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Issue 51 Cover - December, 2010 - Innocent Words
Interviews & Features Minimize
Chicago-based I:Scintilla has always been fighting. Fighting to get noticed, fighting to break stereotypes, fighting not to be pigeonholed into one certain genre – sometimes even fighting to keep the band afloat.
Believe it or not, there’s at least one band in Brooklyn that is not made up of skinny jeans-wearing hipsters.
At the top of the music business game with three successful albums under her belt, singer/songwriter Paula Cole made the hard decision to take a break from the business in 1999 and raise her daughter.
Never underestimate the long reach of psychobilly. In the five years that Ontario’s Creepshow has been playing their twisted blend of punk rock and rockabilly, the band has managed to plug into clubs big and small across the globe.
For nearly a decade, The Gamits were Denver’s answer to pop punk royalty. The band played fast, melodic rock with plenty of energy and a strong sense of fun.
Thanks to their knack for churning out unavoidably catchy, saccharine pop music, most Americans immediately think of bands like Ace of Base, Abba, and Roxette when they think of Sweden. In a perfect world, charging punk rock like Tommy Gustafsson & The Idiots would come to mind before the mindless pop nuggets.
Everyone had written None More Black off for dead… the guys in the band more than anyone else. So, nearly four years and a few bands later, three-fourths of New Jersey’s None More Black have surprised many and turned in a new full length, Icons.
In just five years, the Wonder Years have gone from being just another suburban Philly garage band to one of the most talked-about pop punk bands around.

Once More With Feeling Minimize
For those Dylan fans who have never quite recovered from the musician temporarily putting down his acoustic guitar to plug into an amp at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, The Witmark Demos, the latest in Dylan’s stellar Bootleg Series (Columbia/Sony Legacy), is a godsend.
To the casual music listener, Crowded House might be considered a two-hit wonder. But in reality the band was and continues to be very influential. In fact, Crowded House are nothing short of rock stars across the Atlantic.
Since they formed in the late 1970s in Birmingham, England, Duran Duran has been a fixture in pop rock music. Sure they've had line-up changes and a few lackluster albums, but overall Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor still remain highly influential.
It just dawned on me that the day I’m reviewing the latest retrospective on Elliott Smith’s work is the seventh anniversary of his death. That coincidence is not lost on me. Smith’s music haunts me and has since I first heard “Needle in the Hay” as the audio bed to the tastefully graphic suicide scene in Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tennenbaums."
In celebration of what would have been his 70th birthday, Yoko Ono released remasters of many of John Lennon’s solo albums; including the amazing Double Fantasy.
It’s been six years since the legendary trio King’s X released their live record Live All Over the Place. Since that live offering Doug Pinnick (vocals, bass), Ty Tabor (vocals, guitar), and Jerry Gaskill (vocals, drums) released two studio albums - 2005’s Ogre Tones and 2008’s XV.
Guitarist Phil Manzanera rarely gets the recognition he deserves, especially here in the states. Despite mingling in musician circles with Brian Eno, David Gilmour, John Cale, and Robert Wyatt to name a few, Manzanera’s artistry is still a force to be discovered by many.
Knights of the Soundtable ride again! Thirteen years after their demise, and despite Chris Cornell denying rumours of a reunion last year, the much lamented Soundgarden have risen from the ashes.

Movie Reviews Minimize
Filmed in 1985, “America’s Music Legacy: Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a concert DVD made for two audiences: my grandparents’ generation and any true fan of the genre and its history.
The awesome aspect of “Eric Clapton: The ‘60s Review” documentary is the parallel it draws between the man who becomes a world-renowned guitarist and the successful rise of a whole different genre to a whole new audience.
Of all members of a band, the hardest to replace is undoubtedly the frontman.
Hot damn this is one great concert. Actually, it’s a compilation of performances from the Rolling Stones' 1972 tour to support Exile on Main Street. Still, hot damn – it’s phenomenal.
I was extremely excited when I heard the premise for this program; which teased reviewers with, “By the second half of 1971 David Bowie was justifiably being branded a one-hit-wonder, Lou Reed was considered washed-up following a disastrous solo debut, and Iggy Pop was seen as merely a drug crazed ex-Stooge - the band having split the year before for reasons linked to his deepening habit."
German guitarist Michael Schenker has been around for a long, long time. He’s considered a founding member of the Scorpions, playing his first gig with the band when he was all of age 11.
Throughout the 1980s, Twisted Sister was a mainstaple on MTV thanks in part to their driving hard rock, crazy glam outfits and little help from actor Mark Metclaf reprising his “Animal House” role as “Doug Neidermeyer” in a couple of their videos.
Anglophiles and fans of the Yakety Sax rejoice: A&E Home Video has released the DVD megaset you have been waiting for. “Benny Hill, The Complete Megaset,” is 58 episodes, parceled out over 18 DVDs.

Table of Contents

Issue 51/ December 2010
Features: I:Scintilla, The Challenged, Paula Cole, Creepshow, Gamits, Tommy Gustafsson, None More Black, Wonder Years.
Album Reviews: Michelle Anthony, Belle and Sebastian,
Birds of Tokyo, Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg, The Birthday Massacre, The Brother Kite, Chloe Charles, Paula Cole, Crocodiles, The Dance Party, Dropsonic, Fauxbois, Finger Eleven, Joe Firstman, Gold Panda, The Graduate, Daniel G. Harmann & The Trouble Starts, I:Scintilla, Masonic, Angie Mattson, The Mommyheads, The Sleeping, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Kelly Stoltz, Thee Sgt. Major III, Toadies, The Wonder Years, You Me and Everyone We Know.
Book Reviews: The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, Cheetah Chrome, Jimi Hendrix Gear, Star Guitars, Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin.
DVD Reviews: America's Music Legacy, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, The Sacred Triangle (Bowie, Iggy, and Lou), The Michael Schenker Group, Twisted Sister, Benny Hill.

Rereleases: Bob Dylan, Crowded House, Duran Duran, Elliott Smith, John Lennon/Yoko Ono, King's X, Phil Manzanera, Soundgarden.

Album Reviews Minimize
It would be easy to lump Michelle Anthony in with other Lilith Fair-type singer songwriters who are more her contemporaries than her influences. You can follow her roots to a Midwestern upbringing and hear a vocal styling and song craft more akin to Karen Carpenter and Carole King.
This album makes me happy. So happy. After five long years away, Scotland’s best export since Big Country returns with their eighth studio album. And what an album it is! On Write About Love, Belle & Sebastian are back in full engagement with 11 morsels of wistful pop.
Very rarely do I stumble across an album that not only catches my attention, but leaves me mesmerised. Birds of Tokyo is one of these rare gems.
For the unfamiliar, French music is often identified with a lone accordion and whimsical guitar plucking happy tones that speak of the beauties of Paris and the joys of loving it. Serge Gainsbourg paints a different picture. Even in the happiest of rhythms it is apparent that he was not following the standard and was digging his hardened hands into the reality of lust, sex and life.
Even though the apparent comparisons are there (see Lacuna Coil, We Are the Fallen), the Birthday Massacre truly stand in their own light. Their grasp of the entire ethereal, synth laden goth rock is eerie, mostly unparalleled, and their latest, Pins and Needles is no better evidence of such.
While the music-buying (and stealing) public patiently waits for a new Postal Service album (seven years and counting) their heir apparent just might be an indie band from Rhode Island.
Chloe Charles may well be a musical sorceress. Her EP Little Green Bud is completely captivating.  Charles’ voice is hypnotic and spellbinding, coaxing the listener deeper and deeper into her music until one is captive to complete the journey she has laid out.
She’s older and wiser, yet the “fire” heard on her breakthrough 1996 hit album This Fire still burns in Paula Cole. Returning to her pop/rock roots, Cole has just released Ithaca, her first CD since 2007’s jazz influenced Courage.
Easily bouncing between mellow and dancy, Crocodiles duo Brandon Welchez (electronica, keyboards, vocals) and Charles Rowell (drums, electronica, acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, percussion) seem to have cemented their psychedelic style with their latest endeavor, Sleep Forever.
The Dance Party’s album Touch is, unfortunately, just a touch too late. Whereas some artists come at just the right time, or whose time never runs out, The Dance Party came a few years after their sound ran its course in the American music lexicon.
For one reason or another Atlanta-based trio Dropsonic has never caught fire and reached national status. It’s not because they are a bad band – far from it.
Carry On starts out innocently enough with the first two tracks being fairly solid alt-folksy with a Built to Spill/Mouldy Peaches type vibe.
Formed in 1994 as the Rainbow Butt Monkeys in Burlington, Ontario, Finger Eleven came out with both barrels blazing on their 1998 debut Tip. With the heaviness of Deftones and the soaring melodies of Joy Division, the band unfortunetly got lumped into that "nu metal" rage that was going on at the time.
No album yet has been able to accurately capture the true appeal of acoustic rocker Joe Firstman, until now of course.
At first blush, Gold Panda might seem to be yet another sample-mashing electronic artist. But something about Lucky Shiner strikes a much different chord than your everyday, run of the mill electronica.
With the release of their sophomore album - their first since being signed with Razor and Tie Records - the five piece band comprised of Matt Kennedy (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Tim Moore (drums), Max Sauer (guitar, vocals), Corey Warning (vocals), and Jared Wuestenburg (bass) could have taken the opportunity to further fine-tune their sound. Instead, the Chicago-based The Graduate gives us a safe and reserved offering: something to fill the space on our iPods.
It’s hard to believe Daniel G. Harmann is on his sixth album and it’s even harder to believe this guy isn’t more well known amongst the indue music ranks. Seriously, how is someone this talented so overlooked?
In their eighth year, Chicago-based electronic/industrial rock band I:Scintilla has made a steady climb amongst the ranks of the undergroud. With influences ranging from Nine Inch Nails to Garbage and Skinny Puppy, the band is led by front woman Brittany Bindrim and her stark, introspective and certainly vivid lyrics.
Masonic’s Live Like A Millionaire wears the mantle of consistency well. Their album is a Sunday drive in Grandpa’s Cadillac: scenic and enjoyable, but moving in a completely straight direction.
Sultry, atmospheric, and soulful; former model turned singer/songwriter Angie Mattson evokes memories of early nineties Sarah McLachlan. That isn’t to say that she is unoriginal or stale - quite the opposite.
You’d be forgiven if you have never heard of The Mommyheads. A definitive example of a cult band, the San Francisco, by way of New York, indie band had a handful of small label releases throughout the '90s, one shot at the majors with a Geffen release, then disbanded shortly after in 1998.
At the beginning of this decade, The Sleeping rode the wave of Long Island melodic punk rock/hardcore alongside scene mates like Brand New, Bayside, Glassjaw and From Autumn to Ashes.
Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider combines the worlds of classical, pop and jazz on her 10-song cycle Penelope. Originally composed with playwright Ellen McLaughlin as a music-theater piece, the work comes alive under the voice of Shara Worgen of My Brightest Diamond and chamber orchestra Signal.
It has been over a decade since Kelley Stoltz released his first album, during which time he has carved out his own folk pop/rock sound. More than once the eclectic Stoltz has been compared to the likes of heavyweights the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Leonard Cohen, Marc Bolan and Nick Drake to name just a few.
The Fun Factory would be a more apt title for this incredible disc from former Fastbacks member Kurt Bloch’s new band Thee Sgt. Major III.
It’s rare for any album to stand the test of time over the course of 10 years. Even more so for an album that was rejected by a label for release 13 years ago. The Toadies’ latest release, Feeler, is that album, a time capsule from 1997.
With the Wonder Years move from No Sleep Records to Hopeless, the band and brainchild Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell decided it was necessary to re-release the bands pop-punk opus, The Upsides. And with the re-release we are all reminded just how talented this band truly is.
Some Things Don’t Wash Out serves as the first proper full length from Washington, DC’s You, Me and Everyone We Know. This is a record that at times sounds as if was scooped up off the cutting room floor of recording sessions from bands like Say Anything and Ludo. No, it’s not a carbon copy, though it does utilize some of the tricks of the trade employed by those afformentioned bands.

Book Reviews Minimize
It may actually be the most important question you ever answer. Forget where you stand on politics, religion, abortion… gun to your head, who do you choose, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
The Dead Boys have always been the Rodney Dangerfield of punk rock. They had the chops, but never really got the respect or credit they deserved for their role serving on the front lines of the New York punk scene in the late '70s.
Arguably the greatest guitar player of all time, Jimi Hendrix has left a legacy on music that will never die. Hendrix has been gone for 40 years and still remains one of music’s most popular guitar players.
As a guitar player, I see the instrument as a work of art – maybe not to the grandure of Rodin's "The Thinker" or the famous “Venus de Milo,” but still, something beautiful to behold and to appreciate.
What can you say about one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest bands of all time that hasn’t already been said? Quite a bit actually.

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