Are you feeling experimental

There are many strangers out there who greatly value your opinion – at least in the context of a consumer.

This is evident by the massive amounts of press kits I receive; I’m talking five or six a week. So as a favor to you and myself, I dug through them and turned out the good and the tolerable, leaving the bad to ripen at the bottom of a file cabinet.

This is in fact the beginning of a revolution: a music review column. This time it features the opinions of your life and arts editor, but the future belongs to YOU. Email me at with your fav’s.

Top Pick

Band: The Cooper Temple Clause

Album: Kick Up The Fire, And Let The

Flames Break Loose

Release Date: Feb, 24, 2004

It is easy to be wary of this shaggy-haired band from Reading, England.

At first sight, they appear to be another British group paying homage to Oasis-style ballad rock, but The Copper Temple Clause is thankfully different.

They are a combination of artistic ingenuity and obvious scrutiny towards lyrics and instrumentation make this band not only eclectic, but extremely talented.

The haunting orchestrations, double-time beats, and electronic noise are in fact more reminiscent of their other English counterparts, Radiohead. Their diverse vocals run the gamut from the melancholy “New Toys” and “The Same Mistakes” to the ’80s goth prom sound of “Blind Pilots.”

Alternative / Punk Rock

Band: Toys That Kill

Album: Flys

Release Date: March 1, 2004

Toys That Kill has a meaty punk rock sound packed with buzz saw guitars, catchy hooks and a fusion of complex tempo and chord changes which serve to make the somewhat juvenile lyrics acceptable.

The band classifies itself as a shadow of the late ’70s punk scene, but since it is just a baby in Austin right now it has a long way to go in that respect. Nonetheless, songs such as “Brain Attracts Flies” lend themselves to tearing around the house and jumping on the bed with a hairbrush microphone.

Band: All Night Radio

Album: Spirit Stereo Frequency

Release Date: Feb. 17, 2004

All Night Radio is self-described as “a sort of tribute to the psychedelic civilization viewed through the eyes of the 21st century.” Their repertoire runs the gamut from baroque psychedelic pop in “Daylight Till Dawn” to the languid Pink Floyd-like ballad “We’re on Our Wave.”

But the duo’s specialty is not only their psychedelic SoCal lyrics and sound, but in their proficient appreciation of synthesized cosmic effects, such as in “Sky Bicycle,” a waltzing tune repeated over and over again with ever more bizarre arrangements.

Band: The Slats

Album: Pick It Up

Release Date: April 6, 2004

The Slats are an all-around good alternative band, bringing back the art-punk tradition of melancholy music that a listener can dance to.

The Slats’ most recent album is full of successful experiments in indie-rock, ranging from the pop sensibilities of “Teena,” which possesses the melodic drive and rhythmic guitar of any radio hit by The Cars, to the caustically anarchic “Mouth Like a Shogun.”

Band: Panurge

Album: Throw Down the Reins

Release Date: April 2, 2004 (UK)

Panurge is a focused fusion of pop songwriting and electronic production, utilizing a wide variety of instrumentation from analog Casio synthesizers to wooden vibes; acoustic guitars and vintage drum machines. The resulting sound is new, yet familiar to the pop/folk scene of the late ’60s.

Regardless of how they are dressed, these are definitely pop songs – full of hooks and harmonies, big beats and jangling guitars. Throw Down the Reins balances the traditional and the experimental.

As a bonus you can be part of a contest to remix the kicky “Mixed Cavalry” on Since the band is still a bit in the works, they are interested in what musical elements catch their listeners’ ear. How sweet.

Band: Stellastarr

Album: Stellastarr

Release Date: Sept. 23, 2003

Stellastarr singer Shawn Christensen has a monster of a voice – he bays like a strung out ’80s rock star on the ballad “My Coco” and unleashes a guttural roar on “Jenny.” His band weaves sultry new wave into feedback-laden guitar rock for a sound somewhat like the Cure playing the Pixies.

Their sound is grating at times, but the elegant instrumentation and quirky ’80s rock-styled vocals make it hard to disregard. Besides, the band hails from the Lower East Side and has landed themselves in Vanity Fair. They already know that they are cool, why shouldn’t we?

Band: Damone

Album: From the Attic

Release Date: May 6, 2004

This album is reminiscent of The Breeders, combining grrrl rock with the easy to digest musical elements found in bright, shiny pop-rock grooves.

With 17-year-old Noelle on vocals and three 20-something band members all reminiscing about being unlucky-in-love teens, the group is sappy yet sincere – you can even find Noelle’s diary on the YM website. How adorable.

Tracks such as “Carwash Romance” mix puppy-love heartbreak with the quintessential question of the awkward teen: Should I allure my sweetheart by rolling in soap bubbles? Nothing you haven’t heard before, but charming enough to make you want to hear it again.


Band: Damageplan

Album: New Found Power

Release Date: Feb. 10, 2004

Vinnie Paul & Dimebag Darrell are at it again, making music in the metal scene. But this time it’s not with the mighty Pantera, but with their new band Damageplan. Their new debut album, “New Found Power” is a meaty exercise in thrash metal.

Pat Lachman’s voice, while adequate, has nothing flashy about it- the instrumentation makes this band exceptional.

Bob Zilla produces a thundering bass line, while Dimebag tears it up on his flying V and, of course, Vinnie beats the hell out of his drum set. Songs like “Pride,” “Explode” and “Movement of Truth” showcase the talent of these musicians.

Bathtub Music

Band: Ben Arthur

Album: Edible Darling

Release Date: March 23, 2004

For fans of John Mayer, Ryan Adams, Tom Petty or any other members of the sensitive-cool-lover-boy-singer genre, this album is filled with catchy hooks such as those in “Mary Ann” or the sort of nauseating love ballads your mother likes, such as “Tonight.”

Overall, this rock/acoustic album is getting wide acclaim, and it deserves it for what it is – drippy feel good music that is easy to listen to while taking a bubble bath or reading a chick magazine.

Band: Wilshire

Album: New Universe

Release Date: March 15, 2004

Wilshire’s lead single “Special,” featured in the “Win A Date With Tad Hamilton” soundtrack basically sums up this band’s clean, slick pop/rock sound.

Vocalist Lori Wilshire’s high-end vocals on the end of verses are polished to the bone with studio sheen. And as with many acts of this ilk, Wilshire can use more sonic and emotional diversity. But since this is not always necessary, this album makes a fabulous addition to your easy listening collection, if you have one.

If not, offer this album to your mother. This duo used to produce Christian music until they abandoned it for something “edgier.” They compose steamy love ballads to one another – now that they are married. Aw.

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