"Album Reviews"

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Madcap Digital Records
The debut CD from Icos is an eclectic mix of white-boy funk, country, and acoustic-tinged rock 'n roll but unfortunately it doesn't commit to any particular groove. Sounding a bit like Alice in Chains sans the heroin and despair, it's a smattering of different musical styles that need a little direction.

- Janet Schmidt


Event Records/SaRaya Recordings
This is some of the best melodic hard rock you'll find, and it comes from a veteran German band. Guitar solos that drive the music forward, and songs motored by insistent, melodic, powerful vocals. In even a barely tolerant radio environment, "Run and Hide" and "Fighting the Reality" would put Victory on the map instantly -- they have the finesse of Tall Stories or Giant but with much more ferocity. And "Deep Inside the Reality" would be the mainstream smash hit, Journey-esque ballad. This is an amazing CD.

- Geoff Wilbur

Days of the New-DAYS OF THE NEW

Outpost Recordings
Like an eerie, lonely, almost haunting blend of classic rock, progressive rock, Metallica-esque unhappy metal, acoustic-styled cadences, and heavy pop alternative mood all rolled into a single sound, Days of the New sounds familiar on several fronts but comes across totally unique and original.

- Geoff Wilbur

Homesick James-WORDS OF WISDOM

Icehouse Records
This disc is a must have for all who appreciate traditional blues. Cousin to the late and great Elmore James, Homesick James and his style of understated but expressive blues pulls you in and doesn't let go. Very gut-pounding bottleneck slide work and an overall classic blues feel throughout these recordings. Features 7 original cuts with others by Jimmy Reed and cousin Elmore James himself. This is the real stuff, kids. Emotional and honest blues.

- Mike Somers

NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included in the print edition of the RENEGADE. They are only available here in the online edition.


Hollywood Records
Some extremely whiny vocals are backed up by surprisingly solid tunes. I like the solid base and upbeat rhythm. This is a CD full of whacky contrasts and cute riffs. Kyle stays away from the tinned electronic sound of so much pop music. He uses real instruments to produce a real fun, upbeat and rounded sound to all his tracks. This CD has images of sunny and shiny waters but beneath it lurks the depths of a lingering depression. The lyrics keep talking about abandonment and hopelessness. If I just feel the music, I can enjoy the tunes. Listening to the words just makes me feel iccky.

- Rebecca Szilvagyi


Epic Records
Best known for featuring Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam fame, this anti-grunge side project is oddly without any edge at all. Filled with Jim Croce, Neil Young, and Steve Windwood-sounding melodies, it pulls no real punches. It does, however, pull out all the stops to mimic that groovy 70's sound: complete with lilting piano, falsetto-voiced smarmy lyrics, and light-weight ballads. If this is something you've been missing, pick this disc up.

- Janet Schmidt


550 Music
Produced by venerated genius Bob Mould of the defunct Husker-Du, this is proof that not only does he have lots of talent; he can also spot it. This tight-sounding Chicago quartet feeds on driving, pop rhythms, and beautiful melodies with an undercurrent of the morose. The cello accompaniment of Allison Chesley makes it all the more sublime: sheer pleasure from beginning to end.

- Janet Schmidt

Voodoo Glow Skulls-BAILE DE LOS LOCOS

Epitaph Records
This seven-man Southern California set (featuring brothers Frank, Jorge and Eddie Casillas) and their new album, BAILE DE LOS LOCOS, are a definitive example of intensity. Led by the album's first single, "Bulletproof," you are taken through what sounds like a cartoon chase scene from hell. The album also features VGS's saucy version of "Feliz Navidad" for your holiday collection. If hardcore, headbangin' punk is what you're looking for, you might want to look out for the Voodoo Glow Skulls.

- Chris VanOchten


Arista Records
An interesting mix of sounds, and pretty poppy for a CD with song titles like "Hate" and "Creature." (It even has a ballad.) With the intensity and driving force of Live, it combines urgent, high-tempoed guitar-backed rock, with a sprinkle of piano, horns, cello, and organ. It also effectively changes mood and direction at the drop of a hat.

- Janet Schmidt

John & Audrey Wiggins-THE DREAM

Mercury Records Nashville
With the glut of new country artists being turned out these days, it's sometimes hard to tell where true talent will come shining through. John and sister Audrey Wiggins follow up a most critically-acclaimed debut release with THE DREAM and score a certain shining example of what contemporary country music can aspire to. Beautiful blending harmonies carry every cut, and the first-rate musicianship push these 11 solid song selections to break-out status. Standout cuts include "Once You've Loved Somebody" and "Were You Ever Really Mine."

- Mike Somers


Wind-up Records
An assault of hardcore rhythms, feedback, hyperactive pounding drums, crunching metal, and screaming chainsaw sounds, topped with disturbing chanting/screeching vocals. Best described as background music for running down a dark alley away from a killer. Definitely not for everyone.

- Janet Schmidt

Seven Mary Three-ROCKCROWN

Atlantic Records
Orlando's 7M3 deserve the "RockCrown" for this: its third and most ambitious release to date. Lyrically introspective, the combination of melodic arrangements with straight-up rock 'n roll forge a new direction for the band that's bound to please current fans and win new ones. It's also gorgeously produced.

- Janet Schmidt


Prime CD
Looking for another reason to love the blues and worship the Stratocaster? Look no further, my friends. Popa Chubby sends both to new heights with his third CD release. Recorded live and kickin', the performances collected here showcase a huge guitar talent and a raw, emotional explosion of blues-flavored rock that would set any club on fire. Popa Chubby plays it his way, which is to say, IN-YOUR-FACE! Blistering lead breaks provide the only relief from the rough and tumble vocals and the rock solid rhythm section on every track. Shredding guitar solo after solo put forth a firestorm of sound guaranteed to please any blues or soul rockers.

Standout tracks inclued: "Sweet Goddess of Love and Beer," "Trail of Tears," and a roadhouse reading of Bob Dylan's "Isis." This disc captures Popa Chubby at his current best and promises the listener a wild ride with driving, pounding songs, full-force and from-the- gut vocals, and some of the best improvisational guitar soloing around. Come ta' Popa!

- Mike Somers


Prime CD
This third CD from the Brothers offers something for everyone, from down-home flavored pop songs to dark broodings about lost relationships and lovers almost forgot. What makes this collection stand out is the deadly sense of humor and the unmistakable American charm used to take aim at their targets. Great songwriting and very proficient musicianship aid the listener to feel the moods, see the colors, and appreciate these very heartfelt and honest songs. Call it "New Country" or "Progressive American Folk- Rock" or whatever fits your fancy. I call it "Damn Good Music."

- Mike Somers

Shootyz Groove-HIPNOSIS

Once again Shootyz Groove attempts to prove that musical genres know no boundaries with their unique blend of hip-hop and heavy metal that help make their second full-length album, HIPNOSIS, a great showcase for this Brooklyn group. Funk grooves are coupled with methodic, pulsating guitar rifts help bring out the challenging lyrics which are the real vehicle for Shootyz's sound. Even if your tastes run straight hip-hop or metal, Shootyz Groove deserves a good listen to; you may be surprised.

- Chris VanOchten

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