From 2001 – 2004 I wrote reviews, 75 words or less, for the “75 or Less” reviews section on Slatch.com. If memory serves correct, 75orLess eventually got it’s own spin-off URL. Here are the 47 reviews I contributed.

Tuesday, September 24, 2004

The Tough & Lovely

Okay, so I didn’t explain AT ALL in this review what this CD sounds like BUT, between you and me, it sounds like Janis Joplin/Cher fronting an early ’60s garage rock band inspired by the Shangri-La’s. Ha! It’s really good if you’re into that type of music which, prior to hearing this CD, I didn’t think I was. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Caviar – The Thin Mercury Sound (Aezra) 

On the follow-up to their criminally overlooked self-titled album, Caviar continues to masterfully blend mid-90s college rock riffage with tasty sampling (Lou Reed, Little Feat, Les Baxter) and witty lyrics. Like the debut’s quirky hit “Tangerine Speedo,” Thin Mercury Sound features a made-for-radio classic, “On the DL” as well as Brit-pop (think Oasis, Super Fury Animals) flavored rockers (“Lioness,” “Light Up the Sky”) and songs that belong on a John Hughes film soundtrack (“Hey Let Go,” “Clean Getaway”). This is the feel good CD of the summer. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Jon Chinn – I Can’t Believe You Live Like That (Reverbose Records) 

Though this CD is technically a solo album from Pretty Mighty Mighty frontman Jon Chinn, the singer receives help from members of his own band and other Columbus heavyweights like Miranda Sound, Tiara, and Templeton. With his gentle Bob Mould-like voice (“Record Sets,” “All About”), Chinn is a poignant and elegant songwriter. His poetic lyrics are intimate and bittersweet and the addition of stringed instruments such as the cello on “King’s Horse” make this one of the warmest, most captivating releases of the year. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Meow Meow – Snow Gas Bones (Devil in the Woods) 

If it weren’t for the guitar squealing and the static hiss that permeates the CD, Meow Meow’s debut would undoubtedly earn comparisons to Granddaddy and Fountains of Wayne. But with the extra credit effort supplied by guitarist/noisemaker Kirk Hellie, Meow Meow invades the Dinosaur Jr./Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz rock world and does it with unrelenting passion and energy. The warped Beach Boys style harmonies (“Sick Fixation”, “All I Ever Got”) do nothing but add to the gorgeous and experimental sound.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Malcom Middleton – 5:14 Fluoxytnie Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine (Chemikal Underground) 

Wallowing away in a full pint and with tear-filled eyes, Malcolm Middleton – one half of the Scottish-duo Arab Strap – sings woe-begotten dark tales of love (mostly lost) and loneliness. It’s desperation-rock at it’s finest – “I’m so lonely, I’m going to go out with a slut who will hold me,” Middleton sings with a thick accent on “Speed on the M9”. But while the album can be morbid and cynical, Middleton also injects some humor, albeit twisted, into songs like “Crappo the Clown” and “Devil and the Angel”.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Holy Ghost – Well… Get Your Funeral Shoes (Clearly Records)

Oozing with coolness, The Holy Ghost’s six-song EP brings to mind sold out shows at small clubs, wall-to-wall hipsters hoping to discover the next Strokes, White Stripes, Walkmen. Too clean to be garage rock, too rocking to be bastardized blues, the music on this EP is the equivalent of a $3 martini – crisp, refreshing, and righteously hip. In a way, it’s like Girls Against the Boys BEFORE the apocalypse strikes but not as sleazy.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Camarosmith – Camarosmith (Dead Teenager Records) 

Wicked band name for a bunch of sun-baked stoners from, where else, Seattle. The band features Zeke’s former rhythm section and slogs it’s way through a baker’s dozen ’70s-influenced hard rock anthems (notice the band’s homage to Black Sabbath on the CD cover). Camarosmith may very well be the missing link between Seattle grunge (Soundgarden, Mudhoney) and Seattle stoner rock (Queens of the Stone Age, Alta May) as evidenced by the fist pumping, devil-horn throwing rockers “SOS,” “714” and “Sell Out.”

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Alta May – Dark Days (Glazed Records) 
Young men need that one record to push them from their adolescent listening habits into adulthood. In ’91 Nirvana’s Nevermind pulled me out of my glam rock past in and opened all new doors. Alta May’s latest should be the catalyst for many young men looking to expand their horizons. With ferocious guitars and a driving rhythm section, this testosterone-driven release sounds like the greatest riffs of Mudhoney, Nirvana, QOTSA, Local H, and Sonic Youth thrown into a blender and put on “slow grind.”

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer – Jalopy Go Far (Eyeball Records) 

Summer albums are supposed to be fun and carefree, full of catchy songs that you can sing along to as you zip around in a convertible while heading to the beach. This album captures the summer spirit with bouncy songs that incorporate the pogo-pop of Superchunk, the spunky feminine touch of That Dog, and the blasting synth style of The Rentals. Rachel Minton’s peppy punk rock cheerleader vocals will leave you wishing that summer were a year-round season.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Summer Hymns – Clemency (Misra Records)

Gently strummed acoustic guitars, warbling vocals, the lonesome strains of a steel guitar, minimal but effective percussion, piano and organ as a mood rather than as an instrument. These are the ingredients that make up the late-in-the-afternoon front porch sounds produced by Summer Hymns. It’s like J. Mascis and Mark Linkous joined forces with the members of Giant Sand in Moviola’s backyard and created this lazy and beautiful racket. In actuality, Summer Hymns is Zachary Gresham backed by members of Masters of the Hemisphere, Of Montreal, and Elf Power. 

Monday, August 04, 2003

Cash Monies and the Jetsetter – Thinking Out Loud (Pig Pile Records)

Donny and Marie once sang of being a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. Cash Monies and the Jetsetters would be wise to adopt this tagline. Mostly, this album is a twangified hoedown with footstompers (“Takin’ It Out,” “Worth a Damn”), rootsy rockers (“Cleaning Up,” “Here With Me”) and gentle tear-in-my-beer balladry (“Get it on the Way”). Produced by ex-Georgia Satellite frontman Dan Baird, this CD is a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time. 

Friday, August 01, 2003

Mrs. Children – Basement Demos

Basement Demos is a collection of infectiously melodic and instantly catchy pop-rock gems from these wide-eyed and bushy-tailed kids from Columbus who seemingly only owned Beatles, CS&N, Beach Boys, and Gram Parsons records through their teenage years. A few years wiser, and with expanded record collections (Wilco, Pernice Brothers), Mrs. Children’s songwriting maturity shines. These demos are the most pleasant songs I’ve listened to this year and the best part – you can download them all for FREE from the band’s website. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Nicotine – School of Liberty (Asian Man Records) 

No doubt that Japan’s answer to NOFX has some Bad Religion records in it’s collection but you’ll probably find a few Iron Maiden records mixed in among the hoards of SoCal pop-punk vinyl platters as well. Shredding guitar riffs, spitfire drumming, and gang choruses fill this tight-sounding catchy punk-rock release and the spoken word bits such as “At the Class Room,” where singer Howie says, in response to what he wants to be when he grows up, “I want to be a motherfucking punk rock,” are classic. 

Monday, July 28, 2003

Miranda Sound – Engaged in Labor (Standard Recording Company) 

This is as honest and real as it gets. Miranda Sound’s latest is an intelligent indie rock record with dark and angular riffs and lyrics that accurately reflect what it’s like to realize that you’re an adult. Delivered by co-lead vocalists Billy Peake and Dan Gerken, lyrical realities include “The most important thing has gone from alcohol to children, good employment and occupation” (“Midas”) and “Old men were dinosaurs, but now they are my friends and neighbors” (“We Could Be Landowners”). Welcome to your 30s boys. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Cardia – (SilverThree Sound Recordings) 

Jeff Buckley’s legacy lives on in this supergroup consisting of former members of Rival Schools, the Verve Pipe, 2 Skinee J’s, and Shudder to Think. The results are moving, emotional, and, well, Buckley-esque – similar to releases by Ours and Muse (among others). There are many goosebump, shivering spine moments, from the dark and intense “Crash” to the majestic chorus in “Love Loss” which sounds like Buckley fronting Led Zeppelin. Die-hard Buckley fans will either love it or hate it. 

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Ed Kemper Trio – How to Win a Sword Fight (Yawn Records) 

Noisy, basement rock that sounds like something Steve Albini would have produced, and AmRep or Touch & Go would have released, back in ’91. It’s bottled-up nervous energy, low-end skronk rock with bludgeoning guitars, a mildly jazzy rhythm section and very little sign of melody. It’s the musical equivalent of a late night back alley rumble where somebody most definitely is going to get hurt. Duck or you might end up with a shiner. 

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Do it for Love (U-Watch) 

For years I hid my love for the smoothest pop n’ soul honkey duo to come from Philly because it wasn’t “cool” to like Hall and Oates. But that all changed recently when Ben from DCFC admitted his admiration for the duo. So sing it loud and proud H&O fans, the boys are back with an all-new collection of toe-tapping, glossy sing-a-longs like “Life’s Too Short” and “Man on a Mission.” If you don’t want to buy it, steal if from your parents. 

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Bangs – Call and Response (Kill Rock Stars) 

This two-girls-and-a-guy Washington state punk n’ roll trio doesn’t waste any time on its undeniably hip-shaking new EP. Equal parts Joan Jett, the Donnas, and Bikini Kill influence the six blasts of pure energy and the EP ends as quickly as it began, a mere sixteen minutes later. No filler here, that’s for sure. It doesn’t matter though because Bangs makes their point and it’s resonance sticks. This is basement rock at it’s finest. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Burning Brides – Fall of the Plastic Empire (V2) 

Angry, pissed-off rock and roll music in the spirit of raw power legends like the MC5, Black Sabbath, the Ramones, and AC/DC, but played faster and dirtier. Listening to this album makes me want to slam dance, drive fast, and get stoned (not all at the same time). The trio slithers in and out of sludgy grunge rock (“At the Levity Ball”) and power-punk (“Glass Slipper”) recalling Bleach-era Nirvana, particularly on “Arctic Snow.” Kick out the jams, motherfucker. 

Friday, October 25, 2002

The Black Heart Procession – Amore del Tropico (Touch and Go)

By BHP standards, this is a happy uplifting album even though the subject matter is lost love. The somber and minimalist approach this band has favored in the past has been left by the wayside and been replaced with fuller, richer songs such as “The Invitation,” as well as songs that, well, rock (“Did You Wonder”). It’s a departure, for sure, though a pleasant one at that. And, if you’re keeping track at home, it’s the first BHP album to break from a numeric title. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

The Honey’s – Shoot From the Hip (Derailleur Records)

The most exciting thing I’ve heard all year – The Honey’s sound like the punk rock brothers and sisters of late ’80s sleazy hard rock bands like Ratt, Spread Eagle, L.A. Guns and Skid Row with hot, hot, hot female vocals. And, as far as I can tell, it’s not tongue-in-cheek, just pure, straight-out, balls-to-the-walls metal. What the band lacks in Hit Parader style (where are the leather pants?) they make up for in the sound. Bang your head!!! 

Monday, August 05, 2002

Sparta – Wiretap Scars (Dreamworks) 

Sounding more like Quicksand than ex-Quicksand member Walter Schreifel’s new band Rival Schools, Sparta has the daunting task of trying to sell enough records to remain on a major label. The post-hardcore sound (3 of the 4 Sparta guys were in At The Drive-In) will certainly bode well in the indie rock circuit but will the mainstream buy it? Probably not, though an opening slot on Weezer’s summer tour doesn’t hurt. Nevertheless, a powerful debut from these El Paso punks. 

