Karen Ashbrook and Paul Oorts
Cristina Branco
The Embarrassment
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
Guided By Voices
Lamento Bornicano
The New Year
Pan Sonic
Santa Sprees
David Sylvian
David Thomas and Two Pale Boys
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Labradford, Amy Ray, Calling All Kings and Queens, W.O.O. Revelator, Crawl Unit, Honky, My Morning Jacket, DJ Food, The Frugals, Happy Happy Birthday to Me Vol. 2, Landspeedrecord!, Efzeg, Her Flyaway Manner, The Kidney Thieves, The Disappointments, Rock Coaches, Photon Band, The Dropscience, Tyrants in Therapy, Allen Crane, Benjamins, Face B, Fonda, Polaris

Labradford / Fixed::Context EP / Kranky (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "David"
I donít think I would ever want to hang out with Labradford. I get the distinct impression that while this trio makes amazing music, they would be less than engaging conversationalists. But then again, Labradfordís music isnít intended as conversational background; rather, it is meant to be listened to in quiet solitude, away from the distractions of our noisy and fast-paced world. Once you've found a comfy seat in a quiet room, Fixed::Content begins with the sprawling opus that is "Twenty". Over the course of the trackís 18-plus minutes, the listener is showered with delicate atmospherics, twangy guitars and various blips and drones that only add to the songís haunted demeanor. The other three tracks on the EP (which clocks in at a hefty 40 minutes) further the feeling of nocturnal revelation while showcasing the groupís chilling musicianship. "David"'s icy complexion, spine-tingling guitar and swelling production show that while the band has gained quite a reputation in slo-core circles, they are not content to rest on their laurels. We can only hope that their next full-length release utilizes the same formula as these gorgeous numbers. Itís quite a feat to create an album that is not only haunting, but uncompromisingly beautiful and utterly serene. With Fixed::Context Labradford has managed it without even breaking a sweat. Perhaps these fellows would be good company after all. -- jj

Amy Ray / Stag / Daemon (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Late Bloom"
Eleven years after starting her own independent label, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls has released her first solo effort. What's more, she's picked a diverse smorgasbord of artists to help her with Stag's genre-hopping material. The first track, "Johnny Rottentail", is a bluegrass-tinged ditty with lonesome lyrics and the obligatory death or two. From there, Ray employs the talents of North Carolina punk band The Butchies on "Laramie" and "Lucystoners", Joan Jett on "Hey Castrator" and the original line up of Rock*A*Teens on "Black Heart Today", as well as Danielle Howle, members of 1945 (formally Three Finger Cowboy) and others. I actually enjoy it when an artist, particularly someone I consider to be fairly predictable, turns around and offers up something totally different. Ray has accomplished that here. Somehow she was able to take ten songs, each with a different feel, and have them flow logically into one another. It's not an easy thing to do. Stag, though accomplished with the help of a slew of musicians, is clearly her own. My only request is that we not have to wait another eleven years for her next solo release. -- al

Various Artists / Calling All Kings and Queens: A Mr. Lady Compilation /Mr Lady (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of Kiki & Herb's "I'm Not Waiting"
Owned and operated by Kaia Wilson and Tammy Rae Carland, Mr. Lady is a great label devoted to unique, adventurous and just plain enjoyable music made mostly by women, or men who'd like to be. This compilation features not only their major acts (like the Butchies and Le Tigre, who justify their popularity with the wild "Sweetie") but great cuts from femme icons Sleater-Kinney (a live "Ballad of a Lady Man") and lesser known acts of extremely diverse styles. There are enough treasures here that not one but two transvestite/transgender bands become must-hear events. PME, featuring Ms. Vaginal Davis, shows itself to be as musically exciting as Divine, and with more rock and roll thrust than Marilyn or Sylvester could ever project, while Kiki and Herb turn Sleater Kinney's "I'm Not Waiting" into a wonderful showtune ("I'm not waiting to grow up/To be a woman"), both campy and poignant. Apparently, Stephin Merritt wrote some tracks for their debut, and it sounds wonderful (Hell, it even has a guest appearance by Molly Ringwald.). The only track I really didn't like here was Amy Ray's "Lucy Stoners", in which good vocals did not find a good melody in the bargain. Ignore that tune, and maybe the bluesy Shelley Doty number, and you have a barrage of wonderful successes, including wonderfully phrased spoken word (by Gretchen Phillips), some catchy melancholy pop (Darien Brahms' "Whistle Boat") and what might be called a lesbian surf instrumental (Origami's "Nancy and Drew") that metamorphoses into brilliant bedroom pop a la Six Cents and Natalie. Calling all Kings and Queens should provide a wonderful surprise to everyone who thought the lesbian music scene lost its balls after the fading of Phranc and Team Dresch. -- td

W.O.O. Revelator / The Theory of Reversed Effort / Evolving Ear (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "More One Way Than the Other"
What would have happened if Sun Ra's backing band sniffed glue instead of turning to other controlled substances for musical inspiration? Saxophonist Bonnie Kane, guitarist Christ Forsyth and drummer Ray Sage snort in your general direction as they sift through five tracks of spacey rhythms that glide by on their own ethereal plane of jazz. Forsyth and Kane take turns yoking esoteric scales while Sage plows through his own odd-metered times, creating a cacophony of mixed voices, then gradually effervescing into loosely structured pieces that swoon and stagger. In particular, Forsyth's guitar effects sound like a malfunctioning Star Trek phaser set on "kill". Mentally following a piece like "Global Communicator" is like leading a heavily inebriated blind man down a New York sidewalk in rush-hour traffic. While you're certain to stumble more than once, the W.O.O. Revelator will ultimately get you to your destination. Shaken and confused, you'll look back at the aural experience presented here and feel a sense of enlightenment that'll make you glad you introduced yourself to The Theory of Reversed Effort. -- am

Crawl Unit / Everyone Gets What They Deserve / C.I.P. (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Holy Static"
Think of Crawl Unit as Merzbow on valium. Rather than waves of ear-piercing, sense-overloading electronic noise, Crawl Unit gives you waves of gently vibrating, warm, fuzzy electronic noise. J. Colley, the human behind Crawl Unit, doesn't call these tracks "songs" or even "compositions"; they're "sound events", which in itself implies a certain abstract, detached conception of art. Don't expect to find any hummable melodies on Everyone Gets What They Deserve, but do expect to be deeply entranced by the vague, ethereal textures and drones here-perpetrated. A completely dark room is really the only appropriate location for listening to this CD. In such an environment I think it would be quite trance-inducing, whereas in the bright light of day it tends to be relegated to background music status. Either way, it's an interesting piece of work for those willing to meet it halfway. -- nw

Honky / House of Good Tires / House of Records (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "House of Seven"
This Southern trio binges on the kind of rock that wears big-ass boots and grins maliciously as it tracks mud all over your clean rug. Thick riffs define the band's sound, while cliches are consciously flaunted through tongue-in-cheek numbers like "Don't Shoot Baby I Love You" and "Your Bottom's at the Top of my List". On occasion, as with the meaty "House of Seven", Honky come off like a chicken-fried version of the Melvins. Too frequently, however, the production sounds a bit heavy. This overemphasis on the lower register weighs down the songs and makes the album a bit punishing for a single sitting. Despite this, there is a lot here to recommend for fans of a catchy guitar riff who don't mind a little silliness with their sonics. -- rd

My Morning Jacket / Dos Xmas Fiasco Style / Darla (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "I Just Wanted To Say"
Okay, I admit that I'm pretty down on Christmas songs and Christmas stuff in general, so reviewing a CD of Christmas songs by a band I've never heard of in the middle of March didn't really light a fire under my arse. But when I finally did get around to listening to this disc, I was very happy to discover that although these songs are all Christmas-oriented, they're also good enough to overcome that particular burden. Jim James is the singer/songwriter force behind My Morning Jacket. He has a terrific, slightly tired, worn out sort of voice, one that's particularly suited to these maybe happy/maybe sad songs. There are only five tracks here: three originals, a cover of Nick Cave's "New Morning" and Elvis's "Santa Claus Is Back in Town". They're all done in a dirgy-blues style, with plenty of fuzzed-out guitars and walking bass lines to keep even the slowest of the lot chugging along with drunken roadhouse energy. For those of you who share my aversion to most things Christmas, My Morning Jacket has a full length coming out on Darla later this month. I bet it'll be great. -- ib

DJ Food / Quadraplex EP / NinjaTune (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Hour Glass"
Long story short: Quadraplex is a sequence of four tracks that were left off last year's Kaleidoscope LP for space reasons. All four pieces deal with the manipulation of glass -- not just the usual glass-smashing, but tapping, rubbing and the actual glass-blowing process as well. Of these, the ultra-heavy rhythms of "Monocle" are probably the most immediately engrossing, though the gamelan-like tones in "Shattered Glass" are nicely creepy too. In fact, "nicely creepy" is a decent description of the entire sixteen-minute disc; it's dark, disturbing and moody-broody throughout. If you're looking for something to dance to, "Monocle" and the African rhythm-slash-sci-fi ambience of "Looking Glass" are workable, but in general Quadraplex is more the stuff of feverishly fascinating nightmares than dancefloor workouts. -- gz

The Frugals / Formula For Success / Toupee Records(CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Dear Ms. Something"
Australian Christian ska-pop...who knew such things existed? The Frugals, however, have got their quantities fixed right. Although you'll find none of the more snidely humorous, sex-drugs-rock 'n roll lyrics that you get from most ska bands, their brass is competent and pushes the tempo along, particularly in "Long Live All That Is Rock" and "Dear Ms. Something". Like Save Ferris, however, their lyrics are too poppy to be anything other than anaemic. The most commercially, artistically successful ska has a definite punk skew to it. "Formula for Success" echoes a lot the more pronounced characteristics of the band's heroes, Five Iron Frenzy -- most particularly the silly words, as in "My Jolly Marmoset" ("Cause I dig the Giraffe and I like a big cat! (meow!)"). Although such words would bring joy to the hearts of Miss Sally and Capt. Kangaroo, it's not so appealing to the typical adult. On the other hand, Save Ferris was a moderate success on Top 40 radio. Still, unless you're a hard-core Christian, you'd invest your money better (Though still poorly - Ed.) in Goldfinger, Reel Big Fish or Sublime. -- js

Various Artists / Happy Happy Birthday to Me Vol. 2 / Happy Happy Birthday to Me (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of Fablefactoryís "Broken Arms"
If you like your songs short, your pop frothy and your band names clever, you need to get yourself a copy of Happy Happy Birthday to Me Volume 2. This 24 track compilation (released by the label/magazine of same name) is filled from top to bottom with good old fashioned two-and-a-half-minute blasts of lo-fi pop goodness. Some of the bands you will have heard of (Calvin Donít Jump, Fablefactory and The Wee Turtles), while others won't ring a bell (Seasick Crocodiles, Red Pony Clock and Army of the Red Museum just to name a few). There are also quite a few members of the Elephant 6 family tree present here, most notably The Late B.P. Hellum (Brian Helium of Elf Power,) Scott Spillane (member of The Gerbils, The Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel) and Ross Beach (former member of around 1,000 E6 bands). Throughout the album you will be bombarded with incessantly catchy melodies (Unbunnyís "Sheíll Bring You Down" and Golden Synthetic Songbookís "In the Sun") and strangely beautiful exercises in pastoral pop (My Place in Spaceís "Science for a Better America" and Hurricane Lampsí "Learn How to Sleep"). These days, pop compilations donít get much more lo-fi -- or more mindlessly satisfying -- than Happy Happy Birthday to Me Volume 2. -- jj

Landspeedrecord! / Rood to Flight / Resin (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Mission From God"
Landspeedrecord! has always hit the right chord for me. With a good sense of humor, some well-placed sarcasm and a firm stance on refusing to compromise its sound, the band has finally hit a home run with Rood to Flight. From their earliest days, the LSR! troop has percolated a sly combination of complex math rock and gyrating, bass-intensive rhythms into their off-kilter rock explosion. The excellent instrumental backing on "Turing Test" is strong enough not to even need the well-orchestrated vocals. Instead, itís like eating your brotherís favorite cereal and then staking your claim on the bonus prize thatís buried deep inside. Other favorites include the cynical opener, "Mission From God", and the metaphorically pessimistic "Neil Armstrong", which takes a good jab at the idea of working your life away. You'll either love or hate Charles Jamison's warbling, inflected vocals, but there's no denying that they quickly distance Landspeedrecord! from the huddled masses of forgettable rock. Add a few bizarre pop culture samples, Silvertone keyboard outbursts, programmed drum beats and fucked up computer manipulation and you get a brilliant CD that's been a long time coming. See, kids, you should follow LSR!'s example. If you stick with something for long enough, you're bound to eventually produce a quality product! -- am

Efzeg / Grain / Durian (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "01"
The winner of this week's difficult listening hour is Efzeg, a quartet of saxophones, lap steels, guitars and turntables. These three cuts are cryptic (they're noted simply as 01, 02 and 03), beefy (one weighs in at 30 minutes) and jarring (witness my wife's near seizure in the final minutes of 01). Not for those with delicate constitutions, Efzeg is Metal Machine Music lite or Nurse with Wound as muzak. In other words, if you're making an experimental film about, say, wiggly parasites, taste buds being shaved off and a mutant fetus of any sort, look no further -- Grain is the perfect soundtrack. If, on the other hand, you're after something to soothe the nerves at your next family reunion or church social, keep on going. Otherwise you might find yourself being the next Lizzie Borden. -- rg

Her Flyaway Manner / Self-Titled / Caulfield (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Plain Jane"
Tension, release. Tension, release. The book on modern rock could begin and end describing that rush-to-the-edge-and-pull-back dynamic (with perhaps an appendix for the quiet verse/loud chorus/quiet verse). Lincoln, Nebraska's Her Flyaway Manner have read the book well, and they prove themselves ready to add a few chapters of their own. The evocatively-named band has been playing together for five years, and the extended apprenticeship pays off in this complex debut, wherein layers of sound become more appealing with each listen. As much as the band's core components are readily identifiable (a little hardcore here, a bit of post-punk there), HFM nurture a restraint and caution missing in most "look at me bleed" emotion-fetishists. Luckily, HFM isn't nearly as bad as their worst lyric, which opens "Good Day Travels": "And I'm found on one knee/One last apotheosis/And I spent energy worried over wasted time." The prosaic lyrics don't push themselves too hard toward profundity; there's a simple compactness to them that evinces an appreciation of the everyday. Many of the songs deal with obliquely negative emotions and doses of light at the end of the tunnel. "My words unsaid, it's been a long hard week for both of us," states the plainspoken "My Words Unsaid", before concluding hopefully, "We'll just push each other through it and do it, better than before." HFM do the job more than well enough here, so watching them do it "better than before" should be a treat. -- rt

The Kidney Thieves / Fake Western Vistas / Dead Pan (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Stargazing"
I've weathered many a dreary night by the fireplace pondering such worldly theorems as metaphysics, meteors and just what U2 would sound like if a Jersey-boy named Patrick Borrelli knifed Bono in a trendy London-bistro and assumed vocal responsibilities of the band. Ah, knifing Bono...but we digress. So anyways, this band -- yeah, they sound like an Americanized version of U2, but that's not necessarily a bad thing: gone is the didactic drivel U2 love to shovel, replaced by poetic lyrics that retain the over-the-top rock stylings which made U2 everyone's arena-rock darlings. Songs like "Life's Sad Refrain" find Borrelli bellowing atop solid guitar and drum work which never comes across as gaudy, avoiding the p-word (pretense) as successfully as Kathleen Hanna avoids her stripper past. While the production is slick and the group are a bit seasoned (they've been around since 1993) Fake Western Vistas is still able to infuse a sense of urgency and heart in a vapid quasi-alterna-rock genre that's on its final breath. -- jw

The Disappointments / You're a Better Man Than Me b/w She's a Better Girl Than You / TTSCC (7")

Sample 30 seconds of "You're a Better Man Than Me"
The Disappointments' first outing with new drummer Erik Von Wild is already a front-runner for Best Packaging of the Year. Each side of the record sleeve holds an envelope, sealed with a heart-shaped sticker. Inside each envelope is a nicely printed and illustrated foldover card containing the lyrics to one of the record's two tracks. Damn! The music itself makes a valiant effort to deliver on the packaging's promise. Both of these thematically-related songs sound a bit tinny, but they make up for it in sheer energy. Mixing elements of Elvis Costello, the Knack, Queen and circa-1997 Indie Rock, and featuring vocals that sound like they were delivered by a new-wave-obsessed Geddy Lee, "You're a Better Man Than Me" and "She's a Better Girl Than You" offer a feverish, wildly inventive ride. Lovers of clever and volatile pop, your ship has come in. -- gz

