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Around Hear Page 2

| July 30, 2008 | 0 Comments

Even after listening to all 10 tracks on Kindasorta, it’s hard to figure out just who in the hell Matt Mercado (ex-Mindbomb and Supermercado) is these days. Maybe he has no clue himself. The disc opens with the acoustic pop tune “I Found It,” which sounds like it was pulled right from a recent Bon Jovi album. Later Mercado gives another glimpse of his acoustic-ballad skills on the touching “Megan,” but the rest of the disc is all over the map. Mercado pushes the edge of innuendo with “She Swallows” (with the touching chorus “she swallows my love”), gives a weird showtune-like performance on “Beautiful Birdie,” and aims for a hoedown hit with the country stomper “Unkle Joe.” Maybe it all makes more sense when heard live. (www.mattmercado.com)
– Carter Moss

The Beatles come to mind as an obvious influence, but The Mike Michalak Band has also clearly been inspired by just about every other important rock act of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Still, what’s most refreshing about the nine tunes on Psychedelic Elephant is not the band’s skilled musicianship, but rather its tongue-in-cheek attitude. The disc’s opening cut, “Just A Dog,” is an infectious ode to a beloved canine, while the ironic lyrics and fun Caribbean beat of “Island Store” – a ditty about working at a convenience store – are thoroughly enjoyable. (www.myspace.com/mikemichalakband)
– Jeff Berkwits

After proving adept at power pop on his debut, Last Of The Rock Stars, Fred Prellberg offers a mix of rock songs and ballads on follow-up Ten Pennies Make A Dime. Once again, the arrangements are built with layered vocals and diverse instrumentation. The slower “Moments Like These” and “Tonight” are reflections on loving relationships and family bonds, while “Lies” depicts a kid getting questionable fatherly advice. Prellberg is more fun when he rocks out, evoking the distinct Midwestern flavor of Fire Town on “A Sense Of Home” and “Hands Of God.” “The World Today,” a rapid-fire news report set to a catchy beat, showcases Prellberg’s knack for clever lyrics. (no contact given)
– Terrence Flamm

Anyone curious about how dumb guys have fun should check out Ride The Boogie‘s self-titled debut. The band depicts thieves as wasted fishermen and johns via stream-of-drunkenness lyrics and basic rock arrangements. The CD has the feel of a group of buddies fooling around in the basement. Occasionally, the shenanigans pay off, as in “D Is For Chet,” a tribute to a randy cat, and it’s fun to hear a silly tale like “Big Ass Bass” set to classic rock. Things turn ugly with the violent, low-life fantasies of “Naughty Corner” and “Miss Perfect,” while “Mustache Riders” is every bit as sexist as its title implies. (www.ridetheboogie.com)
– Terrence Flamm

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For all you metalheads looking for some soul-stomping thunder, Smash Corps’ Premeditated might be the album. They play a walloping metal style that might be generously described as Iron Maiden and latter-day Metallica fronted by Slayer’s Tom Araya. From the brutal assault of “Greed” to the hard-driving riffs and wicked growls in “Climb,” Smash Corps live up to their name. (www.myspace.com/smashcorps)
– Patrick Conlan

The Stalin Brothers attempt a lot of satire on their self-titled, 19-track CD, but the songs consistently miss their targets. “Shut Your Mouth,” “Slave To Fashion,” and “Born To Be Dumb” are rife with banal observations and forced rhymes. The philosophical “Tomorrow Always Wins” doesn’t fare much better, and it’s hard to tell if it’s supposed to be funny that the would-be savior of “Guardian Angel” comes across as a homicidal stalker. Lyrics are clearly not a strong point for The Stalin Brothers, but they are talented musicians who know how to keep the party going, particularly with the extensive jamming on “I Want It All” and “The Frigid Whip.” (www.stalinbrothers.com)
– Terrence Flamm

Venna – the husband/wife team of Marky and Heather Hladish – has created a six-song, self-titled EP that showcases intimate acoustic folk instrumentation and breathy, emotive female vocals. “Eulogy” relies solely on the simple combination of guitar and undeniable vocal talent, with an open-mic coffeeshop vibe. “Big City Story,” a moody tale of a window-shopping excursion, adds some subtle layered instruments, and “Meet Me In The Hammock (Bring Cigarettes)” uses violin to amp the romantic marital moment. (www.vennamusic.com)
– Jason Scales

Dawen Wang bills himself a neo-soul singer-songwriter, and while the vocals on his self-titled EP fit that description, the keyboard-based arrangements lean more toward light jazz. More variation would help Wang get his interesting lyrics across. “Wake Up,” a dig at Asian stereotypes in the media and society, grooves to the same easy-going tempo as the seductive “The Predicament.” Wang has a heartfelt anniversary song in “Just You,” but it would have been interesting to hear it as a duet. (www.myspace.com/da wenwang)
– Terrence Flamm

Based on the liner notes, In The Sun . . . is the culmination of Dave Ziemann‘s lifetime of dreams, disappointments, and musical devotion. The 10-track effort took at least four years to come to fruition, and though the production is rather spare, the sentiments expressed, albeit simplistic, are sweet and sincere. The kickoff cut, “Things We Need,” has a satisfying, soft rock sound, even as “Standing There” and “So Long Ago” both offer a wistful, Neil Young vibe. (DZiemann8239@wowway.com)
– Jeff Berkwits

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