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New Music Reviews

Hotel Lights
Hotel Lights
Bar None Records
13 song CD


Hotel Lights is the latest project for Darren Jessee, founding member of Ben Folds Five. While there is definitely a slight departure from BFF in terms of sonics, Jessee still has a firm grip on the pop sensibilities which made that group famous.

For the most part, the songs are quiet and introspective, relying on acoustic guitar and piano to drive the songs along while Jessee sings in a half-whispered voice. He sounds like Joe Pernice having a good day, not quite wallowing in despondent woe, but not exactly jumping for joy, either.

At times he breaks free from the depression to deliver upbeat tunes like I Am A Train and Marvelous Truth, giving the album a few rock solid legs to stand on, and avoiding the tag of Garden State Soundtrack, Pt. II.

MISH MASH Mandate: We'll Leave The Light On For You
Bar None Records Website

Dirty Little Secret
Cabin Fever
Dirty Little Records
13 song CD


Dirty Little Secret is one of those bands which you like in spite of your better judgment. There's nothing particularly good or redeeming about this twisted power pop, but you find yourself drawn in just the same.

This is like junk food music, crazed and manic guitar pop delivered with a sleazy sneer. There's a touch of hair metal and glam wrapped up in post-modern angst, leaning on just enough New Wave techno trash to keep it interesting. It certainly doesn't help that these guys are as catchy as they can be.

I really don't want to like this, but I do. Man, I feel dirty. I need a shower.

MISH MASH Mandate: Guilty Pleasure
Dirty Little Secret Website


The Seven Mile Journey
The Journey Studies
Fonogram Records
4 song CD


There are only four songs, but the album runs for over 40 minutes total, so it is more than just a journey in name. This four piece band from Scandanavia uses a minimalist approach to turn music inside out, changing the landscape of sound into something completely new.

The instrumental songs drone and drive with quiet intensity, slowly and surely, towards the end destination with musical tunnel vision. While there is a great deal of repetition, the songs move along in stages where instruments enter and exit with varying rhythms and dynamics.

The overall result is an album that comes across more as a work of art than a simple listening experience.

MISH MASH Mandate: Stone In Love
Seven Mile Journey Website

Ten Mile Tide
Ten Mile Tide
10 song CD

Get ready for a road trip, because you'll want to take one after listening to Ten Mile Tide. I hate to call this a "jam band", but I fail to come up with another name for it. They approach their roots rock with a fun and optimistic air that can't help but be compared with the likes of the Dead and Panic.

Thankfully, these guys are very good at what they do, so there's nothing to worry about. If you like your tunes lined with the sound of fiddles and a Hammond B3, then you can't help but fall in love with these guys. So, put the top down and get ready for the ride of your life.

MISH MASH Mandate: Tennessee Jed
Ten Mile Tide Website

Neat Spirits
10 song CD

The track 1978 starts off this album in an aptly named direction, in more ways than one, because Glassine owes a great deal to the punk movement which dominated the late 70s rock scene. If Elvis Costello had teamed up with The Ramones and The Cars, then we'd probably get something similar to this.

Glassine pouts and preens with punk attitude and New Wave plasticity, reviving the glory days when it all revolved around a great guitar hook and lots of image. They've obviously done their homework, skillfully executing the sound as if it were all new again. And in a way, it is.

MISH MASH Mandate: Plastic Punks
Glassine Website

Various Artists
Take Action! Volume 5
Sub City
45 song 2 CD set

Take Action! is a collaboration between dozens of artists and labels to benefit the Youth America Hotline (YAH!) sponsored by the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, a counseling network to help youth in crisis. Volume 5 is a two disc collection which brings together 45 modern rock artists, including Sugarcult, Plain White T's, Dropkick Murphys, Teenage Bottlerocket, and many others.

The music is ready made for the current MTV teen generation, a blasting mix of hard-rocking, post-punk angst. With this many bands represented, there's a lot of musical ground covered---this one is sure to keep you rocking at least until the winter blues have gone away.

For more information on YAH!, you can go to their website at or call 1-877-YOUTHLINE.

MISH MASH Mandate: Let's See Action
Sub City Website

Me And Him Call It Us
Stickfigure Records
14 song CD

How loud can you scream? If you've got the pipes, these guys may need you soon because they're certainly going to lose their voices if they haven't already.

It's almost hard to tell how much of this is serious and how much is tongue-in-cheek. There is an almost ridiculous amount of wailing and screeching, layered upon sheer guitar noise and frantic drumbeats, a pure cacophony if there ever was one.
Is this true hardcore, or simply a parody? It's hard to say, because there are a few breaks in the action where the band is gently atmospheric and transparent, such as on the track ...Into The Troubled Waters, I Sink. This leads me to believe they have more than one trick up their sleeve. In any case, there is overall an artful and almost playful approach, as if this were all being done just to see if we have the guts to stick it out to the end. Either these guys are seriously into noise, or they're having a good laugh while we lose our hearing.

MISH MASH Mandate: I Scream, You Scream
Stickfigure Records

Dead Heart Bloom
Dead Heart Bloom
KEI Records
13 song CD

Dead Heart Bloom is the one man solo project of Boris Skalsky, who approaches his music with the eclectic eccentricity of Beck and the dramatics of David Bowie. A wild collage of styles is present here, a melange of art rock that mixes the best of 70s glam and modern cut-n-paste cynicism.
Perhaps the most interesting track is the haunting take on Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, a song that is presented in a stark and cold manner. Skalsky's voice is dry and wispy, riding above deep and heavily reverbed guitar and piano sounds. It is as far removed from the original as it could possibly be, which is a fitting homage to Cash, who would often take others' songs and make them his own.

MISH MASH Mandate: Space Oddity
Dead Heart Bloom Website

© 2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved

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2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved