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Issue #53 June 2003

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The Oxford American 6th Annual Music Issue


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Pernice Brothers
The Tie Reds
Cloud Cult
Subversive
Tom Teasley


Pernice Brothers
Yours, Mine & Ours

Ashmont Records
9 song CD

According to Joe Pernice, he has released eight albums on three labels in seven years under four different names. Whether you want to call him Scud Mountain Boys, Chappaquiddick Skyline, Pernice Brothers, or just plain ol' Joe, it is quite an amazing accomplishment to be that prolific without losing your central vision. Throughout it all, Pernice has managed to stay true to the "happy-to-be-depressed" feel that is common in almost every release, all the while keeping it fresh on each new endeavor.

In Yours, Mine & Ours he tends to lean back to the tried and true sounds of 1998's Overcome By Happiness, while leaning away from the (relatively) more upbeat pop of 2001's The World Won't End. As a matter of fact, this release sounds like more of a natural sequel to that "first" Pernice Brothers disc, with the quiet angst taking grip and holding you until the bitter end. I also notice a few more influences creeping in, whether it's the jangly pop of early REM (Baby In Two), or the driving dark synth pop of The Cure (Sometimes I Remember). And again, my favorite song is the most unabashedly pop tune on the disc, this time being Blinded By The Stars, which has the same haunting and hollow timbre of the Chappaquiddick Skyline recordings.

In my humble opinion, this guy should be a star. Come to think of it, Joe would have been huge during the height of depressing college indie rock in the late 80s, a household name along with the likes of The Smiths, REM, The Cure, and 10,000 Maniacs. Yet somehow it seems more appropriate that he plug along in relative obscurity, singing his teary-eyed songs about what could've been.

MISH MASH Mandate: Yours Is Mine

Ashmont Records Website


The Tie Reds
Holy Crap! It's The Tie Reds

Self-released
13 song CD

Talk about punk! You may not find a finer modern day example than this. The Tie Reds are obnoxious yet infectiously pop, so that you find yourself singing (yelling) along whether you want to or not. They've taken and studied the playbook, and they've nailed it.

The attitude is definitely Sex Pistols, but they keep everything wrapped tightly around a catchy hook. Every song pounds out quickly and efficiently, and each one leaves behind a sweet aftertaste, although not one that lasts very long. By then they've moved on to another tune, and the previous one is quickly forgotten. Purely disposable, but totally endearing.

If anything is wrong with this release, it's the fact that it contains 13 songs, which may be a little too much of a good thing. Maybe it's my old age, but I'm tired by the time track 10 starts kicking in. Round this disc down to the best eight, and you've got an undeniable classic punk punch that can't be beat.

MISH MASH Mandate: Punk Party

TieReds@yahoo.com


Cloud Cult
They Live On The Sun

Earthology Records
21 song CD

This is an epic mess, spanning 21 songs in almost as many genres. The funny thing is that it works. This is a semi-solo project by Craig Minowa, and the sound reminds me a little bit of Jane's Addiction, mixing pop structures with whatever happens to be on hand. In this case, it ranges from hip-hop to trance to world music, with just a dash of U2.

Minowa isn't afraid to experiment, sometimes it works (On The Sun) and at times he strays a little to far (the manic Estupido being a perfect example). Yet, it all comes together in the end, and the end result is like a super-abstract painting which can be looked at from just about any angle. He uses decontruction as his weapon, and no pop tradition is spared from being attacked.

If anything, Minowa deserves some credit for being different, and this project is certainly beautiful in its own unique way.

MISH MASH Mandate: Here Comes The Sun

Earthology Website


Subversive
Anti-Hero

Star Chaser Records
10 song CD

Subversive sounds like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, and STP all rolled into one. That might sound easy to dismiss, but they do it so well---and that's the key. This is grunge-era rock at it's finest, and there's no complaint there. The only issue might be: is this 10 years too late?

I guess Creed may be carrying that torch now, but Subversive is too good to be compared to them, and they seem to hold a better grip on the basic elements of the sound---lead singer Makarov can growl with a passion that is rivaled only by Cobain or Vedder. The band uses dynamics well, careening along at full volume only to bring the blast down to a whisper. And to top it all off, the disc was recorded by Steve Albini. Need I say more?

While I wouldn't say it's original, I would say that Subversive is one of the few post-Seattle bands that really gets what the grunge movement was all about.

MISH MASH Mandate: Smells Like Grunge

Subversive Website


Tom Teasley
Global Groovilization

T & T Music
9 song CD

From the looks of the silly cover, I was halfway expecting cheesy kids tunes, or at least mamby-pamby new age mediocrity. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Teasley has put together one of the hottest percussion-based albums I've heard in a long, long time. He rips it up with a wild amalgam of traditional world instruments and electronic beats, grinding out the groove like a true master. At times Teasley gets funky, and at others he goes for a more subtle approach, depending on emotion and atmosphere to carry the track.

Global Groovilization isn't wildly experimental, nor is it club friendly, but it lands somewhere in the middle, giving you pleny of sounds and rhythms to bounce around with. Groove on.

MISH MASH Mandate: Groove Is In The Heart

Tom Teasley Website



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