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Title: "Basque"

Label: Laqua Records

Format: 8 song CD

I knew I was in for something different when I opened the package from Basque and saw a CD, a candle, and a customized book of matches all packed up in a purple ziploc bag. Basque is made up of "Brandy" on bass and "Maryasque" on vocals--basically a Tuck & Patti with a twist: subtle and soothing new age sounds that seem to float from your speakers.

The songs are complex in their simplicity; the vocals float effortlessly across the dancing bass lines, painting pictures with rising and falling sounds. Maryasque's vocals are less lyrical than they are instrumental. There are words here and there, but they are delivered as if they were mere musical notes. The end result is unexpectedly beautiful in its sheer bareness--revealing a depth that you would not expect from just a bass and vocals.

This is a remarkable piece of work, and has to be heard to be believed and fully appreciated.

MISH MASH Mandate: Defies description

Basque Website

Losing Today

Various Artists

Title: "Painted Dream"

Format: 'Zine with 17 song compilation CD

This is probably one of the best indie 'zines I have ever seen. "Losing Today" is an annual 'zine that showcases indie dreampop/spacerock/postrock, etc, and includes a comp CD loaded with underground pop bands from around the world.

The mag is beautifully made--slick and glossy--loaded with photos, interviews, and reviews. This particular issue features interviews with Flowchart, Auburn Lull, and Lovesliescrushing, among others.

The CD is a magnificent collection of indie trance/dance/ambient pop sounds. Highlights include State of Grace's "The Saddest Part", which has dreamy keyboard sounds drifting around a drum-n-bass beat. Sister Sonny gets a little darker with "Moon Pedro", a song that sounds like a depressingly dark "Radio Free Europe". "Hazel Would" by Starflyer59 has a deep, big guitar fuzz-out sound, while Mean Red Spiders do their best Mazzy Star with the echoey "Places You Call Home". I really like the subtle dance grooves of Club8's drum-n-bass "Summer Rain", and the 80's Cure-like "Laziness" by Quigley is just incredible.

This is well worth seeking out--fans of dreampop will not be disappointed.

MISH MASH Mandate: Dream on

Losing Today Website

Uncle Tom

Title: "Uncle Tom"

Label: Fuse Records

Format: 13 song CD

Obnoxious and uncompromising, Uncle Tom is rock-and-roll at its ugliest. Singer/guitarist/songwriter Robert "Beast" Best has a perfectly snotty, nasal-toned voice that is overflowing with punk attitude. It's almost hard to take this one seriously, because the band rarely does--it's fired off with a "heck if I care" mentality that surfaces throughout the record.

The overall sound combines a dual-guitar assault in the style of Guns-N-Roses and post-punk preening in the style of Nirvana; it's Kurt Cobain-meets-Slash in a dizzying mix of bluesy punk. This is most evident in the opener, "I'm In Love With My Gun", which starts off in grunge filled angst only to catch fire with loud guitar in the refrain.

"Out A This World" and "Dancin' In A Minefield" are riff-heavy with plenty of punk swagger, while "You Can't Hurt Me" delves into a quick punk thrashing. All of the elements come together in the hellbent 60s-styled garage rocker, "Nice Guys", which is by far the best cut on the CD. Very nice, indeed.

If you like your rock served up raw and without excuses, this is it.

MISH MASH Mandate: Medium rare rock that's well done

Uncle Tom Website
Download Mp3s

Dog Fashion Disco

Title: "The Embryo's In Bloom"

Label: Outer Loop Records

Format: 9 song CD

Dog Fashion Disco is pure 90s: an amalgam of scary hardcore and scattered elements of funk, rap, ska, and electronica. Their musical indecision is soaked in diversity--a Frankenstein's Monster of contemporary pop music.

"Siamese Fever" begins the CD with a nightmarish, Marilyn Manson-like feel, blending pop and funk beats inside a hardcore shell, while a "lullaby" melody creeps into the refrain, adding to the weirdness. A definite touch of funk surfaces in "Toothless Dream", almost reminding me of 311 in their early days, while "G Eye Joe" dives into a metallic rock riffdom. The boys get more bizarre as the album continues, winding up with the carnival from hell sounds of "The Satanic Cowboy" and the crazed church organ sounds of "God Crisis".

These guys adhere to the philosophy of "anything goes", and few stones are left unturned.

MISH MASH Mandate: Fashion statement

Dog Fashion Disco Website