Shanty Town

Shanty Town – One More Last Chance© 2006 Mad Butcher RecordsSoulfull ska and reggae from Barcelona Spain, sporting a female fronted ensemble with sounds reminiscent of bands such as Isaac Green and the Skalars, and the legendary Skatalites, and a latin feel ala Jump with Joey. Very smooth mello and relaxing stuff. Shanty Town offers up 11 well done tracks especially catering to the jazz-ska style, though the CD never really gets into a real fast pace, the music has a nice flow and the tracks smoothly coalesce into each other. This is great Monday morning music that gently lifts you up and eases you into your day.{mos_sb_discuss:3}

Bullets and Octane

In the Mouth of the Young© 2006 RCA RecordsHoly crap, it's Rock and Roll. They don't seem to make it much like this any more. The forthcoming release "In the Mouth of the Young" by Bullets and Octane is some serious straight forward rock. Kind of in the vein of Motorhead meets Lynyrd Skynrd, the disc cranks out 12 tracks of fist banging and living room destroying rock and fucking roll. The new release is produced by Page Hamilton and the percussive and precise Helmet edge shows. As I like to do comparisons to more adequately describe the sound to folks who may be looking to buy this stuff, aside from the prior likeness, Bullets and Octane could be a crazy offspring of Iron Maiden and Clutch. Don't let me mislead you by my labels though, this is good stuff on its own, regardless of influence on their part or mine. My personal favorite is track 9 "Caving In". It has an evil sing-along quality to it. Take it or leave it, it has serious rock power, if not Pure Rock Fury.{mos_sb_discuss:5}

The Baboonz

Too Much is not Enough© 2005 Madbutcher Records Once again I get to reap some of the benefits of the German Ska scene and more specifically Bavaria, which appears to be a veritable hotbed of ska. I originally heard of The Baboonz through the 4 band split CD "Four of a Kind" which I reviewed previously. This time around it is a full length 13 track disc of their own. Though formed in 1998 things didn't get going until 2001. Since then they have played over 150 live shows through out Europe with a lot of heavy weight acts. I find that they hold their own with their catchy upbeat songs of anti-racism and anti-intolerance, good melody and great horns and just a touch of the blues. There are some punkish bits and some more traditional reggae sounds. Imagine Skankin' Pickle meets Bunny White meets The Invaders. Just to prove that their good, The Baboonz even Have Dr. Ring Ding on track 10 "A Change For The Better" – now that's a seal of approval, plus I hear they know how to throw a good party.{mos_sb_discuss:3}

Plowking

Plowking – Plant The Foot©2005 Mad Butcher Records South Germany brings us more smooth ska in the band Plowking. I don't know if they got their name from Homer "Mr. Plow" Simpson's rival, but I suspect they did. Aside from that, "Plant The Foot" is 9 full ska tracks and a happy melodic intro. I can't really surmise if Europe is behind the times in the ska scene, or there is just a way larger appreciation over there. None the less, I love the fact that there is still an outlet for quality diverse ska across the world, even though it is a bit of a popularity nadir here in the states. I couldn't glean a whole lot of info from the bands website and I just threw away the one sheet, so I'll just have to express that Plowking is a sweet 8 piece ska band. They embody a commonality and purpose that makes the world less huge, from despising the highschool hero to appreciating a sunny day when the cops aren't around. Good times, good music. Let's all have some beers and enjoy Plowking.{mos_sb_discuss:3} www.plowking.de www.madbutcher.de  

Nathan Asher & The Infantry

Nathan Asher & The Infantry – Sex Without Love©2005 Infantry Publishing Hailing from Raleigh, NC Nathan Asher & The Infantry and equal parts Springsteen and Whiskeytown. They present a striking dichotomy to other artists in their respective age bracket. "Sex Without Love" comes across as several decades more mature than the collective ages of the members. (who all appear to have been born around the early eighties) A classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts and sporting a 6 member line up this is no easy task. The musicianship is solid and the songs subtly crafted. Though this isn’t exactly the normal fare here at upstarter, if you have any sort of anthemic alt-county/rock bent, check out Nathan Asher and the Infantry.

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