Issue #60 March 2004

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Down In The Basement With Joe Bussard


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Arhtur Yoria
Skyline Rodeo
Chris Cortez

Arthur Yoria
I'll Be Here Awake

12 Records, Inc.
10 song CD

Arthur Yoria's specialty is sweet pop with just the right touch of bitterness. His songs are laced with a slight and uncomfortable angst, yet you find yourself tapping your feet and singing along with his incredibly catchy pop melodies. It's the perfect juxtaposition, creating a memorable release which is a great listening experience from beginning to end.

The album starts off with the herky-jerky title song, a droning and noisy pop number that clicks and ticks in a clock-like rhythm. The next track, Permanent, drives along with a strong guitar foundation and a pained vocal delivery. Yoria breaks up the song by stopping and clearing his throat in the silence, punctuating the edginess by doing the unexpected. From there we reach the beautifully depressing pop of Call Me, which to me sounds strangely enough like an indie interpretation of Barry Manilow's I Just Can't Smile Without You. (That should pique anybody's interest!)

MISH MASH Mandate: Popocabana

Arthur Yoria Website

Skyline Rodeo
Skyline Rodeo

3 song CD

Here's a blistering set of three songs, and if you have any doubt, you should know that the first song is called Live Free Or Die. Skyline Rodeo delivers their punches with dissonant ferocity, fuzzy guitars and nasal-toned vocals. There's a hint of pop, but it's mostly jangly noise that rules the day.

The strongest tune is Fire In The Hole, a four and a half minute rampage that features a two-guitar assualt, which comes across with Fugazi-like furvor. It's a manic little song, which never quite settles into a groove, jumping in and out with rhythmically controlled confusion.

Strong and promising for a demo, would be interesting to see what they could do on a full release.

MISH MASH Mandate: Unforgettable Fire

Skyline Rodeo Website

Chris Cortez
Hold It Right There

Blue Bamboo
13 song CD

As a pet project of jazz guitarist/vocalist Chris Cortez, Hold It Right There comes across as a labor of love. Cortez performs 13 jazz standards, putting his heart and soul into each one like a loving admirer. In the scheme of things, Cortez is a much better guitarist than vocalist, yet he doesn't let this hold him back. Instead, he delivers his vocal lines in a subtle and understated fashion, bringing out the more romantic sides of these tunes, while letting his guitar do most of the talking.

Another positive is Cortez allowing his fellow musicians to share the spotlight, with notable performances from the piano of Dean Fransen and the trumpet of Jay Webb. Highlights include a smooth and soulful take on Stormy Weather, and a smiling rendition of Ain't Misbehavin'.

MISH MASH Mandate: Class Act

Blue Bamboo Website


Free Reign Records
11 song CD

While it would be pointless to pigeonhole a group like Population, it wouldn't be a far stretch to compare them to the spirit of early-era R.E.M. For here we have an independent band from the South, which thumbs its nose at the status quo while moving forward with a progressive sound, steeped in an air of political unrest, and vocals delivered with a touch of mystery. There's also indie pop, but it's mixed with a truly modern flair: drum loops, turntables and digital tinkering. Instead of eschewing the trappings of modern music, Population has embraced them, turning the tools many rock bands would shun into powerful weapons.

Drum breaks & effects seem to introduce most of the songs, whether it's the ethereal and drifting When The Bullets Fly or the agressive drive of Much Of The Same. The end result is an overall sound which isn't totally rock, but a conglomeration of rhythm styles that somehow retain a rock punch. Definitely a little different, and definitely worth more than one listen.

MISH MASH Mandate: Pop Mixer

Population Website