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Issue #33 August 2001

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Mike Filipek
Lunar Philharmonic
Matt Easton
Oddibe
Puddle
Regan
Scott Johnson
Volo


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Mike Filipek
Come On In!

Los Fish Records
12 song CD

Mike Filipek has a strong hold on classic middle of the road rock, flirting with rough-edged songwriters like Tom Petty and Neil Young. The songs flow loosely, sometimes downright sloppy drunk, the perfect raw sound that you can only find in a roadhouse dive.

There's a lot of ground covered, and Filipek shows his range when he switches out between the driving ruckus of It's Always Something and the subtle Pink Floyd-like tripping-out of Bring A Rainbow. While he never really goes out too far on a limb, he occasionally takes a sharp left turn, like on the exotic rhythms of In My Time or the pure primal wildness of the instrumental Big Coffee.

A good solid album from an artist who's not afraid to take a few chances along the way.

MISH MASH Mandate: Multiple Choice
Mike Filipek Website
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Lunar Philharmonic
Songs of Home

Galloping Dead Empire
8 song CD

This is a true excursion into the essence of rhythm and sound. Under the name Lunar Philharmonic, drummer Michael Scott and keyboardist Joe DiMattia have created a world of exotic beat patterns surrounded by waves of aural atmospheres. The combination mixes into an almost visual landscape, revealing layers of depth within a simple package of two players.

The driving force of Ninety Five segues into the epic, bleak emptiness of Ninety Three, which in turn gives way to the staccato edge of Ninety Nine. There's an industrial harshness to One O Three, which bites with a metallic edge, while the tribal sounds of Ninety are very organic and earthy.

An excellent lesson in the powerful combination of the subtle and sublime.

MISH MASH Mandate: Moon Unit


Matt Easton
Love Ambition Demo

5 song CD

There is dynamic power at work in the music of Matt Easton. Emotionally wrenching, yet quietly controlled, his songs remind me at times of the beautifully heartfelt compositions of the late Jeff Buckley, and the recent left-field leanings of Radiohead. Easton's tunes are more down-to-earth and accessible, but they still contain that mysterious element that make Buckley's songs so touching and Radiohead's so unforgettable.

Well made and structured beyond the usual confines of a demo, Love Ambition Demo is more like an EP, complete within itself. From the gentle solitude of The Promise to the uneasy strumming of Angelmouth, Easton wears his proverbial heart on his sleeve with passion to spare.

MISH MASH Mandate: Proverbial Passion

Matt Easton Website


Oddibe
Oddibe

Giant Blue Monkey Records
12 song CD

Oddibe has a firm grip on acoustic-based pop tunes. Each song on the record jangles along with structured verses and catchy choruses. Nothing too original, but it works well for this Texas quartet. They are smooth and tight, each song a perfect picture.

The honesty of the songwriting helps keep the record afloat. The pleading vocals and urgent lyrics of Dog Eyes bring the song to life: "Please God help me out...I'm scared as hell." There's a cool country flavor to Shake Your Head, and Step Outside hurries along in classic indie-rock fashion.

At times, Oddibe reminds me of early R.E.M., but with slightly more emphasis on melody. Plus, they're a lot less pretentious than the Athens boys in their approach. It's a blast of fresh air in a genre that apparently hasn't breathed its last breath.

MISH MASH Mandate: Second Guessing

Oddibe Website


Puddle
Run To The Water

Prone Records
9 song CD

In true dissonant indie rock spirit, Puddle rips it up and tears it off with a nod to Fugazi and a wink to Primus. They jerk and jump with offbeat rhythms, focusing their power on complex beats and stop-and-start sensibility. The disc has an undeniable live feel that gives plenty of vitality to the quick and energetic songwriting. It strangely reminds me of the fractured genius of the Beastie Boy's Check Your Head, an album that reveled in the simple synergy amongst it's three members.

The disc begins with the all-out fuzzy guitar assault of Spellbound, which is complimented by the silly hand jive of Standing By. A rhythmic hint of early Rush shows up in the intro for Box Spring Mattress, a tune which quickly turns into a hurried funky groove that sounds like a hyperactive Dave Matthews song. There's a slightly punk attitude evident in Correlation Two, and a hint of jazz in Sketches In The Back Room.

This is an album which becomes more and more exciting each time I hear it, a definite one to grow on.

MISH MASH Mandate: Dissonant Bliss

Puddle Website


Regan
First Breath

Olive Records
8 song CD

There is a lighter-than-air feel to Regan's voice. It flows and flies above the music, drifting in and out in varying degrees; sometimes a whisper, sometimes a shout. She commands all the attention, taking the focus completely off the melodies and progressions as if they didn't matter at all.

Even so, the songs are complex enough to show off the range of Regan's talent. The fluctuating power struggle in A Fuss gives way to the quirky rhythms of Butterflies, Dandelions, & Bumblebees. The wandering sounds of Breathe get lost in themselves, never quite coming together. Regan uses this to her advantage, turning a strange trip into an even stranger destination, and the song somehow works in spite of its fuzziness. The heavy drum accents of Turn This Boat Around create a stark background for Regan's voice, allowing the contrast to bring her vocals even more alive.

A wonderfully solid effort.

MISH MASH Mandate: Wing & a Prayer

Regan Website


Scott Johnson
Dreams in the Making

Googol Press
12 song CD

Scott Johnson is a positive thinker. Maybe too positive if you ask me, but remember, this is the observation of an admitted pessimist. His songs are mostly bright and upbeat, overflowing with undying enthusiasm. The song titles say it all: Let Your Dreams Come True, On The Verge of Something Great, Lighten Up There Boy, It Don't Get Better Than This. It would be all too easy to dismiss this one as hokey hack-work, but the honesty of his apparent joy is infectious. And, as if he's aware you need a blissful shot in the arm, Johnson rips out a convincing humorous remedy for your cynicism in the form of The Hell With It All.

You'll be singing along and smiling in spite of yourself.

MISH MASH Mandate: Hokey Pokey

Googol Press Website


Volo
Polite Society

Temple of Boom
4 song CD

Volo's list of influences could be a mile long. The trio manages to mix together theatrical glam rock, hair metal, punk, prog, and post-grunge into an unidentified guitar-based monster. The music is riff-heavy and the vocals are over-the-top and in your face, but never embracing one rock genre. The band is at its best on the scathing Atom Bomb, a song which rips and tears without mercy, using every trick in the book with success.

Overall, Polite Society is an interesting mix, yet one that's tough to nail down in just four songs. This is the stuff of epic concept albums, and hearing what these guys can do, sounds like a great idea.

MISH MASH Mandate: Operation Mindcrime



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