Issue #22 September 2000

Jeff Kaiser & Ernesto Diaz-Infante
(Click Here)

Project Omicron (film)
Sally Taylor
My Dear Ella
Laura Siersema

Down For Days

Pinch Hit Records
10 song CD

Munkafust has a huge hit song on their hands--now all they need is for the world to hear it. The title track is infectiously fun and upbeat, an unabashedly catchy pop song that sticks in your head like glue. It bops and grooves along in the verse in a style that sounds like the Spin Doctors, which then kicks into a power pop chorus that would make Cheap Trick green with envy. Throw in plenty of sly innuendo, and now you have the perfect frat party song.

The rest of the album reinforces this party band atmosphere, with an abundance of sing-along choruses and silly rave-ups. Yeah Yo grooves along effortlessly, while Feel My Pulse has a cool and clean west coast sound. There's also a little bit of southern rock thrown in for good measure, especially in the tough edged Forgiveness and the smooth harmonies of My Home.

Down For Days is nothing if not fun. While it isn't ground-breaking or earth shaking, it keeps a smile on your face and your feet moving, and sometimes that's more than enough. Don't be surprised if you hear a lot more about these guys soon.

MISH MASH Mandate: Party On

Munkafust Website

Project Omicron

Independent film
Produced and directed by Jared Whitham
Ed Furniture Distribution

An amateurish, low-budget, sci-fi indie film with bad acting and special effects that aren't real special, Project Omicron boldly goes into ridiculous territory. A film that makes fun of itself just as much as the 50s-era b-movies it emulates, Omicron is a perfect post-MST 3000 piece that simply relishes in its oddball nonsense.

The film follows the strange "adventures" of a test pilot named Will Walker, who is part of a secret project involving a captured space ship. In the process, he discovers his scientist co-workers have a hidden secret, which apparently has something to do with silverware and gibberish. As their "secrets" are revealed, they naturally start screwing with time and Mr. Walker's life in general. I won't try to explain any more than that. Throw in the even more off-kilter soundtrack music of Sir Millard Mulch, and you've got one wacky piece of work.

All in all, it is mildly entertaining, even though it never really gets to any kind of point whatsoever--which is the point. One more thing---the alien "attack" scene is definitely worth a rewind once you pull yourself off the floor from laughing at the horrible effects.

MISH MASH Mandate: Film Flam

Ed Furniture Website

Sally Taylor
Apt. #6 S

Blue Elbow
12 song CD

Sally Taylor has that perfect voice, an intoxicating blend of the whirling dervish of Natalie Merchant and the sultry siren of the Cardigan's Nina Persson. Taylor hits every note with ease, as if she had never missed one in her life; each verse and chorus are delivered with sincere passion and emotion. The songs are subtle and understated, not quite living up to her raw talent, yet keeping her firmly rooted on solid musical ground.

The soulful pop of All This Time begins the album on an upbeat note, and you can almost hear the playful smirk in Taylor's voice as she delivers the flirtatious lines: "scarlet sun is the way she sways / and men all lose their minds." A more serious side is found in the acoustic indie pop of For Kim and the piano ballad Give Me the Strength, two songs which remind me of the early days of the 10,000 Maniacs. Taylor shows off her blues chops on 40 Years and Nisa, and then takes a turn into the adventurous world music beats of Immortal.

No matter how many times you listen, Taylor's amazing vocals never fail to surprise and entice. This is a voice you have to hear.

MISH MASH Mandate: Divine dervish.

Sally Taylor Website

Scream Real Loud

Side One Dummy Records
26 Song CD

What better way to show off the raw power of 7Seconds than with a blistering set of live tunes, pummeled out with unending exuberance? These songs are classic punk, stabbing short and quick--who else but a punk band could fit 26 songs into 48 minutes! The guitar, voice and drums jumble together in a solid wall of sound until they are almost indistinguishable. The most amusing part comes with band leader Kevin Seconds, who goes out of his way to encourage crowd participation. He addresses them incessantly, pushing them into a constant frenzy, and even offering them water at one point to keep them from keeling over.

The songs are delivered with reckless abandon, and sometimes it is hard to tell when one stops and the next starts. It's nice to see that newer material like Slow Down A Second and One Big Guessing Game fits in perfectly with their classic stuff. A song of note is their wild six minute cover of Nina's 99 Red Balloons, which is ripped out with full audience cooperation. Everyone is having fun, including the band, and it definitely shows.

MISH MASH Mandate: Punk Participation.

7Seconds Website
Side One Dummy Website

My Dear Ella
What A Beautiful Child

13 song CD

It's almost impossible to listen to My Dear Ella and not make some comparison with Radiohead. The dynamic and unpredictable songs of vocalist/guitarist Eric Wallen twist and turn like an emotional rollercoaster, transforming the extremes of happy/sad into an indeterminate grey area. The sounds are layered together in a thick fashion, fused into a blanket of sound that flails from quiet to loud without warning. An obvious take on OK Computer? Perhaps, but Wallen's songs definitely stand tall on their own, radiating their own incredible power and strength.

My Dear Ella opens the album with with Home, a promising song that begins with an intense pop melody that is absolutely riveting. Wallen's voice flows over the disonant chord pattern with ease, creating a rich, dramatic sound. Unfortunately, the end of the song is ruined as it bogs down into an effects-laden bore, where the droning vocal effects are jarring and just don't mix. The album is brought back on track with The Majesty, a song that intros with a breezy piano line, which then deftly merges into a lush chorus. The Beatlesque Sitting On The Train utilizes a happy keyboard set against an over-modulated beat, while Take Me To The Bathroom has an effective off-beat drum pattern that carries the song in a unique, stumble-along fashion.

When it comes to happy-to-be-depressed pop, My Dear Ella is certainly going in the right direction. These songs pack an emotional wallop that grab hold of you and won't let go easily; an almost tangible melancholy that has an unexplainable attraction.

MISH MASH Mandate: Emotional Rescue

My Dear Ella Website

Holly's Song

Sanity Check Musec, Inc.
13 song CD

A poetic drama presented in four acts, BLUE's Holly's Song is an avant garde concept album which ventures into the unknown of the mind and spirit. The album is a progressive rock opera, twisting and tumbling from scene to scene with strange visions and mysterious lyrical passages. BLUE presents his songs in a highly non-commercial fashion; there is little in the way of pop, and the songs avoid standard structure patterns. It brings to mind some of the weirder wanderings of 70s art rock like Pink Floyd or (very) early Genesis.

BLUE's dramatic nightmare involves the suicidal feelings surrounding the main character, an unnamed artist, who has lost a loved one. Now he is visited by the ghostly figure of a child, who brings him visions and memories of her own life and death. Through her story he finds his own salvation. The songs move the listener through this process, from fear and confusion to final resolution. The styles of songs change with the moods, contrasting the haunting reflections of Daffodils or the angry techno of Private Angel with the final closure of Requiem for Two and Pieces.

This is not an easy listen; as a matter of fact it can be downright challenging. It explores the pscyhe and all its harsh reality, unrelenting in its quest.

MISH MASH Mandate: Welcome to my nightmare.

Sanity Check Website

Laura Siersema
When I Left Loss

Independent Release
20 song CD

The quiet and reflective style of Laura Siersema is like a lilting lullaby. Her piano and voice mix together beautifully, creating a calm and relaxed landscape of sound. Some of the songs begin with her reading poetry, and let me tell you, I could sit enraptured listening to a full album of her simply doing this. Her interpretation is thoughtful and precise, and it sets up the tunes in a fashion that I've never quite experienced before.

As a songwriter and poet, her words remain the center of focus throughout. The most inspiring moments come in short phrases: "She broke a toast to the wayfarer and edged a way to the door" (Abigail Child) and "Sara called St. Louis her home and her divide / studied architecture for plans of some exactness." Even her treatments of traditional folk tunes like Pete Seeger's Where Have All The Flowers Gone sound fresh and alive.

Siersema has power in her words, and they shine clearly with only the hushed phrases of the piano in the background. It's a simple approach that has an unexpected depth.

MISH MASH Mandate: Piano poet.

Laura Siersema Website

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