticated arrangements (check out Paul Michael's bass build-up on the climax of "It's Love, Miss Veronica"). And their love songs both said and meant something, as on the surprisingly Spartan "Heart in the Sky" and the achingly evincing lament "Christine." (Francis DiMenno)


Ace Records

Gravel Roads and Skyscrapers

10-song CD
If you're going to play country music (or "alt-country," whatever that means these days) and you're not from the South or Bakersfield, it is wise not to lean too heavily on the twang, especially in the vocals, because us Yanks just weren't built that way. Mike MacDonald proves to be one of the wise ones here. His voice is freighted with just the right amount of emotion without sounding like a Northerner trying to sound like a Southerner, and conveys the impression that he's traveled some dusty roads, even if they weren't the red clay kind. The lyrics are just what you'd want your country lyrics to be without being hackneyed: there is earnestness here without reaching too hard, the songs are simple and memorable, and the musicianship is sort of back-alley Nashvillian, which is fine by me. (Check out "Whiskey in a Bottle" for proof.) The lap steel, that greatest of instruments, is played with superb taste by Evan Gavry, who also contributes some distorted electric leads that bring Crazy Horse readily to mind. An excellent effort all around. (Tim Emswiler)


How Do You Like Your Love?

11-song CD
Hot on the heels of a 7-song EP (Underwater Love Sequences), 28 Degrees Taurus releases their debut full-length, How Do You Like Your Love? that runs the gamut from moody, pulsing post-punk darkwave ("Single Suicide Mode") to poppy grooving rockers ("Waves of Love"), and then some.
Guitarist Jinsen Liu has an expansive palette of sounds that call to mind Ride-style shoegaze bubblegum (frontloaded on the first few tracks), while the latter half of the record glides on some instrumental drones ("Love is Underwater") that wouldn't sound out of place on The Cure's Pornography. Bassist Karina Dacosta's vocals float nicely atop Liu's psychedelic churning, accenting the delicate "Moments, Phases & Timing" into a piece that melds the sounds of the Cocteau Twins with The Chameleons. The forceful "Crash & Burn" fuses the minor-key ferocity of NYC hipsters Versus with anthemic shouts and eastern scales (another hallmark of this band.) The propulsive, noirish tremolo dance-rocker "Low Light," a potential hit-in-the-making if ever there was, is one of the real standout tracks in this collection, which overall is highly recommended among local CDs. (Chris Pearson)



7-song CD
This is exuberating and perfect blend of dissonance and melody bundled and packaged with sophis-tication and thoughts to intrigue. Masters of the Zappa sound, Tristan Da Cunha arranges and writes songs that should be distributed world wide replacing genericy and simplicity. The record companies should seize to censor everything that's available to the masses forcing the minority to dig and search out all that is cool. As such, Tristan Da Cunha may slip through the cracks and go unnoticed. Do away with mediocrity and introduce an off-time masterpiece that is rarely found in the commercial universe and negate the brainwashing of popular demographics. Tristan Da Cunha has been one of my favorite local bands since I saw them perform Zappa's, We're Only in It for the Money, and then further iced my taste buds when they wooed me with their incredible performance of "Echoes." They have a real knack for vocal harmonies in such perfection that is rarely found in the Boston scene. My only complaint is that their sound is so unique that the songs start sounding similar. (Leonid)


Naked Ear

The Truth Will catch You, Just Wait…

9-song CD

The Truth Will Catch You, Just Wait…
, the latest offering from Brookline-based genre-benders The Motion Sick, speaks of a band ripe with ambition and zeal with the craftsmanship to back it up. Credit this largely to chief songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Michael Epstein, whose messy musical palette is fingerprinted all over the disc. And that's not a slag, as the diverse array of sounds, from the Pixies-ish opener "Jean-Paul" to the do-wop-inspired rocker " 30 Lives" and everything in between, gives the record its sheen. Epstein even goes as far as to put his own spin on Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," a move that will likely leave many an uninformed hipster to cry heresy. But there aren't many risks the Sick fail to pull off here, which says a lot given the band's collectively restless musical mind and the go for broke attitude of the record. Well done. (Ryan Bray)


The World Will End

12-song CD
As I cracked open a Smithwick's Ale I threw in this disc from The Damn Personals. I've known about and liked them for years now, and was like, "hey this is great, new stuff, I thought they broke up a couple years ago!" Well, they did and my enthusiasm was a little dampened (but not much) to find that this is the "lost" album from 2005 available for download at their myspace. I tried to pretend I had never heard their stuff before, but this proved difficult, as I kept coming up with terms like, "powerful, unaffected alternative hooks," "solidly built rock song craft," and of course, "really good sounding music with just the right amount of everything"-so much for my being a big fan. In any event, I did enjoy it and it's a good "final" album. The members are now on to new musical voyages, but the collective that was TDP should be damn proud of this. (Mike Loce)


You'll Be the Death of Us All, Honey

11-song CD
This is a marvelous pop band that specializes in high craftsmanship over mere showboating, but "pop" is perhaps a misleading term for a band that simply seems intent on crafting a songbook, ala Elvis Costello or Prefab Sprout or any of a number of (mostly British) craftsmen. This second collection starts out with the appealingly oddball and evincingly anthemic "Talk to Me." "In the Cold" is a more atmospheric piece, like a soundtrack to some kind of Sergio Leone-directed story of tragic love South of the Border. The band's versatile sense of dynamics is one of their key selling points; on the one hand, the ballad "Wake Up to the Fake Love," with its gorgeously lush melody and wrenching lyrics, would be a key song and a high point in any band's repertoire-and yet, a full-fledged high holy ecstatic rave-up like "I've Got a Notion" is equally irresistible. The band's energetic subtlety is most refreshing. Its varied use of textures provides an intriguingly diverse stylistic smorgasbord. And the lyrics are top-flight. This band is highly accomplished and their sophomore album is a real find, one eminently deserving of wider exposure. (Francis DiMenno)


Bike Ride

13-song CD
With this record, Baker has pulled off something that's not all that easy to do. They have made a pop record with hooks that immediately stick in your head without being too familiar or obvious. In addition, there are just enough quirks to keep things interesting for most of the record, although at points I found myself wishing they would venture just a little further out there and let their inner Pavement come through. That's probably nitpicking, though. The strongest tracks on the album are "Autumn," with its head-bop inducing keyboards, and "It's Over" with a chorus that will stick in your head for days. In general, the songwriting and arranging are both top-notch, as the backing vocals and bass are mixed as well as I can remember on a local record, and the different layers and colors appear at just the right times. This is a very strong effort. (Kevin Finn)


The December Sound

13-song CD
The Sound's new CD was self-recorded and produced and mastered at New Alliance. It's the perfect headphones album meant to be played loud. Their sound is massive yet refined, with subtleties popping up through layers of repetitive guitar parts and atmospheric synths. The effects are now creating a world of their own where the whole is greater than the sum of its traditional parts. Melody, vocals, and instruments are only in service to the creation of an organic flow and mood. It's the soundtrack to a druggy, infinite dreamscape with no hard edges, a world you can get pleasantly lost in. "No Heaven Like Hell" is the latest barnburner, meant to slay the audience with waves of reverb and dramatic drums. "Drone Refusnik" has a seductive, bittersweet guitar melody that won't let go, while the softly hypnotic "Il Forte" suggests Eastern music with effects that sound like finger cymbals and congas. Some tracks are older but transformed into something new, such as "Tape Tape," where the vocal has softened to a whisper or a subconscious voice nearly buried beneath squalls of wah wah guitar and loud drums. A previous favorite, "Maker" is a bit of old fashioned rock 'n' roll December Sound style, pounding, distorted, and relentless. With this polished offering, the December Sound continues to grow and expand their sonic mission. (Laura Markley)


Vicious Cockfight

7-song CD
Okay, here's what you do. Take this disc and go get in your car. Pop it in, turn it up as loud as it will go, and head out on the highway. If your speedometer needle isn't bouncing off the peg by the end of the AC/DC-meets-Fu Manchu rave of opener "Maximum Overdrive," then either you're a pussy, or it's time for a new car. The thing is, the influence of the Almighty Fu, while no bad thing in my book, is felt perhaps a bit too strongly at times. Listen, I really love meaty riffs, gang-shout choruses, and yes, cowbells, so I'm not about to slag this just because it reminds me of another band I love. I'm also willing to bet that Cocked 'n' Loaded is one of those bands that really can't be captured in the studio. I can just tell-that's what I'm getting paid for here. No doubt in my mind that these guys live to play on stage, and just put out recordings so the fans will know the words to the songs. (Tim Emswiler)


Elephantine Records
Deceive Them All

8-song CD
Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover and when I saw the cover of this album I thought, (and I am going waaaaaaay out on a limb here)I'll bet this is a metal album. This is metal with a capital "M," complete with bone crushing drums, two-ton guitars on crack and the vocalist-just repeat after me "C-is for Cookie, That's good enough for me.." Seriously this album rocks hard enough to make Metallica sue this band just on sheer principle. With titles like "Daddy Drinks Cause You Cry" and a slamming cover of "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden, I needed to go out and buy a cock ring just to listen to this. This album isn't for pussies! (Joel Simches)


Sadawala Music Everything

Poverty Line Old Time Band

22-song CD
Modern musicians performing old-timey hillbilly folk on guitar, fiddle, and banjo may be every bit as virtuoso as their strange rural forebears, but when it comes to vocals, they tend to be too damn comfortable with modern life and recording technology to evoke the whole essence of the (mostly) nasty, cheap and short rural life. I'd have liked romps like "River of Jordan" and "Chase Old Satan" to be even more psychotically evocative of the inside meemies, and I'd have appreciated more in the way of authentic rustic cruelty to antique-up standards such as the married-life travails of "Handsome Molly," and "Cluck Old Hen" (…the next time she cackles she cackles in the pot"). But the band's decision to record live was a shrewd one: their raucous goofs on the (unintentionally hilarious) "Barlow Knife," and "Peg and Awl" (transposed in the track listing) are priceless; their performance of "Wild Hog in the Woods" practically redefines the term con brio, and, on "Sandy River Belle," Todd Giles coaxes from his banjo one of the best and most wildly juddering performances I've ever heard. A keeper. (Francis DiMenno)


Daykamp Records

Got The Goat By The Horns

8-song CD
Plus points for consistently fetching flyer art and an online logo lifted from Lowenbrau. Minus for the liner notes and press sheet, which address readers as if they're retards. Plus for the production, which couldn't possibly be better for what this is. Minus for a bit of samey-ness throughout, but more on that in a sec. Plus for overall attack, which feels pretty good in an almost hair-metal-meets-Dictators kinda way (they mention The Hellacopters and other like-minded acts in the promo stuff, then say that they "shouldn't mention them." Uh, okay). Minus for occasionally forced delivery, namely lyrics suggesting they're bad-asses when it sounds like they're way too cheerful for that (also for saying "Califor-nye-yay" more than once). Plus for chops and songwriting, minus for the dumb name, title and artwork. Plus 'cause I listened to it for enjoyment, beyond having to discuss it here. Further minuses would just be carping. It's a perfectly swell, fairly idiotic hard-rock thing with no pretense whatso to being anything else, not unlike Noble Rot, which ain't a bad place to be, and is usually botched to shit in lesser hands. No Shakespeare here, and they got it right. For that, I can only thank 'em. (Joe Coughlin)


Compromise and Insecurities

10-song CD

Compromise and Insecurities
has the undeniable charm of a band's first studio album. However, The Remnents also have a certain maturity to their sound. While the album spans many genres (from the straight-ahead punk "You Make Me Sick" to the soulful folk tune "Seventeen"), the group maintains a unified sound throughout the entire length of the album. This may be partially attributed to the studio work by the recording engineer Bob McKenna and the producer, Victor Kray. Simplicity is an overall theme, and the uncrowded arrangements as well as some short-and-sweet songs allow for an array of influences to shine through, leaving the listener to appreciate the skillful, sometimes masterful, songwriting of co-frontmen Bobby McKenna and Chris Corrado. No pop lover can deny the catchiness of Corrado's "My Song," or the passionate words by Corrado on "My Hero" and McKenna on "Seventeen." While the album has its high points, The Remnents maintain a quality performance the entire way through. (Andrew Leader)


