Smokin the Dummy/Bloodlines (Sugar Hill)
You know that phrase, "Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle"? Well, it's time we started thinking 'bout appending it to include ol' Terry Allen. For yet more evidence of his status as Lone Star songwriting treasure, check this "twofer"
coupling of early Eighties albums as a prime, raw
-boned example of everything, well, Van Zandt, Clark, Earle, and Allen. -- Raoul Hernandez
Mostly contemporary artists covering classic country and pop material (Randy Travis on "King of the Road," Jimmie Dale Gilmore on Lefty Frizzell's "If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time" and
"I Love You a Thousand Ways," Bryan White on "Rockin' Robin," and Mandy Barnett on "Dream Lover"), Traveller takes a familiar soundtrack convention and turns it into a compelling collection of music. The Cox Family's two cuts are pure heaven. -- Christopher Gray
Trying to impart wisdom through life-lessons in folk is tricky business -- if avoiding pedantry and cliché are artistic concerns. Diana Cantu has, through soft choruses, Latin stringwork, and swinging percussion, succeeded in keeping the preaching to a minimum. There's some nice guitar and violin work on this album, and Cantu's voice stays mild and true even when stretching into some fairly thick blues. -- Christopher Hess
The Girl You Left Behind (Austex)
Wouldn't it be great if every bad relationship resulted in a country song? After being anesthetized by just 11 of them delivered sequentially, "No" would seem to be the obvious answer to
that question. -- Michael Bertin
Mockingbird Station (Eyes & Stars)
Mockingbird Station is the third instrumental release from the former lead singer of the rock group Duke Jupiter. Using only synths and solo piano (which can at times sound thin), Styler's goal is not to be multidimensional, but rather to paint an impressionistic sonicscape of his adopted Hill Country home. Sounding a little like Enya ("In the Land of the Lost Pines"), Mockingbird Station is a quiet musical watercolor. -- David Lynch
The Essential Beatnik Jazz (Yin)
I can't say that a true finger-snapping Beat would throw this off of the turntable (I mean out of the cassette deck), but it's the cigar, cocktail, and cufflink crowd who'll really go for this gritty-voiced set of evocative cabaret tunes. Eichenberg's occasionally weak vocals are offset by uniformly strong arrangements; hey, admit it, you're a sucker for a clarinet.
-- Ken Lieck
The Berlin Demos
With a voice somewhat reminiscent of Little Feat's Lowell George and Storyville's Malford Milligan, Michael Hardie has a fine sense of the blues, running it through soul and gospel as surely and confidently as a trip to Antone's record store. -- Christopher Gray
Hobble bumble through loud-guitar, B-movie schtick-rock with definite entertainment potential, which, unfortunately, most often comes up hollow. There are some interesting enhancements and sampling added to the monotonous metal, but heavy-handed repetition and a really lame insanity-insinuating Ren-like rant demolish both kitsch and credibility. -- Christopher Hess
Flammable Keep Away From Lame (Commie Pinko)
While everyone else has set their sights on becoming the next Trent Reznor, this local industrial duo of underachievers have apparently targeted Filter, mimicking their listenable, but disposable recipe for metallic hooks and groovy textures. Hey man, nice try. -- Andy Langer
Influenced by hardcore, dub, and punk, Lucid sounds, at times, like Pearl Jam ("Walk Away"), and at others, like Jane's Addiction ("Fireflies"), writing tunes with strong instrumental lines ("Mary") and good sonic texture. Their lyrics are buried under a ubiquitous echo, but Lucid's debut cassette is promising. -- David Lynch
Way Strange (Midwest)
The grinning cartoon faces of the band members on the CD cover pretty much tell the story. Way Strange recalls those who-cares-whether-it's-authentic drawl-pop bands of the Seventies (i.e. Ozark Mountain Daredevils or any of the "Chinn & Chapman go country" acts). Lightweight but fun.
-- Ken Lieck
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