September 2005 CD Reviews


Blackout Pact pulsates with raw excitement

The Blackout Pact
Hello Sailor
Astro Magnetics
3.5 out of 5

Somewhere between heroine, chic glam rocker and self-loathing, shampoo-less indie kids, sits The Blackout Pact. Recently living in a New Jersey practice space has left the six musicians to throw their balls to the wall, play until they are inside out, and somehow look good doing it.

The darkly sexy “punk-n-roll” is a raspy spew of melody and energy that leaves the listener to assume these guys have dealt with a lot of shit.  When they formed in the summer of 2003, most of the members had just been kicked out of their former bands (included MxPx’s Mike Herrera) and somehow ended up in Denver, and eventually, New York. After being crushed by a major label, the boys met Tony-nominated Geoff Rickly of Thursday in a crappy hot dog dive.

Once Rickly was through pouring praise on The Blackout Pact, he offered to produce the debut album, Hello Sailor, set to release on October 18. Songs like “If You Dress Up Like Halloween, Ghouls Will Try and Get In Your Pants” and “Hey Babes, I’m A Zombie, Give Me Brains,” show off a vigorous chest pumping playfulness in the increasingly jaded band, while “Playing Dead Don’t Take The Ring Off Your Finger Baby” can shift you to solitude in three minutes flat. The almost nostalgic songs are reminiscent of your buddies’ high school garage band that was actually good and the pride you felt when they actually released a CD. From the album to the stage, The Blackout Pact is pulsating with raw excitement, reality and non-stop touring.

— Alex Samuel

Six Mile Grove creates timeless tracks Bumper Crop

Six Mile Grove
Bumper Crop
Rena’s Kitchen Music
4.5 out of 5

Six Mile Grove was recently called the “best thing to come along in the music business for quite awhile.” And it’s really no great stretch. An occasional twang from a guitar string ignites a flashback to a college town southern bar with a big hound dog at the foot of a barstool. Pop, folk, alt-country and rock fully charge the battery of Six Mile Grove — 100 percent from-the-heart, dyed-in-the-wool honest pickers, grinners, and sometimes weepers. The rootsy blend of good ole’ drums and guitar sounds like Dispatch and Pat Green had a jam session that Six Mile Grove caught on tape. Former cover-banders and brothers Brandon and Brian Sampson put the band together through the ’90s and eventually became a popular bar band performing more than 150 dates a year. Now they plan on hitting up the South Park Music Festival.

Dance-worthy and nostalgic, Six Mile Grove’s album Bumper Crop creates timeless rockabilly without the knee-slapping goofiness.

—   Alex Samuel

Legion of Mary shows a flawless Garcia

Legion of Mary
The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 1: Legion of Mary
5 out of 5

Jerry Garcia formed Legion of Mary in 1974, creating eclectic performances known only to concert goers and devoted tapers. The band line-up consisted of Merle Saunders on keyboards and vocals, John Kahn on bass, Martin Fiero on saxaphone and flute, and Paul Humphreys on drums (Humprheys was replaced by Ron Tutt in 1975). Right on the heals of the 10-year anniversary of Garcia’s death, Legion of Mary comes back to life on this two-disc album, reincarnating that classic, stinky funk sound with jazz thrown into the mix.

Garcia’s vocals remain soft, while the instruments take the main stage. Legion of Mary successfully keeps the funk alive through the slow songs, and their musical climaxes certainly please the ears. Their adventurous yet smooth transitions between jazz and funk create a perfect two disc set.

— Yvette Rebik

Cerulean refreshingly addictive on No Sense

No Sense In Waiting
Spinwheel Records
4 out of 5

If U2 had recorded Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness it may have ended up something like Cerulean’s newest album, No Sense In Waiting. The positive-minded Los Angeles trio produces the kind of music that makes you feel lonely and content at some points, and glowing with epiphanies at others. The delicate but definitive vocals shine in the truthful “Quiet Release,” while certain fullness radiates from “Keep Repeating.” The sparkling, blend of delicate beauty and the shadows of late ’80s college radio is refreshingly addictive and not to be missed.

Cerulean’s drive flies in the face of hipster apathy that many bands champion, or worse, imitate these days. Nevertheless, as the rock world continues its ongoing cycle of exhuming heroes from 20 years past, Cerulean find themselves shadowed by the latest Anglophile love fest.

—   Alex Samuel

Stubbs the zombie Soundtrack blends new artists with 195O’s songs

Shout Factory
Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack
Aspyr Media
3.5 out of 5

There’s something all too natural about Cake lacing “Strangers in the Night” with trumpets and style or Death Cab For Cutie moaning “Earth Angel” with the same longing as the original. Thankfully, Shout!Factory united the poodle skirts of the ’50s with the short skirts and long jackets of today in the soundtrack to the slightly bizarre new video game, Stubbs the Zombie. Big names aren’t the only artists to grace this compilation; local heroes Rose Hill Drive wail out on a version of “Shakin’ All Over” while Clem Snide pumps up a slowed down ska version of “Tears On My Pillow.” So pop this in next time you’re in the car, ’cuz with the exception of Phantom Planets’s zombie-inspired tune, you and your mother might actually agree on a CD. Other artists who appear include The Flaming Lips, The Ravonettes, The Dandy Warhols, The Walkmen, Ben Kweller and more.

—   Alex Samuel

Packway Handle Band Goes Gospel

The Packway Handle Band
(Sinner) You Better Get Ready
Busboat Music
3.5 out of 5

The natural harmonies and quick banjo picking of Athens, Ga.’s Packway Handle Band is reminiscent of Colo.’s Yonder Mountain String Band. The album (Sinner) You Better Get Ready combines old school Americana and basic bluegrass with a forward thinking acoustic style and a more modern twist. The spirited album is available at Albums on The Hill or on From songs like “There’s Something Groing On In The Graveyard (Like  You Ain’t Never Seen)” that breathe cool summer air into your chest, to the playfully Madonna-gone-gospel groove “Like A Prayer,” The Packway Handle Band’s (Sinner) You Better Get Ready will have you bobbing your head whether or not you’re a bluegrass fan.

— Alex Samuel

Fina Dupa not far from great on The Booty

Fina Dupa
The Booty
2.5 out of 5

Fina Dupa, a five-piece funk band from Denver, takes control of their sound and destination by completely self-producing their new EP, The Booty.

Although they’re a group of white boys, they clearly have strong reggae and jazz influences. The songs on The Booty have electrifying and lengthy instrumental solos, but this element puts their sound on the fine line between funk and jam band. Vocalist Dan Levin has impressive pipes and even takes the listener to a quaint jazz club on the track “Got No Reason.” Their mixture of funk, reggae, jazz and jam opens the doors for a wide audience, but keeps funk fans somewhat confused.

— Yvette Rebik

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