...yet more



Lo Fidelity AllstarsHow To Operate With A Blown Mind
MudhoneyTomorrow Hit Today
Ian BrownUnfinished Monkey Business
Midget Jukebox
GomezBring It On

by Kristen Spielkamp

Lo-Fidelity Allstars
How To Operate With A Blown Mind

Read the press on these guys and you'd swear they were the second coming of Cool. A quick look at their short but stellar history of raves in all the correct British magazines, NME's Best New Band award and even a signing war, leaves little doubt of their mythical status.

Judge them on name alone and you'd cringe at the prospect of yet another miserable indie rock experience. One more supposed supergroup headed straight for the bargain bin.

So play their debut disk, " How To Operate With A Blown Mind" and quickly put all debate to rest.

Though the Lo-Fidelity Allstars have an impressive reputation to defend over the course of 11 tracks, they pull through quite nicely. In fact, track after track the band prove all their supporters right.

How To ... is the twisted work of vocalist Wrekked Train (AKA Dave Randall) DJ Phil Ward (The Albino Priest) plus a certain Sheriff John Stone (Matt Harvey) and a cast of several other equally disturbed characters.

... they whip up a self-described "punk paste". A slightly psychotic sound for post- rave revolutionaries

Together they whip up a self-described "punk paste". a slightly psychotic sound for post- rave revolutionaries. There's old hip hop beats and Afrika Bambaataa samples on "Kool Rok Bass," to contrast the spacey time travel trip of "Vision Incision". There's "Kasparov's Revenge", cleverly tricked-out noise rock with a heavy debt to The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. And out of nowhere, demented samples from "Lara's Theme" and "The Way We Were."

With enough ammo in their "Disco Machine Gun" to overthrow the musical monarchy, Lo-Fidelity Allstars have begun their full scale assault. And after hearing the album's last line: "I had no idea it was going to end in such tragedy", it seems a good bet that the Lo-Fi's expect to be the only survivors of the musical annihilation they started.

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Tomorrow Hit Today (Reprise)

I have a fantasy. It's the death of so called "alternative rock". That long awaited moment when the whole horrible heap of recycled riffs and pseudo-angst filled lyrics - all played by guys who actually think it's ok to wear shorts on stage - will mercifully collapse. And when it finally falls, it will thankfully drag the likes of 311 and Days Of The New right along with it.

But until then, the new Mudhoney seems to be one of alternative's last saving graces. Proof that it didn't all have to be so horrible.

...the new Mudhoney seems to be one of alternative's last saving graces...Tomorrow Hit Today absolutely surpasses everything Mudhoney's done in the past.

Among the founding fathers of the Seattle scene begun in the mid-eighties, Mudhoney (whose Mark Arm and Steve Turner were first in Green River with Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament) paved the way for the indie and alternative malcontents of today's College Top 20. Now they're forced to live with the results: an industry so overrun with innocuous crap that their latest release Tomorrow Hit Today may fearfully go unnoticed.

Too bad too. Because, though long time fans may argue the point, Tomorrow Hit Today absolutely surpasses everything Mudhoney's done in the past.

Maybe it's the sacred presence of luminary Jim Dickinson, noted for his Sticky Fingers era work with The Stones and his production credits with Big Star and The Replacements. Maybe it's the band's three year break from recording. Whatever the reason, Tomorrow Hit Today seems a monumental step in all the right directions.

An album of contrasts, it's full of Stooges-like intensity and not quite quiet introspection. It's marked with trademark fuzz and unexpected blues.

Tomorrow Hit Today displays more depth and personality than previous efforts. The result is more accessible perhaps, but no less honest. It seems in making an album for themselves, they've made an album for an audience far wider than they might ever have imagined.

After an often acclaimed but somewhat predictable 10 year career, Mudhoney has made an unexpected and musically surprising album! An album that just might have the power to save them from the wreckage.

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Ian Brown
Unfinished Monkey Business (Mercury)As lead singer of one of the most influential British bands of the late eighties, Ian Brown now finds himself faced with a dilemma. It's the late nineties, his much heralded Stone Roses have disintegrated, and now, after much thought, he's finally decided to carry on alone.

