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Issue #28 March 2001

An Interview with Marina V
Russia On My Mind
(Click Here)

The Ether Family Presents...
Vending Machine
Aviso' Hara
Don Osburn

The Ether Family Presents...
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

subReal Songs
26 song CD

An epic undertaking from the enigmatic "Ether Family," the same ones who brought you the hazy indie rock of Tools for Men Who Want to Succeed (under the name Subreal). The 26 songs featured here represent the virtual soundtrack for a non-existent movie, giving us a vicarious glimpse at an elusive storyline about love and love lost.

The Family's main singer/songwriter/culprit, Jimmy Ether (Ryan Williams), has a knack for writing goofy and discordant indie pop. He's at his best pounding out power chord pop songs with hyper-catchy refrains, which fits well with his "everyday guy" vocal delivery. This is best evident in the quick-stepping Bleeding Hearts Love To Let Go and the driving flirtation of Set Us Up. The sheer number of tunes allows the band to play with dynamics, slowing down every once and a while to keep interest up throughout the 26 tracks. While it starts wearing kind of thin before you hit two dozen, there are gems like the quiet angst of Nothing Ever Happens and the frustration of Destiny which make this album worth many repeat listens.

MISH MASH Mandate: Moving Pictures

Ether Family SubReal Web Site

Vending Machine
The Chamber From Here to There

Powerbunny 4 x 4
15 song CD

A successful experiment in lo-fi, Vending Machine's (aka Robert Grant) The Chamber From Here to There is a glorious concoction of hit-and-miss ditties that swing from pure genius to the inane. Grant's quirky blend of styles exhibits a knack for taking chances, using hooky pop phrasings with tongue-in-cheek lyrics over unlikely musical backgrounds. It can get silly, but there's enough creativity at play to make this one a must-have for fans of DIY.

Grant is at his best when he isn't going out of his way to be goofy. The subtle humor of Grunt Once fits perfectly with the British Invasion feel of the music, which actually reminds me of the scratchy blues of early Rolling Stones recordings. He also scores with an uncanny parody of Ben Folds Five with the nonsense piano pop of Natural Neighborhood Chair, which is about a boy who turns into a stump which other kids sit on.

This record is full of surprises, and Grant sounds like he's having plenty of fun.

MISH MASH Mandate: Cheeky Ditties

Vending Machine Website

Preservatives Affirmative

Fusi Pumper Records
20 song CD

Full of California cool and party-ready attitude, Pfilbryte's Preservatives Affirmative is a wild hybrid of styles, condensed into a tight and efficient package. Whether it's progressive pop or full throttle funk, Mr. Pfilbryte dips his finger into a variety of influences, pulling them all together into a sound that never fails to overpower and overwhelm the listener with its unending enthusiasm.

The album opens with the groovy title track, a soulful song that bears a strong resemblance to Sly Stone's Thank You..., only to meander into the lazy hip-hop-meets-pop refrains of And Nothin' and I Know. The ultimate frat party song shows up with I Like Beer, a rip-roaring ode to Pfilbryte's favorite beverage. It's hard to tell if this is true par-tay praise or mere parody, but it doesn't matter, it kicks out the jams just the same.

Each track holds a small surprise, and overall, the record rarely disappoints. Slick and slippery, with all the trappings you could ever wish for; Pfilbryte has done his homework, and it shows.

MISH MASH Mandate: Power Pump

Fusi Pumper Website

Aviso' Hara
Made From Scratch

Vital Cog/Powerbunny 4x4
10+ song CD

Wow, what a mess! Culled together from past 7" singles and demos, Made From Scratch fluctuates in sound quality in as much as it does in its variety of rock styles. Even with the lack of focus, it all seems to work out in the end, and the collection paints the picture of a band that's not afraid to let its "unpolished" side show.

In the first four songs, we are hit with the modern rock of Conspiracy au Go Go, the dissonant power pop of Red Five (Standing By), the Jesus Lizard-like mania of How To Feed Your Family, and a guitar rock cover of Prince's Raspberry Beret. This musical melange continues for a few more songs, and then we are given an unexpected package in the form of a "hidden" track. Imagine my surprise when I first heard the ominous sounds of the intro to Shout At The Devil (Yes, my friends that Shout At The Devil). The boys do a mean lo-fi cover of the Crue classic, one that has to be heard to be fully appreciated. Need I say more?

MISH MASH Mandate: God Bless the Children of the Beast

Vital Cog Website
Powerbunny 4x4 Website

Don Osburn
Small Fine Pleasures

Versability Music
13 Song CD

Don Osburn has one of those timeless voices, tinged with a touch of country twang, feeling right at home whether it's 1930 or 2001. At times he comes across like the stoic Hank Williams, and at others like the feel-good Jimmy Buffett. Either way, his small-town appeal creates a right-at-home, comforting feeling.

Where the Westerlies Blow Onshore, a duet with Cindy Church, is a folksy tune that rises and falls gently, evocative in its traditional approach. A different approach yields similar results with The Well's Gone Dry, a nod to the past which employs a more upbeat country sound, adding horns and a full backing choir. Osburn takes a silly stab at bluegrass with Slippery Jack, which then gives way to the quiet and sentimental title track. The CD ends with a spicy hidden track, Uncle Billy's Voodoo Jerk Slather, which is an ode to a favorite hot sauce.

With his smooth country sound and a penchant for catchy songwriting, Osburn is a classic in the making.

MISH MASH Mandate: Touch of Twang

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