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REVIEWED! 
SEPTEMBER 2002

WIPERS BOX SET (Zeno) www.zenorecords.com 
Greg Sage (a.k.a. Wipers) remains fiercely committed to the spirit of old school punk & is offering this set containing the first 3 albums (+ generous bonus tracks) of this seminal band for only US$17 online! Unlike many of his peers, Sage is an accomplished guitarist & cutting-edge engineer. The result? Punk music that is as intelligent as it is primeval. Sophomore effort Youth of America is the one to note as Sage challenged punk rock's self-imposed  limits with longer tracks and guitar solos!  An essential purchase whichever way you look at it.
A
DEATHRAY DAVIES 
The Day of the Ray
(Idol)
www.idol-records.com 
This is definitely ON! Armed with a clever name that conjures the legacy of the Kinks & all the artists associated with them (e.g. Elvis Costello, The Jam, XTC, Blur etc) filtered through the indie rock sensibility of the 90s, Deathray Davies have produced a sophomore full-length CD that resounds with the fundamentals of great pop music - absorbing melodies, challenging lyrics & canny arrangements. Highs include the beaty "The Aztec God," the beguiling "Don't Point at the Stoners," the spry "Is This On?" & the jumpin' "I'm From the Future."
A
THE MOONEY SUZUKI 
Electric Sweat (Gammon) 
www.gammonrecords.com 
So this is the future of rock 'n' roll?! I sure hope so! As gritty 70s rock slowly regains public attention (The White Stripes anyone?), bands like The Mooney Suzuki fly the flag for boisterous fun that the likes of Hendrix, Free, MC5, the Stooges, New York Dolls, the Who & the Stones (natch!) burned on our memories. There is no sense of irony working here, only a sincere desire to ROCK! And with the quality of "In A Young Man's Mind," "Oh Sweet Susanna," "It's Not Easy" & the title track, ROCK you definitely will, whether you want to or not!
A
DOLEFUL LIONS
Out Like a Lamb (Parasol)
www.parasol.com 
With each succeeding release, Jonathan Scott and friends continue to impress with a firm sense of what makes terrific pop tick - an investment of heart and soul. Album #4 finds the Lions investigating the nuances of the baroque whilst examining the impressions of other-worldly atmospherics. Works like the velvety "Saturday Mansions," psychedelic "I Can Take You To The Sun," subtle "Dear Lazarus" & wailing "Tanah Lot" establishes Out As A Lamb the cutting edge masterpiece that Yankee Hotel Foxtrot never was.
A

BRIEFLY

THE ACTION - ROLLED GOLD THE FAGS - S/T MELLO CADS - SOFT AS A ROCK TANDY - THE LOWDOWN H.A.D. - PRIMO DE LA ROCKET SUIT
DEAD KENNEDYS - MUTINY ON THE BAY DEAD KENNEDYS - PLASTIC SURGERY DISASTERS DEAD KENNEDYS - FRANKENCHRIST DEAD KENNEDYS - BEDTIME FOR DEMOCRACY DEAD KENNEDYS - GIVE ME CONVENIENCE OR GIVE ME DEATH
X - AT HOME WITH YOU MICHAEL WHITMORE SOME'TET - JUGGLING THE THING OF A THING OF A THING OXES - OXXXES VOLUMIZER - GAGA FOR GIGI OASIS - HEATHEN CHEMISTRY
MARYKATE O'NEIL - S/T VARIOUS - INDIE ROCK UNITES VOL. 1 THE CHEVELLES - GIRL GOD DAVID HARLOW - A BRIEF HISTORY OF SALOON - "(THIS IS) WHAT WE CALL PROGRESS)"
STATICLAND - 9 VOLT SANDBOX SWEEP THE LEG JOHNNY - GOING DOWN SWINGING NAIVE ART - NAIVE    
THE ACTION Rolled Gold (Reaction) www.parasol.com TOP
The Action is the great lost mod band from the 60s. Signed by Beatles producer to Parlophone in 1965, they released some well-received singles but never managed a full-length LP before they morphed into Mighty Baby in late 60s. Rolled Gold represents several demo recordings assembled by the band but never fully realized for one reason or another. Thanks to the patronage of Ric (Velvet Crush) Menck and Parasol, these demos are now available in the USA. Revealing an eclectic approach that blends equal parts of beat music, psychedelic folk-rock and R&B, these 14 tracks more than survive the Spartan 'lo-fi' recording quality to deliver an obscure classic rock moment.
THE FAGS (Idol) www.idol-records.com TOP
This 5-track EP will appeal to all fans of powerpop, garage rock and anyone who has fond memories of 70s AM radio. Decked out in skinny ties, this trio has quite unashamedly nailed its powerpop credentials to the mast. With the melodic, power chording crunch of superior material ("Hitman," "List" & "Ms Take"), The Fags EP is a 'no-brainer' acquisition for regular Power of Pop visitors.