Rock Coaches / Our Freshman Year at Rock Coach High / Animal World (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "The Rock Coaches Theme"
At first this disc seemed entirely too noisy, but after a couple more spins it actually started making sense. This trio of musicians comes from the wise-ass school of music and revels in the idiotic joys such freedom brings. For example, take a listen to their theme song -- cunningly titled "The Rock Coaches Theme" -- with its primitive bar chords, basic drumming and nonsense scatting. True, none of the members are likely to be touted as musical gods, but the band sounds like they are having fun and this exuberance bleeds into their audience as easily as the feedback bleeds into the guitar sound. Switching between instruments and throwing in occasional keyboards for good measure, the band diddles with anarchic rock numbers as well as more fleshed-out tunes, having a blast all the while. -- rd

Photon Band / Our Own ESP Driven Scene / Darla (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Saturn Returns"
Now, if I say that some of the tunes on this singles, compilations and outtakes release remind me of The Monkees, don't hold it again the Photon Band. It's probably just that Behind the Music I watched a couple months ago at my mom's house coming back to haunt me. I guess I'm supposed to say that the Photon Band reminds me of The Who, but the edge just isn't there. What is there is a nice, fuzzy retro sound, complete with optimistic melodies, pingy, 1960s style drums and half-distorted guitars that can almost make you forget that grunge ever happened. Some of the tracks try to escape the Monkees vibe, but even the most ambitious numbers -- like "The Magic Word", which really wants to be an alt-country number -- can't help but lapse into a feel-good chorus. "Good feeling" -- that's as good a tag as any for this poppy, melodic disc. -- ib

The Dropscience / Experimenting with Contrast / Dropscience (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Kissy Kiss"
"Don't close your eyes, they're gonna categorize," sings Dropscience frontman Demetrius Francisco Antuna, and he's right: file under Fugazi crossed with the Dismemberment Plan. This three-song disc contains songs from the band's completed debut album, currently being shopped to labels. "Combustible Bubble" tells of life on the road, but never reaches a peak before riding off into the sunset; the guitars and vocals surge upwards for the chorus, then the song slides back into a too-perfect imitation of cruising down the highway, miles flowing by, trying to stay awake. A more melodic guitar line slips in at odd moments, but doesn't stick around for long enough to add much depth. A sample of 2001's HAL opens "Kissy Kiss", the best of the tracks showcased here, and the song succeeds in building up some momentum. "Backstage" gets points for novelty, being an ominous, descriptive nightmare about a Margaret Keane painting -- those big-eyed children are pretty creepy, it's true. The song moves in a way similar to "Combustible Bubble", with guitar jags and random shifts in rhythm substituting for actual dynamics. Two of these three songs are at least three minutes too long, and the similarities to Red Medicine-era Fugazi are too blatant to be ascribed merely to the need for categorization. The Dropscience have a sound that will find its fans, but those seeking something new and different would be better off looking elsewhere. -- rt

Tyrants in Therapy / Meet the Tyrants in Therapy / Emotional Coathanger (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Boy"
Los Angeles-based Tyrants in Therapy (TIT) claim (on the back of their CD booklet) that they have had "14 semi-successful singles". Call me clueless, but until I popped this CD into the player I had never heard of TIT. Fortunately, being oblivious is a blessing in this case, as Meet the Tyrants in Therapy slams dance beats, smart and amusing lyrics and an uncouth sexual prowess into an audio adventure that becomes more intriguing the longer that it plays. "Too Tough to Cry" may be the most accessible of the bunch with its straight(er)-laced Euro-dance sound, but the more dangerous tunes, like the tongue-in-cheek "Yer No Jack Kennedy" and the risquť "Sex is Back" show TIT's true colors -- and besides, Kanter's succulent voice will leave you thinking unholy thoughts. Where's my rabbi when I need some moral guidance? Perplexed? You should be, as TIT will outwit any preconceived judgments you may foolishly have created about its brand of "punk cabaret." -- am

Allen Crane / Broken Promises / Self-Released (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Hootie Hoo Hoo"
Broken Promises breaks more than promises; it probably breaks a few decency laws as well (except in New Orleans on Mardi Gras). Guitarist Mark Warner's musicianship is really quite good, and his poppy hooks earn him genuine comparisons to Sammy Hagar and Def Leppard (I'd say T. Rex, but it's just not that good). It's just that heavy/hair metal has probably seen its day for a while. If you are a child of the Eighties, listening to this will land you dead center in the middle of your high school gym, raucously screaming along to arena rock like "Pour Some Sugar on Me"; the title track in particular evokes Hysteria-era fervor. "Hootie Hoo Hoo" takes the silly-anthem theme to its pinnacle with its euphemistic linguistics. If you are having a nostalgia fit and they're out of Sammy at your used CD store, downloading a few of Allen Crane's Broken Promises might not be a bad idea. Hell, you can always delete the files when the fever has passed. -- js

Benjamins / The Art of Disappointment / Drive Thru (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Clover"
Itís pretty safe to say that Benjamins are the most avowedly Weezer-aping band on the Drive Thru Records roster. That's saying a lot when you consider the fact that they count Allister, Midtown and Fenix Tx among their labelmates. The Art of Disappointment, the Milwaukee-based quartet's debut, is absolutely brimming with crunching guitars, soaring melodies and sing-along choruses that reek of a certain group of nerd rockers. Itís not that Benjamins are without talent; as "Sophia on the Stereo" and "Clover" attest, they can write a demonically catchy tune. Their main weakness lies in sounding too much like too many other members of the Let's Sound Like Weezer contingent. If Benjamins can somehow mold their jarring melodic hooks and explosive dynamics into something that doesnít sound quite so derivative, they could be huge. Ironically, though, The Art of Disappointment turns out to be more than a little disappointing. -- jj

Various Artists / Face B /Q-Tape (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of Yuppie Flu's "Stolen Boat, Sinking Thief"
This is a very nice compilation of mild-mannered electronic music and charming synthesized pop. Rather than offering a few songs that leap out at you and inspire you to hit "Repeat", Face B contains a whole hour of music that you play straight through, and then hit "Repeat". It's therefore great at parties and get-togethers where you don't want to be burdened with the trauma of putting down drinks and changing CDs every five minutes. With very few exceptions, the songs contained here are instrumentals that are dominated by synthesizers, Casio doodles, warm memories and intermittent video games. When vocals arrive, it's with music that allows for a graceful change, or else the vocals start out so low (as in the delicate remix of Club 8's "My Heart Won't Break") that it takes a while to even recognize the human voice. Many of my current favorites, including Club 8 and Germany's Lali Puna, are here, as well as countless other bands (France's Chico Ben, and Norway's Remington Super 60) that sound just as good. What I'm reaching for, I guess, is this compilation's sole flaw: every song seems to succeed for the same reasons -- namely the atmosphere their quiet keyboard contemplation creates, and the way the melody gracefully plays over your thoughts. As a result, you end up more interested in the label, Q-Tape, than in any of the individual bands herein. Face B will certainly encourage great personal interest in future Q-Tape comps, but I don't know if any of the individual songs here will bring the bands new fans. I hope that's not true, as the diversity of some of these acts goes far beyond the results provoked here. -- td

Fonda / Summer Land / Planting Seeds (7")

Sample 30 seconds of "Summer Land"
Until Fonda's sophomore full-length, The Strange and the Familiar, arrives, this'll satisfy my Fonda fix. "Summer Land", previously available only on a costly import compilation, is vintage Fonda: simple, luscious, faintly psychedelic pop harmonies paired with Emily Cook's drool-worthy vocals. Longer and less bouncy than a typical throwaway pop track, it supports the theory that Fonda are the band that Lush could've, and perhaps should've, grown up to be. B-side "People and Stars" goes a different route with a male vocal -- presumably Dave Klotz behind the mic -- and sounds, in the best possible way, like My Bloody Valentine without the feedback. While neither of these songs are Grade-A Fonda, you can't go wrong with them. -- gz

Polaris / Dave's Kitchen / Coliln Shaw Music (CD)

Sample 30 seconds of "Patient Child"
A few years back, Nickelodeon ran an absurd gem of a television show called The Adventures of Pete and Pete, the utterly irresistible theme song to which was performed on-screen by Polaris, purveyors of crack-strength pop music. My appetite whetted, I clawed open this release...only to discover this world of ours is, in fact, big enough for two Polarises. And this one ain't of the Pete and Pete persuasion. Rather, these Florida boys spin a less addictive web comprised of rock anthems and soft hearted acoustic numbers. However, when the band sheds its Bruce Springstein-style manly vocals to pursue the slide guitar-infused slower ones, things start to come together. This Polaris is no crack, but it's a good smoke. -- rg

gz - george zahora | nw - noah wane | am - andrew magilow | ib - irving bellemead | jj - jason jackowiak
td - theodore defosse | rd - ron davies | js - jenn sikes | rg - rodney gibbs | rt - ryan tranquilla | al - amy leach | jw - john wolfe

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