"Publisher's Corner"

by Geoff Wilbur
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Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time

Jive Records
Yes, this music is a formula practically assured of success, but itís not a bad formula, and when it works, itís a tribute to the people involved. Find a young singer with a strong, clear voice with impressive range and presence.  Add some well-written light pop songs and a dance beat. The result: mega-hit! Good music, too. Then again, Iíve always been a sucker for bubble-gum pop, and stylistically, Britneyís album reminds me of updated Tiffany.

Martinís Dam - Sky Above

Hybrid/Sire Records
Renegade readers know these guys -- weíve reviewed them once in a local edition, and Industry Edition subscribers got to read about a couple of their live gigs from my trips to Philly. Now, theyíve signed a record deal and released Sky Above on Hybrid Recordings. From the gravelly alternative pop of "Fear of Flying" to the Beatles-esque "Mercy Blue," Martinís Dam delivers a strong AAA CD.

Royal Hunt - Moving Target

Magna Carta
D.C. Cooperís high, soaring vocals and Royal Huntís intricate axework tag this music as definitely "prog rock," but thatís unfair and limiting. Moving Target has serious crossover appeal and sounds an awful lot like the harder stuff from Alpha-era Asia. There are some great pop/rock harmonies on this disc, and itís a treat to hear such fierce guitar talent held in control for the purpose of creating engaging, radio- (and non-prog fan)-length songs. On those sparse few classic-styled rock stations actually willing to play new music, "Step By Step" and "Time" could quickly become fan favorites.

Fat Amy - 5-Way Switch

Rubber Records
I held onto this disc to review it myself and just found it while doing some more unpacking. Oh well -- these Lansing area favorites deserve the print space! Better late than never. Fat Amy has a sort of heavy Athens thing goiní on. Southern-flavored with heavy guitars and an almost self-important combination howl/wail for vocals. Songs like "All the Same" and "Come Undone" are guaranteed to work college crowds into frenzies quicker than banning beer on football Saturdays.

Subduing Mara - Glossolalia

Fear of Nebraska Records
Like a cross between R.E.M. and U2, Subduing Mara uses a bed of strumming with occasionally not-so-normal guitar sounds mixed in for flavor as a backdrop for its singerís vocal wail, which sounds almost as if heís in pain at times, though itís always quite in tune. The music sounds more bitter than all-out angry, and it carries more than enough honest energy to earn the attention of even an aloof bar crowd.

Genghis Angus - 12 Days

Eastern Front Records
This soft AAA trio performs songs with the reverberating, flowing vocal sound of The Rembrandts but with the sort of style and tempo of Lisa Loeb. Heady music for the mellowing rocker set.

Toxic Field Mice - Nobody Cried When Jaws Died

Retaliate Records
Thereís nothing quite like an abusively heavy, ear-splitting set of pulsating metal with some Beastie Boys-style shouting mixed in for good measure. Thatís Toxic Field Mice. One important note: If they ever invent odor-enhanced CDs to complete our listening pleasure, you wonít want the one with "Dingo in the Bush" on it.

Impulse Ride - Corn Dog Money

Bordertown Music
I hear hit singles -- in particular, "Her Diary," the late night talk show lament "Johnny Carson," and the "Dear Prudence"-esque "Everybody Knows It." Why wasnít this album huge?

NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included in the print edition of Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter.  These reviews are only available here in the online edition.

The Cate Brothers Band - Struck a Vein

Big Burger Records
This soft, smooth, rockiní blues CD is great music to play in the background while doing other things because itís so smooth but also good to actively listen to because of its musical variety. Favorite cut: "Hurry Sundown."

The Seymores - 1000 Lb. Grrílla

Pitch-a-Tent Records, P.O. Box 665, Athens, GA 30603
The music kind of rattles, thumps, and churns its way along as The Seymoresí brand of aggressive college rock is guaranteed to blow the moss off your trunk. Personal faves are the first two cuts, "Sicker Than You" and "New Rollercoaster."

Mike Tramp - Capricorn

CMC International Records
Like a more pensive "Little Fighter," Mike Trampís voice is still distinctively his own, but the softer fare on this disc is AC radio-friendly, with hints of the softer, Mane Attraction-era White Lion tunes but a rougher production value more typical of í90s singer/songwriters. Solid CD from a singer who should be taken seriously.

Samian - You Are Freaking Me Out

Ignition Records
How do you secure a listenerís attention? Start your disc with a frantic, tuneful rocker like "Full On" like Samian did. Then follow it with equally engaging, bullet train-speed tunes like "She Found You" and "Factory." Itís a fast, fun ride -- an easy disc to listen to repeatedly and enjoy. And exactly to sort of music you find filling up pop/alternative radio and concert stadiums the last couple of years. Not a weak track on the CD. One of the top 25 releases of 1998.

Alexi Lalas - Ginger

CMC International Records
Alexiís music is a guitar-drenched rollercoaster, churning and pounding relentlessly. His voice is that slightly nasal, sassy style that predates alternative. Ginger is a CD full of rock and roll with attitude enough to satisfy alt-rockers but smooth enough for the more classic rock set. The musicís a perfect match for AAA fans with serious crossover appeal to college rock fans. Itís obvious that music has been as much of a passion for Alexi as soccer; he has too much talent for it to have ever been considered merely a "hobby." Kind of interesting that Alexi grew up in Detroit. There must be something in the water there because this is a lot like the stuff thatís rocking the original music clubs all over Michigan.

The Ashley Wilkes Band - Skirts & Art

Girl Records
I played this tape several times many months ago -- was all set to tell you about its hauntingly engaging vocals and eclectic, offbeat, minimalist musical stylings. Then it got packed for my move East and only recently uncovered again. I didnít realize Iíd remember so many of the songs -- theyíre like old friends, if your old friends are artsy with a slightly punk attitude but too laid back to really care much for changing the world. Solid disc. Worth a mention months ago -- sorry Ďbout that!

Jerry Seinfeld - Iím Telling You For the Last Time

Universal Records
Did you ever notice that no one does Seinfeld-style humor as well as Seinfeld? So whatís the deal with this album? Itís all your favorite Seinfeld stand-up bits. Iím sure routines like "Sky Diving/The Helmet" and "Olympics" will be classics years from now.

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