by Dan MacIntosh
Sponsored In Part By
KMFDM • Boots
"These Boots Are Made For Walkin’" was written by Lee Hazlewood for the
purpose of making Nancy Sinatra appear hip while singing it. Back in the
Sixties, it was as much a fashion statement about go-go boots as it was
an assertion of feminine power. It was also a fun song. But here, these
boots sound more like they were made for working a blue-collar job and
not being fashionable. KMFDM gives it a swift kick in the pants with these
various takes on the song. It’s mostly for those who like the sound of
Danielle Howle And The Tantrums • Skorborealis
Danielle Howle And The Tantrums make sweetly jangle-y guitar pop, and a
name like Tantrums appears to be a misnomer, since Howle sings with a self-assured
vocal tone, and these songs cover fairly innocent topics, with titles like
"Hello Kitty" and "Camaro Power." Danielle doesn’t howl, nor do her bandmates
throw any tantrums, but they do make fine alternative-lite music. It’s
kind of like flavorful, yet decaffeinated, college rock, with just the
slightest touch of folk and a hint of the psychedelic.
Menza • Life After Deth
Nick Menza makes high concept hard rock, as is suggested by song titles
like "Heaven’s Gate," "One Nation" and "In My Life." He sings with a clear
vocal tone and takes some of his rhythmic cadences from rap. This music
is muscular hard rock, yet it’s also a little on the Rush progressive side.
The album doesn’t include the final answers on exactly what life will be
like after death, but it will give you a good chance to rock out a little
while you’re still here.
Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture The Scorpion King
Without seeing the movie, it’s hard to know what all these tunes have to
do with the film. Nevertheless, these hard rock tracks sting. Godsmack
shouts about independence with "I Stand Alone." P.O.D. is given the Tweaker
Remix on their "Set It Off." Drowning Pool fills "Break You" with an eerie
bass groove. "Streamline" by System Of A Down is a fast-paced punk workout.
Creed adds a rare gentle touch to the proceedings with "To Whom It May
Concern." Nickelback gets big and beefy with "Yanking Out My Heart." Hoobastank’s
"Losing My Grip" is a sensitive admission. Flaw throws together a scratchy
rock thang with "Only The Strong." Rob Zombie is joined by MTV TV soap
star Ozzy Osbourne for "Iron Head." 12 Stones alternates between electric
guitar strums and chunky riffs for "My Life." Mushroomhead adds what sounds
like tribal drumming and doomsday bells to its "Along The Way." Lifer’s
"Breathless" is a bleeding guitar song, and not the Jerry Lee Lewis rocker
of old. "Corrected" by Sevendust has polyrhythm to spare. Injected’s "Burn
It Black" is like a more riotous retelling of The Rolling Stones’ "Paint
It Black." Breaking Point’s "27" is filled with held-in tension. "Glow"
by Coal Chamber has Goth elements that may remind some of Bauhaus. If you
don’t come away from hearing this without a little pain, you really weren’t
The Instrumental Memphis Music Sampler
Memphis is about more than just Elvis and Stax, as this album reveals.
Carl Wolfe’s "Talkin’ Stuff" is jazzy and swinging. "Green Onions" is Charlie
Wood’s take on the old Stax instrumental, speaking of Stax. Joseph Patrick
Moore gets funky on "Sex In Space." "AM" by Billy Gibson sounds exactly
like an early morning, after a very late night. Tim Simmons gets a little
ambient on "Eternal Dream." "Palace Of Ra/Eternal Egypt Soundtrack" creates
a fitting Middle Eastern mood. Seven Four Slide’s excerpt from "Foothold/Tina’s
Theme" is stately, and almost classical. "Tranquility Bass" by Grayson
Wells is downright space-y. Peter Pederson’s "Pictures Of A Woman" is clear
evidence that the harmonica is not just good for camp sing-alongs. Freewold
conjures up memories of The Meters with "Come By The House." Edwin Hubbard
gets down and blues-y on "Edwin’s Memphis Blues." William Lee Ellis ends
this collection on a quiet acoustic note with "Darkness As The Noonday."
Ultrapull • From All Directions
Gold Circle Records
Ultrapull write about emotional struggles -- much the same way many other
modern rock outfits do -- only they do so with a musical brightness, including
layered vocal harmonies and chiming guitars. They sound a little depressed,
but they don’t let these feelings make the music drag to a crawl, like
so many in today’s lo-fi community. Guitars are utilized to create tunes
you can hum along with, instead of as tools to pummel the listener into
submission, which ought to help them stand out from the pack.
Moondream • Hung Up On Breathing
Moody down-in-the-mouth rock is primarily a male-dominated field these
days, but Stef Magro of Moondream adds a welcome female voice to this crying
choir. Moondream plays propulsive rock, and sing about the many roadblocks
to smooth communication within relationships. There’s a feeling at times
that Moondream is trying just a little too hard to communicate its ideas,
which causes the music to drag a tad. But with a little tightening of the
hooks and melodies, they should soon be in ship radio shape.
Punk Chartbusters Vol. 4
Punk rockers have never seen a pop song they didn't want to gob on, and
if you don't believe me, take a listen to the saliva flying on this two-disc
set. Still "Gwyllions actually sing in harmony on "I Can Hear Music." The
Billy Rubin sound sinister with "Overload." "Hang on Sloopy" is nicely
sloppy under the helm of Die Toten Hosen. "You Might Think" is almost too
fast for thought by The Unknown. Human Hamster Hybrids get wild on "Chequered
Love." Peace Brothers give Madonna a Mohawk with "Frozen." "Major Tom"
is filled with extra urgency by Raubertochter. "Tainted Love" is tainted
with guitars, rather than synths, by The Living End. The world really does
sound like it's coming to an end when ZSK takes on "Eve of Destruction."
Schandfleck rip it up with "Torn." "Suburbia" sounds like actual suburb
dwellers when Skin Of Tears sing it. "You Got It" flies by when Tabascos
take it on. Terrorgruppe play "Love Machine." "Don't You Want Me" always
did sound like a punk rant, and Socks do it justice. At last, Britney gets
hers with "Baby, One More Time" by Second Floor Daycare. You may want to
hold onto that quarter when Squatweiler is singing "Call Me." "Please Please
Me" doesn't sound all that different with Ruth's Hat's singing and playing
of it. Poison is played with when The MC Rackins run through "Talk Dirty
To Me." "I'll Be There For You" doesn't exactly sound friendly when extended
by Stimilion. Backlash mark the calendar in blood red on "I Don't Like
Mondays." Nichts Gelernt play "Du Tragst Keine Liebe In Dir." "Nice Girls"
is detailed by Payback. The wild life is lived through Dragster on "Livin'
La Vida Loca." "Time Of My Life" goes low-fi by In Case Of Emergency. Those
old standbys, UK Subs, play "Something in the Air." Funeral Dress sound
to be hurrying through the airport with "Leaving on a Jetplane." The Bangles
ballad "Eternal Flame" ends disc one with a version of it by Tagtraum.
Side two begins with D. Sailors featuring Wick Slick on "We Built This
City." Tinnitus breaks through with "Break On Through." Mad Caddies drench
"S.O.S." in horns. "Strangers In The Night" sounds especially strange when
sung by Square The Circle. The Revolvers kiss up with "Then He Kissed Me."
Kafkas get cynical with "Rent." Venerea sound road weary with "On The Road
Again." "Sleeping in My Car" is hopped up with horns by SFH. One doubts
any lions will catch much sleep if in the presence of Scallwags' "The Lion
Sleeps Tonight." Face To Face sings "Helpless." "Dear Jesse" is assisted
by violin in its version from Celebraten. Niteblind, featuring Bela B.,
amps up "Talkin' 'Bout A Revolution." "Time After Time" is filled with
angst by Sewing With Nancie. The Daybreak Boys have a Holly time with "Oh
Boy." "Shalala" is happily sung and played by Taboo. Out Of Frame experiment
with "Narcotic." "Don't You Ever Leave Me" is all glam by The Hymans. Kick
Indicator gets serious with "Quit Playing Games." "Layla" is transformed
by Morgentot. Kleine Jagermeister take on "Alkohol." Apocalypse Hoboken
get dirty with "Darling Nikki." "Moonlight Shadow" is blasted by Scorefor.
Wallride go old school U2 for "New Years Day." "The Safety Dance" is totally
unsafe by Blastcaps. Mensen hyper jump on their version of "Jumpin' Jack
Flash." O Eight 5 Teens close disc two with the universal "We Are The World."
Ska is the sub-genre that simply refuses to die, and this collection of
unlikely skanking takes on modern pop and rock tunes is further evidence
for its proof of life. On disc one, Furillo replaces heavy metal guitar
with horns on "The Final Countdown," The Busters give Queen's "We're The
Champions" a tropical feel. Suspects suggest even metal gloom-sters Metallica
can be given happy feet with "Seek and Destroy." Schwarz Auf Weiss play
"Alles Wird Sich Andern Wenn Wir Gross Sind." "Dancin' in the Street" is
given a brand new beat by Benuts. Frank Zappa is the last guy I'd ever
expect to see go two-tone, but his "Dirty Love" is ska-d for life by Gangster
Fun. Lax Alex Con Trax de-synth Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy." Moskovskaya
de-Swede ABBA's "Mama Mia." Los Placebos rename and add jump to "Skantaloop."
"Du Hast Den Farbfilm Vergessen" is performed by Blascore, in all its German
glory. "Leaving On A Jet Plane" is headed for Jamaica by Dr. Raju. Thumper
is just as crazy as Oz on "Crazy Train." "Soul Rebel" is reverent to Bob
Marley when in the hands of The Butlers. "Dirty Old Town" is transported
to a sunnier climate with Deal's Gone Bad's version of it. Serial Skansters
recognize Blondie's love for Jamaican music with their cover of "Denise."
Frau Doktor add a little more German to the mix on "Irgendwie Mag Ich Dich."
Skanatra sound like Ol' Brown Eyes with "New York, New York." Side two
gives "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" the kick Wham could never truly provide
for it. "Mama Mia" is given a second go round, this time by Spitfire. "So
Lonely" is out of the custody of The Police, and performed by The Hippos.
Mr. Bubble comes clean with "I Look At You." Skin Of Tears perform "Kayleigh."
"What's the Color of Money" isn't exactly swooned by Swoons. Blue Meanies
get happy with "Happy Together." "The Final Countdown" is counted down
again to close out the project, this time by Wisecracker.
Zoo Story • Zoo Story
This Zoo Story is not about any rare and exotic animal menagerie. Instead,
it's all about Randy Coleman's urgent poetry, set to insurgent rock and
roll music. Such a beast has been done better before -- U2 and Pearl Jam
come immediately to mind -- but there's a gentle sincerity in songs like
"Star" that raises this a few rungs above mere genre-aping. People laughed
at such similar traits in Creed, but how many bands wouldn't kill for their
sales figures right now?
Autumn Tears • Sampler
Autumn Tears leans closer to classical music variations on manic depression,
rather than the more punk and metal influenced outputs of many current
practitioners of the form. Yet if you listen closely to these choral-like
vocals, you'll hear ghoulish lyrics about tasting flesh and the sort. This
release acts as a 14-song sampler of the group's music, with titles like
"This My Melancholic Masquerade" and "Black Heaven," and it should fit
nicely into any Gothic hoe-down.
Tenacious D • Tenacious D
Tenacious D is the duo of actors Jack Black and Kyle Gass having fun with
dumb hard rock cliches, dumbass attitudes and sex and recreational drug
use. Black, who handles lead vocals, is hilarious with his mock serious
best rock opera voice on songs like "Tribute," and his lusty vocalizations
for "Kielbasa." He also sends up every hard rock power ballad ever performed
with "F*ck Her Gently." I'll bet they also even kinda dig the music they
make fun of, as well.
David Davidson • Celtic Fantasy
A Celtic fantasy for David Davidson is probably not Britney Spears in a
see-through kilt, but I'll bet it would be an intriguing mental picture
for many sex-starved American males. Instead, Davidson is an accomplished
violinist who composes and plays these Irish-classical compositions in
trio, quartet or quintet formats. The album's swelling romanticism leaves
it somewhere between traditional Irish folk music and the more adventurous
stuff from the likes of Enya. Oh, and it's pretty good, too.
Space Station • There's Nothing Routine About Space Travel
Space Station may be intrigued by what's out there in the great beyond,
but this album makes it sound like these guys took along a satchel full
of '60s and '70s funk-soul music, like Sly and the Family Stone, for their
intergalactic journey. Guitar, bass and drums are augmented by soul sister
back-up vocals and plenty of horn-age. It may not be a musical 2001 Space
Odyssey, but it still makes for some mighty fine traveling music.
Jim Washburn • Stumbling Still Warm
Jim Washburn plays folk-rock like they used to do it when it was first
invented in the Sixties. With colorings from harmonica, lap steel and Hammond
B3, this musical backing helps to prop up Washburn's all-too-plain voice.
Sometimes this flat-ish voice spoils his songs, such as with "What (A River
Song)" where he sounds like he's doing a really bad Leonard Cohen impression.
