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Around Hear Page 2

| March 31, 2008 | 0 Comments

The Goodyear Pimps deliver a unique hard rock sound on their latest, Quickly Now Gentlemen, With A Lively Step. They are mostly rock with just enough punk to keep it raw, but what makes them stand out are the lyrics, (stream-of-consciousness and literate in a hard-edged way) and the vocal delivery. Unfortunately, there are no individual credits on the CD (or Web site). Their singer must remain nameless but he is gruff, attention-getting, and listenable, whoever he is. Something says this stuff is great live. (www.thepimps.org)
– Mike O’Cull

Chicago-based Highball follow the under-three-minute/under-three-chord formula too closely on their latest EP, Order Up! The material is entirely predictable and plain, which is the exact opposite of what punk was intended to be. The guitars over shadow the barely there vocals, and none of the eight tracks are distinguishable from each other. (www.highballchicago.com)
– Carter Moss

The four songs on Jason Johnson‘s Pseudocide have bare-bones guitar and keyboard arrangements, and his vocals sound like they’re coming from another room. “Leaving” has the feel of an old-time folk ballad while the more energetic “War!” would likely please Smashing Pumpkins fans. Higher-quality production sure would have made Pseudocide more accessible, but overall, it shows promise. (www.myspace.com/jasonjohnsonthemusic)
– Terrence Flamm

Though there’s no questioning the heart behind Mighty Joe‘s Songs For Cash, but his brand of folk country often comes off trite and contrived. This unfortunately drowns out more endearing tracks like “One Step” and the harmonica-driven “If I Didn’t Love You.” By album’s end, when the cooler, jazzier feel of the stellar “Goodnight” arrives, it’s too little, too late. (www.mightyjoemusic.com)
– Dean Ramos

Putting emotionally-charged stories to rock music can be tricky, but singer-songwriter Dean Milano does it quite effectively on Vestiges: More Songs About More Stuff. Even “The Scam,” a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a foreign-based Internet swindler, comes off without a hint of melodrama. Milano is even better on the politically charged “One Golden Moment” and the rollicking ghost story “Rock ‘N’ Roll Detour.” His folksy voice also helps keep Vestiges consistently entertaining. (deanguy@ameritech.net)
– Terrence Flamm

Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble breaks a tremendous amount of ground on Black Unstoppable (Delmark). Led by Mitchell on flute, this nine-piece collective gets experimental enough to be considered a free jazz entity. Yet unlike many of its contemporary adlibbing counterparts, Black Earth Ensemble doesn’t allow its improvisation to disrupt the music’s cohesiveness. Whether tapping into psychedelic South Asian-inspired compositions or going a more classic, swing route, Mitchell and company can’t be stopped. (www.nicolemitchell.com)
– Max Herman

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With digital recording, it’s easy to manipulate track listings for nefarious (or playful) purposes. In Molehill‘s case, tracks 11 to 49 on Rock And Moll are only four-seconds long. As for the rest, they’re a mix of bluesy rock with irreverent lyrics, earnest ballads, and quirky, left-field pop. “Let’s Not Get Sentim-ental” is a cynic’s wry look at love; “People Let You Down” is an off-kilter, loopy pop number. (www.molehillmusic.com)
– Patrick Conlan

One-man band Mourning Magdalene hasn’t heard of first impressions. “I find it very difficult to get over even the slightest betrayal,” he writes in the press kit to Six Songs Of Self-Loathing. Fair enough. “Bite” and “Dead Flowers” recycle Korn riffs and nu-metal braggadocio. Fortunately, there’s light at the end of the tunnel: Cheap Trick. “Self” may be a joke (“I like who I am”), but it’s an uplifting, driving sing-along. Mourning Magdalene may have foreshadowed the next dark trend in angsty bedrooms everywhere: one-man power pop. (www.myspace.com/mourningmagdalene)
– Mike Meyer

Three Hoffman brothers comprise Needers And Givers, and on The Other they expertly meld their influences giving the album a classic sound, without coming off like a retro revival exercise. While there’s a strong Beatles strain running through “The Last Time I Saw You” and “Change Her,” they temper the mimicry with original flashes of sweeping keys and graceful vocal harmonies. From the acoustic folk of “Who Did I Wait For” to the damaged, blistering crack-up in “Teams & Colors,” there’s a compelling aura to this promising debut. (www.needersandgivers.com)
– Patrick Conlan

With a five-song EP and a handful of positive press behind them, Chicago’s Otter Petter give us their first longplayer, Fireflies And Lamp Lights. As soon as you hear the “Ba ba da ba” vocals and screeching Moog sounds of the first track, you know you’re in for a pop record in the vein of Fountains Of Wayne and Death Cab For Cutie. This five-piece have some interesting arrangements, but don’t yet have the songwriting firepower to sustain a 12-song release. (www.otterpetter.com)
– Joseph Simek

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