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Indie Reviews
(Part of July/August issue of HM)

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KERRY LIVGREN  Here's the latest offering from a very prolific musician/songwriter. Instead of a new solo album, per se, what we have here is a collection of forgotten, unreleased, and unfinished songs getting a new life and new recording. Among the songs that Collector's Sedition grabs from the past is a song from the Kansas Freaks of Nature album ("Cold Gray Morning"). Some real gems jump out, like the thick and crunchy "On The Air," which would fit well on the radio today. It mixes a polished sound and texture together very tastefully. Overall, even though the album culls material over several years, it sounds cohesive and is a very pleasant listen. The only exception would be the Seeds of Change sounding "The Man With An Iron Heart," due to the organ sound and vocals. Some of the musicianship, like the strings in "Hindsight," are wonderful. In the context of Kerry's last solo album, When Things Get Electric, these songs have a more organic feel, like what one would expect from the Kansas founder (although "Safe Alone" sounds like it could be a cut from that album). It was definitely a worthwhile thing for Kerry to uncover these tunes for us. For ordering info, write: Numavox, PO Box 44, Berryton KS 66409 (Doug Van Pelt) AD  This album, AD Live, would be a treasure chest of an album if the sonics were as clean and bright as the main mix must have been these two nights in 1985. This band is one of my top five favorites of all time, and the magical music they created was so heady and complex, yet clean and beautiful. I felt they had more energetic melody than many of its prog rock peers. This live CD sounds like it is basically a soundboard mix, so it suffers slightly from a flatness and direct-line rawness that keeps the songs from breathing. But what you get is how it was performed. You'll hear spontaneous soloing and improvisational-sounding leads, and you also get to hear stuff like vocalist Warren Ham getting tired in "Lead Me To Reason." However, midway through the recording, during the song "Progress," the tight percussion sounds carry the music so dominantly that the flaws become forgotten in the background. Conclusion? A notch above the bootlegs, a notch below the touched up "live" album. This one is for fans only, but there are many of us around, so there is reason for many to rejoice. For ordering info, write: Numavox, PO Box 44, Berryton KS 66409 (DV)  Ears to the Ground  If you like hardcore, this could be a compilation for you. Right off the bat you can tell that these bands aren't playing around, they came to rock and to scream. The compilation doesn't have the variety of hardcore as you would say [Tooth and Nail's] Cheapskates has, except for the band Indiana, which has a surprisingly awesome soft rock sound. 8 bands and 19 tracks that can replace your alarm clock in the morning. For ordering info, write: 445 Center St. Carnegie PA 15106 (Rick Koch)  MATTHEW SCOTT  Do you like that guy on an acoustic guitar sound with the real soft vocals? Because, if you do, this is it. Without a doubt, Matthew Scott is fit for a coffee shop, very acoustic and very easy listening. With the song "Gossamer" he puts a little jam into it, but that's all. Slow and steady wins his race. For order info, write: 209 Brooklane Ave, Holland MI 49423 (RK)  HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT  Hey Electronic Techno fans! This one is for you. No vocals and no band as far as I can tell, just synthesized sounds, looped beats, and repeated phrases. It has got that dance club sound to it and you can probably sample it off For ordering info, write: 906 Ray St. Crawfordsville IN 47933 (RK)  UNEVIL HOPES  Can you say "PIANO." Unevil Hopes is all about instrumental piano music. The sound is pretty mellow for the most part, but with this almost gothic sound. The ivory is definitely slammed on this recording and doing its best to try to make you think. For ordering info, write: St. Peterburg 19000 Marata St. home n.98 flat n.4 Russia (RK) 3N1  3n1 has a soft rock sound, especially their live album. One thing about this band is that they like to sing together. The vocals a lot of times have a more spoken sound. They like to bring the Word and more power to them. For ordering info, write: 3026 Shannon Ln, Humble TX 773963909 (RK) STEP COUSIN  Wow this is death metal, minus all the lyrics. The sound is loud and jumbled with that death metal quality of playing those same hard riffs over and over again. Head bangers, this is one to check out. The screaming in unison is also very cool. For ordering info, write: P.O. Box 214 Hayti MO 63851 (RK) THOMAS MOODY  Acoustic guitar lovers, this is good stuff. Very soothing with great upbeat sounds. The sound quality is excellent and the vocals are quite good. A great solo album that is definitely pleasing to any acoustic fan. For ordering info, write: 1456 Cooper Ln. Conway SC 29527  (RK)  SINICAL GLANCE  This is a very interesting sound. I'm not really able to put my finger on it, but I would say a "symphonic rock opera." The recording is decent and if you like prog rock, then good for you. For ordering info, write: 30303 N. Josey Ln. #101, PMB 212, Carrollton TX 75007  (RK)  JC GROOVE  I would have to say a Newsboys kind of sound with a lot of weird musical beats. It is very upbeat and has a good recording but not really my thing. Some songs did sound like "happy go lucky punk." It is a variety album and that is cool. For ordering info, write: 4886 Kimbler Ln, Berrien Springs MI 49103 (RK) SL9  I liked the fact that these guys are from Washington, cuz Washington state rules! But the production on the album is just not that good. The songs just don't have a unique enough sound to grab me. Pump up the instruments' volume and it could work. SL9 does have potential. For ordering info, write: 832 E. Hemmi  Bellingham WA 98226 (RK) MESSIAH  Kingdom Records answer to GunsNRoses. It has got that Metal feeling to it and the lead singer most undoubtedly puts his voice out there. The 3-man band gives you the opportunity to go back to the 80's with some decent groves and the more modern sounds of Shades Apart. As weird as that sounds it's kinda true. For ordering info, write: P.O. box 210883, Columbia SC 29221  (RK) COOL HAND LUKE   I've been hearing a buzz surrounding these guys lately. Ranging from lilting lullaby to more upbeat new school punk / hardcore riffs, these guys play a tight set of 5 songs which I really enjoyed listening to. Decent production, and a well rounded song writing style makes this highly recommended. For ordering info, write: 1114 Coventry Ln, Murfreesboro TN 37128  (Tim McCready)  THE STATUS  What can I say? Punk Rock! 10 songs of mostly mid-tempo bar chord rock and roll by five young heart throbs from Canada who like to wear black. For ordering info, write: Homemade Records, PO Box 1234, Coquitlam BC V3J 6Z9 Canada  (TM) DAVE PATRICK  Dave is a classical / jazz guitarist who sent us two of his CD's, Light Through the Trees, and A Future and a Hope. Both are instrumental, while the first is a more mellow acoustic offering, the second featuring electric guitar. Both are extremely well produced, a high quality offering from an exceptional guitarist. For ordering info, write: Classic Jazz Music, PO Box 1990, Antioch TN 37011-1990 (TM)  DIESEL  Brazilian metalcore.  Reminds me a bit of Sepultura, as well as Korn in a DIY sort of way. This 5-song EP could use some better production value, but not bad overall. For ordering info, write: 1815 S. Gunderson Dr, 1st Floor, Berwyn IL 60402  (TM)  TRIBUS  Tribus is an instrumental solo project for bassist Carlos Soto, featuring MIDI backup music. Lots of Latin, funk and soul influence apparent, with an abundance of fancy finger work on Carlos' double necked bass. No wonder the CD is named You Dance, We Shred. For ordering info, write: 333 N. Hampshire #3, Los Angeles CA 90004  (TM)  CHROME DONUTS Young and Naive is a 16-song offering from this Alabama pop punk outfit. The songs are good, but the recording quality could be better. For ordering info, write: DTS Records 532, Saddlebrooke Ln, Lexington SC 29072  (TM)  DETONATION  If you are looking for Swedish heavy metal with "JESUS! Is Looord!" type of lyrics, you've come to the right place. The production is pretty good, the music is tight, the lyrics are really positive, but personally, it's just not my thing. For ordering info, write: Toni Kalin, Seestrasse 58, 8610 Uster, Switzerland  (TM)  SPECIAL REASON   Playing new school pop punk, which sort of reminds me of Johnny Respect, I think they would do well to work a little harder to define their own sound to avoid sounding generic. Keep an eye out for them. For ordering info, write: PO Box 604 Greenville SC 29602-0604  (TM)  ONE  As far as I can tell, One is a studio project by a guy named Malachi who plays all the instruments, writes the songs, records and engineers everything, and does all the artwork for his music. He sent us 3 CD's he's put out, which covers a wide variety of styles in the rock genre. Ranging from crunchy guitars, to airy acoustic rock, to psychedelic alternative, this guy is out to conquer to world. Remember, if you love freedom, thank a vet. For ordering info, write: 4027-C #853 Rucker Ave, Everett WA 98201  (TM)  PROFESSOR SMALL  Electronic duo with the occasional rapping hailing from Erie PA. This album sounds pretty old school, but it's pretty sweet. If I had to use five words to describe this CD they would be: bleep boop wee ooop tweet!! For ordering info, write: c/o magazine, 1903 West 8th St, pmb # 303, Erie PA 16505  (TM)  GOD LOVES U  When we received this EP, I was expecting rockabilly, since the name of the disc is the Rockabilly Race EP. It's really poppy ska punk. Like a lot of other bands, they are okay, but they fail to bring anything new to the genre. For ordering info, write: 525 West Lee, Kingsville TX 78262  (TM)  OF CHRYSTALLINE STRUCTURE  After reading their bio, I think these guys should change their name to "We Think We're Super Rad." I would describe them as an emo band, and I really like this 3-song demo CD. I can't really give any accurate band comparisons, but I think they'd fit in with a lot of the stuff on Deep Elm. For ordering info, write: 126 Lawndale, Waxahachie TX 75165  (TM)  TRANSPARENT BEING  The singer sounds like a bad imitation of a cross between Eddie Vedder, Layne Stanley, and Scott Stapp. The recording is pretty low quality as well. I liked these songs the first time they came out . . . in 1991 when all the bands in Seattle were playing them. These guys are really young, though; so they've still got time. For ordering info, write: Box 1424 Killarney, MB, R0K-1G0, Canada  (TM)  ACCEPTANCE  One of the best indie discs to come in this month. I really dig these guys a lot. Recording, cover layout, songwriting, everything is top notch. Fans of stuff like Jimmy Eat World should be into this Washington indie rock / emo quartet. Buy this CD. For ordering info, write: Rocketstar Recordings, PO Box 54108, Redondo WA 98054  (TM)  FURNACE ST.  This is an electronic / gothic / synth pop duo on Steadfast Records. New Order, Joy Division, NIN, and Depeche Mode come to mind, but these guys really have their sound, so those aren't totally accurate comparisons. Quality stuff. For ordering info, write: Steadfast Records, PO Box 53, Avon Lake OH 44012-0053  (TM)  CREATE(!)  Yet another project from Havalina's Orlando Greenhill. This is a little more straight up than the Slingshot Comp. Avant-jazz with electronic elements is what I'd describe this CD as. Really out there. Is this what acid jazz is? I don't know, but it sounds like it should be. This would be a cool soundtrack for driving your car alone on a deserted highway at night. For ordering info, write: 4450 California Pl, Ste 430, Long Beach CA 90807  (TM)  YOUTH IN SUBMISSION  This is hardcore like it should be played. Reminds me of Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today; and the vocal delivery sometimes reminds me of Raybeez from Warzone, only it sounds good. This five song EP is entitled Worth the Wait. Just listening to this CD really makes me want to see them live. These guys are intense. For ordering info, write: 28079 Croco Place, Canyon Country CA 91351  (TM)  ONE CROSS  What to think of a band consisting of 3 teenage brothers and their dad? As weird as it sounds, this family did a really good job on this disc, an album of heavy pop alternative, with touches of ska, industrial and many other influences scattered throughout the disc. The songs are really catchy, and have tight, inventive arrangements. This is something fans of mainstream alternative might be interested in checking out. For ordering info, write: 3003 Valcourt Cr, Mississauga Ont. L8L 5J4 Canada  (TM)  VIXIVI/UNEVIL HOPES We occasionally get a new tape from Unevil Hopes, but I think this is the first split. VIXIVI is pretty good. They're a black metal act with keyboards and sometimes feature a female singer. It's a little difficult to listen to, because the recording is so bad, but I can tell the band is very talented. For more info, contact: Andreas Hansen, Hvitveiskroken 30, 3520 Jevnaker, Norway, Unevil Hopes has unleashed another seven songs of what we've come to expect from them; purely instrumental piano music. For more info write Sergey, 28/4 Marata, St Petersburg 191040, Russia  (TM)  JANUARY SUN  Their bio says they've been compared to "Creed, Metallica, Alice in Chains, Precious Death, and Skid Row." I can hear that. I'm mainly hearing Skid Row and Alice in Chains. I'm not currently a huge fan of this style, but I'm on the 8th song on the CD and it's still playing, so I guess it's not that bad. For ordering info, write: 5645 Park Hollow, Wichita KS 67208  (TM)  ELEVEN HOURS DOWN  Reading that their tastes included bands like Training for Utopia, Quicksand, and Zao, my hopes were high. I can't say they were fulfilled. Though I can see the comparisons, the album just lacks the intensity and complexity to get me really excited about them. I'm not totally writing these guys off, though. The recording sounds good, and the songs are good, just not great. There's always the next album. For ordering info, write: Godfather Records, PO Box 19786, Oklahoma City OK 73144-0786  (TM)  DRAG THE STICK  A relatively eclectic band. The second track starts off as new school hardcore with vocals that alternate between Strife-like screaming, and crooning. The third song is reminiscent of Roadside Monument, the fifth an almost ballad at times with a flanged guitar, with a heavily distorted, spacey guitar sound on the chorus. The style hopping goes on throughout the CD, but doesn't seem to have a consistent flow. Interesting, but not a masterpiece, either. For more info, write: Wounded Records, 1145 Stierley Rd N, Wadesville IN 47638  (TM)  AWAKE  I like this CD. Influences I'm sensing are Bush, Foo Fighters, and Creed. Don't be expecting the hit power of the previously mentioned bands if you buy this CD, but it's still a good release. For ordering info, write: Godfather Records, PO Box 19786, Oklahoma City OK 73144-0786  (TM)  UNPERFECT  The cover on the CD really sparked my interest, until I opened it up and looked at the pictures inside, and see a youth group-type looking band. I guess those pictures prepared me for what I was about to experience, because the only people I could see listening to this CD are people that are in a youth group with these guys. I can't detect any influences here, so I'm just going to say that these guys play rock music. For ordering info, write: 920 N. Birch Ottawa KS 66067  (TM)  GIDEON'S PRESS Featuring former Grammatrain member Paul Roraback, this band has written some great songs. Their bio card compares them to "Dave Matthews, Phish, Rush, & Pink Floyd," which I am willing to agree to. It's worth checking out. For ordering info, write: 533 Wells Ave N, Renton WA 98055  (TM)  NAKED AND BLEEDING  No comment on the name. The band claims they are planning on invading the German emo / alternative scene. Personally, I'm hearing early 80's new wave goth, it's all good though. They have a talented female singer, and the songwriting is good too. For ordering info, write: Hohe Geest 135, 48165 Munster Germany  (TM)  GLOBAL WARNING   Yeeaahhhhhh!! 80's metal all the way! Queensryche, W.A.S.P., and Stryper fans will be pleased. Let's see . . . what do we have here? Biddly-Biddly shredding guitar solos? CHECK! High pitched wails? CHECK! Is at least one of the band members wearing spandex in the band photo? CHECK! And yes, this IS quality metal. For ordering info, write: PO Box 2394, Snohomish WA 98291-2396  (TM)  MY HOTEL YEAR  Featuring former touring members of Dear Ephesus and members of Exeter Flood, this band gave us an awesome demo EP of songs from their upcoming full length. Musically, they remind me a bit of Pop Unknown, but the vocal style is totally different, not to mention an octave or two higher. Quality musicianship and song writing. This is another one of my top picks for the month. For ordering info, write: 8412 Maid Marion's Trail, Lakeland FL 33809  (TM)   DELIFEATH  I can't really figure out how to say the name of this artist. It's a sound collage / noise project in which apparently no drum machines or sequencers were used. At times it sounds very grating and violent, at other times it sounds like a construction site. If you're a fan of Throbbing Gristle, or think that Lou Reed's Metal Music Machine is a rock masterpiece, you'll want this tape. For ordering info, write:  (TM)  EZEKIAL'S EYE  This band had me interested as soon as I turned on the CD. That lasted about 45 seconds. I'm not into their song writing, or vocal delivery style for the most part. I do like the song "Shadow Man." The vocalist does seem to have a decent range. Sounds to me like they'd do better as a church worship band than as a rock band playing in a club. I'm not entirely sure which one they're aiming for. For ordering info, go to:  (TM)  SYCAMORE  This is a very mainstream sounding pop alternative CD, so it's not something I'd normally listen to, but this is a really strong release. I don't have any comments, because these guys have it down. You never know, you just might see these guys on tour with Audio A or Skillet in a few years. For ordering info, go to:  (TM)  DUMB AS SHEEP  This is only a four-track EP that for the most part is soft rock. The first song was good but nothing after that came out and punched me in the face. Mainly an EP for the soft core. For ordering info, write:  (RK)  JUNIPER  The best description for these guys is low-fi adult contemporary rock. I also get the impression that the band is influenced by world music. And Pearl Jam. I hear some Eddie Vedder vocals in there at times. For more info, write  (TM)  Slingshot Compilation  Um... this is a comp of various solo stuff from Orlando Greenhill of Havalina Rail Co., and it's very . . . diverse . . . and . . . it's . . . uh . . . it's really good . . . it's just really different. But if you're looking for something new,  you should definitely order this cassette. Orlando decided to skip the expensive packaging on this one, but hey, that's all good. For ordering info, write:  (TM)  SOAPBOX  I'm really not a big punk fan, but I must say that this EP did pull me in right off the bat. The first song is excellent, the rest follow the established happier punk sound. Vocals are great . . . man, I love that first song. For ordering info, call: (606) 3562247  (RK)  ARCANJO  chugg-chugg . . . chugg-chugg are the best words to describe this cassette by these Brazilian boys. Metalcore with vocals reminiscent of Integrity or xDisciplex, not as strong though. Good, but not great, or terribly original. For ordering info, write:  (TM)  TYPICAL SLOAN Jangley country-twinged alternative with a nasally singer. Sounds a bit like the singer from Our Lady Peace. I actually ended up really getting into this CD even on the first listen. Pretty cool. For ordering info, go to:  (TM)  THE TIDE  These guys have a lighter alternative sound to them, somewhat in the vein of stuff like Toad the Wet Sprocket, and the influence of the Beatles is very apparent. Nothing really blows me away about these guys, but they sound like they've been playing together for awhile, and they've got some really good backup vocals. For ordering info, write:  (TM)  FLINT   Mainstream rock, which I would put in the same category as Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows and all that kind of stuff. This is a 3-song demo CD. The songs are good, but I didn't find them to be all that memorable.  For more info email  (TM)  SERENADE  Serenade is a modern rock quartet with a female singer. The band's sometimes mellow / sometimes upbeat rock compliments Mia's strong vocals. My only criticism is that I'm not hearing any hooks or anything original jumping out at me making me want to listen to this again. For ordering info, go to:  (TM) SACRED FAITH  Sacred Faith is a five man band out of So Cal. They are a mix of soft and hard rock. Some songs add a 80's kind of metal sound. The vocals are always sort of mellow. Certain songs have great guitar riffs and others have a more folksy sound. On their Building Houses project, the guitar tends to have more of a solo lead guitar style. They start to go for the edge on the Get Hyped For Christ album. The harder metal sound suits them well. Some songs have a little hip hop tune to them, and adds a good variety to the record. For ordering info, write: (RK)  100 WATT MAGNET  A competent rock band. I hear straight rock influences from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, which isn't to say they sound dated, because they don't, but at the same time, I'm not hearing anything I haven't heard before. The guitarist is good, and does a lot of noodling solos, but does it tastefully, not so many that it's excessive. For more info check out  (TM)  CONDITION BLUE  I've already tried reviewing this CD 4 or 5 times now, and I just can't avoid it anymore. I don't know what it is, but I just can't get into this CD. They play straight up rock music, with some blues influence. The songs are okay, and sound quality is good. The worst thing I can say is that I really hate their album art, but I can't rave about them either. There must be some consolation in that. For more info write  (TM)  JOEY RUMOR Being that the band members are between the ages of 15 and 17, I'm very impressed. Playing punk / ska, this Michigan band isn't the best I've heard, but they're also a lot better than average. I'm a little jealous, since these guys are 10 times better than the band I was in when I was 16. Reminds me a bit of Op Ivy. For ordering info, go to  (TM)  SEAL OF THE LIVING GOD  Early 80's style instrumental industrial similar to Ministry, with a lot of symphonic ambience. The CD divided into the Idolatry of Ancients, and the Ancestors demo, the latter of which I prefer. For ordering info, go to:  (TM)  THE MIRACLE YOUTH These guys are really good, and they've got an amazing guitarist. Brutal, but beautiful hardcore. This is only a 3-song demo CD, so I'm really interested in seeing what else these guys can do. Singer has a really scratchy voice, sort of like Shelby Cinca from Frodus. The recording could be a little bit better, but the songs are great. I'm going to be listening to this CD again. For ordering info, write:  (TM)  13TH TRIBE  13th Tribe's five song CD has everything for the ska fan. Instead of being a punk band with a backing horn section, the horns are pronounced and up front. Playing a lead role in every song, they keep up fast tempo to move the songs along. With clear creative lyrics and edgey guitar sound, 13 tribe showcases their energy and talent.  (Bob Howe)  STRONGTOWER IS MY HOME   I liked this CD as soon as I popped it in. It reminds me of Pink Floyd and David Bowie and other classic rock without sounding dated at all. Very original sounding. This 5 song CD is instrumental with the exception of the first track. I would highly recommend this CD. Too bad he didn't provide any contact info.  (TM)  DENNIS RUSSEL  Here's a cassette demo entitled Out of Time. The music is pretty good, and is in a lighter alternative style, reminiscent in some ways of 80's pop rock. I mean that in a good way. Recording is a little weak, but gets the point across.  (TM)  PROJECT MASQUERADE This is a band hailing from the Netherlands who play 80's style metal. Reminds me of Queensryche, and has a lot of shredding on guitar. The recording is of really good quality, even on cassette  (TM)  SIMPLE SOLUTION  These guys and a girl are a pop punk trio who have some pretty good songs, but tend to sing off key at times. The third song is a stand out track and reminds me of something Juliana Theory might do, but the fourth song sounds a bit too much like MxPx's "Destroyed by You" during the sing-along lyric "On and on and on..." Overall, I liked it though.  (TM) 

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