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Saturday Night Wrist

    This fifth effort from the Deftones is a stunning, often brilliant album that rivals if not quite supersedes White Pony, their 2000 album that’s considered by many to be the highlight of the band’s creative powers. For those not familiar with the band, they play hard rock that’s sometimes unfairly compared to sludge like Korn or Limp Bizkit, and while those bands might have dropped guitar tuning in common, a more apt comparison would be to the melodic alt-metal of Queens of the Stone Age, Helmet or Failure. This album is full of the Deftones sound we’ve come to love: the achingly sensual vocals of Chino Moreno, sinewy and muscular guitars, wild and crafty drums. Turntablist Frank Delgado is now credited with "keys/samples." The synths here are noticeable, but not distracting.

    There are a lot of sublime moments on this album. Chino Moreno’s intense, exquisite voice is a perfect complement to the heaviness of the other instruments.

Highlight songs: “Mein,” “CherryWaves,” “Xerces.”

-Peter Swenson


Amy Millan

Honey from the Tombs

    Provided you’re a fan of very girly music that doesn’t let up on the estrogen-driven tracks, this album is a fine craft of soulful lyrics, honeyed guitars and overall prettiness. Its vibe is like early Sarah McLachlan, as the essence of Lilith Fair prevails throughout. It will go great on your iPod, your stereo at home or in the car.

    Guys, however, will be embarrassed by the overt femininity of the album, at least at first. After a few listens, if you can bear it, you will come to appreciate her loving voice, and if you play the guitar at all, a few of Millan’s riffs will make you want to learn her material. You will begin to appreciate the mood it sets during a candlelit dinner, a fine bottle of red wine and some assured action in bed. Just let down your manly shield, and you’ll learn to like it.

For fans of Sarah McLachlan, Enya and softer Ani DiFranco.

-Robert Seitzinger




    Classic.ghetto.soul is an album of mixed genres that was recorded by the singers Easy Lee and TRE. The sound of the album is reminiscent of Lauryn Hill, Outkast, and D’Angelo, with maybe a little of The Roots and Marvin Gaye thrown in. It’s a good mix of old school soul, hip-hop, and bluesy, jazzy touches. This album was originally self-released in 2003 in the band’s hometown of San Antonio, Texas, and is now seeing national distribution through Music World records.

It’s a really good collection of songs that blend genres seamlessly, mixing a live band with a few drum machines and synthesizers. The band is currently set to tour the South and the East Coast, but unfortunately will come nowhere near the West Coast. Highly recommended for fans of neo-soul, Lauryn Hill and Outkast.

-Peter Swenson


Annie Stela

There is a Story Here

    This four-song EP gets the prize for "Most Ironic Title.” Or at least it’s a top contender for that prize. First off, there are only four songs. If there is a story here, it’s short. The second problem is that the songs here are a) musically boring and b) lyrically uninspired. Annie Stela, a piano-based singer-songwriter, opened for Joseph Arthur at the Doug Fir just a few weeks ago. So with that great artist to be associated with, one would expect something much better than this uninspired collection of "love gone wrong" songs. A sample lyric from her demo "Hands in the Grass": And I don’t want to hurt you / But there’s nothing that I can do / And you’re already halfway through / You never needed me quite how I did you."

    Grade-school rhymes like this and unimaginative lyrics keep this group of songs from meaning anything to anyone outside of the artist.

Recommended if you like Sarah McLachlan, Joni Mitchell or KINK FM radio

-Peter Swenson



The Masters of Groove

The Masters of Groove (Year 2006)

    The Masters of Groove are a soul-funk-jazz band. Reuben Wilson performs acrobatic screams on his Hammond B-3, Grant Green, Jr. commands his guitar, and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie frames it all on drums. There is also a guest appearance by Jerry Jemmott on bass. Unpretentious and straightforward, the Masters of Groove gently sway a soft jazz feel throughout. There are hints of a boogie-woogie flashback on Track 1, “The Okiedoke.” The second track, “Flipity Flop,” calls to mind a kinder, gentler James Brown. The rest of the tracks get down to the serious business of groovin’. After a hard day, Masters of Groove is good relaxation music. Use it to unwind your mind.

Joanna Hofer


The Scattered PAGES

Lazy Are the Skeletons

    If you’re in the mood for some happy, toe-tappin’, dancin’ death music, The Scattered PAGES might be your band. This Texas trio composed of Kurt Coburn, Brandon Hancock, and Andy McWilliams aptly describe their music as intellectual, vaudevillian, playful and confident. Simmering to the top of a stew of influences are flashes of Stephen Malkmus and early Rolling Stones. They’re not quite the Reverend Horton Heat, but still on the rock-a-billy side. Listen closely: the upbeat melodies don’t indicate the darkness of lyrics like, “lazy are the skeletons hanging bravely by the barbed wire fence …" The Scattered Pages are not hiding a depression behind joyous tones, quite the contrary, they are waving a friendly Texas howdy to the other side. Brandon Hancock does most of the singing on this album, and boy, can he sing. The Scattered PAGES have a self-assured style, strong voice, simple melodies and varied rhythms. They provide perfect sing-along music, good for drinking, dancing and road tripping. Rejoicefully unafraid, the darkly whimsical Scattered PAGES are rockin’.

-Joanna Hofer