He's at his best, however, when the tempo speeds up, as it does with "Sometimes
Babylon AD • American Blitzkrieg
Peaceniks won't be all that pleased with Babylon AD's apocalyptic album
photos -- especially the one of the nuclear mushroom cloud on the back;
especially in light of America's current military condition. But then again,
hard rock has never been politically correct, so we shouldn't raise our
expectations too very high. Singer Derek Davis has more natural soul than
most diehard rockers, and he shows off on this album's title cut, which
slips into a little of Edwin Starr's "War."
Carole King • Love Makes The World
Carole King is one of America's best songwriters, hands down, but in today's
fast-moving music market, fickle fans have a way of forgetting its pop
pioneers. If marketed correctly, this album should serve as a worthy reminder
about King's talent. The album is not at all edgy sounding, as it relies
on smooth pop for its mood, but King is also an extremely expressive singer,
and that's what makes this disc a testament to King's enduring artistic
FLAW • Through The Eyes
FLAW features youth culture stereotypes on the cover photo for their Through
The Eyes CD (dreadlocks, various body pierces, tattoos, sour looks)
and overused musical trend trappings within (bad white rapping, nu-metal
guitar wankings, frustrated lyrics). Once upon a time, such devices were
ground breaking and unique. Now groups like FLAW are unique, to paraphrase
one wise observer, just like everybody else.
Universal Records Rock Sampler
This six song (or shall we say, sick song?) sampler features FLAW's flawed
nu-metal offering "Payback," Lifer's heavy metal "Not Like You," Mushroomhead's
theatrical (OK, I know you can't exactly hear the theatrical stuff on a
disc) "Solitaire Unraveling," the German Rammstein's "Ich Will," Hatebreed's
short hardcore and heavy "Conceived Through An Act Of Violence" and "(Live
My Life)" by Soungarden-like Speak No Evil, to round out Universal's current
crop of edgy rock lineup.
Carnivore: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Dark Star Records
The movie Carnivore is about some unsuspecting teenagers
who somehow become the target of a failed government experiment. Its plot
revolves around a biogenetic mistake that creates a monster (what else),
which goes crazy in a rural region where the teens just happen to be spending
the night. It's up to these brave young souls to save themselves and the
town. Doug Lofstrom provides the instrumental soundtrack music, but it's
mostly a bunch of metal bands that contribute the actual songs for this
un-chick film. Holland gives us old school hair metal on "Sacrifice"; Madison
Rhoades and Blatant Disregard bring to mind Pat Benetar, back in her heyday;
Slave Driver welcomes us to L.A.'s jungle, especially with the apocalyptic
"L.A.'s Burning;" Nitro burns up the tracks with "Freight Train;" "It's
Over Now" a ballad (?) by L.A. Guns reveals that band's rarely seen gentler
side, and Cutless is up in arms over morality issues in "You Stand Accused."
"Carnivore" is, without a doubt, no Veggie Tale.
Rage • Unity
This is not Rage Against The Machine, but these rockers are sure striking
back against the cold hard night within these metallic grooves. This trio's
music is fast, hard and angry. Their songs are as serious as a heart attack,
exemplified by tracks like "World Of Pain" and "Seven Deadly Sins." The
title track on this release combines dueling guitar and keyboards in a
speedy display of skilled musicianship. At least they've achieved unity
on a musical level. Next stop, world peace.
Audra • Going To The Theatre
As much as many music fans might like to forget the whole Gothic rock movement
from the '80s, bands like Audra just won't let it die. As singer Bret Helm
sounds almost exactly like Bauhaus man Peter Murphy, you half expect him
to break into "Bela Lugosi's Dead" almost at any moment. This is dark music
for dark people, so if your wardrobe is still mostly black, this CD belongs
somewhere in your collection.
Evick • Anachronism
Evick's music is big guitar pop rock -- kind of like Bon Jovi. In fact,
Pete Evick's voice even has a Bon Jovi scratchiness to it. These songs
rock hard enough for classic rock fans to dig, but you'll still be humming
Evick melodies long after the songs are done. Too many bands today are
all muscle, and no melody. Not so with Evick, however: They're not too
tough to make you sing along.
Butch Walker • Left of Self-Centered
Butch Walker has left Marvelous 3 and struck out on his own with this new
solo project. The sound of this release is straightforward guitar rock,
but Walker's lyrics are what show off his creative side. The pseudo music
business advice column-in-song of "Rock Vocal Power," and the "Diary Of
A San Fernando Sexx Star" (which would have worked perfectly in Boogie
Nights) are priceless examples of what he does best. Butch Walker makes
hard rock is fun again.
