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Issue #27 February 2001

Steven "Out West"
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Craig Bennett
The Show Goats
Wistful Sound Gazers
The Drool Brothers

Craig Bennett
Happy Hollowdays

Black Cottage Records
12 song CD

Craig Bennett serves up his pop with dark overtones, creating a hazy and depressing sound that takes the best from Bowie, Pink Floyd, and 80s new wave goth. He sings with restrained passion, his voice rarely lifting above a pained whisper, mumbling with quiet mystery.

Wet Playground opens the record with a foot firmly planted in 80s indie rock, soaked in undistorted guitars that jangle and strum carelessly. Bennett takes a meandering psychedelic excursion on Wandering Ways, falling into a nice trippy groove. The subdued sounds of Bathing Suit incorporate the slow pulse of a synth and a distant piano, while Strange Machine skillfully contrasts an offbeat rhythm pattern in the verse with a driving beat in the chorus.

Bennett is at his best when it sounds like he's not even trying. It's a strange and ironic coolness that holds a loose grip on this record.

MISH MASH Mandate: Painful Passion

Craig Bennett Website

The Show Goats
Catfish Saturday

10 song CD

There are inevitable comparisons here with Reckoning-era R.E.M. The gravelly voice of lead singer Mark Degnen belies a certain Stipe influence, while the backing vocals of Eric Dunnavant creep into the background with subtle reminders of Mike Mills. Of course, the jangling dual guitars and brooding songwriting put a stamp on it. But surprisingly, The Show Goats manage to make it all sound so fresh and new, as if those early days of Athens as a music mecca were still around.

The band is remarkably good when they jump right in unapologetically, embracing their influences and making the best of it. This is most evident on tracks like Angels In My Room, a song that drives and swells with the familiar minor chord phrasings that put indie rock on the map. They've done their homework, because Angels... sticks in your head like glue and doesn't let up. It's a great song, and best of all, they sound like they're having fun with it.

The Show Goats may not win in the originality category (maybe except for the name), but they make it up with effort. If you long for the good old days, then this is definitely for you.

MISH MASH Mandate: Reconstructing the Fables

Show Goats Website

Wistful Sound Gazers

Sankofa Productions
6 song CD

With one hand in mellow jazz and the other in late 80s soul, the Wistful Sound Gazers ease into a bliss-ful groove on this short but sweet EP. They don't venture out too far, content to weave their magical sounds without exploring much new ground. It's a laid-back feel that works for them, creating a pleasant listening experience.

The radio-ready pop of Push has a certain George Michael air about it, reminding me of the noble efforts of Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. The quiet soul of Calling utilizes a gentle guitar in the first few verses, building into a pleading and sorrowful wail, which is in turn contrasted by the staccato electronic beats of I Would. The EP's signature ballad comes in the form of Winding Road, a smooth and flowing love song which also concludes the disc later in instrumental form.

When it comes to pop, WSG has what they need to make the charts. It's tight and clean, with everything in its proper place.

MISH MASH Mandate: Proper Pop

Wistful Sound Gazers Page at

The Drool Brothers
The Drool Brothers

Barfing Glitter Records
12 Song CD

Two guys with some silly songs, although not quite as silly as the name Drool Brothers would suggest. Chuck Mancillas and Tom Silk throw down their tongue-in-cheek grooves along the same lines as G. Love & Special Sauce, mixing up the funk with blues and acid jazz jams. It's a great blend of musical styles, and its seems to flow with ease.

The main silliness comes in the subject matter, evident in titles like Chicken Stix and Skeleton Girl. But for the most part, their rhythms just cook with serious intent, never mind the fact that their lyrics are delivered with a smirk. In effect, it's an album you can have fun with, without losing the all-important groove.

MISH MASH Mandate: Salivating Grooves

Drool Brothers Website

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