The Ponys
Turn The Lights Out
12 song CD

The Ponys have made another metamorphosis. Their debut, Laced With Romance, was a wild and unpredictable ride that stayed on edge from beginning to end, while their followup, Celebration Castle, was much more subtle and sedated, almost laid back in its approach. The band's latest release on their new label, Matador, is caught somewhere in between, refining their sound into something much more distinctive.

The edginess is back, but it is somewhat overshadowed by the neat guitar lines that seem to organize and strategize the moves of the new album. You can hear every guitar part with clarity, and the singing ventures into dissonant wailing only once and a while. In other words, there's plenty of danger, but we never quite dance on the edge of the cliff like we did the first time around. And believe it or not, that's a good thing.

Chalk it up to being older and wiser, because the songs show a focus and determination that the previous releases were missing. They've honed their sound down from distorted chaos into a well-oiled machine.

MISH MASH Mandate: Pony Express
Matador Records Website

Roxanne Potvin
The Way It Feels
Ruf Records
12 song CD


Roxanne Potvin has the blues, bi-lingual style. The Quebec-based singer/guitarist is convincing in English and French, mixing up a unique batch of old fashioned R&B that is sure to please the most finicky of fans.

Potvin has the perfect voice for the blues, middle-ranged with just the right amount of roughness around the edges. With plenty of genuine soul and grit, she moves from upbeat barn burners to quiet ballads with ease.

It also doesn't hurt that she has some help from the likes of John Hiatt and Daniel Lanois. Hiatt and Potvin turn up the heat on A Love That's Simple, while Lanois provides the perfect French singing partner on La Merveille. With friends like that, you can't go wrong, and Potvin does everything just right.

MISH MASH Mandate: Tres Bien
Ruf Records Website

American Cheeseburger
American Cheeseburger
Tusnami Records
7 song 7" Vinyl EP


Imagine if The Fall and Refused got it on and had an ugly little thrash baby named American Cheeseburger. This quartet from Athens is bound and determined to make as much pissing noise as possible on a 7 inch, and boy do they get the job done. Somehow they cram in more than half a dozen manic tunes while the record spins at 45 RPM.

The punk roots of American Cheeseburger are undeniable, yet the avant garde nature of their obtuse lyrics put them right in line with Mark E. Smith. It's easy to imagine him doing riffs off lines like "Explosive paradise nocturnal transmission", even though Cheeseburger singer James screams the words with sheer incomprehension. Add to that the sonic bombast of a guitar-bass-drums wall of sound, and you've got a recipe for tasty Southern thrash.

MISH MASH Mandate: Can I Scream?
Tsunami Records Website

The Red Button
She's About To Cross My Mind
11 song CD


Here's a refreshing little album, just in time to brighten up your spring listening. The duo of Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg has done their homework, and their main area of study has been the British Invasion 101. They pass with honors, laying down track after track of original, well-crafted, catchy 60's-styled pop that will have you humming along at first listen.

Innovative? Ground breaking? Not quite, but what does it matter? This one is fun and a joy to listen to, nothing more, nothing less. Not many artists can pull this off and do it so well.

MISH MASH Mandate: The British Are Coming
The Red Button Website


Juba Dance
Audio 8
13 song CD


Ben Lamar's Juba Dance is a musical adventure that winds its way through a host of genres, from hip-hop to latin to traditional blues to jazz. It's a crazy and wonderful mess, one that bounces from style to style, never settling into a single spot.

Lamar truly is all over the place, and at the same time he avoids any semblance of pop structure or cliche. The sheer amount of diversity is the only thing holding it all together, creating a collage of sound that revels in defying your expectations. Sure to bring hours of listening bliss.

MISH MASH Mandate: Orange Juiced
Audio 8 Website

The Alternate Routes
Vanguard Records
11 song CD

The Alternate Routes have big songs with a big sound. They sound like a band that should already be as huge as that sound, as their flawless execution leaves you feeling like you're in the presence of a U2 or Radiohead. Yes, they're that good.

A lot of that is thanks to lead vocalist Tim Warren, who has a distinct and strong singing voice. He's in command, and the songs succeed in his hands. The production is open and airy, allowing Warren and the band to move around the tunes freely, which only adds to the depth. The standout track here is Time Is A Runaway, where everything great about this band comes together in one place.

MISH MASH Mandate: Alternating Curent
The Alternate Routes Website

Gary B & The Notions
Get Those Crazy Notions!
7 song CD

Power pop meets the garage with Gary B & The Notions, a band with plenty of attitude and a snide sense of humor. Their EP is a semi-lo-fi excursion into three chord rock, never taking itself quite seriously, but never letting go of the pop hooks.

Lead singer/guitarist Gary Barrett, Jr. seems to be the fuel for this fire, as his wisecracking vocals rip through any sense of pretense or illusion. He comes across like a modern-day Elvis Costello, wallowing in the angst with tongue firmly in cheek.

MISH MASH Mandate: Velvet Elvis
Gary B & The Notions Website

© 2007 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved


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2005 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved