Just in time for Christmas, vocalist Cheralyn Cannon and guitarist John Paul have put together new easy-listening interpretations of your favorite holiday tunes.
The styles range from the laid-back groove of Do You Hear What I Hear, the smooth jazz of Carol of the Bells, and a soulful send-up of one of my personal all-time favorites, The Christmas Song.
This is a wonderful and creative holiday disc--and another great thing about it is that half of the proceeds go to benefit Breast Cancer Research.
MISH MASH Mandate: Good music and a great cause.
Cheralyn Cannon Website
Side One Dummy
Don't blink, or you'll miss this one. Most of the time, when a once legendary band releases a new album, some of the intensity is lost. Not so with seminal hardcore punks 7Seconds. They burn through 16 blistering punk songs with no mercy, as if they were the newest thing on the block.
The songs are quick, loud, and brash, but most of all they are catchy as hell. There's almost a pop sensibility at play here--an infectious sound that sticks to you and doesn't let go. Sooner or Later lays down the law right away and the guys don't bother to hesitate, careening through tunes like the jumpy Best Friend and the maddeningly fast Slow Down a Second. The songs are butt-edited so close together that it can be difficult to decide when one ends and the next begins.
As far as I'm concerned, this is as fresh and furious as anything on the streets today. As punk as you can get.
MISH MASH Mandate: Pressure-cooked punk
Short Arm Records
Happy Fernandez takes their pop with an ounce of depression. There's a grey cloud looming over their candy-sweet melodies and hooks, and it adds a haunting flavor to this tight set of songs from the NY trio.
Jenny sets the tone with a catchy chorus setup with strange, colorful lyrics: Don't marry Jen/she doesn't love you anyway...bouquet bouquet wilting slowly/dies in the arms of Jenny. The disonant Less Than Brilliant is creative in its deep, flowing vocal mix, and I really dig the thick teen angst of Big Wheel and its brilliant, biting statements: Hey New York/I know the alternatives/any other place is/Dayton, Ohio. Museum gets into a lower mood with a lazy, melancholy groove that drags and shuffles like a rainy day.
This is impressive, but then again, I'm a sucker for the stuff that whines a little.
MISH MASH Mandate: Every other place IS Dayton, Ohio.
Annie Hawkins is an angry young woman--angry in the vein of Alanis & her grrlfriends, standing tall and singing out loud about her woes. More often than not, it works. The songs are full of funky acoustic guitars and folky vocal wailing, both courtesy of Ms. Hawkins, who is backed by a sturdy bass and driving drums.
We start out with the herky-jerky and attitude-filled Sisters, which gives way to the imagery of the enviro-friendly Concrete: I look up to see the moon and the stars/But I just see the street lights and bedroom lamps...What is this earth/All covered in concrete. They even get down to the funk on Sorry, which reminds me of the Brand New Heavies in its wah-wah grooves. Even so, they rarely stray from their serious air.
As far as "theme" goes--I think the lyrics of Still sums it all up: Even Tracy Chapman's got some songs that are not sad.
MISH MASH Mandate: Getting down to get down.
Listen to tracks and buy this CD at CDBABY
14 song CD
Howard Herrick, Mr. Minster Hill, has put together a truly unique, rambling epic of an album. His songwriting is offbeat and over the top, always in constant motion, rarely following the expected patterns. The overall sound is somewhere between the cool geekiness of Yes and the quirky left field that is Pink Floyd.
I've Been In a World Today (This Time) is all of this and more. It bops along with wordy lyric lines and lots of rhythm changes. There's a 70s feel in the piano of We All Just Need the Time that reminds me of Ben Folds Five, and A Place Called Freedom has a bit of Beach Boys & CSNY in the vocal harmonies.
This album is more than a little off the wall--but it does it with subtlety, and it certainly holds multiple surprises on each listen.
MISH MASH Mandate: Cool geek rock.
Minster Hill Website
This is another one of those albums that is hard to categorize. Musician-of-all-trades Gnick (Nick Mitchell) has plunged himself into a variety of musical styles and genres to produce a highly experimental project that blends everything from electronica to world music.
The album is all instrumental, mostly centered around Gnick's skillful guitar work. He mixes his guitar phrasing with dance beats and other-worldly sounds to create new aural landscapes and images. It's almost new age, but it still has a rock edge to it. Most of the songs build slowly and allow you to get drawn in without hitting you all at once.
This one is truly DIY, and it's not afraid to push the musical envelope. Always a great combination.
MISH MASH Mandate: Music for the solar system.
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