...Texas: A Collection of Texas Garage Punkers...Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra...
...Ambiances Magnetiques, Vol. 2...Unisex...Expreso...Fu Manchu...
...Dragstrip...Charming Hostess...Top .Jimmy...

Various Artists / Texas: A Collection of Texas Garage Punkers / Au-go-go (CD)

30 second sound clip
A collection of bands from everyone’s favourite state, all of whom share the common bond of fiendish garage rock fanaticism with superb authenticity. Indulge in classics from such notables as the Stooges-esque Sons of Hercules, the instrumental surf excellence of Death Valley and the former drunk rock heavyweights The Motards. Fans of lo-fi, one-four-five chord progressions will salivate instantly upon hearing this garage collection. Au-Go-Go provides an excellent documentary of the early 90’s garage-rock fever that permeated the music scene of many Texas cities! -- am

Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra / Futuremuzik / Caroline/Scamp (CD)

30 second sound clip
Psychedelic sci-fi spy themes, sprawling orchestral tracks that sound like Bond soundtrack outtakes, and a whole mess of kitschy jazz merriment a la Mancini et al...that's the Future according to Peter Thomas. Thomas' compositions for German television and film bear the indelible stylistic stamp of the sixties -- you know, that jet-setting mix of horns, organs and cheesy keyboards that, if possible, sounds cooler today than it did thirty-odd years ago. Despite the familiarity of the genre, Peter Thomas' tendency to create "nontraditional" melodies and juxtapose genres was years ahead of its time; sometimes it's hard to tell if this is music from the 1960s or the 2060s, and only time will tell... -- gz

Various Artists / Ambiances Magnetiques, Volume 2 / Ambiances Magnetiques (CD)

30 second sound clip
Splendid has reviewed quite a few Ambiances Magnetiques releases in the past few months -- enough, I think, for regular readers to have learned to expect challenging music from the label. This sampler makes a great introduction -- despite including a lot of quirky electroacoustic sound sculptures, there's a healthy dose of comparatively "traditional" music here: rich orchestral ensemble works, intimate jazz pieces, street music and frenetic art-rock MIDI-operas. The result is a sampler that's surprisingly warm and welcoming -- a cushion of familiar sounds in which even the most timid listener can safely experiment. Another success for Ambiances Magnetiques... -- gz

Unisex / "They Do Feel Strange" b/w "Man About Town" / Double Agent (7")

Unisex has risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the now-defunct Creation Records band The Telescopes. After touring for a few years and releasing a single on Heaven Records, they've managed to talk Double Agent into a single and an upcoming EP. If "They Do Feel Strange" is any indication, the EP will be ripe with the type of plump brit-pop ditties the British are so famous for. Said track sounds like a lost outake from the White Album -- it's raucous but controlled, balancing bubblegum with honkytonk in a way that only Englishmen (or close proximities thereto) can do. The B-side sports its own version of the Union Jack, during "Man About Town" I caught my mind unwittingly returning to images of Blur and Spacehog. -- nw

Various Artists / Expreso / Siesta (CD)

30 second sound clip
Imagine a soundtrack to the best damn vacation anyone ever had. This Spanish sampler is that soundtrack. The songs here are so happy and so laid back that hearing them is the listening equivalent of a mildly drunken hammock nap on a warm summer afternoon. The tracks here -- from the likes of Tomorrow's World, Holiday, Sunshine Day, Free Design, etc. -- are half twee pop, half poolside bar band, with a distinct sixties-jetset feel to them. Pop this one in the player and see how long it takes for you to start craving big, fruity rum drinks. -- gz

Fu Manchu / The Action is Go / Mammoth Records (CD)

30 second sound clip
Formerly associated with Bong Load records, and still associated with the bong, Fu Manchu delivers a high-power blast of heavy skate rock that ignores all the superfluous aspects of the "music biz" and delivers straight-up, groovin' rock. Fu Manchu sounds part AC/DC, part Masters of Reality, and displays touches of a "cleaner" sounding Mudhoney. Fu Manchu hits the pipe (both skate and smoke) with the crunching arena-crushing anthem "Evil Eye" and never stops for the remaining 13 tracks. If fuzzed out, wah-wah laden guitar wrapped around tight locking grooves is your signal, then indeed, "The Action is Go." -- am

Dragstrip / The Heliocentric World of... / American Pop Project (7")

30 second sound clip
If you ever stopped to wonder whether or not the world would be a better place if someone did a surf-rock cover of "Don't Fear the Reaper", I can now inform you that the answer is a resounding "YES". A wah-wah heavy, reverb-soaked guitar line takes the place of the tired classic rock lyrics in a remake so inspired, it actually makes the frigging insipid Blue Oyster Cult song enjoyable. The B-Side, "Sun Ra", is equally cool, though lacks the novelty value of the A-Side. I want to hear more from these guys. -- gz

Charming Hostess / Eat / Vaccination (CD)

30 second sound clip
What do you get when you combine an adventurous female acapella trio with an equally adventurous avant-rock outfit? In the case of Charming Hostess you get a bunch of really weird yet compelling music. It's mostly inspired by gospel music . . . that, and eastern European Jewish folk music! "Strange-Bedfellow" syndrome permeates Eat. You constantly feel like your tuning dial has gotten stuck between two ethnic music stations-- but miraculously, the two signals mesh together perfectly. "Dilmano Dilbero" exemplifies the spirit of the disc; it's a traditional Bulgarian folk song set to avant-jazz-rock grooves reminiscent of Frank Zappa. For an absolutely unique aural feast, Eat! -- nw

Top .Jimmy / Hole in My Pocket b/w The Good Times Are Killing Me / T.O.N. (7")

30 second sound clip
These two liquor-drenched, raspy voiced tracks of punk blues should please anyone who needs a soundtrack for a night of hard drinking, fatally inept attempts to interact with the opposite sex, and the subsequent further hard drinking it inspires. Of the two, "The Good Times Are Killing Me" is more clever, lyrically speaking, but both are satisfying (though not as edgy as, say, Blues Explosion). This apparently came out in 1994, so why the hell we're reviewing it now escapes me, but it's still good. -- gz

es - elliot s. | nw - noah wane | gz - george zahora | am - andrew magilow

map bar