So, what to do? An attempt to recapture the magic of the Roses seems an impossible task. To depart in an entirely new direction might be just as foolish a gamble.

With both options risky, Brown chooses neither path. Instead he opts to take no risks at all on his debut disk Unfinished Monkey Business. It's mostly an album of inoffensive and charmless tracks. A collection of songs which make no attempt to claim an identity of their own.

The disk does offer a few sparkling moments, most notably on "Sunshine", a plaintive and melancholy acoustic ballad on which Brown plays all instruments. Another cut, "Can't See Me", coincidentally developed around an old bassline from former bandmate Mani Mounfield, also wins praise for it's ability to closely evoke the spirit of Second Coming. It's as close as anyone has come to salvaging the lost Roses sound.

As a whole, the album hovers somewhere in the void...You're left with the sense that with the release of his first solo effort, Brown hasn't completed anything more than half-hearted nonsense.

Sadly, these spirited moments are far too infrequent. As a whole, the album hovers somewhere in the void. Not terrible enough to completely condemn and not engaging enough to notice much. Ironically, the album's title Unfinished Monkey Business begins to take on an entirely different meaning than the one intended. You're left with the sense that with the release of his first solo effort, Brown hasn't completed anything more than half-hearted nonsense.

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Jukebox (Sire)

Midget are Lee, Richard & Andy


Everyone needs an occassional sugar fix. And when that irresistible sugar jones hits, Midget is the perfect way to satisfy the craving.

A listen to Jukebox is like a sticky-sweet shot of syrup. It's 15 tracks of genuine, candy-coated pop. Almost like a trip through a musical Candyland, with fizzy rock riffs, sticky taffy-like horns and honey glazed harmonies.

...when that irresistible sugar jones hits, Midget is the perfect way to satisfy the craving.

The band follow in the footsteps of The Beach Boys or even Jellyfish, with detours at Slade and The Clash along the way. Midget gleefully combine some of the best American pop with essential English punk and glam. The result: an irrestibly catchy and fanciful mixture quite their own.

It's a sound that has successfully set them apart from most of their British contemporaries. And that alone is a pretty significant accomplishment for a Stamford, England trio just barely into their 20's (two are 20, one is 21).

One after another, Jukebox delivers flawless, candied drops of classic hook-laden pop. There's the punky, caffiene buzzed rush of "Kylie & Jason" or the tender balladry of "The One Who Could Save Me". "Secret Agent" is a quick, witty tribute to Bond while "All Fall Down" is somehow reminisient of a groovy 60's-styled TV show theme.

Next time you're in the mood for a sweet musical confection, Jukebox is just the sugar infusion you need.

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Bring It On

On the surface, most of Bring It On makes perfect sense. The 12 track debut from Gomez is a mellow, laid-back effort which would fit comfortably beside almost any alt.country CD of the past few years.

Packed with classic Americana references, and sung with the gravelly voice of a world- weary blues cat, many songs on Bring It On suggest a band who spent their early years listening to The Allman Brothers and maybe even The Grateful Dead.

Other tracks, such as "Tijuana Lady" and "Here Comes The Breeze, " offer an idealistic vision of California life in the 70's. Clearly Gomez also spent substantial time absorbing the influences of early So. Cal. rock acts like the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac.

So, it's only when you investigate Gomez more carefully that things become confusing. When you read their bio to find that the band is actually a young 5 piece from Sheffield, England (not, say, somewhere in Indiana) and that their ages vary between 20 and 21.

...occasionally the music on Bring It On suffers a bit from the confusion. But when it works, as it does on most of the album... it works brilliantly!

Growing up in Sheffield doesn't often produce many romanticized notions of the West. Or mournful longings for Tijuana, for that matter. And the throaty vocal style and hard-livin' lyrics mark a gritty sensibility well beyond their years.

In fact, the only tracks which do seem likely compositions for a group of young Brits are "Whippin Piccadilly", supplying the only obvious references to their native England, and "Get Myself Arrested", which sports a characteristically jaded, tongue in cheek British attitude.

With such a strange dichotomy at work within Gomez, it's not surprising that occasionally the music on Bring It On suffers a bit from the confusion. But when it works, as it does on most of the album, and in particular on the lonely ode to the open road "Free To Run", it works brilliantly!

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