Words are All We Have

12-song CD
I've made a vow to myself, my country, my family, and T Max to be more focused on the task at hand, namely, reviewing these long players in a concise, articulate manner-eschewing any fanciful flights from normalcy. Now, Beautiful Lies probably fall under the alternative rock moniker but because that has as much definition as the term "rock"-please allow me to elaborate. Their style is on the more mellow side with well-sung pleasant lead vocals and harmonies. That's not to say that's all there is: some dissonance and grit is thrown in especially on the guitar level. There are no giraffes here, none are on fire, in fact, they are quite placid. No, I won't do that! There is a good level of energy here throughout but I wouldn't say they actually rock out. I think they probably succeeded at what they wanted to do. No, No I won't talk about the giraffes on fire. Stop! I wouldn't say this is my favorite style of music but fans of alternative pop should check these guys out. (Slimedog)


Gaitoplexicon Records

Beard of Bees

15-song CD
Mike Gaito's Beard of Bees is a nice array of beautifully written songs that are well produced and thought out. It reminds me of a peaceful spring day sitting next to a bubbling stream of fresh, clean flowing water. He has a great sense of melody and a canary-type voice. When I listen to his music I can imagine birds flying above my head searching for food on their thousand-mile journey to where the weather suits them and landing on a Beard of Bees only to annually repeat the journey. His classically trained voice is accompanied by his incredible ability to play guitar. He is not of the Hendrix or Clapton school but more of the less cheesy Dave Mathews complex rhythm guitar work university. I hear hints of King Crimson, The Moody Blues, John Lennon and at points Simon and Garfunkel throughout the record. He plays most of the instruments himself (aside from the drums) and plays them with perfection. He has truly impressed me and was far better than what I expected. (Leonid)


One Beat at a Time Records

Vice Presidential Pardons

12-song CD
Totaro's press release states that the outfit has been known to cover The Clash in concert from time to time. As a devoted fan of "the only band that matters", all I can say is, please, Baby Jesus, don't ever let me be in the room when that happens. The album starts off pretty strongly with "Looking Back,",a catchy little slice of Tom Petty-esque roots rock, but it devolves pretty quickly after that. By the fourth track on the record, I can't believe I'm only one-third of the way to the finish line. Musically, the band aims for tastefulness with its white boy blues licks and Hammond organ, but comes off uninspired and unable to rein itself in on some of the longer numbers.. Lyrically, there are attempts at depth and rebellion, but they come off as silly, most notably in the insipid "Screw It" (an early candidate for worst song of the year) and the Dylan homage of "Subterranean Homesick Too." Totaro sounds like it's trying really hard to be cool, but they seem to have a very misguided notion of what that is. (Kevin Finn)


Sadawala Music Everything

Guit Town Git Down

14-song CD
Jimmy Fox, the guitarist of the Poverty Line Old-Time Band, essays here a country & western solo outing in which he fronts a highly proficient full-band ensemble. The album, for all its friendly enthusiasm, and for all its meticulous arrangements and clever instrumental textures, suffers a bit from Mr. Fox's lack of vocal charisma on many of his self-composed songs. However, all is not in vain; his voice is well-suited to melancholic ballads such as "By Yer Side," reminiscent in its lushness of vocal line of a song like "Sea of Love," and to genre clowning such as the irresistible "Inside Out" and the inimitable feel-good hokum of "Wonderin Why." (Francis DiMenno)


Gray Birds

18-song CD
Hailing from Enosburg Falls, Vermont, Farm clearly seems to be a product of their environment. The echoed guitars and sparse yet intricate arrangements on the bands stellar record, Gray Birds, clearly come from an atmospheric backdrop that Vermont would seemingly award the three-piece perfectly. Call it what you want, be it freak-folk, indie rock or just folk music with an experimental slant, it all applies. The record skillfully meshes folk, country, classic rock and jam music into their own twisted musical animal. There's a real unified sound on the record, no easy feat when the band, multi-instrumentalists Ben Maddox, Jed Kettler and Joshua Givens, all share songwriting duties. Oh, and did I mention they switch instruments with one another from track to track?
Calling Gray Birds arguably one of the best records you've likely never heard isn't a stretch. As far as highlights go, check out "Mance," "Devil," or just take it all in. At close to an hour and fifteen minutes, it's a lot to absorb, but oh so worth it if you give it a chance. (Ryan Bray)


RMI Records

Lullibies and Dynomite

15-song CD
Wow! I can't tell the difference between On The Drop and their influences. They sound like 311, Sublime, and Rustic Overtones. This can either be seen as a good thing or a bad thing depending on your taste. I see this is as a handicap that can limit ones creativity. A tight production is important but it can be detrimental to be too in tune with your influences especially if they are controlled by pop culture and the record companies. Imagine a beautiful woman who hides her ugliness with a mess of make up and expensive clothes. Strip her down and you'll notice her one-sided, shallow mind. Her insecurities have been masked by the magazines that guide her life. Eventually she will chase the man with the most money in order to feel secure which will ultimately depress her. She will fall into a spell of painkillers because she is not happy with her life once her looks start to fade. Maybe then she will gain a sense of clarity and respect for one's inner beauty. (Leonid)


The Entertainment Experiment

Portland Death Punk Vol.2:
Louder Than Fire

12-song CD
Calling a band "the best punk band in Portland" might seem like something of a backhanded compliment to the uninitiated. But "Covered in Bees," the gleefully sophomoric, angst ridden four piece dubbed Portland's punk pride and joy, couldn't be happier to boast the title.
And if Louder Than Fire proves anything, it's that if nothing else, the Bees are proud to be their bratty, street punk selves. Boasting song titles such as "Car on Fire with Guns," "Someone Got Murdered" and "Pineapple Fight," the Bees dare to be stupid, and more often than not succeed admirably. The record owes a heavy debt to many of New England's hardcore favorites, namely the Bruisers and Blood For Blood, which isn't a bad thing. But there are also hints of blues and Sabbath-inspired metal riffs at points, proving that while content to be your favorite punk band, they're not above sneaking a few outside influences through the back door. (Ryan Bray)


Onslaught Records

Uterine Excretor of Carcinovomit

20-song CD
Music does evolve, but in the case of Uterine Excretor of Carcinovomit, I'd say evolution doesn't exist. These sounds are what soldiers hear in Iraq when they get torched or blown away-blood-ripping screams of agony and pure human angst. The track listing titles become irrelevant to the listening experience. The purpose they DO serve is, (1) to allow some artistic license and play with words; (2) to offer a little humor in doing that-but without much success. This is truly disturbing shit. Going back to my previous Iraq comment, I wonder if soldiers would actually like to LISTEN to this while they're over there. That's the true test to how ballsy a band can be-if channeling the sounds of flesh distortion is your bag, see if you can find it in yourselves to send it to the humans who are making those sounds, without needing the instruments. It could be the last sound they'd hear. (Mike Loce)


Say Hello

11-song CD
The Novel Ideas are a group of consisting of very talented high school musicians (aside from the founding members who just started attending college.) I am envious of their youth and their talent. It's also touching to see that their parents support them enough to enable them to record their music at a studio, which resulted in the crisp sound that is represented on the CD. Daniel Radin, the mastermind behind the band, wrote the songs and arranged the music and his very encouraging father Will Radin produced them. Their sound falls in the folk/ rock genre. The record has a very open sound and must be a great representation of their live performance. These kids need just a little time to grow musically and creatively, which will come with age. The song structures are impressive for someone who hasn't had much time to experience real life outside the bubble of high school. Radin has a sweet voice and is accompanied by a talented backup band who simply complement his creative vision. (Leonid)


