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Issue #20 July 2000

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Chappaquiddick Skyline
Brendon Massei
Five Eight / Clemente
Jet Black Crayon
Flogging Molly
Wendy Carlos
Preston Girard


Chappaquiddick Skyline
Chappaquiddick Skyline

Sub Pop
12 song CD

With the opening line of "I hate my life," the ever-depressed Joe Pernice doesn't waste any time setting the mood of his latest side project, Chappaquiddick Skyline. Set somewhere between the stripped-down sounds of his Scud Mountain Boys' Massachusetts and the lush soundscapes of the Pernice Brothers' Overcome By Happiness, this album borrows the best of both those previous works, resulting in yet another beautiful pop effort. The instrumentation is simple and subdued, allowing Pernice to fully show-off his heartfelt and half-whispered vocal style.

The record was recorded with only 8-tracks, so there is plenty of experimentation and creativity at play throughout the album, which leaves an appealling off-the-cuff feel. The quiet and cold atmosphere of Solitary Swedish Houses gives way to the unapologetic pop of Courage Up, which then moves on to the Simon & Garfunkel-styled guitar and vocal duet, The Two of You Sleep. The most interesting track is a cover of New Order's Leave Me Alone, which basically deconstructs the original and puts it back together in an "unplugged" fashion.

While technically not breaking any new ground, Chappaquiddick Skyline will give fans of Joe Pernice a chance to see his work in a different light. At any rate, Mr. Pernice is proving himself to be one of the best up-and-coming artists in indie music.

MISH MASH Mandate: Blue Monday.

Sub Pop Website


Brendon Massei
"No More Sad Eyes"

No Town
14 song CD

As the artist formerly known as Supperbell Roundup, Brendon Massei wailed away on a lonely banjo, creating beautiful solitary sounds. Now performing under his own name, he is doing much more of the same, yet now with more emphasis on guitar than the banjo. There is also a slight departure from his previous album with the addition of electric guitars, bass and drums on a few songs, adding a new dimension to Massei's eccentric songwriting.

Get Me Away, And Get Me Back is one such song, utilizing a full band to accomplish a driving and upbeat road tune. It is a slight shock to hear this ensemble kick in, especially when you're expecting his standard set-up, so the surprise is used to full effect. Another surprise comes at the end of Las Vegas Town, a song that starts out quiet and folksy, and ends up with dissonant guitar sounds in the mix. Loud and off-kilter electric guitar washes into I Can't Hang just long enough to punctuate the angst that flows throughout the song. Massei knows how to throw a curve ball, and he does it in all the right places.

With his latest effort, Massei shows that he has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. It's a weird and wonderful piece of work that keeps you on your toes.

MISH MASH Mandate: Punctual Punctuation

No Town Website


Five Eight / Clemente
The Road Beat The Sh** Out of My Favorite Band /
Farewell To An Audience

Moodswing Records
Split 7" Vinyl Single

Those of you who have fond memories of the early days of Five Eight will relish the pure raw power of ...Favorite Band. It's probably the wildest, loudest and most raucous song they've done since their indie cassette days. According to a fan site, the song is about another Athens band named Bliss (which happens to be one of my favorites, also), which met its untimely demise in the early 90s. What a tribute!

The flip side features the slightly more subdued Farewell to an Audience from Clemente. The song starts off with subtle strumming, and then builds into frenetic indie rock. Its droning guitar and vocal sound has a certain lo-fi appeal that makes it the perfect complimentary b-side to the gasoline fire on the other side.

This one will no doubt be in constant rotation on your turntable.

MISH MASH Mandate: Passive Agressive

Moodswing Website
Five Eight Website


Jet Black Crayon
Low Frequency Speaker Test

Function 8
8 song CD

Skillfully bringing the bottom end of music to the forefront, bassists Tommy Guerrero and Monte Vallier cover a variety of genres and styles in this brilliant instrumental melange. Blending the influences of jazz, hip-hop, drum-n-bass, and experimental music, Jet Black Crayon creates a deep and flowing soundscape that never fails to mystify. Much like the Beastie Boys' collection of instrumental tunes from a few years back, The In Sound From Way Out, JBC revel in the rawness of simple musical tones and phrases, building their songs up from a solid understanding of rhythm and melody.

The album begins with the shadowy Some Sort of Intro, which is filled with harmonics and creepy percussive sounds from high notes hit on the bass. The anxious acid jazz groove of Tonic Water gives way to the happier hip-hop beat of And So It Goes, only to return to the foggy darkness of Deuce. A silly speech about seeds provides the intro for The Tree, a funky and wild song that employs plenty of creative sound effects from DJ Gadget.

It's an album that further proves less is more---the sheer depth of sound will surprise you, especially knowing that it's coming from a couple of basses.

MISH MASH Mandate: Bare Bottom

Function 8 Website


Flogging Molly
Swagger

Side One Dummy
13 song CD

Imagine, if you will, Riverdance meets the Sex Pistols. OK, maybe that's too broad a description, but it's not too far off the mark. While it may sound like a novelty act, Flogging Molly does a masterful job of blending traditionally inspired Celtic music with the brashness of punk rock. Still skeptical? Steve Albini holds the producing credits. Believe it or not, it works, and it works wonderfully.

The lead-off song, Salty Dog, sounds like it could be heard in your favorite local pub, except it features blistering guitar riffs and screaming vocals in addition to the accordion and fiddle. A calmer, perhaps drunker, sing-along drinking song can be found in the humorous The Worst Day Since Yesterday, and a very traditional Grace of God Go I avoids the noise in favor of the solo acappella voice of lead singer Dave King.

This one is highly creative and unique; it's certainly not something you hear everyday.

MISH MASH Mandate: Drunk Punks

Flogging Molly Website


Wendy Carlos
Switched On Box Set

East Side Digital (ESD)
4 CD Box Set

Remember that bizarre synthesized classical music from the film Clockwork Orange? It was performed by none other than pioneer synth artist Wendy Carlos, who was working under the pseudonym Walter Carlos at the time. She is probably best known for her best-selling album in 1968, Switched On Bach (included on the box set), which was a ground-breaking piece of work that ushered in the age of electronic & digital music. East Side Digital has culled together the best of her work in this four CD box set, an epic collection which shows in detail just how important her music really is.

Hearing Air On A G String or Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring in this synthesized fashion sheds a whole new light on these pieces. It is almost more a commentary on the omnipresence of technology in our world than simply a performance of classic works. And, she makes this technology work in her favor. Instead of a straight reading, Carlos is able to put soul and feeling into her renditions through the notes of a seemingly cold and impersonal synthesizer. She is playful and creative, breathing life into these crazy electronic sounds.

More than thirty years later, Carlos' work seems more relevant now than ever before. She adds a much-needed human touch to the power of technology, which is a lesson everyone can appreciate.

MISH MASH Mandate: Techno Logical

ESD Website
Wendy Carlos Website


Preston Girard
Preston Girard's Demo

mp3.com
Five song CD

With soulful vocals and catchy songwriting, acoustic rocker Preston Girard delivers an impressive demo effort. More of an EP than a demo, these five songs are well-constructed, have plenty of memorable hooks, and fit together well.

Girard's voice is kind of bluesy with a slight alt-country twist in the vein of Lyle Lovett, especially on Leigha, which has a nice down-home feel. Walk On Me is more agressive, with driving acoustic guitars and a bluesy vocal style. The top pick in the bunch is This Old Town, which blends all of the best elements into one tight song.

A promising debut from an up-and-coming singer/songwriter--let's hope there's more to come.

MISH MASH Mandate: Soulful Strummer

Preston Girard Webpage at mp3.com


Other Indie Review Sites

Music Dish

Brian Connelly's Lunatic Fringe at Muzikman.com

Shake It Up Power Pop



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