[ ISSUE 9 CONTENTS ]
[ GOOD CITIZEN HOME | BIG HEAVY WORLD HOME ]
Lucid Nation, Jumping Ugly, Devotees, Chris Whitley, The Pants, Kallit Molly, Rustic Overtones, John Brown's Body, Mary Lou Lord, Elektronika II, Jusagroove, Trunk Federation & Suncatcher.
By Andrew Smith
Chris Whitley's fourth full length album is an acoustic collection recorded live through one ribbon microphone to a 2 track tape machine in Whitley's father's barn somewhere in Vermont. After three albums on a major label, Dirt Floor also marks Whitley's move to the smaller Messenger Records, and the move seems to suit him well. Intimate, raw and uncluttered, the nine country and blues songs land a long way from the alternative-noise leanings of his last couple of albums, and the stripped down sound seems to suit him well.
Whitley will be in Burlington for a songwriters workshop at Borders and a concert appearance at Metronome during the Burlington Music Conference. He will not let you down.
Andrew Smith is a dork. But he wouldn't have it any other way.
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By Samuel Cole
So, Andrew and Chris hand me a CD and say these two words:" John Popper." I think: "Great. I am going to hear the new Blues Traveler!" But guess what, it's not. It's the Devotees. A John Popper side project? Not at all. Someone named Soloman Deniro managed to get John Popper and Trey Gunn in the same studio and talked them into recording this album. "Great," I think to myself. "I should enjoy this."
I was kind of right. The Devotees are an excellent band (Band? They probably never saw each other after recording.). The music is tight and well written, with enough dank grooves to leave you noodling until your dreads fall out of your dirty little head. There are some great solos throughout the CD that need to be recognized... but I won't do it...check it out yourself.
At times however, the music becomes cluttered...everyone seems to go off on their own and do their own thing, which leaves structured minded people, like myself, thinking: "Hey there fellas, settle down."
Mr. Deniro shines as a capable drummer who keeps a soulful backbeat and supplies a soaring tenor voice, which sometimes comes too close to a glam metal vocal. His lyrics are pretty traditional "keep your smile man and, while you're at it, don't tear down the rain forests!"
Mr. Deniro...some advice, free of charge. When you have a line-up like this in the studio at the same time...take a photo and put it in your CD.
Gimme, Gimme is a CD filled with excellent musicianship and some cool songwriting. Something to buy if you want to hear some legends tear it up together on one CD.
Samuel Cole is originally from Florida but currently lives in Vergennes.
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John Brown's Body
By Alex Masse
Formed out of the ashes of Ithaca's beloved reggae band Tribulations, John Brown's Body blew a lot of people away at the Vermont reggae Fest last year. Even though it was early in the day, and it was raining, John Brown's Body caught the audience's attention with a sound reminiscent of classic reggae: horns, throbbing bass lines, righteous lyrics and just the right amount of dub thrown into the mix.
"Vanity" stands out on the disc, and I especially liked "Superstar" with it's repeated line "My best friend is a superstar" and a cool horn solo, soaked in reverb.
John Brown's Body plays Friday, July 31 at Halvorsens on Church Street for a Burlington Music Conference showcase at 9pm sharp. I highly recommend.
Alex Masse eats, sleeps and breathes music. He spends all his money on it, too.
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By Max Owre
Look, I'm not hip enough to keep track of what this kind of music is. Let it suffice to say that the music is hard and goes "Chunk, Chunk, Chunk" and uses a lot of pentatonic riffs. When I hear music like this the hair stands up on the back of my neck and I grit my teeth with ballsy pleasure. Musically, Jumping Ugly is tight and impressive. My Beavis and Butthead erection goes soft, however, when the singing starts. It's a nineties thing not to have complex melodic lyricism. Is this Grunge?
The album Seven is full of the standard juxtapositions of rhythm that make hard music interesting. These guys are good at it. The opening song "Broken Off" has several right and left turns in its structure which are the trademarks of this style. "The Climb" starts nicely with a mellower feel and then unpredictably, or predictably, launches into another chunkfest. The voice on part of "The Climb" is filtered though some effect which does wonders for the sound of the band-leave that thing on!!!
I do like when these guys sing together. It adds a dimension which is missing otherwise. The two dimensionality disappears during a song like "This Mess," where the vocals of Justin Couture and Bill Cooper mesh nicely over the hard driving rock.
The album is complete with the acoustic guitar anthem "Empty," where the two voices mesh nicely again, but this ends with what I quickly identified as that 'Jumping Ugly Sound'.
When I hear a line like "Words without voices scream at me," I can see some guys with the hair chopped short in front and long in back (Editors note: That's called a mullethead.) vacantly staring out of their Novas reciting this stuff with very serious expressions on their faces. Some interesting sonic touches are thrown in at times which are impressive for this homemade disc, but I want more from the songs themselves. For whatever my opinion is worth, I find this is a good album for a presentation of the genre, but I won't walk around humming these tunes.
P.S. Since I wrote this in May, I have been walking around humming Jumping Ugly tunes. I stand corrected.
Max Owre stands corrected. Sounds painful.
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By Chris Parizo
Man, I don't know.
I saw Boogie Nights and I really liked it. And I saw The Last Days of Disco and I really liked it. And I am anxiously looking forward to the opening of Studio 54 starring Mike Myers. But, I like it because it's ridiculous. It's a novelty. And novelty's don't last long. Luckily.
Why do I like this disco comeback craze so much? Well, I don't, really. I do consider myself to be a pop history fanatic, I'll watch the disco movies and the documentaries on VH1. I'll even go as far as checking out the movies on TBS (Saturday Night Fever has become a 3:05 a.m. favorite.) You might catch me playing those old 70's LPs that I really can't stand -- the KCs or the Tavareses of the world -- temporarily displacing my favorite new wave records. Why would I do such a thing...because it's fun. The world, at this point, does not need a new disco band.
Jusagroove is a new disco band. Their first CD release, the self titled Jusagroove, is a collection of original disco tunes that probably segue perfectly out of "Disco Inferno" or "Last Night, A DJ Saved My Life." These are the songs that signal that it is time to refresh your drink at Metronome. The music is played quite well, with soulful voices and, of course, excellent musicianship...as should be expected from a group featuring members of ViperHouse and the defunct Baby's Nickel Bag. The music is fun, acid jazz-y disco or disco influenced acid jazz...take your pick. The music is fine, it holds it's own. The lyrics are old-school booty shakin' "get on the dance floor"-esque, exactly what you would expect.
According to Jusagroove's liner notes on this CD, they must be the most loved, most hip, most bedded band in Burlington. Congrats. I guess.
I hear stories about the days when Burlington bands played strictly cover songs, when hordes of people would come out to hear localmusicians play the hits of Journey and Loverboy; the thought of cover bands making a comeback scares me. The idea that college students can't stand a little creativity in their music scares me, too.
I am going to give props to Jusagroove; you are writing and recording your own material...that is cool. Stick to it, because novelty's come and go, and this one is not going to last much longer. I hope.
Chris Parizo hopes that J'kael will still wave to him after he reads this article.
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by Chris Parizo
I remember it like it was yesterday: climbing into the back of my friend Jef's golden Dodge Citation and driving the long drive from Essex to Burlington because of one reason...The Pants were at Toast. We would happily pay the five dollars and spend an evening dancing and singing along...working up a sweat and laughing all along. At one point we even made up our own "Pants" hand signal (a peace sign upside down), we would flash it at the band and they would flash it back. Life rocked... and then the band broke up. A new line up emerged...but damn it...it wasn't the same.
Eat Crow isn't really a "new Pants CD"...is it? It was recorded over two years ago, with the original full band line-up...so it's more of a The Pants Rarities Compilation in actuality. But then no one outside of Burlington is going to know that this line-up doesn't exist anymore... right? So why bother babbling about it... fuck it.
The CD has a strange quality to it, like a Skynyrd album before half the band ended up as tree ornaments. A great recording with some great songs that bring back great memories...great. Thanks to the "new" CD, I know that the song I referred to as "Take It or Leave It" is actually called "Intruder Alert"... huh... never knew that. "Sea of Doubt" stands out as a classic and "Lucky in the Sun" brings back fond memories of my pre-twenty something years. Unfortunately, there are no new songs here...no performances by the new members, just classic The Pants rock and roll.
To be honest, Eat Crow is a CD that should be listened to by old school fans as well as new school. It is a flashback to a great band and a great line-up. This is a classic that brings a tear to my eye.
Chris Parizo is a sex mo-cheen.
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Rooms by the Hour
By Andrew Smith
I resisted the Rustic Overtones things for a while. My friend Laurie Bragg from Maine has been ranting and raving about this band for a long time, and she played them a few times for me and all I heard was Mighty Mighty Bosstones without as heavy a dose of ska. I hate the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Don't know why, they just bug me. Don't dig 'em.
I do dig pop music and the melodies that tend to dominate pop music and everytime I heard Rustic Overtones, all I got was horn lines that made me twitch. I hate twitching almost as much as I love pop music, so you might guess I was less than enamored with Laurie's insistance that I should love this band.
Well, here we are a few years later, and even though Laurie is in Nebraska somewhere and will probably never read this, I am writing to apologize. Laurie, you were right, and I was wrong. It actually took seeing Rustic Overtones live down on the Cape a few months ago (at the WKPE Birthday Bash) to change my mind. These guys have got hooks big enough to sink a ten pound flounder, and the new Rooms by the Hour disc (their last on indie Ripchord as they've just been signed by Arista) is a deep lake of pop gems. "Check" is a hit single waiting to happen, and "Girl Germs" has been running through my skull for weeks. Hell, I even went back and dug out a copy of their previous album Long Division and now I've got "Simple Song" and "20 Years" stuck in my head, too.
Okay, Laurie, I hope you read this someday. Rustic Overtones is indeed as great a band as you said they were. I'm still not going to listen to Tracy Chapman, though.
Andrew Smith is so full of himself that he's dripping out of his own pores. Oooh, gross.
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Elektronika II: Better Musik Through Chemistry
By Chelsea Condos
I can't claim to be an expert on techno music, but this is an amazing compilation that will take you on a journey through an eere, distorted fantasyland. I listened to this CD lying on the floor with the lights off and my eyes closed...I swear, when I left my room, I had infrared vision.
First, the bad...Spring Heel Jack's "Midwest" and Tipsy's "Mr. Excitement" were both too long and repetitive. There were very basic and didn't have much for sound variety.
I was impressed with Saint Etienne's "Like A Motorway (Chemical Brothers Remix)" and the Orb's "Toxygene." "Like a Motorway" began with one sound and one by one added new sounds. It had a strong backbeat that held it together throughout it's layered journey. Similarly, "Toxygene" had more a driven backbeat complimented by distorted party sounds and traffic echoes.
Emperion's "Narcotic Influence (Meat Beat Manifesto Mix)", the opening track, was in constant motion with "giving them drugs- taking their lives away" sample showing up just often enough to get it ingrained in your brain. I loved the first twenty seconds of Red Red Groovy's "Them"- a basic piano solo pushed by a bass rumble, both repeated. "The Failure of Thought" was randomly yet appropriately placed throught the track.
My favorite track was the final one, Jamie Myerson's "Music for the Lonely". It begins with slow electric strings that meander throughout the song except during one edgier section that transitions nicely back. Keyboard solos add nice demension and depth to the track.
This CD is well-driven for the most part but at the same time it is soothing and relaxing. I'm not a huge techno fan but I loved this compilation. Absolutely amazing.
Chelsea Condos is a live music fanatic. You can see her at all the cool shows over at Toast...and the ones at Metronome when she gets older.
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The Curse of Miss Kitty
By Chris Parizo
Once upon a time, I was sitting in a van driving to a destination and listening to a mix tape that a friend had made. Suddenly, a song popped from the speakers. It was a song that I had never heard before and I immediately liked it. I figured that the song was called "Rejection" or "You Stupid Bitch" because those were the phrases that stayed in my head when the song was done. I asked my friend: "Friend, who plays that song that we just heard?" and his response was: "I have no freakin' clue." And then I cried.
Fast forward to Club Toast. I am standing in the crowd waiting for Four Color Manual to play, passing the time by listening to an out-of-town opener when suddenly... they play the song! The song from the tape!
Natch, I approach the band after and tell them my story...they gave me a CD to keep and to show my appreciation...I review it.
The band is called Trunk Federation and I still don't know what the title of that song is (I have begun to refer to it as "Girls, Girls, Girls") because it doesn't appear on The Curse of Miss Kitty.
The Curse of Miss Kitty is a solid pop-art music album with great studio effects. The opening track "Devil in a Catskin" is a classic get-in-the-car-and-cruise kind of tune with a catchy-as-hell chorus. Bassist/keyboardist Bob Smith adds cool effects to give the song a unique quality. The next track "Apples" starts out with a Holiday Inn lounge act/casio ditty and launches into a rockin' pop tune.
The highlight of the CD is the Boomtown Rats cover of "I Don't Like Mondays." I know that it sucks when a cover tune is called "the highlight," but I am a sucker for nostalgic tunes being redone in a completely new direction. For this one the boys turn it into a soft ambient/electronic piece that is followed by a loud, distorted guitar crash using big, gigantic chords until they gently fade back into the calm. Quite cool.
All and all I was psyched to hear more music from a band that I spent the better part of 1998 trying to figure out what their name was. Trunk Federation did not let me down and gave me an album that is eccentric and a modern classic.
Chris Parizo really likes Trunk Federation. If the band wants to send him t-shirts and stuff for free... he'll gladly accept it and become a walking billboard.
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Every Step We Take...
Saint Michael's College Records
By Chris Parizo
Christopher Nolin, in his bon voyage piece, has decided to come flying out of his shoes as lead singer and guitarist of Sandoze and release a six track CD of eclectic music. The CD is a far cry from his work in Sandoze, mainly the tempo is constant (Ha ha ha ha...oh man...woooo!). Seriously, you will not hear any indie-guitar rock or off tempo drumming (Ha ha ha!!!) on this recording, no Siree bob. What you will hear, however, is a nine piece gospel choir, a flutist, an organist and Canadian extraordinaire BRYAN ADAMS!!! Okay, not that Bryan Adams, but you will hear a Brian Adams on bass...who knows what country he's from.
The opening track "Missa Brevis in D Major" cuts like a knife. Performed by the above mentioned choir, there is a Christmas Carol-y sort of quality to it that made me break into "Noel."
The second track "Every Step We Take" sounds like it belongs in a Disney movie...or maybe Celine Dion should cover it. Whatever, it sounds like something that you would hear on an easy listening station. The musicianship is great and the songwriting is awesome...but cheese is cheese.
My favorite track on the CD is "Farewell," a mature piece of work that, musically, captures me. The piano playing, by Mr. Nolin, has some great grooves and some catchy hooks. It is a modern adult rock radio hit waiting to happen. It is unfortunate however, that Mr. Nolin's voice cannot hold up to the quality of his songwriting. A little weak at times, almost so weak that it holds back the music, Mr. Nolin should have considered having another step in for those more emotional moments.
"Under the Surface" sounds like it was taken directly from the sheet music for Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm," complete with the church bell accented hits.
All and all, Every Step We Take, is a great display of Christopher Nolin's songwriting ability that was completely overshadowed by the inadequacies of his past bandmates. Musically and structurally, one of the best CDs to come out of Vermont in a while, Every Step We Take is well worth a listening to.
Chris Parizo has got rhythm...who could ask for anything more.
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Mary Lou Lord
Got No Shadow
By Andrew Smith
I first heard Mary Lou Lord on a sampler CD years ago. The song was called "Some Jingle Jangle Morning" and it got stuck in my head for a long, long time. Some of the words were indecipherable, and in order to sing along you had to sort of mumble and hum, like you were singing along with early R.E.M. But it was damned catchy and I made a note to find more music by Mary Lou Lord.
I found an EP with a picture of her in a heart on the cover, and I got to hear a little more Mary Lou. Her version of Daniel Johnston's "Speeding Motorcycle" moved me. I read that she did most of her playing in the train stations of Boston. I discovered that even though she had great taste in songwriters, she didn't write a whole bunch herself. Okay with me, as she seemed determined to give some under-exposed songwriters their due.
Mary Lou's major label debut, Got No Shadow, is a fine, polished collection of songs with a few big names as guest stars. It didn't move me as much as I wanted it to, and the re-recording of "Some Jingle Jangle Morning" pales in comparison to the original, although now I can read the words. Don't get me wrong, if I'd never heard her before, I'd probably be all over this record, but as it stands I just expected more. The intimacy seems to be missing. Maybe I'm just jealous that the rest of the world is about to discover just how cool Mary Lou Lord is. I am. They are.
You can find out for yourself on August 2nd when Mary Lou Lord appears at Higher Ground in Winooski for a benefit for the Women's Rape Crisis Center.
Andrew Smith is too freaked out to deal with it all and too fucked up to care.
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The Girl That God Forgot
By Leeeza Robbins
"Sky slide gutter tribe firework angels
arrive fiction breathe
...There's always something in your eyes
that searches for heaven"
Lounging on my porch in the July warmth, bathed in the refracted prism sound of Suncatcher, I feel this disc quickly becoming a favorite spin of the summer. From the first appealing strums of "The Puritan Song" to the dreamy coda of the bonus track, The Girl That God Forgot takes us on a thoughtful journey. If their mission is to catch the sun, they succeed; the music often bursts forth with full spectrum rays. But this is a band too observant to ignore the storm clouds that sometimes appear and obscure the light. Much of the lyrical content speaks of estrangement and loss, but this brings a depth to some beautiful songs in the midst of what is basically a wonderful psychedelia-tinged alternative pop-rock disc.
At its core a trio incorporating guitar, vocals, drums and bass, Suncatcher's sound is augmented by extra guitar on a few tracks, great horn arrangements, and beautiful string-playing woven throughout. All this plus the close-textured production give the disc a lush and warm sound . Careful choices of instrumentation and effects give each song a distinct personality: strings and simple acoustic guitar bring just the right touch of melancholy to "Dandelion," while the bright horns of "Have a Nice Day" evoke both an early Chicago (perhaps it's a "Saturday In The Park") and a Revolver-era Beatles atmosphere. Sustained cellos contribute a resonant backbone to the R.E.M.-flavored "Birds On The Wire." The overall effect is a kaleidescope that scatters traces of everything from Buffalo Springfield to the Stone Roses and Nirvana, but brings it all together in a unique and seasonable sound.
Check out Suncatcher. Now is the time. And if you do, I bet you'll end up putting a tune or two on your mix tape of summer '98. Roll down the windows, turn it up and let the light shine, I want to hear some as I'm riding by.
Leeeza Robbins is a booking agent with MT Productions and she handles some of the best bands around. Call her to book 'em at 802-865-1140.
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By Gravity Boy
"Wow, what great acoustic guitars" my roomate says to me as she entered the room.
"Yeah, these guys are really talented," I reply as I open the fridge. "They're called Winefield. They're from Portland, Maine."
"I can hear that sort of folkie-rural rock sound...very relaxing. Are you making Macaroni and cheese again?"
"Yep, four days in a row. Great harmonies, don't you think? I like when they do the dual vocals"
"Like Alice in Chains did," she says. She gets the butter for me.
"Yeah, they play off each other really well. Shawn Tooley and Jimmy Landry. They might be big someday."
"You think that they are that good" she asks with a semi-shocked look on her face?
"Well," I say as I put the shells in the boiling water. "They thank their 'friends at Elektra Records,' that is quite a statement."
"Hmmm," she thinks. "This is like one of those albums that you listen to at night with all the lights off -- very calming aura," she says as she pulls the noodles out of the water and strains them. "Wow, I like this song! What's it called?"
"Trippin'," I say as I put the powdered cheese, butter and milk into the noodles. "Almost like Toad the Wet Sprocket."
"I can hear that" she says as she stirs the bowl. "This is a great album...nothing too heavy, nothing too light. Are you ready to eat this?"
"Yeah," I say as we walk into the living room.
Gravity Boy lives on South Winooski Avenue with his roomate.
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Kallit What You Will
Squirrel Farm Music
By Eliza Kane
Who is Kallit Molly? You may have seen their stickers around town, maybe you heard they were finalists in WBTZ's highs school band search or caught their occasional performance at Nectar's, but you still wonder who exactly they are and where they've been hiding. Until this year, Kallit Molly has been quietly gaining a strong and loyal fan base in the high school community, gathering up momentum for their grand entrance into the larger Burlington scene. Armed with three years of experience playing together, a debut CD, and spanking new diplomas, this young, energetic quartet is spiraling upwards with fantastic potential.
The CD, Kallit What You Will, bears the awkwardness of any debut, with a few technical oversights (TURN UP THOSE FRIGGIN' DRUMS), but it's obvious that anything it lacks in confidence, flow or maturity will come with more time in the studio.
The 10 track album is sort of a palette of genres; it's like listening to them feel around for the sound they like best, and believe me, they found it in rock and roll. Lead singer Lliam Farrel's voice was designed from his warmest low to his highest octave to sing it, and the same goes for the music. Trying to define it is futile, but it finds its roots in the 50's, capturing some of that energy when rock and roll was carefree, adds a little blues, a little glam, a little personality of their own and **POOF**, there's Kallit Molly.
They do throw some other stuff into the mix to keep things interesting-- "Big Avis" is a bluegrass, yeeehaw and all number that grated my nerves at first, but has grown on me since. The ballad-like "Three" might stand out from the others i the fact that it requires a cold shower afterwards. Kallit Molly does good job with these slower songs, however, some like "You're So Cool" keeps me anxious for them to pick it up again. Luckily the next track rips it up with "FUJIMO", an awesomely infectious song fueled by the one reason rock and roll was invented; somebody got dumped. [Note tot he band: anti-romantic ex-angst is definitely your forte; keep it coming] The disc is worth buying for that track alone.
Special mentions to to the Vietnam-inspired "Charlie Sleeps Tonight," (love that helicopter), and the island-style jam "Chi Harmundez", AKA The Ganja Song. Real cute lyrics, boys, ("You make me so happy/ Though my brain ain't so snappy.")
Overall, Kallit What You Will is a fun, refreshing experience with lots of good songs and, hopefully, a positive, a positive indication of where the band is headed. One thing it couldn't capture is the enthusiasm and caliber of excitement in their live act. Sorry, you'll just have to go see them yourself.
Eliza Kane is a junior at South Burlington High School and she has great taste in music.
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Send your new releases to Good Citizen, P.O. Box 5373, Burlington, Vermont 05402-5373.
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Burlington, Vermont 05402-5373
Phone: (802) 660-8200
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