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Mish Mash Indie Music Reviews January 2005

Issue #67 January 2005

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Athens, GA - Inside Out (Revisited)


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Pernice Brothers
Channing Cope
Alex Chu
Sharon Lewis & Under The Gun
Petra Haden and Bill Frisell
Apollo Quartet

Brian Ewing art show Jan. 29 at Zen Sushi
Featuring music from Three Bad Jacks

Pernice Brothers
Nobody's Watching / Nobody's Listening

Ashmont Records
Live DVD and CD set

At first glance, you would assume this is just another typical live DVD/CD combo, giving fans a taste of a band's live show. Well, that's true, but it's only half the story. The CD does this part of the job, showing the live side of the Pernice Brothers, subtracted from their lush studio recordings and presented in a more raw form. The DVD, however, has a different task, as it acts as a self-described tour diary. We only see snippets of the band in action on stage, and the rest of the time we are given a sneak peek behind the scenes of an independent touring band.

You quickly discover that there is little glamour on the road, that it holds little of the idealistic appeal many of us would associate with being in a rock band. Instead of documenting glitzy backstage parties and screaming groupies, we see Joe Pernice and the boys fighting with vending machines in the hotels and packing themselves into a small van day after day---a van which has to make a stop into the mechanic's shop in the middle of the tour.

While this may not sound like the most entertaining music documentary you've ever seen, it at least paints a very honest picture, and for that it is worth viewing. Think of it as a reminder to indie music fans that there's a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into the music you hear and the shows you see. While it doesn't hold all the dramatic dirt of a VH1 "Behind The Music" special, it provides a dose of reality that seems to be missing in our age of "reality" TV.

MISH MASH Mandate: Get Real

Pernice Brothers Website

Channing Cope
Sugar In Our Blood

North Park Records
6 song CD

The sound of Channing Cope is distant and disengaged, meandering along as if the band is barely aware that they're playing. It's not quite slacker-rock, but it has that mysteriously attractive, non-chalant appeal. It's too cool music for too cool people. You know who you are.

MISH MASH Mandate: Cool Running

Channing Cope Website

Alex Chu
Of Course It's About You Silly

Green Shoe Media
13 song CD

There's a goofy appeal to the music of Alex Chu. He obviously doesn't take it all too seriously, mixing his craft of pop songwriting with a wry sense of humor---there's a creative musical reference to "The Lion Sleeps Tonite" in one song, for example. Add to that an almost lo-fi approach to production, and you have an instant indie classic which is plenty of fun.

MISH MASH Mandate: Rocker In The Wry

Green Shoe Media Website

Sharon Lewis with Under The Gun
Everything's Gonna Be Alright

Sleeping Dog Records
16 song CD

If you're a fan of Chicago-based blues, then look no further than Sharon Lewis. Backed by the down and dirty Under The Gun, Lewis rips through over a dozen blues tunes with her piercing gritty vocals. Whether it's an upbeat boogie or a slow drag, Lewis pulls it off magnificently.

MISH MASH Mandate: Blues Sister

Sharon Lewis Website

Petra Haden and Bill Frisell
Petra Haden and Bill Frisell

Sovereign Artists / Songline/Tonefield
12 song CD

What do The Foo Fighters, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer, Coldplay, and Stevie Wonder have in common? They are all covered here by vocalist/violinist Petra Haden and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. As you might imagine, the interpretations are as varied as the original artists, as Haden and Frisell throw all conventionality out the window. The songs are performed quietly and introspectively, presented with something resembling reverence, with Frisells deep guitars resonating under Haden's understated vocals. As a result, the songs come alive in a uniquely endearing way.

MISH MASH Mandate: Under Cover

Sovereign Artists Website

Apollo Quartet
The Eleventh Hour

10 song CD

I was going to pigeonhole this as emo-rock, but man, that's just too easy. These guys are way too intense to dismiss as just another modern rock band. The songs are tight, the vocals are gripping, and the music is simply searing. There's a slight sense of dissonance, a la Fugazi, but there's enough classic rock leanings to keep the big riffs coming strong. Very nice, and it rocks hard.

MISH MASH Mandate: Emo Hour

Apollo Quartet Website

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