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Arrest Records
Most closely resembling They Might Be Giants and obviously influenced by Weezer and Dead Milkmen, Nerf Herder is comprised of 3 self-described geeks from Santa Barbara. Backed with a strong rhythm section and choppy guitar work, Nerf Herder's smart-ass lyrics indict both pop-culture and suburban ennui: making fun of everything from Sammy Hagar to body piercing. Lead singer Parry Grip's nasally post-pubescent croon is the perfect backing to his self-deprecating commentary on being a loser and never getting the girl.

- Janet Schmidt

Jonny Lang-LIE TO ME

A&M Records
The maturity of sound and soul captured on this release from young Jonny Lang is nothing short of amazing. This singer/songwriter and masterful blues guitarist has put forth some of the best blues and soul recently released. Standout tracks include "When I Come to You," "Missing Your Love," and the title track "Lie to Me." Comparisons to Kenny Wayne Sheppard are going to be inevitable, but Lang sings each song with a depth of soul and blues emotion that is compelling, heartfelt, and strong.

- Mike Somers

Twitch-AT LAST

Static Records
This three man group out of Detroit has an album out called AT LAST which seems to have some real potential among those who know music. By this, I'm saying that the album is good, but if you don't know what is going on behind it all, you could lose interest. Songs like "Sweet" funk hard through bluesy tones and feel and others such as "Jaws" and "Doctor Funky Love" take a more comical approach to musicianship. Nonetheless, Twitch's AT LAST takes a look from all sides and deserves some attention.

- Kevin Hurrell

Jack Ingram and the Beat Up Ford Band-LIVIN' OR DYIN'

Rising Tide/Universal Records
There ain't nothing wrong with this man's throaty voice and solid riffs. Strong lyrics meld with the down home country style of Ingram's electric guitar. This artist has a strong grip on where country music is heading and shows the versatility to be able to some day lead the pack. With some publicity and more production time, Jack Ingram's music may become common in my friends' CD collections. Ingram's music makes good use of snare drum, electric guitar and good old solid bass sounds. This back-up of tight sound is fronted by Ingram's strong lyrics sung with a clear deep voice. He's no Johnny Cash, but that deep voice will take him places. Life ain't over yet for this county performer.

- Rebecca Szilvagyi

Leah Andreone-VEILED

RCA Records
Vocal stylings of this CD can be paralleled to Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Jayne Sachs, or an amalgam of the dearth of strong-willed female singer/songwriters that are happily calling the top 40 their own. Her single "It's Alright, It's OK" is deceiving in the fact that the lyrics are a dark martyr style. The other songs are filled with the pain and emotional personal turmoil that we've come to know over the airwaves. The hidden gem is the last track, "Imaging You." It is a sparse acoustic guitar arrangement with whispered, breathy vocals of the infatuation with a hope-to-be-lover. This is a satellite from the other catchy music that accompanies the other tracks. Remember, watch out for the quiet ones.

- Amy McClees


RCA Records
Hoarse is a trio out of Detroit composed of musicians seasoned from stints in other regional bands. Their sound features raw, driving guitar and a solid beat as well as dynamic melodies. This three-song release, recorded live at St. Andrew's Hall last December, provides a tantalizing taste of the band's compelling energy but will not be widely available in stores. Look for their full-length debut, HAPPENS TWICE, to hit stores in mid-July.

- Cathy Clause

Joni Mitchell-HITS and MISSES

Reprise Records
Ah, yes! One of folk rock's silkiest and slickest ladies has finally come forth with not one but two batches of good old songs. HITS is exactly what it implies, and it has ALL of 'em, while MISSES is a companion piece of some of Joni's equally palatable but lesser known older tracks. Together, both of these CDs pack on helluva nostalgic punch! Ow!

- The Wild Card


Evil Teen Records
Here's some teen-angst rock 'n roll that combines a Beatles flavor with the rhythm and melody of Dishwalla. The trio from New York City's debut is a stream of catchy, poppy odes to pubescent misery set to guitar riffs that stick in your head long after the music's over. While there's nothing really surprising, it's still infinitely listenable.

- Janet Schmidt

The Brand New Heavies-SHELTER

Delicious Vinyl
The Brand New Heavies have yet another hit on their hands with SHELTER, a 13-track groove that has the positive, smooth sound that has defined the band since 1987. This time, however Siedah Garrett steps in to fill the shoes of the departed N'Dea Davenport, and she does more than that with efforts like "You are the Universe" and "I Like It." A must for all Heavies fans, as well as those who appreciate the smoother things in life.

- Chris VanOchten

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.


EMI Records
This is a 4-song mini-CD with a sound very reminiscent of a cross of Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, and Bush. With a little of each band, you have the Dakota Wildflowers. The tunes are guitar-based, up-tempo songs that basically sound so similar that they could be one. There are no credits on the CD, but there is at least one guitar and bass and drums. The vocals are handled by one member, which adds to the similar sound of each song.

- Bob Smith


Big Pop Records
With a sound that borrows liberally from the eighties pop of Blondie, the power pop of the Pixies, and various sixties sonic elements, Blessed Ethel continues that British tradition of taking the best of American music and reinventing it for us. Lead singer Sara Doran is a dead ringer for Debbie Harry as she uses her smooth melodic style to full effect throughout this album. This band churns out modern rock radio-friendly songs, with just enough twisted quirkiness and crunchy guitarwork to keep it interesting.

- Eric Harabadian


Ichiban Records
This Denver-based contemporary light jazz group gives you a ride with its fourth recording release. The instrumental songs featured sway and drift on a sea of tenor and soprano saxophones, carried and boosted along with funky and soulful rhythm grooves. To the jazz enthusiast, this release will fit in well to all collections. The melodies take wing and soar as the band picks up and sets mood after mood of atmospheric and sonic tunes that are almost danceable. Easy listening to be sure, but very easy on the ear, as well.

- Mike Somers

Face to Face-FACE TO FACE

A&M Records
Straight-ahead power punk from this no-holds-barred unit. Although it's all well done and destined for the next mosh pit near you, a little originality and variety would be nice.

- Eric Harabadian

Subduing Mara-BOX b/w SMALLEST STAR

Fear of Nebraska Records
This is a rare "vinyl" promotional record from a very polished and seasoned New York state band. Side A's "Box" has a frenzied funky quality to it, while the flipside "Smallest Star" recalls the Counting Crows. Nothing groundbreaking here, but good stuff nonetheless!

- Eric Harabadian

Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise-ROBERT BRADLEY'S BLACKWATER SURPRISE

RCA Records
Robert Bradley is a blues musician out of Detroit that has found a key to mixing Motown with traditional without sacrificing the main elements: Groove, hit, and technique. Although I was not impressed with RCA's production of this album (go figure), I noticed some real nice things. The album has a good mix of rockabilly, ballad, and what I like to call "S.R. Vaughn'esque" blues. Those of you looking for new blues avenues should pick this up as soon as it hits the stores. You will be pleasantly surprised.

- Kevin Hurrell
This debut CD reminded me so much of Little Steven and his bass player's solo album... you know his name... the one with the blonde mohawk. A 1996 release of 11 songs appears to be influenced heavily by Motown and traditional rock and roll, which you would expect from a self-proclaimed "Detroit Street Singer." The band is comprised of Michael Nehra (guitar), Andrew Nehra (bass), Jeff Fowlkes (drums), and Robert Bradley (vocals). No credits are listed for the background vocals, the keyboards or the horns, although they play an important part in a majority of the 11 songs. The songs appear to be original compositions, but there are no credits for them, either. Apparently, after reading the liner notes, Robert Bradley has been in other bands, but I am unfamiliar with him. After listening to this CD a few times, his gritty vocals grow on you.
- Bob Smith


RCA/DeConstruction Records
By now, you have heard and seen Republica on the radio and television. Unless you really liked what you heard, this album is not for you. The entire CD permeates with the same types of beats, chord structures, hooks, riffs, vocals, etc., etc., etc. The band has plenty of talent, so that's not an excuse. Saffron on vocals worked with N-Joi and the Shaman, Jah Wobble and Mark Moore. Tim Dorney, on keyboards, is one of the primary songwriters and has a 12-inch record to his credit with an accompanying 20-minute film. Andy Todd, the other keyboard player, has been a producer for Bjork and Barbara Streisand. The super guitar player is Johnny Male, and the drummer, Dave Barborassa, is a former Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant member. This CD has plenty of dance numbers (11) filled with lyrics that scream cynicism and a wry sense of humor. MELODY MAKER calls them "simply fantastic," MUSIC WEEK praised Saffron's "vocals with real attitude," and the DAILY RECORD raved it has "more guts than the rest of the charts put together." this reviewer agrees but would like some diversity.

- Bob Smith


Universal Records
Dubbed Little Rock, Arkansas' "Favorite Sons," the band has a country-metal fusion sound, with its members playing guitar, keyboards, harmonica, mandolin, bass, and drums. Each member contributes to the vocals and each plays an assortment of instruments. The CD was recorded at Muscle Shoals (which adds to its soulful sound) and London during 1995 and 1996. Their second single "It's a Lie," was released from this CD on June 17, 1996, and a video was soon to follow. Their relationship with President Clinton was played up in the press release. A quote from the release is as follows: "As for that copy of LOCAL that was sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, observers report hearing 'It's a Lie' blaring out of Chelsea's room as Hillary yells for her to 'Turn It Down.'" This song starts out with a Wilco-like or Son Volt sound and ends like a Sponge single. I guess that summarizes the entire CD. Maybe I listen to the wrong radio station, as I believe this album is fantastic and deserves lots of airplay.

- Bob Smith


RCA Records
This is the debut album from a guy named Tim Skold who goes by Skold, who works with people that have worked with Killing Joke, Ruby, Welt, Ministry, NIN, Filter, and Danzig to make an album that stands alone. This album is much more than one type of music to label it with just any catch phrase. It's not just industrial, rock, metal, or dance, as it is all styles combined. This CD was started in 1993 with Tim pushing the instruments and the recording to an extreme. The music is a sound reminiscent of NIN and Filter but with the lyric can be heard -- and seemed to be based on -- very personal experiences. Skold plays all the guitars, bass, and does all the vocals himself. Contact Skold via the internet at http://skold.com.

- Bob Smith


Mercury Records What can one say about three gals and one guy who decided to form a band on a drunken night and name it after one of the gals who can't pee until you run water? This Tampa-based band contains four multi-talented musicians who play anything from accordion to clarinet to guitar with exceptional capabilities. Their biography describes the CD as "a sort of mental map of fin-de-siencle romance and longing, mixing such diverse musical elements as accordions, clarinet, pianos, funny Casio beats, and a rhythm section that knows how to groove." This is topped off with "gorgeous vocal harmonies and lilting melodies." The founding members Jenny Juristo and Cindy Wheeler were both well known in the Tampa arts scene with their poetry and avant garde local radio show. The 16-song CD contains all of the above with some of the most unusual lyrics. With titles "Dance Motherfucker," "Keep It Simple, Stupid," and "There's No Room For Your Godforsaken Baby," you know you are not dealing with your run-of-the-mill CD.

- Bob Smith


Flip Records
Just one listen to Jane Jensen's debut CD, and she made my life unsteady. She totally woke me up with her big boom beat rhythms and her soaring and arousing vocals. Play this one LOUD! Layers upon layers of sighs, moans, colors, and feelings, driving gut-shot drums, and honest and passionate lyrics add up to a killer solo effort. Standout tracks include: "More Than I Can Give" and "Be Just Sound," and everything else hits hard and solid. Jane's voice and delivery reach incredible intensity levels on every cut, and the sensual honesty of her lyrics lay bare the gut-wrenching emotion she wears very well. Pick this one up and take a trip with Jane Jensen down Highway 90. Did I mention, PLAY IT LOUD?

- Mike Somers


RCA Records
While of most of this CD is just good Aaron Tippin, there ARE four new tracks included. These tracks stand out as the ballad core to the album. He seems to leave the good ole rocking country to his old standby tracks. The ballads seem to blend into one another if heard together. The arranger did right to mix them up with some to Tippin's best work. Tracks like "You've Gotta Stand For Something" and "Working Man's Ph.D" are always pleasures to have on an album. Seems Aaron really wanted to have a solid sounding album to support these new ballads. They're good, but he's pretty smarter.

- Rebecca Szilvagyi


Arista Records
Nice upbeat tunes framed by good songwriting skills give Parnell an opening for a number one hit out of this CD. The first release I heard on the radio, "Lucky Me, Lucky You," got my attention right away. Parnell has a nice ballad voice and can tell a story clearly. The "Hot Links" provide great electric guitar and piano background. The drummer is obviously there for the line dancers. The beat is a little repetitious. Overall, it's a nice county album.

- Rebecca Szilvagyi


RCA Records
Great voice on this guy. It's scratchy and whiny and downright sexy at times. The voice is what gives these songs their body at first blush. Guess I have to mention what the voice has to say. Well, ever hear of "stream of consciousness"? This guy has it to spare, with a lesson. Musically, it's a solid CD. While Jeremy may have turned his back on jazz, its sounds echo in the background of his tracks. There's a down-to-earth feel to this CD that says I'll play it for all my friends. The use of electronic sounds, and solid percussion appeal to the pop lover, but there's so much more here that even my husband plays it constantly.

- Rebecca Szilvagyi


Citizen X Records
What would you get if you crossed a wasted Bob Dylan with a depressed Leonard Cohen? The answer may be Arno. Europeans already have many Arno albums to choose from, but here in America, we only have his most current release. The more I listened to THE GIFT, the more I wanted to hear from Arno. Darkly atmospheric and moody, his music jumps at you and makes you take notice of an undeniably talented singer/songwriter with a feel for an otherworldly type of blues music. As he himself describes in his music, "It's a tear and a smile" -- Arno relates feelings few of us would admit we have, let alone put to music. Building from oozing rhythms and layered sultry textures, Arno's raspy and tortured vocals grab the listener and command attention at once. For those looking for something different and musically unique, let Arno give you his gift.

- Mike Somers


Big Pop Records
Full-force guitars, strong, moving lyrics, and the most consistent, in-your-face delivery of any collection of songs I have heard in a very long time. This band is ready NOW! These songs are radio-ready NOW! The visual images these songs conjure up are video-ready NOW! Standout cuts include: "Safe," "Winter," "Distort Boy," "Disappointed," and the list goes on. Obvious comparisons to the Smashing Pumpkins and The Verve Pipe aside, these guys are ready for the big league NOW! This band could be the voice of a generation that feels alone, alienated, and in love with the way they look and feel about the world. The directness and musicality of these songs will make millions want to hear them over and over, I guarantee without a doubt. LISTEN TO THE FLAMINGOES NOW!!!

- Mike Somers

The Clouds-COLLAGE

Altered Records
A very impressive outing for this Sydney, Australia quartet. The teaming of Jodie Phillis (guitar/vocals) and Patricia Young (bass/vocals) with David Easton (guitar) and Raphael Whittingham (drums) is a winning combination. Phillis and Young's vocal harmonies are impeccable, far exceeding their contemporaries currently on the scene. They also possess great songwriting skill, as well. The Clouds can rock it up or mellow it out with equal aplomb, and their choice of Jimmy Webb's classic sixties hit "Wichita Lineman" for a cover demonstrates their knowledge of choice pop history. One could blabber on and on about the merits of this band, but really, only one thing remains to be said -- buy it!

- Eric Harabadian

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