by Dan MacIntosh
Sponsored In Part By
(hed) • Bartender
Jive Records/Volcano Entertainment
This new single from (hed) is plea for a little affection from the local
bartender. But the rap/rock combo is looking for more than just a drop
of liquid refreshment. Instead, it’s after the touch of love from someone
-- anyone -- who seems to care, after a hard day of romantic failure. The
sound of the song itself flip-flops between a singsong chorus -- backed
by a Chilli Pepper-esque guitar riff -- and some soft soul singing. This
unlikely combination, though, somehow works.
DW Groethe • There’s A Place
DW Groethe looks, lives and sounds the part of a real life cowboy, and
"There’s A Place" is hard evidence that this old poke is in fact the "poet,
picker and cowboy" he claims to be. The songs and stories on this album
are like a blast out of the Gene Autry past, and only the anti-vegetarian
"I Eat Meat" might remind you that it’s actually a contemporary release.
If you’re looking for real Western music, this must be the place.
John McEuen & Jimmy Ibbotson • Stories & Songs
Stories & Songs is the pairing of two Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
veterans, banjo player John McEuen and percussionist and flute player Jimmy
Ibbotson. It’s a loose jam, originally broadcast on a Virginia radio show,
and -- as its title accurately advertises -- it’s as much stories as it
is songs. Some of these stories revolve around the ages of the audience
members and performers, as McEuen in particular looks particularly grandfatherly
on the CD booklet. Nevertheless, their folk/country music itself is eternally
Mrs. Fun • Funsville
Mrs. Fun is the party-time name that keyboard player Connie Grauer and
drummer Kim Zick have given themselves, and Funsville is an album
filled with funky jazz duets that really rock. It’s probably the only female
jazz duo in existence, so these ladies are the hands-down leaders of their
chosen (minuscule) genre. With credits that include work with k.d. lang,
Indigo Girls and Phranc, these fiery women of jazz are also in-demand studio
cats. Long live femme funk!
Lana Lane • Secrets of Astrology
Limp Music Products
It’s tempting to respond to the title of this conceptual disc by saying
it’s no secret that astrology is a lie-filled fraud, but Lana Lane’s album
is probably not meant to be a mystical apologetics debate. Instead, it
has all the trademarks of progressive rock -- from its infinite banks of
synthesizers, to its choral tracked vocals, to its extra classical music
session players here aiding the band. It may not serve as your personal
psychic friend, but it sure beats gorging yourself on fortune cookies.
Sara Evans • Born To Fly
Sara Evans is simply a wondrous singer, and even though many of these songs
don’t really deserve her, this release still comes off as a winner. The
title cut brims with hope, and "I Keep Looking" has a sweetly reflective
lyric. A throwaway song like "Let’s Dance," though, is just a useless thing
that doesn’t belong in Evans’ company. If Evans had dug a little deeper
into Nashville’s rich songwriting talent pool for this collection, it could
have been a shining gem, instead of a diamond in the rough.
Silent Radio • Rhythm and Glue Smokey City Sweet New Age Soul Music
The music on this extra long titled album from Silent Radio is song-oriented
semi-alternative rock, sounding something like a cross between REM and
a British pub band. All three members sing over wide guitar riffs, pumping
bass lines and steady drumming. They also have a sense of humor, as the
drummer Dominic Caloiero is nicknamed "The Italian Rapscallion," whatever
that is. If he ever gets tired of drumming, though, he certainly has a
great moniker to try boxing.
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.
Factory 81 • Mankind
The aptly named Factory 81 sounds a lot like the peak noise levels in an
assembly line, as its vocals are a series of guttural growls over drums
riveting in 4/4 time and guitars jackhammering throughout. The band was
recently featured on Take A Bite Outta Rhyme: A Rock Tribute To Rap,
and some of these vocals have a bit of a hip-hop cadence to them. Bottom
line, this is angry blue-collar rock, living only to punch (out) the clock.
6X • Thunder Bomb
Channeling the spirit of hard rocking punk/pop bands like Blondie, 6X plays
with enthusiastic spontaneity on these 11 slices of rockin’ love songs.
The four member group is led by the hyperactive Lara Kiang on lead vocals,
who always sounds sweet, even when she’s spewing out vitriol about a lover
who’s done her wrong. Just like a Ramones-on-45 collection, 6X never loses
the beat. It’s one driving, guitar-led rave-up after another.
Electrasy • In Here We Fall
Electrasy, which features the UK born Ali McKinnell on vocals, is produced
by Matthew Wilder (of No Doubt Tragic Kingdom fame) and showcase
a big sounding release here that comes off a lot like what Oasis does so
well. Songs like "Naked," "Dazed And Confused," and "Cry" allow McKinnell
to wear his heart on his sleeve, letting his singing and playing spill
out as raw emotions. It makes for a great catharsis, if you’re in the mood
for that kind of a mood.
Humble Sacrifice • New Roots Of Soul
Humble Sacrifice picks its soul leanings from a wide variety of sources.
Oftentimes, as when Brian Gorby is at the mic, the group is a high-powered
funk-soul outfit with booming bass and scratching on the wheels of steel
-- such as with "Movin’ On." But when Brianna Litman guests on vocals,
as she does on "Lonesome Traveler," they slow down to become a Bonnie Raitt-like
blues-lite band. It can be a little musically scatterbrained in places,
but well worth a listen anyhow.
Peach • Giving Birth to a Stone
Peach is apparently one of Tool’s favorite new groups, since two of its
members (Justin Chancellor and Adam Jones) help out in various ways on
this group’s noisy new release. Like Tool, this band is guitar-centric
with its multiple riffs and effects. But whereas Tool is an anger-fueled
outfit, there is a kind of thoughtful lyricism that goes along with this
Peach fuzz. They sound a little like a harder rocking Love & Rockets
to these ears.
A Tribute to David Bowie: The Dark Side of David Bowie
Undoubtedly, Gothic rock would probably not even exist had it not been
for the pioneering work of David Bowie. So this tribute album is no great
surprise to anyone. Some of these covers make more contextual sense than
others, such as Crimson Joy’s "Space Oddity," Sepulcrum Mentis’ "Scary
Monsters," Endless’ "Five Years," Nuit d’Octobre’s "Ziggy Stardust," The
Merry Thoughts’ "Station To Station," Swans Of Avon’s "Look Back In Anger"
and Timothy Moldrey’s "Moonage Daydream," since they are all drawn from
trippy periods in an equally trippy artist’s life.
Others, such as Gallery Of Fear with "Blue Jean," put a little dramatic
life into an otherwise forgettable Bowie tune. The album is rounded out
by a few more obscure choices, such as Syria’s "The Motel," Dreadful Shadows’
"Outside," Burning Gates’ "Time Will Crawl," Cream VIII’s "Big Brother,"
Exedra’s "Be My Wife," Kill The Audience’s "Girls" and Marquee Moon’s "Holy
Gothic Club Classics, Vol. 1
Although I’m still scratching my head over just what the heck a "Gothic
Club Classic" actually means, I’ve decided to set that question aside because
this 2 CD compilation includes a lot of top-drawer black clad music. Much
of it is familiar to anybody well-versed in the style, including the cuts
"Wasteland," by The Mission, Bauhaus’ classic, "Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Live),"
Killing Joke’s "Love Like Blood," "The Wedding Song," from Nick Cave, "Incubus
Succubus II" from X-mal Deutschland, Fields Of The Nephilim’s "Moonchild,"
"I Walk The Line," by Alien Sex Fiend and "Type O Negative’s "Christian
There’s also a cut from the always-intriguing Diamanda Galas ("Double
Barrel Prayer"), and the songs "Blume" by Einsturzende Neubauten and Psychic
TV doing "Godstar."
If you’re fascinated enough to dig even deeper into the Goth genre,
there are lesser-knowns such as The Merry Thoughts with "Goddess," Cassandra
Complex’s "Second Shot," Clan Of Xymox’s "Louise," Girls Under Glass’s
"Grey in Grey," Das Ich’s "Kain Und Abel," Eyes Of The Nightmare Jungle’s
"Shadow Dance," Dreadful Shadow’s "Burning The Shrouds," And Also The Trees’
"Lady D’Arbanville," Moonspell’s "Opium," The Eternal Afflict’s "Paint
It Black," Love Like Blood’s "Doomsday," Inkubus Sukkubus’ "Belladonna
and Aconite," Lacrimosa’s "Seele In Not (Metus Mix)," Pink Turns Blue’s
"Michelle," Children Of No Return’s "Sheryl," Theatre Of Tragedy’s "Tanz
der Schatten" and Angina Pectoris’ "Still Waiting."
This is dark stuff, but when it’s at its best, it’s like an affecting
aural horror movie for the mind.
R.Kelly • Snippet Street Sampler
These four snippets of songs, and one monster (21:16 long) "Classic Street
Mix," offer further proof that R.Kelly believes he can really fly as it
highlights his quivering and soulful vocals. Songs like "A Women’s Threat"
imply that the skies Kelly flies are sometimes anything but friendly, though.
"Fiesta" shows that today’s Latin music popularity hasn’t been lost on
Kelly. But even this seemingly party-ready song is, in fact, reeking with
dread. Looks like we’re in for a bumpy flight.