Dream in Motion

12-song CD
Ah, how refreshing it is to start the new year in a new frame of mind, one that is concise, collected, and coherent. This is a one man project by Matt Dorhan and in the liner notes it mentions: "Various styles fusing together with poetic expression and pop indulgence," and if that puts you off like me than you might want to run away now. This has lots of synthesizers and drum machines and a surprisingly good amount of acoustic guitars and pop hooks. Basically it sounds like an '80s electro-pop record by someone like Thomas Dolby but alas, the songs are not as successful. The giraffes are not on fire, I swear, this has nothing to do with this! I would say the tracks are too long, the hooks are too sugary icky, and the influence of mellow progressive rock is not too my liking. (Slimedog)



9-song CD
I don't know how to say this nicely, so I'm just going to say it: I hate this band. They employ annoying techno beats, fake clapping noises, cheesy dramatic maraca noises, and painfully flat vocals. Oh, and those painfully flat vocals are occasionally accompanied by an off-key female singer, which makes the songs even more grating. Half the songs on the album are just remixes of other songs on the album. The remixes are slightly better than the originals, but remixing a song that's already bad can only help so much. One of the songs, called "You Need This," switches up the vocals-the female singer takes over the lead and the male does backing-and it's more terrible than all the other songs combined. This band is unoriginal and boring and I'm excited to be done with this review because now I get to delete this band off of my iTunes library. (Emsterly)


Rhymes and Beats

14-song CD
Hi, Mrs. Slimedog here, reviewing this hip-pop CD flexing my immense critical muscles once again. This is rap and though I smoked mad herb (for the first time) before reviewing this I still can't understand anything they're talking about. This sounds like the music that is coming out of the cars that are shaking and vibrating from the bass, while the bass sounds like you dropped a fork down your garbage disposal or something. The guy sounds kind of distressed and emphatic, like those heavy metal guys who growl and scream and such. Slimedog does like to slide across the floor and dance to this. A disturbing sight! I wish it was more pleasant singing like the hippies in the '60s, you know, like Bob Denver and Connie Stevens. Besides the mellow R&B like "We Can Roll" I can't get on front of this. Hey, that's just how I roll, dogs! (Mrs. Slimedog)



9-song CD
Hristo's self-titled album has left me a little bit speechless. I have no idea how to describe his "music"-the "songs" don't contain the sounds of any distinguishable musical instruments, and the vocals are a combination of overly-distorted speaking and yelling. In other words, these songs sound like noise to me. Maybe I just don't understand what Hristo is trying to achieve here, but after giving this album a few chances, I think I still agree with my first impression: this album was a waste of plastic. (Emsterly)


Giving Away Records

Stop Start Skip & Jump

9-song CD
Imagine the sound of a teenage girl shout-singing in an echo-y old warehouse two floors up while a rough-hewn pop band plays on the ground level and you get the idea of what this four-piece sounds like. It's kind of lo-fi, spare, and mildly haunting in a Tom Waits sort of way. (But my husband says it sounds more like Edie Brickell performing Annie.) The songs themselves are melodic and upbeat yet understated and played with spare instrumentation. The lyrics have just enough sadness to be hauntingly intriguing. My favorites: the breezy "Empty Ice Cream Cone" with its twangy saloon piano and "Ally's Cookies," a commentary on using the Internet for the wrong reasons. Pathos pop, anyone? (Robin Umbley)


Leverkuhn Records

Retrospective Lives

14-song CD
This album seems to have lofty goals, with bright melodies, rich arrangements, lush harmonies, and a lot of heart. Terry's guitar playing sounds cheerful and optimistic, as does his sunny approach to melody. This is arguably the album's strongest quality. Beyond this, Retrospective Lives sells itself short by using a cheesy sounding drum machine on most of the tracks instead of hiring a good drummer and also by having Terry himself sing on it. The vocals are weak and that weakness is amplified by the multitudinous overdubs and harmonies of a singer who has some serious pitch issues. Later in the album, Terry's attempts to "rock out" on songs like "Late Night Traveling Friend" and "Into the Cold Night" sound unconvincing and forced. The "fake" Hammond and horns do not help redeem this, nor give it any of the soul, which this album unfortunately lacks. It's hard to listen past these flaws, as they are right up front in the mix, obscuring the potential brilliance of the music within. (Joel Simches)



