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New Music Reviews

Mr. Gnome
Echoes On The Ground
5 song CD

Mr. Gnome is a guitar-and-drum-based male/female duo, sorta like The White Stripes---only in reverse, with Nicole Barille on vocals & guitar and Sam Meister on drums. I know what you're thinking, and don't worry, that's where the similarities end.

They don't sound much like the aforementioned Stripes, as they embrace the trippiness of Portishead and the quirky vocal-style of Bjork in conjunction with the noisy guitar noodling. After the brash opening of Drunky Stoney, the duo settles into a mix of abstract dynamics, bringing in offbeat rhythms and dissonant guitars which evoke The Sugarcubes more than Jack White.

With only two instruments, the disc has a very open feel, and as they aren't weighted down with sound, the five songs pass by way too quickly. Here's hoping they have a few more tunes up their sleeve, and that there's more to come.

MISH MASH Mandate: Of A Different Stripe
Mr. Gnome Website

Echo Is Your Love
Paper Cut Eye
If Society / Stickfigure
12 song CD


Hailing from Scandinavia, Echo Is Your Love merges a wealth of cacophonous European influences into one mean package. Part punk, part industrial, part gothic, with lots of indie rock dissonance thrown in for good measure. At first you are struck by the amount of noise and conflicting sounds, but then the melody comes shining through in spite of itself---deftly avoiding the usual pop traps.

With that having been said, it's hard to point to any particular songs and call them highlights, as this album is best taken as a whole. The more you listen, the more the music comes alive---aggressively hitting you from every side.

MISH MASH Mandate: Echo Chamber
If Society Website
Stickfigure Website


Mother Blues With Gerald McClendon
Sleeping While The River Runs
Sleeping Dog Records
17 song CD


The problem that usually plagues contemporary blues is the past---what I mean is, it seems that all the good blues happened at least 25 years ago. Thankfully, Mother Blues has avoided this trap of "remember when"---not only do they emulate the great blues of yesteryear, they do it with a freshness that I haven't heard in a long, long time.

There are two reasons for that: the dirty and emotive blues guitar of Steve Bramer and the classic r&b vocals of Gerald McClendon. They are a perfect match, as Bramer rips out the licks like Albert King, and McClendon serenades with a soulful strut that brings back the nostalgic sounds of old Stax. This combination proves to be a powerful mix, turning an otherwise standard blues record into an unforgettable experience.

MISH MASH Mandate: Blues Brothers
Sleeping Dog Records

The Teenage Prayers
Ten Songs
10 song CD

What happens when angst-ridden indie rock collides with roots rock head-on? You get self-sensitive introverted pop laced with the rolling sounds of a Hammond B3, and if you're lucky, a song produced by none other than soul man Solomon Burke.
If that doesn't pique your curiosity, nothing will.

The album begins with quiet misery, showing the band standing in their best woe-is-me posture for the first five songs. It's not until the track She Ain't My Baby that the soul connection starts to shine through. It's not exactly a happy song, but it almost cracks a smile with sharp handclaps and a driving back beat. The Burke-produced track, Goodbye Baby, is sort of a combination of the two ideas. It starts out with a rambling piano line and a shout-it-out vocal refrain, which soon drifts back and forth, into and out of melancholy.

MISH MASH Mandate: Teen Steam
Teenage Prayers Website

Round Mountain
Round Mountain
13 Song CD

It's fair to say that the duet Round Mountain has taken world folk music into the extreme. Robby and Char Rothschild weave together a wild variety of styles and acoustic instrumentation to create a sound which is diverse in every which way it can be.

You can hear elements of American folk mixed in with celtic sounds and African rhythms---or is it Eastern sounds and South American rhythms? It doesn't matter, because they're all in there somewhere. The remarkable thing is that it works perfectly. They embrace every culture to the point where it's hard to determine where one begins and the other ends, all the while maintaining a song structure and melody which makes you want to sing along.

MISH MASH Mandate: It's A Small World After All
Round Mountain Website

Shawn Prescott Haussler
Taking The Air
14 song CD

Shawn Prescott Haussler begins her album with a lonely whistle calling out into the openess. It's a lovely way to begin a disc dedicated to the Irish airs, and just when you think you've got it figured out, Haussler throws in a twist. Halfway through the opening track, a jazzy guitar jumps in to add a whole new dimension to the tune---transitioning from traditional air to jazzed-out jig in a matter of two steps.
Throughout the album, Haussler takes control in most of the songs, by singing, playing the flute, the whistle, the harp, guitar, and djembe. Her voice is haunting, quiet and low---the fitting vocals for such a misty and understated musical backdrop.
It's obvious that this is Haussler's labour of love, as her heart and soul come shining through in these songs.

MISH MASH Mandate: Breathing It In
Shawn Prescott Haussler Website

Various Artists
Oxford American Magazine
Southern Music CD
Oxford American Issue 50
29 song CD

In case you haven't familiarized yourself with the righteously famous music edition of Oxford American Magazine, then get yourself out right now and track it down at your neighborhood newstand before they sell out---you won't regret it.

This edition centers on Southern-tinged music in a variety of genres spanning mutliple generations, from country to folk to psychedelic, an eclectic selection that shows off the South's gloried musical past. The magazine itself is filled with features about the musicians included on the disc, which range from Lightnin' Hopkins, Bubble Puppy, and on to the likes of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Don't miss this one.

MISH MASH Mandate: Songs Of The South
Oxford American Magazine Website

© 2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved

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2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved