2005 ISSUE #72
Of all the things a guitarist can tweak and experiment with in his or her setup to get a new sound, the guitar
pick is probably one of the last things to consider. That is,
until now. The Jellifish is a new take on guitar picks, changing
the basic structure of the plectrum and taking it into an altogether
The Jellifish gets its name from its shape---a
rounded piece of plastic, with short metal wires sticking out
from the bottom, cut at angle, reminiscent of its nautical namesake.
The plastic grip is twice as thick as your average medium guitar
pick, while the metal "tines" are set tightly together,
and fairly stiff to the touch. The idea is to give the pick a
varied surface area to bring out new sounds from your guitar,
sounds that a standard plastic flat pick will not make.
The makers of Jellifish claim that you can produce
three different distinct sounds with their recommended techniques,
each with its own goofy moniker of exclamation---the "Chorus!",
the "Pluck!", and the "Bow!"---which should
give you the sound of a chorus/12 string guitar effect, a sharp
metallic plucking effect, and the sound of a bow riding across
the strings, respectively. We decided to put these claims to the
test to see if the Jellifish is as revolutionary as it is presented
We tried all three techniques on both an acoustic
and an electric guitar, while employing different playing styles.
On the acoustic guitar, the results were obvious and immediate,
especially with the chorus technique. As the pick was stroked
gently at a 45 degree angle, the guitar came to life, with a bright
and full sound. It might be a bit of a stretch to say that it
sounded like a chorus effect pedal, or even a 12 string guitar,
but the Jellifish did produce a pleasant sound which was similar
to both in theory. It surely did not sound like a standard, plastic
The "Pluck!" and "Bow!" methods
were not quite as impressive, as the plucking technique simply
sounded like a metallic pick, and the bow technique sounded too
scratchy and was somewhat difficult to maneuver. Moving on to the
electric guitar, it seems that the difference in sound was not
quite as pronounced as it was in the acoustic, although the end
results were similar overall.
As for durability, the literature says that it should
last a few months of continuous use, as long as you are careful
and are not overly aggressive in your playing. We attacked the
guitar fairly hard in one of our tests, and we managed to bend
and pop out one of the tines, but it shouldn't be a problem with
The verdict? If you are looking for a new sound,
especially if you play acoustic guitar, then the Jellifish is
definitely worth a try. The list price is around $10, which may
sound steep for a pick, but not when you consider the amount of
change in sound that you're getting. It may not make you forget
about and throw away your usual picks, but it will give you something
new to play with and a chance break away from the ordinary.
MISH MASH Mandate: Fishy Pick
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New Music Reviews
What is a rock snob? According to authors David Kemp and Steven Daly
it's defined as a "pop connoisseur for whom the actual enjoyment
of music is but a side dish to the accumulation of arcane knowledge
about it." We all know the type, the know-it-all music
buff who is immersed in the nit-picking trivia of rock---not unlike
the characters who populate High Fidelity ---and ravage those who
are ignorant of the seemingly never-ending stream of super snob knowledge.
by David Kamp And Steven Daly
151 page softcover book
The dictionary is written with acerbic wit, biting with abandon
the hipster hands that feed it, making fun of not only the rock
snobs, but those the snobs hold in high regard. There are few sacred
cows untouched, as the dictionary attempts to define and decipher
everything in the snob lexicon from "Acetate" to "Zoso"
(the first is a test pressing of a vinyl record, and the second
is the fan-given name to Led Zeppelin's fourth LP). One of my favorite
examples is in the entry for Nick Drake, who is described as being
a "sad sack" who "was frequently photographed standing
dolefully among trees". If you find that funny, you either
know a snob, or you are one.
The brilliance comes not only in the definitions, but in the fact
that many of the entries are cross-referenced, and the most important
entries are highlighted for those who aren't in the know. Armed
with this book, you can go up against any snob when they go on about
"coruscating guitars" or The Master Musicians of Jajouka.
MISH MASH Mandate: Lexicon Of Love
Rock Snob Website
Broadway Books Website
Jet By Day
Future Farmer Recordings
11 song CD
Jet By Day is a group of angry young men, and they aren't afraid
to show it---even if it's not quite clear what they're angry about.
The angst just peels off of this record in layers, drowning the
listener in dissonant guitars and aggression.
That having been said, this is one of the finest albums I've heard
all year. The band has a knack for combining the punch of classic
hard rock and the anxiety of emo into an incredible package. It's
tight, it's on edge, it's catchy and it's loud. Even though they're
rocking out, they're not afraid to write memorable pop songs---so
while you're pumping your fist, you're also singing along.
MISH MASH Mandate: St. Anger
Jet By Day Website
Future Farmer Recordings Website
In The Red Records
10 Song CD
On the Ponys' first album, Laced With Romance,
the band attacked straight on with a bludgeon to the head, but
on their second outing, they're sneaking up from behind to put
on the stranglehold. This one isn't as big and brass as the first,
scaling back the raging bonfire into a smoldering slow-burn which
rambles and meanders through ten tragically beautiful songs of
noisy, jangling punk rock.
Recorded with producer Steve Albini, it seems that any embellishments
have been stripped away, leaving the raw musical skeleton of The
Ponys exposed for our listening pleasure. When vocalist Jered
wails that he's "saving all my pennies up, trying to buy
some cigarettes" on the classic rock-n-roll track Get
Black, you know that you're getting the real
thing, without polish or pretensions.
MISH MASH Mandate: My Little Pony
In The Red Records Website
11 song CD
Pistol Star is basically a one-man band, the pen name of one Paul
Kimble (formerly of Grant Lee Buffalo), who acts as musician/producer on this multi-faceted release.
Kimble not only wears many hats, he also emulates a multitude of
artists and styles, ranging from the funky dance sounds of Jamiroquai,
to the funky retro rock of Lenny Kravitz, to the obscure
dynamic Brit pop of Radiohead.
While there is definitely a lack of focus, the album certainly
does not get boring, as every track seems to open up a different
side of Kimble's talent and musical influence. There is plenty
to keep you occupied and on the edge of your seat, as the songwriting
is top notch and the production is perfectly executed.
MISH MASH Mandate: Pop Pistol
Pistol Star Website
Wax Orchard Website
10 Song CD
Angela McKenzie isn't just a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice,
she also has a beautiful heart to complete the package. According
to her album's liner notes, she has worked for the UN, along with
a number of other humanitarian organizations. Not only that, she
has created her own non-profit organization called The AMcK Initiative
to help benefit the needy---which this album was released to support
On top of all this, her music reflects this desire for compassion.
Her songs are acoustic-guitar based and folksy---yet not preachy,
delivered with a self-assured optimism which is infectious. It's
something to feel good about.
MISH MASH Mandate: Folksy Philanthropist
Angela McKenzie Website
Dynamite & Other Inventions/Hard
Nine Mile Records
17 song CD
Here's a quirky little album from a quirky little lo-fi rock trio.
Their distjointed sound fails to be defined, other than saying that
it has an adventurous garage rock feel. The vocals of singer/guitarist
P.W. McHugh are delivered in a half-whispered/half-sung style which
doesn't always hit the right note, and the guitars ping and dink
along in herky jerky fashion, occasionally ripping out a bluesy
power chord amongst the dissonant noodling. All the while, the rhythm
section seems to be doing their own thing, never quite settling
into anything resembling a groove.
The funny part is that it inexplicably works. It's not listener
friendly, but it has that unique draw that only a homemade recording
seems to have.
MISH MASH Mandate: Homemade Noodles
© 2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved