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Issue #25 December 2000

MTV & Rolling Stone: A Bad Joke
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The Woggles
Infectious
Duochrome
The Jigsaw Seen
Amelia's Dream


The Woggles
Fractured

Telstar Records
14 song CD

It's nice to see that after ten years and a host of personnel changes, The Woggles are still doing what they do best: 60s-era garage party rock. And they do it well, with just the right touch of insanity. Under the skillful guidance of lead singer The Professor (Manfred Jones), this Athens, GA-based band has continued to buck the trends and keep their eyes focused squarely on the past, mixing up their special blend of three-chord rock in an unflinching purist fashion.

I am taken back to a legendary Woggles show I attended that will live forever in rock-n-roll infamy. It was the fall of 1991 at an Athens dive called the Downstairs, which was literally underground, just a flight of stairs beneath the sidewalk. It was a small space, no larger than a nice-sized living room with a low ceiling. The Woggles were set up against the back wall, surrounded by a stack of speakers which were sheer overkill in the small room. They tore into a blistering set of tunes, Jones brandishing a tambourine which he could reach up and slap the ceiling with. He flailed about like a wild man, looking like a British Invasion throwback with his shaggy mod haircut and his bright white turtleneck sweater. The tambourine was whipped around with haphazard and careless abandon, and halfway through the set, Jones managed to hit himself squarely on the chin with his beloved percussion piece. That was the first blood of the night.

Jones' chin was a bright cherry red, as blood started oozing from his fresh tambourine wound. The injury didn't phase Jones or the band, for they didn't miss a beat. If anything, it turned the room into a frenzy. The band pummelled ahead, bashing out tune after tune, as the blood and sweat started mixing together on Jones' chin and running down onto the neck and chest of the white turtleneck sweater. It wasn't white for long. As the night wore on, the front of the sweater became a mass of pink, and a hot red streak ran across Jones' chin and neck, like savage warpaint. I stood on a chair at the back of the room, my head barely missing the low clearance, a willing witness to this madness. I did dance steps on that chair that I didn't know that I knew, and I'm sure at least one of them was the bugaloo. The music had taken over. That was the best show I ever saw, anyplace at anytime.

I would try to describe this latest album to you, but I can't listen to it and not think about that night. Suffice it to say, it comes nowhere near that experience, but it does contain more than a hint of the all-out insanity of that fall night. Get every Woggles record you can get your hands on, and then do whatever you can to see them live. If you dare.

MISH MASH Mandate: Three Chords and the Truth

Woggles Website


Infectious
Infectious

Pop It On
11 song CD

With a classic 80s-era pop sound, Infectious live up to their namesake, jingle-jangling their way into your brain with a special blend of catchy indie rock. It's a moody sound that brings to mind early R.E.M and the Smiths, while adding a touch of mod in the form of the Jam. The songs stand tall and solid, even though the DIY production methods could use a little push here and there, a minor detail that doesn't detract from the overall picture.

The band is good with basic rock tunes like Rich Vein and Love Looks Straight Through Me, but they really shine when they go out on a limb. This is evident in the offbeat angst of No More Lonely Cornflakes, which holds its edge without losing the pop hooks. The same could be said of Celebrity, a song that has the feel of early Peter Gabriel, a little bit angry but dripping with brilliant pop.

This is a clever little album that took me by surprise. It's a sleeper that doesn't come at you screaming, but leaves you with a desire for repeated listenings. Only the great ones keep you coming back for more.

MISH MASH Mandate: Infected Affection

Pop It On Website


Duochrome
Duochrome 7.0
Lack Luster

Vital Cog Records
Special Box Set / 8 song CD

Here's an interesting little treat for the holidays: you can own most of the catalog of a relatively obscure indie band with this one-two punch from Vital Cog Records. Duochrome 7.0 is a clever boxed collection of 7" singles and a "lost" EP (Suburban Cablevision) from the boys in Duochrome, chronicling the band's single releases from 1993 to the present. Among the collection is a handful of split singles, including the Vital Cog Superheroes of Rock split with My Dad Is Dead, and a band info booklet in the mock-up form of a software installation guide. It's an excellent way to jump right into the music of this dissonant pop band.

Lack Luster, a separate release, brings us a CD reissue of the band's 1993 cassette. It's slightly louder than a lot of their other work, overemphasizing their droning guitar sound in an aggressive fashion. The most interesting moments come in the form of cacophonous left-field takes on the Rolling Stones' Happy (from Exile On Main Street) and Christopher Cross' Sailing (yes, that Sailing). You almost won't recognize them, trust me!

This is a great way to get familiar with Duochrome and their mix of serrated indie pop, making you an instant fan in the process.

MISH MASH Mandate: Three Lock Box

Vital Cog Website


The Jigsaw Seen
Zenith

Vibro-phonic Recordings
11 song CD

The Jigsaw Seen continue their on-going quest into pseudo-psychedelic retro-British Invasion. The present their tunes tightly tongue-in-cheek, knowing that you know they don't take themselves too seriously. The result is a fun and quirky sound that never reveals too much, but shows off the classic songwriting skills of singer/guitarist Dennis Davison with a wink and a nod.

Letter To The Editor kicks off the album with a self-described Big Star influence, driving along with a big rock guitar sound and absurd lyrics: "You're more than nothing/but less than something/your days are numbered/but no one's counting you out". They then merge into the fuzzy Lennon-esque I'm With You, a song that never lets you get too comfortable, which is juxtaposed against the happy and bubbly Celebrity Interview. They pull out their Who influences on Tight Lips, while their minor chord meanderings on Girl On A Red Velvet Swing sounds like a perfect mix of R.E.M., the Smithereens, and the Hollies.

These guys never fail to please, and this album proves that without a doubt.

MISH MASH Mandate: Please Please Me

Vibro-phonic Website


Amelia's Dream
Love TaTToo

Ripe & Ready Records
12 song CD

Amelia Gewirtz has a wisp of a voice; it floats along weightlessly through folk-inspired rhythms and dreamy dance-pop songscapes. It's an effortless sound, light and airy, yet it's a voice that indicates there is a lot more depth, hiding behind the childlike innocent facade. She is the classic siren, drawing you in only to confound you with her complexity.

The opener, Footprints, is a coming-of-age tune that sets the tone for the album with its positive and upbeat movement, leaving the old behind. The idealism continues as a defiant attitude surfaces in Garden, presenting a bold display of womanly strength: "You have got to plant your own garden / Don't wait for someone else to bring you flowers." Gerwitz then throws us for a loop with the ironically sexy cover of Evil Ways, which slinks around in a jazzy striptease.

Love TaTToo is full of strong pop music, but there's a lot more going on under the surface. It's good to hear a record that can actually surprise you, albeit in a very subtle way.

MISH MASH Mandate: Subtle Strength

Amelia's Dream Website



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