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Mish Mash Indie Music Reviews June 2004

Issue #63 June/July 2004

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Five Eight
Sour Deluxe
Peter DiStefano
Robert Di Pietro

Five Eight
Five Eight

12 song CD

According to band members, Five Eight died in the year 2000 with the release of The Good Nurse, a concept-like album which searched the innermost neuroses of lead singer Mike Mantione, haunting and disturbing in its psychotic beauty. And now, the group claims, Five Eight has experienced a rebirth with their latest, self-titled album---signaling a second chance at life in the world of underground music. It would not be far off the mark to say this is true.

This album picks up where their 1993 debut, I Learned Shut Up leaves off, and that is to say, it simply rocks. For the first time in a long time, the trio just lets it rip, and the manic depressive fog of Mr. Mantione has taken a back seat to the guitar riffs, and that makes all the difference. The brilliance comes in the fact that Mantione allows his pessimism to drive from that back seat, creating the perfect blend of raw angst and sheer rock fervor that made the band so magical in the first place.

Criminal begins the disc with a rolling guitar line which is soon joined with a driving beat, giving you no doubt that this album will not be The Good Nurse, Pt. II. Instead, they are setting the stage for the blistering group of tunes to come. Mantione reminds us that the band is alive and kicking with I'm Still Around, right before ripping into the raw power of Magnetic Fields, which has to be one of the best Five Eight songs ever penned. The track begins with Mantione singing a cappella in an unpolished moment, when suddenly, the band kicks into gear, trampling through verse/chorus/verse like it's never been done before. And at the end, the group falls into a raucous classic rock jam session, circa 1975. If that's not enough to convince us of their born again status, Mantione pulls out all the stops for Square Peg, a proto-punk track which pounds away mercilessly.

As icing on the cake, the band revisits an old friend from their early days, a song called A Man Is A Pent Up Thing, which is the perfect reminder of what Five Eight was and now is, again. I have always said these guys were the most famous un-famous band in Athens, GA, and this time I might have to revise that statement. Let's hope so.

MISH MASH Mandate: Looking Up

Five Eight Website

Sour Deluxe
White Noise

5 song CD

If you need a hot little disc to keep you company this summer, this is it. Five little power pop tunes, full of attitude and flavor, this EP from Sour Deluxe is all you need to beat the summertime blues. Singer/guitarist Jamie Jacobs has a sweetly sly voice---you can almost picture her singing with a flirty smirk. She exchanges her sharply delivered vocals with her quick guitar licks, packing a one-two pop punch.

The band wastes no time getting to business on the title track; after a brief intro, Jacobs launches into driving pop mode---if you can imagine the B-52s with a serious fuzz box and a drummer in need of sedation, you'll get the drift. Butterfly Collection ups the ante, allowing Jacobs to work her superstar magic with cascading vocal harmonies and punked-out guitar riffage.

This one is just a pressure cooker waiting to explode, and I'm sure we haven't heard the last of Sour Deluxe. Pay them a visit, and have a great summer.

MISH MASH Mandate: Summer Of Sour

Sour Deluxe Website

Peter DiStefano

Sanctuary Records
10 song CD

Peter DiStefano, of Porno For Pyros fame, has a style which is simple, yet highly effective: catchy power pop filled with big hooks and smooth melodies. Groundbreaking? No. Toe-tapping? Yes! He knows his stuff, and he does it oh so well. You'll be singing along whether you want to or not.

DiStefano starts the disc with the driving guitars of Hypocrisies, pushing along effortlessly with an eager beat and drifting harmonies. Next up is the light, atmospheric rock of New Day Clear, which incorporates U2-inspired guitar effects and an airy melody. DiStefano switches gears and plows into the Beatlesque, British Invasion pop of Coming Down, which bounces around in youthful bliss. He turns it up one more notch with the bluesy angst of Sunshine, which could almost come across as an early Aerosmith (almost). After this, he gets a little weird. How else can one explain the strange, rambling and half-spoken verses of Last Time? It certainly is a departure from the previous tunes, and certainly doesn't live up to them. He gets back to business again for a few tracks, only to go back into left field with the progressive rock of Diminished and the psychedelic meandering folk of Alone. The songs aren't bad, they just seem out of place in a very pop world. But nevermind that, when Mr. DiStefano does what he does best, this album is a keeper.

MISH MASH Mandate: Multi-Personality Pop

Peter DiStefano Website


7 song CD

Full of sweetness and swagger, Cecilia comes across shining like a smoke-filled spotlight with their blues-based rock attitude. They sound like they could fit right in at the local dive, firing up the Saturday night audience to hit the dance floor.

Be Mine begins the record with a child-like singsong chorus, playfully taunting the listener with pop delight. They turn up the volume with Beautiful, a song which is a little rougher around the edges, and then they quiet it down some for Falling. There's a solid groove hidden in the creatively staggered rhythms of Everyday Dream, which melds nicely with the offbeat patterns of SNL. The band rounds out the disc with a live number, Something About You, lighting a fire under the aforementioned proverbial audience with a jumping dance beat, which has just the right touch of reggae and new wave pop. Good stuff, and it doesn't miss the mark.

MISH MASH Mandate: You're Breaking My Heart

Cecilia Website

Robert Di Pietro
Ordinary Boy

13 song CD

Unlike the title of his album, Robert Di Pietro is anything but ordinary. His music is quirky and mesmerizing, just a little off the beaten path, appropriately recorded in the basement. He doesn't stick to the strict rules of popular songwriting, bringing a few new ideas to the table. The entire disc is a joy to listen to, bringing another surprise at each listen.

The differences come in varied fashion---the stark vocal style of the title track, the punch-drunk drums of Joseph, the metallic percussive sounds in Down The Hall, the wandering lyric lines of Ought To Be, the crazed organ in 'Til Tomorrow, the muted drum track on And So It Happens In The Fall, or the extended fade-in on Sometimes I Pretend. Each song has its own flavor, unique and wonderful all on its own.

As far as I'm concerned, Di Pietro has created a little DIY masterpiece downstairs, and you should certainly peek in to take a listen.

MISH MASH Mandate: Dr. Robert

Robert Di Pietro Website

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