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REVIEWED! JULY 2002

KEVIN TIHISTA'S RED TERROR
Judo
(Parasol)
www.parasol.com 
DOUG POWELL
The Lost Chord
(Parasol)
www.parasol.com 
Judo isn't technically a new album as the songs here were left over after last year's magnificent Don't Breathe A Word collected half of Tihista's aborted debut double album with erstwhile label Atlantic. And as fine as Don't Breathe A Word was, it amazingly fails to hold a candle to Judo's charm and radiance - how else does a pop enthusiast respond to probably the best assimilation of the Beatles & Beach Boys in the new millennium? Oh what melancholy joys cascade from such soft pop wonders like the touching "One More Day," the jazzy marvel of "I'm In Love With Girls," the Pet Sounds-evoking "Second Look" and the smart pop splendor of "Back to Budapest," "You're Making Other Plans" and uncanny Harrisonesque "You Don't Have To Be Sorry," its slide guitar delight worth the price of admission alone! Highly recommended. A After three LPs and an EP, Powell continues to grow as an artist - refining his art and expanding his horizons. As hinted in the Japan only Venus De Milo's Arms EP, Powell's eyes seem directed in the direction of 70s era progressive rock (albeit in a pop context) and certainly the weight of Utopia's early work is clearly discernible in this, his first release for Parasol. Certainly a courageous step away from conventional power pop but one that reaps dividends for the discerning listener. From the Gilbert & Sullivan inspired "Nietzche Is Dead" to the elegant "Baby Blue," from the thought-provoking title track to illuminating "The Palace of A Sigh," not to mention the album's highpoint - the lovely "She Walks On Water," Powell maintains a fine balance between artistry and emotional appeal. Modern pop music of the highest quality. A

BRIEFLY

IMPERIAL TEEN - ON TOSHACK HIGHWAY - FOUR TRACKS
THE DAVE RAVE GROUP - VALENTINO'S PIRATES JOHN MCMULLAN - JOHN MCMULLAN
THE POSSIBILITIES - WAY OUT BRAD HARVEY - ME FIRST
PRIVATE JETS - A FOUR-LEAF CLOVER IN E MAJOR CAMILLE DAVILA - NOT FOR THE DISCO
OTTO'S DAUGHTER - RENEW ALL STARS - BETTER ALONE
P76 - INTO THE SUN RUSH - VAPOR TRAILS
IMPERIAL TEEN On (Merge) www.mergerecords.com
Dynamic and idiosyncratic, melodic and quirky, Imperial Teen delivers its latest album with all the stellar pop ingredients intact. Meaning, you get what you expect from one of the most distinctive indie pop combos around - attitude, fun and loads of great hummable tunes! Songs like "Ivanka," "Baby," "Million $ Man," "Captain" et al, provide slinky, sexy pop thrills that reference 80s new wave/synth pop rather tastily and refreshingly. Good stuff. B Top
TOSHACK HIGHWAY Four Tracks (Space Baby) www.spacebaby.net 
Adam Franklin of Swervedriver fame returns with the 2nd release from his Toshack Highway side project. This 4 track EP possesses an endearing demo like quality, its lo-fi charm a stark contrast to the guitar atmospherics normally associated with Franklin's work. "Seize the Day" is a promising number which deserves better (more hi-fi) treatment whilst both "The Hitcher" and "Everyday, Rock 'N' Roll Is Saving My Life" are probably the closest to folk-blues you likely to get from Franklin.
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THE DAVE RAVE GROUP Valentino's Pirates (To M'Lou) www.tomlou.com
Originally released in the former Soviet Union (as it slowly began to drift into oblivion) and finally making its debut worldwide, this hidden treasure reinforces the excellent credentials of pop journeyman Dave Rave (nee DesRoches). Displaying an eclecticism that is expansive and enjoyable, this re-issue boasts the gamut of rock styles - from vintage rock 'n' roll ("Do It All Over") to folk rock ("Welcome to the Next Generation"), from poignant vignettes ("Father Be Brave") to breathy balladry ("All Over the World"). A wonderful piece of obscure pop history.
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JOHN MCMULLAN (Kicktone) www.kicktonerecords.com 
"Well I learned a whole lot about greed in law school" McMullan sings in the chiming opening track on this - his anticipated debut album after years of giving his fans nuggets of powerpop heaven on various compilations. Much of McMullan's vitriol seems at odds with the sheer pleasure he ekes out of his Rickenbecker 12-strings but at least McMullan dares to venture beyond the confines of love lorn moodiness which seems to characterize too many power pop artists. Definite highlights include the gorgeous "Pun Intended," the touching "Here I Sit Alone," the punchy "Double Monday" and the heartfelt "Sylvia and Anne."
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THE POSSIBILITIES Way Out (Parasol) www.parasol.com 
From playing alt. country supporting fellow Parasol label mate Jack Logan to performing as Minus 5 with Scott McCaughey, Ken Stringfellow and Peter Buck opening for REM, it's been interesting of late for the Possibilities. New album Way Out takes its Flying Burrito Brothers intentions further along with generous helpings of classic 70s AM rock adding psychedelia and glam to the blend. The Lennonesque "Coming in Waves," the epic ELO-evoking "Invisible," the gorgeous 'Wall-of-Sound' vibe of "Now and Then You Appear" and the joyous title track complement the traditional alt. country fare succinctly.
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BRAD HARVEY Me First (billionbrads) www.billionbrads.com 
Brad Harvey loves pop -- powerpop -- as anyone who has ever read his reviews in numerous magazines would attest. But that fact has little relevance to the music here cos quite obviously from a casual listen to Me First, not only does Brad Harvey love powerpop, he does a great job creating his beloved music as well. "Wonder Girl" has a terrific Raspberries sensibility to it, "Look" has a infectious Traffic/Creation psychedelic feel and "Before The Evening Falls" is a solid Byrds folk-pop nugget. The lo-fi sound quality is too obvious a comment but never a problem in the overall context.
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PRIVATE JETS A Four-Leaf Clover in E Major (Sparkplug) www.privatejetsmusic.com 
Private Jets are a fun-loving Swedish quartet that would certainly appeal to lovers of the Beach Boys, ELO, Queen, Jellyfish, Sun Sawed in 1/2 and countrymen The Merrymakers. This 4-track EP boasts mellifluous strength, sumptuous chord changes, classy studio work & divine harmonies - power pop splendor to the nth degree! As long as you can ignore lines like "My heart is beating like Keith Moon" -- shouldn't be a problem as songs like "Magic," and "Target in my Heart" will melt down any resistance in no time.
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CAMILLE DAVILA Not for the Disco (Below) www.belowrecordings.com 
Very electronic based yet very 60s-driven, Camilla Davila manages to suggest a French chanteuse or Teutonic diva in those moments when her luscious larynx teases her way into your brain. Truth is Davila's origin is somewhere between Liverpool and LA (go figure!) but more relevant is the sheer breadth of this young lady's muse which straddles jazz, folk, punk, electronica and pop with equal audacity. Minimalist and impressionistic, tunes like "Playing," "Cookie Jar" and "Joan and Bette" may take time to sink in but once they do - watch out!
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OTTO'S DAUGHTER Renew (Self released) www.ottosdaughter.com 
Industrial popcore is how this New York/New Jersey Goth-looking quintet chooses to describe their music, which I supposed is a fair statement. Ignoring the aesthetic trappings, Renew -- the band's sophomore release has enough pop hooks, instrumental flair and sinister underpinnings to seduce any unsuspecting modern rock listener. Formed around the nucleus of lithe vocalist Jacqueline Van Bierk and drummer HH Gadget, Otto's Daughter sure possesses the chops and image to get the right attention.
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ALL STARS Better Alone (American Brothers) www.americanbrothers.com/allstars 
Finnish label American Brothers has an droll sense of humor (check out their site) which I presume All Stars shares. Better Alone, a six-track mini-album is a curious disc, difficult to appreciate but certainly one gets the feeling that if All Stars concentrate more on piecing these fragments of ideas into cohesive songs then they may have a better chance of reaching their potential. After all, songs like "The Happiness of Being Alone" and "Blue Star Eyes" contain enough brittle sweet moments to interest fans of Belle & Sebastian. If only they could prove they gave a damn.
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P76 Into the Sun (Zip) www.ziprecords.com
Produced by Dom Mariani of DM3 fame, this full-length debut of former Jericho frontman Danny McDonald's new power pop trio P76 fulfils the promise of last year's Sunliner EP. Chock full of the elements that make Oz power pop the energetic sunburst it is, Into the Sun parlays everything you have ever obsessed about the best guitar pop into concise 3 minute wonders. No doubt the influences of Teenage Fanclub, The Jam, Neil Young & Crazy Horse and the aforementioned DM3 weigh heavily on McDonald's mind but so what?! With tunes as vigorous as "Sleeping In," "Let's Get Back to Where We Started" and "Golden Days," there should be no cause for complaint.
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RUSH Vapor Trails (Atlantic) www.rush.com
After a five year hiatus, those quintessential Canadian prog-pop-rockers Rush have finally come up with their sixteenth album – Vapor Trails.
The last two albums – Test for Echo and Counterparts – witnessed Rush attempting a semblance of the mid-90s alternative rock with curious results but since that time, much has changed in the modern rock landscape with rap-metal holding sway over hearts and wallets. To a certain extent, Rush acknowledges the current trends with a heavier emphasis on drums than is usual. Neil Peart’s work here is often thundering even as Alex Lifeson’s guitar and Geddy Lee’s bass retain their fluidity and poise. Tracks like "One Little Victory," "Ghost Rider," "Vapor Trail," "Earthshine," "Sweet Miracle" and "Out of the Cradle" tread the middle path between prog finesse and metal machismo which is what Rush do best.
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