by Geoff Wilbur
Sponsored In Part By
Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time
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
Martinís Dam - Sky Above
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
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
Fat Amy - 5-Way Switch
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.