5-song CD
This rocks like nobody's business. If Elvis Costello had been listening to The Pixies on crack and a bottle of Jack, his albums might have sounded a lot like this. The Murder Mile manages to rock tough and be irresistibly melodic and well produced. I am sure they dress nice too. This high energy is relentless. Their sound is raw and riddled with shards of blistering guitar. This is a band that tears it up in the studio as much as they do on stage. This is the first demo that made me want to go see a show! Rock! (Joel Simches)


Teenage Heart Records
6-song CD
"Randy, The Rock And Roll Pizza Wolf."
That's it. That's the whole review. That song title sums up what they're about better than anything I could spew here, and that's not a knock. It's just as well, because it's that funnypunk-kinda stuff which never strives to be meaningful, let alone analyzed, so what's the point? These folks have been around, and sound like they're having a ball, whoever cares or not. They can play, at least to where it's clear that if they'd wanted to use some headier chord progressions, they certainly could have. While it ain't quite crass or stoopid enough for my, uh, taste in this area, they're getting raves and college radio airplay out the ol' kazoo. Oh yeah, and they employ a kazoo. The artwork on the actual disc is a kazoo. They even have a member named Drew Kazoo. Still need a buncha descriptions? Didn't think so. (Joe Coughlin)



3-song CD
The past has been good to War Tapes. They won the Berklee/WBCN Battle of the High School Bands (twice!), went out to L.A., never looking back, and they have opened up for Smashing Pumpkins, The Bravery, and now, most importantly, they're getting a review in The Noise! Their brand of power pop is tempered by driving guitars, big drums, tight harmonies and psychedelic leads. This band is destined to appear on Buzz Cuts '08! Influences from eighties dark pop icons like Morrissey, The Pixies, The Cure, and The Alarm blend relentlessly with their modern counterparts: Arcade Fire and Muse to create something immediate and powerful. I hope these guys are huge but humble enough to remember us little folks here in Boston. (Joel Simches)


The Meteorite

6-song CD
Gretel certainly gets the award for best packaging I've seen in awhile. A neat little box, a photo, individual lyrics sheets… I can only imagine what the band would do for a full-length release. Of course, the important question is, does the actual music grab the listener's attention the way the packaging does? Well, no, not quite, but that's not to say that Gretel doesn't have its charm. The songs are tailor-made for rainy, mellow Sunday mornings. They're pretty and sparse, and have some quite tasteful horn and piano arrangements. It's a nice record that you can play in front of your parents or your easily offended friends and catch no flack from them, but years down the line, I'll probably remember the pretty packaging more than the songs. (Kevin Finn)


Sleepy West

One Day in the Desert

5-song CD
Shawn Fogel's music is a refreshing mix of pop and bittersweet. His words dance playfully over an instrumental backing that is a gracious blend of roots, folk and indie rock. Fogel uses the texture of the songs to paint a cinematic picture that wouldn't be out of place on your favourite Neil Young, Tom Petty, Bruce Cockburn or even Weezer album. In fact, this is one of the few independent albums where the harmonica playing is equally appropriate and competent. The crisp vocal harmonies remind me of Matthew Sweet and the use of Clavinet and Moog within the context of otherwise conventionally arranged "songwriter pop" makes my cochlea twitch with glee. (Joel Simches)


Amuses Bouche

4-song CD
While evoking the obvious Pixies and Velvet Underground influences, Muy Cansado seems to throw a little Tex-Mex into the atmosphere with songs like The Other Night and Soul Song. There are flashes of high energy fun in the song "Couldn't Have Said it Better," but the sludgy low budget sound of this demo hardly does justice to the talent of this band. Fortunately the band is re-recording these tunes with the mighty Jon Lupfer and we'll get to here how great these songs can really be. I certainly hope the new and improved recordings can capture the spontaneous fun this demo engenders. (Joel Simches)

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