PODCAST COMING SOON)
2007 ISSUE #94
Artists Trojan/Sanctuary Records
17 song CD
Greenwood Is The Controller
The idea behind this compilation is a little odd,
but the result is fabulous. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood
is given the seemingly insurmountable task of pulling together
a collection of his favorite Trojan tracks. What does Radiohead
(or Greenwood) have to do with reggae, you might ask? Nothing
that I can ascertain, but that doesn't matter. What does matter
is that Greenwood has managed to do a pretty good job of compiling
a number of semi-obscure tracks that are at the same time accessible
to those just getting into the genre.
Of course, there are a few of the usual suspects
in attendance, including Lee "Scratch" Perry, Desmond
Dekker, and Delroy Wilson, to name a few. Thanks to Greenwood's
sequencing, the album maintains a consistent flow, only taking
a few turns into left field. And, it's these little forays are
what makes this album worth picking up; like the quirky sound
effects that build up to a funky groove on the song Flash
Gordon Meets Luke Skywalker, by Scientist & Jammy
& The Roots Radics.
The disc really hits its stride in the middle of
the disc, when Greenwood throws in Junior Byles' incredible take
on the standard Fever, originally made famous by
Peggy Lee. This version takes the song to a completely different
level, adding an aggressive feel with the unrelenting, driving
rhythm. Thanks in no small part to the production of Perry, Byles
takes ownership of the song and puts his own personal stamp on
The liner notes are fairly extensive for a single
CD compilation, giving a short historical blurb on each song so
the listener can put the tracks into the proper context. This
helps bring the collection into focus, as we can see what motivated
Greenwood in his selections. To sum up, serious reggae fans will
find this collection somewhat redundant, but newbies should consider
this a marvelous way to get their feet wet. Watch out, because
you'll be buying more.
MISH MASH Mandate: OK Controller
Trojan Records Website
Lee Perry Jukebox
2 CD Set
While there have been countless Lee "Scratch"
Perry compilations over the years, this one is a little different,
in that Perry hand-picked each track on the disc. The compilation
covers his decades long career, showcasing his solo work alongside
his producing work for other artists, beginning in the mid 1960's
and going up through 2003.
The collection allows us to follow Perry's evolution,
seeing how he developed and changed his approach over the years,
from the simple sounds of early reggae to the whacked-out experimentation
of dub. We also get to see first hand what an impact he had on
the sound of reggae and dub as a whole, and of course leading
on into the pop music of the past 40 years.
The liner notes also give us a new perspective,
as we're given direct commentary from Perry himself on the importance
of the tunes he picked. In the notes, he states that "music
is like a teacher", and this rings true while listening to
his growth as the music moves along.
MISH MASH Mandate: Cat Scratch Fever
Trojan Records Website
HEY BANDS! OPEN YOUR ONLINE T-SHIRT
SHOP FOR FREE!
- The Ponys
Turn The Lights Out
12 song CD
TRACK = DOUBLE VISION
The Ponys have made another metamorphosis. Their debut, Laced
With Romance, was a wild and unpredictable ride that stayed on
edge from beginning to end, while their followup, Celebration
Castle, was much more subtle and sedated, almost laid back in
its approach. The band's latest release on their new label, Matador,
is caught somewhere in between, refining their sound into something
much more distinctive.
The edginess is back, but it is somewhat overshadowed by the
neat guitar lines that seem to organize and strategize the moves
of the new album. You can hear every guitar part with clarity,
and the singing ventures into dissonant wailing only once and
a while. In other words, there's plenty of danger, but we never
quite dance on the edge of the cliff like we did the first time
around. And believe it or not, that's a good thing.
Chalk it up to being older and wiser, because the songs show
a focus and determination that the previous releases were missing.
They've honed their sound down from distorted chaos into a well-oiled
MISH MASH Mandate: Pony Express
Matador Records Website
The Way It Feels
12 song CD
TRACK = A LOVE THAT'S SIMPLE
Roxanne Potvin has the blues, bi-lingual style. The Quebec-based
singer/guitarist is convincing in English and French, mixing up
a unique batch of old fashioned R&B that is sure to please the
most finicky of fans.
Potvin has the perfect voice for the blues, middle-ranged with
just the right amount of roughness around the edges. With plenty
of genuine soul and grit, she moves from upbeat barn burners to
quiet ballads with ease.
It also doesn't hurt that she has some help from the likes of John
Hiatt and Daniel Lanois. Hiatt and Potvin turn up the heat on A
Love That's Simple, while Lanois provides the perfect French singing
partner on La Merveille. With friends like that, you can't go wrong,
and Potvin does everything just right.
MISH MASH Mandate: Tres Bien
Ruf Records Website
7 song 7" Vinyl EP
Imagine if The Fall and Refused got it on and had an ugly little
thrash baby named American Cheeseburger. This quartet from Athens
is bound and determined to make as much pissing noise as possible
on a 7 inch, and boy do they get the job done. Somehow they cram
in more than half a dozen manic tunes while the record spins at
The punk roots of American Cheeseburger are undeniable, yet the
avant garde nature of their obtuse lyrics put them right in line
with Mark E. Smith. It's easy to imagine him doing riffs off lines
like "Explosive paradise nocturnal transmission", even
though Cheeseburger singer James screams the words with sheer incomprehension.
Add to that the sonic bombast of a guitar-bass-drums wall of sound,
and you've got a recipe for tasty Southern thrash.
MISH MASH Mandate: Can I Scream?
Tsunami Records Website
The Red Button
She's About To Cross My Mind
11 song CD
TRACK = SHE'S ABOUT TO CROSS MY MIND
Here's a refreshing little album, just in time to brighten up your
spring listening. The duo of Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg has
done their homework, and their main area of study has been the British
Invasion 101. They pass with honors, laying down track after track
of original, well-crafted, catchy 60's-styled pop that will have
you humming along at first listen.
Innovative? Ground breaking? Not quite, but what does it matter?
This one is fun and a joy to listen to, nothing more, nothing less.
Not many artists can pull this off and do it so well.
MISH MASH Mandate: The British Are Coming
The Red Button Website
13 song CD
Ben Lamar's Juba Dance is a musical adventure that winds its
way through a host of genres, from hip-hop to latin to traditional
blues to jazz. It's a crazy and wonderful mess, one that bounces
from style to style, never settling into a single spot.
Lamar truly is all over the place, and at the same time he avoids
any semblance of pop structure or cliche. The sheer amount of
diversity is the only thing holding it all together, creating
a collage of sound that revels in defying your expectations. Sure
to bring hours of listening bliss.
MISH MASH Mandate: Orange Juiced
Audio 8 Website
11 song CD
TRACK = TIME IS A RUNAWAY
The Alternate Routes have big songs with a big sound. They sound
like a band that should already be as huge as that sound, as their
flawless execution leaves you feeling like you're in the presence
of a U2 or Radiohead. Yes, they're that good.
A lot of that is thanks to lead vocalist Tim Warren, who has a
distinct and strong singing voice. He's in command, and the songs
succeed in his hands. The production is open and airy, allowing
Warren and the band to move around the tunes freely, which only
adds to the depth. The standout track here is Time Is A Runaway,
where everything great about this band comes together in one place.
MISH MASH Mandate: Alternating
The Alternate Routes Website
Gary B &
Get Those Crazy Notions!
7 song CD
Power pop meets the garage with Gary B & The Notions, a band
with plenty of attitude and a snide sense of humor. Their EP is
a semi-lo-fi excursion into three chord rock, never taking itself
quite seriously, but never letting go of the pop hooks.
Lead singer/guitarist Gary Barrett, Jr. seems to be the fuel for
this fire, as his wisecracking vocals rip through any sense of pretense
or illusion. He comes across like a modern-day Elvis Costello, wallowing
in the angst with tongue firmly in cheek.
MISH MASH Mandate: Velvet Elvis
Gary B & The Notions Website
© 2007 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved