Label: Monacle Records, 1998
Format: 11 song CD
Can you judge a CD by its cover? It's not often you run across album art that features a band member's grandmother brandishing a shotgun. Needless to say, I was intrigued, if not totally impressed, so I was eager to give this one a listen.
This is one to grow on; the first listen didn't do much for me, but now I'm hooked. These guys have a sound strangely similar to one of last month's reviewees, subReal, as their approach is often laid-back yet full of anticipation. There's also an element of They Might Be Giants in here, number one being the weird sense of humor, and two being the duo/trio vocal style. The best example of this is the first cut, "Martian March-In", which is downright hilarious. It starts off with a lazy shuffle and proceeds into an absolute frantic panic, only to be finished off with a touch of 50s doo-wop. An instant classic.
From there the band delves into a varitey of styles, ranging from the ska-flavored punk of "Ribcage", to the Stray-Cat rockabilly of "When the World Ends". And, the tried-and-true garage rock of "Tilt" is nothing but cool.
There's a lot of talent brewing around on this one. Seek out this disc, but look out for grandma.
MISH MASH Mandate: Their grandmother can kick your a**
Label: Self released
Format: 6 song CD
Tripsonic is a name that fits this New York-based trio. Their style is based on a big-guitar space-age sound that draws heavily upon post British Invasion rock, with a nice mix of early Seattle grunge.
This EP-length release is short and to the point, and it does a good job of showcasing the band's strongpoints. "Hover" is a catchy, radio-ready rocker that has a memorable melody that's dripping with a thick guitar sound. "Shimmer" is more alternative rock based and pounds away in the style of early Pearl Jam, while "Thing" reminds me of Alice In Chains.
They get into a groovier sound with "OK"--this one is real trippy, and sounds like it could've escaped from the Cult's early-80s album, "Love". I like it, and the guitars are just huge. Rock on.
MISH MASH Mandate: Guitars from Mars
Label: 2 Funky Int'l
Format: 10 song CD
This is a band lost in time. Rippopotamus has a perfect 70s funky groove which is skillfully packaged with a 90s freshness.
"Fanfare of Funk" starts the disc off with a classic sound that revives the best moves of James Brown and the fun quirkiness of Parliament. The band shows off its chops with the semi-instrumental "Happy Little Monkey", which reveals a deep well of musical talent. These guys are super tight, and very together. This cut alone is worth the the price of admission.
My personal favorite is the fast funk of the title track, "Swim". The groove is undeniable, and you can't help but get up and move.
MISH MASH Mandate: Sound your funky horn
Title: "Sea of Lights"
Label: Big Tom's Records
Format: 5 song CD
Much like their namesake, everything about The Loving Tongue sounds a little dirty, like something you want to hide. At times they sound like a gritty groove/jam band, and at others, full throttle thrash. Packed with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude, this disc grows on you, albeit like a musical fungus.
The Santana-esque sounds of "S.I.O" is a groovy, if not guilty pleasure. I was singing along with the refrain the first time I heard it, only to blush at the song's finale. The bluesy intro of "Groovy Mama" gives way to an even bluesier strut, and the whole song is so cliche that somehow it becomes cool in the end. From there, the band takes a stab at thrash ("Driving Me Crazy"), and even improv jazz ("Sea of Lights").
Sounds a little strange, but the weird thing is I kinda like it. Go ahead and give it a listen. Don't worry, I won't tell.
MISH MASH Mandate: A guilty pleasure
Format: 5 song CD
Some people see the world from a completely different vantage point. Such is the case with aural artist Rodrigo Sigal. His compositions paint remarkable soundscapes which stimulate the imagination, using comparisons and contrasts through variations in sound.
Sigal uses traditional musicians and their respective instruments as the base for his experimentations. He weaves intricate sound tracks beneath the individual instrumental pieces to create his magic. "Babel" uses the extreme contrast of the simple tones of Harrie Starreveld's flute against the harsh complexity of human and digital noise. The result is a strange balance that could be a reminder that there is a way to find peace in our increasingly hectic modern world.
The confusion of clanging church bells competing with a quiet solo piano is the climax of "Fe". Sigal appears to be examining the conflict of religious faith; each of us has a unique perspective, a personal way of looking at God.
Another highlight is "Lagarto", which uses a complete ensemble of instruments working together against a mixed background of crowd and nature sounds. It is an optimistic piece, implying that nature and humans can live together in harmony.
Rodrigo Sigal has the rare ability to go beneath the superficial, and what he has uncovered is stirring and thought provoking. He has gone beyond the emotional elements of music to find its naked spirit.
MISH MASH Mandate: Deep discernment
Title: "Music to Beach About"
Label: Houseboat Records
Format: 10 song CD
When it's cold outside, it sure is nice to take a nice trip to the beach, even if by way of a daydream. The soothing sounds of Tropical Denny can put you in the mood for a margarita and lounge chair, whether or not the sun is shining in your neighborhood.
Every song on the album features Tropical Denny singing solo along with his acoustic guitar, much like a musician you would find at an island resort. The songs are blues/country inspired, and the thought of Jimmy Buffett enters the mind quickly.
Denny has a storytelling style of songwriting that keeps your interest and is highly entertaining. The song "Suppertime" is a country-flavored number that is written from the viewpoint of a man who's visiting his ex, just because he's hungry for her cooking. He promises not to outstay his welcome; he just wants to eat and run.
So put on your flip-flops, turn up the heat, and fire up the blender. I'm ready for some fun in the sun.
MISH MASH Mandate: Welcome to the endless summer
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