A
MELLO CADS Soft as a Rock (Franklin Castle) www.franklincastle.net TOP
Campy & kitschy perhaps but you cannot (and should not) dismiss the superlative talents (e.g. Linus of Hollywood, Wondermints' Probyn Gregory. Negro Problem's Nelson Bragg & Paul Williams) contributing to this marvelous assimilation of all that is wonderful about soft-pop that head cad Dave Ponak and cronies have concocted. Mix in Bacharach, Wilson, Spector, Webb & voila! A heady brew, shaken but never stirred!
TANDY The Lowdown 1997-2002 (Gammon) www.gammonrecords.com TOP
An excellent introduction to the twangy delights of roots rockers Tandy awaits in this compilation collecting material from Tandy's 3 self-released LPs. A healthy dose of folk, blues and rock permeate Tandy's work. Singer-songwriter Mike Ferrio recalls the vocal styling of the Boss now and then but is not in anyway indistinct in his delivery. A surprise bonus arrives with the poignant cover of America's "Sister Golden Hair" -- now, that takes guts, folks!
A 
H.A.D. Primo de la Rocket Suit (Right Mind) www.hadmusic.com TOP
After a couple of well-regarded EPs, Washington-based H.A.D. deliver a superior full-length that nails their reputation as a forward-looking widescreen pop band that evokes the magnificence of peers like The Flaming Lips, Wilco, Jayhawks & Grandaddy. Songs like the transcendent "She's North," delicate "Policemen and Planes," folksy "Fish," jaunty "Carpool" and punky "Gregg Anderson, the band and me" declare a new shining star in the indie pop constellation.
DEAD KENNEDYS Mutiny on the Bay (Manifesto) www.manifesto.com TOP
I'll skip the bit about the legal action between Jello Biafra and his erstwhile band mates which resulted in this and the following 4 CDs. Suffice to say that anyone who loves punk would be aware of the DK legend. This album represents the first 'official' live release of this venerated band. Ranging from 1982 - 1986, these recordings provide a vivid snapshot of the DK live beast. All the classics are covered -- "Holiday in Cambodia," "California Uber Alles" and "Moon Over Marin" - and delivered in dynamic sound and performances. Get it, whatever your politics.
B
DEAD KENNEDYS Plastic Surgery Disasters (Manifesto) www.manifesto.com TOP
No Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables re-issue for some reason as the Manifesto program starts with DKs' full-bloodied follow-up to their boisterous debut. Hyper-kinetic and constantly in your face, Biafra and co are in fine form as they race through definitive hardcore punk gems as "Government Flu," "Terminal Preppie," "Winnebago Warrior," "Moon Over Marin" and "Hyperactive Child" are venomously spat out in machine gun spurts. Also includes the In God We Trust EP. Classic.
A
DEAD KENNEDYS Frankenchrist (Manifesto) www.manifesto.com TOP
By DKs' third album, it was clear that Biafra's rants were intelligent and thought-provoking as the rest of the band fought to keep up and by and large they did. That said, despite the presence of "Goons of Hazzard," "MTV - Get off the Air" & "Stars and Stripes of Corruption" the DKs were beginning to run out of ideas and the album would marked a slow but steady descent from previous heights.
B
DEAD KENNEDYS Bedtime For Democracy (Manifesto) www.manifesto.com TOP
Whilst one cannot accuse the DKs of going out with a whimper, they did with less than a bang. Formula began to creep into the musical scheme of things and Biafra's rants started to border on inane hectoring - provided you could understand what he was singing without the benefit of a lyric sheet. Ah, the perils of strident hardcore punk - check out the scathing "Chickenshit Conformist" for Biafra's spot-on prescient commentary on where punk would ultimately head. Gone but not forgotten.
C
DEAD KENNEDYS Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (Manifesto) www.manifesto.com TOP
A "Greatest Hits" retrospective seems incongruous for any punk band (considering the original ethos of the genre), let alone the DKs, but there you go as this compilation served to signal the end of an era for these punk pioneers. Featuring the faves (eg. "Police Truck," "California Uber Alles" etc) on the first half and live tracks on the second, this 17-track collection is a fine introduction to this ground-breaking combo.
A
X At Home With You (Morphius) www.morphius.com TOP
Not to be confused with LA's X, these Aussie punk pioneers are mentioned in the same reverent tones as contemporaries Radio Birdman & The Saints. This reissue of their 1985 first comeback album is everything you ever loved about punk rock with the emphasis on 'rock.' Combining the visceral energy of Iggy & the Stooges, MC5 & the New York Dolls - there is no bubblegum quality about their tunes, instead the focus is on impact. And in this respect, X delivers in spades!
B
MICHAEL WHITMORE SOME'TET Juggling the Thing of a Thing of a Thing (Catgut Trust)  www.trueclassicalcds.com TOP
Intriguing offering from nylon guitar-wielding Mike Whitmore and his collective - some have already mentioned Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Mark Eitzel in comparison. However, I would suggest that Whitmore is more aligned to the modern neo-progressive movement (e.g. Porcupine Tree, Spock's Beard) than is readily evident. Stimulating cerebral rock.
B
OXES Oxxes (Monitor) www.monitorrecords.com TOP
I hesitate to call this 'instrumental math rock' even though that's what it blatantly is. Best description I can come up with is 'post-rock Rush'! Not for all tastes, obviously but you've got to admire the gumption to fashion music this obtuse yet bizarrely appealing. Like a car crash almost. Ignore the false hype about rejected covers and like. Concentrate on the music and you'd do fine.
B
VOLUMIZER Gaga for Gigi (Mint) www.mintrecs.com TOP
Buzz-saw punk rock with a three-guitar attack? How uncool, eh? Not if these guitarists (Jade Blade, Rodney Graham, Bill Napier-Hemy) are veterans in the scene surely! Whatever, Vancouver's Volumizer reminds us why the best punk succeeds in the same way that powerpop does - tuneful vigor that never goes out of style in songs like "I Promise You, Thomas" & "What's Your Problem?".
B  
OASIS Heathen Chemistry (Sony) www.oasisinet.com TOP
Shocking! Has Oasis become a democracy?! Here are the facts - principal songwriter Noel Gallagher only contributes slightly more than half of the tracks here (admittedly the better songs - eg. the psychedelic "The Hindu Times" & the glam-imbued "Force of Nature") and this album marks the recording debuts of guitarist Gem Archer (ex-Heavy Stereo) & bassist Andy Bell (ex-Ride/Hurricane #1), songwriters in their own right. More significant perhaps is the surprising growth of singer Liam Gallagher as a tunesmith - the poignant "Songbird," the Lennonesque "Born on a Different Cloud" & the raucous "Better Man" - proves that the junior Gallagher is more than just a mouthy lout. Not the classic the 1st two albums undoubtedly were but Heathen Chemistry certainly atones for the travesty that was Be Here Now - but only just.
B
MARYKATE O"NEIL (71) www.71recordings.com TOP
O'Neil takes REM-inflected alt-folk rock and infuses an astute grasp of powerpop aesthetics. She is also wise enough to surround herself with primo back-up: Jill Sobule, Brad Jones, Dennis Diken et al make significant contributions to this fine debut. And if these names are familiar to you then chances are you are going to dig MaryKate O'Neil.
B
VARIOUS Indie Rock Unites Vol. 1 (Firetone) www.firetonerecords.com www.jdrf.org TOP
All proceeds go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation - do you need another reason to get this? You do? Well how about a couple of great songs from the likes of Poster Children, The Figgs, The Churchills, Frisbee, Push Stars, Kitty in the Tree, Waxwings and more - several being previously unreleased. Great indie rock and for a good cause too. Support!
B
THE CHEVELLES Girl God (Zip) www.ziprecords.com TOP
Perth's pop darlings The Chevelles raise their candy-coated heads to bless powerpop fans with more of that sun-kissed Californian (Beach Boys) guitar rock by way of Memphis (Big Star) and Glasgow (Teenage Fanclub). The method doesn't bear repeating but...melodic delight, crunchy guitars & an irresistible beat all add up to powerpop heaven.
C
DAVID HARLOW The Brief History of (Bloodred) www.davidharlow.com TOP
Six tracks is all you get here but the main attractions are the classic 70s rock promise of power balladic "Far Away," midtempo nugget "Lay Me Down to Sleep" & cheery "Winona." The other three come across more like acoustic demos and it's not clear if Harlow intended them as such though "Katy's Gone Away" & "Kindness in Carbondale" stand up fairly presented in such austere fashion.
C 
SALOON "(This is) What We Call Progress (Darla) www.darla.com TOP
Angular indie pop that shows faint leanings towards post-rock's jazzy constructs. This Reading combo utilizes Amanda Gomez's sweet larynx & an eclectic instrumental palette to good effect. Elements of baroque pop ("Bicycle Thieves"), breezy soft-pop ("Le Weekend") & smooth jazz-rock ("Make It soft) surface. A Stereolab reference would not be amiss.
C
STATICLAND 9 Volt Sandbox (Self-released) www.mp3.com/staticland TOP
Sincere and earnestly crafted pop-rock is probably the most honest description of this album I could muster. Nothing particularly ear-catching but it is clearly obvious that Patrick Newman and Matt Arthur invested blood, sweat and tears into the production and performance. Vocals need work, though and you cannot escape the conclusion that this is more perspiration than inspiration. A fair start, nonetheless.
C
SWEEP THE LEG JOHNNY Going Down Swinging (Southern) www.southern.com TOP
You know you're in for something different when the opener's called "Sometimes My Balls Feel Like Tits" and sounds like the unlikely alliance of prog and punk! The rest of Going Down Swinging may be too angular for pure pop tastes but for anyone likes a little adventure in their rock diet, this hyper-kinetic quintet certainly fit the bill. Tread cautiously though.
C
NAIVE ART Naive (Self-released) www.mp3.com/naiveart TOP
Back in the 80s, I found electronic music (synth-pop, if you will) to be a breath of fresh air. Nowadays, with some exceptions, I find it terribly repetitive and boring. This Singaporean outfit is in danger of turning into a parody of Depeche Mode & even though it sounds fairly authentic & well put together, its crucial lack of meaningful tunes is a total letdown. Back to the drawing board, guys!
D