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Stepanian
Wait Out The Rain
Self-Released
5 song CD
PODCAST TRACK = BEAUTIFUL DISGUISE

 
Taking their moniker from lead singer/guitarist Eric Stepanian, this four piece roots rock band serves up a highly memorable pop-influenced EP. With only five tracks, they show off their songwriting chops and leave us wanting more.

The first thing that caught my attention was the smooth and subtle saxophone lines on the opening track, Beautiful Disguise. The sax is an instrument that seems neglected by bands lately -- perhaps because it was so overused in the past -- and the group does a wonderful job of incorporating it into their sound without overdoing it.

Song-wise, the group is tight and eager to wring every drop out of their pop hooks. It's a solid sound that doesn't rely on frills or showiness; instead, they let the songs speak for themselves.


MISH MASH Mandate: Saxophone Colossus
Stepanian Website



Deathmask
Evil Doers
Self-Released
9 song CD
PODCAST TRACK = BOAT

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With a name like Deathmask, you would imagine that this might be some sort of hard core metal band. Well, thankfully not. Instead, Deathmask goes down the way of darkness with a quiet and mysterious sound, built around the intriguingly seductive vocals of Katy Cunningham.

The group blends a bluesy, psychedelic rock sound with an improvisational jazz attitude. The music doesn't follow the set pop patterns, as each song seems to go off in its own direction in an exploratory way. Cunningham is the glue that holds it all together, as she wraps her voice around the scattered feel of the music, keeping it in focus.

MISH MASH Mandate: Feed Your Head
Deathmask Website



The Watercallers
The Finest Of The Wheat
Self-Released
9 song CD
PODCAST TRACK = IN THE MOONLIGHT

 

The Watercallers are about as old-fashioned in their approach as you can get. The duet uses a simple blend of guitars and vocals that harkens back to the early days of 20th Century pop and country gospel music.

Even though it's a contemporary recording on CD, you can easily picture hearing the songs on a scratchy and tinny sounding 78. Yet, at the same time, there is a modern sensibility about their music, which probably comes from the hindsight of knowing what works and what doesn't. In other words, they've done their homework, and it shows in the songwriting.

MISH MASH Mandate: I'll Fly Away
The Watercallers Website



Eta Carinae
Eta Carinae
Self-Released
6 song CD

   

Eta Carinae starts off their new album at full throttle and doesn't let up until this blistering EP is done. Part modern rock, part emo, part prog, and part metal, the band mixes up the best of hard rock and spits it back out with a vengeance.

The songs drive and tumble with rhythmic ferocity, borrowing the disjointed time signatures of prog --- yet the band maintains a perceptible amount of pop sensibility to keep the hooks interesting. It's a young and fresh sound that doesn't rely on the stale same-old-same-old that seems to plague most of contemporary rock.

MISH MASH Mandate: Prognosis
Eta Carinae Records Website

 



The High Class Elite
The High Class Elite
Self-Released
4 song CD

 

There's more than enough pouting, preening, and strutting packed into these four songs to please just about any glam rock aficionado. Frontman Franco V knows how to swagger in his high-heeled boots, and his attitude is all all over this one.

The music is a smash-up of the misplaced glam of The New York Dolls and the lo-fi guitar noodling of The Strokes, providing the perfect background for Franco to let us know who's boss. The performance is fast and loose, and I can only imagine it translates well to the stage, especially if that stage has a disco ball.

MISH MASH Mandate: Glamosaurus
High Class Elite Website


 
Ernie Halter
Congress Hotel
Red Star Records
11 song CD

 
Ernie Halter's voice has a classic blue-eyed soul sound that is timeless in its quality. He grabs your attention on the opening track as soon as he sings
the first note.

The songwriting hits the target, too, as each one fits the groove of his voice flawlessly. He seems right at home with these tunes, and he knows how to work his way through them with skill. The standout track here for me is Lisa, a Latin-influenced love song (with a sense of humor) that revolves around a classical guitar line, showing that Halter is versatile in his soulfulness.
 

MISH MASH Mandate: Soul Man
Ernie Halter Website



Eisenhower Field Day
Let's Not Tell Lies / Our Time In The Colonies
Lesser Note Records
17 song CD
PODCAST TRACK = DOVER HILL

 
Man, this Indianapolis three piece is one hot little group. They sound like they came right out of a time warp, beaming back from the days of late 80s underground college rock. The thing is, they make it sound like it's never been done before, and that makes it even better.

It's reckless power pop surrounded by big fuzzy guitars and frantic drumming. The vocals are half-yelled over the din, drifting in and out as each wave of dissonance crashes in around them. The group creates a wall of sound that is much bigger than the sum of their parts.

MISH MASH Mandate: Mars Needs Guitars
Eisenhower Field Day Website




© 2007 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved
mishmashmusic@hotmail.com

 

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2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved
mishmashmusic@hotmail.com