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New Music Reviews

Cheap Trick
Big 3 Records
12 song CD


If there was ever any doubt about the viability or the longevity of Cheap Trick, this should put it to rest. After three decades of power pop rocking, this quartet from the Midwest proves that they still have what it takes in a surprisingly great collection of brand new material.

This is the album that 2003's Special One should have been. While that album had many promising moments, it fell short of living up to its potential. The band was reaching for the next level, but they just didn't quite make it. In Rockford, however, the songwriting is tight and catchy, and the band sounds hungrier than they have since the early 80s. The group is at their best when they pull out the stops and take a few chances, like on Come On Come On Come On, O Claire, One More, and Decaf. The only complaint I have is that the mix of producers (including Jack Douglas, Linda Perry and Steve Albini, among others) makes the album sound less cohesive than it could be with one at the helm. As many of the band's albums don't live up to their live shows, it would be nice to see them finally capture that fire in a studio setting, and perhaps using one capable producer could push them in that direction.

With that having been said, longtime fans of Trick will feel right at home with this release, as it certainly lives up to the standard set by their classic first albums back in the late 70s.

MISH MASH Mandate: Don't Steal My Girlfriend
Cheap Trick Website

Dolly Daggers
Dolly Daggers
4 song CD


At some point in the past 35 years, the spirit of glam rock made its way to Scandinavia and found root there. In the 80s, one of the greatest exports was Hanoi Rocks, and now the latest result, this time from Sweden, is the punk-pop quartet Dolly Daggers

The Daggers do their best to emulate their glamtastic predecessors, reaching back to borrow from Marc Bolan, New York Dolls/Johnny Thunders, and the aforementioned boys from Hanoi. At the same time, they add just the right amount of post-modern punk attitude and glitzy new wave keyboards to give it an ironically fresh sound.

Make no mistake, there are plenty of pop hooks to go along with the eye shadow and the pouting attitude. So pull on the platform shoes and start strutting. You know you want to.

MISH MASH Mandate: Wham Bam Glam
Dolly Daggers Website

Crawling With Kings
Regarding Your Request For Closure
My Plastic Records
10 song CD


Depression rock currently seems to be an art in and of itself, and Crawling With Kings have created quite the masterpiece of woe. Quiet vocals and enigmatic lyrics wrap around understated guitar lines, providing an atmosphere of rambling loneliness and solitude which never lets up.

Don't fret, though, because even if it brings you down, the songs hold their promise in being beautifully done. They grab you immediately and hold your undivided attention in a way that speaks highly of the songwriting and execution.

MISH MASH Mandate: Sad Songs Say So Much
My Plastic Records Website


Delaney & Bonnie
Stax/Concord Records
16 song CD reissue


While Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett had a brief flirt with fame in the early 70s playing with Eric Clapton, chances are you're not familiar with this particular Stax release from 1969. It's an album steeped in classic Stax southern soul, with the backing band being none other than Booker T. & The MGs (among others). It's purely a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as it was virtually ignored when it was originally released---partially because the Bramletts were white people playing "black" soul.

Time has proven otherwise, as the music on this release is as potent as any other rhythm & blues release of the classic Stax era, featuring soulful, heartfelt singing and those unmistakable Stax big horns. The true unsung hero here, though, is the vocal talent of Bonnie Bramlett, who sounds like a cross between Janis Joplin and Carla Thomas (most evident in her take on Piece Of My Heart). She sounds right at home with rhythm & blues, and this release is worth grabbing just because of her.

MISH MASH Mandate: Soul Food
Stax/Concord Records Website

Alive Records
9 song CD

SSM is a merely a trio, yet their wall of sound belies this fact, sonically punching you in the face from all sides without apology. It's a crazy mix of styles and sounds, taking classic garage rock into multiple musical directions, all the while overwhelming the listener with a sheer amount of unforgiving sound.

The keyboard-and-guitar attack proves to be quite impressive, jumbling together an array of noise and discordant retro melodies which seem to work in spite of themselves. It's a piece of work that's out of time and space, not falling into anything easily labeled or categorized. When it comes down to it, it's just rock, but it it's rock that will knock your socks off.

MISH MASH Mandate: Time Bandits
Alive Records Website

Forget Cassettes
Theory 8 Records
9 song CD

Forget Cassettes is back, regrouped and recast as a trio, with guitarist/vocalist Beth Cameron remaining at the helm. Their latest release, Salt, is a sonic barrage of post-modern rock that is full of surprises. The music is simple in its guitar/bass/drums execution, but complex in its overall structure. This isn't your average pop rock record, to be sure.

Cameron wears her heart on her sleeve vocally, digging down deep to express her self in a variety of dynamic ways. At times she's unsure and understated, and at others she is in your face with a full assault, running the gamut of emotions and moods. The band's style is somewhat quirky and unpredictable, but always with an underlying tension that flexes and retracts throughout. It reminds me a little of Fugazi, but with an obvious bent towards female angst. Beautiful and haunting at the same time, this is a record that makes a lasting impact and is sure to be returning to my player in the future.

MISH MASH Mandate: I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
Forget Cassettes Website

If that is what is being thought, liberated sound talks the depth of [musical] world
Status Quo Audio
12 song CD

Just looking at the title of this one leads me to believe something is lost in translation. It's easier to understand when you find out that "te" is a four-piece instrumental avant garde rock band from Japan. At this point, you should realize that anything goes.

The music of "te" is founded in a swirling mix of post-modern guitar rock and classic sci-fi prog rock. The songs themselves (which have long convoluted names like the album title) are surprisingly light and airy, considering they come in the form of two electric guitars, bass, and drums. The band does a good job of keeping the songs from getting bogged down in the noodling, leaving them open and unfettered by histrionics. This simple approach uses more emotion than blinding musical skill, and the result is an album that draws you right in.

MISH MASH Mandate: Turning Japanese
Status Quo Audio Website

Omar & The Howlers
Bamboozled (Live In Germany)
Ruf Records
15 song CD

Frontman "Omar" has the perfect voice for electric blues singing; it's raw, gritty, and full of the bad attitude that makes the blues grab you in the gut. He sounds like a cross between Howlin' Wolf and Dr. John --- gruff and growling through this great bluesy live set recorded in Germany. His guitar playing ain't too shabby, either.

This is the way the blues is supposed to be played. The band is tight, but the sound isn't too polished. It's just rough enough around the edges to keep it real, making sure there's plenty of dirt and grit. Oh yeah, man, this is the good stuff.

MISH MASH Mandate: Who Do You Love?
Ruf Records Website

© 2006 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved


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2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved