CD Reviews

At the White River Reggae Bash

It’s reggae mon. When one of my friends asked me if I liked reggae, I said, “yeah, I like that song.” This is a good version of the song, made ever livelier because of the live venue. he is a particularly beautiful a capella version of the Cat Stevens song “Where do the Children Play” that is especially tasty.

Carlye Archibeque

Have Landed
Round Records

Pop rockabilly? Power punkabilly? Who knows? The Gazillions are quirky and interesting musically with nice clear vocals and melodies and lyrics that will have you rolling on the floor. The best was “Hobbit Love,” “we are lovers, but our love is not attractive // we love like mushrooms, we are stout and round.” One can only hope to see this used in the upcoming Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Carlye Archibeque

One Horse Power

I can’t decide whether these guys are Omish or just hostile. With song titles like “Piss Off” and “One Big Knob” and lyrics that deliver the messages the titles allude to, they could only be punk. However, I like my punk political not misogynistic or just plain crude. The “Vegetarian” song is a perfect example. Subtitled “Lesbian Love Song” the singer laments that a lesbian won’t put out for him and asks, “is she afraid of my weenie.” More likely she is put off because he is a weenie. With nothing new to offer musically and a singer that sounds like every other punk boy band, I would save my money for the Catholics.

Carlye Archibeque

Growing Up Clean in America (EP)
Ultimatum Music

Pop mixer the Incredible Moses Leroy has a good ear for what sounds are pleasing when mixed together, and what sounds are interesting because they do not go together. There is some typical self-aware mix stuff here (“Zap”), but also lovely ballads with a hint of mix like “The 4a” about a bus he used to take in San Francisco. Overall the EP was interesting and enjoyable fun for you ears.

Carlye Archibeque

Beggars Banquet

Michael J. Sheehy’s songs have a sense of drive and dedication to them, and while the liner notes say he gave up on “kick ass rock n’ roll” to pursue songwriting, there is still some kick ass stuff on this CD. Sheehy has a deep serious voice slightly less intense than Leonard Cohen’s. My favorite was “Oh Sweet Jesus, (I really messed up this time)” a soft ballad that sounds like it was recorded in a cave. Musically he leans heavily on bass lines, and who can complain about that?

Carlye Archibeque

New Life Options

The Wind In The Willows –
While some stories are given new life through musical interpretation, some should just be left alone. I must admit that I have not read the famed children’s book upon which this incredibly lackluster production is based, but knowing the story could not have made this recording sound any better. This fully-orchestrated musical is performed by a total of 4 musicians, along with 10 vocalists and actors. And if the producers attempts to make that Casio keyboard sound like a violin section were not annoying enough, the vocal performances are community-theater level, and the songs are written as light opera in the vein of much of Gilbert and Sullivan. These choices do not go well together. The rhymes are forced, the arrangements sound wholly cheesy, and the style of the songs themselves is entirely outdated.
Having barely been able to make it through the complete CD, I wondered if my jaded adult sensibilities were getting in the way of what might otherwise be pure family fun. So, I invited my 9-year-old daughter into the living room and cued-up track 2, “Stiff Upper Lip” which is sung by Ratty. She didn’t make it to the end of the song. By the time track 3, Weasel’s “Wanderlust Rag”, had begun, she was already back in her room with Britney Spears blasting, and I was enjoying the echo of “Oops, I did it Again” more than the synthesized showtunes. The story is old-fashioned and for kids, but the composing and arrangements are not likely to appeal to anyone but those who read the source material in first-edition hardcover many years ago. In summation, then: outdated, low-quality, uninspired and unmarketable musical ? except maybe to 3-year olds. Of course, 3-year olds don’t have much in the way of disposable income. But just in case you’re 3, and happen to be reading this, you can never go wrong with a great musical ? I’d wholeheartedly recommend Fiddler on the Roof or Les Miserables.

Robert Wynne