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American Gun
Dark Southern Hearts
12 song CD


American Gun's album lives up to its namesake, Dark Southern Hearts, as it is surely a rough-and-tumble romp through the shady woods of Southern roots rock. The South Carolina-based group's songs are founded mainly in classic guitar riffs and beer-swilling vocals, at times drifting off into quieter moments of alt country.

The driving force here is pure attitude, a Southern disposition steeped in a steady diet of renegade country artists like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, while keeping one foot firmly set in the mire of big guitar classic rock. It's a heady combination, one which isn't easy to pull off with this much grace. American Gun has it all figured out, and they execute it with a passion.

MISH MASH Mandate: Stick To Your Guns
American Gun Website

Safe Home
The Wide Wide World And All We Know
Now Here Records
16 song CD


As the duo Safe Home, Esther Sprikkelman and Harry Otten wrap beautifully subtle and dark musical lines with their understated Euro pop. Their Holland roots shine through in the sleek and modern design of their songs, leaving not one sound to go to waste. The music is a strange mix of acoustic guitars and synthesizers, melding together a somewhat traditional folk style with European electronica.

Sprikkelman's vocals are fragile and quivering, cold and stark in this basic soundscape. They are left naked and in the open, not hidden in the mix, with a delicate modesty hardly rising above a whisper. The result is dreamy and otherworldly, not quite sounding like anything you've heard before, yet still retaining a slight connection to pop.

MISH MASH Mandate: Sub Pop
Now Here Records Website

15 song CD


As a transplant to LA from The Netherlands, Edie Pijpers brought with here a European sensiblity which shines through brightly in her music. Her pop is a smart and clean pop---creative yet direct in its approach.

At times she borrows from the highly structured world of 80s New Wave, and at others she delves into quiet French ballads. Or perhaps she rambles into the eccentric songwriting styles of Kate Bush and Tori Amos, or takes a headlong dive into drum-n-bass trip hop.

While the styles are all over the place, the good news is that Edie is able to pull it off without much trouble. At times the lack of focus can be a distraction, but her sheer audacity keeps it interesting from beginning to end.

MISH MASH Mandate: Nu Waves
Edie Website


The Bad Hand
This No Time For Modesty
Prankster Dice
10 song LP


The Bad Hand takes the term "do it yourself" to a whole new level. Their brand of indie garage rock has a heartfelt analog honesty which seems to be missing from today's slick crop of computer savvy bedroom musicians. Not only is it on vinyl (thank goodness), it actually sounds like it was recorded in the garage with the cheapest roll of tape they could find. Maybe they really pinched pennies and recycled some tape by recording over something else. Hallelujah! This is my kind of band!

So how does the music fare? It's mostly instrumental, and it's all over the place. A touch of jazz fusion, a smattering of fuzzy guitar, meandering drum lines, and all kinds of assorted noises thrown in for good measure. It's an indie treasure trove of unfettered musical bliss, just like from the good old days.

MISH MASH Mandate: Waxing Poetic
The Bad Hand Website

Chris Corbell
Star Like A Swallow
Green City
6 song CD

There's a gentle and mysterious spirit running through the music of Chris Corbell. He blends acoustic folk with a slight Eastern flair, creating an exotic sound that defies general categorization. Corbell's voice is sincere and slightly unpolished, giving texture to the smooth and flowing sounds created by the acoustic instrumentation.

Corbell's approach is almost hypnotic, quietly drawing you into his songs, allowing you to drift into the flow without force. Before you know it, you're riding right along with him without resistance. The best thing is that he doesn't overstay his welcome. With only six songs rounding out this EP, you're left wanting to hear a little more, and that's always a good thing.

MISH MASH Mandate: Eastern Star
Chris Corbell Website

Sneaky Thieves
14 song CD

In their press kit, the Sneaky Thieves describe their music as being "unsettling, moody, and introspective." I would concur, as they meet each qualification in earnest. The Thieves have mastered the quiet slow-burn that has been the weapon of choice by a number of indie artists in the past few years.

While innumerable comparisons could be made, it would do this group a disservice, as they certainly can hold their own with the depressed crowd. They skillfully weave each song with exact amounts of beautiful angst-filled woe, searing the sounds of understated vocals with biting lyrics deep into your subconscious: "I need you like I need a sharp stick in the eye." Indeed!

MISH MASH Mandate: Great Depression
Sneaky Thieves Website

And This Army
6 song CD

Dissonance, dissonance, and a little more dissonance. That is the name of the game with And This Army. The guitars are laid on thick and hazy, layered in stacks upon stacks. The vocals ride in the midst of this jumble of noise, juxtaposing the confusion with just the slightest touch of pop sensibility.

The whole thing seems to lumber along in slow motion, while somehow maintaining an awesome amount of momentum. It's almost like a strange clash of Black Sabbath with Fugazi, only with a singer who can actually sing. It's an interesting and intriguing collision of sound, one that never settles into a comfortable position. The album is on edge from beginning to end, presenting a challenging listen, but one that surely is rewarding.

MISH MASH Mandate: Purple Hazed
And This Army Website

© 2006 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved


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2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved