Evans Blue

Evans Blue – The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume©2006 Hollywood Records Perhaps I’m hard to impress. Perhaps I don’t like the mainstream. Likely it is both. Evans Blue’s new CD "The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume" out now on Hollywood Records is what I would lump into the "ok" pile. Reminiscent of Tool and Perfect Circle the band ebbs and flows through 11 tracks of radio length rock. I can totally see people not head banging to this as some nameless video is played on Headbanger’s Ball.

The Dirtier Inch: Volume 2

V/A – The Dirtier Inch: Volume 2©2005 Beer Metal Records Punk Rock from Seattle? You freakin' bet your ass! What we have here is "The Dirtier Inch: Volume 2" 28 Old School, skull bustin, mohawk sportin' punk rock songs from the land of grunge. I am not going to expound on any of the 28 tracks in specific, but sufficed to say, this comp rocks. I don't know anything about Volue 1, but if that is available, go damn get 'em both. www.beermetalrecords.com

It’ll Grow Back

It'll Grow Back – Seduce & Destroy© 2005 Getfaced RecordsThis week I'm reviewing Seduce & Destroy by Fresno's own It'll Grow Back. I must ask myself, will it? Will it grow back? And further more, what happened?Picture, or more importantly hear, this; the bastard 3 way love child between Danzig, Newbomb Turks and Dead Kennedys. Seducy & Destroy is a quirky and crunching 10 song disc of short sweet tracks. Clocking in at just under 20 minutes it is totally perfect for that morning commute (provided that your's is also just under 20 minutes)The big seller here for me is that It'll Grow Back, despite having somewhat obvious influence, aren't a knockoff band. The have a genuine punk rock and roll quality all their own. The mix seems a little muddy to me right now, but that may well be my head.Bottom Line: Fresno you say? Go Figure!www.myspace.com/itllgrowback 

Mike Park

Mike Park – North Hangook Falling© 2005 Sub City / Asianman RecordsMike Park’s second solo release carries on in the same vein as the previous “For the Love of Music”, insofar as it being largely vocals over acoustic guitar. “North Hangook Falling” expands on the instrumentation of the first by adding more electricity and occasional string sections.Though a far cry from the ska of Skankin’ Pickle or The Bruce Lee Band, Mike Park’s solo work is very compelling and often very solemn. The content and seeming introspection make me draw a comparison between this CD and Steve Earle’s “Transcendental Blues” it isn’t direct, but something I just can’t pinpoint is there. Overall the disc has a somber tone, especially with the addition of the strings; it makes for a good listen to depress out to, with a redemption and catharsis at the end.Mike has a very consistent and likeable style with sad melodies and memorable yet haunting lyrics. In addition to “North Hangook Falling” being a great CD, a portion of the proceeds go to the Plea for Peace Foundation.The disc contains 12 tracks and clocks in at 38:43 Highlights include Track 2. Keeping the Seat Warm and Track 12 a live version of Blue Marble (this on is great) there is also a remake of “Korea is So Far Away” I prefer the original, but there’s no harm in trying.www.mikeparkmusic.comwww.pleaforpeace.com Jerry Actually

fivespeed

fivespeed – Morning Over Midnight © 2006 Virgin Records “I’ll give it up to get it all” declares the lyrics on the “Fair Trade” the opening track of “Morning Over Midnight” the new release from Virgin Records recording artists, fivespeed, in stores now. This statement seems overly apt for a band that is screaming to be mainstream. The tracks are all groomed to the ultra Clear Channel and MTV friendly approximate 3.5 minute mark. The overall sound has an aggressive but non-threatening flavor which is occasionally punctuated by some heavy emotional power ballads. The musicianship is solid and the production value great. I just find that it lacks guts. If you wanna be the next big thing on the band wagon, that is fine by me, and apparently you. Verdict: If you are down with radio rock and MTV2, this is for you. www.fivespeed.com www.virginrecords.com Jerry Actually   

The Specs

Declaration of Independence – (c) 2005 The Specs New Jersey's The Specs (formerly The Superspecs) are a 6 piece band out of the North side of the state. "Declaration of Independece" is a plus sized EP featuring 6 full length tracks and 2 musical preamble/interlude parts. The songs are an eclectic mix of pop, punk and bits of emo. Track 3 (Good Luck (This Time)) has a striking reminiscence to the song writing style of Less Than Jake, albeit minus the horns. Not that The Specs are completely lacking in horns, but on Declaration of Independence, it appears they like to more strongly feature them in intro pieces. An amusing cover of "Straight Up" is also included. Kudos to the specs for a unique EP that shows that you can have a likeable sound without being a cookie cutter.http://www.specsrock.comJerry Actually   

Umbrella Bed – One Small Skank For Man

© 2005 Mad Butcher Records

one-small-skank-for-manUmbrella Bed brings me back to the glory days of the third wave harkening the likes of Undercover SKA and Mock Turtle Soup. The unusually named Minnesota ska outfit plays a handsome blend of ska with soul with a klezmer touch. Oddly for an American band, they have a strangely European sound…go figure.

Bottom line: extremely likeable and very danceable.

http://www.umbrellabed.com
http://www.madbutcher.de

-Jerry Actually

Skannibal Party 5

Various Artists – Skannibal Party 5 © 2005 Mad Butcher RecordsSkannibal Party 5 is an awsome collection of ska from around the globe. Featuring 22 tracks from exotic locales from Russia (Skapel) to Venezuela (Desorden Publico) to Utah (Two and A Half White Guys). Compilations like this help to open eyes to the similarities of people around the world instead of fearing and attacking them because of thier differences. It gives me great comfort to know that kids in Argentina are skanking to Dulces Diablitos and Papas Ni Pidamos Meanwhile halfway around the world other kids are dancin' it up in Serbia with Los Propelleros. Thank the world for ska. Go get this comp and celebrate diversity in knowing that the world over, there are people just like you.http://www.madbutcher.de-Jerry Actually

Instant Camera

Instant Camera – Alive On Departure (c) 2004 Wall To Wall RecordsInstant camera is another surprise from the south. Hailing from the cultural center of Louisville, KY, "Alive On Departure" is a swirling cosmic blend of New Wave Pop and LoFi Noise Rock. I will liken it to a blend of Voivod, eraly Floyd and Art of Noise. Instant Camera has an interesting sound that defies categorization. Just when the songs start to lock into a defineable sound, they shift gears and head off in a new direction. 10 short tracks at just over 30 minutes total. "Alive On Departure" try it on for size. I think it'll fit.www.theinstantcamera.comJerry Actually

The Slackers – Peculiar

© 2006 Hellcat Records
Rating: ★★★★☆

It seems like quite a long time ago when I was shipped my first Slackers CD to review. It in fact was almost 8 years ago. I’m happy to report that I’ve got the new Slackers CD in my hot little hands. (It is actually in my CD player, as I felt it a more appropriate place.) I’ll be updating this review as I have the time, but for the moment, let’s just say the CD has some power.

With style grace and persistence, The Slackers are the heart soul and backbone of the New York ska scene. Peculiar is an exceptional release of the genre. To capture the intensity of their live shows, the band went to the legendary Ernesto's in Holland to cut the core of the tracks in front of a packed live audience. After recording all the new "live" tracks the band went back to the studio and stripped the rhythm tracks and performed vocals and horns and added guest assistance by contemporaries like Alex Desert of Hepcat and Jeff "King Django" Baker.

I commend the Slackers for their innovative approach to the new album. The combination of live energy and studio polish brings a whole new level to the life of the record. Adding to the intensity of "Peculiar" is the socially and politically aware vibe, much akin to the voice of dissent found in the reggae of the 70's.

Songs like Propaganda and International War Criminal decry current political scandal and portray the discomfort and discontent with the current management if you will. "Peculiar" is a brilliant blend of ska reggae and rocksteady raising a voice of concern to the current state of affairs.

Don't let me misguide you though; the album isn't entirely political so much that is an assessment of life, a bit of a State of Life Address. "Peculiar" brings hope for the true ska fans and fans of great music everywhere that not all hope is lost.

http://www.hell-cat.com
http://www.theslackers.com

–Jerry Actually