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Not Life Threatening Music
Maybe Today
14-song CD
The Lenny Solomon Band plays a modern variation of good ole Creedence, with a dash of Petty, and a splash of Wilco. They have just enough country twang and lite-rockin’ folksy blues to grab your attention. I like this a lot, especially the easy effortless way Lenny sings with a wizened adult outlook on life and its complexities. He had some radio success with “Let’s Go to Mars,” protesting the current war, and his observations of some modern dilemmas like Katrina (“The Flood”) and personal misplaced values (“The Great Judgment”), places his sensitivity and caring center stage. There are a few novelty tunes also (“It’s Snowin’” or “Rockabilly Kid”) which balance his viewpoints. The sound of the band is a major factor, especially the mercurial guitar pickings of Bill Gibbs, who works wonders with his Telecaster and assorted acoustics. Every line is concise and wonderfully constructed, just like you’d expect from any “Nashville Star.” The rhythm section of Dennis Gurgul and Don Barry keep it succinct and snappy. This was a really enjoyable album and here’s hopin’ he doesn’t have to go to Jupiter (where governments are stupider) before another fine disc comes out. (Harry C. Tuniese)

Merge Records
3-CD set
Indie rock is something of a soured term nowadays, representing a fad far removed from the earnest, unassuming music that originally spawned the title. But long before the days of the Arcade Fire, there was a time when bands could claim to be indie without smirking or rolling their eyes.
Enter Big Dipper, a band that over 20 years ago tackled the now-familiar formula of distorted guitars and knee jerk arrangements before there was even such a thing as “indie.” The band came and went rather quietly during the ’80s, but thanks to the good people at Merge Records we have Supercluster, a career-spanning discography covering the seminal band over three CDs. Spanning 50 tracks, the set includes their first recording Boo-Boo, the landmark Heavens EP, 1988’s Craps and numerous B-sides. Noticeably absent is Dipper’s Epic debut Slam, but the set still stands as a fitting tribute to a band that in retrospect beat many a jangly, alternative pop band to the punch, even some within their respective era. (Ryan Bray)

Kennebunkport: Songs of Peace
17-song CD
Mostly recorded live at a peace rally in Maine last year, this collection of anti-war and politically charged folk/bluegrass songs would seem like a throwback to a long forgotten era of hippies and Vietnam and would be a nostalgic, happy time for most of us if it weren’t for the fact that this is all happening in the here and now. Songs like “Blue State Liberal” pretty much sum up the political sentiments of just about everyone I know and respect, reflecting the current state of affairs, not just about war, but race, hunger, gay marriage, the environment. Even with veterans invited onstage to give support, nothing hits home until you hear 10-year old Keenan Beaudette’s plea for an end to the war with “Does it Bother You.” You have to be dead inside not to have some part of this CD make you think about how much things need to change for America, for the sake of democracy and the free expression of thought, and how far this country has fallen. Listening to this live concert will embolden all hopes for change and put you right in Bush’s backyard with a fist in the air. Proceeds from the CD will support Veterans For Peace and many other peace groups throughout the country. Support a means to an end. (Joel Simches)

10-song CD
Imagine you’re hiking through some castle or fort in an exotic country like, well, Turkey. The sun goes down. You enter an opulent Byzantine-style room. In the twilight you hear instruments and arrangements that sound vaguely Middle Eastern, but a woman’s plaintive but clear voice, in English, floats in, echoing off the stone walls. Then you hear other instruments—electric guitar, sitar, melodica, keyboards, organ, theremin. The music is simultaneously exotic and familiar yet it transports me to an older world. The MySpace page of this four-piece (Ajda the Turkish Queen, Tony Savarino, Joe Turner, and Joel Simches—who’s on the CD but no longer in the band) labels them as “goth/psychedelic” but I think Black Fortress of Opium goes beyond both. Although this exquisitely produced CD is made up of 10 separate songs, I can’t pick one that stands out because this disc must be listened to in its entirety. (Robin Umbley)

Yellow Trout Records
The Most Pretentious Album
Since Axl’s!

17-song CD
To prove how pretentious The Most Pretentious Album Since Axl’s! really is, Robby Roadsteamer turned “Wicked Dude” into the first five tracks of the record. In what sounds like Robby’s one-take album, the songs sound like something a kid would improvise at a party. Casey Desmond makes an appearance on “Legend of Zelda” which is another song quickly thrown together to continue the 8-bit video game theme of the last few albums. LRP’s strongpoint was it had the hits. You could almost consider it a “best of” album. The only re-recorded song on this record is “When You Fall” which lacks the original version’s melancholy sweetness. While this album is playful, it doesn’t sound like much time was spent writing the songs. Even the highlights of the album, “Someone Put a Condom on My Dreams,” “Pussy Whipped,” and “You Got Idea[r]s!” need more to really be standout tracks. While Roadsteamer admirers will enjoy his usual antics, this album just feels like filler until his next album comes out in June to complete his Star Wars trilogy. (Brett McCabe)

Dead Weigh
12-song CD
I’m very impressed with this album; there’s not a bad song here. The band calls itself country, but I’d consider it to be more along the lines of “twangy rock.” Either way, this is windows-down, wind-in-your-hair, feel-good summer music. With this type of music, there’s a fine line between being contrived and being genuine, but Roy Davis strikes a balance that makes for a great batch of songs that are positive without being cheesy. If you haven’t heard this band, I definitely recommend checking them out, because judging by this album, they have the capability to go far. (Emsterly)

Big City Rock (remaster)
10-song CD
Well, this is certainly interesting: a record that comes with a disclaimer questioning its own legality. An accompanying note cites ABC records as the label, Universal/ MCA as copyright holders (hence no mention above, as it is unsanctioned), that an “anonymous benefactor” sprang for all this, and that it’s not even for sale (promo only. Shit, should I even submit this? Hey, someone sent it in). All that said, it’s fucking wonderful. One of my all-time fave LPs, from 1979, by an all-time fave live act, but which suffered from weak production, now beefed up nicely with a thicker bottom end which the original sorely lacked. These are some of the greatest power-pop tracks ever committed to tape, from here or anywhere. There’s one cover (Martha & the Vandellas’ “Nowhere To Run,” which they handle just finely). Only “Modern Times Girl” doesn’t quite work, with its slower tempos, which just wasn’t their thing. Kinda always struck me as Huey Lewis trying to do the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Fans/ archivists should note that there’s also a recent release of their “lost”/ unreleased/ whatever second LP which never came out, and is equally astounding (and sonically more masterful). If you like this kinda stuff, you’d be a serious dick not to seek it out. (Joe Coughlin)

Juicy Juju Records
Delta Blues Duets
10-song CD
This father-daughter duet valiantly attempts a recreation of old time delta blues, and if they fall short, it is less on account of Erin Harpe’s vocals, which at least hint at the wild strangeness of the originals, and more to do with the impossibility of measuring up to the originals. The steel guitar that resonates on their version of “Kokomo Blues” perhaps comes closest to recreating both the letter and spirit of their model. (Francis DiMenno)

All We Have Is Now
14-song CD
I had no idea these guys ’n’ gal had been around so long. 250 shows in five years ain’t too shabby, really. And with the first few tracks, I was truly struck by the whole light/ heavy balance thing they seem to be going for. Tough, tight and crunchy underneath, kinda luminous and feathery on top (Sarah Kollett’s vocals). A few numbers veer strictly toward the lighter side, but are still played with authority. And I thought, “Dang, this could BE somethin’!” Then, some annoying things happened. One, I tried to read the lyrics. It’s that deal where they’re all smooshed together with no space between words in a microscopic typeface. Why even bother? (What few I finally deciphered were all introspective fluff anyway.) About halfway in, I realized this is actually one of the least-nuanced records I’ve ever heard. Almost everything’s sung at the same volume, dead-on-the-meter, no actual swing or elbowroom anywhere. Too bad, ’cause there ARE melodies and arrangements here, but there’s a monochromatic airtightness to it that ultimately flattens the material into something far more calculated than they may have intended. By the end, I felt literally suffocated by the sameness. I bet if they just loosened up a little, they could take this somewhere special. (Joe Coughlin)

Hara Kiri
8-song CD
One of the difficult things about writing reviews is when you are given two similar acts at once. Inevitably, one ends up suffering in comparison to the other. So, sorry Hara Kiri if this means I’m not giving you a completely fair shake. Or maybe blame Destruct-A-Thon for kicking my ass with a sound that is much less dated and has a more scathing message and sharper songwriting. Basically, Hara Kiri sounds like a big monster, running around making a lot of noise, but not frightening anyone. I will say that the musicianship is mostly impressive, particularly the phenomenally impressive drumming on “Meltdown,” one of the disc’s few standout tracks. But if the songs aren’t there, then who really cares how well you can play? (Kevin Finn)

Never Go Home
12-song CD
Don’t let the low budget packaging fool you. The Biltmores are a polished indie pop band with all the trimmings and they are eager to please. Layers of guitars combine effortlessly with strategically placed percussion and radio samples over a solid backdrop of bass and drums. The vocals slither and whisper into your subconscious mind like a piper at the gates of dawn tasting metallic clouds on a freefall from Souvlaki Space Station (please put your hands together for the ultra clever Pink Floyd/ Flaming Lips/ Chapterhouse/ Slowdive literary reference). I can’t stop listening to this CD and if you caught my ultraclever reference to which I (parenthetically) alluded, you most certainly will. (Joel Simches)

We Love You Baby
14-song CD
I love this band! Their songs are all fun, upbeat indie pop gems. Fuzzy guitars, cute lyrics, and catchy choruses constitute the 14 tracks on this debut album. They sound like a mix of Bishop Allen and The Promise Ring, with some Teenage Fanclub thrown in for good measure, but they still hold down their own (somewhat) unique sound at the same time. I love the song “She’s the One”—it’s catchy, and the mini-guitar solo towards the end is a nice touch. While I don’t think The Destries are doing anything novel with their music, they are doing a great job capitalizing on a tried-and-true style. (Emsterly)

Bear Hill Phenomenon: An Atom Age Soundscape
12-song CD
Michael Feeney is the mastermind behind these entirely instrumental self-designated soundscapes, which in their tonalities bring to mind such examples as very early Gang of Four, PiL, and Wire. But the musique concrete which results, though texturally intriguing to a diehard avant-guardian, ultimately seems more an application of mathematical formulae than a living, breathing entity; I get the distinct impression that this is what two jumbo jet computers might have to say to each other as they traverse the boundless ionosphere. (Francis DiMenno)

Victory Records
11-song CD
Ah, yes, Mrs. Slimedog, voted number one record reviewer this year. Oh, no, not in the Noise, silly, but in my native Guatemala. Yo soy la major! Bury Your Dead is another one of those growly, icky metal bands with those scary guitars and thunderous drum beats. The only reason I can think of why I was assigned this is that I’m a big Andrea Bocelli fan. I read in the liner notes that they played the second stage at Ozzfest and I don’t see this band having anything remotely in common with Judy Garland or the Wizard of Oz. This continuous onslaught of oppressive music and horrific vocals I can only compare to something as distasteful as giving an enema to Slimedog. Something I wouldn’t wish on my best enemy! Obviously, this bands attempt to win under the middle aged, Guatemalan Andre Bocelli fans has failed disastrously. (Mrs. Slimedog)

Low Budget
A Chosen Phew
11-song CD
This is yet another brilliant compilation from the usual suspects over at Low Budget Records. For this go-round, the Roslindale musical hipsters have gone new age with a collection of sonic landscapes sure to make Eno grow a new head of hair. Highlights include the opening track by Bill Mason (from Bird Mancini), a solo ukulele piece by Glenn Williams, a surf track by Andy Hollinger, and a series of collaborations with the mighty Doctor X, Tim Casey. Mr. Curt closes this collection with the pensive, yet groovy “Munificence” and his protégé Clara Kebabian contributes the haunting “Clarafication.” As with most releases from the Low Budget roster, these folks sound like they have way too much time on their hands. Fortunately that is a very good thing. (Joel Simches)

Waiting Room
12-song CD
This album sounds like anything else I could hear on the radio, but despite the band’s mainstream sound, they’re pretty good. Some of their slower tracks, like “Cosmopolitan,” seem kind of boring, but even the slightly boring songs are better than those of a lot of the other bands I’ve had the misfortune of reviewing. And on the other hand, their song “Terminal” is one of the better songs I’ve heard lately. This band reminds me a lot of Coldplay—not my style, but everyone else seems to love it. So if you like radio alt-rock, I suspect you’ll like this band, because in spite of their slightly clichéd style, their songs showcase a decent amount of talent. (Emsterly)

Stars and Guitars
12-song CD
If Muy Cansado had stopped after track three, then I would have been raving about this disc. The jangly guitars and the interplay between the male lead vocals and the female back up ones remind me of a less crazed Pixies. The occasional singing in Spanish does nothing to diminish this comparison either. Not surprisingly, though, the further I get into the disc, the more I find myself longing for the real thing. Paying homage is one thing, but being derivative is another. By the time the mellower numbers hit about halfway through the album, I’m outright bored. Why do bands always seem to put the mellower numbers at that spot? It usually serves to do nothing but kill momentum. (Kevin Finn)

One Mile Challenge
7-song CD
Oy vey, do these guys love themselves. Big spiels on the intricacies of the recordings, why it’s a “split EP” just because it was made in two different places (songs actually numbered 1-4, then 1-3), and which awesome dude did which boffo thing on which bitchin’ track. If I’m to trust the material I was sent, some actual song titles are, “Little Calloway Once Said ‘With Friends Like You Who Needs Friends!?’,” “My Nose Hurts Because Last Night Some 14 Year Old Kid Hit Me In The Face With His Straight-Edge Karate Spinning Fists Of Death!,” “I Totally Owe Nate $1000 Because Of You!,” “Hush Puppy Whiskey-Doodle,” and a drawing of one dinosaur shooting another, who appears to be eating garbage or laundry. The songs are largely identical except for a stab at alt-country, and another which starts as a stab at alt-country, then reverts back to their other thing, which is not unlike a faster, sloppier, far less engaging take on two-hit wonders Lit, with a lotta musical “instant cred” clichés and over-emoting about nothing at all (trust me, there isn’t a single line even banal enough to quote as example, and Lord knows I tried to find one). All of which means that many of today’s youth will adore it, further proof of what deep trouble we’re really in. (Joe Coughlin)


8-song CD
I guess I was assigned this record because I’m a big fan of Andrea Bocelli and I believe the most entertaining part of this package was the promo notes. The eight songs here, “Range from pop/funk to funk rock with hints of gospel, hip hop, blues and soul throughout,” To me it sounds like Michael MacDonald with occasional metal guitar. If that sounds good to you, you may like it but for me it makes me want to set my hair on fire and run screaming down the street, “I am Michael MacDonald’s uterus!” But then, that’s just me. More from the notes, “While there are no extremely vulgar or shocking foul words, I do swear a couple of times. Besides that it’s clean sailing.” Well, I’m glad we got that fucking straight because some of the asshole Noise writers don’t give a shit about this bullshit. I, being a born again Christian proctologist appreciate the concern; the CD I don’t. (Slimedog)

7-song CD
Most of you schlubs demand descriptions of music. Let’s see if these random lyrics (verbatim from insert) begin to convey anything for ya:
“Mother fucker I went with the beat on a sandwich meat but I’m from Mexico”
“I didn’t know her but she knew me from the stains on my armpit.”
“My dead friends were there the Cosby kids were there we smoked lots of weed with them This is a true story about something that never happened I was a republican”
“Fully hollow, listening to confusion is sex Pick up the guitar when I’m totally wrecked”
“Who will love you when you’re 73 When it’s dirty minds and busted spines An asshole with a shovel Throwing you Away”
“(I’m too drunk to be stupid) Throw myself in the garbage (your too stupid)”
If you think that’s crazy, you should see who they list as influences. I’ll give ’em Daniel Johnston, but only for the obvious amounts of medication going on here, which these guys sing about a lot. As well as about arguments, getting dumped, stalking, and getting revenge when they couldn’t change someone. And okay, while the music is tuneless, grooveless, monotone, acoustic-based, and unlistenable (which should make it totally benign), this one of the most disturbing things I’ve heard in ages.
Fellas, there’s a reason she left, okay? (Joe Coughlin)

There is No Road
10-song CD
This collection seems more like an aural sketchbook than a collection of completed songs. The instrumental passages are well produced and at times evoke such ’80s avatars as Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, but the vocals are curiously lackluster and the songs seem unfocussed and tentative. This seems to my admittedly jaded sensibilities to be an only modestly ambitious batch of songs that yields only an occasional small-scale triumph, like the appealing “Gone for Good.” (Francis DiMenno)

9-song CD
So let’s see, their logo has a not-so-vaguely Church of Satan-esque font. Some song titles are “Faceless,” “Cancer Nation,” and “Dementia.” Vocals usually arrive with a prolonged shriek and some kinda exhortation of “Do it!” or “Go!” or unintelligible expletive. Their MySpace has an animation of someone getting his or her lips sewn shut, plus a photomontage of two heels-and-stockings-clad kinder-whores cavorting in some abandoned place strewn with graffiti, including (yup) “666.” Stuttering, Slayer-like riffs abound, in case you hadn’t guessed already. And that’s all fine and well. They’re as good at what they do as anyone. Where they lose me is in the bio (typos verbatim):
“While continuing to evolve with enthusiasm and a relentless energy, as does the fan base, the name Red Theory is growing stronger and broader with every show leaving a remarkable impact with each and every listener. While averaging six shows per month, self promoting and seeking sponsorship the band continues to pursue the hopes of becoming not only valued artists to the music industry, but also striving to achieve a long term successful status within the realms of song writing; all while destined to be a part of the ongoing influences within the worlds of rock ’n’ roll.”
Huh? All I’m saying is, if it’s truly groundbreaking or evolution you’re looking for, this is hardly the place. (Joe Coughlin)

Feeding Tube Records
17-song CD
Greetings, Zortar here, space alien from another galaxy, inhabiting Slimedog’s worthless, flea-ridden, enema-ravaged body. I believe I was assigned this because I am a big fan of Andrea Bocelli’s. I also like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles but fail to see how these three are related. They do say, though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder on your planet. Chainsaws & Cheerleaders, which go together smoothly, like cookies and cream, or chaplains and choirboys, perform music that is difficult to compute. Grungy guitar but with song structures that veer toward progressive rock or experimental at times. Throwaway vocals but who am I to metaphorically whack their weenies with a ruler? There are lots of songs here but most succeed. They make me think of the Minutemen, and if that’s a good reference, as it should, you should give these earthlings a listen. (Slimedog)

Eighths Music
Death of a Street Singer
14-song CD
Gotta confess, this was the dreariest-lookin’ thing I got all month, and thought it’d be a sure-fire Slam (admittedly not helped by the intro letter which presumptuously begins with, “Dear Music Lover…”). Between the packaging, the instrumentation (harmonica, banjo, upright bass, fiddle, etc.), the titles and the first listen, I decided better to wait. And glad I did. Just the opposite of so many records where it sounds great at first, and then I realize it actually blows. I like this kinda hungover-Sunday-morning stuff, but so much of it out there is awful. And while this is by no means a masterpiece, and there are some clunkers (“Jackson Sq. Massacree” [sic] is a too-long “Hot Rod Lincoln” sorta thing about a pot bust), what’s important is that these guys are obviously communicating with each other. It took a few listens to appreciate the degree to which they do, but it’s pretty hefty. Lyons has relocated from New Orleans to Cambridge and plays with new friends now, but looks like this was essentially his original band, who were bopping around up here and managed to knock this out. Hardly for everyone, and all the better for it, it’s the warmest, most authentic thing I got for this whole issue besides the Atlantics, and that was a reissue from 1979, so there ya go. (Joe Coughlin)

Thrashachusetts Records
Aloha Jihad
5-song CD
This one is definitely not for the meek, as it is one intense effort, both musically, with the band’s bruising metal, and lyrically, with the title track, a simmering attack on George Bush’s war. While that track and “Consume With Incisor” are nothing short of ferocious, the poppy shout along chorus of “Heart Attack” serves as a welcome reprieve from all the angst. This peppy number would be perfect if anyone ever gave heavy metal aerobics a shot. The only misstep is a (mock?) threatening voice mail from Sam Black Church’s Jet that fails to add anything to the mix. (Kevin Finn)

4-song CD
Ten years after the breakup of one of Boston’s highly influential and certainly most underrated Boston bands, Green Magnet School, founding member Chris Pearson is back with a bold new project. Utilizing a space-aged blend of guitars, programming, samples, found noises, keyboards and vocoder, Pearson takes his post punk noise rock into the upper reaches of the stratosphere with a collection of instrumental soundscapes. Fans of Spaceman 3, Rhys Chatham, Can, and Wire will instantly be drawn into these dripping (yet rocking) sonic landscapes. Guest appearances include Six Finger Satellite’s James Apt, Nisi Period’s Dave Yanolis, Come’s Arthur Johnson and GMS alum Steve Rzucidio. This debut is a must have. (Joel Simches)

Buzzville Records
Thunder in a Forgotten Town
6-song CD
From the folks who brought you bands like Fast Actin’ Fuses and Sin City Chainsaw, produced by the man who brought you Coke Dealer and Quintaine Americana, and recorded at the studio that brought you Roadsaw and Cracktorch, comes a band that takes heavy sludge stoner metal to the next level of thunder. If you like your rock Black and Sabbathy, if you liked the Melvins before grunge, and if you loved Soundgarden before they recorded “Black Hole Sun,” then this new release will make your balls drop to an all time low. Ever notice that spilled bong water smells exactly like week old McDonald’s French fries? (Joel Simches)

Eye Witness
5-song CD
With their opening fist pumping salvo “United We Stand,” this three piece from Worcester’s anthemic message echoes the sentiments of Bob Geldof, the Clash, Billy Bragg, and the Alarm for change and unity for a better tomorrow. Though the sound of the band suffers a bit from lack of production values, the raw DIY approach only underscores the politically charged message of the band, who coyly describe themselves as “occasionally color coordinated.” However their outfits match onstage, their music will make you rock out and even make you think. (Joel Simches)

Apart from the Rest
6-song CD
This recording is nothing less than a true celebration of a number of different styles of world beat, jazz, rock, ethnic European and Middle Eastern traditional music. The passion for the music cannot be understated, nor can the sense that these styles can breathe anew in this collection of songs. Though the five musicians themselves hail from different parts of the earth, the global chemistry between them is obvious, like five minds MIDI-linked without latency issues. It is refreshing to hear schooled musicians playing together and not simply showing off their chops. Though there are several opportunities for each individual to shine within the framework of these six pieces, this album is a true collaboration of musical sensibilities. This CD will be in my player for some time to come. (Joel Simches)


Keel Records
Grief is Dead
6-song CD
Some people can go into a studio or into their bedroom and spend hours playing all the instruments and come away with something completely brilliant. Other guys flail away at trying to be brilliant, but could benefit greatly from someone else to bounce ideas off of, sifting through the crap and finding some genuine, good moments. This CD is a clear demonstration of the latter. Chris Rousseau is certainly adept at playing keyboards, guitar, drum machine and using a pitch corrector on his voice, but this CD is six parts of the same song: the same idea reintroduced and tossed off as six different songs. Sometimes there is something to be said for working with other people. Loam could certainly benefit from some fresh ideas and outside influence. This album doesn’t shine as brightly as the previous two releases. It sounds phoned in. (Joel Simches)

Morning Static
5-song CD
While the instrumental blend is interesting, The Few try to bring the funk with just guitar, keyboard and drums. The jams feel a little empty and hollow without the low rumble of a bass player holding it down and grooving with the drummer. Though the keyboard player is certainly doing a great job with the left hand, being panned opposite the guitar throughout this disc only makes that hole in the middle even bigger. The dual female/male lead vocal is like having vanilla and chocolate soft serve in the same funky cone. The funk sounds a little contrived, but the other light jazzy styles represented here do hint at the coolness they’re trying to achieve. (Joel Simches)

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