"Dan's Reviews"

by Dan MacIntosh
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(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

Chairmaker’s Rush
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

Planetary Records
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 timeless.

Mrs. Fun • Funsville

Daemon Records
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

RCA Records
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

Instant Credibility
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

Mojo Records
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

Daemon Records
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

Arista Records
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

Planetary Records
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

Vile Beat
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 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 Woman."
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.

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