Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sick Of Sarah
Sick Of Sarah

Adamant Records
10 Song CD

The all-female ensemble Sick Of Sarah revives the spirit of early 90s Riot Grrrl mentality and adds their own special twist. Not quite as angry as their fore-mothers, they nevertheless ride through the album with an undercurrent of anxiety and angst. It's combined with a solid indie mentality that brims with attitude and feminine strength.

Musically, the group dabbles in catchy, jangly pop that revolves around a pair of guitars and the voice of lead singer Abisha Uhl. Uhl sings with a passionate plea, wrapped in a youthful and energetic innocence that draws you right in. On the track Bittersweet, all these elements come together in perfect coordination as a prime example of their work.

MISH MASH Mandate: Sweet Sickness
Adamant Records Website

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Radio Radio
Alarm 1 Alarm 2

4 song CD

Roll up every post-punk new wave band you ever loved from the late 70s/early 80s and you'll have something similar to Radio Radio. They have perfected their sticky sweet power pop, topping it off with a smart and smooth 80s plastic sheen.

With only four songs, the EP passes by so fast and furious that there's not enough time to get weary or bored --- all killer, no filler. It's like four hit singles in a row, from the synth-rock driving title song to the funky Kraftwerk-inspired electronic dance rhythms of I, Computer. I couldn't think of a better way to ride out the dog days of summer.

MISH MASH Mandate: Ride The Wave
Radio Radio Website

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mike Musick

Union St Records
10 song CD

While his name might be a little on the questionable side of rich and cheesy goodness, Mike Musick (which I've just been informed is actually his real name - Ed.) makes up for it with one of the best indie pop albums I've heard in a long, long time. Catchy and singable from beginning to end, Musick lets his skillful pop creativity come blazing through on every track.

At times he reminds me of David Gray, or maybe Joe Jackson, quite possibly because of his laid back and understated approach. Most of the time his songs revolve around a memorable hook and simple beat, letting the pop grow and flower into full bloom without any unnecessary flourishes. This simplicity is key, and it makes this an album you'll want to hear over and over again.

MISH MASH Mandate: Steppin' Out
Mike Musick Website

Friday, July 11, 2008

Imperial China

4 song CD

Worlds collide within the progressive music of Imperial China, as influences such as Rage Against The Machine intersect with Fugazi, creating an edgy and aggressive sound that defies simplistic categorization. It's angst-filled and loud, yet smartly executed, using disjointed guitar noise set against off-kilter beats to provide a wall of dissonance that envelops the listener.

While there are only four tracks, the songs themselves are a little longer than the usual rock song (around 6 minutes on average), plus they are layered thick with weaving progressions, key changes, and about-face rhythms. It all adds up to a complete and fulfilling experience, one that that rarely comes with a short EP.

MISH MASH Mandate: Imperial Attack
Imperial China Website

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sound Unbound
Sampling Digital Music And Culture
Edited by Paul D. Miller
aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid
MIT Press
Softcover, 416 pages
With 45 Track Audio CD

Much like the unwieldy subject matter it covers, Sound Unbound is a mashup of music-related essays dealing with the artistic distractions of our digital age. The book (and the accompanying CD) is a smörgåsbord sampling that runs in and out of context while trying to describe the complex and twisted nature of sampling, plagiarism, appropriation, creativity, and the ties that bind music to culture.

Miller does his best to approach this unsurmountable goal with decidedly abstract tactics, and more often than not it works. Whether it's an examination of the traditional polyrhythmic underpinnings in modern music or Brian Eno's history of bells, each essay brings the reader another intriguing piece of the puzzle. Through this thread, Miller not only asks what limitations artists should have in this sampling age, but if there should be limitations at all. And above that, what is true art, and what is a true artist? It's a heady examination, but one that needs our full attention in the 21st Century.

MISH MASH Mandate: Sampler Platter
Sound Unbound @ MIT Press