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New Music Reviews

Witching Hour
13 song CD

My first meeting with Ladytron was in the form of their 10" vinyl release from around 1999, Commodore Rock, which was a light-hearted and fun little electronica record. Fast forward a few years and a few releases later, and we see a much different picture. This full-length release is still steeped in electronica, yet it's much darker and serious, and certainly more musically mature.

The band has embraced the distant and disconnected pop sounds of 80s New Wave and mixed them with the edgy and sometimes harsh electronic dance sounds of the present. While other bands today may be doing similar things, Ladytron has done it with a certain combination of skill and grace, creating an atmosphere which is catchy and challenging at the same time. They don't simply sound like a band borrowing from the past, as much as they are a band that has figured out how to use it to their advantage.

My favorite song on the disc is a high-impact dance track called Fighting In Built Up Areas, which is aggressive and angst-filled with undeniable Euro-trash flavor, with dry and cynical vocals delivered in what seems to be an Eastern European language. It's a brilliant piece of work which highlights everything that's great about this album.

MISH MASH Mandate: Harsh Reality
Rykodisc Records Website

Like Life
6 song CD


It's hard to listen to these guys and not think of U2 or Radiohead. That's not a bad thing, by the way, as I certainly mean it as a compliment. How else to better describe a strong and emotive lead singer, backed by dynamic and catchy modern rock?

Even with those comparisons, xrayok holds its own. The songwriting is strong and the performance is dead-on, with tight songs and impeccable musicianship. As this is more an EP with only six songs, the album never has time to grow weary, smartly leaving the desire to hear more. These guys show a lot of promise, and I'd imagine that time will only strengthen their identity and their songs.

MISH MASH Mandate: X Marks The Spot
xrayok Website


The Coffin Lids
'Round Midnight
Bomp! Records
14 song CD


From the very beginning strains of the opening track, Frankenstein, you know this is going to be a good one. The Coffin Lids scream "It's Alive!" and then proceed to prove that they're one of the most powerful bands in garage trash rock.

Just in case you have any doubts, the next three fuel-injected songs on the disc reach into your ears and rip out your spine, as they seamlessly charge from Teenage Shakedown to Whiskey Drinkin' Woman and on into Walk A Mile In My Shoes without pausing to take a breather. By the halfway mark, you'll be collapsing to the floor after shimmying yourself to near death.

Wow, this is hot stuff! Keep all combustible liquids and small children away from this one, as the garage hasn't rocked like this in a long, long time.

MISH MASH Mandate: Garage Monster
Bomp! Records

Lab Partners
Wicked Branches
Reverb Records
12 song CD

In the intro to Wicked Branches, Lab Partners provides
a way for you to clean your musical palate, giving you an open opportunity to begin anew with fresh ears. It's a short atmospheric piece which comes and goes in just under 40 seconds, but it's enough to prep you for the rest of the disc.

The album starts off firmly footed in modern indie rock, but soon moves out into more eclectic fare. The songs never settle into one distinct sound or genre, as they run the gamut of college guitar rock influences. Sometimes they jangle, sometimes they shimmer, and sometimes they just rock with dissonance. The lack of focus isn't a problem, though, as the songs are interesting enough in themselves. If anything, this patchwork makes the band even more endearing, as it's hard to get a handle on them at first glance.

MISH MASH Mandate: Branching Out
Reverb Records Website

Various Artists
Blues Guitar Women
Ruf Records
29 song 2 CD set

Just in case you had the idea that blues guitar was a male-exclusive club, this two disc set from Ruf Records will set you straight once and for all. The ladies featured here show that there are plenty of females out there who can hang with the best in blues guitar, breaking any stereotypes that may be out there.

Disc one gives us a look at women who are playing electric, contemporary-styled blues, while disc two features a more traditional, acoustic fare. The artists range from the down and dirty blooze guitar rock of the Lara Price Band to the classic early 20th century acoustic blues of Memphis Minnie. It's a wide sampling of talent contained here, and the various amount of styles and sounds is almost overwhelming in richness.

One of the standout tracks is the wildly European flavor of Sue Foley's Mediterranean Breakfast, which dances along gracefully and quietly, putting an old world twist on the blues like you've never heard before.

MISH MASH Mandate: How Blue Can You Get?
Ruf Records Website

The Hypstrz
Live At The Longhorn
Bomp! Records
37 song CD

The Hypstrz made a mark for themselves back in the late 70s by playing other people's music. Well, maybe not just playing other people's music, but hijacking it and driving it across the state line. A high speed chase on the garage rock highway, if you will.
It's a fairly simple formula they came up with, actually. They basically took the bombastic sonic blueprint from The Ramones and applied it to classic (and not-so-classic) rock and soul songs from their youth. The end result saw tunes like In The Midnight Hour, Shake, and Remember (Walking In The Sand) run through the rock-n-roll grinder and punked out to the hilt.
This live set is gathered from two stands at Jay's Longhorn in 1979 when the band was in top form, and the music proves this point over and over again. You can literally feel the energy coming off the stage as the band tears through song after song, making each and every one of them their own for a brief and loud moment in time. Absolutely freaking brilliant!

MISH MASH Mandate: Hippy Hippy Shakedown
Bomp! Records Website

Billy Brush
11 song CD

Worlds collide on this tripped-out release from pianist/guitarist/vocalist Billy Brush. His backing band embellishes the classic rock setup of guitar, electric bass and drums with a violin, trombone, stand-up bass, and an oud. Add to that a globe-spanning range of musical influences, and you've got an album which takes chances and succeeds from beginning to end.

The album moves along with a lightness, never getting heavy or bogged down, riding along on waves of drifting piano and uplifting rhythms. This open and airy feel is aided by the absence of standard pop structure, so when the disc ventures off into left field it doesn't seem jarring or wrong. Another time and dimension seems to have been created here, and the uniqueness grows with each and every listen.

MISH MASH Mandate: Time And Space
Billy Brush Website

© 2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved

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2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved