Welcome to the A&A archives. There are currently 425 reviews in this section. Click on an artist to jump to those reviews, or simply scroll through the list. All reviews written by Jon Worley unless otherwise noted.

If you have any problems, criticisms or suggestions, drop me a line.

  • p.i.c (2)
  • P.O.S
  • P:ano (2)
  • Pacific UV
  • The Pack A.D. (3)
  • Paganizer
  • Page France (2)
  • Pain
  • Pain Teens (2)
  • Palace Brothers, etc. (5)
  • The Paladins
  • Pallbearers
  • Paloma
  • Palomar
  • Pan
  • Pan-Thy-Monium
  • Panda Bear. (2)
  • Panda Riot
  • Panel Donor (2)
  • Greg Panfile & Talk & Roll
  • Panic (2)
  • Panic Strikes a Chord (2)
  • Panicsville (8)
  • Panoply Academy Glee Club (3)
  • Pansy Division (4)
  • Pantera
  • Paper Aeroplanes
  • Paper Arrows (2)
  • The Paper Chase (3)
  • Paper the Operator (2)
  • Paradise Lost (4)
  • Paralysis
  • Paramaecium
  • Parasites (2)
  • Paris Combo
  • Parlor James
  • The Parlotones
  • Parlour (2)
  • Parlour Steps
  • Parlour Tricks
  • The Parson Red Heads
  • Partisans
  • Jonah Parzen-Johnson
  • The Pasties
  • Patchouli
  • Path of Resistance
  • Deborah Patino
  • Frankie Paul
  • Parker Paul
  • Patient Zero
  • Pattern Is Movement (2)
  • Brandon Patton
  • Paul Newman (2)
  • Pauls God
  • Pave the Rocket
  • Paved Country
  • Pavement
  • The Pawn Rook Four
  • Paxton (2)
  • The Payola Reserve
  • The PB Army
  • PC69
  • Peach of Immortality
  • Alice Peacock
  • The Pedaljets
  • Jack Pedler
  • Pedro
  • Pee Shy
  • The Peels
  • Pegboy (4)
  • Francois Peglau
  • Peglegasus
  • Peligro
  • Axel Rudi Pell (3)
  • Pell Mell
  • Penal Colony
  • Pennywise (3)
  • Pentagram
  • People
  • People and Stars
  • Pepe Deluxe
  • A Perfect Circle
  • The Perfects
  • Perforated Head
  • Perfume Tree
  • J. Mike Perkins
  • Permission Slip
  • Andrea Perry (2)
  • Lee "Scratch" Perry
  • Pestilence (2)
  • Peter and the Test Tube Babies
  • Jim Peterik
  • Milo Petersen and the Jazz Disciples
  • Petland
  • Petracovich (3)
  • Pezz (2)
  • Pfieifer Sam
  • Pfilbrite
  • pH10
  • PH Balance
  • Phantom Drummer
  • Phantom Surfers
  • Phat Sidy Smokehouse
  • Patrick Phelan
  • Philadelphia Slick
  • Philia
  • The Philistines
  • Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham
  • Mark Phillips
  • Phleg Camp
  • Phobia
  • Phoenix Thunderstone (2)
  • The Phoids
  • Phreeworld
  • Phut
  • Pi
  • Pica
  • Picklehead
  • Pictorials
  • Pidginhole
  • Pie
  • Piece Dogs
  • Garrett Pierce
  • The Pietasters (2)
  • Pigface (6)
  • Pigmaster
  • Pike
  • Pile of Heads
  • Pile Up
  • Pillars and Tongues
  • Pilot Scott Tracy
  • The Pilot Ships
  • Pilot to Gunner
  • Pineal Ventana (2)
  • Pile Up
  • The Pineapple Thief (2)
  • Pinetop Seven
  • The Piney Gir Country Roadshow
  • Pinhead Circus (3)
  • Pinhead Gunpowder
  • Pink Frost
  • Pinkerton Thugs
  • Pinwheel
  • Piss Shivers (2)
  • Pist-On
  • Pistol for Ringo
  • Pistol Grip
  • Pitbull Daycare
  • Pitch Black
  • Pitch Shifter (4)
  • Pitchblende
  • Placebo
  • Plan A Project
  • Planes Mistaken for Stars (3)
  • Planet Hate
  • Plankeye
  • Planquez
  • Joel Plaskett
  • Plastic Mikey
  • Plastics
  • Plastiscene
  • Hans Platzgumer
  • Plax
  • Playa D
  • Playing Enemy
  • The Playing Favorites
  • Pleasure Elite (3)
  • Pleasurecraft (2)
  • Plink
  • Plumb
  • Plush
  • Plushgun
  • Pluto
  • Pocket Fishrmen
  • The Pods
  • Podunk
  • David Poe
  • The Poems
  • Poison Idea
  • Pokerface
  • Pokerface (different band)
  • Rose Polenzani
  • Pollen (2)
  • Jonny Polonsky
  • Polvo (4)
  • Pontiac Brothers
  • Ponyno
  • Poobah
  • Iggy Pop (2)
  • Pop Art
  • Pop Canon
  • Pop Unknown (2)
  • Pope Factory
  • Pope Jane
  • Pope Syndicate
  • Poppy
  • Poppy/Anthrophobia
  • Porch
  • Porn Orchard (2)
  • Pornographic Priestess
  • Portable
  • Portastatic (2)
  • Portugal the Man
  • The Posers
  • The Posies
  • Possession (2)
  • The Post
  • Post Harbor (2)
  • Post Mortem
  • Poster Children
  • Potatomen (2)
  • Potatomen/Cub
  • Pound, WI (2)
  • Poundhound
  • Powder
  • Power Lloyd
  • Prayer Tower
  • Pre Fuse 73 (4)
  • Precious
  • Pregnant
  • Prescott Curlywolf
  • Presidents of the United States of America
  • The Pressure
  • Pressure Drop (2)
  • Pressure Point (2)
  • Pretendo
  • Toni Price
  • Primitive/Craw
  • Primrose Path
  • The Symbol Once Known As Prince
  • Prince Charming (2)
  • Prints
  • Prizzy Prizzy Please (2)
  • Pro-Pain (5)
  • Project Lo
  • Project Pollen
  • Projekct Two
  • Prolapse (3)
  • Promise Ring
  • Propagandhi (2)
  • Propeller
  • The Prophetess
  • Proscription
  • Prospekt
  • The Protagonist
  • Prototypes
  • Prozac Memory
  • Prozak for Lovers
  • Prunella Scales
  • Psychic TV (2)
  • Psychick Warriors ov Gaia
  • Psychopomps (2)
  • Psychore
  • Psychosis
  • Psychosis (different)
  • Psychotic Therapy
  • Psychotica (2)
  • Psyclone Rangers
  • Public Radio
  • The Puddle Jumpers
  • Puissance
  • Puke Weasel (2)
  • Puller
  • Pulley (3)
  • Pulse Programming
  • Punchy
  • Pungent Stench (4)
  • Punisher
  • Puny Human
  • Pupa's Window
  • Ryan Purcell
  • Purple Ivy Shadows (2)
  • Purr Machine (2)
  • Push-Pull
  • Pusher
  • Pushmonkey (2)
  • Pushover
  • Pussyfinger
  • Putrescine
  • Pygmy Children
  • Pyogenesis (2)
  • Q*Ball (3)
  • Q-South
  • Qiet
  • Qua
  • The Qualia
  • Quarashi
  • Quasi (2)
  • The Queers (4)
  • Quest for Fire
  • Quest for the Moon Breed
  • Quick Fix (2)
  • Quiet Hollers
  • Quinimine
  • Will Quinlan & the Diviners
  • Sean Quinn
  • Quintaine Americana
  • Juan Carlos Quintero
  • Quintron
  • Quixote
  • Quivvver

  • p.i.c
    (Riding Mower)
    reviewed in issue #205, 9/18/00

    When you play a wide range of styles, maybe it is best to describe your sound in the album title. p.i.c does that, but even the 21 letters in that "word" don't quite get the feeling across. This is a party band playing party music.

    Fun, not shallowness, is the order of the day. Indeed, the six players are always in motion, creating some wonderful sounds. The lines bounce around, but always in reference to the groove.

    That's what p.i.c has done best: Dress up some really tasty grooves. Good-time music should facilitate getting down. No problems with that here. From the first downbeat it's apparent that p.i.c. knows what it's doing.

    Just a big wad of fun. And with enough going on to keep me interested well past the first easy smile. If you wonder how it is that party tunes can also satisfy deeper needs, look no further than this disc.

    Sexy Picnic
    (Riding Mower)
    reviewed in issue #242, June 2003

    The first P.I.C album was called Hiphoppunkfunkmaboska, which was a loose way of describing precisely what it was that these folks try to do. Think Urban Dance Squad with soul and horns.

    And groovier songs, too. The one band that I think of most when I hear these boys is Bootsauce, a brilliant soul-funk-metal combo that released a couple albums almost 15 years ago. No one really tries to make music this funky, this tight with both the bass and the guitar. Which probably explains why the mainstream just can't quite figure these boys out.

    I know it's not the music. This stuff is goofy and seriously fun. The high time for a paella like this was probably thirty-five years ago when bands like Love and Sly and the Family Stone seamlessly fused guitar and the groove into a heavenly confection.

    It's about time someone else figured out how to do it. Oh, sure, that whole acid jazz thing touched on the edges of this, but where that movement cheesed out the ideal, P.I.C dives right in and embraces all of the contradictions. That's why the music is so good.

    reviewed in issue #272, March 2006

    There are a few hip-hop labels out there that consistently impress, and Minneapolis's Rhymesayers is right up there. This second effort from P.O.S is kinda emblematic of everything that's right with hip-hip today.

    Not many people would start an album with cello. And not just any cello, but aggressive, dissonant cello. And then P.O.S comes on and starts spinning his ideas. The first real track is called "Half-Cocked Concepts," and the album is just jammed with insightful and often refreshingly self-deprecating observations.

    Yes, hip-hop can be politically and socially conscious and still sound great. P.O.S balances the need for superlative backing tracks (shifting from sly to bombastic and back again in the wink of an eye) and deft rhymes like few others I've heard. His first album was alright. This one might well become a classic.

    It helps that he has some talented collaborators. The depth of the music here is astounding. And it probably is one of the things that might keep P.O.S from larger fame. I mean, popular music isn't supposed to be complicated, and there are so many ideas here I can't begin to count them. I guess it's time to remove the qualification in the last paragraph. This album has all the hallmarks of a classic. All it needs is time.

    reviewed in issue #264, May 2005

    More Canadian pop goofiness from the fine folks at Mint. P:ano isn't, in fact, riffing through the songs of the musical "Brigadoon." Yes, that would be a hoot, but this is so much dorkier. And let's not kid ourselves: Folks who like their pop music this involved are, indeed, dorks.

    I've been a dork for as long as I can remember. And if that means I get to enjoy music like this, I can live that. P:ano tends to build its songs around rhythm elements--whether that is piano or drums or whatever. The melodies are often convoluted and a bit forced. I find that endearing, for some reason.

    It's probably the breathless nature of the songs. Even though the sound is generally understated and somewhat "acoustic" in feel (if you know what I mean), the songs simply keep moving along. No dirges. Nothing like that.

    Hell, any album that references both Half Japanese and New Order has to be kinda interesting, right? Well, this one is pretty durned intriguing. Weird, idiosyncratic...that and more. Exciting as hell? Oh yeah, that too. Sometimes it's very good to be a dork.

    Ghost Pirates Without Heads
    reviewed in issue #272, March 2006

    Mint is perhaps the finest pop label in the world. Being Canadian, it is a bit easier (and probably even more necessary) to embrace a wide variety of sounds. Still, anyone that can give a band like P:ano any real level of success is a winner in my book.

    Minimalist pop played, by and large, with ukulele, bass clarinet, accordion and assorted percussion--a break from previous recordings which tended to incorporate every weird instrument under the sun--and sung in decidedly distracted fashion. Somehow, it's really damned pretty.

    But this isn't the sort of thing that is likely to attract a lot of attention. Most of my friends (even the ones who really like interesting music) kinda shake their heads when they hear P:ano. They agree that there's something cool going on, but they can't bring themselves to get excited about it. Maybe if they hear "I Felt His Presents/Doing the Can Can" on this disc (which is something of a minor masterpiece) they'll change their mind.

    Short, sweet and stellar. Probably not destined for mainstream acceptance. And thank God (whatever it might be) for that.

    Pacific UV
    reviewed in issue #333, December 2011

    Oh yeah. Straight back to the glory of synth washes, straight beats and vaguely atonal vocals. Much more stark than New Order, Pacific UV is uncompromising in its dedication to gentle melody and spacey moods.

    And yes, you do have to like a certain corner of 80s music in order to dig this. Pacific UV is much mellower and more languid than even the most daring new wavers, but the melodies simply bristle with light. These songs are almost like nebulae, incubating nascent stars.

    Plenty of bands these days are trying their hand at this general sound, but Pacific UV has a strong modernist interpretation that pushes its music past most others. The trippy, hazy sound is a wonder to behold. Most lovely.

    Oh, and just when it seems like everything is about to dissolve into gauze, something peppy comes along. Quite fine.

    The Pack A.D.
    reviewed in issue #293, February 2008

    Somewhere between Jon Spencer, the Flat Duo Jets and Janis Joplin, this Canadian duo destroys everything in its path. Vocals and guitars are distorted, often beyond recognition, and the drums try hard to keep up.

    This is some of the most brutally intense music I've heard in years. The Pack A.D. never lets off the pedal. Not only are these songs fast and heavy, they're mean as hell, too. I don't know what sort of lives these two ladies have lived, but this disc is hardly an endorsement.

    Of their circumstances, of course. The music is astonishing. I'm rapidly running out of superlatives, but that's mostly because the wrecking ball riffage has obliterated my brain. It's all I can do to crawl under my desk and wait out the storm.

    But I'm a pro. I'll stick it out. The pleasures of this album far outweigh any pain, intense as it may be. Holy cow. This stuff is deadlier than Sherman's March.

    Funeral Mixtape
    reviewed in issue #299, August 2008

    Far and away my biggest disappointment of the month. I loved Tintype, and I thought the Pack A.D. could well be the second coming--of what, I have no idea, but you get the point. This time out, the gals continue wailing away at lo-fi blues, but without the same magic. The sound is the same, the themes are the same and the performances just as energetic. But maybe my problem is the lack of forward movement. Also, these songs just don't have the visceral immediacy that drove Tintype. They're close--maddeningly so at times--but not quite there. A very good album, but not the godhead I was hoping to hear. I'll be waiting for the third album with greatest anticipation.

    reviewed in issue #339, August 2012

    I loved Tintype, but I lost track of the Pack A.D. after Funeral Mixtape severely disappointed me. When I came across this album from last year, I decided to give it a spin. And holy hell, I sure fell off the wrong train.

    This duo veered significantly away from the minimalist blues of its early output, deciding to more fully embrace the thick garage ethos that it had always been skirting. This more muscular approach has yielded a passel of absolutely blistering songs.

    The thick sound fits these raging, straight-forward rockers. There's still plenty of minimalism in the songwriting, but it's leavened with plenty of fuzz and power. Think Ramones without the melody, and you might be getting warm.

    Easily one of the best albums of last year--just wish I had heard it then. I sure am glad I was able to check back in with these gals, though. I should've known. Anyone who could make an album as good as Tintype had to have something left in the tank. But something this incendiary? My hair is smoldering.

    Promoting Total Death
    (Forever Undergound)
    reviewed in issue #220, 8/13/01

    Boy, if there's a title out there that better describes a band, I haven't seen it. Paganizer is old school death metal, all distorted riffs and vocals, double bass drum pounding and general mayhem. With just enough songwriting to keep the proceedings vaguely coherent.

    I don't think I mentioned some ripping lead guitar work. It's there too, though not omnipresent. I could use a little more of it, to be honest. Still, the brutality is fairly constant and rather invigorating. Sometimes the full-speed-ahead approach gets out of hand, but that's really nit-picking.

    The sound is a little primitive. I think Paganizer would be better served by a more full mix. These guys don't need a whole lot of space between themselves. Maybe not Incantation heavy, but still, something more along those lines.

    Even so, the most important thing here is the songwriting, and these boys know how to crank out some great riffage. The stuff doesn't get old or dull, it just lurches and leaps forward prodigiously. Rather impressive.

    Page France
    Come, I'm a Lion!
    reviewed in issue #258, October 2004

    Michael Nau is a young songwriter. Some of his songs do share a number of features, particularly in the vocal melodies. For me, that's something of a pleasant Half Japanese echo (though, to be fair, Nau and friends are much more musically adept). Some might find it aggravating. I can understand.

    Not that I agree, of course. Nau's songs cut to the chase quickly. Even when he's waxing contemplative, there's really no mystery. And that's cool. His mind is imprinted upon every song here.

    That's the key to the appreciation of one-man outfits. Yes, Nau recruited a number of friends to play on this album, but he's in charge. He edited and produced the album, and in the end, this is his vision alone. It's idiosyncratic as all get out, but that's the charm, as far as I'm concerned.

    As for the name of the "band," well, I have no idea. Doesn't matter. The songs are the only thing I care about, and these are more than worthy of attention. I can't wait to hear how Nau's ear continues to progress.

    Jon's note: I had no idea I reviewed this one twice until I put together the archives. If you're curious to read two "blind" reviews of the same work, then read on.
    Come, I'm a Lion!
    (Fall Records)
    reviewed in issue #261, February 2005

    The sort of intensely dreamy pop that I'm used to hearing from Deep Elm bands. Page France can take a long time to get to the point, but man, once the point is made you'll never forget it.

    Kinda like the Comas that way, I suppose, though these folks are even more elliptical. I love the way the songs kind of wind their way around themselves. Sorta like the way R.E.M. songs did twenty years ago, except with a completely different feel, of course.

    This is a very quiet album. Even when the songs get raucous, the feel is still intimate. Like being in the collective brain of the band or something. That's a pretty brilliant accomplishment, if you ask me.

    One of those "sneak up on you" albums. I liked the first time I heard it, but now I like it a whole lot more. It simply takes a while to get attuned to the wavelengths here.

    (Nuclear Blast America)
    reviewed in issue #128, 2/17/97

    Another Hypocrisy side project. This one is totally Peter Tagtgren, the group's frontman. Pain cranks out a stripped-down metal sound, one that incorporates industrial, death metal and black metal ideas into a maelstrom of agony.

    Tagtgren doesn't skimp when it comes to sound. While the production leaves things a bit more raw than the typical Hypocrisy album, there are plenty of pieces thrown into the mix. Each track is quite distinct from any other. He's reaching out and helping create a whole new metal ideal.

    This is precisely the sort of thing a metal fan can throw in the face of elitists who claim there is no musical growth or depth in metal today. Simply put, this is a master of music who is finally able to travel all the byroads his other projects haven't gone.

    Hard to say much more. Tagtgren has created an awesome set of loud music songs. There's too much here to ignore.

    Pain Teens
    Stimulation Festival
    (Trance Syndicate-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #14, 5/31/92

    A typically Texan band - meaning no categorization possible. Wandering around fuzzy guitars and brutal percussion are true tales from the darkside: Jeff Dahmer, voodoo, that kind of thing.

    An immensely listenable and throbbing album. More throbbing, but very good. To get a full sense of what I am talking about, you simply must listen. While the production sounds primitive, you soon realize that putting this (and their other) album (s) together was an almost Herculean task. One that should be applauded.

    Destroy Me, Lover
    (Trance Syndicate)
    reviewed in issue #37, 7/31/93

    As I've noted many times before, Trance Syndicate puts out some of the finest loud stuff around. And no one in the "metal" community seems to notice.

    Well, there should be more to a hard rock show than one type of music. Lord knows, the Pain Teens can't be typecast. Like a Texan version of Alice Donut, their songs swirl around a loose rhythmic core, with the occasional scream to get your attention.

    It IS hypnotic, and not in the sleepy way. More of you should be on this music. There is more creativity and energy in one of this album than there ware on the last three releases from Seattle major label types.

    Don't worry; just because the songs are different and interesting doesn't mean they don't rock out. Quite the contrary. Pain Teens will pound themselves into your subconscious. Maybe then you'll stop playing Stone Temple Pilots.

    Palace Brothers
    There is No One to Take Care of You
    (Drag City)
    reviewed in issue #36, 6/30/93

    I saw these guys at KCOU's Springfest (the one with Big Star). I thought they sucked, to be honest. Of course, they were following up the Boorays, one of the best bands around, so maybe that had something to do with it. And I was trying to digest my barbecue anyway.

    Still not very impressed, although the halting vocals and creepy country music translate a lot better on vinyl than on stage. If I were drunk, I think I would really get into this. But it's noon on a Saturday, so no such luck.

    If you want folk-country mood music (what mood I don't know), dig into this. It does get interesting after a while.

    Palace Brothers
    (Drag City-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #61, 8/31/94

    Sparse. Real sparse. The press sheet is some sort of poetry (pretty cool), the music is an odd take on Neil Young's version of folk music. So you could call Palace Brothers unusual.

    If you're familiar with the previous work, then you're somewhat ready. But the production for the most part leaves a lot of space between the instruments and voices and the microphone. It gets a weird result, but I like it. The songs themselves often don't have much construction on the surface. Well, compared to more traditional folk forms, anyway.

    Again, it takes an effort to like this music right off. But that debt will be repaid many times over.

    (Palace Music)
    Arise Therefore
    (Drag City)
    reviewed in issue #106, 4/15/96

    Whether going by the name Palace Brothers, Palace Music or just Palace, you know who this band is.

    And still the same maddening country-ish ramblings that meander in all over the place. Over hill and dale, through the mulberry patch and down in the dell. And then someone gets shot.

    The lyrics are alternately strangely poetic and jarring. This is not comfy sit-by-the-fire music. I'm not sure how anyone could relax with Palace Music on the stereo. But the music and lyrics are so cryptic at times, you can't help but think.

    And it's that combination of unique lyrics and unique music that really makes Palace Music work. If one or the other even thought of trending toward the mainstream (or even coherence, really), then it would all fall apart. But Palace Music casts a spell, and it has worked throughout the recorded history of this band (no matter the name above the title).

    You can't "get" it. But the journey is fraught with personal growth.

    (Palace Music)
    Lost Blues and Other Songs
    (Drag City)
    reviewed in issue #130, 3/17/97

    Much of non-LP work of the "band" is collected on this disc. Going by Palace Brothers, Palace Music and just plain Palace, these songs are further testament to the power that this musical collective based around the songwriting and singing of Will Oldham.

    The songs are presented generally in order of recording, though that isn't an iron-clad rule. And hell, considering the number of different band names, why stick to any rules?

    The only hard and fast proscription here is unadulterated pure music. Will Oldham and his various bandmates refuse to back down from any subject or musical sidetrip; indeed, Oldham's voice is the most soulful revelation in rock since Neil Young first howled for tape 30-some years ago.

    That, of course, isn't a fair comparison. Young is, and always has been, a part of the musical mainstream, while Oldham toils in back rooms. Indeed, I saw Palace recently at a free show in Tampa. The band came on at about 12:30 a.m. with about a hundred people milling about the bar after another show had mostly cleared out. After three songs, the crowd had thinned to about 30, but those 30 were in rapt adoration. Oldham and mates seemed to enjoy themselves after the yuppie types left, and the show was a truly astonishing experience.

    But not for the average person. Years ago, a Newsweek story proclaimed Palace Brothers to be the new face of country music. Of course, Garth Brooks is still destroying arenas with his Kiss Nation tours, and Palace is still rattling around the backroads, happy to be playing to any sort of audience. Perhaps all is well with the universe, after all.

    (Palace Contribution)
    Zeni Geva

    Sides 5-6 7"
    (Skin Graft)
    reviewed in issue #148, 11/24/97

    Two more installments on the Skin Graft AC/DC tribute plan. And if two more disparate acts could be found to share one small slab of vinyl, I can't think of it.

    Yes, that's Palace (with another somewhat new moniker) rambling through "Big Balls", turning the heavy blues piece into a very weird, wailing lament. Definitely over the top, but highly amusing nonetheless.

    Zeni Geva pounds out a surprisingly rote version of "Let There Be Rock" (though the initial riff employed sounds a lot more like "You've Got Another Thing Coming" than anything AC/DC has played). Oh, once the verse kicks in it's 100 percent Zeni Geva, but I was still surprised by the straightness of the delivery.

    Not quite as enthralling as the initial double 7", this puppy still keeps the whole project going strong. That Palace bit should really start some heads scratching when it hits the airwaves. Cool by me.

    See also The Anomanon and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.

    The Paladins
    Slippin' In
    reviewed in issue #185, 7/26/99

    How long have these guys been doing their three-piece old-time rock and roll thing? I don't, but I thought they'd been around forever when I saw them in Kansas City back in '92, so add a few years to that, anyway.

    I knew the Paladins from their days on Alligator, and now they're on another blues label, even though they really don't play the blues. They shift easily from rockabilly to a zydeco shuffle to tight harmony and then on from there. And they sound as good as I remember.

    About half the songs here are originals, and those are just as varied as the chestnuts they cover. No band back in the 50s would have played all these styles, but all of these sounds existed back then. And maybe it's that old-timey affection which keeps bringing the Paladins to blues labels. You got me.

    As fun as this album is, the live show I saw was truly impressive. This disc doesn't quite catch the energy and abandon of a show, but it's easily the sharpest production job I've heard done on the boys. Takes me back and makes me happy for the future, all at once.

    reviewed in issue #38, 8/31/93

    Sure is good music for a funeral. Organ, mellowness and just the right amount of guitar at moments.

    And let's not forget the willowy, almost whispered vocals. The press compares them to Julee Cruise (bleah), but here they are at least an octave lower, giving them a nice contralto sound (look it up).

    I could die to this.

    Harness My Zebras
    reviewed in #164, 8/3/98

    Some pretty goofy stuff. When stuck in a basic folk rock stage, Paloma is pretty ordinary. But on songs like the title track, the band really breaks into some unusual sounds

    I've always liked the combination of acoustic guitar and drum machine, and the guys do some nice collage work. On other songs, an organ (or somesuch) accompanies the simple songs. Whenever the instrumentation gets unusual (a tambourine as the sole percussion piece, the organ, a glockenspiel and other odds and ends), the simplicity of the songs is undone. A greater depth can be seen.

    But about half the time Paloma is satisfied playing basic stuff. It's not horrible, simply ordinary. Oh, I probably should mention that the songs are generally sung in English, even though the band is French. But I'm pretty sure that doesn't have much to do with anything else.

    There are moments of transcendent inspiration here, and a few more monotonous interludes. If you like quietly intense music, this might turn the trick. Paloma is deceptively cool.

    All Things, Forests
    reviewed in issue #285, May 2007

    Ooh, give me shimmer pop. With a really keen dark edge. Palomar likes its melodies sweet and slightly complex, with the aforementioned shadings. There's often a vague sense of doom hanging over everything, though it never really materializes into anything specific.

    But the tension is nice. It helps to assuage my guilt at falling in love with such gorgeous hooks. Damn, these folks build hooks into the verses as well as the choruses. It's an embarrassment of riches, but somehow it never becomes cheesy.

    Quite the opposite, actually. The complexities underlying the music become clearer as the album goes along. A second listen reveals a whole lot more than the first. That's when you know you're on to something spectacular.

    It's not a crime to make pretty music. But when you make pretty music with a soul, then you've really done something. Palomar did that, and all we have to do is listen.

    These Are the Things I Love and I Want to Share Them With You
    reviewed in issue #340, September 2012

    The band's debut EP was titled Post Rock Is Not Dead, and this full-length follows in that tradition. Pans takes vaguely proggy instrumentals that borrow from the best of 80s and 90s indie rock and blend them together into modestly fist-shaking anthems. Oh, and some of the songs have vocals. Occasionally.

    So if you can imagine Ween playing June of 44 songs with the attitude and recklessness of the Minutemen, well, you might be in the ballpark. Pan isn't nearly as accomplished as any of those acts, of course, but give the boys time.

    The sound on this album is almost relentlessly shiny, which works for these amazingly bright songs. Perhaps the EP should have been titled Post Rock Is Not Totally Dreary.

    It's not, of course, but Pan is endearingly joyous as it bounds and rebounds through these meadows. Gorgeous and surprisingly moving.

    III-Khaooos and Kon-Fus-Ion
    (Relapse Underground)
    reviewed in issue #103, 3/18/96

    The final outing from this fine bunch of Swedes (whose ranks include Dan and Benny from Edge of Sanity). For the unwashed hordes who may be unfamiliar, Pan-Thy-Monium presents a vision of death metal untainted by convention or good taste.

    Nope, these guys throw everything into the pot (plenty of Maiden, a few John-Zorn-esque hardcore jazz breaks and plenty of really messy keyboard work) and hope it comes out alright. Luckily, we are dealing some truly talented folk, and the truly epochal songs (coming in at 12, 14 and seven minutes, respectively) are wondrous musings of the dark variety.

    Masturbatory as all get out, of course, but the excesses serve to make the whole stronger. There is a sense of purpose, and the extravagance stays within the necessary bounds of the musical concept.

    And some truly amazing riffage. When the stuff gets going, the sound is awesome. You'll be hearing this stuff in your dreams (and certainly your nightmares).

    Hey, how often have you heard a blazing death metal riff interrupted by a few toots of a sax, followed by a blazing set of dueling guitar and keyboard solos? And following that up with some pure sampled noise? Not for the squeamish or the doctrinaire, but aficionados of truly adventurous music will find pure bliss here.

    See also Edge of Sanity and Nightingale.

    Panda Bear.
    Panda Bear.
    (Soccer Star)
    reviewed in issue #181, 5/3/99

    The disc package is silk-screened (or otherwise painted or stenciled). The music is similarly done in a do-it-yerself style.

    And wildly eclectic. The first track is a sterile piece which sounds something like extremely agitated dripping water. The second features acoustic guitar with lots of little gizmos flitting here and about. The third sounds something like the second, but not really. Does that make sense?

    Of course not. Imagine something like the Magnetic Fields without vocals, but with a much more diverse musical style. Trippy, sure, but not so much to make you nod off. At least, not too quickly.

    Utterly indescribable, really. Most attractive and intriguing, however. Panda Bear takes some simple building blocks and creates truly arresting conglomerations of sound. Out there, to be sure, but worth the trip.

    and Avey Tare Spirit They've Gone Spirit They've Vanished
    reviewed in issue #211, 1/29/01

    Whereupon the experimental electronic musings of Panda Bear come into contact with a certain Avery Tare. The result is recognizable as pop music, if only barely.

    What's much more obvious is the penchant of all involved to push the envelope of (possibly) accessible music. The casual listener might be confused by the substitution of distortion for a lead guitar lick or by the general lack of a discernible bass line.

    But that sort of thing won't matter to the intrepid, the brave few who actually enjoy spelunking in a musical cavern such as this. Tare and Panda Bear (kinda weird how that rhymes) have concocted a stirring stew of noises, all vaguely put together in the same format as your favorite power pop songs.

    Except, of course, this sounds nothing like that. I like the effort, though. Creativity like this is highly invigorating. However these folks come together, this album is proof that it was a very good idea, indeed.

    Panda Riot
    Far and Near EP
    reviewed in issue #316, April 2010

    Laptop pop gone meta. Panda Riot keeps the drum machine, but it gets all self-referential quite quickly. I can go for that.

    What I really like is the dissonance in the hooks. Most folks try to sweeten that part of the song, but Panda Riot is content to keep just its verses pretty. Sometimes the effect is much like that on Loveless (I have been saying that a lot in the last couple years, haven't I?), and sometimes it's the vocals themselves that don't quite match up. I really like that.

    About half of these songs have other deconstructive elements as well. Panda Riot is thinking an awful lot about the music. Sometimes too much, perhaps, but I'd rather hear people trying too hard than not at all. A wee bit of restraint might make these songs more palatable for the masses, but I'm always going to come down on the side of good music. That's just the snobbish music critic in me. Keep pushing the envelope, folks.

    Panel Donor
    Panel Donor
    reviewed in issue #65, 10/31/94

    Due to the success of Paw and a couple other bands, many music cognoscenti have dubbed Lawrence (KS) as the new Seattle. If that means the city has more than its share of pretentious grunge bands, then I'd agree.

    Occasionally, though, an unpretentious grunge band sneaks through. I liked the Zoom album of a year ago (also on Lotuspool, though I think the band is now with Tim Kerr Recs.), and I like this disc, too.

    Yes, the guitar and bass are pretty thick, but instead of banging such things on your head, the effect is more of a sixties psychedelic one. There is a "rogue" Moog that wanders in and out of the tunes. Sometimes it muddies, sometimes it enlightens. But always the effect is to improve the surroundings.

    Panel Donor is not afraid of taking a convention and experimenting with its frontiers. Technically, I suppose it is a grunge band. But in name only. Panel Donor plays good music.

    Lobedom & Global
    reviewed in issue #106, 4/15/96

    Somewhere in the pop universe. Lotuspool is a label out of Lawrence, Kansas (if you don't know), the place where such current experimental pop hipsters as Vitreous Humor reside. Panel Donor and the previously reviewed Bully Pulpit are the main troopers on the label, and that's a lineup that makes me drool.

    The last Panel Donor album I heard was a little more grungy. This is still plenty loud and chaotic, but more in the current "emo-core" (as the Crank!sters call it) mode. I like this better. The guitars kinda plow all over the place, not worrying about conservation tillage or any real farming method. And Panel Donor reaps what it sows: a few somewhat together songs, and some really wild things as well. Good ditchweed, I suppose. If the band is really crafting this stuff, I'd be shocked, but what comes out is quite good.

    Still, it takes folks with high tolerance for noise and new musical ideas to really groove on this. So, obviously, I'm ecstatic. Yeah, I think a little more time could have been spent editing some of the excesses down and punching the production up jut a bit. That would really have made this album great. But these results are nothing to scoff at at all.

    Greg Panfile & Talk & Roll
    reviewed in issue #213, 3/12/01

    Back in 1977, the Cambridge Ensemble wanted to stage Dante's Inferno. Greg Panfile started to write the thing, but then an actor quit and the idea went back on the table. Panfile kept writing until 1983. He gave up. Eleven years later, he picked up the pieces and started over, with something of a more general approach toward the concept of hell on earth, rather than below. Panfile and friends (known as Talk & Roll) finally finished the project 23 years after it began.

    Right. So that's what we're talking about here. The music is wonderfully textured rock, flavored with accordion and (synth) horns and more. The lyrics fit in nicely with whatever path the music takes, with each making use of whatever theme Panfile has chosen for the piece.

    That sounds obvious, I know, but so few writers seem to be able to make those connections work. On this album, just about every junction is seamless. Each song is distinct from the others, even while retaining the core thoughts of the overall work.

    Ambitious and daring, Panfile's Inferno satisfies both musically and lyrically. If it took 23 years of seasoning to come up with an album like this, I'd say it was worth every day. Panfile and friends have spun a web that encompasses the world. It's easy to get stuck; you probably won't mind at all.

    (Metal Blade)
    reviewed in issue #2, 11/15/91

    Yet another Seattle band with a recent release. Many programers have taken notice of this album, yet I must admit I gave it rather short shrift when I cruised through format at KCOU.

    Listening to the album again, I have found many more songs that I like past their way-cool cover of "I Stole Your Love." Stuff like "Hypochondriac" and "Hellfire Club" really rocked my world.

    If you missed this album the first time - find it. If you're playing it - keep it up. I wish I could.

    (Metal Blade/WB)
    reviewed in issue #36, 6/30/93

    Believe it or not, these guys are from Seattle. Of course, the only tangible way you can find a relation to that scene is in the relations between the bass and drums. Nice rhythm going on.

    But for the most part this is your average metal. Not real exciting by my ears, but certainly worth a listen or few.

    This has been done before, and better as well. And I really can't find any spark to light my hormones. No rushes here.

    Panic Strikes a Chord
    I Can See Electricity at the Proper Distance
    reviewed in issue #210, 1/8/01

    Why is it that bands with one member have these long names? Is there an insecurity or something? I guess so. I've always wanted to record under the name "My Teenage Throbbing Desire." Talk about pretentious and stupid. Makes Panic Strikes a Chord sound scintillatingly concise.

    Jeremy Brightbill doesn't feel the need to stick to any prepared script. Rather, he bounces around and around, building songs on whatever foundation lay nearby. So there's little cohesion to the sound, though the ideas behind the music stay fairly constant.

    What I mean is that Brightbill, like most who work in unitary bands, is horribly obsessive about every detail. The record sounds immaculately crafted because it was. And yet, once again because this is Brightbill's baby only, the songs have an almost creepy intimacy as well.

    Brightbill would fit in well with many of the midwestern minimalist singer/songwriters who release stuff on Drag City or Secretly Canadian. He's that good. And, of course, he's that unusual. This is a real find.

    How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Thing
    reviewed in issue #218, 6/25/01

    In my last review (in January), I mentioned that Jeremy Brightbill (the man behind Panic Strikes a Chord) was unusual and talented. Add another word. Prolific.

    Maybe he's been working on all this stuff for a long time and now he's got an outlet. I dunno. What I can say is that there's no dropoff in quality. Each song is an eccentric trip down one of the side alleys in Brightbill's mind, and rarely does one piece flow well into the next.

    I kinda like the jarring sequencing myself. Brightbill's approach is minimalist in the sound, not in the breadth of his musical ideas. Some songs are him and a guitar, some include piano or some odd percussion. There's even a non-verbal (but sung) collection of harmony.

    The whole makes sense. Each little piece can be confusing, but just let small stuff by. Brightbill's focus is on the big picture, so some of the songs are just fragments. That's cool. No need to be overbearing. Just make good music. That's pretty much what Panic Strikes a Chord does.

    The Last Compulsory Exercise
    reviewed in issue #150, 12/29/97

    You know, backward masking is a bitch to decipher when all you've got is the CD. And Panicsville makes use of that and a whole host of other tricks on its way to creating one of the most grating, annoying and generally painful discs I've heard in ages.

    That's a compliment, by the way.

    Oh, yeah, this is another of the extra goodies that arrived in the Skin Graft box, stuff that is so far off the fringe it flies ahead of the expanding universe. Weird is an utter understatement. Tape loops heavy on the distortion, samples run every which way, throbbing electronic noise and a general lack of respect for the average music listener. All of this explains why it showed up in my mailbox.

    I'm not going to make any grand claims of genius here. In fact, albums like this are one of the reasons I quit handing out ratings. There is no standard I can refer to in order to hand out a qualitative analysis on the basis of one to five. This is easily one of the strangest albums I've ever heard (I've gotten a lot of that this issue), and all I know is that I'll be listening to it for a long time to come.

    My wife? I think she'd rather I used it as a coaster. It takes all kinds.

    reviewed in issue #184, 7/5/99

    Alrighty then! If you thought my review of American Power (another Nihilist outfit) described some truly warped minds in full expression mode, well, here's Panicsville. Disjointed beat noodlings with all sorts of sampled and instrumental effects. Trust me: This does not make sense.

    And there really is no way to find coherence. Once you let go, though, and simply sift through the madness, well, a semblance of order emerges. Semblance in the loosest sense of the word. After all, this is lunacy.

    Strangely attractive lunacy, mind you, the sort of psychotic ramblings which can make for bestsellers in the book world. Books, of course, are things utilized by generally thoughtful people. Think of this as meta-fiction for the electronic set. Meta-electronics, perhaps.

    Oh, what am I doing? Justifying the sheer madness which exists here? Well, I can do that in a heartbeat. But I really cannot explain it. Some things just have to be experienced, if only by the brave. If you dig this, then you may consider yourself a pioneer of the music underground.

    split 5" vinyl with John Weise
    reviewed in issue #184, 7/5/99

    When I say 5" vinyl, I mean it! This thing is, well, small. Very inventive packaging, which is what can be expected from Nihilist.

    If you got through my review of the Nihilist full-length, then just apply it to their side of this slab. While possibly even a bit more lo-fi than what I heard before, it fits right into the psychotic electronic style I was expecting.

    The John Wiese side is pure electronic noise in the finest tradition. This side rolls at 45 (the Panicsville is at 33), so the squelches and yelps burst past at a fair clip. Pretty cool.

    Actually, the entire execution here is pretty cool. Weird, certainly, but quite impressive. I wish 5" vinyl held more sound.

    split 7" with Brain Transplant
    reviewed in issue #197, 3/27/00

    If you've read the reviews of these two acts in the archives, you know that there is nothing expected. Not one thing. I drop the needle on Panicsville or Brain Transplant and I have no idea what will come out.

    The Panicsville songs are fairly restrained, well-assembled collages of clicks and squeals. Nothing that will torch your speakers or anything, just some cool sounds.

    The Brain Transplant songs are a bit more melodic, but just as experimental. The notes say the pieces were performed on demo software, which is pretty impressive (I've messed with some of that stuff and I haven't come up with anything nearly this cool).

    Just a journey to the edges of electronic experimental music. The only expectation is a sense of wonder. This small slab comes through with that and more.

    split LP with Rubber Cement
    reviewed in issue #197, 3/27/00

    A lot to love here. Each artist gets a well-proportioned album side with which to play. Panicsville stays mostly within the "mad scientist" sound of burbling electronic chatter and other baubles (certainly a more active sound than that found on the 7").

    But it's where the sound surprises that always marks a Panicsville project. Here it comes in the middle of its side, where there is some wonderful interplay between what suffices as a bass line and some upper-range "melodic" lines. Just another example of the Panicsville oeuvre, I guess.

    The Rubber Cement side takes a more aggressively adventurous path Using much the same sort of electronic disturbance noise as Panicsville, Rubber Cement is more likely to use stark juxtaposition and worry less about, um, coherent structure.

    The results are surprisingly similar. I mean, it's not like either of these artists is going to be mistaken for Sting. When you combine the wonderfully experimental fare on the vinyl with the handmade album cover, well, I can't think of a more welcome package in my house.

    split 12" with Inflatable Alterboys
    reviewed in issue #213, 3/12/01

    New Panicsville, a thought that always gets my panties in a bunch. I never know what to expect. Sometimes the sounds are utterly abstract, sometimes they're more ambient and sometimes there's even a melody. On its side of the slab, Panicsville dishes out three songs.

    And each of those concepts is represented. The first piece is utterly ambient, an understated noise soundscape. Simply entrancing. The second song has almost a traditional construction, complete with melody and all. The third song, while still playing around with a keyboard, is much less structured. Most intriguing.

    Inflatable Alterboys fills its side with one song, "Superior Twelve Inch Finger" (One of the greatest titles I've ever seen). It kinda sounds like the Panicsville, except instead of separating the three distinct approaches to electronic noise, everything gets thrown into a single pot.

    Not like a mishmash, but more of a bouillabaisse. The pieces are distinct within the whole. There is a consistent rhythmic idea that travels throughout most of the piece, and everything else kinda hangs off those beats at odd angles. Truly wonderful. This piece of vinyl is everything I expected (I did have high hopes) and much more. Big smiles.

    (with Cock E.S.P.)
    Last Train to Cocksville
    (Little Mafia/Nihilist/SunShip)
    reviewed in issue #251, March 2004

    The album so brutal that it took three labels to release it. Well, maybe not, but still. This collaboration between two mostly one-man electronic noise masters (each hauls in some friends to help out now and again) is truly staggering.

    Andy Ortmann (Panicsville) and E.W. Hagstrom (Cock E.S.P.) are two of the more inventive noise deconstructionists around. They like to take "normal" sounds and reduce them to feedback, distortion and crackle. Then they'll throw in something vaguely recognizable just to fuck with your head. Put the two of them together, and the results are cosmic.

    Which isn't exactly what I expected. Often this sort of sonic chaos is best created by one person. If you keep adding cooks, the soup is reduced to burnt beef tips and dried onions. But Hagstrom and Ortmann are nicely restrained, and the pieces here retain the playfulness which characterizes much of their individual work.

    It's supposed to be fun, goddamnit! And, truth be told, this album is a blast. Okay, so maybe 500 other people on this planet might agree with me (I'd be willing to go as far as an even thousand), but we know good noise when we hear it, and these two boys have created one fine stew. Hearty enough to eat with a spork.

    (Liquid Death-Hello Pussy)
    reviewed in issue #257, September 2004

    Panicsville has gone through all sorts of lineups, but at this point it might as well be described as Andy Ortmann and friends. The friends this time out include Thymme Jones, Ben Capps, Jeremy Fisher and others--it's pretty obvious that Ortmann knows a lot of cool people.

    And he makes some truly weird electronic music. If you don't know Panicsville, you haven't been reading A&A very long. Suffice it to say that the album cover (which, as near as I can tell, is a partially slaughtered cow), title and name of the record label ought to go a long ways to explaining just how close to the edge Ortmann likes to go.

    But the cool thing about Panicsville, as opposed to many experimental electronic noise acts, is that the songs do have structure. They do have themes which are fairly easy to discern. You may not find these themes particularly attractive (duh), but Ortmann doesn't make appreciation of his work particularly difficult.

    Once in the door, of course, a hall of terrors awaits. So be forewarned. This is a typical Panicsville release, which means that the sound changes radically from song to song, the ideas are powerful and the music highly challenging. If you can stay standing after this assault, you're ready for anything.

    Panoply Academy Glee Club
    (Secretly Canadian)
    reviewed in issue #160, 6/1/98

    Manic, strident pop songs (like a rustier version of Superchunk, perhaps) separated by some truly weird "found" music. Found all over the place and then spliced together into some intriguing sound bits.

    Or the usual inspired, insanity-inducing fare from Secretly Canadian. When PAGC actually plays it straight, the music is anything but. The songs have very sparse arrangements and often meander into glorious tangents.

    There's a rhythm to the songs and the soundscapes, though. A current which flows through the album, inviting me into the madness. Hypnotic and enticing, the various sorts of music eventually merge together to find a greater truth.

    Or something like that, anyway. I got lost. Really lost. Didn't want to come back, either. Kinda spooky when you're on the outside looking in. This disc gets me there fast and then encourages me to deface the walls. Psychic vandalism can be a kick, you know.

    What We Defend
    (Secretly Canadian)
    reviewed in issue #188, 9/20/99

    Jonathan at Secretly Canadian always warns me before he sends out a disc. When he e-mailed with a message telling me to expect something new from the Panoply Academy Glee Club, well, I got a bit excited. Didn't have to clean up the desk or anything, but let's just say I began counting the days.

    This is something of a departure from the last album, focusing more on a band sound and less on the effects. The songs are somewhat more coherent, but see, I've got to quit referencing that old effort and explain what's going on here.

    Which is somewhat difficult. The Slint influence has always been obvious, but PAGC has its own warped take on eccentric rawk. The tunes have a lurching quality. It's not always apparent how the songs will get pulled out of the fire, but somehow they always are. Just returning to do a little more psychic damage.

    So that finally, when the curtain falls, I'm simply left drained. Wanting more, but not sure whether or not I can survive another onslaught. This is the kind of stuff which involves all of the senses, dragging my mind to places it hadn't imagined (and isn't sure it wanted to, either). All in all, highly recommended.

    (as Panoply Academy Corps of Engineers) Concentus
    (Secretly Canadian)
    reviewed in issue #197, 3/27/00

    I really don't understand why bands feel the need to kinda change their names. Yes, there might be some sort of band member switch, but if you were that insistent on a new moniker, why not get a totally new name?

    This is a pointless argument. Particularly since music by Panoply Academy Glee Club or Panoply Academy Corps of Engineers or whatever is great stuff. This disc finds the band tightening up its song structures, and the resulting increase in coherence also brings with it more planned dissonance.

    I guess another way of saying this is that the guys now know what they're doing. Or, at least, they're managing the chaos better. The tunes still sound a bit jumbled up, but that rumpled pop sound has glimmers of intent. There is a reason behind the raucous ruminations.

    Name change or not, this is a fine disc. I've never been disappointed by a Panoply set, and quite honestly this one exceeds my expectations. An evolution in all the right directions.

    Pansy Division
    Wish I'd Taken Pictures
    reviewed in issue #99, 2/19/96

    One of Pansy Division's main themes is that sex isn't political. But these guys have done more to create the impression that while gay sex may be physically different than straight sex, the emotional content is the same. And yes, everyone's normal.

    It helps, of course, that the songs are catchy pop gems. Even on a bittersweet tune like "I Really Wanted You" (about a guy who chooses a girl instead), the music and lyrics are upbeat. None of that annoying Morrisey-like whining. Life is good, even when most of the people running for president love to call you a pervert.

    I always try to separate the music from the lyrical content (I am a music critic, after all), but bands like Pansy Division don't let me do that. Certainly it is one of the best pop outfits of the last five years. And part of that pleasure is the content of the songs. Fun. Enjoying sexuality. And you don't have to be gay to tune into the vibe.

    Never disappointing, Pansy Division fully satisfies this time out. A slab of joy, to be sure.

    Queer to the Core 7"
    reviewed in issue #134, 5/12/97

    It's not quite "For Those About to Suck Cock...", but still. Pansy Division is back with three more aggressively homosexual anthems (and a little interlude by the name of "Two Way Ass". Just the sort of thing that sends Pat Robertson into a frenzy.

    And this time out, I think the guys have worried a bit too much about the message and forgotten to keep the music top-notch. "I'm Gonna Be a Slut" is a fun raver, but the stuff goes downhill from there. The relatively epic b-side (clocking in at 4+ minutes), "Expiration Date" has the most interesting lyrics, but the music is dreadful.

    I simply expect more. And I'm sure Pansy Division will provide that soon enough.

    Manada 7"
    reviewed in issue #135, 5/26/97

    This one's directed at the great white north. Two versions of the title song (in English and French, of course--it wouldn't do to be shunned in a great city like Montreal), a cover of a Maow tune and a pleasant ditty concerning that dread affliction, hockey hair.

    Unabashed and free, this single is much better than the recent one on Lookout (I assume, though, as Mint and Lookout have a deal going, that you can get this puppy in the States as well). Much more fun, really.

    And fun is one of the band's main themes, so that seems only natural. Go with the flow and get on board. If you want to get offended, well, that's your own damned fault.

    More Lovin' from Our Oven
    reviewed in issue #142, 9/1/97

    A compilation of recent singles and other oddities. Sure, there's some dreck here (this puppy is for completists, after all), but in general the quality.

    From the unrestrained metal tribute single "For Those About to Suck Cock" (including remakes of Judas Priest and Kiss tunes) to the wackiness of "Manada", there's plenty here to enjoy.

    Alright, so sometimes the agenda gets a bit ahead of the music ("Political Asshole" comes immediately to mind), but most of the time Pansy Division works the music as well as the philosophy. And, while I suppose it helps to be gay, even straight dorks like me can get off on this stuff.

    Um, it's stuff from four Pansy Division singles and few other naughty bits thrown in for good measure. Good enough for me.

    The Great Southern Trendkill
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #4, 5/27/96

    Apart from being really tired of the whole Pantallica sound, the main reason I haven't gotten excited about a prospective Pantera release in ages (if I ever was, though I do remember really liking Cowboys from Hell) is that once you hear one song, the rest fall into place. Totally predictable.

    Which is fine if you like this sorta thing. I guess. Anyway, like I noted, I'm tired of it. I can't figure out how Phil Anselmo can profess allegiance to such decent acts as Eyehategod and still put out stuff like this. Talent problems, I suppose.

    The part about Cowboys that I dug so much was the industrial precision of the rhythm section. Like a clock. Since the trend has been toward sloppiness and distortion, Pantera hasn't approached that sound standard since. That's not the only problem, but it's a start.

    The main problem is that the band has nothing new to say. That won't stop the fans from eating this up, but there's no reason for folks searching out cool new music to stop by this roadside attraction.

    Paper Aeroplanes
    The Day We Ran Into the Sea
    (OK! Good)
    reviewed in issue #323, December 2010

    Well-constructed pop songs featuring the striking vocals of Sarah Howell. The music is a fairly standard mix of lilting acoustic and electric sensibilities. Nothing spectacular, but a good, solid underpinning.

    The songs themselves are similarly unassuming. They don't really ever soar, but after a while there are quite a few melodies that seem be unshakable. Kinda sneaks up on you that way.

    That's one good thing about sticking to a simple, uncomplicated plan: The end is never in doubt. Predictability can be a hazard, but Paper Aeroplanes have managed to avoid that pitfall. The sounds move around just enough to stave off ennui.

    Another one of those albums whose style doesn't usually appeal to me. But Paper Aeroplanes have done this sound exceptionally well, so there's no room for complaints. Stylish and sweet.

    Paper Arrows
    Things We Would Rather Lose
    reviewed in issue #306, April 2009

    Indie rock with some wonderfully raucous arrangements. The melodies are relatively modest and the songs tend toward kicking ass, but it seems there are always some horns or piano or the like hanging around to prettify things.

    And, well, these guys don't mind getting a bit introspective. There are a few power pop references in the writing, though by and large these are rock and roll songs. The hooks are fine, but the energy and intensity of the performances is what locks in the sound.

    That's the indie rock part, I guess. The production has left this sound nice and raggedy despite the added brighteners, which makes my smile widen that much more. Everything is just a little bit messy, which makes these songs that much more cozy.

    Not the most distinctive album in the world, but one that makes folks like me want to curl up with a bourbon and a nice George Pelecanos book. Okay, maybe my idea of cozy is a bit off the beaten track, but I think the same can be said for Paper Arrows.

    In the Morning
    reviewed in issue #328, June 2011

    Remember the 80s, back when pop bands played real instruments and flavored their sounds with keyboards? This Chicago quartet does, and it has cranked out ten gems that take me back to high school.

    More than that, though, Paper Arrows incorporate a few more recent tends into their mix. There are nods to americana, that whole 90s "modern rock" thing and a few of the better singer-songwriters of the past 20 years.

    Indeed, while the use of piano and organ put something of a date stamp on the overall sound, Paper Arrows exist in a timeless zone. One where good music is appreciated without labels.

    Oh, hell, why get sanctimonious. This album is anything but. Chock full of joy, reminiscence and muscular contemplation, there's plenty here to love. In the end, the songs are the stars. And they sure are.

    The Paper Chase
    cntrl-alt-delete-u soundtrack
    reviewed in issue #226, February 2002

    It's a soundtrack, perhaps, but that's more of a concept than reality. It's kinda funny; the Paper Chase reminds me of early Brainiac. Lots of great melodies obscured by some extraordinary noise. Almost irresistible, really.

    For a guy like me, anyway. John Congleton and friends bash and crash their way through these distorted anthems, studiously avoiding any possible moments of beauty and thus creating a certain level of gorgeous sound nonetheless.

    The band insists this album must be listened to in its entirety to be properly appreciated. Lyrically, I can see the point. But each song is impressive in its own right, and the pieces do stand alone just fine. These works have the superficial trappings of tossed off bits of nonsense, but underneath lies the heart of a pop genius.

    That's what I hear. These songs are rich, dramatic and involving. They soar into the stratosphere despite flying with clipped wings. I can't tell you how the band managed that trick. I can only tell you it did. Put this puppy on, give it a couple minutes and you'll be entranced just like me.

    Hide the Kitchen Knives
    reviewed in issue #234, October 2002

    The Paper Chase specializes in making noise dramatic. Sometimes this actually sounds like music. Sometimes it sounds like a really strange radio play. Sometimes it sounds like nothing you've ever heard before.

    The thing is, this is a band effort, and the pieces here do seem to have been played straight to tape for the most part. That's impressive in its own part, but I think that "live" feel is also key to the astonishing emotional impact these pieces impart.

    The first time I went through this album, I didn't dig it nearly as much as ctrl-alt-delete-u, which was a truly clever and bizarre album. I thought the pieces here were a bit too conventional. And then I listened again. And heard the rumblings beneath.

    That first pass, I simply didn't listen. It's not that there's anything subliminal beneath the surface or anything. Only that these songs are a lot more complicated than I computed. No, in the final analysis, this album is more than worthy of my esteem. A warped little masterpiece.

    What Big Teeth You Have EP
    reviewed in issue #249, January 2004

    Perhaps the Paper Chase is the band everyone wishes they had. Appearing on yet another label (sort of; its previous Beatville releases came out on Southern in Europe), these imaginative boys toss off three unreleased tracks, one of their own and pieces by Jacques Brel and Roger Waters.

    You know Roger Waters, at least, right? I have to say that I am only now beginning to understand the lengths to which the Paper Chase will go to try and reinvent that thing we all call music. I mean, the boys know melody. They know rhythm. They know how to play a plethora of instruments and make a myriad of intelligible sounds. And yet, often enough, they don't.

    More specifically, the moments of clarity are separated by great expanses of freakish nonsense. Except that it's not nonsense at all. Which is why this stuff is, indeed, frighteningly brilliant. I don't claim to understand it all, but I can hear enough to know that the Paper Chase is on the trail of something truly astonishing.

    Paper the Operator
    Solemn Boyz EP
    (Viper Bite)
    reviewed in issue #302, November 2008

    Six doses of that power pop stuff that's passed for emo the past few years. I know, that sounds positively dull, but there's a bite to this that I haven't heard in ages. Think Ruth Ruth's The Little Death EP, which turned out to be the only great thing that band ever did.

    There's not a concept here, but the songs are nicely dark and mean, and the hooks are sharp and barbed. The time passes quickly, and I hit repeat. More times than I'd like to admit.

    An instant stunner. I wonder if the boys can keep this up for a full length. There were a couple spots that threatened to lag here, though the band stamped those out quickly enough. Whatever. If this is the best thing this band ever does, well, it's done good. Icon
    Goodbye God
    (Viper Bite)
    reviewed in issue #315, March 2010

    Twelve new songs. The same power pop formula, the same solid writing. What I like about these guys is that they manage to generate all sorts of whimsy, even while blistering the music and singing about any variety of downers.

    Oh, but are they being ironic? Lordy, lordy, I suppose. But that's what I mean by whimsy. These boys throw all sorts of noises (generally some sort of distorted electronic something) into the melodic riffola, and yet the songs remain criminally catchy.

    Indeed, the best pop is stuff that is much deeper than it sounds on first listen. Papers the Operator qualifies easily. The other important thing with pop is to know when to end songs. These aren't seven-minute symphonies. They're three-minute passing thoughts. Passing thoughts with much deeper meanings, of course.

    So now I've heard eighteen songs from these guys, and I have yet to feel let down. Quite the opposite, really. I'm beginning to think these boys are really onto something good.

    Paradise Lost
    As I Die CD5
    (Metal Blade)
    reviewed in issue #37, 7/31/93

    Only one new track, really. They redo "Death Walks Behind You" and a live version of "Eternal" is included.

    Fairly commercial death-doom. Like their last album: solid and unspectacular. The new track, "Rape of Virtue" reminds me a lot of latter day Slayer. Make of that what you will.

    Perhaps a new album will draw them out of these doldrums. After all, the Benediction EP was pretty dreary, and their new album still drains my ears.

    (Metal Blade)
    reviewed in issue #41, 10/15/93

    Let me say first off that this album should be the biggest thing to ever some out of the death metal community. It's not a death metal album by any stretch of the imagination, but at one time...

    At one time I think these boys might have called a sound like this something akin to sell-out. I won't, because I think such terms are sorta silly. What we have here is a merging of latter-day White Zombie bombast with a few touches of that doom thing that has been coming back strong.

    As tightly produced as any Bon Jovi album, this thing has massive commercial appeal. I see lots of Beavis and Butthead appearances and big sales. By the time they figure out where they are, Paradise Lost will never be able to claw themselves back to the underground.

    Our loss is AOR's gain.

    Draconian Times
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #1, 2/19/96

    As someone recently said to me, "No one is doing this stuff except for My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. And I can't listen to Paradise Lost these days."

    Well, this album sounds a lot more like Type O Negative than My Dying Bride (and Type O actually goes for that "over the top" feel). Goth metal lite. Damn, I remember when this band was fucking great.

    I can't even tell what Paradise Lost is going for here. A few nods to the old doom standard, and some steps toward 90s power metal (White Zombie, anyone?). Hell, you can't tell me that "The Last Time" isn't a goth pop tune with excessive guitars. Not a bad idea, mind you. The band simply doesn't execute, butchering whatever good ideas might have been behind the songs. A few years back, Paradise Lost helped establish one of the coolest sounds in music. I don't know where Draconian Times is going.

    I know, I gave this an "average" review. I've gotta be fair. I put Paradise Lost up to a high standard. This is well below that, but certainly a better effort than at least half the bands out there. Any old Paradise Lost fan will be disappointed, but folks who dig Morbid Angel, Type O or stuff like that might be rather pleased.

    One Second
    (Music for Nations-Silvertone)
    reviewed in issue #142, 9/1/97

    With every Paradise Lost comes the mention of Gothic, which really did set the table for (better) bands like My Dying Bride and Edge of Sanity. Since then, Paradise Lost has been confused. Is it a metal band? A gothic pop band? A cheesy parody of either or both?

    The albums have been pretty, but not terribly interesting. Lots of lush, overpowering chords and excessively ponderous arrangements. Nothing to move the sound along, nothing to make me take any notice.

    Well, One Second is certainly a departure. It's the best Sisters of Mercy album I've heard this decade. Not that that's terribly bad or anything, but there's no way this can be considered a return to trendsetting form. First, this sound is fucking huge, both in the States and Europe. I mean, if the Bennigan's in St. Petersburg, Florida can sustain a goth night, then it has to be a serious trend.

    And this music is more interesting than anything off the last couple PL albums. It's not original or innovative, but at least there is a sense of wryness that has been missing. A Paradise Lost album I might revisit from time to time, which is certainly better than anything released in recent years. A special note: For those who care, the bonus track is a Smiths cover.

    Patrons of the Dark
    (Grind Core)
    reviewed in issue #36, 6/30/93

    I can't explain why, but I really like this album. It could be the sparse production. It kinda reminds me of Pungent Stench, though not quite that accomplished.

    For some reason I couldn't skip through this album or cut it off. I still marvel at that, because there isn't anything really startling or original. It just simply clicks with my brain.

    Sometimes, I guess, it's better not to analyze something too much, but just enjoy the ride.

    Exhumed of the Earth
    reviewed in issue #67, 11/30/94

    Or an orchestral death take on the Gospel. Jesus is born: "The uterine contractions are a source of pain/ The agonising passage through cervix dilating". Jesus is betrayed by Judas: "The traitor's kiss of love/ Was active malignity". Jesus arises: "There were strips of cloth/ Garments of death/ But no bodily remains".

    As it turns out, every lyric is a paraphrase of a particular Bible verse (duly noted in the liners). Of course, the real nut is the music.

    Paramaecium do a nice take on the current death/doom trend. The music is heavy, alternately grinding and melodic. While the songs last up to 17 minutes, nothing gets boring.

    While not quite in the My Dying Bride or Anathema league, Paramaecium has talent and can put together great tunes. An enjoyable disc from beginning to end.

    Hang Up 7"
    reviewed in issue #129, 3/3/97

    Awfully pop punk stuff. The Parasites craft cloying melodies and even sillier lyrics. I sure feel stupid for bouncing about a bit while listening, though I know that after a couple more listens I'll be sick of the stuff.

    And that's the real problem. The Parasites write throwaway stuff, and I'm not one for excessive sweets. Some people I know can eat a whole cherry pie at one sitting and be raring to go. Me? I get constipated.

    Good enough for what they do, the Parasites crank out three light-as-air pop tunes here. Nothing more and nothing less.

    reviewed in issue #197, 3/27/00

    Something of a career retrospective, with a few new songs and some old ones "substantially remixed." The one thing that shines through is the band's ability to crank out some sweet hooks.

    These boys sure do know how to work that pop punk thing. There's enough character to give the sound a face and enough power to keep the punksters interested.

    Eighteen whole songs, too, and most of them are pretty durned good. Oh, there's a couple that I might have left off, but I guess if you're trying to be something of a completist then you've gotta have a little of everything. I won't question that stuff.

    Is there anything past a good time here? Probably not. But why worry? Just kick back, sing along if you like and generally let the stuff wash over you. A smile will develop, I promise.

    Paris Combo
    Paris Combo
    reviewed in issue #171, 11/9/98

    It's kinda hard to resist a sultry-voice woman singing about l'amour in French (Is there any other language with l'amour? Dunno). And instead of wallowing in smoky lounge crap, Paris Combo draws from all the influences of the city, with Gypsy, Spanish, Mediterranean and jazz bits popping up here and there. Think of a wide-ranging, kitsch-less new jack swing band.

    Sung in French. I can't really get over that. While French itself isn't nearly as romantic a language as some folks think, French singing is right up there. Makes me melt. And, of course, as the music is similarly entrancing, the disc just keeps impressing.

    The trick to any seduction is to keep the mood serious, yet playful. Paris Combo knows this, and so it never settles for a simple, smoky sound. Nope, there's lots of lighter moments pitched in here as well, all at the right times. Keeping the mood just right.

    Not really "world music", but just a superior European vision of a current American trend. Oh, I doubt the band gave any thought to such things, but since it's here, I've got to make references where I can. In any case, this is a wonderfully invigorating album.

    Parlor James
    Dreadful Sorry EP
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #8, 8/26/96

    Most of the time, this act is Ryan Hedgecock (once of Lone Justice) and Amy Allison (who I recognized from the Silos' RCA album, but also led the Maudlins and sang backup for They Might Be Giants and other folks). Six folky, kinda clunky songs.

    A little overdramatic, considering the base of the material. The lyrics are kinda silly, and the music just doesn't quite support the strangeness it contrives. Now, whoever is slotting emphasis tracks obviously knows what's what. Because "Snow Dove" and "Cheater's World" are easily the best songs on the EP. The rest quickly approaches filler.

    If Allison and Hedgecock can work more songs like "Snow Dove" into their album, then Parlor James just might have quite a future. And I know, EP releases like this are no way to judge a forthcoming album. So I look forward to a full-length, hoping for the best.

    The Parlotones
    A World Next Door to Yours
    (Sovereign Entertainment)
    reviewed in issue #305, March 2009

    Britpoppers who, well, like to britpop. Throbbing tunes with all the quirks and creaks that seem to be required over the pond. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I like my music interesting.

    The Parlotones crank out one punchy tune after another, backing it up with a thick production sound and the aforementioned squiggles. Every song seems to have at least one head-scratching sound.

    That could be distracting, but the hooks here are too tight. The Parlotones play things just enough off-the-cuff to erase the lines of craft, thus walking the tightrope almost perfectly.

    In the end, there's only one question: Did I have a good time, all the time? Yes. Everything after that is commentary. Useless commentary, at that.

    Hives Fives EP
    (Temporary Residence)
    reviewed in issue #263, April 2005

    Tim Furnish (The For Carnation, Aerial M, Crain) is still the main force, but this time out he's put together a seven-piece and he keeps the sound decidedly in "the real."

    The funny thing is that the absence of major electronic appliances doesn't change the sound all that much. These songs are still playfully orchestral, with the sense of mirth and wonder that often inhabits Furnish's work.

    Four songs are certainly not enough. But that's what we have right now. Another day, perhaps another Parlour album. Until then, we'll have to make do with this brief packet of bliss.

    (Temporary Residence)
    reviewed in issue #321, October 2010

    In the end, there's only one way to (instrumental) rock: Be bold. Parlour plays lengthy pieces with absolute confidence and conviction. The melodies are generally synth-driven, with the guitars providing most of the rhythm work. The band is a solid unit, and it fills out these songs well. Compelling stuff from a band that hasn't been heard from lately.

    Parlour Steps
    The Hidden Names
    (Nine Mile)
    reviewed in issue #311, October 2009

    Another Vancouver collective that makes intricate, infectious, affected pop. Another Vancouver collective that does it really damned well.

    Maybe it's the water. Maybe it's the impending Winter Olympics. Or maybe it's just a trick of geography. I'm not too worried. When the stuff is good, it's good. And in the case of Parlour Steps, it's great.

    The sound is more acoustic and intimate than most bands who try this sound. I think that's an ambitious take; it certainly requires much more nuanced performances. You can hide a fair amount behind a solid electric guitar riff. Vibes don't shield nearly so much. But this restrained approach allows the songs to bloom superlatively.

    Imagine the Wedding Present as a Canadian (mostly) acoustic pop band. Add a few twists and you're here. This second outing is a step forward from the first (which was hardly a slouch). Great things are in the offing.

    Parlour Tricks
    Parlour Tricks
    reviewed in issue #344, 1/21/13

    Formerly Death Becomes Even the Maiden, the rechristened Parlour Tricks still cranks out indie rock with sharp edges. The melodies have steely underpinnings, and the general effect is one of precision. That's cool by me.

    The Parson Red Heads
    Blurred Harmony
    (Fluff and Gravy)
    reviewed 7/17/17

    Every day, it seems like the 70s come into vogue more and more. Movies, novels, TV shows, music, you name it. And with a certain someone in the White House, I imagine "louche" will be the word of the year for 2017. Stepping into this atmosphere is the Parson Red Heads, which has refined its sound into near pitch-perfect splendor.

    A wonderful amalgam of the Byrds, Big Star and Gram Parsons, from the first note this album transports listeners to 1973. Maybe 1974, before Nixon's resignation. A feeling of looseness in the limbs, the very fabric of society slowly fraying. The Jayhawks have approached this feel at times, particularly on Sound of Lies, but where those Minneapolis boys eventually turned the sound sour, this Portland outfit keeps its sunny side up.

    There is joy in dissolution. I suppose one way to handle the destruction of our way of life is to simply smile, take a hit, harmonize a bit and then smile some more. These songs aren't sunny days; they're smoggy sunsets. But they do wrap up the ears in a fuzzy blanket.

    Where I live, we've got mobilization squads and kids ditching school to march in the streets. I saw one guy walking in a march wearing a Target (or some other mass-retailer) reprint of an Evil Empire shirt. Kinda undercut the protest, but I dig the energy anyway. The Parson Red Heads put their energy into simply getting by. And sometimes getting by is the greatest thing a person can do.

    The Partisans
    So Neat CD5
    reviewed in issue #220, 8/13/01

    Three songs in the style of the Clash--and not the same period of the Clash at that. "So Neat," the title track (if that's what it is), is a bit more ragged. "Classified Info" would fit in better with the more melodic later Clash, and "Hysteria" drops into some of the more experimental stuff from the end of the line.

    In general, the songs are solidly written, and they don't ape the Clash so much as evoke the mood. In particular, "Hysteria" helps to define the Partisans on their own terms. It's a first class piece of work.

    And the set as a whole is good. I hear lots of potential. The guys just have to work out all the details.

    Jonah Parzen-Johnson
    I Try to Remember Where I Come From
    (Clean Feed)
    reviewed 8/14/17

    If you think you've heard something like Jonah Parzen-Johnson, you're wrong. You haven't. And don't argue with me.

    Parzen-Johnson plays the baritone saxophone. Which is unusual enough. The bari sax is not used much in jazz, and it typically mimics the tuba and/or bassoon lines in high school bands. You've probably heard Steve Berlin on Los Lobos albums, but there aren't a lot of other mainstream examples. I think the bari sax is one of the coolest sounding instruments around, but it has definitely gotten the short shrift from "serious" musicians over the years.

    Not only does Parzen-Johnson play a bastard child of an instrument, he plays it in a very unusual way. Using circular breathing, he keeps the sound going at all times. On this album, he augments the sax with synthesizer components that he plays while playing the sax. According to the notes, this album was recorded with no overdubs. If that's true (and I have no reason to doubt), then this is an amazing technical accomplishment.

    But wizardry only takes one so far. Parzen-Johnson's pieces are stunning. He sets a scene and then tells a story within each work. And while the circular breathing and synthesizer elements can lead to something of a drone-line effect at times, this is an album that emphasizes movement and melody above everything else. He makes reference to "advanced saxophone techniques" in the notes, and he's not kidding. Often, he is getting two tones at once out of his sax. But the magic is in the works themselves, which are mesmerizing and engaging.

    So, yeah. This is a singular effort. And it is one of the most captivating albums of the yeah. You have not heard anything like Parzen-Johnson before, but you'll walk away wanting to hear a lot more.

    reviewed in issue #49, 2/28/94

    So you're jamming the Circle of Dust and wondering what R.E.X. is sending you next? Be on the lookout for PASSAFIST.

    This is also from the industrial side, although certainly more loopy than CoD. The beats are a little more club-oriented, though the guitars are prevalent and this is one aggressive band.

    The songs are rather catchy and textured. The Caruso brothers et. al. manage to cram a lot into their music. The production is just the slightest bit sloppy, taking just the brightest sheen off and giving this album an almost live feel. It sounds great.

    If you got into the Vampire Rodents or some of the other Reconstriction stuff, PASSAFIST should more than satisfy. This is one cool disc.

    The Pasties
    reviewed in issue #225, January 2002

    Ooooh la la la! The disc starts off breathless, but this is no mere sonic rush of candy-coated pop. Rather, the Pasties have one hell of a come on, and they back that up with gorgeously-crafted pop gems. I shoulda known: The band thanks Jonathan Spottiswoode, one of the finest purveyors of twisted pop going these days.

    The glitter on this disc is painted on by masters, not by some shaky Mary Kay representative. Garish at times, but that's the intent. I haven't heard a pop album this crafted--and this well-made, for that matter--in quite a while. The Pasties switch moods like Britney swaps Swatches, but there's always a reason. Every move makes sense.

    And the real beauty is that I don't have to think about it. Sure, on an intellectual level I can appreciate the fine application of theory and hard work. But there's no need. This album succeeds admirably on an emotional level. It connects. Completely.

    And when it comes right down to it, that's the final test for an album like this. Does it work? Does it elicit all of the feelings that it is calculated to produce? And does it create new tangents of thought?


    The Day We Let Go
    reviewed in issue #216, 5/14/01

    A long time ago, back in 1988 or something, I smelled patchouli for the first time. One of my good friends was wearing it. I didn't know that it was a perfume or anything like that, so I started going off about how it smelled like some cat pissed or something. My friend was good enough not to scream at me. A while later, someone else explained the situation to me. I felt bad, though not bad enough to apologize. I'm a jerk that way.

    The reason I tell this story is that I still think patchouli smells like cat piss. So a duo that has not only decided to name their band after this scent but also taken the scent as their collective last name probably plays music I won't like. But that's not the case. I just wanted you to understand my natural initial aversion.

    Bruce and Julie Patchouli play folk music, mostly with acoustic guitar accompaniment. There are, however a few other interesting pieces in the arrangements, and Patchouli takes great care to avoid dropping into the whiny or simply meandering sound that can plague a lot of lazy folk singers.

    These folks aren't lazy. And the songs on this album are anything but muddled. The craft and care exhibited is impressive, and the performances are understated but still quite intense. Patchouli doesn't take any shortcuts, and a quality album like this is the result.

    Path of Resistance
    Path of Resistance
    reviewed in issue #147, 11/10/97

    Something of an Earth Crisis side project, if I understood the note correctly. Certainly, the style is right along in that death metal-meets-hardcore sound that Earth Crisis does so well, but this disc sounds woefully underproduced, and the songs aren't terribly well-written, either.

    Certainly, the band is at its best when it keeps the mixture moving. Lots of the songs move along at a turgid page, though, and the writers often succumb to the "multiple sea-change" theory. There's just so reason to shift tempos and melodic idea three, four or even five times in one three-minute song.

    Straight edge extreme hardcore. Fascinating as a concept, I guess, but this execution doesn't work. Path of Resistance kicks out a few good songs ("Counter" chief among them), but most of the stuff is either over-written or underproduced. A real mess, which is really too bad.

    Deborah Patino
    (New Alliance)
    reviewed in issue #72, 3/15/95

    Spoken word from a survivor of the L.A. scene. You've probably never heard of her bands (Raszebrae, The Ringling Sisters and now Holy Water), but her stories sound very familiar.

    Patino writes prose poems, free-form observations on the condition of the nation-state of Los Angeles: The jaded realities of growing up in suburban Los Angeles, the nasty realities of trying to "make it", the sordid details of everyday life. Patino tries to cover it all, and she does quite well when she is speaking from the third person.

    I think her first person bits read very well, but she puts too much personal emphasis into them (I know, they're her stories, after all) to make them sound real. But overall, Patino paints accurate and moving portraits of some of the individuals she has passed by, makes all of us understand a little better why things are.

    Frankie Paul
    Live at Maritime Hall
    reviewed in issue #177, 2/22/99

    Dancehall reggae is one of those sorts of music which rarely translates well live. It's not quite like watching New Order "perform", but close. A lot of mechanical-sounding keyboards and drum machines, with the only outlets for human expression the vocals and bass line.

    Also the reason the stuff can sound so damned good on a studio recording. Frankie Paul has been at the game for ages, and one of his trademarks is a fairly soulful delivery. When the material is good, he can sound great, even live.

    But too many of the songs here are truncated medley versions or otherwise strangely arranged. His band is dreadfully stiff, and Paul seems to be struggling to find his groove.

    He's got a great voice (always has), but this disc really doesn't do him (or it) justice.

    Parker Paul
    Lemon-Lime Room
    (Jagjaguwar) reviewed in issue #192, 12/6/99

    If this was just Parker Paul playing the piano, I'd be entranced. He has a bright touch on the keys and an intriguing way of putting together his songs.

    But he sings, too! Most of the time he sings, anyway. Wry songs, full of pain and joy. Paul seems to enjoy poking fun at his personal foibles, and that only makes his work that much more endearing.

    A major label would clean up some of the sloppy play, and certainly, Paul would be encouraged to sing a bit more precisely. But that would remove a good chunk of the human element. Paul isn't perfect. You can hear that not only in his lyrics, but his performance as well.

    Astonishingly touching. The spell is woven quickly, and it's deadly. A couple minutes with Paul and all the rough edges melt into the whole. An amazing, beautiful journey into one man's soul.

    Patient Zero
    Seemingly So...
    reviewed in issue #268, September 2005

    Back in the "olden" days, we would have called this prog/hard rock/jam/whatever sort of pastiche "post metal" and been done with it. Patient Zero is a bit more melodic than, say, Mind Over Four, but we're still talking about the same ballpark.

    I didn't know anyone was still trying to play this kinda thing. But I'm glad these guys are. Anthemic prog licks are really cool, especially when combined with some real sonic pounding. I suppose some folks would just call this "post-grunge" and be done with it, but there is a lot more going on here.

    Not quite so whacked as Thought Industry (another great PM band), the keyboard and electronic elements are nonetheless similarly impressive. Patient Zero takes the time to create an atmosphere for each song, and then the piece progresses from that kernel of thought. It's a nice way to do things.

    I suppose the clearest touchpoint for these boys is another old band called Last Crack. The leaps of melodic fancy and overall heightened sense of drama are about the same. I still listen to my Last Crack albums nearly 15 years after they were recorded, and I think these boys have some staying power that way, too.

    Pattern Is Movement
    reviewed in issue #268, September 2005

    Lovely math-y stuff that always stays in motion, no matter how off-kilter. I particularly like the way the unusual melodic lines crash into the ever-shifting drumming. Cool effect.

    That sort of devotion to stomach-wrenching rhythms does make this album a bit difficult for the novice, but that's just the way it goes. Some folks have what it takes, and the others hurl over the side of the boat.

    Needless to say, the band picked out one hell of a name for itself. Pitch perfect, really. These songs evolve in unusual ways, but always according to some internal logic. One a piece is finished, I'm generally able to piece it together. Of course, I really like to do that sort of thing.

    Music that makes you think. Hey, some of us really dig it. And since it appears that thinking just might be coming back into style on a national basis, maybe these boys are getting this album out at just the right time. Um, right. Still, I'm impressed.. There are plenty of nooks here for my brain to hide a while.

    All Together
    reviewed in issue #294, March 2008

    Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward are two percussionist types who decided (some time ago) to make music together. Lots of rhythmic excursions via keyboards, bass or drums, generally coming together nicely by the end of the piece. I liked what I heard from these folks in the past, and this album doesn't trip up. Invigorating.

    Brandon Patton
    Should Confusion
    reviewed in issue #250, February 2004

    Patton has that "breathy vocals floating above neo-folk" sound down, even though Patton's conception of neo-folk is much more Beck than, say, Fairport Convention. And Patton isn't against letting loose and rocking out every now and again.

    I like those louder moments best. That's when Patton sounds most at ease and where he also finds a space he can call his own. Which is not to say that the folkier stuff sucks; it doesn't. In fact, it compares well to Nick Drake and his ilk. But it's been done, and I just keep hearing dead people.

    The production is impressive, making this album sound a lot fuller than your average one-man effort. Yeah, Patton has some help, but he does most of the heavy work here. Not that you could tell from the sound.

    Just a nice, comfy set of songs. Patton refuses to tie himself to any one sound or idea, and I like that sense of adventure. That he generally succeeds is even more impressive.

    Paul Newman
    Machine Is Not Broken
    (My Pal God)
    reviewed in issue #195, 2/14/00

    Along the same "hardcore filtered through Slint" sound that folks like Don Caballero do so well, Paul Newman (there is a member of the band by that name, though I think the name refers to the band and not him specifically) makes its mark with a double load (triple on one song) on the bass end.

    Yes, one guitar and two basses. The result is a bit of a mush in that low end, but boy, is this stuff anchored! These songs have no where to run.

    Which is not to say that they're turgid or at all slow-moving. On the contrary, Paul Newman keeps its songs in action just about all the time. There are moments where the disparate lines blend together for effect, but basically the pieces are allowed to percolate along at a good pace.

    I've never quite heard a sound like this. Reminds me a bit of Duotang (the Canadian duo that consists of bass, keyboards and drums), but mostly because of the heavy bass sound. Paul Newman charts its own musical course, and it is one of discovery, to be sure. The intensity never wavers, leading to an album of uncommon brilliance.

    Re-Issue! Re-Package! Re-Package! Re-Evaluate the Songs!
    (My Pal God)
    reviewed in issue #214, 4/2/01

    Um, ten songs that haven't appeared on a Paul Newman album before. A couple 7"s, an EP and some compilation appearances. All featuring the groovy electro-noise pop noodlings that made the band (semi) famous.

    I'd like to note here that Jon Solomon at MPG wrote "Aiding and Abetting" on the CD. I'm touched. I've never had a CD personalized for me before, and though I'd like to think that such a gesture wouldn't affect my appraisal of this disc, I'd be lying if I said that were true. So go out there and BUY this AWE-INSPIRING set from one of THE GREATEST BANDS in the history of the world. NOTHING ELSE YOU HEAR THIS YEAR will come even close to the EXPERIENCE of hearing this disc for yourself!

    All silliness aside (said silliness inspired by the manically eclectic musings on this disc), this is a fine set of totally unconnected songs performed by one of the more inventive bands around. I expected something cool, and that's what arrived. There is, indeed, greatness within.

    Pauls God
    Music to Make You Stop Hurting Me
    reviewed in issue #60, 8/15/94

    There's this wanky bass sound that I always hate. And the songs tend toward the anthemic, which I also take as an evil sign. Well, the singer can't seem to decide if he wants to be Eddie Vedder or Chris Cornell and the songs are kinda pretentious. Recipe for disaster.

    Which is why I cannot begin to fathom why Pauls God appeals to me. Maybe it's because the songs usually pull back right before cranking into full anthem form, or that the bass gets lost some of the time. The lyrics are still sorta silly, but after a couple of listens they become endearing.

    Pave the Rocket
    Taken In
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #151, 1/19/98

    Some good ol' midwestern boys take on the emo thing, slogging away like no tomorrow. And like the Regrets, the basic structure of each song is built upon stridently strummed two and three-string chords. Oh yeah, eventually the tunes get to a crashing chorus, but the focus is on the rhythm, an unyielding foundation which supports everything on top.

    Don't get me wrong; unlike a lot of emo bands, Pave the Rocket is into tearing the roof off its song. These puppies rock, like I haven't heard in a while. There's power in them thar tunes, I say.

    A welcome mutation in the emo gene. I've heard noise pop laid over the stuff, and Pave the Rocket slaps on some pure power pop. The band will probably end up more pop than punk, and if these songs are any indication, that's a great place for it to be.

    Not necessarily happy music, but this disc gives me farm fuzzies all over anyway. Highly technical stuff played with sheer abandon. A tough combination to master, but Pave the Rocket has proven it's up to the task. Well alright, then.

    Paved Country
    Deconstructing Paradise
    reviewed in issue #210, 1/8/01

    What is new grows old once again. The whole "alt country" thing, kick-started back in the late 80s by such bands as Uncle Tupelo and the Jayhawks, generally gets back to the first major country rock movement of the late 60s and early 70s.

    So it goes with Paved Country, which makes little pretense at making "modern" music and simply blasts away at the foundation laid down by the Byrds. Gorgeous harmonies, wry and insightful lyrics and the wonderful sound lead guitar supported by an organ.

    The trick, then, lies in the writing. And here Paved Country comes through in a most winning way. These are songs of wistful memories, wrenching heartbreak and the occasional serendipitous surprise. All delivered with the voices of wisdom earned the hard way.

    This album has timeless written all over it. Marjie Alonso and Sarah Mendelsohn have put together one of the best country rock bands I've heard. There's nothing shiny or ostentatious here. Just honest, hard-working tunes. Can't ask for more.

    Westing (by Musket and Sextant)
    (Drag City-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #33, 4/30/93

    I've been accused of hating Pavement. Not true, though I don't see them as the visionary messiahs who will lead us to the great alternative Ranch Apocalypse, either.

    As with any Pavement, your appreciation of the band increases with your dosage. As the only mushrooms I've had recently were barbecued, I'm in no condition to review this.

    They have been compared to the Velvet Underground, the Fall or both (really). They're the next...

    I don't know. This is a compilation of old stuff. Okay.

    Pawn Rook Four
    Songs for a Romantic Evening
    (Super 6)
    reviewed in issue #184, 7/5/99

    The bio notes "the public's current disinterest in pop-rock music", something which I've have to heartily dispute (it seems all I've been hearing for a year or two is such stuff). But nevertheless, the notion that this band knows what it's doing in that arena is dead on.

    In other words, the Pawn Rook Four can craft some fine hooks onto great riffage. Indeed, the guys have move range than your average eclectic pop outfit, utilizing a wide range of instrumentation and sound to create their pop symphonies.

    And, of course, always keeping it light. Which is always the trick with pop music, to make it intense enough to garner interest but light enough to keep the toes tapping. The Pawn Rook Four balances those needs impeccably.

    An all-around fine set. These boys deserve to get whatever attention comes their way. My ears are still begging for another hit.

    (Nemperor-Razor & Tie) reviewed in issue #178, 3/15/99

    There's a yellow sticker on the folder which held this disc. It reads: Warning! Contains sexually ambivalent lyrics. I knew right then this should at least be interesting. Turned out to be much more than that.

    Paxton is the singer and the main songwriter. It is also the name of the band. They are separate entities, sort of. But why get caught up in group dynamics? This is a music review.

    Self-conscious pop, with some great lyrical twists and turns. "Johnny and Joe" is a very cool reworking of "Jack and Diane", and throughout the disc the band is good enough to toss in just as many musical references as Paxton does with his lyrics.

    Idiosyncratic to a fault (there are a couple really tortured songs here), but even the real messes are quite intriguing. For the most part, Paxton manages to make his points even while kicking out some fine, textured pop. A singular vision, one that must be heard in its entirety.

    Ginger's Dish EP
    reviewed in issue #193, 12/20/99

    The wit has grown even more sardonic, and the tunesmithing just a bit sharper. Paxton plays a deceptively mainstream pop game. The music is tightly-wound, the sort of thing the big boys would like. But then come the lyrics and the whole charade comes tumbling down.

    Which is how everyone wants it, I think. Sometimes the intent seems more mean than wry, but again, I more than sympathize. I mean, that's kinda how I feel much of the time. Maybe I just identify with this stuff a bit too much. Maybe it's just great.

    Probably both. This is the sorta thing you could play at an office party, at least until a line like "If I shoot you would your head hit the ground?" comes along. That's when you break out the big-ass smile.

    The Payola Reserve
    One Long Apology
    reviewed in issue #273, April 2006

    Have I ever mentioned how much I like Baltimore? It's right up there with Detroit. Really. I love those places. In any case, the Payola Reserve hails from the city that reads, and the folks have a heady mix of garage sensibilities and crafted songs that is almost criminal.

    To play such delicate pieces with the raucous abandon I hear here is astounding. I know, a lot of that has to do with the production...but what counts is what I hear on the disc. And I hear something I haven't heard before.

    The songs themselves are dense pockets of thought, but the enthusiastic readings (particularly on the slower songs) keep the top layer simple. Further listens will allow more of the sound to make itself known. But on all levels, these songs are impressive.

    Some bands sound like they've been making good music forever. I hope the Payola Reserve lasts at least that long.

    The PB Army
    Inebriates, Equivocators and Mockers of the Devil Himself
    (Sin Klub)
    reviewed in issue #242, June 2003

    Sin Klub has been chronicling the hard rock scene of the eastern Midwest (how's that for a geographic region?) for a long time. The PB Army is once of the coolest bands I've heard from these folks.

    Cheese metal of the highest order, this stuff is loud and catchy. The songs are full of some of the most amusing wit I've heard in a while. And the punk-meets-glam metal guitar riffs are just outstanding. This stuff doesn't stand still for a second.

    Imagine if Agony Column hooked up with Hanoi Rocks and then listened to a lot of Black Flag. Perhaps that combo is a bit too obtuse. No matter. Just know that heavy rock, glam and hardcore are present here, and they mix together in the most sublime ways.

    Sure, this probably qualifies as a guilty pleasure. Still, I can't help but be impressed by how catchy these songs are. Heavy music isn't supposed to produce hook after hook. But that's what's here, and I'm not complaining.

    (Digital Dimension)
    reviewed in issue #181, 5/3/99

    Europeans playing that American glam metal thing. Which means there's a bit of a different rub. Just enough to be quite cool.

    Listen; this is the stuff I grew up on, alright? I go back and listen, and sometimes I cringe. Most of the time, though, I don't. The funny thing is, I really can't come up with a reference here. The vocals are overdubbed into harmonies (kinda like Bon Jovi, though not nearly so much so), and the music itself is like a much more inspired Yngwie Malmsteen style.

    Sing-along choruses and virtuoso (but not annoying) guitar solos. The keyboards are a definite European touch. This is somewhere between Accept and Tesla's first album, I guess. But with a whole new modern feel. I mean, I haven't heard something like this in ages, and I quite like it.

    Everything comes back again eventually, and sometimes it comes back better. PC69 has the sound down, and it also does a great job of finding new niches. I'm in a rush right now, and that is always a good thing.

    Peach of Immortality
    Talking Heads '77
    (Fifth Colvmn)
    reviewed in issue #111, 6/10/96

    Seventy-five minutes of noise noodlings, with Jared of Chemlab and a couple other friends. If you don't like this sort of thing, proceed to the next review.

    Dedicated fans only, please. A lot of the noise is centered around a guitar, with lots of effects and distortion flying about in the midst of an unsettling silence. Quite honestly, most of you could make a good portion of this record by sitting down with a guitar and fucking around.

    There is the other thirty percent or so which requires some other musical and recording talent (and probably some sort of chemical imbalance), and that kicks this over the edge into quality music stuff. No, your average Jane will run screaming. That's just what we want.

    If most of the world came to believe this stuff was good music, then the musical pioneers would be folks like Richard Marx. You know, I only think of stupid things like that when listening to this sort of music. Inspirational or insipid, you decide.

    Alice Peacock
    Love Remains
    reviewed in issue #305, March 2009

    In contrast to Kate Mann (reviewed above), Alice Peacock is a country singer who belts. She sings better than she belts, and luckily for everyone involved, she sings most of the time.

    This sharply-produced album (done up in Nashville, even) is polished within an inch of its life. But Peacock has a good feel for the material (hers, either entirely or co-written) and delivers a solid performance.

    The "big-time" production does leave the music sounding a bit generic, but by and large the sound stays in the general americana range. There aren't any Mutt Lange moments here.

    Rather, Peacock tends to her songs well. I wish she'd have left a bit more room for herself in the sound, but that's not how you get the big deal. That's the way of life. You sacrifice a piece of yourself in order to get a bit more attention. If you do it right (the way Peacock has done here), you're left with something worth hearing.

    The Pedaljets
    The Pedaljets
    reviewed in issue #297, June 2008

    The press sticker overstates the Pedaljets place in history just a bit. The band that inspired Uncle Tupelo? Influenced, sure. Befriended...might well be. I saw the Pedaljets once when I was at Missouri. They were damn good, one of the best regional bands of the mid 80s. And they went away right when things seemed to be getting good.

    This album is a re-recording of the band's second effort. Some of the original tracks from that 1989 album are still here, but most of this is new. I don't have a copy of that earlier version, but my memory is that it was rougher. Had to be, really. Everything indie in those days was pretty much hack and slash.

    As for the style, Uncle Tupelo is not the correct reference. "The Toup" stirred itself a Minneapolis cocktail that was equal parts Jayhawks and 'Mats. The Pedaljets remained firmly in Westerbergian and Stinsonian territory, though they had (and have) the ability to craft gorgeous songs without sounding forced.

    This is a stylish remake. The songwriting is definitely 1989, but the modern production brings out the band's many influences. This is a very strange sort of project, but the results don't lie. If this album wasn't already a classic, it sure is now.

    Jack Pedler
    Fairyland It Ain't
    reviewed in issue #173, 12/14/98

    Fuzzed out sludge rock. Stuff that moves, though, so maybe we can call that thin sludge. Or something. Imagine an AmRep band with uptempo songs and slick production. You know what I mean.

    I'm not entirely sold. I like the sound, actually, but Pedler has a way of killing any positive motion in songs. He kills the grooves. Like he's hunting them down and has to obliterate them one by one. Almost inexplicable.

    Maybe he's making a point with this carnage. I can't make it out if he is. The songs sound like clunkers from where I'm sitting. Pedler is really pissed off about a lot of things, but he doesn't have to wreck decent tuneage to get that idea across.

    Search me. This one just doesn't make sense. That happens.

    You, Me & Everyone
    reviewed in issue #291, November 2007

    Pedro is James Rutledge. And James Rutledge likes to take criminally thrilling beats and infuse them with all sorts of flavor.

    There's the general electronic flavor, the trippy rock flavor, the big beat flavor, the prog and pals flavor and more. Best of all, Rutledge doesn't confine himself to just one flavor per song. These pieces explode with a full variety of forceful and subtle sounds.

    The overall sound is electronic. Rutledge leaves no doubt that these pieces are assembled. And I think that works. Some folks prefer a more organic feel, but Rutledge goes on so many extreme flights of fancy that he really can't hide where he's coming from.

    Where he's coming from, of course, is the realm of musical polymath. There are so many ideas burbling around on this disc that only an inspired writer and master craftsman could slot them together in any sort of coherent context. Rutledge does better than that. He makes these songs sing.

    Pee Shy
    Who Let All the Monkeys Out
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #7, 7/29/96

    Cindy Wheeler and Jenny Juristo have been cruising the Tampa scene for as long as I've been born (a bit of an overstatement, but not by much). After decades of trying, they land a big score and get a recording contract.

    I got an advance for this about four months ago, and the tape was dreadful. The mix was terrible, and everything sounded completely out of tune. The disc rectifies some of those problems, but we're still stuck with Juristo and Wheeler's rambling, atonal, sing-song melodies (and out-of-tune accordion and clarinet licks). After about three minutes, this stuff gets terribly annoying.

    While it may be cool these days to be a completely untalented musician who can whip catchy pop tunes out of your ass, Pee Shy gets all that mixed up. Wheeler and Juristo are fairly competent musicians who are playing like amateurs because that's the style. And these songs aren't anything like pop gems. Stuff like "Jason, I Thought I Saw a UFO" have certain novelty appeal, but not much more.

    The word that keeps popping up is "dreary". Each song sounds a lot like the one that preceded it, except worse. I've never been impressed by folks who work this hard to be "alternative".

    The Peels
    The Peels
    (Dim Mak)
    reviewed in issue #262, March 2005

    The press makes reference to a big pile of great albums by bands that happen to be fronted by women. Kinda pretentious and limiting at the same time. Though, I have to admit, there is something to all that, particularly the Pretenders reference.

    This is edgy, punk-influenced rock. The guitars have a metallic sound (the Peels do want major exposure, after all), but the chord changes and song structures are still nicely punk. References to X aren't exactly off-target, either.

    But the Peels is its own band. These songs aren't derivative of anyone, and Robyn Miller has her own distinctive growl (somewhere between Chrissie Hynde and Ann Wilson). This album starts out with a bang and just gets louder and more insistent.

    That's what I like. That whole "take no prisoners" thing. The Peels are on a mission, and that mission is to rock. Period. Anything else that comes along is gravy. Let the riffage burn your brain and see how things develop from there.

    (1/4 Stick-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #42, 10/31/93

    Many folks I know refer to this as post-Naked Raygun, but that's just not fair. There is more than one member of this band, and only John Haggerty was in that band. Sure, there is this Chicago post-hard core sound roaming around, and sure, it sounds wonderful, but that characterization simply isn't true.

    A friend of mine speaks of these folk in almost reverential terms. I forget where he saw them, but it served as religious services, or something like that.

    Only four songs, and all four are very nice. Great, even. I love the sound Haggerty has gotten on his guitar. Just rough enough to tickle. Good description of the ep, really.

    (1/4 Stick-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #64, 10/15/94

    Anyone else remember when the only pop-punk band really active was Naked Raygun? Hell, it was only eight years ago. Then Bad Religion came back and Bret Gurewitz really got Epitaph going and then the whole Southern California thing… Well, soon there was plenty of company, and the original core of Naked Raygun had split.

    Thus the first Pegboy EP, then album, four and three years ago, respectively. Perfectly stunning, winning over a ton of NR fans and many more. Reverential screeds plastered all over the world waiting for the next album.

    After two years came the four tracks on Fore. Great tunes, where was the album?

    Here it is, and it recalls Naked Raygun in full fury, and then some. John Haggerty and friends really should record some more. Three chords never sounded so good. No one could hope to do it better. Hopefully things won't take so long next time.

    split 7" (with Kepone)
    (1/4 Stick)
    reviewed in issue #117, 8/26/96

    Kepone kicks off with "The Ghost", an amazingly powerful tune. The groove builds from the start and never quits until the tune flies out in a blaze of glory. More captivating than most of the last album, and one of the better songs I've heard all year. A real crowdpleaser.

    Not to be outdone, Pegboy counters with "Dangermare". Still riding that "smells like rotting flesh, tastes like Naked Raygun" style that has worked all these years, Larry and the boys are simply having fun, destroying eardrums along the way.

    A truly inspired pairing, and the bands pull it off with aplomb. Fans of the bands: this is a must! And if you have any pretensions of being a real punk fan, well, you'd better not miss out, either.

    Cha Cha Da More
    (Quarterstick-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #144 (9/29/97)

    About fuckin' time, really. I've seen Pegboy twice since the last album, and I was beginning to wonder just what the hell was going on. Starting to sweat a serious jones for some new monster thick Chicago punk.

    And that single with Kepone? Excellent (The awe-inspiring "Dangermare" is included here), but not nearly enough. And so I prepare myself for greatness, relegating all abandon to some black pit in the back of my mind.

    It's Pegboy, and that's all I wanted to hear. Three chord monte all the way, complete with Larry's trademark howl. Yeah, there's no music progression or anything, but who the fuck wants Pegboy to change, anyway? This is awesome adrenaline-thrashing music that only gets better when you crank it past the limits of your speakers.

    So I'm a completely unobjective fan. If you gotta problem with that, go talk to someone who loved the new U2 album. Get outta my face before I shove your nose into your brain.

    I'm not fucking around here.

    Francois Peglau
    The Imminent Failure of Francois Peglau
    (A Tutipien)
    reviewed in issue #326, April 2011

    A guy named Francois who hails from Peru and now lives in London. Well, that explains just about everything.

    Oh,and his voice can be a dead ringer for John Lennon's. The oft-disjointed nature of the songs is a bit reminiscent of the Plastic Ono Band, though the sounds are quite up-to-date.

    I'll say this: If you can write a song as witty and brutal as "I'll Never be Alain Delon," you can sound like whatever you like. Peglau's true talent lies in the tunes (writing and arranging) rather than the vocals, but the strange Liverpudlian aftertones aren't offputting.

    An intriguing set. I have no idea if Peglau can keep up the excellence of this first effort, but I can't wait to hear if he does.

    Learning Curve
    reviewed in issue #232, August 2002

    Some thirty-odd years ago the 13th Floor Elevators roared out of Texas on a psychedelic blues rock spaceship. Roky Erickson is now revered as a saint (albeit a twisted one), but I've always wondered why more bands didn't really try to ply those fertile waters.

    Peglegasus does. The lyrics and music are somewhat more coherent, but I'd say the intent is similar. These songs blaze through the same territory, and they shimmer almost as brightly.

    In truth, the great thing about this album is the sound. The mix is just a bit muddy, and that goo allows the complex and pretty songs to come together just enough to make sense.

    Great guitar-driven pop that takes the best of the Erickson ideal and adds in a few fine modern touches. Peglegasus makes music that sounds way too easy. Most impressive that way.

    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #79, 6/30/95

    As in D.H. from DK, though eschewing the drums for guitar now. Mostly extremely fast hardcore, with an oddly pop rendition of "King of the Road" thrown in for no apparent reason.

    The tracks average about two minutes per, and I really couldn't handle much more. Even when Peligro comes up with an interesting musical idea (like on the metallic "Hellations from Hell"), the lyrics so retarded I try to laugh. But can't.

    I wasn't expecting much, but this is definitely worse than that. Perhaps I can dig this as a joke, but I really don't think it is one.

    Axel Rudi Pell
    The Ballads
    reviewed in issue #201, 6/26/00

    I had a bad feeling when I first saw this puppy. While not astonished at the success of Monster Ballads, even when I was a big glam metal fan I didn't really dig the slow stuff. Alright, there was a two-year fixation on "Silent Night" back when I was 15. Maybe that got the stuff out of my system.

    Anyway, Axel Rudi Pell has a knack for cranking out astonishingly formulaic ballads, stuff that Warrant wouldn't even consider recording. The lyrics are dreadful (repeated references to such tired themes as "the sad man," "starry eyes," etc.) and the music is turgid and mechanical.

    I see that this album did well enough when it was released back in 1993 to warrant a The Ballads II. Maybe it's a niche thing. This collection just isn't that good.

    Oceans of Time
    reviewed in issue #202, 7/17/00

    I always got a certain feeling while listening to Yngwie Malmsteen records. It was like he was toning down his playing to accommodate a singer, but in any case the vocals just made the music worse. And in any case, who cares if you're a great guitar player if your skill is almost all technical, without any touch?

    Pell wields his axe like the metal god he wants to be, but his songs generally aren't that inspired. This is second-tier Eurometal. Oh, it's loads better than that Ballads collection I reviewed in the last issue. But it's also in the same as the Saxon album. Decent, accomplished, but not that interesting.

    Part of that is the almost slavish devotion to tales of swords and sorcery, and not particularly inspiring ones at that. The music is solid, but thin. There's nothing past the surface. The best Eurometal bands know how to build depth. Pell doesn't appear to be able to do that.

    Acceptable, but not exciting. I suppose if I was really, really in need of a Eurometal fix (and didn't have a nice backlog of stuff lying around), I might give this a few spins. But that's about it.

    The Masquerade Ball
    reviewed in issue #203, 8/7/00

    The latest effort from this guitar monster. This one packs a much harder punch and heads more into the gothic side of Eurometal. Moving more from Malmsteen toward late-era Edge of Sanity.

    Johnny Gioelli's raspy vocals are vaguely reminiscent of Klaus Meine, and to further the comparison, the songs are constructed much more simply than before. That's a good thing.

    The problem is that the songs are still really, really long. A song like "Voodoo Nights" (which really does sound like 1982-era Scorps) should have clocked in at four minutes, max. It's five and a half. Pell needed the time for another solo and another run at the chorus.

    As far as I'm concerned, this is another improvement. Pell could use an editor, but he seems to have found some fire on this disc. Maybe he's finally figured out how to connect.

    Pell Mell
    reviewed in issue #9, 3/15/92

    While the cover and artwork looks like it was done by a rather confused magazine major who has just discovered sans-serif type, the music inside is anything but lost. Nor is it sterile, another concern of mine after seeing the cover. No, just rocking instrumentals, in somewhat the same vein as Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, although these songs are longer.

    Would it be an insult to call this pleasant music? I don't know. It just sounds so wonderful. Something inside me wants to reach out and hug the disc.

    I know, I'm getting weird here, but the MD at KCOU who reviewed this for format said much the same thing. This is good (let's just say great) music. And that makes me very happy.

    Penal Colony
    5 Man Job
    reviewed in issue #71, 2/28/95

    Mixed by such luminaires as FLA, T*H*D, Psychic TV, Spahn Ranch and Leaether Strip, the second disc from Penal Colony does have a nice schizophrenic appeal.

    The base ideas for each song come from various movie and other spoken word samples, sparse industrial beats and the occasional guitar and keys. Each of the mixing agencies gives the songs different feelings (compare the FLA and Spahn Ranch versions of "Blue 9", for example).

    At times a hint of gothic blackness creeps into the overall feel, but the music stays firmly in the experimental industrial warehouse. A fine second by folks who refuse to take the easy road.

    Unknown Road
    reviewed in issue #54, 5/15/94

    Their first album was quickly recognized as genius at the station where I used to work. And here again are fast and tight hardcore pop tunes.

    The references to the No Control/Against the Grain - era Bad Religion sound are obvious, but I'm certainly not going to complain. And adding to that wonderful core is a distinct Pennywise sense of irony and approach to melody.

    Perhaps the brightest new light in pop punk around (up there with the Offspring, anyway), Pennywise have made the grade with their second album. Highly crankable.

    About Time
    reviewed in issue #81, 7/31/95

    Along with NOFX, Pennywise shares the title of "Ultimate Epitaph band". Catchy choruses, ripping riffs and hacking attacks on what passes for society today. And you still leave with a smile on your face.

    Yeah, this is the music that made Epitaph the "cool" label for mainstream types who still dug the occasional pop-punk foray. And with its third release, Pennywise proves the end is nowhere in sight.

    Actually, I'd put this a little above Unknown Road and perhaps even just a smidge better than the debut. But why split hairs? Pennywise is about as good as it gets in punk these days, and thankfully a good chunk of folks are starting to notice.

    Yes, the formula was written by Bad Religion, but Pennywise is smart enough to write songs about the personal, rather than scientific, side of society. And the music is still a bit more stripped-down... not that you'd miss the influence or anything.

    Same old Pennywise, same great Pennywise. As a friend of mine once asked of Green Day (when Kerplunk! came out), "When will these guys write a bad song?" Not yet, anyway.

    Full Circle
    reviewed in issue #132, 4/14/97

    The first album without bassist Jason Thirsk (who had been replaced before he died), to whom this album is dedicated. The net result is same old Pennywise, with possibly somewhat tighter songwriting.

    Pennywise has always had to fight the tag of Bad Religion clone, but since many folks don't remember the BR glory days of No Control and Against the Grain, I wouldn't worry too much. Yes, this stuff copies the "full speed ahead, drop in a few oozin' ahs" formula, but the band does it exceptionally well, with sharper attention to lyrics than Bad Religion has had in years.

    Actually, this album is more focused than any previous Pennywise effort. While the earlier albums would generally have a couple lag points, Full Circle cranks through all the bullshit, taking no prisoners. High octane, indeed.

    The total package. Pennywise has always put out very good albums. This one is great. The difference is small but substantial.

    Be Forewarned
    reviewed in issue #75, 4/30/95

    Ripping into the well-torn flesh of Black Sabbath, Pentagram (once known as Sanctuary) adds flavor from other Brit metal bands (Priest, Maiden for starters) to fill out the sound.

    Add just a dash of the currently hip death-doom sound, and the soup is ready to savor. While his voice is much thinner than Ozzy's, Bobby Liebling pretty much follows his phrasing style. This gets a little unnerving at times.

    Pentagram doesn't do anything particularly original, but you cannot call the band a strict Sabbath rip-off. On the other hand, if these guys want to be known for their music, they will have to work a little harder at finding their own niche.

    Good for starters. Now Pentagram has to evolve to survive the ever-expanding Sabbath sound-alike backlash.

    (Relapse Underground)
    reviewed in issue #65, 10/31/94
    The disc says Israeli Disco Grind. And while I searched for a better description, I don't think there is one.

    Wildly varying samples, with bare snippets of grindcore kinda holding things all together. And, thinking conceptually, the mishmash of samples is just a technologically advanced form of grindcore. I mean, at times sounds flash by so fast you might think the CD player is skipping. And then the roar returns.

    Simply brilliant. My only complaint is that there are only four songs, and the whole disc doesn't quite run 12 minutes. Hopefully more will be on its way before we know it.

    People and Stars
    People and Stars EP
    (Minty Fresh)
    The By Gods
    Phone Calls EP
    (Blecch Records)
    reviewed 9/8/16

    A couple of EPs from some old friends. The By Gods continue in their fairly spectacular power-punk trio ways, blistering four tracks of something approaching pure bliss. "Phone Calls," in particular, is one of those songs that will simply won't leave your brain--and not just because the chorus is repeated about 50 times at the end of the song. Don't worry; it works like a charm.

    Proof that the Nashville scene is anything but "just" country, the By Gods have been making some fairly spectacular noise for some time, and this little blast is (maybe) enough to tide us over until the next full-length. If you haven't caught the train yet, this stop is an attractive wayside.

    David Klotz had a band called Fonda. It was great. He had a wife, Emily Cook, who was Fonda's lead singer. Now he and Cook have split, and so has Fonda. But Klotz has found a new collaborator in Amanda Tate, and now he presents People and Stars (the name comes from a 2001 Fonda song). The three songs on this introductory set are chock full of the glorious pop that made Fonda an easy joy. Soaring melodies, orchestral arrangements (mostly ersatz, but that doesn't detract from the sound) and jaunty rhythms. Hey, sounds like Fonda. Except for the new singer and all.

    Sometimes artists use EPs to try out something new. In these cases, the By Gods and Klotz have simply kept their chops fresh. And what chops they have. If you're in need of some smiles as summer winds down, these sets should suffice nicely. Pepe Deluxe
    Super Sound
    (Catskills-Emperor Norton)
    reviewed in issue #210, 1/8/01

    Three guys from Finland who have a decidedly unusual take on the whole concept of electronic music. Rather than focus on purely abstract ideas or create mindless dance anthems, these boys instead attend both schools of thought, spinning an addictive, yet thoughtful, web of sound.

    Pepe Deluxe is a big fan of the whole 70s cheese sound, but instead of wallowing in the excess, these songs simply drop hints here and there. The pieces themselves keep up their itinerant wandering.

    Indeed, this disc is a journey through the minds of some pretty creative folks. It's a big load of fun, but there's so much going on underneath. It's almost impossible to miss the depth of focus here. Not that you'd want to or anything.

    And just when I think Pepe Deluxe might be ready to repeat itself, there's something new added to the mix. These guys didn't miss a thing. This album is immaculately conceived and crafted. Big smiles all around.

    A Perfect Circle
    Mer de Noms
    reviewed in issue #199, 5/8/00

    Way back in the early 90s, a band called Live took grunge and added a pop sheen to it. Those Not-Quite Amish Country boys sold an awful lot of records, at least until their pretensions overshadowed their talent.

    A Perfect Circle tries for the same grungy dark pop sound, harkening back to, say, 1995. The sound is more grunge than pop, but the heavy echoes and sharp production do leave a bit of the goth in the mix.

    My main issue with music like this is that it sounds much more important than it is. These guys toss in vaguely poetic lyrics that ultimately do not have the impact they need. There's a big facade, but not enough oomph to fill it up.

    Plus, you know, there's the whole grunge thing. I'm tired of it. Most everyone is. A Perfect Circle doesn't really do anything with the sound. The throwback has no purpose. This stuff is competently executed, but I'm still trying to figure out why everyone is trying so hard with material like this.

    The Perfects
    Future Automatic EP
    (FU Records)
    reviewed in issue #312, November 2009

    Club-ready new wave retreads. Of course, bringing a new wave sensibility to late 80s dance music is, in itself, an innovation. Some acts came close to this ideal, but New Order was always a bit on the chilly side, and dance floor masters like Clivilles and Cole were always more about bombast than cleverness.

    And so the Perfects may well be, indeed, perfect. Pretty damned close if you like to shake your ass and have a certain predilection for understated, ironic pop. This is more a band than a studio creation, though there are plenty of bells and whistles. After all, we are talking about dance music.

    A fine pick-me-up for these mid-autumn days. And if you like guitars with your drum machines (or throbbing bass with your new wave), the Perfects will fit the bill. Perfectly.

    Perforated Head
    Maybe I'm Mayonnaise EP
    reviewed in issue #207, 10/30/00

    Nice and crafted pop stuff, with just enough edge to give the hooks some solid character. Not particularly heavy, but with enough power when necessary. Gotta tell you, the hooks are stickier than degraded cellophane tape.

    Four tracks, and all score big. Perforated Head hits each one dead on. The writing is sharp, the playing spirited and the sound stops just short of throbbing. Right where everything should be. I really have no suggestions. This is great stuff.

    Well, maybe one thought. Perforated Head is right in the wheelhouse, and maybe it needs to edge a bit away from the center and define its sound a bit more. These songs are great. Spinning them just slightly into a more recognizable band feel would make them just about perfect.

    Perfume Tree
    A Lifetime Away
    (World Domination)
    reviewed in issue #114, 7/15/96

    Ambient-tinged ethereal pop, not unlike the Moon Seven Times or recent Dead Can Dance. And, luckily, much more interesting and less annoying than Enya.

    The beats generally follow a slow funk mode, and the rest of the music seems to follow. Wails of guitar, plenty of synth and keyboard effects and, of course, the aforementioned vocals. This British Columbia band gives the "Vancouver sound" a whole new meaning.

    And because Perfume Tree really is a band that performs this stuff live, you lose most of the pretension and self-indulgence that this sort of music tends to engender. What's left are some cool sonic sculptures with whipped cream vocals.

    Very nicely done.

    J.Mike Perkins
    Pop Rock from Texas
    reviewed in issue #163, 7/20/98

    You know, just what the title says. Perkins doesn't have the strongest voice (think of a higher-pitched and somewhat shaky Matthew Sweet) and his arrangements are somewhat stock. But out of the 20 songs on this disc, I can say I liked more than half.

    It's just so earnest. Perkins is paying his heart out, and if his writing, playing or singing isn't perfect, it's easy to be entranced by the simple heart behind the songs. Basic, sure, but good nonetheless.

    Rolling songs, just the sort of thing for a lazy afternoon with beer in hand. I don't think Perkins is going to set the world on fire or anything, but these songs are more than acceptable.

    Charming. That's all. Can't complain about that one bit.

    Permission Slip
    Arc-Sodium Visions
    reviewed in issue #189, 10/11/99

    Twitchy electronic pop and utterly tone-deaf vocals. Strangely enough, it works really well. The songs are stitched together with a drum machine/synthesizer rhythm section. Guitars kick in from time to time, but they're not universal. The vocals, however, are.

    And really, they are off-putting at first. Simply put, the singer cannot hold (or even hit) a given note at any time. Not to overemphasize the point, but Daniel Johnston has a better sense of pitch.

    Yet it still comes together really well. The completely amateurish vocals cool off the sometimes sterile electronic components, humanizing the whole.

    Don't let me fool you, though. The music can be as eccentric as the vocals are dreadful. Now, that's what I like. The weirder, the more unusual the better. I eat this stuff up like Tabasco on ice cream.

    Andrea Perry
    (Trust Issue)
    reviewed in issue #232, August 2002

    Andrea Perry writes songs that sound timeless. There's a weird Tin Pan Alley feel to her structure at times, and when that's combined with her jaunty electronic pop style the result is an oddly appealing set of songs.

    A lot of the time I'm absolutely convinced a song won't work. Perry has this clunky way of starting songs (not unlike Rob Crow, which is about as far removed from the other things I've mentioned as you can get) that lends a sense of unease to the proceedings. A little suspense, if you will.

    That she pulls every song off with aplomb isn't the point. That this stuff sounds gorgeous (the production is sharp, but not sterile) isn't the point. That Perry has one of those immediately endearing voices also isn't the point. All those (and more) are the reason this album is so enchanting.

    I think I might have misspoken at the top. There are a few manic moments here that do remind me of Heavy Vegetable and other Crow projects. Certainly, Perry's tendency to complicate songs before she resolves them adds to the resemblance. Whatever. All I can say with certainty is that this album knocks me out.

    Rivers of Stars
    reviewed in issue #281, December 2006

    I liked the last thing Andrea Perry sent me, and I think I like this one even more. Perry distinguishes herself from the singer-songwriter horde in so many ways, I'm afraid I'd have to write ten reviews to get through them all.

    For starters, she's genuinely funny--in a non-jokey, wry way. She writes lyrics that are touching, but not cloying. She works hard to make her thoughts understood. And most importantly, she pays as much attention to the music as she does to her lyrics.

    Her melodies are wonderful, sometimes lissome and other times muscular. She takes care to give her songs full-formed arrangements and she isn't afraid of bringing in somewhat unusual instrumentation if it will make a song better.

    In other words, Andrea Perry knows what she's doing, and she does it damned well. Not unlike David Singer, Perry sings of love, loss and life. And in much the same way, she leaves listeners feeling fulfilled. Wonderful in every sense of the word.

    Lee Scratch Perry
    Live at the Maritime Hall
    reviewed in issue #144 (9/29/97)

    A recording of Perry's first U.S. shows in 17 years, this captures the true legend a bit past his prime (at least vocally) but still in good form.

    Perry's contributions to music are far too many to mention, but they extend far beyond reggae. And while his voice may be somewhat shaky and out of tune, his mind is still solid, and he knows how to lead his band in extended reggae explorations.

    The sound is pristine, which is a bit disconcerting, really (I wonder about "clean-up" overdubs when stuff sounds this good), but Perry in full flow is still impressive enough to overcome any doubts.

    I'd suggest you go back into the catalog to really discover why Perry is so revered, but this set will probably make a few fans happy. And there's nothing wrong with that.

    Testimony of the Ancients
    reviewed in issue #3, 11/30/91

    The thing I like most about this album is the abundance of interludes. They create the mood of this album, making this a big step forward for the band. A ton of you are already playing this, with good reason. It is very good music. Pestilence create some of the best metal songs of the year, death or otherwise.

    All of the instrumentals are worth playing in general format (my jocks love them). The best heavy tracks: "Twisted Truth," "Testimony" "Land of Tears" and "Stigmatized."

    reviewed in issue #38, 8/31/93

    Very riff-dependent for a death metal band, everything is so clean, even the vocals. I wish I could get into it more, but something is holding me back.

    I'm sure it will come to me one of these days, but I just can't put my finger on it.

    Maybe it's because the riff the sounds depends on seems to be repeated in every song. That could be it.

    Maybe it's because, apart from the little intros, most of the songs have similar constructions. This is well-played material, and it sounds great. It just doesn't yank my crank today.

    Peter and the Test Tube Babies
    Pissed and Proud
    (Century Media)
    reviewed in issue #57, 6/30/94

    Another in Century Media's campaign to dig up old punk recordings and schlep them out in hopes of cashing in on the current punk revival.

    Well, it may not be that bad, but this reissue of a 1982 album just doesn't have a lot going for it. These boys were one of the foremost purveyors of Oi, a form of punk that mixes in a little ska and a general good sense of melody (sound familiar?). If you watch MTV, you'll remember Kurt Loder equating Oi with all Nazi skinhead bands in Germany. What a fuckwad.

    Anyway, this good, but nothing special. It's interesting from an historical point of view, but current relevance is minimal.

    Jim Peterik and World Stage
    Jim Peterik and World Stage
    reviewed in issue #206, 10/9/00

    This visit to the geezer rock nursing home is brought to you by a severe case of 80s nostalgia. Jim Peterik not only wrote most of the big Survivor tunes, he also wrote stuff for 38 Special, Sammy Hagar and others. Take that however you like.

    Anyway, he's surrounded himself with a bevy of folks who don't have anything better to do, including Dennis DeYoung (Styx), Kevin Cronin (REO), Don Barnes (38 Special), Kelly Keagy (Night Ranger) and, on one song, Tom Keifer (Cinderella) and Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick). For some reason, he also kicks out a blues track with Buddy Guy.

    But even that cover of "Vehicle" sounds a lot more like "The Search Is Over" than the 1970 Ides of March smash. The production is sharp, but come on; this is music for guys who pad around in elastic-waisted Dockers.

    That's the thing. There's too much craftsmanship to say this blows. It doesn't. It's just that I quite listening to stuff like this in 1985 or so. And I'm really not in the mood to look back. Just the way it goes, I guess.

    Milo Petersen and the Jazz Disciples
    Visiting Dignitaries
    reviewed in issue #133, 4/28/97

    A quintet, which leaves the door open for a more varied sound. But here, the emphasis is on playing jazz by the book. Not in a dull, unimaginative way, but simply technically perfect. Yeah, it's pretty easy to anticipate the group's musical moves, but at least the themes are good.

    And the Disciples draw from the many schools of jazz in putting together this album. All but Coltrane's "Some Other Blues" are Petersen originals, and the sound is, indeed, timeless.

    All that said, I guess I would prefer to hear an occasional departure from the norm. The sound is wonderful, the songs are well-written, the playing is exquisite. But in all this perfection, I don't think the group has infused the music with quite enough emotion or individual flair.

    A well-oiled machine that knows how to make good jazz. Would that it were great.

    Miss Roboto
    reviewed in issue #222, 9/24/01

    Fluid, thick poppy rock music with utterly brilliant hooks. Petland bops around on bright beats and singing guitars, slinging harmonies like they were peanuts at the ballpark.

    Almost Britpop in the way the folks mix up styles and ideas into a peppy brio. And please don't get the idea that all this is utterly superficial. Just the opposite. Petland's songs have so much depth that it's hard to imagine how everything got crammed into such an attractive shell.

    Petland's biggest attribute is its multiple lead singers. Male and female, and more than two at that. The variety of voices adds yet another layer to this intoxicating brew. And the whole shebang is wrapped up in this cool retro 80s techno sheen, a sharp, thick sound that really presents these songs well.

    Hard to find a weak point, really, except on the commercial side. I dunno if the big boys are looking for a band that sounds like this. Which is too bad. This is great music, stuff that with the proper push oughta be able to break out big. It's pretty rare to find this kind of quality in music so ready for the masses. I'm dumbstruck.

    Blue Cotton Skin
    (Red Buttons)
    reviewed in issue #238, February 2003

    Jessica Peters wrote and sang the songs, but she's got a fine band behind her. These songs, which are sort of a post trip-hop/moody pop amalgam, combine entrancing beats, keyboard washes, solid rock guitar and half-whispered vocals to create something completely new.

    But utterly reassuring as well. After all, plenty of folks have dabbled in and around this sort of sound. They just haven't quite nailed it on the head.

    The sound simply glows, which is exactly what it should do. The keyboards are simply enhancers, the vaguest of gauze filters on the rest of the music. Peters isn't afraid to belt out the songs when that's necessary, and the band hops and trips along admirably.

    Indeed, there are enough moderate departures from the sound I described to ensure that no listener will get bored. Imagine if Brian Eno were to produce the Cowboy Junkies. Or, if you want more present-day references, how about if William Orbit produced the Moon Seven Times? If that sounds good to you, then Petracovich ought to bring much pleasure.

    We Are Wyoming
    (Red Buttons)
    reviewed in issue #269, October 2005

    The sort of languid, gorgeous songs that float on summer winds and then make a home in the woolens for winter. Indeed, it's possible these songs are too pretty for many mainstream types. Oh well. I'll simply have keep indulging myself.

    reviewed in issue #310, September 2009

    Another outing from Petracovich, and the third one is even better than the first two. Jessica Peters Malmberg writes songs in something approximating a folk style, and then she paints around the edges with the latest electronic sounds.

    It's a formula that has worked for years, but I'm really knocked out this time. The songs are more complex even as they've become more approachable. The electronics have been scaled back , and there's a bit more of an emphasis on acoustic instruments, but that's not the whole story.

    In short, some folks do get better with age. I still love the first two Petracovich albums, but this one is stronger in every way. In particular, the sequencing is impressive. This album rises and falls and then builds to a climax. It's not a concept album, but it is an album as opposed to a collection of songs.

    Simply wonderful. I've been a fan for a while, but the overwhelming quality here overwhelmed me. Quite a disc.

    One Last Look...
    reviewed in issue #174, 12/28/98

    Raucous, tuneful stuff. Reminds me a lot of the Chemical People (though much less refined). Something about the way the guys put together their hooks, I guess.

    And Pezz could use some craft. They've got the basic 3-minute miracle construction down, and since that's what they're using, they really ought to clean up some of the sloppiness. Writing, that is. There are chord changes here which just don't work. I don't care how messy the playing is. Just make sure you're screwing up for a reason. I don't think that's the case here.

    But I'm still more than enthused by the noise. Pezz has a great energy and I can hear where the band might be with a little work. Well, maybe more than that, but still...

    Gotta like the legend on the back: "Bash on regardless..." A better punk slogan has never been coined. Boys, long may you bash.

    Warmth and Sincerity
    reviewed in issue #182, 5/17/99

    Albini at the helm, and the guitars sound great. Actually, this sounds like more of a complete job by the guru. He left Pezz with a classic buzz-punk sound, and just enough melodic content to the vocals. Chock fulla thick and juicy guitar hooks.

    Coming in somewhere between, say, Pulley and Rocket from the Crypt (the Cargo days). That's not a bad thing at all. The most immediately arresting feature is the muscular riffage married to concrete vocals, but subtleties do emerge.

    First, the drumming is first-rate, more frenzied and technical than yer average punk album. The bass lines don't always do what is expected, but they do satisfy. There's a lot going on behind the wall of buzz, and Albini lets it all shine through.

    The more I hear, the more I like. Tight, but loose enough to sound real. A powerful punch, but properly set up. Pezz has cranked out the goods here. One of the best albums I've heard in a long time.

    Pfeifer Sam
    The Flower Garland School
    (23 Productions)
    reviewed in issue #255, July 2004

    Handmade jacket, and what looks to be hand-written (as in, every jacket is different) liner notes. Okay, so only 500 of these were pressed. You want to write out two pages of notes 500 times? That's freakin' devotion, man.

    And Pfeifer Sam is devoted to its music, which is a mixture of grand pop and noise--kinda like the Lips, but without any of the orchestrations. Or, shall we say, modern Lips songs with Hear It Is production style. Dirty, but oh-so-cleverly so.

    The songs themselves fade in and out of consciousness--there aren't many beginnings and ends as such. This is more of an experience than an album, but the tour guides are exceptional.

    The sort of album that doesn't wander past every day. Pfeifer Sam is still working out what it really wants to do, but this rest stop along the way is most invigorating. Don't just wiggle your toes in the shallows; dive right in.

    Preservatives Affirmative!
    (Fusi Pumper)
    reviewed in issue #213, 3/12/01

    Funky, bouncy electronic pop. Reminds me a bit of a band named Bootsauce. There's a nice Sly Stone r&b collage thing going on. Groove follows groove into the setting sun.

    The songs keep burbling on, and I'm sinking deeper and deeper into the mix. Not only are the grooves addictive, the sound is so cushy it's impossible not to settle in for the long haul. The lushness is overpowering.

    And yet, all that would mean nothing if the songs didn't work. It's not just the grooves after all, but what you do with them. Pfilbryte starts with the groove and then builds a song above it, piece by piece. Let me tell you, there are so many pieces that the songs resemble impressionist paintings at times.

    They work so well that way. The hippie soul vibe cranked out by Pfilbryte has its own charm, but everything else is so spot-on there's really no need to hang a hat on that. A completely glorious pop production. I can't hear a hole here. Is it commercial? Not really. But Pfilbryte sure is damned fine.

    (Freedom Zone)
    reviewed in issue #203, 8/7/00

    Heavy-duty drum 'n' bass, utilizing a lot of breakbeats. One of the reasons this pure version of the sound has faded over the last year or so is that there's only so far you can take drums (machines, anyway) and bass.

    pH10 doesn't really take the sound anywhere. Sure, the beatwork is nice, and the bass lines are complimentary, but damn, there's a thousand of these discs out there trying to do the same thing. Gotta do something, right?

    Well, that didn't happen here. I could go on, but there's not much point. pH10 executes the sound to the utmost, but that's not the most difficult thing in the world. What is hard is connecting that sound to an audience. That didn't happen.

    PH Balance
    PH Balance
    reviewed in issue #177, 2/22/99

    The sound is defined by some soaring bass work and a good amount of electronic disturbance. Kind of odd, considering PH Balance basically plays meditative, moody fare. The PH stands for singer and guitarist Pam Howe, but while her initials adorn the group's name, this is definitely a band thing.

    And the groove often strays. I don't always like that, but here the free-form song style fits the general hippie groove. The tangents are anything but folk-rock, ranging from hip-hop to electronic noise to...plenty more, anyways.

    Bubbles along nicely, without complaining or getting out of hand. Just a pleasant, creative respite from a storm of angst-ridden albums. These folks are wonderfully self-assured, and it's really good to hear.

    Not generally a style I dig, but there's too much talent and inspiration here to deny. PH Balance defines itself very well, and this disc showcases the band's vision in brilliant fashion.

    Phantom Drummer
    A Crash Course in Aviation
    reviewed in issue #208, 11/20/00

    Pat Spurgeon crafts instrumentals. He sings from time to time and lets Derek Richey add vocals on a couple of tracks, but mostly this is Spurgeon's guitar show. He generally sets the stage with an acoustic rhythm guitar, bass and drums, and then lets an electric guitar play out the melody.

    That's not a set order or anything. Spurgeon does experiment with electronic beats and keyboards and whatever else he deems necessary to fill out the sound.

    That's where an album like this differs so much from the "solo instrumental guitar" album. Spurgeon uses the guitar as just one piece in the puzzle. His focus is on the whole, and not on any one instrument.

    Which is not to say that this is wholly satisfying. There are moments when the songs wallow in excess. But generally, Spurgeon's willingness to experiment makes these pieces shine. Idiosyncratic and a little obsessive, but never dull.

    Phantom Surfers
    The Great Surf Crash of '97
    reviewed in issue #119, 9/23/96

    Surf for surf's sake. Some bands, like the now defunct Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, really know how to take that base music and morph it into something greater. Or take Man or Astro-Man?, which simply is too strange to really explain in a couple words.

    The Phantom Surfers are obviously great admirers of Dick Dale (a good thing), and go to great lengths to capture the sound of his records with the Del-Tones in the 60s. And throw in a few jokes and general silliness as the album rolls on.

    I like that part. But the music is just a bit generic, and while the band is spirited enough, there just isn't enough innovation or interesting ideas to really break the Surfers out of the pack.

    Plenty of potential, and the ace execution of the production shows that these guys know what they're doing. A little inspiration, and they'll be set.

    Phat Sidy Smokehouse
    Slingin' Hubs
    (Freedom Zone)
    reviewed in issue #202, 7/17/00

    Explorations of the loose groove, with some hot horns in the mix for proper flavor. Phat Sidy Smokehouse burns a modern feel onto that classic Sly funk 'n' soul sound of the early 70s.

    I'll admit, I'm a bit more of a tight groove aficionado. I don't mind hanging out while the center collects critical mass, but I kinda want to experience the burn. These boys don't always get there.

    But that's the modern feel for you. Phat Sidy Smokehouse does tighten up now and again, though the general emphasis is on the cool side. And the sound is so good, I'm generally willing to put aside my groove prejudices.

    Vision conceived and executed. All very well done. The writing is top notch, and the band sure does know how to throw down. I may have some other ideas, but this disc generally proves me wrong. Good stuff.

    Patrick Phelan
    Songs of Patrick Phelan
    reviewed in issue #195, 2/14/00

    Extremely deliberate pieces, generally Phelan and his guitar. There is some minimal accompaniment on many tunes, though, and "Midwest" features both piano and violin.

    And that song echoes like a Beethoven symphony next to the rest of the songs. At first, I thought the halting guitar style might have something to do with Phelan's playing ability, but that's not the case. He has chosen this decidedly halting style for a reason.

    As might be expected, the production leaves plenty of space between the notes, but when the music gets raucous, there's quite the echo and those holes fill up quickly.

    Not an easy sell, at least at first. Phelan's style isn't so austere as you might think, and this album is nicely balanced. Yeah, it takes a bit of getting used to, but after a while the stuff begins to make sense. That's when things really get interesting.

    Philadelphia Slick
    Culture Industry
    reviewed in issue #298, July 2008

    The think I liked most about Schooly D and Stetsasonic were the full backing bands. Stetsasonic, in particular, did some really amazing stuff with music and vocal. Philadelphia Slick has a late 80s/early 90s style of rhyming, but the horn, strings and keyboard sections take us back to TSOP.

    Well, sorta. But there is a 70s feel to this. More rock (or, at least, more aggressive beats) than the Philadelphia sound, I suppose, but the lush surroundings do take me back.

    Back to when I was in grade school, but whatever. Philadelphia Slick rips off huge chunks of thought and then gives it in a thick coating of tuneage. There's a definite separation between the two elements, but the interplay is exceptional.

    This one's easy. It sounds great, it has a few things to say and it never loses sight of the groove. Keep the party goin', guys.

    reviewed in issue #202, 7/17/00

    Bass-driven songs, sorta in that melancholy rock realm. Not strident enough by half to approach emo, but the feel is quite similar.

    Every piece of the band seems to wander off in its own direction and then come crashing back together at the chorus. This includes the guitar and vocals, which kinda explains the reason it sounds like the bass is in charge here.

    Still, there are times where the guitar lines really wander off in intricate directions, reminding me of Mineral or the Gloria Record. The climaxes aren't so similar, but there's still this sense I have.

    A somewhat unclassifiable band, which is a good thing, of course. Philia's songs are complex and creative, with plenty of strange pathways to explore. This is not your everyday band. Probably doesn't bode well for a commercial future, but what the hell. Just keep exploring the realms of innovative music.

    The Philistines
    The Backbone of Night
    (The Record Machine)
    reviewed 6/23/16

    People tend to overlook the Midwest when they think of music scenes. And within its small corner of the Midwest Kansas City has long been overshadowed by Lawrence (which is a college town, but still. . .) and Omaha. But there have been solid musicians swirling around the river city for something going on forever. A couple of years ago, a gaggle of those got together to form the Philistines.

    One of the reasons Midwestern bands get overlooked is that they tend to mix genres freely. The one general unifying trait is a rootsy edge to the rock, but the Philistines skip out on that. They dive straight into 13th Floor Elevators territory and add a dollop of 60s sugar pop. The sound veers from Brian Jonestown Massacre (genre blenders extraordinaire) to the Zombies to a bit of the Archies. And then the 70s intrude.

    Feedback. Heavy chords. And yet that pop sweetness never quite subsides. The Philistines wander through a dense curtain of sounds, never losing their way. The hand guiding these songs is masterful. There's every reason for this to be a big, fat mess. It most definitely is not.

    What a glorious place these beasts have created. By and large, it's best for musicians to worry more about where they're going than where their sound came from. The Philistines process all of their influences through the band's own grinder, and while what emerges isn't a coherent sound, it is wonderful.

    Enjoy the journey. The sights are spectacular.

    Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham
    reviewed in issue #243, July 2003

    At first glance, this disc begs the obvious question: Why isn't this a Luna album? The easy answer is that it's just two members of the band. And yet. Britta Phillips and Dean Wareham are the two lead singers of the band, and Wareham writes the lyrics to accompany the band's music. Why not invite the other two boys along?

    Because this isn't a Luna album. Phillips and Wareham indulge in the same lush lifestyle, but these songs incorporate a playful Eurotrash feel that is a bit too kitschy for the traditional Luna sound. Plus, the songs on this disc come from all corners: Wareham, Phillips, Madonna...the Doors. Etc.

    I hear this as a little fun one-off. Phillips and Wareham are taking a break, just enjoying playing a little music. That fun translates into a slyly cool album, a disc that never quite slides off into cheese.

    What's wrong with that? Not a damned thing. This puppy isn't a major statement. It won't garner a kajillion Grammys. But it will sound great at your next party. Just be sure to keep plenty of Sambuca at the ready.

    Mark Phillips
    Only Emotion- In the Face of Adversity
    reviewed in issue #91, 11/6/95

    The obvious lack of funds shows in the instrumentation: guitars, drum machine and keyboard. This was probably laid down late at night in rushed circumstances.

    Phillips really mines the commercial pop territory, whipping out tunes that Huey Lewis or Bruce Hornsby could have written. Ten years ago, that would have been a great attribute, one worthy of loads of big label cash. Today, well, people are looking for something else.

    He has a good grasp of the hook, though the crafting of certain chord progressions (particularly in the bridge sections of the songs) is painfully obvious and rather ordinary. Phillips works his ass off, but he needs that little something to really kick his songs into irresistible territory. Sure, plenty of folks have made careers on much less skill, but Phillips doesn't have major label marketing behind him. With that, well, who knows what might happen.

    Phleg Camp
    Ya'Red Fair Scratch
    reviewed in issue #35, 5/31/93

    Discordant guitars, rambling beats and a whole lotta yelling. I'm thinking maybe these folks belong on Shimmy Disc, but no, they do tighten up a bit.

    I've been trying for a while now to find a psychic center of the album (a neat little trick if you can ever accomplish it). Dionne Warwick was tied up, so I decided to wing it.

    I have no idea where this damn thing is coming from. It is glorious noise, with a somewhat repetitive rhythm section lending some continuity. But I still can't tell...

    It is the rare album that completely stumps me. I really like this, but I don't know why. Maybe I should pop a beer. Sounds like a plan.

    Return to Desolation
    (Relapse Underground)
    reviewed in issue #57, 6/30/94

    Grindcore with some metal riffage, much like the first Carcass records. Hell, Shane McLachlan even has these monster dreadlocks.

    Nothing particularly inventive, but things move along nicely. I can feel a load of energy flowing through the songs. It's nice to tap into that sort of thing occasionally.

    In the end, though, there just isn't anything here to differentiate Phobia from an increasing number of bands who sound too much alike. When it comes to creativity, Phobia falls short.

    Phoenix Thunderstone
    Free 7"
    reviewed in issue #159, 5/18/98

    I'm reviewing this mostly to let you know that two songs from the album (reviewed below) are also available on a cool picture disc. I used the picture from the b-side because I thought it looked better. Hope that's cool.

    Light pop. Not folky stuff; there's still a drum kit moving the songs nicely along. I liked the b-side ("Pinprick") much better. It's just a better song.

    Um, if you dig the band, there's a picture disc. That's pretty much what this review is about. I will note that the sound on the vinyl is awful compared to the CD (as often happens with picture discs). Still, the colors are pretty.

    Picnic With the Dead
    reviewed in issue #159, 5/18/98

    Pretty much Wend Van Dusen and Sean Heskett (they're the folks on the cover) and a few studio buds. Something like what the Leaving Trains might have sounded like if Falling James focused a bit more on pop than punk.

    The songs are loopy affairs, both lyrically and musically. Lots of strange bits populate the background (harp wails and the odd horn bits), and the song subjects deal with some of the stranger sides of life.

    Van Dusen produced, and she's given this disc a real echoey sound. Adds to the general sense of unease and helps to further define the band as a purveyor of misfit melodies and strange idea.

    A strangeness that I find amusing. Phoenix Thunderstone isn't so much out there as in there, if you get what I'm saying. A lot of self-examination going on, and that sort of thing ain't always pretty. Fixating, but not pretty.

    The Phoids
    Marianne Doesn't Know Yet
    (Ng Records/BMG)
    reviewed in issue #130, 3/17/97

    Poppy roots-rock with just enough of a punk tinge to create a pleasant unstable finish. Are the Phoids more like Uncle Tupelo or Sugar? Yes.

    Surprisingly accessible, considering Jac Calabro's thick-as-cement vocals. Oh, he occasionally carries a tune, but it sounds like his range is about half an octave. The thing is, his shortcomings in this area are most endearing. I started rooting for the band as soon as I realized their singer couldn't sing and the guitarist seemed to be a bit dyslexic.

    A bit excessively produced, I suppose, but chalk that up to the BMG money. This probably would have been better as a honky-tonk record, but I'm not complaining too much. All in all, Marianne has done a good number of things right.

    I really can't place this band in any category, and I don't want to do that, anyway. The Phoids are a bit off-kilter, but that's a nice place to play.

    reviewed in issue #116, 8/12/96

    Somewhere between prog rock and atmostpheric pop, with a definite Todd Rundgren feel. Not a bad way to go.

    The production is low-demo quality, rather mushy, but it doesn't hurt as badly here where the band is obviously going for a bit of an other-worldly sound.

    Spacey as it is, Phreeworld has a tendency to use the same rhythm track from song to song, and when it doesn't the result is more like some free-form Pink Floyd thing. That works, but barely.

    I have no idea if this sort of thing is as all commercially viable, but Phreeworld manages to pull it off well enough. There are plenty of places for improvement, but nothing a good set of live shows wouldn't cure. Work out the dead spots and hone in on the sound the guys are obviously working toward.

    Hot Carl7"
    reviewed in issue #176, 2/8/99

    The first single I've need a wrench to open (those things that look like bolts on the sleeve? They're bolts). Simply more from the St. Louis scene which spawned Dazzling Killmen, etc. (Tim Garrigan is nice enough to provide that link for me).

    Two instrumental pieces which I think ought to be played at 33 (though they sound pretty cool at 45 as well). There's no note; you can go figure on yer own. Drums, guitar, bass. That's it. Noodlings of the highest order, as would be expected.

    I'm quite glad I wrenched open the cover. Well, anything which has a promo sticker reading "Ex-Dazzling Killmen Ex-You Fantastic! Ex-Pound of Flesh Exciting!" really does demand some attention. Or a lot, if you're like me.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Nothing more to say, except you better start digging in your tool chest.

    (Fusi Pumper)
    reviewed in issue #213, 3/12/01

    Grooves provided by Pfilbryte, songs provided by Pi. The sound is bubbly, but Pi undercuts that with her folk-pop style. She smooths out the grooves and makes this album all her own. As she should.

    My main problem is that I've heard plenty of singers like Pi. She's not as angry as Alanis, but certainly more intense than Lisa Loeb. And she is definitely stuck in that territory, no matter how sweet the production sound is here.

    The lyrics and song structures are plain. Ordinary. There's just no way to get around that. Pi sings like a girl, or at least the way I've come to expect women to sing these days. There's no surprise here.

    Competent? Sure. Pi doesn't embarrass herself. But she doesn't show enough to break away from the pack, either. This stuff is decent. It just isn't terribly exciting. Nothing to write home about, in any case.

    The Doctors Ate the Evidence
    reviewed in issue #116, 8/12/96

    Sample-driven noise that ventures more into sound sculpture territory than just basic refined chaos. This is precisely what the term "industrial" meant to a few of us about seven years ago.

    The main perp is Steve O'Donnell, though Relapse co-head honcho Bill Y. helps out from time to time. Eleven sets of controlled insanity, all created using the rational sounds of everyday life (merely modulated out of all context).

    What I like most is the creepiness of the whole thing. I've heard all these sounds before, but never with such sinister and compelling overtones. Pica produces music that my mind loves to tunnel through, to try and find what nuggets are beneath the surface. A wonderful meditation device.

    The best of the noise stuff I've been through this week. Pica is obviously set to my wavelength, and perhaps to a another few scattered wackos. I sure hope so.

    (R.R. Records-CM)
    reviewed in issue #83, 8/21/95

    Peppy pop music that has just enough of a punk feel to keep the kiddies happy. Picklehead revels in the inanities of everyday life, from job problems to the necessity of chemical infusion.

    Okay, so you won't hear Kasey counting any of these songs down on the radio. This is simple, pure pop music that is wacky enough to keep me bobbing along and laughing all the way.

    As I've noted before countless times, the art of writing a catchy three- (or four) chord pop song has been completely derided by many. I'd just ask you to come up with one tune as pleasing as any of the 15 on this disc. It ain't that easy, now.

    Sure, Picklehead isn't about to change the way the world turns, but for mindless amusement, I haven't heard a disc this fine in some time. I'll be playing Relish for a long time, myself.

    Learning EP
    reviewed in issue #345, 2/10/13

    Pictorials throw out some lovely indie pop-rock to see what sticks. And not much does. These songs are a bit too inoffensive to inspire a whole lot of passion. The competence is more than apparent. The boys need to find themselves some inspiration to go along with their skill.

    reviewed in issue #196, 3/6/00

    Drawing on influences going back a good 40 years, Pidginhole is playing some pretty wonderful songs. There are some really great musical references, and the variety of sounds comes together quite well.

    My only quibble is with the production. It is a bit restrained, which probably would work with the 60s-oriented bits, but there are some raucous pieces here, and they get lost in a bit of mush.

    Kinda takes the shine off the songs. I also get the feel that the band might get a bit more into the stuff as well, but I'm gonna go back to the engineering. The orchestration (with a number of organs and such) is great, but it needs a steadier hand on the sound.

    There are some truly great songs here. I just wish the sound was a bit better than demo quality.

    Gone EP
    (Kimchee-Big Top)
    reviewed in issue #136, 6/9/97

    A gawdawful sludgy racket. Imagine really unfocused punk-pop songs with about five tons of distortion laid on the tracks. Alright, so no one knows what's coming or going. As long as we all have a good time.

    The most important thing when faced with a disc like this is to simply record my visceral reaction. And I like the stuff. The sound is hideous, rendering the underlying songs almost impotent, but through the haze comes a vision of greatness.

    Of course, that assumes Pie knows what it is doing. I think this mess is by design, and I like it lots. That, of course, is why any album I really like sells about 50 copies, mostly to the drummer's grandma.

    But I do really like Pie, and while the sound is utterly oppressive, the overall effect of the total music package (I think I just invented that phrase) is stunning. Sure, your eardrums will bleed and your head just might implode, but if you survive the first couple of songs, things do mellow out (relatively), and your entire perception of the world will be changed. At the very last, you'll discover a massive craving for dried apricots.

    Don't ask.

    Piece Dogs
    Exes for Eyes
    reviewed in issue #31, 3/31/93

    (The record will please note that my initial reaction was "This is fucking great!")

    Before I got this package from Energy, I was wondering if anyone put out good "heavy metal" anymore. All the big boys and influences have either sold out or broken up, forming psuedo-glam or (even worse) funk-alternative bands. Pro-Pain, the older of the two discs was a fine introduction to this rather great album.

    Okay, so I'm flashing back to my early college years now, full of drinking a lot and showing up to class enough to get my "A" (when I stopped partying so much my grades went down... hmmm).

    Now that I know why you folks are playing this (and the Pro-Pain) so much, I would like to encourage you to do so for as long as you like. Especially this one. Right now I am bouncing up and down in my chair, breaking just enough to type (and I'm moving quite a bit then, too). This is everything music professors hate about hard rock, and yet it seems to distill the essence for my consumption. I'm trashed.

    Garrett Pierce
    City of Sand
    reviewed in issue #344, 1/21/13

    Minimalist roots fare that trends toward the lo-fi. Lots of fuzz within a sedate pace. Not the easiest sound to warm up to, but one that does provide rewards down the road.

    The Pietasters
    reviewed in issue #144 (9/29/97)

    The Pietasters utilize the famous ska backbeat and plenty of other rhythmic and melodic ideas to create a sound that sounds like an amped up version of the classic Studio One sound. Brett Gurewitz produced, and so the sound simply flies out of the speakers in full effect. Almost overwhelming, really.

    Solid songwriting, if a bit simplistic, but the playing is so exuberant there's no way to really complain. While really thick, the sound doesn't quite pound its way into skacore, staying (barely) on the faithful side of the street.

    The horns are at full wail much of the time, and the bad simply swings its way through the disc. This is the sort of ska that today's kids want to hear, though I must say I prefer the Slackers (by a hair).

    This thing could be a monster. It's good enough, and it's got the trends on its side.

    Awesome Mix Tape #6
    reviewed in issue #185, 7/26/99

    Digging deeper into the classic ska and soul sounds, the Pietasters return. As the album title indicates, the idea was to craft a multitude of sounds and ideas that circle around what the band does best.

    That, by the way, isn't come up with album covers. I'm not so much put off by the tastelessness (I'm a big fan of such things) as much as the incoherent images. I don't mention album covers much; this one kinda bugged me. Anyway, what the Pietasters do best is spin out 60's era ska with plenty of r&b backing it up.

    In all ways superior to anything I've heard from the band before. The production is full and sharp (Brett Gurewitz still knows how to make a great-sounding record) and the songs have been trimmed of all bombast and excess. What's left are lean and supple songs full of power and grace.

    This mix tape is gonna be in my car for quite a while. I've often remarked as to the quality of Hellcat recordings. The Pietasters keep that run solidly in the black.

    reviewed in issue #24, 11/15/92

    When you have twenty-something members of your music gang, things can get a little incoherent. But Pigface has managed to keep everything under control, even if you can't identify a single Pigface sound.

    Yeah, if you want ten identical industrial tracks, go somewhere else. This runs from psychedelic to funk to dance to metal, and yet it all makes sense. Fook runs all over the place and passes the finish going strong. It is by far the finest Pigface effort to date. I only hope this concept works as well in the future.

    Washingmachine Mouth
    reviewed in issue #31, 3/31/93

    One thing about Pigface: they're not afraid to milk something more than it's worth. See, I like the "Bushmaster, Bushmaster" version, called a remix, that came with the Spoonfed (I think that's right) EP better than the later Gub album version. This stuff is definitely more experimental and kinda interesting. Coherence is not a virtue.

    To be honest, unless you jammed Fook until your brain bled, which I kinda did, you wouldn't recognize many of the parts that show up here. And if you do, it's more of a pleasant revelation.

    More of a "well, we figured you'd want to hear all of our ideas anyway" project, this is still great music. Pigface consistently spoil the too many cooks argument, making life a little more surreal for all of us.

    Washingmachine Mouth (review #2)
    reviewed in issue #35, 5/31/95

    I think I may have reviewed this one before, but I'm too lazy to look and see. And anyway, all of you will have forgotten any dumb things I said earlier and focus on this thing.

    This is not a new album. It is remixes of Fook songs. But not dancier versions of the originals. Instead, everything has been taken apart, and a few scraps arise from the heap and are making new music.

    Most of this is rather mellow, which is an interesting way to take industrial music. I must say it works for me. If this is whoring a project for as much cash as possible, I'll pay every time.

    I'll rephrase my characterization. Washingmachine Mouth is not a remix album; it is sounds of Fook revisited, in a whole new light.

    Truth Will Out
    reviewed in issue #40, 9/30/93

    Another Pigface release? you ask. Well, yes, but you have to understand that Pigface is not a band in the traditional sense. It's more of a communal thing, a work in progress. And this is a live recording, giving yet another chance to these folk to rework already great songs.

    This does not match my memories of the show I saw last February, which was an intensely visceral, and necessarily visual, one. Truth... satisfies my aural desires, but there is an electric feeling in a room when a Pigface show goes right. Of course, they do not always happen that way, and that's why the word genius can be applied to the collective. For it takes a genius to leap at the chance of greatness, no matter the obstacle. Sometimes you succeed; sometimes you fail. But you will always have the experience.

    Notes from Thee Underground
    reviewed in issue #53, 4/30/94

    The usual Pigface mode: a lead 12" (or CD5), a fairly straightforward industrial album and then a few more ambient and wacky remixes on another disc.

    The first six tracks are regular Pigface album fare. Except that "Asphole" and "Fuck It Up" are catchier than any previous Pigface tunes, and "Chikasaw" is simply stunning.

    The rest is more experimental, bordering on the ambient at times. The changeover makes this a little difficult to listen to at one setting, but it's certainly worth the mood swings.

    Will the remix disc fuck up the first few songs, while making the rest more coherent? With all the creativity in the mix, I've learned never to try and predict the next Pigface move. Just flow and enjoy.

    Feels Like Heaven... Sounds Like Shit
    reviewed in issue #89, 10/9/95

    A little more straightforward than most Pigface remix projects, this one focuses on the coolest tracks from Notes from Thee Underground: "Asphole", "Fuck It Up" and, most obviously, "Chickasaw".

    Oh, sure, the combining of the first two songs mentioned with a cool Evil Mothers song on "Sick Asp F**k" is quite nice. And the three versions of "Chickasaw" are all quite different and interesting.

    Not counting the little interludes, you get 13 remixes of eight Pigface songs. A good value, if you ask me. You certainly won't be bored.

    While Martin Atkins is the nominal head of that symbiotic relationship known as Pigface, this disc shows precisely how this undertaking is an amazing collaborative effort. Too many cooks sometimes do spoil the broth, but this much talented ferment is too much to overlook.

    See also most any influential industrial artist.

    ...For Boys and Girls
    (Watchmen Records)
    reviewed in issue #129, 3/3/97

    Some nice boys who have been listening to a bit much Primus and Mr. Bungle for their own good. I mean likes like "I wish I was gay so I could have pride" and song titles like "Al Beaman Is Still a Jew" just aren't meant for popular consumption.

    And I haven't even started talking about the music. The songs generally have an excessively long sampled intro, which sometimes relates to the song itself, but usually not. The music itself is convoluted and generally whips itself into a frenzy by the end of any given song.

    But damnitall, this shit is funny. And don't let my little snippets leave you with the impression that Pigmaster is a bunch of ignorant guys. They simply think that sacred cows make the best eatin'. And, lordy, do they feast.

    It takes a twisted state of mind to really groove on this stuff, and I'm happy to take my place in that group. Pigmaster is really unlike any other band I've ever heard, and that is always a good thing. Sure, there are many moments of excess and puerile comments, but hell, that describes every second of the Old Time Gospel hour, now doesn't it?

    Silliness bordering on insanity. Life should be this wacky.

    Lack of Judgement
    (Black Mark Production)
    reviewed in issue #123, 11/18/96

    And I thought Morgana Lefay was trying too hard. Pike is working its ass off, and unfortunately nothing really clicks.

    The first problem is the really tinny, bass-heavy (yes, it's possible) production. That's alright for the Jesus Lizard (which, surprisingly, Pike has obviously studied), but for a band that's somewhere on the line demarcating hardcore and grindcore (with lots of other ideas tossed in) that's not a great idea.

    At times Pike finds a reasonable groove, but the whole effect is one of sonic unbalance. It sounds interesting at first, certainly, but after a while the whole mess just gets annoying. And that's too bad, because Pike has pulled more interesting musical ideas into their sound than any band I've heard in a long time. All sorts of metal, industrial, noise, pop and jazz elements meander past in some strange attempt at loud music fusion.

    But Pike at its best sounds just like Fudge Tunnel (which is a fine ideal, but there's already a band taking up that space). At its worst, Pike sounds like a ship adrift, its members clueless as to how they should right the rudder. A ton of potential, but nothing realized as yet.

    Pile of Heads
    Pile of Heads EP
    reviewed in issue #208, 11/20/00

    Four tight, harsh trips into the techno metal realms. Somewhere between Clay People and Fear Factory, I'd say, but more straightforward than both. Pile of Heads doesn't mess around.

    Nope, these songs are born mean and they just get moreso. Now, the sound is kinda sparse at times, leaving a lot of space. That takes away from the power to some extent, but it also lets more of the vitrol reach the surface.

    These guys have created a cool space for themselves. I've not heard a band this heavy dabble so much into the electronic pool. It's a good idea and these guys make it work. There's something here.

    Pile Up
    reviewed in issue #68, 1/15/95

    And so this is where San Diego hardcore grunge is today…oops, these guys are from L.A. Oh well. My mistake.

    At its best, Pile Up really chews up the riffs and blasts the distortion, managing to keep an addictive sound rolling. But occasionally that breaks down, and things get a lot more mundane.

    There's more of the former, though. Pile Up has recorded an album worthy of lo-fi. This music was meant to be played cranked on an AM station, received by a transistor radio and then cranked through the biggest speakers you can find. I tried to replicate that idea, making it really tinny and bass heavy at the same time. It sounded much better.

    You either dig this kinda stuff, or you don't. There's no middle ground with Pile Up.

    Pillars and Tongues
    reviewed in issue #300, September 2008

    Fiddles and harp and percussion and lots more. Pillars and Tongues throw classical ideas into rootsy instrumentation and tie it all up with eccentric song structure. There is a decided lean toward the epic soundscapes of Dirty Three, but these folks are a lot more circumspect. Oh, and there's some singing.

    Sometimes quiet is more ominous than noise. The anticipation of what comes next can almost kill. These pieces are deliberate in drafting and execution. It's impossible to guess what's coming next, but when it arrives the effect can be devastating.

    The sound of the album is utterly sparse. Every string rattle and reed squonk echoes for a time. The tunnel vision of this sound (I think you know what I mean) is harrowing.

    Not for the weak of bladder. This album will devastate serious listeners. It's intense beyond imagining. A real spine-tingler.

    Pilot Scott Tracy
    We Cut Loose!
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #279, October 2006

    A vaguely-hipster, sorta-garagey, peppy pop-rock outfit on AT? Hell, why not? Can't think of a reason right off the bat.

    Ahem. Anyway, these folks obviously like the Cars and Kraftwerk and Superchunk (early incarnations of each, of course), and that's about what they play. Upbeat, perky tunes that couldn't be sunk by a million torpedoes.

    Despite a reasonable amount of electronic accompaniment, the sound is dirty. These folks are no mechanical band. They're a bunch of folks working their asses off to make joyous music. And they succeed gloriously.

    Just a little shot of happiness headed your way at the end of the summer. The leaves may be thinking of clogging the gutters, but there's always time for one more sweet blast of joyous wonder.

    The Pilot Ships
    The Limits of Painting and Poetry
    reviewed in issue #210, 1/8/01

    If you're in search of something a bit more simple and meditative, come on in. Now, if you want this to be pleasant and kind, you'll have to leave. The Pilot Ships are made up of members from Monroe Mustang, Stars of the Lid and the Angels. The songs often feature piano or organ, but sometimes revolve around guitar or bass instead. There are vocals most of the time.

    There is no rush to judgment here. The Pilot Ships takes its time as it wends its way through these decidedly low-key songs. Low-key in terms of sonic violence, I mean. The subject matter is another subject altogether.

    You know, it's hard to call a song titled "You've Always Been a Dullard to Me (Part II)" pleasant or kind. There's a lot of pain in these songs, a lot of longing and unrequited desire. A lot of things people don't like to talk about. Which is one of the reasons this disc works so well.

    Another is the simple and haunting way the songs are arranged. The Pilot Ships create a mood and stick to it. These are dark days, and once in the middle of this fog, you might become convinced the sun will never shine again. That's power, my friends.

    Pilot to Gunner
    Games at High Speeds
    (Gern Blandsten)
    reviewed in issue #219, 7/16/01

    Power emo, if you'll indulge me. Pilot to Gunner plays utterly anthemic music; the stuff comes on pretentiously from the first kick of the bass drum. But that's okay, because these boys have plenty to shout about.

    For starters, the grandiose sound is filled out in most imaginative ways. I'm talking about the writing; the instrumentation is standard for a four-piece. But these boys use strident lines in some of the most creative ways I've ever heard. Probably a little more into the hardcore side of things, though the lead guitar is a lot more melodic than standard emo.

    As for the lyrics, they're stream of consciousness, mostly. Fits right in with the aggressively inspired music. The vocals are used as an instrument, creating another line for the band members to play off. Most impressive, I've gotta say.

    Boy, this puppy just blew me away. From the first note to the last, Pilot to Gunner is in complete control, weaving some intricately beautiful and powerful songs. I'm floored.

    Pineal Ventana
    Breathe As You Might
    reviewed in issue #142, 9/1/97

    Pounding, throbbing stuff built around drones. If you really want to try and find any conscious method of song construction at all. I'm not sure if there is one, myself.

    Any technical analysis is bound to find deficiencies, so I'll stick to my visceral reaction, which took this album as a serious gut check. Snatches of sounds that remind me of Iceburn, Neurosis and Morsel. And yet, that explanation falls flat, too. Pineal Ventana is utterly and completely unique.

    And so, in the end, I'm left to try and describe an utterly indescribable band. You gotta listen, but let me warn you: Don't run away too fast. If you give the music a few moments to settle, certain things will be made clear. This is great music for meditation (the drums keep constant time); you can lock in on one sound and let your mind follow all the other paths.

    Completely free and beautiful. Who needs structure, anyway?

    Expel EP
    reviewed in issue #172, 11/23/98

    Still deep into drones, but still much more structured than Breathe As You Might. And in a good way. The songs are just as intense, but more introspective. I guess the renewed focus on coherence keeps things from getting too lost.

    Oh, but there are some wonderful sounds. "Dark Cloud" is fairly reminiscent of the previous album, a song built around a fine bass groove and apocalyptic drum lines. Very cool.

    Much of the rest hangs a bit further out. Like I said, more contemplative, and yet, tighter. In a way. Maybe it's just the streamlined sound (less extraneous noise, more attention to the details). Could be, I guess.

    As darkly impressive as ever. Pineal Ventana remains outside even the fringe, but that's where truly innovative music can be had. And this band knows a lot about charting new courses.

    The Pineapple Thief
    Tightly Unwound
    reviewed in issue #300, September 2008

    The album opens with a bit of Nik Drake-ian musing. Then it shifts gears, wandering through a variety of 70s sounds before settling on a thoroughly modern rock sound.

    I didn't mean that as a pun. Not exactly, anyway. But these guys grapple with modern rhythms and 70s prog and space sounds as if possessed. I suppose it's kind of a Radiohead thing, but much less orchestrated. These guys aren't out to rock the arenas.

    Maybe they should. Some of these songs don't have enough of a kick in the chorus to really hit overdrive. This is often pretty stuff, but a bit more backbone would add that much more.

    Nonetheless, it works for me. I kinda nodded along throughout and then tried to figure out why I liked this album so much. It is hypnotic, and that's rarely a bad thing. Take a little time, hit that alpha state and take a new look at life. Worse things could happen.

    Someone Here Is Missing
    reviewed in issue #319, August 2010

    I mentioned in my review of the recent Pineapple Thief retrospective that I thought Bruce Soord was just beginning to really come into his own. This album is proof.

    Leaps and bounds better than just about anything that has come before, these songs burble and crackle with an almost insidious undertow. The arrangements are deceptively simple, and sound is startlingly clear.

    Most important, though, is the understated nature of Soord's writing. These are anthems, really, but they take quite disparate paths to their ultimate satisfaction. Sometimes there's a climax, but Soord isn't afraid to go with an anticlimax if the song requires it.

    Dip your mind into this cerebral stuff. Don't worry. There are plenty of grooves and hooks to keep you engaged. This is easily the best Pineapple Thief album, and one of the best albums I've heard this year, for that matter.

    Pinehurst Kids
    (4 Alarm Records)
    reviewed in issue #193, 12/20/99

    A tight little three-piece, playing that vaguely clunky punk-pop that three-pieces seem to play these days. Pinehurst Kids scrape all the sheen off the sound, though, and that makes a huge difference. Lo-fi, but oh so bouncy.

    The sorta album that is best blasted right out of the speakers. Preferably with a blown woofer, so as to get that extra notch of distortion. 'Cause these Kids don't add much of their own. The sound is dull, but clean.

    Dull in that it is not sharp. It certainly fits well with the tuneage. And the rumpus room feel to the songs is infectious. Okay, so sometimes the pieces tend toward the middle of the pack. There's this energy that can't be denied.

    The main thing is, while this sort of playing and writing is fairly simply from a technical standpoint, a lot of artists just can't quite get the right spirit going. Pinehurst Kids seem to fall naturally into the feel of the songs. A natural fit, I'd say, and that will overcome most any other obstacle.

    Pinetop Seven
    The Night's Bloom
    (Barbary Coast-Empyrean)
    reviewed in issue #269, October 2005

    More of that important-sounding piano rock. Pinetop Seven doesn't actually build most of its songs around piano--guitar is still the base--but piano and strings really supply the mood for these introspective songs.

    Indeed, a lot of this stuff is full-on retina gazing, eyes turned completely inward. The songs have a stream of consciousness feel, and often they wander around a bit until all the pieces fall into place. Quite impressive that way.

    And sometimes the pieces don't come together. Such "unfinished" songs can be maddening, but they do have their place. By and large, they supply atmosphere. Pinetop Seven seems to look at things from the macro perspective, and when you take the album as a whole, every string finds its end.

    Not in a knot, either, if you'll allow me to butcher the metaphor that much further. Rather, there's simply a natural settling of accounts. Humanity doesn't necessarily do well. And that's only natural as well. One unsettling album, and that sits just fine with me.

    The Piney Gir Country Roadshow
    Jesus Wept
    (Grey Day)
    reviewed in issue #330, September 2011

    Going completely the other way from the Dustbowl Revival (reviewed earlier), Piney Gir is a Brit country act that trends more toward Ennio Morricone or Carolyn Mark than more traditional rootsy folks. I don't really get the references to Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton, but then, maybe the Brit press is still a little kerfluffled after the phone tapping scandal.

    And after hearing "Master/Mistress," I think most folks will agree. This is post-modern country music, and wittily so. These songs don't set up jokes, but they're generally wry as hell. The music is pretty much straight up, but it's so citified that most folks in these here parts wouldn't call it especially rootsy.

    That's cool. Piney Gir (the alter ego of Brit electro artist Angela Penhaligon) is blazing her own path. And in that way, the heavy hand on the production knobs probably helps more than hurts. What's most important is to keep the many post-modern elements from overwhelming the centers of the songs. Most often, these pieces swing quite nicely.

    And so we're left to enjoy songs with titles like "I'm Better Off Without a Piece of a Shell of a Man." Hard to disagree with that sentiment, and it's hard to take this album out of the discer. When it comes to a close, I just keep hitting "repeat."

    Pinhead Circus
    Detailed Instructions for the Self Involved
    reviewed in issue #175, 1/25/99

    Sure, yer basic punk three-piece. That cranks out Night Ranger's "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" as the secret bonus track. A nice sense of humor, these boys have. Not quite as good as the Sloe's rave-up of "Careless Whisper", but pretty cool nonetheless.

    Oh, but what about the actual album? Solid enough. Nominally tuneful uptempo hardcore pop (a la Bad Religion, without the crafted oozin' ahs), lyrics heavy on the sarcasm. So I'm satisfied.

    A good use of three chord theory, nothing horribly derivative or dull. Combined with the band's wit and high energy level, an appealing sound. Maybe not superstar material yet, but more than enjoyable.

    And so, another quality punk album has passed my desk. Guess I can't give up on the sound quite yet. Well, actually, I've barely been tempted. Where else these days can I bite into a pure pineal gland?

    Hallmark 7"
    reviewed in issue #177, 2/22/99

    Yeppers, another punk 7" in this issue. And this one doesn't quite measure up. Oh, there's a nice energy level, and the songs have some nice hooks, but honestly, I'm just not excited.

    I'm trying to hear the indescribable, the piece of greatness which makes an average song great, and Pinhead Circus simply writes average songs. At least on this slab.

    Not bad, but not enough to make me rave. Give me the next piece of 45 glory, please.

    Everything Else is a Far Gone Conclusion
    reviewed in issue #182, 5/17/99

    Always one beat ahead of itself (or something), Pinhead Circus plays the descant-laden punk style quite well (you know, when the chords go down the steps of the musical scale), but sometimes new ideas kinda make a mess of the proceedings.

    The band changes gears constantly, and almost never at the same time, leading to a strange sort of transmission burp until everyone catches up to the new idea. This is fresh and exciting stuff, and apart from the transitions, Pinhead Circus does a real nice job of managing the chaos.

    Certainly the blood gets going. Wow. The songs don't let up, and the whipsaw songwriting style does grow on me. Just wish the guys hit the shift lever a bit more smoothly.

    Quite honestly, I'm bitching about something which isn't that big a deal. I mean, this is punk music. It's supposed to be a bit ragged, right? Well, Pinhead Circus's appeal lies in just that ragged glory, and there's no need to whine about trivial matters. Lotsa fun. Satisfied?

    Pinhead Gunpowder
    Carry the Banner EP
    reviewed in issue #90, 10/23/95

    Nine songs that clock in at a little over 14 minutes total. Pure snot-bred California punk-pop that bears a passing resemblance to Green Day. And there's a good reason for that. This project also features members of Monsula and Crimpshine and was originally released on 10" vinyl last spring on Too Many Records.

    Gotta love the wacko cover of "Mahogany", too. In all this is simply cotton candy, caramel apples and funnelcake on a late summer evening at the county fair. Don't eat too much, though, or you'll get sick.

    Pink Frost
    New Minds
    (Under Road Records)
    reviewed 7/31/17

 These boys are from Chicago. They record at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studio. And they play . . . an intoxicating blend of stoner rock, buzzsaw punk and spacey psychedelia. The word "shoegaze" is bandied about a bit in the press notes, but these guys are way too intense for that.

    Reminds me a lot of what the Chainsaw Kittens might have sounded like if they had packed up and headed northeast out of Oklahoma. And I'd like to thank the two (three, tops) readers who know just what the hell that means. Want another name? Into Another. Pink Frost isn't quite so heavy into the Sabs, but the affected vocals draped over a fuzz guitar sheen do ring a bell.

    Even while I'd avoid the "S" word, there is an introspective quality to these songs that draws in the ears. Pink Frost isn't needy, but it shares just enough to be startlingly alluring. The sound is sharp, yet lush. And as Albini didn't actually twist the knobs, the pipes get their due. There are some lovely layered vocal bits that really pretty up the joint.

    Still and all, this is an album about power. With the exception of "Avian" (a full-blown psychedelic punk ballad), this album is kinetic and often throbbing. Once it starts rolling, everything feels inevitable. It's not, of course, Pink Frost has simply created a world where its music tops the evolutionary chain. And as worlds go, it's a pretty good one. Soak this one up as the summer heads into its final laps.

    The Pinkerton Thugs
    End of an Era
    reviewed in issue #212, 2/19/01

    Blue-collar punk that focuses on politics at least as much as music. Lots of anger, lots of angst. All put together with the expected sorta melodic buzzsaw attack.

    The sentiments expressed aren't original or even eloquent, but they are sincere. The same goes for the music. The Pinkerton Thugs hardly break new ground, but I still stuck around for the energy.

    Every once in a while something like the acoustic anthem "Youth" dropped along and made me sit up and take notice. Again, nothing spectacular in concept or execution, just a nice piece to break up the noise.

    A little generic for my taste, but still, the Pinkerton Thugs have plenty of spirit. There's no doubting the intensity. Plenty of that to spare.

    Chemical Jar
    (Blow Up-Pinch Hit)
    reviewed in issue #174, 12/28/98

    Half of the Trouble Dolls, who released at least one album on Doctor Dream a few years back. I liked the disc I heard (Cement) a lot, and I also dig this one. Gritty punk-edged rock, a SoCal version of the Minneapolis sound, if you will.

    I hope that reference works for you. This is music meant to be played with the volume on high. As in eleven. Subtlety isn't a strong suit. But there is a soul here that just leaps out of the speakers.

    Ever wonder how far three chords and a lot of attitude can take you? Well, Pinwheel proves that the road is long and winding, indeed. Basic basic, but rather attractive. Infectious, certainly.

    Don't know where the guys have been, but I'm happy to hear some more (even if it is a different name). The crunchy stuff goes down so nicely.

    Piss Shivers
    Help! My Dog's a Skinhead!
    reviewed in issue #84, 8/28/95

    Truer punk music you may not find. Thirteen songs, 18 minutes. Songs about silly things (the title track, G.G. Allin, etc.) and some vaguely political stuff.

    This is not polished. Indeed, if it was recorded in a studio the sound was left at the lo-fi level. It doesn't sound muffled, but kinda tinny. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Talent? I can't tell, really. All the songs are blitzes straight for the quarterback, with little niceties like a long, time-consuming run-oriented drive (talk about mixing metaphors: defense and offense). Anyway, what this does have is fun in spades.

    Certainly not the greatest album of the year. Perhaps one of the worst, even. But the attitude and style just makes me smile. Highly enjoyable.

    Hepped Up on Goofballs EP
    reviewed in issue #135, 5/26/97

    In the truest sense of punk, the Piss Shivers have persisted long beyond reason. Yeah, the music is pretty damned good (or at least amusing, which seems to be the point), but really, now.

    Of course, the same should be said for A&A. And now that I reside in the same state as these guys, well, perhaps I should be examining my own motives. After all, the Piss Shiver bang out high energy punk with sneering smiles.

    The trick is not to slow down, because that's when folks figure out you can't play. And, actually, the playing isn't bad. And neither is the production, which presents these proceedings in a pleasant muddle.

    Eight songs in 12 minutes, which seems about right, all things said. I don't know why these guys persist, but I'm glad they do.

    Number One
    reviewed in issue #119, 9/23/96

    Epic hardcore, showering heavy riffs with waves of fuzz. Or, if you prefer, grungy hardcore, with gothic overtones. Type O with a little more aggro. Whatever.

    And while I'm generally annoyed by really pretentious stuff (and trust me, Pist-On is pretentious, down to the Nietzche quote on the back cover), I do like Type O, and I like this. While not totally ripping off Pete and the boys, Pist-On takes enough for a comparison, but also brings in much more of the hardcore mess.

    And that's where Pist-On shines: when the punk parts show. The epic goth ballads sound a bit too much like a rehash. I hope the future shows a bit more originality.

    And with songs like "Parole" and "Shoplifters of the World Unite", Pist-On might make a mark. But watch out for the copycat syndrome.

    Pistol for Ringo
    Solid-State Neo-Hedonist
    reviewed in issue #244, August 2003

    The description of this disc on the label's web site is "a very nice listen for those who want a little more from their CD player." Damn. I wish I'd written that. That's really damned good.

    Pistol for Ringo plays pop music. Pop music with all sorts of electronic noises infused and plenty of weird musical lines trailing. Note that I didn't call this power pop. This band prefers the deft aside to the bludgeon.

    The sound is full, but with plenty of space in-between the instruments. The band refuses to play the same song twice (or, perhaps more explicitly, play the same style twice), but this vaguely sterile sound really brings out the complexity of the songwriting.

    "A little more," indeed. Pistol for Ringo doesn't dumb down for the masses. Instead, it commands respect by sticking to its guns and making aggressively interesting music. Precisely what I like to hear.

    Pistol Grip
    The Shots from the Kalico Rose
    reviewed in issue #217, 6/4/01

    Uptempo, blistering pop punk. These guys rain down ragged hooks and tasty sing-along choruses like you wouldn't believe. Great riffage and an always driving beat just burn these songs into overdrive.

    Nothing too heavy or mean, but still a nice raucous mess. Pistol Grip is anything but refined. There's very little craft to the writing or the playing, simply and utterly infectious style that's hard to ignore.

    It's that rough 'n' ready attitude that really drives this disc. The songs are basic basic, and when played with abandon such material kinda takes on a new life. It sounds grander, more exciting.

    And really, really tasting. Think of the New Bomb Turks, with a little less bombast. Pistol Grip plays party punk (or maybe bar-band punk, take your pick) as well as anyone. Big, big smiles.

    Pitbull Daycare
    Six Six Sex
    (Mia Records)
    reviewed in issue #167, 9/14/98

    Led by Donnie van Stavern (once of Riot, a band which was at once ahead of its time and too incoherent to quite realize its vision), Pitbull Daycare finds itself running through the increasingly crowded goth/industrial/metal waters.

    This project, like Riot, never quite lives up to what its members want to do. Each song contains a number of rhythmic and melodic themes, dotted with the requisite samples. There is no concept of coherence at all.

    And the sound is bad. Very top-heavy, almost a complete lack of bass. Part of this is by design (there is no full-time bass player), but part of it is simply a sloppy production job. This sounds cheap. A notch above demo quality, but not up to commercial standards. And I know these boys want to sell these discs.

    And despite these flaws, there are some fine moments. But the band is unable to tie them together for whole song, much less an album. I can imagine what Pitbull Daycare wanted to do. I can hear it right now, in my head. But those sounds aren't on this disc.

    Pitch Black
    This Is the Modern Sound
    reviewed in issue #262, March 2005

    Yes, Pitch Black is a modern quartet: guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. And as it whips its sound from buzzsaw to contemplative and then back again, the boys prove themselves every bit up to date.

    Genres are out. Music is in. As is really, really loud music, in this case. Sure, Pitch Black can dial back its attack every few moments. Still, this version of extreme melodic hardcore (with added brighteners) feeds best on volume.

    And the sound obliges. There are a few shades of gray here, but not many. Lots of binary--you know, the modern sound and all. If you don't like your music fast, loud and vaguely tuneful, go somewhere else.

    Lucky for me I dig it. That's just how it is. Pitch Black will go on, whether you like it or not. This is about attitude, baby, and these boys have plenty. Can you withstand the assault?

    Pitch Shifter
    (Deaf-Grind Core)
    reviewed in issue #27, 1/31/93

    Pre-Earache era musings. Reminiscent (pleasantly) of Streetcleaner-style Godflesh. Boy, this is brutal.

    While re-issues are often a waste of time, as there is a reason the older recordings never saw our fair shores, not here. This is at least as good as their more recent work. It gets you right in the, well, you know.

    All we would need to neuter the pets of America would be to play this album at 120 dbs throughout our fine neighborhoods for a couple of days or so.

    I have been needing a new fix of industrio-death pounding for so long, I was beginning to despair of its existence. And now I hear the new Dead World may sound something like this at times, my cup runneth over. And this stomps it to bits.

    reviewed in issue #46, 1/15/94

    Still heavier-than-fuck after all these years (what, three?), Pitch Shifter has taken the mantle of industrial metal gods from Godflesh once and for all with this disc.

    "Kitten sterilizing music" is what I like to call this. How it works: take you six-to-eight-week-old kitten (the eyes have to be open) and duct tape it to a good-sized speaker. Plop in your PS disc, and crank the volume to four or five.

    I know, you also get a deaf kitten, but at least you won't have to pay the vet to go in and rip out the appropriate organs. And less kittens is good kittens, I like to say.

    Back to the music. Perhaps a bit more accessible than their last, but the lyrics are coherent and the music pile-driving. Brutality such as this has been outlawed in three states so far; will yours be next?

    The Remix War
    reviewed in issue #69, 1/31/95

    Well, here's the lineup: Therapy? takes on "Diable", Gunshot and Biohazard each take a swipe at "Triad", and Pitch Shifter does those two, plus "NCM" "To Die Is Gain".

    Results? Therapy? is stunning as ever. The Pitch Shifter self-remixes sound a lot like the originals (though somewhat heaver at times). Gunshot takes a 1990-era Bomb Squad mood (read: Fear of a Black Planet) and spins it over nicely. This is the most unusual and probably exciting track on the disc. The music is almost completely deconstructed, but the vocals remain pretty much straight up.

    Biohazard takes on the same track, and just doesn't measure up. This one suffers from a little bit of muffling in the production, and while there are some interesting ideas in the breaks, the verse is pretty much a straight read-through of the original over a new drum track.

    A worthy effort; this disc is worth grabbing just for the Therapy? and Gunshot tracks. And the Biohazard isn't so much bad as just average. Pitch Shifter loses the war, as their remixes don't seem to change much at all (with the exception of "To Die Is Gain"-a really nice bit). Dig in.

    reviewed in issue #108, 5/6/96

    There is always good reason to celebrate new stuff from Pitch Shifter. These folk manipulate and mutilate the very concept of sonic fusion. Drum machine beats coming from all over the musical spectrum merged with sprawling guitar screams and screeches. And enough aggro attitude to sterilize the rat that resides in my attic.

    Actually, and this isn't a joke, the damned thing ran out as soon as I put this disc on. And since I like the album so much, maybe blasting it 24 hours a day will cure me of my rodent problem. That and arsenic.

    Anyway, Pitch Shifter has moved on along the highway of musical expression. Yeah, the vicious nature of the music hasn't changed, but the astonishing rhythm tracks leave me breathless. Even more cool than the last Grotus record for AT.

    I've liked this band for some time. Desensitized was a great album, and Infotainment? takes the whole concept a step further. Some people know how to make original and appealing music. I mean, who ever thought a sound like this would be so damned catchy? Tastes like candy, but satisfies like take-out from Bryant's barbecue. Doesn't get much better.

    reviewed in issue #100, 2/26/96

    Obviously monster fans of Jim O'Rourke, Creedle, Roger Miller and other wacko pop artists. Pitchblende takes all the elements of nice pop music, throws it in a blender and reassembles the goo. By hand.

    The album was named after Gary Gygax, founder of TSR and inventor of Dungeons and Dragons (and lots of other games). I met him once. He was a truly odd individual. I liked him a lot.

    Same goes for Pitchblende. The band's sense of sonic reality is breathtakingly beautiful. Yes, it often is a mess, but you have to listen past the instruments. Focus on the ideas, on the pureness of the sound. If you can get there, you will dig.

    I could go through all sorts of theory to try and explain this music, but I don't think that would help a whole lot. Pitchblende must be heard to be believed. Bands like Pavement take this idea and dumb it down for the masses. This is the pure essence. Which is why only a select few will approve.

    Without You I'm Nothing
    reviewed in issue #171, 11/9/98

    A British three-piece which plays brilliant fuzzy power pop. The band appears as part of a glam (that's the Bowie sort of glam) band in the new flick "Velvet Goldmine", so you might get an idea of where they're coming from.

    Frontman Brian Molko does have a Bowie-esque sort of delivery (though he sounds more like one of the faceless new wave singers of the early 80s), but those vocals work real well with the heavy, strident fuzz tones of the music. For all the production excess, Placebo plays straight-ahead pop. Basic, uptempo stuff. Basic, perhaps, but still amazing.

    The disc just keeps rolling along. Sure, the first track (and lead single) "Pure Morning" might be a monster smash in a couple months, but don't let that deter you from delving into the rest. The album is solid all the way through, with plenty of wonderful excursions.

    Sometimes a major label release is good. This one fits the bill. It's actually better than good. Great would be more like it. The future of pop is in good hands.

    Plan A Project
    Spirit of a Soldier
    reviewed in issue #197, 3/27/00

    They cover "White Riot" and don't change the arrangement much. Plan A Project wants to badly to be the Clash (circa '77 or so) that even the backing vocals have bad British accents. Sometimes. I guess Jersey boys and Madonna have something in common there.

    It's fairly decent, as sloppy punk goes. There is a great energy to the writing and the performances, and it's impossible to fault that. After a while, though, I just started wondering when the guys would branch out into a more original sound.

    They don't. And so if you're looking for a band that's not quite early Clash, well, Plan A Project should serve nicely. I always hope that a band wants to reach somewhere past its heroes. This one doesn't.

    Planes Mistaken for Stars
    Planes Mistaken for Stars
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #180, 4/12/99

    Emo has always been something of a pop offshoot, but Planes Mistaken for Stars blurs the lines even further. The strident emo sounds and sparse emo constructions are nearly forsaken in favor of a basic (and very noisy) three-chord attack.

    Each song generally has its poppier moments and its emo moments. Sometimes the transitions between the two are sublime. Sometimes they're a bit clunky. That's alright. The boys have plenty of time to perfect this insteresting formula.

    And it's not like there isn't plenty done extremely well. For the most part, the pieces are written quite well, and like I said, most number of the transitions work. It's just that when they don't, well, the effect is something like a car crash.

    Ah, hell, I'm bitchin' about little things here. The guys have a solid handle on the sound, and all of these songs have plenty to offer. In fact, they sond pretty damned good. I'm as impressed as I was with the track on the latest Emo Diaries sampler. Give Planes Mistaken for Stars just a little growing room, and watch what happens.

    split EP with Appleseed Cast and Race Car Riot
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #185, 7/26/99

    I listed the bands alphabetically, but the actual order is Planes Mistaken for Stars (one song), Race Car Riot (three songs) and Appleseed Cast (two songs).So I'll go in that order here.

    "Staggerswallowswell" is the PMS song (an unfortunate abbreviation, I agree), and it pretty much follows the title. A rip-roaring emo piece, quite possibly the best of the set. Certainly one of the best songs I've heard this year.

    Race Car Riot uses two instrumentals to bracket "Raincheck", and to be honest I prefer the instrumentals. Generally more pedestrian fare, though with a nice subtle touch in the guitar licks. Maybe this band is a bit under the radar for me. In any case, these songs don't sound entirely finished, though not bad the way they are.

    Appleseed Cast is a fine band, meandering all about in the two songs here. These two songs sound just like the stuff on the full-length, proving that these guys have a flair for somewhat unconnected logic, both musically and lyrically. The disc as a whole is quite solid, two great bands and a good one coming together nicely.

    Knife in the Marathon EP
    (Deep Elm) reviewed in issue #192, 12/6/99

    The car crash metaphor is just as apt here as it was for the full-length. Planes Mistaken for Stars can create lush, rolling sounds and two steps later it can degenerate into rambunctious caterwauling.

    I like that, myself.

    Each piece here bleeds into the next, creating something of a singular thematic effect. And, truth be told the songs here are a bit more cohesive. In other words, lots more caterwauling than somnambulism. The band wouldn't be mistaken for artful craftsmanship, but in terms of emotional power, these boys are the tops.

    Sometimes EPs are simply four to six songs put together. This one rings true from beginning to end. Almost as much a single statement as NOFX's "The Decline." Nearly as powerful as well.

    Planet Hate
    Mother Are You Mad?
    reviewed in issue #63, 9/30/94

    It sure is a joy to hear something done this well. Planet Hate takes the basic rhythms of mid-to-late eighties hard rock (Metallica, Anthrax, Soundgarden, etc.), fuzzes up the guitar sound and tosses in a few quirks of its own.

    One of those, "I know I've heard this before, but I can't place it" sorta deals. One that is very palatable to average listeners and real aficionados alike. The songs are tightly written and even have something to say (without being overly pretentious).

    Albums like this get filed under "simple pleasures". There isn't anything complicated or extraneous going on, but Planet Hate still more than satisfies. Just sit back and be warmed by the sonic rays.

    The One and Only
    reviewed in issue #150, 12/29/97

    You know, I have a feeling these guys know how much I like upbeat pop songs that have that particular sound which lends an epic feel to the proceedings. Yes, these are power pop anthems, with the odd touches of organ (mouth and keyboard). A definite Seven Seconds influence crashing through at certain moments.

    As often happens, the lyrics sometimes get a bit too convoluted for the music, and that certainly takes a few style points away. After all, the art is to craft perfect poetry to fit the form. Editing, boys. It's called editing.

    Still, there's a groove pervading this disc that I simply must mainline. Punchy, playful and really, really insistent, Plankeye throws out some real fine pop stuff. Sounds a lot like many other pop bands, but when Plankeye finds its happy place (about half the tunes, a fair average), all I can do is bask in the glory.

    Alright, sometimes it doesn't work out perfectly. But I defy you to play "Someday" or "Playground" without jumping up and down and squishing a few brain cells against yer cranium. If you don't, then you might as well kill yerself today.

    I Am 'Sub-Marinor' 7"
    reviewed in issue #154, 3/9/98

    Throbbing bass, off-kilter guitar sound, some serious riffage and vocals that sound like they're run through some sort of p.a. Reminds me a bit of Season to Risk, though with a lot more crap on the edges.

    Good crap, mind you. Lots of noisy touches that ensure a complex offering. Crunchy stuff, the sort that really clean out the ol' gizzard.

    It doesn't exactly make sense, but then, it doesn't have to. Planquez is merely presenting this in the interests of making the Earth a better planet. The granola on top of my yogurt.

    Joel Plaskett
    Three 3xCD
    (Maple Music/Universal Canada)
    reviewed in issue #312, November 2009

    Most of the time, triple albums are bloated affairs that could easily have been edited down to two or even one disc. Now, this is a triple album in the vinyl sense, as the 27 songs here could easily have fit on two discs. Maybe Plaskett was feeling old school when he put this together.

    There isn't any filler among the 27 songs here. Plaskett shifts gears a bit from disc to disc (1: peppy americana-pop; 2: intimate, more slowly-paced acoustic numbers; 3: the usual mishmash), but his observational style informs some truly fine songs.

    The sound is understated, just like Plaskett's singing style. There's not much showing off, but rather a quietly-radiating confidence. This is one of the more assured albums I've heard in quite a while.

    It just keeps rolling on and on. The quantity is impressive, but the quality is what shines through in the end. This album is being released by Universal in Canada; I'm not entirely sure how that translates in the States. But work this good will find its way. I'm sure of it.

    Plastic Mikey
    Cook Up Something New!
    reviewed in issue #129, 3/3/97

    A group of guys who believe that textured, well-crafted pop music is the perfect accompaniment for goofy songs. Indeed, Plastic Mikey reminds me a lot of Squeeze (late 70s version). Not a bad thing at all.

    The basic band arrangement (guitar, bass, drums) is augmented by full-time sax and keyboard (or sometimes piano) players. This gives the sound many more areas for roaming, and Plastic Mikey isn't afraid to take advantage. Every player gets a moment to shine, and like a good jazz combo, the stuff really starts to cook when everyone gets into the act.

    As I noted, the songs are rarely serious. The humor is somewhat corny, but Plastic Mikey manages to pull it off fairly well. The music in back is so good, it hardly matters what the folks are singing about.

    A big wad of fun. I haven't heard a pop album like this is quite a while, and I'm quite glad this puppy came my way.

    The Debut Seven Inch 7"
    (Squared Circle)
    reviewed in issue #94, 1/8/96

    A weird 90's fuzzbox approximation of trippy 70's pop, like if Superchunk decided to cover some James Taylor song, and kept the tempo real damned slow. The a-side, "Strawberry Sam", is a song about a birthmark (just like the enclosed note sez). Way overwrought and dramatic for such inane lyrics. Perhaps the folks are trying to paint some "brotherhood of man" picture, but even looking for it, I can't find the point.

    The flip, "Wallflower", is another tune about folks on the outside looking in. It's about as dreary as the first song.

    These songs did not need to be this pretentious and dull. The playing and production are alright, but I just can't understand how all this is taken so seriously by the band.

    Plastiscene EP
    reviewed in issue #136, 6/9/97

    The reason Americans don't understand Britpop is that most of us are incapable of appreciating and understanding the usefulness of juxtaposing happy-sounding music with really morose lyrics. Americans tend to miss the point, like when Youth for Christ named Matthew Sweet "Musician of the Year" for his decidedly anti-deity anthem "Divine Intervention".

    And then there's Plastiscene, whose two main songwriters (the brothers Gisborne, oh how British can you get?) were born in England but moved back to the U.S. during childhood. Talk about an utter mess. Plastiscene plays sarcastic pop tunes, but instead of whipping out the pure pop feel, the music undercuts that with enough starts and stops that apparently are supposed to signal "irony ahead".

    The hooks aren't very good, and there's way too much of that faux -funk wank groove (I've heard way too much of that this week, by the way) to kick the tunes into overdrive.

    The music is competent, but generic, and while the lyrics are sometimes interesting, the whole package doesn't fit. Plastiscene has its heart in the right place. Now all that needs to happen is for the head to follow.

    Hans Platzgumer
    (The Music Cartel)
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    Edgy electronic beats propelling a moderate sonic attack. If this was a DHR act, the speakers would explode. There's a lot going on here, but it's all very controlled.

    But oh, does it wander. There isn't much melody or noise lying on top of the beats, but every once in a while a few minimalist ideas flit past. Not enough to really flesh out any concepts, but certainly paths to wander.

    Platzgumer doesn't really worry about connecting his ideas together. The dots are yours to join. Instead, he just throws up plenty of vaguely-associated thoughts and leaves it at that. Makes for more intriguing listening, to be sure.

    I'm not utterly knocked out, but this does hold a few charms. Platzgumer isn't an easy listen, but there is plenty here to like. Just dig in anywhere.

    Clean Feeling
    (Super Secret)
    reviewed 9/4/17

    Yet another signal that Austin is moving into the top tier of underground music havens--it's always been great, but I've heard much more good stuff in the last couple of years than I did in the previous twenty. Some of that is happenstance, but as other indie rock havens price themselves out of the market (Chicago, Chapel Hill, etc.), Austin has stepped in with a solid scene ready to explode.

    The members of Plax have travelled through many Austin bands, but this sort of bare-bones, blistering punk isn't a sound that many identify with the area. Think Naked Raygun (well, actually, probably Pegboy, but either version of that band continuum is a fair comparison) with modern production and just the right sheen of fuzz. And boy, do these songs light a fire.

    My kids are well-versed in the pop-punk bands that escaped the 90s. But explaining to them the origins of punk has proved difficult. This album is a fine bridge. The songs are written in a basic construction, but they are much more old-school in their execution.

    This sucked grabbed me from the beginning and never let go. It occurs to me that a neighbor of mine played in a Naked Raygun cover band in college (you can't make this sort of thing up). I've got to turn him on. Those who appreciate the bad old days will satiate their blood lust here. Fabulous.

    Playa D
    Order & Kaos
    (Products of tha Streets)
    reviewed in issue #202, 7/17/00

    Basic hip-hop, lyric driven. The beats are pedestrian, so the vocals had better shine. And they don't shy away from relentless criticism of the hardcore life.

    Technique? Average. Due to the low production value, Playa D creates many of his "echo" vocals while he's also singing the lead line. It sounds somewhat silly, but since there are some overdubs and edits, maybe he's doing for effect.

    The lyrics, while generally positive, can be somewhat confused. In general, what Playa D is missing is focus. In the beats, in the lyrics, in the production. He's got some great ideas, but they aren't all getting across.

    Very raw and inexperienced, which does have its charms. But Playa D needs to clean up the sound and rhymes just a bit. Not in terms of subject material, but just delivery. The art of poetry is much more about re-writing than simply putting words to paper.

    Playing Enemy
    Ephemera EP
    (Escape Artist)
    reviewed in issue #241, May 2003

    These boys have a fun sense of humor. Rather than listing their instruments, they "play" Moon, Entwistle and Daltrey/Townshend. Rather fitting for an extreme combo that throws all sorts of prog and classical references into its fierce attack.

    And they do "You've Got to Be Crazy." Alright, so a Pink Floyd cover isn't exactly news, but the way these boys deconstruct that piece into a squall of guitars and drums is impressive. This trio knows exactly what it's doing.

    I know, I've said it a thousand times before, but just because a band plays loud and mean doesn't indicate a lack of intelligence. This is smart music that happens to have a real bite to it. Dig in.

    The Playing Favorites
    I Remember When I Was Pretty
    (Suburban Home)
    reviewed in issue #293, February 2008

    Joey Cape and a few pals kick back together to do the side project thing. Marko DeSantis, Luke Tierney, Tim Cullen and Mick Flowers round out the lineup. Not bad.

    And not unlike Bad Astronaut, these songs are a bit more far ranging than the average Lagwagon (or Sugarcult or Summercamp or...) effort. Dreadfully poppy, with lots of punch and some surprise touches here and there. Dreadful, of course, if you don't like hooks that cling like Scarlett Johanssen's lingerie.

    Ahhh... Hey, I was listening to the album. Really! This is the sort of album that make a great case for pop punk as the purest form of music. The songs go down smoother than good sake. And each member (other than skinman Flowers) takes a turn or few at mike (so all the fans won't be disappointed).

    All told, a very enjoyable way to spend fourteen songs. I'm partial to Cape's songs, especially "Indigenous," which is one of the better non-New Order New Order songs I've heard in ages. An opiate for fools like me.

    Pleasure Elite
    Bad Juju
    (Red Light)
    reviewed in issue #58, 7/15/94

    I understand the live show is not to be missed, and the music qualifies for that rating as well.

    Merging the anthemic tendencies some Seattle bands are afflicted with industrial noise and a punk-pop sensibility, Pleasure Elite has its own sound.

    And, of course, you never know what each song is going to do. Where Skatenigs always go for the chunky riff to pull through a song, the Pleasure Elite may rely on a sample or weird lyrical idea or even a new beat to pull off a success.

    Artistically, of course, that puts them in a higher category. And in the final test, they succeed. Bad Juju is a cool album that defies real description. Yes, it's awful difficult to work with, but since when have college radio programmers ignored something because it was too good to be labeled? (Please don't answer that. I don't need to be depressed.)

    Brutal Tutu
    (Quivering Submissive Flesh)
    reviewed in issue #81, 7/31/95

    On their own (after the demise of Red Light), the Pleasure Elite decided to dump this live disc out on an unsuspecting public.

    The results are mixed. The live recording captures the feel of the band better than Bad Juju, but the production is a little spotty at points and the songs are still a little derivative.

    None of the eight songs here appeared on Bad Juju, so all-new material for those who got on the train with the Red Light album. I'd still like to hear something other than standard metallic-industrial rantings, but I'll settle for this. A good representation of the Pleasure Elite, for better and worse.

    Hog Tied
    (Quivering Submissive Flesh)
    reviewed in issue #162, 6/29/98

    As you can see from the album cover, you're not gonna find this disc in many stores. The band has managed a decent living touring incessantly, and this is just something to hawk along the way. The show is the thing, though the last two times the band has been through town (yes, through York, Penn., twice since I've moved here) I have been out of the area. Annoying, but still.

    Basic guitar-driven industrial fare, with a stage show that is much more entertaining. These folks should get together with Genitorturers and Spo-Its for a nationwide bondage tour. Lotsa fun and horsewhips.

    This album is probably the band's best, though the sound could use a little punching up in spots. Very thick sound, but not muddled; nicely driving songs. Forward, ever forward, with some great riffage and sample stuff. Kinda like Lee Harvey Oswald Band, only more industrial and raw all at the same time.

    I still have to recommend the show before the albums, but this album narrows the gap somewhat. A nice chunk of fun.

    Lost Patterns
    reviewed in issue #255, July 2004

    Proving that the 80s are still worshipped in Seattle, Pleasurecraft cranks out an album that reminds me of nothing less than Get Ready, New Order's masterful 2001 album. The press notes that Pleasurecraft doesn't leave the guitars behind, and it's that devotion to the electronic and the electric that makes this such a fun album.

    Well, and those up-and-down 80s beats, of course. Pleasurecraft can get away with such pedestrian rhythms because the rest of its sound is so complex. In fact, getting really freaky with the drum machines would have distracted from the rest of the music.

    The sound is sometimes sterile and sometimes shockingly organic. Think of it as electronic in the real. I'm not sure how this all plays out live, of course, but it is most engaging on this disc.

    Solid, unpretentious pop music. Pleasurecraft lives up to its name in every way. This is, indeed, a first class ride to good times. And then some.

    This Is a Blackout
    reviewed in issue #281, December 2006

    One of my (extremely) long-term projects is scanning the ol' music collection into my computer. By the time I'm done, I'll have to do it all over again to match up with whatever format is in vogue then. The reason I mentioned this is that I scanned in Pleasurecraft's Lost Patterns about an hour before I started this review. It's a meaningless fact, I know, but a fun coincidence anyway.

    So obviously I like Pleasurecraft's notion of electronic dance rock. This stuff is more Kraftwerk meets INXS than, say, KMFDM meets the Cure. The clinically-clean sound probably will put a few people off. I maintain, however, that it allows the band's stellar sense of melody to shine through.

    And that's all this is, really, melody laid over the most basic of rhythm tracks. As I noted earlier, plenty of folks would have been tempted to punch this stuff up in any number of ways. Pleasurecraft doesn't, and in so doing it has created a truly unique sound.

    I suppose it's fair to say these folks aren't really doing anything "new," per se. They're just making cool music that goes down easy on the brain. I'll ride these slinky melodies as far as my memory hole will let me.

    The Sleeping Lines
    reviewed in issue #246, October 2003

    So do you remember the "experimental" new wave bands? The ones that used electronic pop sounds to try and create something utterly new?

    Yeah, me neither. I mean, there were bands like Can, but was Can new wave? Yeesh. Don't ask me. In any case, Plink sounds a lot like the early goth new wave bands (say, the Mission) with everything stripped down to its bare essence: minimalist rhythms, the occasional keyboard wash and ethereal vocals. And boy, is this stuff seductive.

    Not in a "I'm gonna make love to you, woman" kinda way. More of an intellectual seduction, a sly, slinky wit that slowly deceives your brain into believing that Plink is actually doing more than it is. There is the illusion of greatness here. It's an illusion that's truly tough to break.

    In the end, this house of cards stands. The foundation is rock solid, and even if the walls might be paper thin, they're decorated with the most beautiful patterns imaginable. I'm entranced.

    EP EP
    (24 Hour Service Station)
    reviewed in issue #342, November 2012

    Dan Dixon sounds like an old pro, but this is his first release. He uses electronics to augment and deconstruct conventional rock and roll.

    Real rock and roll, with awesome guitars, slinky beats and disaffected vocals. Dixon takes all that, does some deft slicing and dicing and then trots out five winners.

    An EP like this is what makes people think that making music is easy. These songs sound like they simply appeared fully-formed. Dixon's writing is astounding, but his studio work is positively brilliant. Unstoppable.

    reviewed in issue #141, 8/18/97

    I still haven't figured out if the folks at Silvertone are aware that the fruit is spelled "plum", and that "plumb" has something to do with depths. I suppose they didn't want to draw attention to the shallowness of this band.

    Sounds like a lesser version of Magnapop, a band not renowned for greatness. I could also call this an annoying rip-off of such faux "chick rock" like Garbage, but even that is giving too much credence.

    There's so much producer interference (most of the tracks use a drum machine and loads of keyboards and other "refinements") that I really have no idea what the songs actually sounded like when the band wrote them. This sounds like one of those albums that no one actually played on, just ripped a sample into the computer and let the producer do the rest.

    Ah, hell, maybe I'm just getting too used to raw stuff. But these songs are not good, and the sound is generic major label sheen. Dull, and annoying to boot. Bleah.

    More Becomes You
    (Drag City)
    reviewed in issue #166, 8/31/98

    Drag City is a firm believer in the audio auteur, a person who is involved in all levels of recording. Take Palace (whatever), Smog, Scott Walker, etc., and you might begin to see what I'm talking about. Liam Hayes (who is Plush) sings and plays piano or organ.

    I'm guessing the songs here were recorded with few overdubs. Hayes uses his voice as an instrument (countering the piano) so well, I can't see how it could have been done otherwise. Of course, brilliance helps.

    And these strange, observational songs (Hayes is much less emotive than I figured he'd be) wind into the brain slowly. The phrasing can be clunky and even messy, but Hayes knows how to get an effect. He's got that down cold.

    Low-key, but hardly unassuming, Plush is just another one of the great auteur acts thrust forth by Drag City. Very personal music for aural voyeurs. Hayes sure knows how to get to people. These songs are bullets, headed right for the heart.

    (Tommy Boy)
    reviewed in issue #338, June 2012

    Electronic pop has wandered through so many phases and sounds that I simply can't keep track of them all. Luckily, Plushgun has done the work for me.

    There's a smattering of chilly New Order sounds, bounding Belgian-esque romping, more than a spot of laptop and just the barest notion of techno. And plenty more than I can't quite identify.

    All grafted onto a solid indie pop base. Plushgun has chops in all the right places. These tightly-wound songs explode with joy when the hooks set. Most invigorating.

    Some albums just hit my sweet spot and then settle in. This would be one of those. I find it very difficult to be objective when all of my pleasure centers have been sated. My brain is a pleasured ball of goo.

    Cool Way to Feel
    reviewed in issue #74, 4/15/95

    I had high expectations after getting the Cub from Mint a month ago (I'm still spinning that disc almost daily), and Pluto fulfilled my every desire quite wonderfully.

    Straight ahead punk-pop with a thick guitar sound and really good songwriting. Does life get any better than this? Well, maybe, but you'd have to work real hard at it.

    Let me reiterate: this ain't particularly complicated, fast, mean, ugly or politically motivated. If Pluto gets around to a fourth chord on a song, you might fall over in shock. But the finest pleasures are simple ones, and Pluto is as tasty as this stuff comes.

    You just have to listen for a few seconds, and you'll be hooked, too. Vancouver seems to have taken the cue from all the great pop/punk bands in Seattle and then done them one better. First Cub and now Pluto. Trust me. You need your Mint.

    Pocket Fishrmen
    Future Gods of Rock
    (Austin Throwdown-Sector II)
    reviewed in issue #68, 1/15/95

    Wondrously catchy pop-punk that sounds like a strange synthesis of Hanoi Rocks and Buzzcocks, with a (large) dash of Kiss attitude thrown in. There's a lot more testosterone present than many "scenesters" might like, but then I'm quite sure these boys have been on the "sell-out" list with the hardliners for a while.

    Fuck 'em. Pocket Fishermen have a really fun sound, and those whiny glam vocals push everything right over the top. Most of the lyrics are pretty inane, but all is forgiven when the chorus kicks in. This stuff is plain infectious.

    I'd guess the label will try and sell these boys as punk, as that is the flavor of the month and Michael Monroe's albums haven't even charted. But I suspect there's a pretty wide group of folk who like to listen to music that's loud, fast and silly. Don't get mad; just laugh.

    The Pods
    Left of Fair
    reviewed in issue #159, 5/18/98

    This puppy should win lots of awards for packaging. I generally don't mention such things, but the design and construction of this package are amazing. First rate and terribly impressive. Still, I'm not swayed by such first impressions. The music is always more important than the cardboard.

    I had to figure that anyone who would be so meticulous about the casing would also take great care in crafting the music. The sound is basic college rock, with tight playing and a well-orchestrated sound (the band utilizes both acoustic and electric guitars at the same time and also drops in some horns and other cool sounds at appropriate moments).

    Solid, if not particularly distinguished songwriting. The tunes move nicely and they work. In fact, it is easy to hear how much pain, sweat and suffering went into putting these songs into order. This stuff has indeed been worked out, both in rehearsal and live. The Pods know exactly what buttons to push and how hard to push them.

    That's not to say this is calculated and dull. More like a finely crafted piece of furniture. Something you're happy to look at for many years. The Pods have a solid sense of how to make fine music. And that work has served them well.

    reviewed in issue #77, 5/31/95

    Five years ago, this might have been huge. Bands like Warrior Soul and Law and Order were cranking out anthemic albums with grungy riffs and soaring vocals. The time has passed.

    I liked this sort of stuff back then, and I like what Podunk's sound now. The lyrics are a bit hackneyed and cliche, though, which bums me a bit.

    The industry hack inside of me says that even with better lyrics Podunk will have a hard time selling this today. But the idealist inside tells these folks to keep on, and work a little harder on the lyrical end of things. Time can work wonders.

    David Poe
    Love Is Red
    reviewed in issue #263, April 2005

    Recorded in Berlin, David Poe's third album is an example of everything that is wrong with the music "industry." He recorded two fine albums, and they didn't sell. So he got dropped. And then he recorded this album, one with the quiet fire of an underwater volcano--as seen and heard from the surface of the ocean.

    Poe makes these songs of love, loss and internal strife sound almost effervescent. His voice is strong, but he sings with an effortless air. Yeah, yeah, I know it's a bitch to work out proper phrasing and that it's almost impossible to sound this carefree. Poe has worked his ass off to get this sound.

    Ah, but the payoff is immense. Poe is an exceptional craftsman as a writer; he refuses to resort to cliche or to force a lyric into a space where it doesn't fit. That's how these songs sound so unfettered. Poe put in the time beforehand, and then he made the record.

    And quite a record it is. Unlike athletics, getting demoted from the "big leagues" in music is often a compliment. Perhaps it's the sort of appreciation Poe didn't necessarily need, but then, his music certainly didn't need big money to retain its high quality. Poe has cemented his place as one of the great songwriters of his (or any) generation. Outstanding.

    The Poems
    Young America
    (Minty Fresh)
    reviewed in issue #278, September 2006

    Truly gorgeoso pop music from the wilds of Scotland. Yes, plenty of famous Scottish guests (in fact, name yer fave Scot and he or she is probably here). In a way, this is something of a Scottish all-star album.

    Except that it is a Poems album. The guests contribute nicely, but the well-heeled, slightly scratchy pop sound of the band comes through in every song. And man, what songs. These are some of the finest bits of pop wonderment I've heard in years.

    The sound is that pleasant acoustic-electronic feel that seems to pervade Scotland. And two female singers--one of whom is the daughter of a Simple Minds drummer. Incestual all stars...wowsers!

    Ah, it's all good. And that's what this album is. Music of the highest quality, stuff that tickles the mind and the heart--and provides a nice bounce to the day as well. Lovely and delicious. Like a slightly overripe plum. Damn, my mouth is watering again already.

    Poison Idea
    Blank Blackout Vacant
    reviewed in issue #13, 5/15/92

    The hardcore director at KCOU told me this was not just a great punk album, it was a great metal album as well. I listened to it and must agree.

    This is just damn hard. The sound is a little fatter than previous efforts, which helps the metal-thrash comparisons. I don't know why more people haven't picked up on this album.

    All of the classic elements of hardcore: aggression, attitude and anti-social lyrics, combined with the heavy production and solos associated with thrash. Tasty.

    reviewed in issue #122, 11/4/96

    Alterna-pop take on the blues, something like a more normal Jon Spencer Blues Experience deal. With some stuff that only a band from Little Rock could add.

    This stuff is funnier than it is good. The music is middling, but some of the lyrics are downright inspired. Too bad you have to sit through the rather derivative music.

    The production is basic demo work, leaving everything pretty muffled. It's possible to make out all of the instruments and vocals, though, so at least it's passable.

    If the guys could write music to match their words, they'd really have something.

    Pokerface (different band)
    reviewed in issue #150, 12/29/97

    Pro-America, pro-pot rock. Hey, a slogan I can live with. Paul Topete wrote the music and played many of the instruments (with some help from a few friends). Topete sounds like he's lost in the 80s, that whole Survivor and later-day Journey thing going on.

    And he does a better-than-fair job with that sound. The production is top-notch, and he's got a good ear for the power-rock anthem chorus. While the emphasis on his brand of patriotism (which isn't utterly whacked like many of the "patriots" in militias) would sound out of place in music that flows away from the mainstream, AOR is the perfect medium.

    Now, if you got over this sorta music when you were in junior high school, well, you're not gonna like this anyway. But if you still listen to Vital Signs with fond feelings of nostalgia, then you'll like where Pokerface is coming from.

    I don't think this sound is coming back any time soon, though I wouldn't have ever bet on a band like Hootie and the Blowfish, either. For what he does, Topete's Pokerface turns in a good performance.

    Rose Polenzani
    reviewed in issue #185, 7/26/99

    Rose Polenzani sings in non-sequitur. Her songs are poems filled with distinct and seemingly-incoherent passages. Pulling back, however, it becomes easier to hear the relations between the separate threads.

    Though it is also easy to get drawn fully into the music as well. Polenzani's simple style (acoustic guitar, the occasional backing instrument or two) are almost irresistible, and her delivery is as smooth as her imagery is jarring.

    Reminds a little of the first Patty Griffin album, though without the agony. Pain, yes. But not so extreme. Polenzani is more subtle in her style. I think some of her songs are even more disturbing, but like good writing, the words have to settle in before they unsettle the nerves.

    A mature sound that is hard to fathom. Polenzani sounds like someone who has been crafting this style for years, and I don't think she's old enough for that. Just a natural, I guess. I'm enraptured.

    reviewed in issue #65, 10/31/94

    It certainly does seem Treepeople have become the new R.E.M., at least in that the new generation of pop alternative bands all owe some semblance of their sound to Scott and Doug and Co.

    Pollen goes a little further than most. The guys appropriate style rather than substance, but the guitar sound and rhythms employed are so much in the Treepeople vein that I truly thought I was listening to a tribute album.

    And at the moment, Pollen's songwriting is not quite up to the task. Once you pierce the veneer of superficial similarities, you'll find that Pollen is mostly hollow in the middle.

    Thoroughly enjoyable, Pollen does need to work on a personal style that isn't quite so Boise-driven.

    Peace Tree
    (Wind Up/BMG)
    reviewed in issue #130, 3/17/97

    I thought this band's first album for Grass was a bit too reminiscent of the Treepeople. A bit heavy on the carbon-copy thing. I never got the second one (the Grass folks haven't been sending me much lately), and so this is a chance to give fresh dish.

    A bit poppier than Bluette, and I can still hear Scott Schmaljohn in the guitar lines. But Pollen does seem to have found a bit more of its own sound within the whole power-pop realm, although there is still a good deal of work needed there.

    The tunes are fresh and nicely biting, rarely taking a second for a breath. Pollen has a great sense of pacing for this pop stuff, and the songs reflect this great instinct. The production is pleasingly punchy, bringing out just enough undertones to color the sound nicely.

    A good pop album, better than I expected. Pollen still needs to find a clearer vision of its sound, but this is a positive step in the right direction. The band has already proven itself at writing and executing good pop.

    Jonny Polonsky
    Hi My Name Is Jonny
    (American Recordings)
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #1, 2/19/96

    Some people know how to write great pop songs. These folks are not usually the greatest singers (guitar players, whatever), but they have a real feel for using three chords to strike at the hearts of millions.

    These folks can't be always rushed (remember the second Michael Penn album?), and they can't always be found in the centers of the musical universe. As you might have guessed by this build up, Jonny Polonsky is in this esteemed group of folks.

    I haven't heard pure pop songwriting this cool since the Tim Elder disc from late last year. The main difference is that Polonsky got money to spend time in the studio and use real instruments. Elder had to stick with electronic substitutes.

    Polonsky's voice is sub-standard, though such folks as Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen have made out quite well with less-than-perfect yodels. He keeps his playing simple and direct, which brings all the attention to the songs, which is where it belongs.

    Short (the 10 songs run a little more than 24 minutes), sweet and to the point. Great pop style, and Polonsky has it. A joy of an album.

    Today's Active Lifestyles
    reviewed in issue #33, 4/30/93

    Since I may be living in North Carolina in a few months, I guess I should pay attention to bands from around there.

    And Polvo IS certainly worth a listen. There is a lot going on, most of it at once. While compared to another Tar Heel band, Superchunk, Polvo wanders where Superchunk tightens up.

    Heavy, twisted pop that will eventually crash through your defenses. People really got off on last year's album, and I can't imagine a different response for this one. Don't let it be too weird for you; take the challenge and plunge in.

    Celebrate the New Dark Age (advance cassette)
    reviewed in issue #51, 3/31/94

    I understand they were the show at CMJ (I missed due to serious illness). Loopy pop from North Carolina (sound familiar?). Polvo has never recorded a bad record. It isn't starting here.

    Exploded Drawing
    reviewed in issue #107, 4/22/96

    Veterans of the scene by now, Polvo cranks out another salvo in it war on generic music. And as usual, it hits dead on target.

    Polvo refuses to meet its fans even half way, pounding out jarring pop tunes some might say only a mother could love. Or fans of eclectic pop, I suppose. I mean, this isn't really experimental, but Polvo's insistence on dissonance and strident chord progressions is rather revolutionary.

    Or was, as Polvo is "merely" following in the tradition of great bands like Slint. Or its own considerable recorded output, at this point. Exploded Drawing is just another awesome chapter in the Polvo story. No, there's not a "breakthrough smash hit" here, nor is there that song perfect for a Spike Jonez (sp?) video. Simply scintillating music. Ain't that a bitch.

    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #142, 9/1/97

    A legendary band that has never broken through to the mainstream. Probably because while there is something of a continuum from album to album, Polvo never stays in the same place. If you come to an album expecting something in particular, it will never be there.

    Same goes for live shows, of course. And that's one of the reasons I really like what Polvo does. This is a band that encourages its fans to demand more of the act itself. A never-ending circle which basically results in more experimentation and musical growth for the band. Never a bad thing, particularly with folks as talented as these.

    One theme that hasn't changed is Polvo's obsession with dichotomy. Soft, gentle acoustic bits broken up by slashing electric chords, something like hacking a broken bottle across your abdomen. Well, in the hands of these masters it's more like surgery, but you probably get the idea.

    I've never been disappointed by a Polvo album, and this one doesn't break the trend. If there is one thing that differentiates Shapes from what came before, I suppose it might be a slightly greater reliance on Eastern musical ideas, but like I said, Polvo doesn't run in place. After all, the race never ends.

    Pontiac Brothers
    Fuzzy Little Piece of the World
    reviewed in issue #23, 10/31/92

    More of an album to make some cash and reminisce about the good old days than a real reunion, Fuzzy... is still great. Something about pop music that makes you think. I'm not sure why I get so addicted to this, but there must be a reason I'm a dead sucker.

    It could be the attitude. From the liners: "So we didn't catch the brass ring and we didn't revolutionize the pop world with our musical prowess, but we enjoyed the hell out of not doing it." I think that is a credo those folks on the independent side of the music industry should live by. Music makes us feel good, and you shouldn't be too label conscious. If it makes you happy, groove. And I'm grooving on this album.

    Rosa Mystica
    reviewed in issue #290, October 2007

    Jeff Hatch is the singer and songwriter for Ponyno. He did some time as drummer for Green Ice, who passed through Seattle in the mid-80s. I'm not familiar with that band, but I'm betting these 70s-influenced country rockers don't sound much like Hatch's old outfit.

    They do sound awfully good, though. Hatch has a wonderful easygoing feel for his material, and the songs rollick and roll along. There's more than a bit of Gram Parsons in the harmonies here, but the general song structure is more straightforward pop-rock.

    Throw in a little pedal steel and organ and the sound is almost perfect. Hatch's experience-worn lyrics are wry--and often wise as well. This album has sunset written all over it. I'd like to call this a "shine on" sound, but I don't know if that makes sense even to me.

    Whatever you call it, please call it good. Ponyno is one of those projects that kinda comes out of nowhere to really impress. The sorta thing I simply can't put down.

    Poobah-see Alkaloid

    Iggy Pop
    Avenue B
    reviewed in issue #189, 10/11/99

    There is only one Iggy Pop. He can howl at the moon better than anyone. And he's also pretty good at delivering utter cornpone, too. But sometimes he goes really, really weird. This counts as that.

    Don Was is as commercial a producer as anyone (Garth Brooks used Was to help "transform" himself into Chris Gaines), but he also is renowned for giving true visionaries a wonderful forum for their ideas. Bob Dylan, Wayne Kramer and even Iggy himself have benefited from Was knob jobs.

    The mood here is contemplative. There are three spoken word bits backed by keyboard washes which are straight out of Van Halen's 1984. Even when Iggy gets worked up on a song like "Shakin' All Over," he never really gets revved up. For the most part, however, the music is a minimal force. You have to pay attention to Iggy's less-than-perfect warbling and his forcefully emotional lyrics.

    And that's a mixed blessing at best. A morose Iggy Pop isn't all that exciting. And that's what is served up here. Oh, there's some energy at times, but not enough to salvage the whole. Iggy needs to search and destroy, not mope and whine.

    Live in NYC
    (King Biscuit)
    reviewed in issue #201, 6/26/00

    This show was recorded at the Ritz in November 1986. Kinda the end of a real down period and the beginning of a new renaissance with the release of Blah Blah Blah. The band personnel certainly is impressive: Andy McCoy of Hanoi Rocks, Alvin Gibbs of UK Subs on bass, Paul Garristo of the Psychedelic Furs on Drums and Seamus Beaghen of Madness on keyboards.

    A nice dose of Blah Blah Blah and plenty of other songs he co-wrote with David Bowie, including the song that Bowie made a smash, "China Girl." The band is in fine form, though the mix is a little muddy. In particular, McCoy's guitars get a little lost now and again.

    The liners make the point that this show is important historically, and I figure that's probably right. This was the dawn of Pop's greatest commercial successes, and this is an early document of that resurgence.

    In terms of quality, though, the sound is just middling. The performances are pretty good (though there are plenty of spots where someone or another gets a little sidetracked), and Pop's energy and daring is always a blast. Not for the casual fan, but certainly important for the serious aficionado.

    Pop Art
    Really Blind Faith: A Retrospective 1984-1990
    reviewed in issue #208, 11/20/00

    As the rather insightful liners noted, this could be a boxed set, as the full output of Pop Art could be held on three CDs. And maybe that's a nice thought for the future.

    But this here is a fine portrait of a band that never came particularly close to making it (in a commercial sense). I mean, there's not even a mention in my old Trouser Press guides. That's all irrelevant, though. What's important is the music, and just like David Steinhart's current project (Smart Brown Handbag), these are classically-crafted pop gems.

    Like Alex Chilton more than a decade earlier, Steinhart looked overseas for his inspiration (he wrote most of these songs with his brother Jeff). So there's a definite Smiths feel, but a bit more jaunty. Pop Art doesn't wallow in morose musings. Rather, these songs soar despite their minor key settings.

    There's not a bad song here, and I'd guess there's quite a few more good ones in the tank. Perhaps there might be a boxed set one of these days. Until then, this collection stands as a wonderful portrait.

    See also Smart Brown Handbag.

    Pop Canon
    The Kingdom of Idiot Rock
    reviewed in issue #152, 2/9/98

    As the note sez, seven folks in a band with horns, and it's not ska. Not at all. A lot more like Billy Goat. People that try really hard to make amusing music. Trying too hard, really.

    For such simple music, this stuff sounds way too calculated. The lyrics call upon a wide load of references (when's the last time you heard Uri Geller mentioned in a song?), but there's so much overload that whatever clever bits exist (and there are quite a few) get lost in the general morass.

    The sound is just overbearing. Too many instruments playing the same lines, lines which aren't that convoluted to begin with. And way too many musical cliches are used to get out of songwriting jams.

    This sounds like what it is: a local band that packs them in at the bar with spirited performances. The problem with a disc is that you haven't downed a couple pitchers and worked yourself into a sexual frenzy every time you hear it. And when sober, the stuff just isn't nearly as cool.

    Pop Unknown
    Summer Season Kills EP
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #172, 11/23/98

    I suppose this fits into the whole emo thing (it is on Deep Elm, which along with Crank! is probably the trendsetter in the movement). The guitar lines certainly fall that way. But the sound and song constructions are much more power pop. Mellow (but often loud) power pop. Is this making sense?

    Probably not. What I mean to say is that the tempos are generally mid to slow, and even when they pick up (like on "You Own Personal Wedding"), the songs never quite kick into overdrive excess. Just nice poppy sound, with a stripped-down emo feel.

    Yeah, this is pop, and it feels good. Just ease into it bit by bit, letting that gorgeously crafted sound bathe my skin. Ooh yeah. Let my head slip beneath the surface...

    Just an amazingly comfortable disc. Nothing crazy or over the top. Just fine pop songs with somewhat dusty hooks. Real fine pop songs. Stuff which quietly demands complete subservience. Please sir, may I have another?

    If Arsenic Fails, Try Algebra
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #193, 12/20/99

    Another step in the continuing evolution of emo as documented by Deep Elm. Pop Unknown does incorporate the repetitive, limited-tone guitar style, but there are also plenty of power pop elements here as well. The emo flavor also lends an anthemic cast to the sound, with no complaints from this direction.

    A pleasant amalgam of sounds, though Pop Unknown sounds more and more like a Mineral-style emo band as the disc wears on. Those pop outbursts are always welcome, but as the disc wears on they just take on a lesser role.

    That's alright. The basic gist of what I'm saying here is that Pop Unknown makes great music. Good writing, good playing and a real nice production job. The just-sharp-enough sound provides the exact edge these guys need.

    The songs do the rest. As good as this sounded on first listen, it gets even better on the return tip. Pop Unkown shouldn't be unknown for long. Not with stuff like this, in any case.

    Pope Factory
    Pope Factory
    (Buffalo Fire)
    reviewed in issue #185, 7/26/99

    The strident guitars of emo, the song structures of noise pop and the harmonies of plain old regular pop. Thus Pope Factory reminds me of a lot of bands, but really sounds like none of them.

    It is the guitar work which really intrigues me. The rhythm section sets it up so nicely, and then the guitars get to work. The vocals are quite nice, but I keep coming back to those cool guitars. Something about the way they weave.

    The texture of the sound is impeccable. There are discernible layers (often, this effect is enhanced by the slow introduction of instruments in a song) and so part of the fun is tracing the lines through the pieces. I like to do that, anyway.

    Familiar, and yet unique. A real formula for success (at least on the limited scale of making-no-money indie land). The artistry cannot be denied.

    Pope Jane
    reviewed in issue #193, 12/20/99

    I think there's a reason why most groove bands have more than three members. Pope Jane has three good musicians, but the sound is unfulfilled, somewhat incomplete. An extra guitar would really flesh things out.

    Danielle Egnew's affected vocals are a bit grating, but really, that's not so hard to get along with after a while. The songs themselves are witty, and the songwriting is good. There just needs to be some kind of counter to the guitar.

    The pieces lurch along, and they should be smoother. That's where an additional guitarist would really help. There's just a big hole in the sound.

    It's been a while since I've heard something like this with such an obvious flaw. Hey, one more guitar and Pope Jane might have something. At least that way, it's be a lot easier to make a clear judgement.

    Pope Syndicate
    Energy Pimps EP
    reviewed in issue #223, 10/15/01

    I guess grunge will never die. Pope Syndicate does update the sound nicely, stripping down the excess from time to time and really letting the songs show themselves.

    Until the choruses, that is. And then the same ol' bash and moan. Not that it's bad, by any standards. These guys sound pretty good. I'm just not sure this is the most commercially viable sound these days, and grunge (this particular shade, anyway) was never an underground fashion.

    So I've gotta guess these guys are playing for keeps. And while they play very well and have written some good songs, I just don't hear anything that tells me these boys have "rock star" halos. That's not what I really care about, of course, but I'm just saying.

    Hungry Mother Park
    reviewed in issue #40, 9/30/93

    They call their sound indie pop. I'm not sure what that means, but to my ears it's more flowing than Superchunk, but not as incoherent as My Bloody Valentine.

    The production is a little muffled, but the songs behind the veil are quite nice. Everything merges together nicely, and after a while the cloudiness seems to be a pleasant effect.

    split 7"
    reviewed in issue #58, 7/15/94

    The Poppy track is more of the meandering pop I've heard from those folk in the past, though it seems to be a little more focused and heavy now. "Undoing" flows nicely from mellow to fortissimo and back. Sure, it's a trend, but Poppy has a fresh take on that motif.

    Anthrophobia is much heavier and active, barely sticking on the fringe of pop music. I know it sounds weird, but it reminds me of something like Van Halen (1980 model) meets Treepeople. Crunchy and tasty heavy pop. Very nice.

    Expectorant 7"
    (Alternative Tentacles)
    reviewed in issue #38, 8/31/93

    Ex-members of such Bay-area stalwarts as Primus, Sister Double Happiness and Samiam combine here to create a sound that just pounds those other bands to death.

    Heavy, heavy, heavy, but still there's this underlying groove. I believe something was mentioned about albums in the future. I know I'll be waiting with great anticipation.

    Porn Orchard
    Urges & Angers
    reviewed in issue #5, 1/15/91

    My God. My only real taste of Porn Orchard came from their Teriyaki Asthma appearance, so this blew me right away. To tell you they're from Athens says nothing, because these boys rock with the best.
    Mind Over Four. Rapscallion. Stuff like that. This is real damn good. No, it's fuckin' great. And there's almost 70 minutes of it! Unbelievable. That's the only way to describe it.

    As for the sound, it consists of lots of melodies, all interwoven together. The guitar goes one way, the bass another, vocals another and the drums wandering off into almost jazz territory at times.

    Grab a beer (or two or three, given the length), sit down, and listen to this entire disc. No review can do it justice. (Did I mention I liked this album?)

    Name Your Regions
    reviewed in issue #34, 5/15/93

    The band perhaps best-known for discussing Buzzcocks lyrics on the Larry King radio show is back. Just in case you missed their excellent Urges and Angers last year (highly recommended by this very rag), here is another chance to bask in their brilliance.

    The sound is tighter, not quite the all-over-the-place effect of previous efforts. But everything is still very strange. The lyrics are rather obtuse at moments, and the music can go from 60 to zero and back in a matter of seconds. Not to mention wide variances in dynamics (sound level for the non-band geetks out there). I would consider all this very good.

    Porn Orchard is a rather acquired taste. But once you get it, a lot of other bands seem pretty ordinary next to them. Bang your head to this!

    Pornographic Priestess
    reviewed in issue #265, June 2005

    Imagine Jon Spencer playing Trailer Bride songs...loud, messy and utterly twisted swamp blues, man. But with strange prog and even new wave edges. In truth, there's just no single explanation for these boys that can be believed.

    Well, a couple of people out there might remember a band called Creaming Jesus. Ragged cyberpunk that somehow made more sense when played at high volume. Pornographic Priestess reminds me of them boys without sounding much like them. If that makes sense.

    Actually, the touchpoint for the two bands is an obvious affection for early Bowie. Even if the songs don't reference that very often, the connection seems clear to me. These pieces are (most often) guitar-driven, even if they spin out into electronic or industrial madness before they finish.

    The album itself is a royal mess, and the sequencing doesn't help. The set does not hold together in any real sense. But each song is so strong, so bracing, that I can't help but love the entire collection. Most unusual, but in an endearing sort of way. Of this earth, but only barely.

    'P' EP
    reviewed in issue #177, 2/22/99

    There's a reason that, as a general rule, I do not read the little bios and press clippings that generally arrive with a disc. It's so I don't have to read assembled quotes like "I think Portable follows the ancestry of the Who and the Clash" and "I think it's been really scary since Kurt Cobain died". Please.

    See, that sort of thing automatically prejudices me against an album, not a good thing when we all know that stupid people are just as capable of making good music as smart folks. The reason I read the clippings is because Portable reminded me of the first Overwhelming Colorfast album, and I wanted to see if there was a connection. The answer is no.

    The sound is heavy anthemic pop. Reasonably catchy tunes, though the production is a bit too glitzy for my taste. This has the sound of "the next big thing", and there are so few of those. This isn't one of those, though it could do well with a decent video.

    On the plus side, these guys do a rendition of "Cars" which manages to sound slow even though it is faster than the original (yes, I checked). Is that a plus? It's definitely weird. But I like the fact that these guys take a few chances. I just wish the producer had been in the same spirit. And I promise not to read press clippings again for another month.

    I Hope Your Heart Is Not Brittle (advance cassette)
    (Merge-Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #46, 1/15/94

    So one day, Mac from Superchunk discovered he had been a Chill in another lifetime. He decided to give it a shot again.

    Slow Note from a Sinking Ship
    reviewed in issue #78, 6/15/95

    Mac McCaughan (Superchunk, of course) comes back with another installment of his side project. More Chilly pop, but a little more assertive than the first.

    While this sound is certainly a departure from early Superchunk, the first Portastatic album, I Hope Your Heart Is Not Brittle, was a telling precursor of Foolish.

    Mac's (funny how us critics all feel free to use his first name, even if we don't know him) voice earnestly delivers the introspective and at times embarrassingly painful pop tunes. The arrangements are sparse (he does play most of the instruments), but for being a studio-constructed project, Portastatic still has a live feel. Just a testament to true board-twisting genius.

    Yeah, Superchunk is more immediately arresting, but I think McCaughan may be really getting down to his artistic soul with Portastatic. Just be glad he let you in.

    Portugal the Man
    The Satanic Satanist
    (Equal Vision)
    reviewed in issue #309, August 2009

    This album has one of the most complicated cases I've ever seen. It folds out into four pieces, with trippy artwork on all sides. The actual liners are similarly decorated. In my experience, bands that spend so much time on visual presentation also tend to exert great care over their music.

    True enough here. Portugal the Man is a rock and roll band, one that revels in echoes of the Doors, the Band and plenty of other late 60s/early 70s outfits. Those echoes a nicely translated into the 21st century, however, which makes this album quite a treat.

    Actually, it's simply nice to hear old-fashioned ambitious rock and roll. These songs are out to accomplish greatness, and often enough they do. The production is subtle, allowing the intriguing arrangements to tickle the ears. There's a lot going on, and it's very easy to hear most of it.

    Hardly a simple album, but a simple pleasure nonetheless. This puppy rolls out of the speakers like water through the Delaware Gap: thundering, crashing and unstoppable. Really good stuff.

    The Posers
    Anti-Christian Animosity
    (Grilled Cheese-Cargo)
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    Anyone who wonders exactly how it was that hardcore evolved into death metal should give this a listen. Just give the guitars a bit more sheen and generally amp up the production a notch and that's what the Posers are playing.

    But this is still on the punk side of the fence, if only barely. The boys crank out some raucous angry protest tunes. These dudes are pissed, and the music reflects that.

    Oh, the stuff does lighten up occasionally, but not much. In general, this is the music of rage, pure and simple. There's just not much else going on. Oh, I can feel the pain, but I don't quite reach empathy.

    There's just nothing particularly interesting about what the Posers are doing or singing. People suck. Our guitars are loud. True, certainly. But not enough to fill an album.

    The Posies
    Alive Before the Iceberg
    reviewed in issue #196, 3/6/00

    The Posies are one of the unrecognized great pop bands of all time. Not just of the 90s (which they ruled). But all time. And while the records are good, live the band took on an entirely new countenance.

    Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow tended to jump up and down. The whole fucking show they were bouncing, you know? Well, needless to say the energy level was amazing. This did not vary. Every show I saw was a cataleptic extravaganza.

    So here's this live disc, recorded in Barcelona and originally released in Spain. Since there are no more Posies studio albums to look forward to, well, this will have to do for my jones.

    But it doesn't. The exuberant performances are here, but the mix is rather muddy. Instead of slashing guitars and tight harmonies, the sound is a ball of confusion much of the time. And it's too bad. Completists will be happy for the set (and Stringfellow's rambling liner notes), but I'm going to rely on my memories when it comes to the glory of Posies past.

    The Unnameable Suffering
    reviewed in issue #59, 7/31/94

    I like these guys. They ask for an honest review. I think they meant it, too, 'cause they signed their form letter "Love".

    If you ever wondered what a progressive metal band like, say, Into Another, would sound like if it decided to tread lightly into the doom/death metal waters, you might find it with Possession.

    They work a little too hard at constructing the music; once they find a groove, they too often shift gears again. But Nyk Edinger throws his voice from singing to growling through a few octaves. I like that a lot. I also like the varied instrumentation and the willingness to try new ideas out.

    There is work to be done, but I think Possession would be better off just relaxing and going with the flow, like they did with much of the last song, "Have No Fear". Good music, well-produced. Fun to listen to.

    Eternally Haunt
    reviewed in issue #99, 2/19/96

    I reviewed this band's excellent EP a couple years back. When they caught up with me on the Internet, I asked to give this a listen. I'm quite happy the guys agreed.

    Possession's take on death metal incorporates Ride the Lightning-style riffage, vocals that often soar even while grunting (like a hoarser King Diamond in early Mercyful Fate) and a very technical approach to the playing. In other words, something like the tack recently taken by both Death and Suffocation.

    Nice work, in other words. Possession needs to work some of the songs out a little more, cutting down on the herky-jerky nature of some of the tunes. This is always a potential trap of technically-based bands, and Possession doesn't quite make it out of the pit. Still, the ideas are solid. The guys are on the right track.

    I'm still at a loss to understand why a band with such proficiency in the studio and such obvious potential is left out in the cold. Yeah, the sound is somewhat unusual, but that's not a bad thing. There is work to be done, some smoothing of corners and all, but Possession has all the tools.

    The Post
    In the Event of Tomorrow
    reviewed in issue #269, October 2005

    So what if you really dug the Black Heart Procession and the like but didn't want to use any piano on your songs? You might do what the Post did and create an album of spooky, atmospheric rock songs.

    Sometimes I miss the piano. And it's not like there aren't keyboards here now and again, so obviously someone has at least rudimentary knowledge. But then I hear how the guitar rings through what would be the piano lines, and I realize how these folks are creating something relatively unique. Good for them.

    The sound is a bit muddy, though I suppose that's probably the best move with the material. After all, this stuff lives and dies on an aura of mystery, and certainly not being able to hear every note clearly adds to that.

    That's not a backhanded compliment, either. These folks have obviously put a lot of thought into all of the little bits of this album, and that attention has created a fine album. The Post is the sort of band that sounds better when its wound up, and so that focus on craft is most welcome. Quite an intriguing piece.

    Post Harbor
    reviewed in issue #291, November 2007

    Back when I started A&A more than 15 years ago, there was this sound beginning to burble that some critics called "post rock." This label tended to be slapped on any number of bands with connections to Chicago or Louisville or (often enough) both. Slint and Rodan helped start the cruise, I suppose, and folks like June of '44 and the Shipping News kept it going.

    And then "post rock" kinda melted back into the whole indie scene. The really technical side of the sound became known as math, and the noisy stuff...well, that sorta went away. Mostly. Now, I'm happy to say that Post Harbor has resurrected noisy, technical rock and roll. Post, or not.

    One addition to the sound is a strong keyboard presence. There are synth washes in the background and a firm hand on some nicely distorted keyboards when that sort of thing is necessary. Post Harbor seems to have a fine handle on how to build songs with dramatic intensity and urgency--and most importantly, knowing when to properly release the pressure.

    I haven't heard anything this good within the sound in ages. Post Harbor doesn't retread the old styles, but rather brings them into today. There are notes of emo and other sounds as well; these guys are anything but wedded to any particular sound. Except, of course, that of good music.

    They Can't Hurt You if You Don't Believe in Them
    (Burning Building)
    reviewed in issue #314, February 2010

    It's like the whole post-rock movement never splintered. This latest from Post Harbor is full of noise, delicate ruminations and achingly gorgeous arcs of sound. Song structure? Strong sucksure. But that's okay. I'm always interested in finding new ways to listen to music. A treat for all the senses.

    Post Mortem
    Destined for Failure
    (Ever Rat-Red Light)
    reviewed in issue #45, 11/30/93

    Very poorly mastered disc. The sound drop-off was almost as bad as Poster Children's Twin/Tone disc (and that sucked!).

    An attempt to mix funk and hard core, with fuzzy results. Some of that has to be the mastering, some is the production. But the fact of the matter is, there are a lot of bands out there trying to sound like this.

    Sure, it's heavier than most of the, but I'm not about to vouch for quality. Of course, the sound seemed to improve as the album progressed (that, or I got used to it), and it sorta grew on me. Not enough to infect, but it does seem a little more interesting after extended listening.

    Poster Children
    reviewed in issue #141, 8/18/97

    With each album, Poster Children has increasingly relied upon technology, and, in what seems to be something of an oxymoron, has actually been able to flesh out its songs better.

    There are elements of the grunge days (sort of a flashback, really), but most of this album continues in the power pop ways that have characterized the band since it signed into the big time. Of course, clever lyrics and seemingly random shifts in mood tend to alienate the youth of America, and I'm not sure how well the Kids are selling. But they're still on Reprise, so something must be going right.

    Certainly, there can be no complaint about the music. Poster Children hasn't so much followed the trends as just managed to incorporate small bits and pieces into its overall sound. So this is the first PC album to incorporate keyboards in any serious amount, and like the last album, there are a couple punky ravers.

    And yet, this sounds a lot like the Poster Children did when I first saw them in CBGB's six years ago (ironic really, a Missouri kid catching an Illinois act in New York). The presence that blew me away back then is still there, and that self-assured feel is just one of the elements that keeps the music fresh.

    A side note: the extra CD-Rom stuff on this disc is easily the best I've seen on any album. Rose outdid herself; you can get samples of just about every recorded PC song, bio info, a tutorial on writing web sites, notes on how to run an indie record company and even a couple (lame, but still) games. I spent a couple hours wandering through, which is about two hours more than I could stand in any other "enhanced" CD thingy.

    The Potatomen
    All My Yesterdays EP
    reviewed in issue #124, 12/2/96

    Sort of a warm-up for the upcoming new album. A couple new tracks, a couple covers and a new version of an old Potatomen song. All with that lilting pop thing going on. Oh, and Rose Melberg of Go Sailor and the Softies adds her vocals to the mix on three of the songs.

    Sad music for happy people, or is it the other way around? The press compares the guys to the Smiths, but the Potatomen just aren't that self-absorbed.

    Just cool music for a rainy evening. Well, that's what it's doing here now, and the tunes are a perfect compliment. I'd say more nice thing about the band, but the album is coming soon and I'd better rest up. In the meantime, check this out.

    reviewed in issue #148, 11/24/97

    The Smiths comparison is obvious, though the Potatomen do not give in to either musical or emotional excess. Lawrence Hayes' vocals are emotive, but not overwrought. And there lies the important difference.

    Still, this is echoes of a particular breed of late 70s and early 80s Britpop, the moody punk of early Cure and Smiths. The Potatomen don't sit around and merely replay the past, however. These songs update that classic feel with little touches. Some steel guitar here, some definite modern punk pop there.

    The sound is exquisite, leaving the guitars somewhat flat but bringing out the drums to keep the songs upbeat. The songwriting falls nicely into form, with enough creative bits to keep surprising.

    Well done, indeed. This full set is the best I've heard from the Potatomen yet. A very impressive album.

    split EP
    reviewed in issue #85, 9/4/95

    As if I haven't said enough about Cub already. Well, perhaps that IS impossible.

    The girls from Vancouver are back, with a heavier mix from the engineer helping to pump the sound up nicely. Still pop as all hell (and Cub does that as well as anyone), two originals and a cover.

    The Potatomen follow the same formula (two of their own and a cover tossed in) and also keep to a successful personal formula.

    The Buddy Holly tune is appropriate, as the Potatomen's version of punk pop has a distinct rockabilly inflection. Quite agreeable, really. Wonder if the guys are planning a tour with Hi Fi and the Roadburners any time soon (I'll be there!).

    A great pairing; a great EP. Whoever thought this up deserves a beer. A good one, now; none of that St. Louis shit.

    Pound, WI
    Shut 'er Down, Clancy. She's Pumpin' Mud...
    reviewed in issue #129, 3/3/97

    A big ol' slab of that upper-Midwest post-grunge stuff. Not quite sludge, but yer in the ballpark. Reminds me of a Kalamazoo band called Twitch that I liked. Less cock and more rock than the Seattle version.

    And nowhere near the pretension level. This is pretty much pure pain music. A death-inducing guitar lick leads into most songs, and the songs move forward from there. Yeah, after a few songs, I wish there was a bit more musical growth. Take what you can get, I say.

    I am rather tired of this sort of music, really, though Pound does a good enough job presenting it here. Indeed, I heard a couple licks I hadn't before, and that's always good.

    But in the end, Pound is just a god example of the same-old same-old. A well-worn musical track that doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

    Perseverence in the Face of Reason 7"
    reviewed in issue #159, 5/18/98

    More arty than the full-length I reviewed a while back. Pound WI still cranks out its songs in that semi-sludge format (plodding, plodding, plodding), but the guitars and vocals are more airy and free-flowing. Leading to more of a noise-rock sound a la Craw or something.

    I'm still not entirely sure where these guys are going, but this seven-inch sure has me a lot more interested. Where before power for power's sake was the main thrust, here the outbursts are more controlled and calculated. Now these guys are sounding a lot more like a Skin Graft act.

    And that's always cool in my book. A real step forward. And it's not like I didn't like the earlier stuff.

    Massive Groves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music
    (Metal Blade)
    reviewed in #164, 8/3/98

    Or, if you like, Doug Pinnick of King's X. The band has moved to Metal Blade (new album coming along one of these days), and the first fruits of that relationship is this solo outing from Pinnick.

    He plays everything other than drums (Jerry Gaskill helps out on some of the tunes, and Ty Tabor did the mastering, so it's not like Pinnick is standing far from the stable). The songs sound like King's X songs, though even more heavy in the bass and thicker in the grooves. The lyrics are as mystical and mystifying as ever.

    Really, a return to the earlier, simpler King's X sound. Not a whole lot of overdubbed harmonies, not a whole lot of effects-laden guitar. While I didn't catch the last Atlantic album, I would put the sound of this album back in the band's more classic period (somewhere among the first three albums). The songwriting is more solid and groove oriented, and Pinnick sounds like he's found a new creative spark.

    Maybe not a total revelation, but certainly an encouraging peek into the new King's X record. Pinnick's Poundhound doesn't stray from the old formulas, but then, I kinda like it just the way it is.

    reviewed in issue #55, 5/31/94

    At first I thought the production really wanked, but I think things were intended to be a little thick. Powder are a little too anthemic for their own good, because at times they come off with a real Pearl Jam sorta vibe, and no one wants that.

    For the most part, though, Powder has a good feel for what's cool and what's shit. The songs are loose in construction, but the playing is very tight. A first-rate effort.

    Power Lloyd
    World Cowboy
    (Dos Fabulos)
    reviewed in issue #271, December 2005

    Kicky power pop that always seems to be on the precipice of falling into a generic trap...but it never does.

    That's mostly due to the loopy sense of humor in the songs and sound. Often enough, the goings get goofy. And even if the meanderings aren't particularly funny, they're generally amusing.

    There is a heavy reliance on keyboards, and that plays into the band's sound. Sometimes the keys are used to keep things moving. When they're more of a filler element I get a bit antsy, but the songs themselves usually resolve this problem.

    Not an unqualified rave, but I like this a lot, even when considering all of my qualms. When I let go of my brain and just dive in, I'm happy. And I guess that's the key to everything, after all.

    Prayer Tower
    (Third Mind-Roadrunner)
    reviewed in issue #30, 3/15/93

    More Canadian industrial/techno/etc. stuff. This is certainly more club-oriented than Malhavoc or Industrial Artz, but it's certainly not lacking any aggression. And there's enough going on to interest me, which is more than I can say for some techno outfits.

    Not your run-of-the-mill dance shit. For starters, this wanders all over the place, from mellow experimenting to full in-yer-face bomp and grind. And instead of heading straight for the obvious, generic beat or bass line, Prayer Tower challenge the listener to dig something new. Good move.

    Pre Fuse 73
    Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives
    reviewed in issue #215, 4/23/01

    Also known as Scott Herren, Pre Fuse 73 takes a jazzy approach to the electronic collage style of hip hop. There are so many cuts and splices that it's much easier to approach the whole rather than each piece.

    And that's what sampling is all about. Using just enough of the sound to get what you want, and not to take the listener on some nostalgia ride with the original.

    Herren is a master at the editing board. Even with all of the manipulation and crafting, these songs have an organic feel. They're alive in their own right, and not just in some sterile electronic alternate universe. These are pieces that live and breathe the same air we do.

    The sorta masterful beat work and groove building that's dreadfully hard to find. Herren, as Pre Fuse 73, has cobbled together a sound that is more addictive than crack. Albums like this prove that technology can never defeat creative genius, but rather enhance the ability of artists to challenge and grow.

    The '92 vs '02 Collection EP
    reviewed in issue #230, June 2002

    Prefuse 73 takes his name from his interest in jazz circa 1973 before fusion took hold. This short set finds our hero crafting crazy beats (as per usual) and arranging them in pretty pictures.

    Soulful, really, despite the preponderance of electronic sounds. Indeed, if some of today's urban stars are truly wondering how they can stay modern without sacrificing the emotional impact of the old school, this disc is a fine primer.

    It's all about attention to detail. Prefuse 73 takes care to massage all of the little pieces, and so his final compositions shine with an inviting glow. More ear candy from a master mixer.

    One Word Extinguisher
    reviewed in issue #240, April 2003

    Scott Herren returns, dragging along friends like Dabrye and Tommy Guerrero and Mr. Lif and Diverse. Herren is the DJ, and his pals add some color--be it rhymes, guitar or whatnot.

    There's always a big load of whatnot in what Herren does as PreFuse 73 (if you aren't familiar with the guy, the name comes from Herren's love of jazz before the advent of fusion). And despite his stage moniker, it's pretty safe to say that the work on his albums are a fine fusion of r&b, hip-hop, jazz and cutting-edge electronic fare.

    This album follows in those tracks. The musical ideas within the songs are as adventurous as ever, though I have to say that this puppy is rather infectious. I know, creative work can still appeal to the masses, but this set of songs seems a bit more mainstream-ready than earlier work.

    Which isn't to say that you'll be hearing any PreFuse 73 on a Clear Channel station near you. But if you're in the mood to take a step away from the ordinary without abandoning your senses, well, Herren is waiting for you. I've never failed to be astonished by the thought within the PreFuse discs, and that's why I'm always happy to recommend them without hesitation. Worthy of adulation.

    (Smokey Records)
    reviewed in issue #157, 4/20/98

    Precious is, for all intents and purposes, Lars Tetens, who is described in the accompanying press as some sort of cigar magnate/general businessman extraordinaire. This might explain why all the folks in the liner pictures are holding cigars. Tetens wrote the songs, he sang and played guitar on every track. He played drums on most of the songs. He even produced some of the time.

    Heavy fuzz, in a general pop-rock way. Lots of power, not much subtlety. Teten's sense of humor isn't the greatest, but most of the time he sticks to more serious thoughts.

    And that works often enough. I really like the king-hell fuzz sound that pervades the disc, and he does a good job of playing his drum licks off his guitar playing. Sounds odd, I know. A good thing onetheless.

    The songs themeselves sound somewhat unfinished or underwritten, though. Almost there, but not quite. I can't quite define why I feel this way, but the songs just aren't complete. Still, I like the direction they're going.

    Pottery Mill
    reviewed in issue #345, 2/10/13

    Fifteen songs chock full of samples and rhythmic experimentation. Much of the album is taken up by tangents, which is cool for those who have the patience for such things. The range of sound is truly impressive. Perfect for that slow evening when you need to take a field trip to the frontal lobes.

    Prescott Curlywolf
    Six Ways to Sunday
    reviewed in Money Whore issue #4, 5/27/96

    A stupid name, a cliche title and one of those retarded Raygun ripoff covers. Oh, what a way to start off a relationship.

    Luckily, I'm a music critic and not a marketing critic. And Prescott Curlywolf gets good marks. Cool pop music in the style of the Posies, plenty of hooks, distortion and pleasure.

    The production adds just enough bombast, and still manages to keep anthems like "Celebrate Ray" from sounding overly pretentious. The variety in the guitar is particularly appreciated. I mean, what's the use of a stack of effects if you won't change the settings now and again?

    The songwriting breaks convention at all the right points (mixing up bridges and choruses from time to time, undercutting natural climax points with unorthodox progressions, etc.), which is the sign of pop music mastery.

    Now if the guys would only find a decent name. I mean, come on. This album is too good to sell a bunch anyway, so why not just rename yourselves before you make it big?

    Presidents of the United States of America
    Presidents of the United States of America (advance cassette)
    (Pop Llama)
    reviewed in issue #73, 3/31/95

    The band name may be silly, but the pop music cranked out by the Presidents is first rate. A little goofy, but why not have fun?

    The Pressure
    Things Move Fast
    reviewed in issue #193, 12/20/99

    When it comes to basic punk pop, I don;t think it gets any more basic than what the Pressure is doing. Three chords (two strings, three at the most) and straight up-and-down drumming.

    Alex Newport has left the sound strident and spare. The bass is used much more as a rhythm guitar than to fill out the sound, and so the songs are tight, lean things which, well, move fast.

    The fast and bouncy style takes a while to get used to, but it is quite invigorating. In fact, as the disc wore on I found myself bouncing about more and more.

    There isn't a lot here to exploit. Like I said, this is basic basic, with no accouterments or flourishes. Just straightahead punk written with a pop construction. A withering attack, one that is welcome to me.

    Pressure Drop
    Silently Bad Minded remix 2 x 12"
    reviewed in issue #161, 6/15/98

    "Silently Bad Minded" is the first single from Pressure Drop's upcoming album Elusive. And all the varying remixes of the song reflect the band's eclectic approach to music.

    Sample heavy, with deep roots in soul, rap and reggae. DJs Dave Langlands and Dave Henley spun American hip hop in underground London clubs for a long time before scoring their own deal.

    Cut-and-paste, hack-and-slash. That's the time-honored DJ formula, and Pressure Drop performs as well as any. Better, perhaps, because the grooves intersect almost seamlessly, creating a new sort of soul music.

    A cool way to kick off a new album. I can't wait to hear the full-length.

    (Hard Hands-Higher Ground/Sony)
    reviewed in issue #162, 6/29/98

    Don't you love it when everything mixes well together. Pressure Drop has a way of blending DJ mixes without making it sound cluttered. In fact, there's a lot of white noise and spatial gaps giving the album a long, smooth, slow journey from beginning to end.

    The grooves come on gradually and disappear in the same manner. These are some sit down grooves as opposed to the dance hall variety DJ tracks most might be familiar with. This one doesn't want you to go anywhere, and I must say it makes a damn fine case to stay exactly where you are for a long period of time.

    --Aaron Worley

    Pressure Point
    split 7" with United Blood
    (Cold Front)
    reviewed in issue #163, 7/20/98

    I'll be taking the sides one at a time. Pressure Point sounds a lot like a messier D.O.A. with a heart of oi. Two very sloppily played and produced songs. Decent, but nothing to get me terribly excited.

    Another Bay-area band with its heart in London. Straight-ahead Brit-inflected pop punk. The songs are pretty good, but not quite to the great point. This is the second 7" I've heard from this band, and I don't detect any growth here. And the band definitely needs to work on some better material if it really wants to break out.

    Young bands trying get along. Fair to middling fare, nothing more.

    To Be Continued....
    reviewed in issue #236, December 2002

    There once was a band called the Clash. Played sloppy, tuneful punk. Then it cleaned up and played tight, clean pop music. Lots of bands have tried to emulate that early Clash sound, but with the obvious exception of Rancid, few have managed to replicate the vitality of that stuff.

    Pressure Point comes damned close. These guys have been making this music for quite a while, so they've certainly had plenty of time to figure out their sound.

    The similarities are spooky. Pressure Point takes Phil Ochs' "Links on the Chain" and sets it to new music. And it sounds good. As does this album. There's a ragged, muscular feel to the stuff, just enough oomph in the guitars to really bring these songs to life.

    Just the sort of raucous, politically aware punk album I've been jonesing for. Been a little while since I heard a disc with this sort of resonance. Bloody good fun, and more than a little substance to back that up.

    (Country Club)
    reviewed in issue #293, February 2008

    A tight little NY trio produced by Martin Bisi. You need anything else? I thought not.

    Just in case you're curious, though, these guys play slightly mechanistic blister rock that occasionally features a toy piano. There is a reason Bisi is at the boards, after all. Sometimes these songs sound like they've worked themselves into an unresolvable corner. Except that Pretendo always makes them work.

    Sorta like Ween meets Trans Am, if I had to play a little "sounds like." Nothing traditional, just good music that ranges as far afield as the band's imagination allows.

    It's quite an imagination, too. This album gets more and more impressive with each song. There's a lot going on here, and somehow Pretendo finds a way to hold the center. Nicely done.

    Toni Price
    Sol Power
    reviewed in issue #140, 8/4/97

    One of the last releases for Discovery, which will soon be folded into Sire. Another one of those major label reshuffling things. I'm not sure if the association with Antone's will continue, but this is the best from that pipeline I've heard.

    This is live, with few overdubs that I can discern. The acoustic guitars sound full, not tinny. The fiddle has a nice wail. Price's voice is nice and husky, with just a hint of smoothness. There's a reason for that "whiskey-soaked" reference. She sounds a bit like Patty Griffin, which is high praise from me.

    The songs themselves are updated honky-tonk folk, with a healthy dose of the blues. The pain rings true, and the joy resounds. There's some real emotional playing and singing here. It's been a while since I've heard such a raw and impassioned performance anywhere.

    Fully satisfying. This is one of those live albums that sounds alive and personal. Price can bellow or whisper, with equal impact. A true artist.

    split 7"
    (No Lie Music)
    reviewed in issue #112, 6/17/96

    Aah, now that's more like it. Craw's song here is "Butterflies", and it is full of the crashing chords and mutant progressions I am more accustomed to hearing from this band. Wild and noisy explorations of the mordant pop ideal. A complete rush from beginning to end. Big smiles.

    Primitive (not to be confused with the much more accessible Primitives) checks in with "$10,000 Reward". The sound lost something in the production booth (or it simply isn't as lush and full as Craw's), and the stuff is sorta a noise pop version of late 80's hardcore (kinda like Kepone, I suppose). It's alright, and the strident chord changes keep me up a bit. Still, nothing awe-inspiring.

    The Craw track is certainly worth the price of admission. And once you've plunked your money down, the Primitive song will seem like a decent bonus. Boy, if that new Craw album could only be here today...

    Primrose Path
    On TV
    reviewed in issue #216, 5/14/01

    There's a sound that has long been associated with college music. A certain type of college music. The female lead vocals-lilting riffs-pretty melodies-goshdarnit earnest kinda music. You know, the whole 10,000 Maniacs kinda thing. Primrose Path sits right in the middle of that byway.

    Nothing wrong with that, of course, and Primrose Path does a good job with the sound. There are the requisite heavy lead guitar solos and other similar explorations that keep the band out of Natalie Merchant territory (you'll notice the difference in the two references, I hope). All very solid.

    Kinda predictable, too. That's my main complaint. Primrose Path didn't surprise me much. There's very little to complain about here. The songs are pretty and reasonably complex, and Joelle Berger has a good voice. It just annoys me when I can predict the course of a song and an album.

    These folks need to do something to break themselves out of this groove. Find something that makes them distinctive and special. I have no doubt that the talent is here. Just some refocusing required.

    The Symbol Once Known As Prince
    Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic
    reviewed in issue #192, 12/6/99

    I don't have one of those handy files which allows one to truly represent the symbol, so I'll just have to be a philistine and call the man Prince. Since this is the first time I've had occasion to review an album by a member of my musical holy trinity (Frank Zappa, Neil Young and Prince), I'll have to work hard to keep my excitement down.

    In case you wondered, the man is still pushing the envelope. On songs like "Undisputed," he splices together so many ideas that it's hard to imagine a more seamless pile of clutter around. No one can assimilate disparate ideas like Prince. He's an omnivorous musical chameleon, devouring all sorts of sounds and excreting entirely new elixirs.

    And like most visionaries, he's got his winners and his clunkers. If you shelled out the bucks for Crystal Ball, you were probably surprised by the acoustic pop on the disc called The Truth. You also might have been surprised that it was so good. The pattern continues here. Even as Prince sounds more and more comfortable with slower, more contemplative pieces, his grasp on rockers seems to be slipping. In particular, the title track is horribly stilted.

    But there are plenty of joys in this mixed bag as well. No masterpiece by any stretch of the imagine, Rave is still more than worth hearing. I've always marveled at his imagination, and that is still as fertile as ever. This didn't quite match up to my hopes, but it will suffice. Long ago I learned to accept the brilliant with the offal from Prince. Just the way it has to be.

    Prince Charming
    Prince Charming Presents Psychotropical Heatwave
    reviewed in issue #128, 2/17/97

    The liners on this puppy use more nonsensical 50-cent words than I've ever seen. The main point is that the music contained on the disc is rather unusual and powerful. I'll agree.

    A wonderfully analog-sounding ambient-noise set of stuff. The beat work is excellent and quite diverse, and the accompanying sounds flesh out the musical ideas quite persuasively.

    And it's easy to forgive the nonsensical and arrogant liner notes when the sounds are as wondrous as these. It's quite easy to slip from consciousness if I get at all attuned to the music. Quite the trip, using all meanings of the word.

    Far too astonishing to really describe. Large amounts of work went into this album's creation, and yet it sounds as seamless as a one-take run-though. Speaks most eloquently without using any words. Music at its highest power.

    Fantastic Voyage
    reviewed in issue #173, 12/14/98

    Prince Charming's first disc, Psychotropical Heatwave introduced me to Wordsound. I was so knocked out I didn't pay close enough attention, using the name of the album as the name of the artist. Oh well.

    Heavy in the use of samples, thick in the groove, Prince Charming is back. Sure, trip-heavy, too. This music is mind-altering. Never mind what the performers and producers were on, the sounds themselves are capable of lifting a listener higher.

    Randomly brilliant. As if out of nowhere, the grooves throb on. I think it would be fair to compare Prince Charming to Vampire Rodents, at least in the way that the beats are constructed. The main difference is that Prince Charming always, always lays down the funk. Electronically constructed sound sculpture, sure, but always with the funk.

    At least as mind-blowing as the first disc. The use of technology to create entirely new forms of sound. Is the appropriate reaction intellectual or visceral? Both, and that's where the genius lies. An ambush of epic proportions.

    (Temporary Residence)
    reviewed in issue #289, September 2007

    Glorious, bounding pop that never lets up. The songs themselves skip about in terms of tone and feel, but the hooks are uniformly stellar. That said hooks are complicated and sometimes a wee bit understated only made this album that much more fun for me.

    Prints can take a moment or two to get to the point. Along the way, you'll get a full dose of stellar musicianship, but I can understand if a certain bit of frustration kicks in as well. When one song immediately lights into effervescent wonder and the next wigs out for a while before dropping into a similarly stellar groove, it can be hard to feel the flow.

    But it is there. This album needs its interludes. They provide something of a palate-cleanser, a chaser to sweep the excess sugar from your taste buds. And anyway, if you listen hard enough even those chasers have plenty of sucrose.

    This album never relents in energy, but its tonal shifts do require patience. Those who complete the journey will be handsomely rewarded. Those who do not are doomed to read nothing but "pop stars in trouble" notices for the next month.

    Prizzy Prizzy Please
    Prizzy Prizzy Please
    (Let's Pretend)
    reviewed in issue #293, February 2008

    Imagine early Rocket from the Crypt as pure ego, all blistering speed and hypertensive rhythms. Strip away all the layers, leaving you with just boiling rock and roll.

    Prizzy Prizzy Please actually does seem to care about melody from time to time. The boys don't, however, care to pretty up their sound. So there's fuzzy bass throbbing, squonky sax and barrel-rolling percussion. Oh, and the keyboards.

    It's really kind of amazing how muscular many of these songs are considering the lack of guitar. The keys fill in well enough, but mostly these guys survive on attitude alone.

    But hey, when you're as committed as Prizzy Prizzy Please, things tend to work out. This is hardly sophisticated or even accomplished music. But it's got enough energy and fury to power two suns. Awe-inspiring.

    Chroma Cannon
    (Joyful Noise)
    reviewed in issue #316, April 2010

    It's somewhat amazing what you can do with saxophone, keyboards, bass and drums. Rather, it's really amazing what Prizzy Prizzy Please does. These songs don't really correspond to any genre, except that they sure do sound great loud. There is a ton of noise and keyboard processing, but the rhythm section is as impressive as any you'll hear.

    Most of all, there's energy. A huge load of it. I dug their album of a couple years ago, and this new one takes the band even further. Imagine the Who or Cheap Trick without their guitarists actually playing guitar. Oh, and the songs go about twice as fast.

    And they sound great going fast, which is quite an accomplishment. I can only imagine the workout that a live show might be. I'd have to recommend an extra gallon of water. At least.

    Rock and roll got weird a long time ago, but Prizzy Prizzy Please has pinned the needle. Lose yourself in the throb, and you just might get saved. Just don't ask who's doing the saving--or what exactly is being saved, for that matter.

    Foul Taste of Freedom
    reviewed in issue #31, 3/31/93

    Um, some real pissed off folks here. The views are at times a little simplistic, but I'd much rather see people question the government blindly than follow jingoistically wherever the latest demagogue takes us.

    The band cranks its views out in the Sacred Reich/Armored Saint style of power thrash, a sound I am rather enamored of. I don't think it will ever catch on as much as I think it should, but maybe that's for the best.

    I'm going to be catching these folks with Testament in a week or so, and I would imagine they will clean the floor with those guys. They sound like Testament did five years ago. And I liked "The Legacy" a lot.

    The Truth Hurts
    reviewed in issue #58, 7/15/94

    Their debut was a commercial, if not always a critical, success. Now Pro-Pain has refined its message and its sound. The result is a groovier yet heavier feel. Not so such of the thrash tendencies, and more plain heavy riffs.

    Yes, Ice-T has a guest shot on "Put the Lights Out", but there are plenty of other tracks to pick up on as well. Listen to the music.

    Everything about this disc is calculated for maximum commercial potential, and yet it still sounds fresh. I can't think of one reason to dislike The Truth Hurts. Hell, even the artwork is truly disgusting. So what are you waiting for?

    Contents Under Pressure
    reviewed in issue #111, 6/10/96

    While the guys all have shaves heads and goatees (in the liner photos, anyway), Pro-Pain long ago gave up being a hardcore band. These guys are metal all the way, and while I'm not one to generally support such silly distinctions, when a band is confused as to its identity (like the Madball reviewed in this issue), the sound can be a mess.

    Pro-Pain is out to kick your ass from here until you jump off the rails. You know the riffs are coming, you know your ass is grass. You still submit. That is the measure of true musical power.

    The sound on this disc is much cleaner than the last one, and since there are no guest shots from Ice-T, college radio folks may focus on more than one track this time out. Good, because the songwriting here is better. The grooves are smoother (the rhythm section is tight as hell), the riffage a bit tastier. The whole concoction goes down like the black Jack neat: nice taste, and a bit of a shudder.

    Not a bad album in the band's history, Pro-Pain cranks out another solid disc, it's most accomplished and accessible to date. Not a sell-out, but just closer to the band's ideal. Play it loud.

    reviewed in issue #152, 2/9/98

    A new label, same old Pro-Pain. Which is pretty damned good. For my money, no one does the whole NYC metalcore sound better. Pro-Pain is not only more prolific than Biohazard, but Pro-Pain is much more raw and exciting.

    This album finds the boys in a somewhat more contemplative mood. The tunes grind a bit more, but without succumbing to the dirge. Even when tucking with the midtempo, Pro-Pain knows how to keep the fiber flowing, if you get my drift. And there's plenty of cool moshers like "Don't Kill Yourself to Live".

    There's no need for these guys to prove themselves any more, and yet, each album has outdone the previous one. On this disc, they guys expand their sound a bit, and it works. Still vital. Still essential.

    Metal may be a bad word these days in some circles, but Pro-Pain is living proof that great music need not worry about its label. Intense and awe-inspiring, as ever.

    No End In Sight
    reviewed in issue #303, December 2008

    I haven't heard anything from these boys in more than 10 years (I checked, just to be sure). This sounds like old Pro-Pain, if with slightly cleaner production. If there's such a thing as a prototype metal band, these guys are it. This album proves that hardening prostates are no impediment to great rock and roll.

    Project Lo
    Black Canvas
    (Lolo Records)
    reviewed in issue #142, 9/1/97

    The brainchild of Bon Lozaga (who also runs Lolo records), Project Lo runs somewhere between a jazzy version of ambient music and a moody version of art rock.

    A lot of Middle Eastern influences, though they're assimilated into a more traditional sound, rather than used as the basis for a more radical exploration, a la Trial of the Bow. Actually, much of this reminds me of a somewhat less edgy version of Peter Gabriel's Passion. And there's even a rendition of Gabriel's "Mercy Street", though Project Lo doesn't do much to redefine (or even refine) the original.

    The more freeform tracks like "Tolerance, Acceptance, Transformation" are the most satisfying. Here Lozaga and his mates take a few minutes to really dig into some musical ideas.

    And the worst that can be said about anything else is that the production is perhaps just a bit too sharp. Perhaps Project Lo isn't as adventurous as it could be. It still manages to turn in some nice, contemplative music.

    Project Pollen
    Project Pollen
    reviewed in issue #142, 9/1/97

    A soulful slice of looped music, if you will. The emphasis is on mood, not rhythm, and in that way Project Pollen works fairly well. Actually, it's this sort of "electronica" that might actually do some serious pop damage.

    This is not music that takes chances, though. It is exquisitely mixed, and the loops are used to decent effect, but the lounge feel of the album turns me off. This sounds like easy listening when compared to stuff like the Chemical Brothers (which is an inadvisable comparison, in any case), and I don't really dig another of the press references, Moorcheba.

    This is music that could easily be created by regular players and real instruments. Project Pollen is, by its own admission, a technology-driven act, and yet the technology has yielded a fairly generic-sounding slice of soul.

    Better than what Motown has been putting out, to be sure, but still dull. Music for the lazy ear set. Of course, that is what sells.

    Projekct Two
    Space Groove 2xCD
    (Digital Global Mobile)
    reviewed in issue #156, 4/6/98

    The first of a series of King Crimson side projects. Projekct One (don't ask me about the spelling; I don't know) will be the second "fractal" to have music released. Best not to really ask much more, okay?

    Anyway, Projekct One is Robert Fripp, Trey Gunn and Adrian Belew. Fripp and Gunn attacked various sorts of guitars and guitar synths, while Belew dealt with the percussion issues. By the way, this is sort of the King Crimson take on space music. Which is to say it's much more "out there" than your usual space fare.

    And two whole discs of it, to boot. Oh, some of this isn't the greatest stuff, but it's all rather intriguing. These are three talented musicians improvising their way through some very unusual musical terrain. The sound is very sterile, but oddly human nonetheless. Some strangely passionate playing for such a clean environment. Paradoxes abound.

    And that, in the end, is why this set exists. Not every bit makes sense, and that's not the intention, anyway. This is music on an existential scale, and as such just doesn't have to make sense in a regular manner. Limited in appeal, but infinite in scope.

    See also King Crimson.

    (Jetset-Big Cat)
    reviewed in issue #103, 3/18/96

    Certainly British. How else could a band justify a pseudo-industrial instrumental song to kick of and album, follow that with a really poppy (with Fall features) tune and then rip into a really messy eight-minute strident guitar piece?

    I suppose creativity has something to do with that. Inconsistency is a word that pops up, too. At least the folk have plenty of ideas, good or otherwise. That's always appreciated here.

    The big Melody Maker spread included with the press has a big blurb saying "Live, they've got the potential to be absolutely crap". See, in England that can be taken as a recommendation. If you're in the right frame of mind.

    God knows how to categorize this wild collection of songs. All over the pop universe, and not coherent enough to really keep the ear of your average bloke. With all the odd directions this album takes, it's pretty hard to pin Prolapse down to anything. The consistency question again. Prolapse is decidedly undecisive.

    But ultimately interesting. Those with a real affection for Britpop should gain some pleasure from this, and anyone who wants to hear a band struggling to define itself (on record) would probably dig it as well. Prolapse may be adrift without a compass, but at least the voyage hits a few interesting points of call.

    The Italian Flag
    reviewed in #164, 8/3/98

    Eclectic or woefully overinspired, take your pick. Prolapse falls directly down the line of discordant Britpop bands, like the Fall, Mekons, PIL, etc. The songs on this album are generally a bit too long, crammed so full of ideas that they might cause sensory overload.

    I thought their first Jetset album, Backsaturday was pretty cool, even if it ranged a bit too far over the landscape. In general, the songs on The Italian Flag utilize the same basic structure, a raft of spoken and sung vocals plopped on top basic strident guitar pop rhythms. And they go on and on, saying many things, even if the message isn't quite so impressive.

    I'm all for artistic freedom, but it's obvious that Prolapse needs a good editor. Not necessarily to shorten the songs, but just to bring some semblance of order to the proceedings. A lot of the pieces here a bits of this and that, changing course three or four times per track. That's a bit much.

    And yet, the talent is undeniable. Some unquestionable gems here, and plenty more cool slices here and there. Prolapse hasn't even scratched the surface of its potential, but even so, what it has done is impressive.

    Ghosts of Dead Aeroplanes
    reviewed in issue #181, 5/3/99

    Britpop bands are notoriously eclectic. That's why very few of them have made it over here. Prolapse is so weird it hasn't even really conquered the U.K.

    Refusing to stick to any one style (the first track is a take on trip-hop, the second as close to basic pop as the band gets, the third something of a psychedelic groove without the groove, etc.), Prolapse has managed to be successful enough to release albums every once in a while. You thought Mekons were eclectic? You find the Fall somewhat disconcerting? Don't even think of coming this way.

    That said, this disc continues something of an evolution by the band toward a somewhat more cohesive sound. Yes, it is venturing dangerously close My Bloody Valentine (in some truly strange ways), but the ragged edges are beginning to smooth out a bit.

    Taken individually, the songs are quite impressive. They don't make sense in an album. I mean, these songs could be sequenced any which way and they'd sound the same. But that's just Prolapse. And once again, I've got to say there's some really wild stuff here. If you want to wade through the chatter.

    Promise Ring
    Boys + Girls CD5
    (Jade Tree)
    reviewed in issue #171, 11/9/98

    I've heard tons about the Promise Ring, and now I finally get to experience it in the flesh. Three songs, all basic pop from three very different angles.

    "Tell Everyone We're Dead" has a definite emo feel to it. Slowly developing, but certainly a strong finisher. "Best Looking Boys" has a cool retro feel to it. I get a "Melt With You" vibe, though to be fair, it's a feel, not a question of riff appropriation. Nope, just the light feel of the guitars on the drums. An angelic pop song. Impossible to resist.

    And lastly, "American Girl", which might be a deconstruction of a song previously recorded by the band (it's listed here as version 02). A moody, cloudy mutation which barely qualifies as a completed work. Daring and impressive.

    Hey, there three songs knock me out. I'm out the door to find a record store and see what I've been missing. Later.

    Today's Empire, Tomorrow's Ashes
    (Fat Wreck Chords)
    reviewed in issue #211, 1/29/01

    I love it when press people get defensive. I got an almost apologetic e-mail from Fat Wreck saying, in effect, "You may find a lot of our bands vapid, but these guys are deep." Well, like the writer of said e-mail, I find most Fat Wreck bands something other than vapid, but she did have a point: These guys aren't propagating the usual Fat Wreck power pop punk.

    This is hardcore. Angry, vaguely tuneful (but just) and blistering. Take a song like "Ordinary People Do Fucked-Up Things When Fucked-Up Things Become Ordinary." The sort of obvious observation that somehow no one's really articulated in song before this. That's one way to display brilliance, folks.

    There's a lot of that going around here. Bunches of hardcore bands talk politics. But not like these guys. There's an awareness and intelligence here that goes far beyond the usual libertarian punk screeds. Oh, there's a bit of that, but these songs are much more about society than just a few people.

    I'll go along that e-mail I described earlier, at least in one way: This isn't the usual Fat Wreck sound. But the usual quality? Oh yeah. Propagandhi lives up to that standard easily. Hardcore that actually makes you think, rather than just make you angry at the man. It's always good to use your head now and again.

    Supporting Caste
    reviewed in issue #306, April 2009

    Haven't heard from these boys in a while. Glad to hear they're still ripping through current events with a hardcore buzzsaw.

    And doing it without being utterly annoying. Punk bands can get awfully preachy, and Propagandhi isn't immune from this tendency. Most of the time, though, the speed and power of the music overshadows the most pretentious aspects of the band's point of view.

    More to the point, Propagandhi doesn't preach much. The lyrics present a point of view (one that lies a wee bit to the left, to be sure), but they also give the why. There are explanations for the ideologies. And, you know, the songs sound great. If you cut out the vocals, this is still classic hardcore.

    I need a fix of political rock every now and again. Anything to challenge the rut I find my brain settling into is always welcome. And when it's this loud, this fast and this good, I simply cannot say no.

    The Art of Clear Thinking
    (Makoto Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #221, 9/3/01

    The messy side of "technical" linear rock. Propeller does deal with intersecting lines and that sort of thing, but they guys aren't terribly particular about being precise. These are vectors drawn with magic markers, if you will.

    A good idea, too. Adds a feeling of unpredictability and adventurism to the sound. I'm never quite sure where the song is headed. That a most refreshing feeling.

    No one I've heard has tried this exact approach. Okay, so maybe it's just that the guys aren't the most proficient players in the world. But I don't think that's the case. Often enough the playing is quite adept. It's just that the band seems to prefer a bit of a mess.

    And a glorious one it is, too. The pieces lurch along, always pointing toward an ultimate goal. Propeller made it to the finish line in style.

    The Prophetess
    reviewed in issue #104, 3/25/96

    The rawness of an "alternative" garage band infused with massive doses of Goth anthemitis and synth wash. There are so many ways this could go wrong.

    First, the band could sound like latter-day U2, which would be a cardinal sin. But the Prophetess avoids that trap, falling more into a pseudo-Cure sound. Without the whiny vocals or keyboard excesses of that band's popular output.

    It's still pretty silly. The lyrics are dark and foreboding, absurdly so, one of the lesser tendencies of Goth stuff. And the band acts like it buys all this melancholy stuff. Oh well, can't be perfect.

    Still, a solid pop album that manages to hit many trends on the head without sounding calculated in the least. A bit over-the-top at times, but nothing that seriously damages the quality of the disc.

    The Venus Bellona
    (Cruel Moon-Cold Meat Industry)
    reviewed in issue #125, 12/23/96

    The last stuff I got from Cold Meat was the latest Mortiis, which is certainly unusual. Cruel Moon is a new Cold Meat imprint, dedicated to "dark medieval folk ambiental music." Those are their words, folks.

    And Proscription fits that bill, as improbable as that might seem. Lots of tape loops and sampled stuff riffed over and under each other, with an odd fascination with the pastoral life. Sure, there are parts actually played by a band, but by and large the main effects achieved by Proscription came by way of post-production.

    Not a bad thing, of course, and this is certainly one of the more unusual albums I've heard in a while. The band (such as it is) ranges far afield tunewise, sometimes hitting and sometimes missing its mark. Gotta like folks who take chances, in any case.

    I have no idea where Proscription was going, or where this album ends up. It is certainly a muddled mess. But plenty of the parts are wildly inventive, and as I said, you have to reward the risktaker. If you want a wildy varied ride, jump on here.

    split 7" with Kalypso Lipstich
    (Moment Before Impact)
    reviewed in issue #224, 11/5/01

    Different bands, same people. Prospekt is Andrew Danser, Harlan Campbell and Jay Murphy. Kalypso Lipstich is simply Campbell and Murphy. Prospekt is a meditative pop band with its toes dipping in the noise pool. Kalypso Lipstich is an organic electronic project.

    The two songs are very similar in theoretical construction. They rise and fall in much the same way, and despite obvious differences in instrumentation are quite obviously created by the same people.

    Both well done, I might add. These guys have creativity to spare, and they don't hesitate to put that inventiveness to work whenever possible. The two sides of this slab are more than enticing enough to demand a second helping.

    The Protagonist
    A Rebours
    (Cold Meat Industry)
    reviewed in issue #173, 12/14/98

    The whole idea behind the gothic scene originated in classical music (say, with Bach's Toccatta and Fugue). The Protagonist (a.k.a. Magnus Sundstrom) takes that relationship a bit further than most, incorporating classical construction and instrumentation (well, electronic substitutes, but hell, Frank Zappa is considered a classical composer, and he often used a Synclavier) into his pieces.

    Resulting in an enveloping sound. Wonderful atmosphere and stirring themes. The notes say "The Puritan" is inspired by the work of Leni Riefenstahl. There is an air of majestic tragedy about many of these pieces. And what is goth if not, um, majestically overwrought tragedy.

    Sometimes a vocal or spoken word section breaks up the instrumental emphasis. but the music never relegates itself to the background. The music says more than the words. It is far more textured and expressive.

    Pretty damned cool. Sundstrom used all the electronic tools at his disposal to make a very real-sounding album. Amazing what we can do these days.

    (Minty Fresh)
    reviewed in issue #275, June 2006

    Okay, I admit it. Female vocals sung in French almost always sound cool. But Prototypes have those cool up-and-down electronic beats and clanging guitar riffs that sound even better with the lyrical, um, pate.

    Absolutely unstoppable. Isabel Le Doussal's aggressive sex kitten pose is enthralling (is there anything more arousing than a French sneer, boys?), but the music is similarly insouciant. These songs are jaunty and playful--and more than a little titillating. Of course, I don't speak French. Maybe Le Doussal is telling me to go fuck myself. And if "Danse Sur la Merde" means what I think it does, she just might be.

    Though, you know, I could get into that. As long as the songs keep coming. The light feel of the songs, even when the keyboards get a little techno-heavy, keeps the album floating along at just the right level.

    Completely danceable and utterly charming. Prototypes take Eurotrash disco and make it something transcendent. I don't know if these songs will ever get out of my head.

    Prozac Memory
    Accident Prone 7"
    reviewed in issue #40, 9/30/93

    Tired of old punksters who, now that they're major label heroes, seem awful pretentious and grandiose? (no names, please...)

    Here are five teenagers from the middle of Missouri who prove that you don't have to live in either California or D.C. to be a damn fine punk band. I saw these guys open up for Fugazi, and they were mighty good. This single has three top-notch tunes, which is more than I can say for some albums.

    As usual, Faye doesn't disappoint. If any of you know of a similar (regular seven-inch releases) label in your area, please give me their address. Some of the best bands I've ever heard I noticed first on a seven-inch.

    Prozak for Lovers
    Prozak for Lovers
    reviewed in issue #149, 12/8/97

    There's a sick sense of humor afoot here. Once-raucous rock and roll reduced to far-beyond-lounge arrangements. If you recall the infamous Grunge Lite, well, the same instinct conceived this project.

    All at once a scathing indictment of the current lounge-core movement and a wildly loopy display of how stupid even good songs can sound in the hands of, ahem, the unwashed.

    So you can hear stuff like "(Don't Fear) the Reaper", complete with a cheap bossa nova rhythm track. Even "London Calling" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" find themselves in schlock territory.

    A real scream. My brothers have always wanted to do an album titled "Metallica Night at the Holiday Inn", and while Bruce Lash and co-conspirator Maura Corey don't see fit to give "Battery" the treatment, they do a number on ten other well-known (and well-worn) classics. Throw this and the Neil Hamburger disc on the stereo and see how quickly your guests flee.

    Prunella Scales
    Dressing Up the Idiot
    reviewed in issue #135, 5/26/97

    Groove-oriented hard rock. Not in a funky way, but in that "alterna-pop" cycle. An unusual idea, but I'll go along for the ride.

    The usual massive riffage, with nods to Aerosmith, the Clash and, well, R.E.M. Acoustic guitars appear a bit more often than I expected, but that works alright. In fact, all this works better than I guessed at the start.

    Any band that names itself after an actor on Fawlty Towers can't suck completely. Well, then again, Toad the Wet Sprocket has that Monty Python connection, and I can't think of one redeeming factor there. Forget it.

    Prunella Scales does get a bit overwrought from time to time, turning a nice hook into dreary anthemese, but there's potential as well. Merely middling now, but with some work, well, there just might be something.

    (Evolving Ear)
    reviewed in issue #242, June 2003

    Um, yes, this is an Evolving Ear release. And, yes, psi is one of those avant garde acts. Chris Forsyth hangs out on guitar, Jaime Fennelly drops in some electronic accompaniment and Fritz Welch does yeoman's work with the percussion.

    You wouldn't think of interplay with music like this, but that is exactly what the trio achieves. Sure, it's an assembled confluence, but nonetheless these talented musicians manage to sound like they're all sitting in the same room making an almost indecipherable racket.

    I mean that in the nicest way possible. I'm a huge fan of abstract music, and to be perfectly honest, these folks make it easy to drop straight into their thought processes. A couple minutes of psi and you'll be mainlining the mindset of these boys, whether you like it or not.

    Thoughtful and yet sprightly at the same time. I'm quite impressed by the way psi has handled the electronic divide. As for the inspirational nature of the music itself, well, best to leave that to the true aficionados. There are treats galore here for the unleashed mind.

    Black American Flag
    (Evolving Ear)
    reviewed in issue #250, February 2004

    Two lengthy outbursts from these boys. Jaime Fenelly, Chris Forsyth and Fritz Welch make up psi, and it seems all three save some of their strangest and most intense ideas for this project.

    Electronic noise, guitar and percussion are the base, and the ideas flow from there. As anyone who is familiar with these guys knows, this is hardly music for the casual listener. psi demands attention. It challenges and probes in an attempt to redefine the nature of music itself.

    Okay, so maybe that's going a bit too far. Still, this is the sort of stuff that could sterilize cockroaches from 50 yards, so neophytes beware. Some serious experimentation is going on.

    It's been a while since my prefrontal lobes have had a workout this nice. Tap in and ride the wire. You won't be bored.

    Artificially Retarded Soul Care Operators
    (Evolving Ear)
    reviewed in issue #266, July 2005

    Lots and lots of odd noises and general lunacy from the psi folks. These pieces are decidedly improvised...there's even a snippet or few of club banter to round out the sound. More conceptual than most improvisatory acts, psi is all about the ideas, whether they're jokes or something more substantial. Yes, you have to think. A lot. I'd expect nothing less from psi.

    Psychic TV
    Godstar-The Singles * Pt. Two
    reviewed in issue #69, 1/31/95

    As innovators and a major influence on the current industrial scene, you might expect a little more from this collection of Psychic TV commercial outings. PTV is, of course, the place where Genesis P. Orridge stopped off after the Throbbing Gristle gig got a little tiresome.

    The songs here range from the highly accessible to pretty experimental. Of course, the three renditions of "Godstar" fall at the ends and in between. And a lot of the collection seems a little superfluous and not quite up to snuff.

    Which is the problem with wandering out to the edge of audience comprehension. A lot of Psychic TV (even the single releases) is pretty out there. You have to be in a certain mood to appreciate the madness. In some of these songs you can hear Orridge and Co. wandering into the realm of acid house, so perhaps a little ex is in order.

    Whatever. This disc shows the amazing breadth of the Psychic TV experience, and also manages to convey as few of the band's flaws. A pretty neat trick, that.

    Cold Blue Torch remix EP
    reviewed in issue #110, 5/27/96

    Eight remixes of five songs from Trip Reset. I can't really compare these to the originals, but they stand on their own pretty well.

    Befitting the band, these remixes trend toward the experimental. Not much in the way of club material here. I won't complain about that; I likes the weirdness. And since half the fun of Psychic TV is simply losing yourself in the void, this set of tracks does the trick well.

    Enough to keep me quite amused. With folks like cEvin Key, Leaether Strip and Spahn Ranch reassembling the music, you know the results will be good. And eminently strange.

    Yeah, these remixes probably emphasize the masturbatory characteristics of Psychic TV (there's a lot of excess lying around), but just remember this is only a test. Reality begins next week.

    Psychick Warriors ov Gaia
    Ov Biospheres and Sacred Grooves
    reviewed in issue #16, 6/30/92

    The first thought is: "My God, these songs go on forever." You notice three songs = 55 minutes. And then you see the notation "dedicated to biosphere one and the sixth sense."

    Biosphere One is, of course, that pseudo-scientific thing going on in Arizona where eight "Biospherians" will live in a huge glass house and be completely self-sufficient. Many scientists aren't quite so sure this is a scientific enterprise.

    And this album goes the same way. It's elevator music with a beat. But my roommate likes it a lot.

    Six Six Six Nights in Hell
    reviewed in issue #75, 4/30/95

    Rhythm-based industrial stuff. When the guitars are around, they're nice and heavy, but even then everything revolves around the machine.

    Psychopomps have two moods. When guitar is used, the emphasis is on a more "live" sound, with few samples, kinda like latter-day Godflesh. But when the guitar is left out, the drum machine ascends to even higher significance, and samples are used more often of necessity, leading to a more Die Warzau-like sound.

    I'd be the last one to try and guess what these folks are trying to do. The sound is wonderfully schizophrenic, which has it's benefits and drawbacks. The main drawback is that Psychopomps has no distinct sound. The music is good and well put together, but both sounds the band creates are nothing original.

    A fun disc, but an evolution needs to happen for Psychopomps to really break out.

    First Blood
    reviewed in issue #103, 3/18/96

    Oddly underproduced heavy techno with a decided goth tone. And plenty of antisocial musings for the kiddies. Just like Six Six Six Nights in Hell.

    Strangely enough, that album caught on with a few metal guys at college radio. Diversity rules, man. But Psychopomps is cool enough to find a home in many formats with lots of people. And that outreach only helps the sound.

    Yeah, this is German, but not of the guitar-friendly variety. These folk are on the same German label as X Marks the Pedwalk (perhaps the finest hard techno band in the universe; new album reviewed below), and that explains a lot. Moderately experimental, heavily addicting.

    An acquired taste, surely, but one that many folks should be able to pick up without too much effort. The ability to jump genres without really changing the base sound is valuable, one Psychopomps learned years ago.

    Your Problem
    reviewed in issue #165, 8/17/98

    Another band wallowing in the metal-rap-funk-hardcore pit. But in a fresh and surprising gesture, Psycore pays a lot more attention to what is being said than on simply blasting out eardrums with dreadful sing-song choruses. In fact, the sharp spoken delivery (kinda rap-talking, sort of an Urban Dance Squad thing) works well with the rapidly mutating sounds the band employs to craft its total sound. Well, there's plenty of hollering, too. Diversity is big with the band.

    Sometimes the music is in the forefront, and sometimes it's mixed so low it almost sounds like an afterthought. Sometimes the guitars rule, sometimes the bass. The percussion is never far from the core of the sound. That focus on rhythm is what sells this album for me.

    There's always something cool rounding the corner. Perhaps a bit too complex for mass acceptance, but I doubt it. There's enough aggro here to assuage the blood of the young, and enough contemplation to satisfy the philosophically needy. Something for everyone without pandering. A pretty cool accomplishment.

    reviewed in issue #27, 1/31/93

    You folks have reported these guys' single, this demo EP and I assume you will get very excited over their upcoming full-length album.

    The vocals are a little less intelligible than the Accused, a band which they sound like quite a bit. More emphasis on splatter and gore even than the Seattle boys, though, and the music can be rather disjointed and even disconcerting at times.

    Interesting? Yeah. My cup of tea? Not really. But I understand why a lot of you like them. They are something.

    Psychosis (different band)
    (Massacre-Lonely Planet-Century Media)
    reviewed in issue #53, 4/30/94

    Attempting to roughen up a Louder-era Soundgarden sound, Psychosis do a fairly good job.

    I've heard this sound a lot before, and I think this compares well to Non-Fiction, one of the few bands who have appropriated a grunge sound and done something interesting.

    For starters, there are the occasional acoustic touches and slight variation in riff theory that pick up my ears. The rhythm work, in particular, is rather nice.

    A natural evolutionary process will have them solidifying a real "Psychosis" sound, as Non-Fiction did with their second album. Real potential lies in these grooves.

    Psychotic Therapy
    Colors of Rage
    reviewed in issue #38, 8/31/93

    Five originals and a Sab cover make for a great package. The production is above average and PT put on a credible defense of the doom and traditional metal theory.

    One of the better demos I've heard in quite some time.

    reviewed in Money Whore issue #7, 7/29/96

    Jonesin' for the Bowie, fer sure, man. If this isn't some kind of Bizarro-world incarnation of the Spiders, well, fuck.

    "Starfucker Love" is fairly amusing, if only for the "Fox on the Run" meets "Fame" groove (with the exception of the pointless reggae patois at the end). Hey, I'm as big a 70s glam fan as anyone, but hell, camp it up like Star Star or something. The only person who could really warp this stuff into artistic overdrive was Bowie, and he takes himself much less seriously than Psychotica. And that's saying something.

    Even while vamping through Devo's "Freedom of Choice", vocalist Pat Briggs refuses to recognize the humor in all this. I'd like to laugh with him, but I guess I'll have to settle for laughing at him.

    (Zero Hour)
    reviewed in issue #162, 6/29/98

    More goth meets glam. Band leader Pat Briggs still hasn't figured out how goofy these songs are (even when the band riffs through "MacArthur Park"), and the presentation is still kinda excessive.

    Honestly, excessive is an understatement. Briggs has completely given in to his Bowie compulsion, and unfortunately, it's not a particularly fertile period. Amusing once more, unintended.

    There's just no way to take this stuff seriously. Psychotica cranks out warped gothic disco grooves with big riffage. All the cheese that's fit to eat, and then some more just to make sure everyone chokes on the meal. Fun? Yeah. Funny? Definitely.

    I still have no idea what the point is. And I know a couple serious fanatics. They an't tell me either, but whatever it is that Briggs is doing, it works for them. Not much more than a good laugh for me.

    The Psyclone Rangers
    Beatin' on the Bat Pole EP
    (World Domination)
    reviewed in issue #112, 6/17/96

    Four new tracks hacked together with Gun Club (mistitled, but supposedly intentionally) and Minutemen covers.

    These freaks could easily be dumped into the pile of bands that have been recycling all that MC5 and Stooges energy we all knew still existed. But they've cranking out albums for three years (and playing for more), which puts them more in the forefront of this quite welcome movement.

    Where most of the retreads (most of which I've quite enjoyed, if a little guiltily) put the emphasis on bass distortion, the Rangers make a mess of the guitar sound instead. A bit more treble, a bit more vicious. Plenty of fun, anyways.

    Six songs of pure drug-induced fury. I can only imagine the roadshow. Lock up yer daughters and grab yer guns!

    Public Radio
    Sweetchild EP
    (Deep Elm)
    reviewed in issue #311, October 2009

    Rock and roll that doesn't mind a hook now and again. Public Radio pretty much eschews any particular style over the course of these five songs. Mostly, they sound great. And there's the chance they might have been anthems if some pretty-boy band got its mitts on them.

    Public Radio, however, prefers to leave the climaxes a wee bit understated. That's cool. They function quite well when modestly under the radar. And while the heavy use of electronics is a bit surprising for a Deep Elm band, it works well for these folks. Like everything else, taste rules the day.

    And maybe that's my one complaint. More attitude might add a bit of a charge. But when you name yourself Public Radio, I suppose appearances must be kept up. Most entertaining, in any case.

    The Puddle Jumpers
    (Golden Goose)
    reviewed in issue #175, 1/25/99

    Some more of that "Dead again" roots rock, though with a definite prog influence. The guitar lines are more reminiscent of Rush or Yes than Blues Traveler. Still, the sound is hardly technical; it's smooth and warm.

    A cool little combo of the sounds, if you ask me. Acoustic guitars take the edge off the prog lines, and the prog structures and harmonies keep the roots attitude from getting too self-indulgent. Yeah, I know, prog can get that way, but The Puddle Jumpers are simply writing pop songs in a vaguely unusual style.

    I haven't heard anything quite like this before. I'm still not the biggest fan of the sounds involved, but they work much better together than I might have imagined. The songs are tightly crafted, honed gems, with subjects as often magical as everyday.

    A whole new way of reinventing the 70s. One that I can sign on to right away. Creative musicians rechannel old ideas into new forms. Always a good idea.

    Tito Puente & His Orchestra
    Live at the 1977 Monterrey Jazz Festival
    (Monterrey Jazz Festival/Concord)
    reviewed in issue #300, September 2008

    One of a number of live albums from Monterrey fests getting a fresh release, this set showcases one of Latin music's first superstars still going strong after decades on the road.

    Puente's best-known piece (among general music fans, anyway) is "Oye Como Va." While that song is strongly associated with Santana (as it already was when this set was recorded), Puente's 15-piece band tears through it with the assurance only a creator can give.

    That's pretty much the way the rest of the set goes as well. It's easy to hear how this performance helped Puente to get a contract with Concord back in the late 70s and move into the jazz mainstream, as described in the liners.

    This is one of six current releases from the Monterrey label. The others include Jimmy Witherspoon, Cal Tjader, Art Blakey (with one serious band behind him), Dave Brubeck and Shirley Horn. The best moments of these discs are perfect illustrations why music is best "seen" as well as heard.

    Back in Control
    (Cold Meat Industry)
    reviewed in issue #155, 3/23/98

    I got a little listing that shows a somewhat different cover. One of them Nazi (or I.R.S., for that matter)-style eagles, which gets a little uncomfortable when combined with the utter inhumanity of the lyric content.

    Misanthropic, to the ultimate extreme. Whether sampled or spoken, the lyrics speak to the final elimination of mankind. This album is something of a description of that event.

    Very martial and dramatic, with plenty of excessive flourishes. There are some nice soundscape bits, but most of the music consists of battle hymns which really don't fly. Interesting, perhaps, but not fulfilling.

    I guess the biggest problem is that the music isn't dark enough to truly explore the ideas put forth by the lyrics. This doesn't even work as a celebration of the destruction of civilization. Just stilted military anthems with nothing to move.

    Puke Weasel
    reviewed in issue #37, 7/31/93

    Merging a little Seattle riffage with the current slower hard core trend, Puke Weasel sound awful good to be stuck in the middle of Kansas.

    Production is immaculate, keeping the focus on the tight rhythm section. This will grind its way into your heart.

    Brooding Hateful Machine
    reviewed in issue #55, 5/31/94

    Good production, nice take on a traditional metal sound. Good riffage, nice thrash touches. The vocals have that just-rough-enough feeling.

    I liked the their last demo, and I'm left wondering why these guys are still in Kansas without a deal. This is heavy yet accessible, just ahead of the trend. Very solid.

    See also Spine.

    (Tooth & Nail)
    reviewed in issue #130, 3/17/97

    Grungy punk pop. A weird combination. The main effect is to render the guitars grey, almost toneless. Where half the great stuff about pop is usually in the bright production, Puller seems driven to dullness.

    And it just grates on me. The songwriting is at least decent, and the playing is quite good. It's just the production and playing style that really bogs down whatever is good here. And just when a bright melody would inject some life into the proceedings, Puller goes grunge-anthemic. Yow.

    It's surprising what one little thing can do to really drag a whole project down. Now, here, that one little thing is "musical direction", which is pretty important. I just can't get into this sound. No way around it.

    Esteem Driven Engine
    reviewed in issue #121, 10/21/96

    This stuff sounds so easy. When done well. And Pulley has the number on pop-punk. Nice, clean lead guitar work, a driving rhythm section and sharp vocals.

    Of course, those pipes belong to Scott from Ten Foot Pole. Other members of this "all-star" outing include Jim and Jordan from Strung Out, A guy named Matt who used to play bass for Face To Face and someone named Mike who played in Scared Straight back when Scott was there.

    These sorta albums are usually quite good or simply dreadful. These guys have played together off and on for a while, so the results are predictably good. Highly enjoyable.

    My main caveat is a tendency for the anthem, though that generally gets undercut one way or another. Fine work, even if it isn't a regular job.

    60 Cycle Hum
    reviewed in issue #161, 6/15/98

    Scott Radinsky always refers to his job pitching for the Dodgers as his second job. First and foremost, he wants to be known as singer for Pulley. Considering how he's pitched at times this year, he may or may not have that job for much longer.

    But unlike other jock musician wannabes like Jack McDowell or Jim Courier, Radinsky can sing. And the other members of Pulley are rather talented, too. A heavier, messier version of the ALL power popcore sound (at times sounding a lot like Down By Law). Good shit.

    Fast, furious anthemic fare. The songs are tightly written and performed. They actually say something. And the production leaves enough holes to allow each instrument to be fully heard and understood.

    Just a solid package all the way around. Pulley has quickly moved to the front of the Epitaph class. Yeah, there's plenty of company. But a couple more albums like the first two, and Pulley just might begin to pull away.

    (Epitaph) reviewed in issue #178, 3/15/99

    The third album from these boys, and it's easy to hear a bit of angst. Singer Scott Radinsky is better known in some circles as a pitcher (for the Cards, I think), which lends a strange irony to a song like "Working Class Whore", but hell, that's going a bit too far into the personal information file.

    After all, the question really is "Does it work?" I get to answer that question 20-30 times ever two weeks. And once again, Pulley works for me. Oh yeah, sharply-produced (in that omni-present NOFX style), but still with an identifiable Pulley presence.

    I do wish the sound was a bit more raw, but in general, this is simply another solid Pulley effort. The guys still haven't quite made it all the way to the top shelf, but they're more than worth hearing. Certainly never a disappointment.

    Like I said, simply solid punk songs, with a bit more angst and a bit tighter production than usual. A fun ride, as ever.

    See also Gas Huffer.

    Pulse Programming
    Tulse for One Second
    reviewed in issue #236, December 2002

    Techno pop isn't supposed to be this warm and inviting. Pulse Programming takes all the chilly blips and bleeps of Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk and then, somehow, fashions that icy music into a comfy easy chair sound.

    Sure, the effect is even more attractive when there are vocals. Voices immediately humanize the sound. But even the instrumental passages here are strangely organic sounding. More like a babbling brook than bytes in a sequencer.

    The melodies are delicate, and the keyboard washes sound more like floating clouds than black sheets of rain. Maybe that's the trick. The stuff has an ethereal intensity--it's impossible to put down, but still nothing here is intimidating or off-putting.

    Rather, the disc opens its arms and envelops the listener. These songs wouldn't have worked with a traditionally chilly techno sound. But they take flight here.

    Just My Type
    (Pinch Hit)
    reviewed in issue #216, 5/14/01

    Some bands have perfect names. Punchy is one of them. The band plays power pop music that has a certain, um, punch. There are also a number of country rock references which fit right in.

    Down home pop/rock. I like this sound a lot. I don't think enough bands consider it. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers did real well with a certain variant some time back, but I think there's room for more exploration. Punchy simply proves that point.

    Not afraid to embrace the future, Punchy employs a sharp production sound that includes some electronic percussion and synth work in addition to the organic organ and more typical instrumentation. Anything to fill out the sound. It feels right normal.

    The only missteps come when Punchy tries to get a little high-falutin'. Simplicity is the key here. adding some heft is one thing; relying on electronic grooves to drive a song (such as on "Needle Exchange") is going a bit too far. Luckily, the band generally sticks to what it does best, and I'm most pleased.

    Pungent Stench
    Been Caught Buttering
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #7, 2/14/92

    Once again, it is proved: most of the best death metal is European. Not to slight bands like Atheist (who are rather innovative), but the real rough and ready sounds of a band like Pungent Stench make Morrisound product seem, well, antiseptic. Too clean.

    Even when these guys speed it up, the musicianship is still there. Just amazing riffs and speedy, blues-influenced solo work (really, not just that Carl Lewis work people put on most albums). This, like much of the stuff from Relapse and Nuclear Blast, has a raw touch to it. Real fucking power.

    And that's what this music is all about: powerdealing. Pungent Stench channel aggression better than any band I've heard in ages. This stuff makes me wish I was fifteen all over again (um, maybe not, but still). Wow.

    Dirty Rhymes and Psychotronic Beats
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #37, 7/31/93

    Been Caught Buttering truly amazed me. And I've been waiting ever since for a taste of new Pungent Stench.

    This is not what I expected. But it is better. They have no musical core, instead sampling sounds from industrial to seventies rock. And, of course, two dance remixes of "Blood, Pus and Gastric Juice."

    The weird thing is, you can dance to all of this. Easily. I'm not talking about thrashing about and crashing into people. Stuff that white people can do and appreciate.

    And don't worry, they dance remixes rule. No wimpy revisions; they keep the song whole and just punch the original up a bit. And if you can tell me what the extra track is, please do.

    And the cover isn't really disgusting. But check out the inside photos. I haven't seen my balls since.

    Seven (well, six really) weren't enough. They'd damn well better start recording again soon!

    For God Your Soul... For Me Your Flesh
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #44, 11/15/93

    If you wondered where it all began, this is a brushed-up version of their 1990 European debut. Things are a little cleaner, but just as brutal. And now you can see why folks like me just bow and cry "Master!".

    Exceptionally accomplished for a debut, it's pretty easy to understand why these folk have gotten the attention they have: a simple knack for writing good music.

    Grind of the highest order. A vital re-issue (though the first official stateside release) that deserves monster play. The title track alone is simply amazing.

    Club Mondo Bizarre-For Members Only
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #54, 5/15/94

    Perhaps a little more groove-oriented than previous outings, Pungent Stench manage to evolve and still stay relevant.

    This is not nearly as heavy as in the past. Hell, you can even understand the lyrics rather clearly. But when you are dealing with musicians of the highest caliber and creativity, everything seems to sound great.

    As usual, Pungent Stench is not afraid to get silly at times, evidenced by "Klyster Boogie" and of course, the liners. While certain border types forced a somewhat truncated form of the pictures to be printed, you still get the idea.

    Most of you have bit into this release with full relish already. Let me encourage the slackers to do so as well. Growth ain't necessarily a bad thing, now.

    Go Nukes
    reviewed in issue #10, 3/31/92

    While the music is traditional thrash (and there's nothing wrong with that), the lyrics are rather noteworthy. In their first song alone, Punisher attacks nuclear war, dolphin-safe fishing, the trash problem and much more. And it's not really preaching. Just aiming at awareness.

    The production sound is great, and the cassette is professional enough to be sold in a chain store. The level of commitment the members have to this band is inspiring.

    This band is worth your time to pick up and play. So do it!

    Puny Human
    Revenge Is Easy
    (Small Stone)
    reviewed in issue #202, 7/17/00

    You know, that thick fuzzy guitar sound that lotsa bands use as a sort of Sabbath homage is actually much more than Tony Iommi ever imagined 30 years ago. Puny Human takes that viscous riffage and adds hoarse, almost hardcore style vocals to craft a real attacking sound.

    And, oh boy, does it work. There are the requisite Geezer-style bass runs as well, but Puny Human is all about sonic pain. No subtlety, nothing hidden up the sleeve. Everything is right on the table. It sure does feel good.

    When this style is done well, particularly when the influence doesn't extend to rip-off, the stuff can be irresistible. It sure is here. Great driving music. The songs throb and pound away, blasting holes in space.

    A simple pleasure, the sort of thing that just can't be explained rationally. Once the riffage enters the bloodstream, it's all over. Just gotta sit back and let the music take the wheel.

    Pupa's Window
    A Family Portrait split CD with The Chris and Joylene Show
    reviewed in issue #285, May 2007

    Two Baltimore bands sharing one drummer (who doesn't normally play with either, if I read the liners right). And it's kinda hard to call Pupa's Window a "band," since Michael Nestor pretty much does everything (except, you know, the drums).

    The Chris and Joylene Show play pleasantly involved music, fine pop songs that tend to spin around a particular theme. Not quite so complex as, say, Floating Opera (an obscure reference, but what the hell), but good enough. Light tunes with just enough kick to satisfy my wandering mind.

    I love Pupa's Window. It is precisely my sort of geeky laptop pop. Too clever by half and melodic to the point of being cloying, there's just something addictive about these songs. Very cool.

    A good split. These bands contrast well with each other, and the combined contributions make for a fun album. Quite nice now that the winter is finally threatening to make itself scarce.

    Ryan Purcell
    Kick the Dirt
    reviewed in issue #294, March 2008

    Songs about politics, drinking, women and the like. Ryan Purcell delivers them all with a dash of country, the blues, soul and grit. All plastered on top of a base of rollicking folk. Reminds me a lot of Billy Bragg, though this is most certainly americana.

    There isn't a bad song in the lot. Purcell never lets his political ramblings get bitter--I think he'd rather have a good time. Which leads to the humor of songs like "When Was the Last Time (The Bottle Let You Down)." He may be too good-natured to deliver a full-throated screed, but that temperance makes these songs more timeless than temporal.

    All delivered in a sound that's highly reminiscent of mid-70s Neil Young. Plenty of sound when necessary, but often quite minimalist. Kinda reminds me of Mike Younger as well--that would be the rock and soul side. Solid, all the way around.

    One of those albums that hits hard and never lets up, even as it makes you smile. Great foot-tapping tunes, but there's heft in them thar songs. A quality effort.

    Purple Ivy Shadows
    Under & OK
    (Slow River-Rykodisc)
    reviewed in issue #145, 10/13/97

    A set of alternate versions, b-sides, a live track and one song from an album. Makes me wish I heard that album, to be sure. Purple Ivy Shadows makes music that resembles folky soundscapes. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but let me try to explain.

    The songs are generally centered around a guitar line (often electric, but not always), with plenty of effects and sampled noises added on to make the experience complete. Sometimes there is singing.

    There are two fairly straightforward songs (specially mixed for this EP), but the rest (including the live song) are meticulously constructed pieces that attempt to carve out a few new areas in the gap between electronic and "analog" music. Intricate ideas, some expressed very quietly, others with reckless abandon, diverge and come together again repeatedly. Mesmerizing, when at the top of the form.

    A little erratic, all told, but this EP is more a hodgepodge than a real example of what the band can do. A fine first taste for me, though.

    No Less the Trees than the Stars
    (Slow River-Rykodisc)
    reviewed in issue #146, 10/27/97

    The EP I reviewed last time out actually came out after this, and the folks were kind enough to send me the full-length predecessor along. And now I understand the band better.

    Too bad, really, because what I liked about the EP isn't here. That meticulous editing amongst the acoustic work was just remixing, I guess. These songs are generally straightforward moody, noisy roots rock (emo country? maybe). And while that's not awful, it isn't the revolutionary stuff I heard before.

    There are cool bits like "Rebuilding the Ancestral Statue" (which is also on the EP), but most songs are anything but unusual. Fairly decent and all, but nothing to get excited about.

    I know, my adverse reaction come from liking the weird stuff on the EP so much, but honestly, I wouldn't have given this much notice had I not heard that disc. Somewhat better than average, but not too distinctive.

    Purr Machine
    Speak Clearly CD5
    (Reconstriction-Cargo) reviewed in issue #178, 3/15/99

    Four remixes of the single, one each of an album track (see below) and the band's contribution to the CyberPunk Fiction project, "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon".

    The band's basic sound is gothic chilly industrial, but these remixes do a fine job of rearranging the sounds, finding their own paths. These are more reconstructions, coming up with almost completely different songs. Which, of course, is the best sort of remix.

    There's a reason for this disc. These remixes take the basic Purr Machine idea and connect it to other nodes in the universe. Precisely what this sort of single is supposed to do.

    Ging Ging
    (Reconstriction-Cargo) reviewed in issue #178, 3/15/99

    Singer Betsy Martin was in Caterwaul (there's an oldie fer ya) and later Drumatic. Kevin Kipnis is probably best known for his work in Kommunity FX. Guitarist Kirk Hellie played in Pink Noise Test (as does the band's live drummer, who isn't on this disc).

    Right. As Kipnis is the main songwriter and programmer, it shouldn't be too surprising that Purr Machine does recall his old band. Martin does have a nice, soaring wail, stronger than your average goth vocal.

    The music itself borrows from a number influences, lending a more complete sound than many gothic industrial acts find. Yeah, it's electronic, and yeah, there's still a vaguely haunted feel, but within that, there's a full world to be explored. Purr Machine does.

    More than pretty decent. This is one of the stronger albums of this sort I've heard, and I like this sound. When creative people actually succeed in what they're attempting, stuff like this happens.

    3 EP
    (Joyful Noise)
    reviewed in issue #290, October 2007

    Muscular and energetic (not to mention angular), not unlike the ...By the End of the Night/Tera Melos split. Except that this is nothing like that at all. Think more Minutemen than June of 44.

    A lot more tuneful, of course, and somewhat more construction-conscious than D., Mike and George. But who isn't? This is some glorious noise that happens to groove on a funky math-hardcore axis. Push-Pull is really none of those things--far too strident and sparse in its sound--but the influences are obvious. It's the final execution that's most impressive.

    These boys take solid ideas and kick them out as impressionistic works. Loud, wild and somewhat improbably technically superb. I want to know where these guys are going.

    (Brain Disc-Oblivion)
    reviewed in issue #71, 2/28/95

    If Sly could kick the crack and actually finish that long-rumored album...

    Pusher comes through, forcing a vision of caterwauling early-seventies pop-rock-funk through a sheen of fried chicken crackles and the occasional buzzsaw guitar.

    In other words: Really, really, (really) great.

    Most songs start off pleasant enough, with earnest, yet strained, pop vocals floating above some sort of organ or soft guitar. The soul begins to flow. And once the guitars fly in your face, you just don't notice. The bliss is extreme.

    A throwback that manages to still sound fresh. Pusher merges the past with the present in a most appealing way. This isn't antiseptic Chili Peppers faux-funk. This is a stench you can sink your teeth into.

    (Sector 2-Futurist)
    reviewed in issue #58, 7/15/94

    Somewhere between glam and what I call "wank-metal" (RHCP and other weak funk acts), Pushmonkey plies its wares.

    Passable, I suppose, and the occasional appearance of real horns and even decent attempts at funk are nice. But with all of the fancy tricks, Pushmonkey doesn't have that "something" to make it memorable.

    Lots of you will play this, and you should. There are good songs and some nice performances. But Pushmonkey still has a long ways to go before they will be remembered six months after their albums come out.

    reviewed in issue #169, 10/12/98

    A move up to the big leagues, and all the proper grooming. Pushmonkey's more idiosyncratic impulses (some horns, wank-heavy funk bass lines) have been smoothed out, leaving a groove metal which cranks out anthem after anthem.

    And, well, while the sound is markedly better and the musical ideas are more coherent, the result is the same. Pushmonkey isn't interesting enough to remember. The songs don't have many flaws, but they simply aren't distinctive. Nothing to remember them by.

    And as each track floats by, I try and scrape for something arresting. A handhold on which to grab. But all I find is smooth rock. No purchase for my needs.

    Generic, in the final estimate. Good, but not particularly distinctive. Just another in a long line.

    (Asian Man)
    reviewed in issue #172, 11/23/98

    Bouncy punk pop, complete with horns. Not much in the way of ska, just nice, thick brass. I like that. Truly.

    The songs have ace hooks, utilizing the horns to their fullest effect. In fact, the guitar and horns mix together at least as well as anything I've heard. This is a band which has spent the time to figure out its sound and what works within that.

    Crafted, but not stilted. Pushover plays with a nice balance of skill and enthusiasm. There are moments when I with the band would kick out loose a bit more, but on the whole, everything works quite well.

    Hail hail, well met. The next wave of ska isn't ska at all, but just the reintroduction of horns to rock music. Hey, it had to happen sometime (and, to be honest, Pushover isn't the first such band I've heard recently), and the sound is great. A refreshing burst.

    Chew and Swallow
    reviewed in issue #274, May 2006

    Sufficiently messy electronic noodlings. Some of these pieces are arranged into songs, and some of them are merely an exhibition of cool sounds. Inevitably, people much more clever than me will start a discussion as to what is music and what is not after listening to an album like this. I won't...because I know this is music. Good music.

    I'm not a strict constructionist when it comes to music or the Constitution or whatever. If it works, it works. And Pussyfinger makes sure everything works quite well. These pieces all have a certain resonance. They all make sense within their own space.

    And perhaps as importantly, they sound terrific. The throbbing distortion is a wonder to behold, and the occasional ethereal side comment can be haunting. Don't get me wrong; these folks cherish brute power above just about everything. But the occasional subtle moment is cool, too.

    Solid all the way around. Enthralling, really, if you allow yourself to become immersed in the experience. Don't go looking for landmarks, and you'll come out just fine on the other side.

    Putrescine EP
    (3 Bay Hopper)
    reviewed in issue #237, January 2003

    I suppose the chemical formula on the cover is putrescine. Maybe not; I don't think they use umlauts in chemistry. In any case, these boys play a fine sort of rambling extreme hardcore that reminds me a bit of Season to Risk.

    But a bit more so in every way, really. This is hardcore, even if there are a few hints of melody, the rhythms get quite catchy from time to time and there are some bits played in 6/8 time (you know, with triplets--like Iron Maiden did all the time). In all, quite a nice mix of stuff.

    Well-stirred and played with precise abandon. This is music of the apocalypse, and Putrescine can rail against the world as well as anyone. In fact, better than most. Screams in blue rarely sound so good.

    Pygmy Children
    reviewed in issue #81, 7/31/95

    Not audience friendly. Pygmy Children assaults the listening public with pure techno-industrial madness, only occasionally bothering to really get down to the business of the song at hand.

    I suppose that makes this experimental, at least at times. I must admit I liked all the stuff the Roper Brothers pulled.

    And from our nation's capital, too. Almost fitting that such rancid commentary would emanate from the source of pomposity.

    A completely disturbing trip through these boys' minds. I'm not sure when I want to return, but I am happy for the voyage. Only the brave and stouthearted should attempt this voyage.

    Waves of Erotasia
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #67, 11/30/94

    With more of a grungy take on the doom sound, Pyogenesis takes each song to an anthemic extreme. While that is a hallmark of this sort of music, instead of finding some points of beauty or emotion, the boys undercut the power of the music with ragged playing and high levels of distortion at times. And then the kitchen sink finds itself in the mix, and you wonder just exactly where things will head next.

    I'm not sure the band has an answer for that. Each song is very different from the other three, and so it is hard to tell precisely where Pyogenesis wants to be. I'm a big proponent of diversity and creativity, though, and I have to applaud the effort. The result? Well, that's a mixed bag. Perhaps next year's full-length will provide a more conclusive answer.

    Sweet X-Rated Nothings
    (Nuclear Blast)
    reviewed in issue #73, 3/31/95

    The latest in the evolution of death metal: crude doom. At the surface, Pyogenesis seems to follow in the path laid forth by Edge of Sanity and Amorphis, among others, but this is just the veneer.

    Underneath is a rugged, rude attack that takes all of the grace out of the proceedings. All the seams are exposed, just as on the EP.

    But even with everything frayed, this is a much stronger effort than Waves. Attention has been paid to songwriting, and the obvious creativity has been harnessed much more effectively on this disc.

    Pyogenesis is still not one of my favorite bands. But this album is pretty decent, well worth a few spins. And I have the feeling the more I listen, the more I'll like it. So give it a chance to grow on you as well.

    Q*Ball EP
    reviewed in issue #213, 3/12/01

    Space age disco with more than a hint of keyboard-driven pop. The lyrics are either spoken normally or at a hyperspeed rate.

    This style naturally builds intensity, and the music works pretty well, too. Ron Thal provides some guitar and also helps out in the production, adding a heavier edge to the more manic moments.

    Indeed, Q*Ball's fare works best when the sound is half a beat from losing control. He walks that edge more often than most would dare, and the result is three songs that are damned near irresistible. From beginning to end, I was entranced. Lots and lots of fun, with no downtime in sight.

    In Space
    reviewed in issue #229, May 2002

    A delightfully crunchy elektro-industrial confection. Q*Ball is lucky enough to have Ron Thal (a.k.a. "Bumblefoot") as a co-producer and guitarist, and so his songs have a decidedly rock base.

    Which is cool, considering that his beats are so light and fluffy. The electronic side of the sound is cute and bouncy, quite the counterpoint to Thal's thick and heavy riffage. The combination might take a moment or so to really sink in, but it works.

    If you want pure Q, check out "Chew." That's the airy side of his personality. The rest of the disc trips toward the experimental and heavy, but never without losing the sense of fun that I've always liked in Q*Ball's music. Say, a song called "Edith" that samples Jean Stapleton's warbling of "Those Were the Days" from "All in the Family." That one is pure slamming dance floor heaven.

    I hear a lot more different ideas here than I did on the shorter set I reviewed a while back. That's good. It means that Q*Ball is still challenging himself, finding ways to make his music even better. He's learned that the moment you stop growing, you stop living. A lesson we can all take to heart.

    Fortune Favors the Bald
    reviewed in issue #256, August 2004

    Guitar/synth-driven dance music from one of my favorites. The goofs--both lyric and musical--just keep on coming. I think he's a bit too idiosyncratic for the mainstream, but that's why I love his chunky grooves so much. Fortune favors anyone who picked up the Q.

    (Times Square-Silva Screen)
    reviewed in issue #133, 4/28/97

    Q-South would be stuck in an ugly retro-metal loop if it weren't for one thing: the guitars are acoustic.

    That doesn't entirely save the project. The songs are often overbearing and more than a little pretentious. Preachy kinda comes to mind. I do like the acoustic guitars a lot, and they add a nice texture to the slough of anthems on this disc.

    But Q-South never quite breaks free from the overly urgent feeling that permeates the disc. a little variety would be nice, just as a breather. The band's relentless message of despair and pain simply loses impact in the end. I get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.

    I still like the idea, and there are a lot of good things happening. If Q-South could lighten up just a bit, I could really get into the band.

    Pet Driftwood (Composition #8)
    reviewed 12/23/14

    A West Virginia quintet that features both a trumpet and violin, Qiet is well-prepped to ramble. And it does. This album staggers through the last century of American music without settling on any particular sound. This approach applies to many of the individual songs as well.

    But instead of some sort of clinical survey, Qiet is all noise and mess. Ever wonder what the Jesus Lizard might sound like if their songs were set to a go-go beat? Have you pined for a Led Zeppelin/Dirty Dozen Brass Band mashup? Does your favorite playlist feature Alejandro Escovedo, Janis Joplin and Mudhoney? Do you get excited hearing drum corps bands playing Dead Kennedys? Qiet is your ticket to such awesome things.

    The greatness of this album lies in its energy and the mess created by that energy. These songs are often played to 11--both in volume and exuberance. The arrangements are frightfully and enticingly imprecise. When a sterling hook emerges out of the chaos, the thrill is almost unbearable.

    This sort of extreme americana seems to be a coming thing, but Qiet is probably the most effusively powerful and inclusive of the bunch. This album sounds like the party where everyone got smashed, music was played way too loud, your significant other ended up with someone else for the night--and everything was cool anyway. It shouldn't work, but it does.

    And yes, I know such parties aren't for everyone. But if you haven't tapped into your boisterous nature lately, Qiet will do the trick without giving you a social disease. Though if you see a live show, I don't think I would be entirely sure about that. Just sayin'.

    Painting Monsters on Clouds
    reviewed in issue #284, April 2007

    Known to his friends as Cornel Wilczek, Qua released Forgetabout in 2001 and Painting Monsters on Clouds in 2004--in Australia. Mush is doing the right thing and bringing these fine works to the rest of the world.

    Minimalist, loopy (in every sense of the word) electronic stuff that marries melody, noise and an interesting sort of bonhomie. Not goofy, but somewhat sprightly and well-intentioned. That makes these songs, which might otherwise be described as chilly, rather warm and inviting.

    Forgetabout is the sparer of the two. There's a lot of space between the different elements, and oftentimes there's even a sense of dead air. Painting Monsters utilizes much more beatwork and rhythm in general. The tracks on the later album are much more songlike...there's even a fair amount of guitar work involved.

    What doesn't change between the albums is the quality within. Both are solid and inventive, inviting the listener to stop and have a think. They may be late in coming, but I'm just happy these albums are finally here.

    The Qualia
    Cotillion Knives
    reviewed 9/12/16

    So what if I told you there was a band that paired near-perfect indie pop hooks with goofy disco-laden EDM? The Qualia doesn't do that, exactly, but it tends to veer between those sounds. In any case, the hooks remain near-perfect.

    Some albums are pure enjoyment from the start to the finish, easy on the ears even as they tickle the mind. This is one of those. The water is warm and the seas are inviting. Pretty much perfect for the end of summer.

    I think what works best here is the seamless combination of keyboards and garage guitars. Ace songwriting helps, of course, but there aren't many bands out there that can merge guitar and keys like this. New Order comes to mind, except that the Qualia mixes its tempos and dynamics far too much to make any comparison like that.

    This one feels like a slow dawn on a steamy morning. You know the burn is coming, but for now it still feels good to luxuriate in the tempered rays. Watch the sandpipers run and forget about going back to work next week. This one is for right now.

    The more times I hear this, the more addicted I get. For all of its easy accessibility, Cotillion Knives is a layer cake of pleasure. There's always something else to find. Spectacular.

    (Time Bomb/Columbia)
    reviewed in issue #230, June 2002

    Metallic yet soulful industrial-driven hip hop. An easy reference is Rage meets the Beasties. And here's the kicker: The boys are from Iceland.

    That's right. Once again it takes outsiders to point out to us Americans how rich and fertile our musical scene truly is. Quarashi brings in so many influences--and fuses them seamlessly--that it's hard to believe that no one has created a sound quite like this before.

    But of course, plenty of bands have danced around this territory. From Faith No More to Sir Mix A Lot to the folks I mentioned up top and more. But none of them ever really wanted to mix stuff up quite like this. Which makes Quarashi something truly unique.

    And then there are lines like "I always wanted to grow up to be a funky Euripides." A reference lost on more than a few kids, I suppose, but just another indication of the sophistication and style of the band. A true breath of fresh air. May the airwaves spread the message far and wide.

    The Sword of God
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #219, 7/16/01

    The liner notes of this album are a long ramble about some folks I don't know. Completely incomprehensible on the whole, though small parts (like the bitching about people who can't tell between organ and electric piano, distortion and reverb, etc.) are perfectly clear in and of themselves.

    I mention this because it kinda helps to explain Quasi, whose fantastic sounds are created by Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss. There are pictures of Weiss on drums and Coomes on an electric piano. Somebody plays guitar, too, and if the keyboards aren't adding in a bass line I think someone grabs a four-string every now and then. The music is that sorta dreamy, trippy stuff that the Beatles and Beach Boys bounced back and forth in the late 60s. Coomes' voice reminds me a bit of Matthew Sweet (a guy who's certainly not immune to the charms of this kinda sound), though he's really not much into multitracking his vocals. If harmonies are needed, Weiss joins in.

    Now that I've finally gotten around to (vaguely), I should also mention that Quasi has a real knack for crafting gorgeous spheres of sound. Globes that hang high in the firmament, shimmering in a thousand different ways. This stuff isn't merely pretty or beautiful. Way beyond that. Enjoy the show and be enveloped by wonderfulness.

    Early Recordings
    (Touch and Go)
    reviewed in issue #220, 8/13/01

    In case you were wondering if Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss had a good track record, well, Touch and Go decided to release this and let you decide for yourself.

    Yeah, they do. These songs are decidedly more raw and experimental than the stuff I heard on their most recent album, but the threads are still similar. There's a devotion to a certain pop ideal, no matter how crudely expressed on this collection.

    And don't take words such as "crudely" to mean that these songs were just tossed together with a rake and then whacked apart with a meat cleaver. Hardly. It's just that in comparison to the current stuff, these songs will sound rather raw and unrefined.

    There's a big part of me that really digs the rough edges, too. Back in 1993 and 1994, Quasi was still way out on the edge, exploring some seriously unusual sonic possibilities. Which is not to say the due has completely returned from that journey. It's just that Quasi has a better idea of where to mine for gold these days.

    The Queers
    Don't Back Down
    reviewed in issue #118, 9/9/96

    Queers before queer was cool, and yet not queer at all. Um, I think I got that right.

    The three guys who call themselves the Queers have been pumping out pop anthems for half my life, but never quite like this. The sound is astonishingly punchy, and the lyrics simply melt in my ears. Everything on this album is creamy sour-cream icing.

    Certainly one of the great pop albums of the year. If a label with real AOR connections was releasing this puppy, well, the Queers would be headlining arenas by the end of next year.

    This will still sell like crazy, of course. With the band's stellar rep, easily the best album the Queers have made should fly off indie stores' shelves. If my incoherent, joyous rhapsodizing isn't enough, check out the last (listed) tune, "I Can't Get Over You", which features Lisa Marr of Cub. A simply gorgeous pop tune, performed to perfection.

    I figured this would be good. Don't Back Down is better than great.

    Everything's O.K. EP
    reviewed in issue #161, 6/15/98

    A shot of love from the Queers. Four songs in the sing-song cum Beach Boys style represented so clearly on the Queers' last lp, Don't Back Down.

    The title song lambastes the "purist" young punks who feel the Queers are no longer punk. And maybe they aren't. How long can you live the wake and bake, drink and drool, stumble and fall lifestyle before everything falls apart and nothing matters anymore?

    A noble question (NOFX deals with the same issues on their latest.), and the Queers have an answer: Everything's O.K. With only four songs, they're all gems. Hard to go wrong with such a small number. "Queerbait" tells all the underground gay men to get the hell out of the closet. "Get A Life and Live It Loser" is the same message, broader audience. And it's all rounded out with a cover of the Banana Splits "I Enjoy Being A Boy."

    --Matt Worley

    Later Days and Better Lays
    reviewed in issue #179, 3/29/99

    An old "lost" album and a few odds and ends. "We just wanted to do just one great punk rock album that we'd release ourselves and play with Screeching Weasel at least once." That's from the liners, and I've got to say, I've heard worse ambitions in life.

    The guys did, of course. There's also a few demos and a version of "I Can't Get Over You" with Joe on vocals instead of Lisa Marr. Much rougher than Don't Back Down, of course, but the same pop resplendence is there.

    More than a mere cultural artifact, this is, indeed, a great punk rock record. Loose, silly, snotty and oh-so tuneful. And I'm pretty sure the Queers got to play with Screeching Weasel more than once.

    It's a Queers record, man! A bit long in the tooth, perhaps, but you've got to recognize that this is one of the great pop bands of our time. And even as ragged as this gets, it's ever so easy to hear that. I'm simply bounding about in joy.

    Beyond the Valley...
    reviewed in issue #200, 6/5/00

    There's always plenty of good reasons to hear a Queers album. First, the shit is funny. Even if nearly half the song titles on this disc contain some form of the word "fuck" and a couple more invoke "cunt," well, this stuff is pretty clever.

    Kind of a symphony of obscenity, if you will. The tuneage is tuneful and peppy, though the production isn't quite as sharp as it has been in the past. That makes the songs a bit more difficult to love at first listen, but give the thing a couple spins. You'll come around.

    Yes, the surfcore sound is still what Joe Queer and pals play, and it's still a whale of fun. Subtlety isn't what you'll find. Just big-ass shiteating grins.

    This is the sort of thing that should get old real fast. But for some reason, I can't get enough of the Queers. This disc simply intensifies my addiction to pottymouthed punk pop. Not (entirely) a bad thing.

    Quest for Fire
    Quest for Fire
    (Tee Pee)
    reviewed in issue #313, December 2009

    Yet another fine stoner/psychedelic find for Tee Pee, Quest for Fire is made up of four Toronto scene veterans. The sound is fuzzy, but the songs are all over the map. There are some speedsters, some contemplative works and at least one song that sounds vaguely Neil Young-ish.

    Well, Neil Young interpreted, anyway. These guys don't stray too far from the stoner formula (lots of fuzz, lots of noise and long songs), but they do draw from many more sides of hard rock than most stoner acts. In particular, the tendency to speed things up from time to time is one I like.

    But the best part is the power. These guys know how to lay the pipe. In every song, there's a moment where you've just got to start throwing your hair around (if you've got any left, that is). It does help to have a Y chromosome, I suppose.

    What the hell. This is a pleasure, and not even a guilty one. Quest for Fire can pound my brain whenever it likes. Heavy, dudes.

    Quest for the Moon Breed
    Legion of Sleep 7"
    reviewed in issue #67, 11/30/94

    If Queen were a hardcore band...

    Quest for the Moon Breed heaves a big chunk of dramatics, samples and mood shifts into "Mares of Night", the a-side. It comes off as more silly than horrific, but fun nonetheless. The music chugs along nicely, and the story is amusing.

    The flip is more of the same, except that everything is different. New story, new themes, much better production (for some strange reason).

    I like to recommend the unusual, and this certainly qualifies. Quest for the Moon Breed are a little too strange for mass consumption, but the connoisseur will appreciate the vintage.

    Quick Fix
    Get Yours
    (Man with a Gun)
    reviewed in issue #201, 6/26/00

    Anyone remember the Circus of Power? Bass-heavy power rock with a serious groove jones. Quick Fix reminds me a lot of those boys, though perhaps with a little less bass.

    That leaner sound hasn't taken away any of the power. Indeed, the emphasis on drums and guitar (more of an interplay, I suppose) tightens up the grooves, sewing each song up nicely.

    Takes a lot of attitude to pull off this sound, and Quick Fix is all about that. These boys are seriously hung up on themselves. And that's the only way to sustain a 45-minute slow burn. No release, see, no way of letting the tension free. Just keep adding on.

    Pretty damned fine. Not yer usual Boston fare, but originality is always a plus. Quick Fix is anything but; more of an addiction forming, actually.

    Animal Love
    (Man With a Gun)
    reviewed in issue #228, April 2002

    Somewhere between T. Rex and the Cult, Quick Fix lies in wait, ready to pounce. And when I reference Ian Astbury and pals, well, I'm talking about the good years, back before "Fire Woman" and flameout.

    This kind of think and chunky glam rock is most attractive to my ears, especially when played with such panache and disdain. Disdain for themselves, their music and the listener. I know you may think this is a bad idea, but I've long believed that the greatest glam practitioners believed that the sound was beneath them. Didn't stop them from making the music, mind you. Just added a certain sneer to the stuff.

    I could be all wet there, though I can tell you that while Quick Fix certainly enjoys playing this stuff, I get the feeling the boys think they could be "artistes" of the highest order. Fine by me, as long as the result is music like this.

    Yes, you say, that's all fine, but is the stuff cheap and sleazy when it needs to be? Um, did you see the album cover? I think that should answer all of your concerns. Just grab this disc, plunk it in your machine and play it loud. Very loud.

    Quiet Hollers
    Quiet Hollers
    reviewed 10/22/15

    Back when Uncle Tupelo fused indie rock and folk, the music world was a raucous place. Guitars screamed, voices rasped and lots of sex was had. These days, the musical landscape is more sedate. And so, Quiet Hollers.

    Perhaps I'm just hearing things through my own personal college-in-1989/life-inside-the-beltway-now filter. But I don't think so. Quiet Hollers isn't afraid to get loud, but the tone is rounded and smoothed out. Otherwise, though, I hear a lot of similarities between these Louisville boys and a certain band that once hailed from Belleville.

    The song constructions are straight modern indie pop, but Quiet Hollers drops in all sorts of folk and country elements into the arrangements. The writing is top notch, and the overall element of difficulty here is high.

    The word that comes to mind most is "lovely." Even the more rambunctious songs have a ringing ache that induces a serious longing. For what, I'm not entirely sure, though I'd have to say these songs produce an immediate jones for more of the same.

    Perhaps the best things about these songs are the clunkier elements. Quiet Hollers may have a smooth presentation, but the band isn't afraid to hit a few blue notes now and again. Perfection is boring, and Quiet Hollers does an amazing job of keeping listeners engaged. This one grabs immediately and then digs in. Excellent.

    Filaments EP
    (Grey Flat)
    reviewed in issue #232, August 2002

    Quinimine hails from Montreal and is a product of the Mile End (you might recall my decidedly positive reviews of Molasses, another band from the same sorta scene). There are elements of roots, noise, jazz and more. Basically, this stuff is crafted to the extreme, and yet it sounds homey and warm.

    As befitting an "art roots" act (I kinda like that label, though I'm sure the band would--rightfully--hate it), Quinimine covers Kurt Weill and an old folk standard along with three original pieces. Each has a distinctive sound that could only come from this band.

    Astonishingly beautiful, and even so, still quite approachable. Quinimine isn't art to be appreciated from afar. These songs demand the most intimate sharing imaginable. Prepare to immerse yourself.

    Will Quinlan & the Diviners
    reviewed in issue #303, December 2008

    There are certain elements that mark the indie americana sound. Whiskey-edged vocals, a bounding, prominent bass line and slide guitar. Oh, and a certain rolling anthemic quality to the songs.

    Will Quinlan has it all. This sounds like pre-programmed americana bliss. And it may be. But it's also extraordinarily listenable, and the songs seem to improve with repeated listening.

    That would be the hallmark of what I like to call "good music." Quinlan writes within well-defined margins, but he really knows what he's doing. There aren't a lot of surprises here, but the songs are so strong there's no need shock the listener.

    Listening is all you have to do. Quinlan has done the rest of the work. This album is almost too easy to listen to, but I don't think I'm going to complain about that. I'll just edge up the volume a bit and hit repeat.

    Sean M. Quinn
    reviewed in issue #183, 6/7/99

    I spent a good portion of my time listening to this trying to pin down what Quinn was trying to do. The main thing I came up with is that his voice sounds like a gruffer Geddy Lee. But generally, he's trying to play guitar pop (with lots of little asides). Drum machine backing some sharp and unusual guitar playing

    It is demo quality recording, so a lot of the subtleties are lost in the mix. What I can say is that Quinn can handle a guitar quite well. He's got his own style, and it sounds good. I'm not as enamored of his vocals, which sometimes get a bit slurred. They are somewhat endearing though, after a lengthy listen.

    What Quinn doesn't do is rip anyone off. This tape has the sound of a person with singular vision and ambition. He wants to make his music. And he has. That streak of originality really sets these songs apart from the crowd.

    I do wish the sound was better, but that's the price I pay for listening to folks at the beginning of their musical journey. Quinn seems to have a good handle on songwriting and playing. Some refinement is certainly in order (these songs would sound better with a full band, certainly), but he's on the right track.

    Quintaine Americana
    (Cherry Disc)
    reviewed in issue #112, 6/17/96

    Rambling riffage, bitchin' bass lines and streamofconsciousness lyrics. Like a bad hangover after a vicious Seattle nightmare. Vision is blurred, and whenever the noise gets high enough your whole mind shuts down.

    I rather dig a lot of the slow burn style of music, and those parts are quite welcome here. And luckily, Quintaine Americana (what a name) is smart enough to change up the sound enough to keep folks from dozing off. A good number of these songs sound a bit unfinished, but then, I don't think polishing is in this band's future.

    I like this well enough. QA has a nice touch with an unusual writing style, and the production is just fuzzy enough to complement the odd musical phrasing of the band. This would fit in well with folks like Kepone, Mount Shasta and other folks who have furthered the Jesus Lizard line of musical progression.

    Plenty of potential, and lots of freaky-cool tunes right here. Those demanding coherence and hooks will have to look elsewhere (with the exception of "JT, Fire at the Trailer Park", which is pretty close to a damned catchy raver), but those seeking musical adventure can buy their tickets at the booth.

    Juan Carlos Quintero
    The Way Home
    (Size 11-Escapade)
    reviewed in issue #145, 10/13/97

    I'm fairly familiar with Juan Carlos Quintero's work, and for me, it has always tightly walked the line between cheesy smooth jazz and stuff that I consider interesting. It is true that he doesn't take many chances. His arrangements are safe, but he tosses in enough technical mastery of the guitar and emotional feeling to make these songs rise above where they might have ended up.

    The little notation on the case says "File under: Jazz/Latin/World". And that's what Quintero does. He takes a little bit from here, and some more from there, in the end arriving at a pleasant, but not unpalatable, destination.

    The thing I like best is his touch. An acoustic guitar isn't the easiest instrument to use when you want to express a wide range of feeling. Quintero uses many different styles of picking and strumming (and hammering and...) in each song, and in the end, that's what satisfies me.

    He walks the line, and arrives unscathed. Sure, I wish he took more chances. But I'll be satisfied with this.

    These Hands of Mine
    (Rhinestone-Skin Graft) reviewed in issue #178, 3/15/99

    One of the folks behind the Flossie and the Unicorns disc which thoroughly confused and entranced me. For the most part, the songs are organ riffs with drum machine backing. Though there is plenty of weirdness in the undertow.

    And through all the madness, the stuff is strangely accessible. Easy beats, happy organ tones. Alright, there's still enough eccentricity left over to complete the pickling of Michael Jackson, but hell, why complain?

    I won't do that. Nope. While strange, Quintron has his hands on the pulse of some sort of musical primal urge. The stuff is irresistible. Perhaps that's why he was on a soon-to-be-aired episode of Jenny Jones.

    More likely, that particular side excursion was just another piece in the strange puzzle that is Quintron. Or something.

    Protests of the Weak
    (Makoto Recordings)
    reviewed in issue #221, 9/3/01

    Yet another take on the linear noise rock sound. Quixote takes a blistering approach to the concept, flying through its pieces at a fair clip while not sacrificing one bit of technical accuracy.

    Right along the Kepone axis of the Jesus Lizard ideal, though a bit cleaner for the most part. Quixote isn't afraid to mess things up, but such moments are just for show. The real key to this band is the churning rhythm machine.

    And boy, does that work. There's just no let up in the throbbing, merely an almost mechanical set of marching orders. Insistent doesn't begin to describe the inner drive of this album.

    Most enjoyable. At times the songs flatten out to allow an atonal hook or two (a nod to the emo, I suppose), but generally after a few seconds of contemplation the beat goes on. An almost irresistible ride.

    Been there, Done That: Superheroes
    reviewed in issue #105, 4/8/96

    Your basic three-piece. The fact that every member of the trio is completely incidental. Quivvver is basic rock and roll.

    Unfortunately, that's basic without any distinguishing marks. The up-tempo pieces vaguely resemble late-model Pixies pop, with just a bit of distortion thrown in. The moodier bits are culled from all over the rock stylebook, with a nice bluesy guitar part from time to time.

    Perfectly acceptable. And completely unremarkable. I can't find anything here I don't like, but I also don't hear any song that I love. Just stuff that's kind of a blur after a while.

    This is the hardest thing to review. I just wish Quivvver was more interesting. The playing is very good and the production sharp, particularly for a self-released disc. Everything is done correctly...

    Maybe that's it. Perhaps Quivvver should break a rule now and then. Get really pissed about something. Fuck up a chord, get a little shrill. Get emotional. Whatever. something to break out of this pattern.

    return to A&A archives index page
    return to A&A home page