Diana King • Respect
Maverick Recording Company
Diana King was discovered after providing a little reggae/dancehall flava
to The Notorious B.I.G. on his Ready To Die Album, and this highly
sexual reggae soul CD reveals how much affinity King has with that whole
gangsta rap world. She sings one hot sun song (called "Summer Breezin'")
twice. The first time, it's a solo rendering, but the second time, it's
as a duet with Bounty Killer. One gets the distinct feeling that no summer
fun for King is complete if it doesn't also lead directly to sex.
John Trudell • Bone Days
John Trudell is a respected musician/poet who smartly weaves his Native
American activism into his music. But the novelty of his half spoken/half
sung diatribes wears thin after a while. And some of his analogies are
just plain confusing. How, for example, we should draw a parallel between
the plight of Native Americans and Jesus on the cross, is not entirely
clear. His music is, nevertheless, unique stuff -- especially its mixture
of folk-rock and traditional chants and instrumentation.
Magnum • Breath Of Life
Magnum is progressive rock, that also gets its metal ya-ya's out, or it's
heavy metal, with a strong progressive Jones. Whatever the case, this is
serious stuff. Unlike, say, Motley Crue, there aren't a lot of "Girls,
Girls, Girls" in songs such as "Cry," "The Face Of An Enemy" or "That Holy
Touch." Magnum aims its lyrical guns at issues of life and death, with
deadly aim on its album Breath Of Life.
Bruce & Lisa • Gifts Of Love
Level Ground Records
"Gifts Of Love" is an album of flute music (played by Lisa LaCross), and
violin and keyboard sounds (provided by Bruce Wethey). These instrumentals
are mainly of the love-y dove-y variety, with titles like "First Kiss."
There is an additional spiritual element underpinning this project, and
the disc also features one vocal performance by Delaney Amatrudo. It sounds
a little like soft jazz, even though Bruce & Lisa don't ever swing
No December • In The Essence Of Innocence
No December appears to be especially focused on the months of the year,
as it's named itself after that Christmastime month, and it opens its album
with one called "August Second." Ryan Potts writes and sings all these
aggressive rock songs in an anguished voice. There isn't anything here
that hasn't already flooded alternative rock airwaves, but No December
should catch the ears of anybody already tuned into this sort of thing.
Marlo Donato • Marlo
Marlo Donato's voice sure sounds an awful lot like Deborah Harry (of Blondie),
on this demo's ethereal opening song, "Wishing." The other two cuts don't
shine nearly so brightly, but there's certainly something good going on
here, nonetheless. Donato makes keyboard-heavy pop music that hearkens
back to the Eighties, but never in a nostalgic sort of way. If she can
build an album's worth of songs out of track one's template, she might
be someone to watch.
John Maragos • I Belong To You
John Maragos has his eye trained right on the lighter side of today's pop
chart, as this recording contains well-produced slices of music one might
easily associate with current boy bands or young girl divas. His lyrics
are uncomplicated odes of love and affection, which are sung over toe-tapping
un-urban dance music. Although Maragos may never change the face of music
with his obviously recycled ideas, he at least knows how to sound completely
Greg Grant • After The Crash
Altered State Records
Greg Grant's music is built largely upon acoustic guitar foundations.
He sounds a lot like Dave Matthews -- at least musically -- in places here.
On "Serpent Lady," the music takes on an appealing ethnic feel. His love
songs would be even more effective if he added a little more spark to his
acoustic guitar song arrangements. Acoustic strums all start to sound the
same, unless contrasting elements are added to the mix.
The Timbre Project • Ruining Perfectly Good Songs
Ice Cream Headache Records
Jaime D'Almeida is the driving force behind The Timbre Project, and one
is left desperately wishing his songs were even half as funny as the CD
package notes. Said notes contain a section of "nuggets to listen for,"
which lists submarine and cricket effects. There's also a note that warns
against looking for a booklet, because there isn't one. D'Almeida sings
and plays folk-rock music, which is nicely colored by country elements
-- such as dobro and pedal steel.
Heather Shayne Blakeslee • Bones
Little Red Records
Heather Shane Blakeslee thanks her dad in the album notes for "playing
those Dylan and Croce tunes," and she sounds to have learned these initial
music listening lessons well. Bones is a quiet, yet insistent, collection
of personalized folk revelations. Songs like "Opiates & Envy" and "Lazarus"
exemplify the literate themes of these mainly acoustic songs. Laying down
such inward-exposing tracks is kind of like what Jim Croce might call saving
time in a bottle.