2005 ISSUE #70
Red Letter Agent
Under Starlight EP
Burn The Good Ones Down EP
Bar H Records
Thereís a lot of talk going on about this quartet from Atlanta, and it turns out they live up to the hype---and then some. If you didnít know any better, youíd swear this group of good olí boys from Georgia hailed from the UK instead of the Peach State. Their songs evoke the smart Brit-pop sounds of groups like Travis, Coldplay, Radiohead, and Oasis, featuring thoughtful, emotive vocals and big, shimmering guitars.
In the past year, theyíve released two six song EPs, quickly garnering local and regional attention that hasnít been seen since the days of R.E.M. Their first release, Under Starlight displays a strength of songwriting that is jarring in its maturity and marvelous structure. The sound here is amazing, and itís hard to believe these guys produced this without the backing of a major label. Lead singer James Templetonís melodies and harmonies lift and drift over darkly colored guitar lines, which in turn ride over a tight and driving rhythm section. Itís a great combination, and each part flows with fluid motion, working together as a whole.
The second disc continues this feel, yet with a slightly darker and more anxious edge than the first. The band seems to have settled nicely into a melancholy groove, slow burning with the angst of lifeís confusion and lost love. The best track on both discs by far is the sad-eyed pop of Hide Your Love Away, which is reminiscent of The Beatles both in title and in spirit. While it isnít a remake of the fab four tuneís namesake, it does have the infectious draw of a Lennon/McCartney composition---and what better compliment could you give a band?
Red Letter Agent Website
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New Music Reviews
No-Fi Soul Rebellion
Lambs To The Slaughter
5 song CD
Here's some truth in advertising---the cheeky duet No-Fi Soul Rebellion
is actually "No-Fi"---as in one step below lo-fi. The absence
of production quality is the main element of the band's sound, which
is loosely based on a nasty collision of rap-rock-meets-garage-rock.
At first glance, this combination should turn away most music lovers
who have a modicum of taste, yet the tunes are so catchy and creative
that you find yourself singing them to yourself as they escape from
the dark recesses of your brain a few hours later.
When it's all said and done, this is a fun
little record that displays a knack for pop structure, without taking
any of it too seriously.
MISH MASH Mandate: One Step Beyond
Wantage USA Website
Peace Frog Records
11 song CD
This is the unlikely premise: famous punk and new wave songs performed
in the style of early 60s bossa nova. You're probably thinking, "Thanks,
but no thanks," yet you'd be mistaken. It's absolutely gorgeous
and surprisingly refreshing, as the tunes are reworked from top to
Songs like Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough"
and PIL's "This Is Not A Love Song" get a wonderous makeover,
the likes of which you've never heard before unless you frequent latin
jazz lounges where the musicians happen to fancy The Cure and The
Clash instead of Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
MISH MASH Mandate: Punk From Ipanema
Peace Frog Records Website
Tie Your Noose
12 Song CD
BBQ (aka Mark Sultan) is a one-man band who bases his lo-fi retro
rock squarely in the late 50s, when rockabilly was king. He stirs
up the dusty ghosts of Elvis and Carl Perkins while adding the
caustic neo rawk-out attitude of Flat Duo Jets and The White Stripes.
Sultan sings and plays all the instruments live to tape, a basic
ensemble which appears to consist of a heavily reverbed guitar,
a bass drum, a snare drum, and a tambourine. At one point he shows
his penchant for soul on "Don't Hold Out On Me," which
sounds like a Sam Cooke song run through a fuzz box. Another standout
track is his take on the Rolling Stones' "Out Of Time,"
which rambles along the straightaway following the unrelenting
drum beats. Let's face it, your dad's music was never this cool.
MISH MASH Mandate: Retrobilly
Bomp! Records Website
Long Drive To Iceland
9 song CD
A while back, I reviewed Skyline Rodeo's EP, and stated that I was
eager to hear a full release. I am not disappointed, because these
guys delivered. Their brand of dissonant semi-prog works nicely
in the long playing format, giving them plenty of legroom to kick
our collective rear ends.
no pop structure, and very little in the way of melody, as they
concentrate their efforts on noisy guitar runs and angst-ridden
vocals which ride counter to the aggressive rhythm section. Yes,
it is a dynamic mess, but it works almost flawlessly. Where the
EP left us wanting more, the full meal deal leaves us fully satisfied,
along with an aching backside. Consider yourself fully warned.
MISH MASH Mandate: Assume The Position
Skyline Rodeo Website
This Band Makes Me Feel
12 Song CD
What does this band make me feel? Like rock and roll, of course.
What other answer could you give to the likes of Widespread Panic's
Dave Schools, Hayride's Kevin Sweeney, and Counting Crows' drummer
The trio's classic rock roots are on full display as they
rip out a dozen tunes which run the gamut from big riff rock to
jam band to southern rock without missing a beat. They don't take
any real chances, but they don't have to. They are obviously having
some fun, and man, does it show. I'd imagine it was hard to get
them out of the garage and into the studio, as they were probably
having a blast just playing together. This is what a supergroup
should sound like
MISH MASH Mandate: Feelin' Groovy
Sanctuary Records Website
11 song CD
Sean Jackson is a one-man hard rocking machine, as he practically
single-handedly wrote, performed, and produced his debut release.
It's an amalgam of all that is rock, venturing from classic metal
to grunge to prog to rap-rock and into punk, displaying a knack
for big power chord assaults and rhythmic aggression.
The songwriting is tight, and so is the playing---something which
generally suffers in a non-band situation. At the same time, the
self-production tends to make the sound a little thin in places,
although not enough to take away from the complete package. When it's all said and done, there's plenty of "meat" here, enough that Mr. Jackson can leave
the salad days behind.
MISH MASH Mandate: Solid Rock
Sean Jackson Website
© 2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved