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Issue #29 April 2001

An Interview with Basque
Impressions of Falling Forward
(Click Here)


Doves
Pi
Pernice Brothers
Maggi, Pierce, and E.J.
Madcap


Doves
Lost Souls

Astralwerks Records
15 song CD

With a sound that owes as much to the early days of the first British Invasion as to the current crop of moody rock from the UK (think Radiohead & Travis), the Doves skillfully craft their songs with a classic sense of pop stylings. They meander and wander through psychedelia and power pop with equal abandon, painting wide strokes that never quite settle into a cohesive pattern. Yet, this works for them because they play on their strengths of tight songwriting and musicianship.

The album begins with the psychedelic instrumental Firesuite, which provides a smooth transition into the trippy offbeat rhythms of Here It Comes, which offers up its retroactivity in semi-distorted vocals and church organ riffs. The cockneyed, jingle-jangle flavor of Melody Calls could have easily originated in the mid-60s, while the sugary pop and power chords of Catch The Sun sounds like it could have been a song written by Joe Jackson for the Foo Fighters.

It's a little out of focus, but the album has enough depth to keep it from wearing thin. If these guys can really get it together, there will be greater things to come.

MISH MASH Mandate: Lovey Dovey

Astralwerks Website


Pi
Irrational

Fusi Pumper Records
12 song CD

Is Pi a diva? She has the pop sensibilities of Madonna and the strong-arm vocal range of Shania Twain, a gripping and perfect combination for the road to superstardom. But, something tells me Pi is probably content with putting out high quality releases like Irrational, an album that avoids the cliche trappings of the Top 40 and probably won't raise her above underground status. Beautifully produced by Pfilbryte, and fully staffed with talented musicians, it plays the game of pop without following all the rules.

The upfront and down-to-earth lyrics of Therapy begins the album with a bang, hidden in the context of a pop groove: "I have no need to confess / Just for your entertainment / You'll say put on your talk show best / But each and every one of these scars once bled." The slow beatnik rhythms of The Rules provide a cool background for Pi's soulful vocals, only to kick back into the dance grooves of Target. If you need some attitude, there's more than a little bit of grrrl angst in the self-explanatory Pretty Good For A Girl, proving Pi isn't one to go quietly.

MISH MASH Mandate: Perfect Pop

Fusi Pumper Records Website


Pernice Brothers
e.p.

Ashmont Records
5 song CD

With a very limited printing of 500 copies, e.p. is a quick little appetizer for die-hard fans itching to hear the upcoming Pernice Brothers disc, The World Won't End. At first listen, the EP sounds less like the deep, lush sounds of Overcome By Happiness and more like the simpler, more recent recordings from Joe Pernice's side projects Chappaquiddick Skyline and Big Tobacco. Yet, like those solo efforts, this disc gives us yet another look at Pernice's seemingly bottomless talent for songwriting. It's a rare glimpse of songs-in-progress, sketches that aren't fully complete or slickly produced, but which totally rely on their own merits.

The stand out tune here is the hypnotic Light My Way, a song previously only available by download at mp3.com. If this song is any indication of things to come, The World Won't End will be the record to look for this summer.

MISH MASH Mandate: Short Stuff

Pernice Brothers Website


Maggi, Pierce and E.J.
For

EMP Records
15 song CD

Dedicated to and inspired by Jeff Buckley, For is an excellent and endearing tribute to the lost musician and songwriter who died in a drowning accident in 1997. Maggi, Pierce, and E.J. do their best to avoid pigeonholes, exploring a variety of musical styles and genres without missing a beat. The result is a striking collection of well-written tunes, conceived with spirit and care. Maggi's dreamy vocals bring to mind Nina Persson of the Cardigans, or maybe Harriet Wheeler of the Sundays.

The silky smooth and jazzy sounds of Ferdinand begin the album with a quiet and uplifting feel. The catchy pop chorus shows off the band's talent for vocal harmonies, their voices blending perfectly. There's a trippy feel to the offbeat rhythms of Burning the Sun, which are smartly juxtaposed against Maggi's cut-flat vocal delivery. The folksy and traditional feel of Space stands in sharp contrast to the dissonant noises of Bare, while the unique combination of voices as instruments in Behind A Dream makes the song stand in a category of its own.

For is an album which crosses boundaries and ties them all together in a memorable listening experience. Definitely worth checking out.

MISH MASH Mandate: Dreamtime

Maggi, Pierce, and E.J. Website


Madcap
Stand Your Ground

SideOneDummy Records
12 song CD

Just in case you might have any doubts about Madcap's punk cred, the band begins the disc with a 45 second blistering, expletive-filled romp called Die. I don't think you can get much more punk than that, and this short rifle-shot of an intro sets the furious mood that pervades this record.

The band gravitates to the scream-along genre of punk, setting up their shout-out choruses with fist-pumping verses which would work in a live setting. They don't try to race along at full-tilt, instead choosing a mid-range tempo which keeps the music flowing at a steady pace. The combination of catchy choruses and the mindful beat would suggest a tendency towards punk-pop, but the subject matter never allows this to happen in its purest form, tackling authority and religion without apology and with plenty of expletives. The most notable exception on the record is the quiet anger of I Hate the Man, which is delivered with Spanish lyrics sung over acoustic guitar strumming. It's a nice left turn to finish out the disc.

MISH MASH Mandate: Punk by the Pound

Madcap Website



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