Monday, July 29, 2002

Ash – Free All Angels (Kinetic Records) 

This Irish band of lads (and lass) continues to mature and mesh sugary-pop melodies with the fuzzy punk that they started playing seven years ago. This intermingling of styles results in an album full of can’t-miss singles (at least in the U.K.) including my pick for 2002 song of the year, the infectious “Shining Light”. The U.S. version of this release (the U.K. version came out last year) features bonus tracks, videos, live footage and a documentary on the band.

Friday, July 19, 2002

thedamnwells – PMR 

Despite the fact that the band features ex-Whiskeytown drummer Steven Terry and current Star City guitarist Dave Chernis, thedamnwells are neither a country band nor an alt.country band. They do, however, have a cornfield-meets-city-skyline sound (think Clem Snide, the Jayhawks, Josh Rouse). thedamnwells play the type of music that you want to hear late at night in a half-empty bar as you try to convince the cute girl sitting at the bar to go home with you. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

The Vines – Highly Evolved (Capitol) 

Next Big Thing hype is hanging heavily around the neck of Aussie foursome The Vines. Is it worth it? Perhaps. The band doesn’t pigeonhole itself like other NBT artists do (The Strokes = ’70 art-punk; The Hives = Detroit-style garage punk). Instead, The Vines leap around from angry two-minute blasts of grunge-punk (yes, like Nirvana) to bouncy Beatlesque pop (on the fab “Factory”) to cloud-soaring shoegazing bliss (“Mary Jane”). I’m buying it hook, line and sinker. 

Friday, June 21, 2002

The Rocking Horse Winner – Horizon (Equal Vision Records) 

Jolie Lindholm raised her stock by contributing backing vocals to the latest Dashboard Confessional effort, though it’s the charming pop love songs with her own band – The Rocking Horse Winner – that will make her an idol to Teen People readers everywhere. Far from the emo tag that the band has been pegged with, TRHW should appeal to an audience that enjoys everything from the effervescent pop of Letters to Cleo to the introspective shoegazing styles of The Sundays. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

The Cells – We Can Replace You (Orange Recordings) 

Glamirific power-pop with a heavy nod towards RAWK (Chicago style, y’all). Singer Cory Hance sounds like the snotty little brother who annoys you by singing at the top of his lungs in the family station wagon on the 6-hour drive to grandma’s house. It’s all good though, because secretly you know he’s talented as shit. “Silver Cloud,” “All Be Happy,” “Say Hello” and “I Go Out” are bombastic radio hits in the making, too bad you’ll never hear ’em there. 

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Girls Against Boys – You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See (Jade Tree) 

Send a note to the wife and kids, the latest platter of post-apocalyptic disco-metal from Girls Against Boys caused me to cash in my stock options and hop on a plane to Vegas where I’m blowing my cash on cards, booze, smack, and hookers. Damn, it feels good. (Okay, I made all that up. Really, I’m a loser fantasizing as I sit in my cluttered work cubicle listening to the music Rob Zombie would make if he weren’t a cartoon character.)

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Superchunk – The Clambakes Series Vol. 1: Acoustic In-Stores East and West (Merge)

A thank-you compilation to its fans, Superchunk’s limited edition release (1500 copies) culls material from the band’s current and back catalog as performed at in-store appearances during the past year. Fans are treated to striped-down, acoustic versions of favorites like “Driveway to Driveway,” “Art Class”, and “Hello Hawk.” The only thing missing is crowd sing-a-longs and Mac’s witty between-songs banter. Emo-pop fans unfamiliar with Superchunk really should check out these old-timers (HA). 

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Erik Sanko – Past Imperfect, Present Tense (Jetset Records)

Although not the first to compose a thematic album based on lost love, Erik Sanko does a fine job of revealing his loneliness and despair with the misguided delusion that things will get better (“I get along fine without you,” he sings with little conviction on “I Get Along Fine”). Throughout the CD, Sanko finds the haunting medium between the down-home lo-fi recordings of Sparklehorse and the twisted fantasy music of Danny Elfman. 

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Alien Crime Syndicate – XL From Coast to Coast (V2) 

“Please just lift up your hands, if you like Ozzy or the Motley Crue.” If the chorus of Alien Crime Syndicate’s single “Ozzy” doesn’t get you pumping your fist in the air, then you might as well not bother with the rest of this surfspacestonerpower pop CD. As a whole, the CD may not be a masterpiece (it’s awfully good though), but the single alone merits consideration for Best of Song of 2002. (By the way, my hands are lifted). 

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

The Bellrays – In the Light of the Sun (In Music We Trust)

Soul music isn’t a popular style among indie rock kids. Of course, those kids haven’t heard the powerful voice of The Bellrays’ Lisa Kekaula. Kekaula possesses the passion of a young Aretha Franklin and her band, heavily endorsed by MC5’s Wayne Kramer, plays with the spirit of an early ’70s garage rock band. Originally a cassette-only release in 1992, this CD re-issue sounds just as welcomed in 2002 as it would have in 1962. I’m a converted believer! 

Monday, March 11, 2002

The Tyde – Once (Orange Sky Records)

Three-fifths of Beachwood Sparks make up one-half of this one-third psych-pop, one-third experimental keyboard-rock, one-third Americana band. Believe me, it all adds up. Fronted by ex-Further singer (and brother of Beachwood Sparks’ Brent) Darren Rademaker, this little hippy-country-space pop outfit brings to mind early Wilco (before Jeff Tweedy lost touch of his rural roots), Olivia Tremor Control, and even a little bit of Lou Reed, filtered through a hazy northern California afternoon in, say, 1968.

Monday, March 04, 2002

V/A – Rock Music/A Tribute to Weezer (deaddroid Records)

What’s the point in putting out a Weezer tribute when all of the bands sound like Weezer and contribute pretty straight forward covers? I’d rather burn myself a “Best of Weezer” CD and include a few tracks off the new CD which, for some reason, wasn’t touched on the tribute. The kids will buy it though for the tracks by Dashboard Confessional, Midtown, and The Stereo. My question is where is Ultimate Fakebook and the Get-Up Kids? 

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

The Stepford Five – The Art of Self Defense 

Upon first listen, it’s pretty obvious that the Stepford Five worship at the Afghan Whigs altar (the band freely admits this), though with repeated listeners you’ll discover that the band replaces the Motown swagger and soul of the Whigs with thick modern-rock sounding guitars and vocals. A better comparison might be made to Puller, the Tooth and Nail band that combined the angst-ridden sound of the Afghan Whigs with the heaviness of post-grunge/alternative metal bands like Paw and Shiner. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

X-Rated Cowboys – Honor Among Thieves 

From the pastures of Columbus, Ohio (a ten-minute drive in any direction will find you knee deep in cow manure and cornfields) comes the hootenany countrified-rock stylings of the X-Rated Cowboys. Fueled by alcohol, Replacements albums, and state fairs, the Cowboys kick out the jams on barn-burners like “End of the World” and “Cowboy Song” while mid-tempo numbers like “Trans Am” and “Drive-By” bring to mind the rural-pop sound of the Wallflowers. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Sarah Shannon (Casa Recording Co.)

The former Velocity Girl singer is now a well-grounded woman whose tastes have shifted from indie-pop to Burt Bacarach-type tunes dealing with loneliness — the first five songs explicitly have the word “lonely” in the lyrics and most are sung in the first person (“I’m lonely, so lonely”). While dealing with such a forlorn subject, Shannon’s vocals radiate when set amongst the organs, brass and strings that dominate the 10-song solo debut. Songs for the broken-hearted. 

Monday, February 11, 2002

Unwritten Law – Elva (Interscope) 

Unwritten Law is trying to be everything to everyone on this very unfocused release. At it’s root, the music is homogenized SoCal power-pop that veers off in a number of different directions, from power-punk-ballads (“Seein’ Red,” “Geronimo”) to ska-core (“Evolution”) to harmonic hard rock (“Hellborn,” “Rescue Me”) to pop-punk (“Actress, Model, Dancer”). With very little cohesion, I feel like I’ve just listened to a compilation of seventeen different bands, not seventeen songs by same band. 

Friday, February 01, 2002

Knievel – The Name Rings a Bell That Drowns Out Your Voice (In Music We Trust) 

Keyboards play an important part in Knievel’s sound. The Australian band uses the instrument to add a faint and gentle texture to the cathartic indie-pop guitar sound. Dramatic and warm melodies are important as well, especially on tracks like “Don’t Explain,” “Thoughts in a Pattern,” and the rollicking “Chance Meeting.” This is a good one to listen to on a Sunday afternoon while sipping tea and writing in your journal. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Thrice – The Illusion of Safety (Sub City) 

Heavier hardcore music with vocals alternating between the throat-scratching barking of Hot Water Music and the emo-drenched strains of Jimmy Eat World. There are bits and pieces of each song that I can pull out and enjoy but for the most part this thing is giving me a whopper of a headache. Kids who wear hoodies can describe this much better than a 30-year-old corporate world guy like myself. 

Thursday, January 17, 2002

VPN – For Nearby Stars (Evil Teen Records) 

Off-kilter pop with angular rhythms and haunting vocals. VPN – Very Pleasant Neighbor – is comprised of four artsy New Yorkers who aren’t exactly fresh out of college. Ten years of playing together while releasing only two albums hints that VPN is very calculating in what they do, wasting no time on throw-away songs. Perhaps it’s what Built to Spill would sound like had late-period, drugs/psychedelic-era Beatles been a bigger influence than Neil Young. 

Monday, January 14, 2002

Twisted Nerve (Various Artists) – Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Twisted Nerve But Were Afraid To Ask (Twisted Nerve) 

Reasons to buy the Twisted Nerve compilation: 1) A rare Badly Drawn Boy song (“Shake the Rollercoaster”); 2) An exclusive Badly Drawn Boy song (“Celebrate”); 3) Two excellent Brit-pop tracks by Alfie (“Montevideo”, “You Make No Bones”); 4) A super-snazzy, space-jazz cover of Van Morrison’s “Moondance” by Sirconical; 5) Six of the nineteen males on the inner sleeve have moustaches; 6) Can substitute for mix tape that you were going to make for your favorite indie rock chick. 
Granfaloon Bus – Exploded View (Future Farmers) 

Slatch.com readers unite – an entire sleepy/twangy country-folk-pop album of drinking songs, according to singer/guitarist Felix Costanza (no relation to George). Drummer, Jeff Palmer, played bass on the last Sunny Day Real Estate album and guests on the CD have played with the Breeders, Mark Eitzel, and Mr.Bungle(!). Finding $3 CDs this good in the used bins is always exciting. 

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Loveless – 5 Song EP (Q Division)

I’ve spent the better part of this afternoon listening to the debut EP by Loveless which happens to feature Jen Trynin (remember her?) on rhythm guitar/backing vocals. Not as spacey/experimental as My Bloody Valentine (whose ‘Loveless’ album the band is named after), but occupying the same shoegazing pop region, the Boston-based band skips the studio experimentation (tape loops, delayed guitars/vocals) and replaces it with lucid and dreamy songwriting. A relaxing chill pill for the early days of 2002. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

Home Alive Compilation II – Flying Sidekick (Broken Rekids)

Good music for a great cause. The second Home Alive compilation lacks the funding of the first one (and the star power) but does serve as a nice introduction to many new (mostly) Seattle bands. The second half of the CD features the best music – the whispery vocals of Carissa’s Weird, the smooth soul of Maktub, the spacey subtleness of Sanford Arms, and the all-star drone of The Makers (featuring Michael Shelley, Peter Buck, and Scott McCaughey)

Thursday, December 20, 2001

Sloan – Pretty Together (Murderecords)

Oh my god, did you know Paul Stanley sings lead on “Pick It Up and Dial It”? Okay, not really, but damn it’s a good impersonation. Pretty much a typical release from these power-pop Canucks who soften up the sugar buzz with a few midtempo numbers and even a ballad or two in the second half of the CD. Nods to Kiss, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, the Beatles, and the Posies. 
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