Mindy & More

Mindy & More

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Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.

Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.

Please, keep Outsight informed: 248-623-1601 or
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Ratings are (1) = :(, (5) = 🙂

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MINDY AND MORE

Mindy Smith stood head and shoulders above her better-known peers with her rendition
of “Jolene” on the Dolly Parton tribute album Just Because I’m A Woman: Songs
of Dolly Parton
(Sugar Hill). Mindy’s album One Moment More (Vanguard)
proves that was no fluke. Smith’s folk originals are just as compelling and powerful
as that cover. Standouts include her gospel-folk songs such as “Come To Jesus”…
Rollicking, fun rhythms from Andre Duplantis (Alejandro Escovedo, Meat Puppets)
on bass, piano and Hammond organ enliven the fun, spirited album Ashes
from Jen Kraatz. There is a western and country
blues feel to this largely acoustic album… Emakhet
is in touch with nature on An Offering. The four-song EP with tone coloring
drones emanating from didgeridoo and synth is good background to pagan music and
wandering the meadows in search of druids… Bessie’s Last Stand (Mungler
Winslowe) contains excellent folk-pop from Canada’s Crystal Brandt. The standout
track is a very memorable tune about a delayed appointment with the devil, “Fire
and Brimstone”… On her Virt Records release
Cold Weather, Brenda Weiler offers moving, emotional songs for wistful
snowbound listening, such as “Faucet” and “Christmas Sweater”. Looking out across
the snowy landscape brings to mind the distance that separates
as in “Scatter”, “California” and the standout track of this collection of songs,
“Honolulu, Minnesota”… Kate Fenner bears more
than a passing resemblance in her vocal style to Joni Mitchell. This is a good
thing and the bare, mostly acoustic arrangements on Horses & Burning Cars
are an excellent showcase for this vocal style… Fenner has a good song called
“Alaska” on that album and heralding from The Last Frontier is Lili
McGovern
. Her song-oriented electric pop album A Bare Calliope contains
an example of sounds of that steam whistle instrument as well as an excellent
cover of Dave Carter’s “The Mountain”…


Listen to or Buy Mindy Smith at Amazon.com
Listen to or Buy Jen Kraatz at Amazon.com

Listen
to or Buy Emakhet at Amazon.com

Listen
to or Buy Brenda Weiler at Amazon.com


ROCK & RAP CONFIDENTIAL

The following is from the lead article from the January Rock & Rap Confidential.

“…prominent is Sean “Puffy” Combs (aka P. Diddy). He declares that “I’m as
pro-worker as they get,” yet an October report released by the National Labor
Committee (www.nlcnet.org) made headlines when it revealed that much of Combs’ annual
$325 million worth of shirts is made under sweatshop conditions at the Southeast
Textiles factory in Honduras. Then, on December 19, NLC announced that Combs had
brought about major improvements at the Honduran plant, including union recognition,
health care, and an end to abuses such as unpaid overtime and contaminated drinking
water…”

Rock & Rap Confidential believes that the issue of sweatshops in relation
to music-related gear will become a major controversy in 2004. The article, “Cold
Sweat,” takes an unflinching look at the real power relationships in the musical
sweatshop game. You can receive a free copy of this issue by emailing RRC at rockrap@aol.com
with your mail address, or write: RRC, Box 341305, LA CA 90034.


DEMOCRACY IN ACTION

Congress is very close to passing a national anti-spam bill, colloquially known
as the CAN SPAM Act. In order for the bill to become law, both branches of Congress
had to pass the bill in identical form. This has happened and Bush signed the
bill into law. Read about
it here
. I am most excited about the do-not-email registry that offers the
hope of being as good as the do-not-call registry has been. (Have you noticed
a decline in telemarketing at your home? I have.) However there may be some problems,
as this bill overrides state legislation. LinkShare has prepared a document that
summarizes: 1) The CAN SPAM Act’s major provisions; 2) How the CAN SPAM Act differs
from California SB 186; and, 3) How the CAN SPAM Act may impact you. You can access
it directly
through this link
.

In more news of government regulation that may make life better, a federal appeals
court ruled that cable companies would have to let rival high-speed Internet providers
use their networks. This means homes that can only get broadband Internet through
their cable providers would then have a choice. If the new ruling survives an
expected appeal, subscribers may see prices fall as competitors fight for their
business. Here is a link to the Michigan activist
network in support of this cause
. I am woefully unable to find a central,
national source of information and activism on the subject. Is it out there?


DVD REVIEWS ***************************************

Bob Marley
Spiritual Journey
Waterfall Entertainment/MVD

This DVD is bundled with an audio CD of 14 tracks, including “Trenchtown Rock”,
“Lively Up Yourself”, and “Soul Shakedown Party”. There is also a glossy, 32-page
booklet with full-color pictures and an overview of Marley’s life and the band’s
career. Clocking in at just under an hour, the DVD documentary is mostly interviews
with Ziggy Marley, the former Jamaican prime minister as well as friends and associates
of Marley. A lot of attention is given the assassination attempt on Marley, his
political side, his international success as well as anecdotes. It is interesting
to hear the slightly different points of view on different facets of Marley’s
life. (3.5)

More
on the DVD from Amazon.com


Various Artists
Athens, GA – Inside Out
MVD

This early documentary of the fertile Athens, GA scene focuses on Flat Duo Jets,
Pylon and B-52s. Also covered, including with live concert footage is B-B-Que
Killers, Love Tractor and Squalls. There are more bands covered in this rich feature
about young musicians making big things come out of a small town. A very different
Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) drinks beer in his pajamas on a stoop as he discusses Athens.
This DVD edition of the 1987 film includes such bonus material as a new chat with
Kate and Cindy of the B-52s as well as Widespread Panic’s David Schools and more.
(4)

More
on the DVD from Amazon.com


CD REVIEWS ***************************************

Various Artists
Putumayo Presents French Café
Putumayo

This compilation joins classic (Barbara, Serge Gainsbourg) and modern French music
(Paris Combo, Coralie Clément) for a delightful, sunny al fresco sampling.
As such, there is champion and disciples of chanson, gypsy jazz and bagpipe-imitating
musette. The casual but swinging, sophisticated but earthy style suggests the
café culture of artist bohemians and revolutionary poets. (3.5)


Listen to or Buy at Amazon.com


The Beatings
The Heart, the Product, the Machine and the Asshole
Midriff Records

“Transvestite Bar”, the 6-minute cross dressing blues is worth the cover charge
for this six-song album of post-country rock. It’s tragic and heartfelt, vivid
and hilarious. The album is full of hiss and fuzz, a lo-fi approach that is dark
and direct. The formula for the band is to keep simple and plow through the song
undeterred by the possibility of drastic change. Far from being monotonous, this
adds impact and strength to these masters of a mighty minimalism. The last song,
“These Days Will Be the Old Days Someday”, has the propensity to anthemic if slow
wave memorability also displayed in the pronounced chorus of “Transvestite Bar”.
Tuneful if melancholy, potent if predictable, The Heart, the Product is
an exquisite album. (3.5)


Electronic Barnacle Island
Deeply Faulted Area Resembling an Upright Deck of Cards
KiraKira Disc Records

Aaron Noel entirely composed and performed the music of Deeply Faulted Area
Resembling an Upright Deck of Cards
. The instrumental electronic music is
an interesting juxtaposition of floating, will-o-the-wisp melodies and angular
rhythms. Noel claims George Winston as well as the early work of Vangelis and
Tangerine Dream among his influences. This explains the eerie, melancholy melodies.
The post-industrial, mechanical beats are of a more contemporary stripe. (3)


Lou
Dog

61 Old Depot
Lou Dog

Lou Dog has a heavy emphasis in his guitar rock that recalls Hamell on Trial.
He emphasizes each word, which gives his deliberately delivered rock songs a narrative
quality. This is music that looks back to the birth of truly vital rock music,
from The Replacements to Velvet Underground. The music is direct and honest, unadorned
and basic. (3)


L’Ensemble Pierre Labbé
Risque et Pendule
DAME

Avant-garde reeds man Pierre Labbé plays tenor saxophone and flute on this, his
first album as a leader. Labbé has also worked with Papa Boa, Claude St-Jean,
Pierre Dumont and more. This music draws from the third stream of free jazz blended
with chamber music. He leads his ensemble through wild but precise romps featuring
violin, viola, electric guitar, acoustic bass and traps. It is Bernard Falaise
(Miriodor) that plays the guitar and some of the music recalls Miriodor. While
some of this instrumental music never seems to fulfill its promise (“Combat de
Coqs”), the album is itself a very promising debut. (4)


Various Artists
Sang 9
DAME

This compendium features twenty new artists pushing the boundaries of musique
actuelle
. The Ambiances Magnétiques label (a.k.a. DAME), has a strong roster
in the genre stalwarts Robert Marcel Lepage, Jean Derome, Martin Tétreault and
more, but this collection shows the future is bright with a spectrum of new, fresh
talent. The assembly of talent runs the gamut from electro-acoustic to astro-jazz
and from third stream to rock in opposition. Fresh and exciting, it is post- all
so very much and a highly promising cornucopia of fresh ideas. (4)


Samuel Pellman
Selected Planets
Innova

Pellman gives us a tour of each member of the solar system on this digital travelogue
of earth and its neighbors. Each planet is a unique world and each gets unique
treatment in this ambitious opus. The instrumental music suggests the cold reaches
of space with electronic tones and entrance into the planetary ballet of the human
machine with vintage analog synths. This is perfect headphone music for vicarious
flybys of these celestial wanderers. (4)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


Ken
Field’s Revolutionary Snake Ensemble

Year of the Snake
Innova

Ken Field leaves behind his Apollonian cerebral music to revel in the funkiness
of a New Orleans brass band. Revolutionary Snake Ensemble is a New Orleans brass
band that plays Sun Ra (“Calling All Demons”), James Brown (“Soul Power”) as well
as Scofield (“Some Nerve”) besides its own Big Easy-inspired originals. It is
interesting because this masterful sax man with a talent for the edgy and progressive
avant-garde music here subsumes this particular side to incarnate a Mardi Gras
mood with rhythm music. Throughout there is a strong second-line style in the
tradition of Rebirth Brass Band and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. This is a part
band with a great horn section. The all-star Boston band includes members of Either/Orchestra,
Hot Tamale Brass Band, Binary System, Clem Snide and more. (4)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


Hard-Ons
Very Exciting!
Bomp!

Australian punk trio Hard-Ons has spent over two decades exploring metal-punk
fusion and (often) snotty, foul-mouthed indie pop. Consider the trio of songs
“Radio”, “Cat’s Got Your Tongue”, and “Pimple Boy” on this new release. “Radio”
is a sunny indie pop single about not getting a single on the radio while “Cat’s
Got Your Tongue” is death metal worthy of Deathtöngue while “Pimple Boy” is hard
punk rock. The band is still having fun and success in metalcore music. I once
started Scruffy Tearaways, my own punk ‘n’ metal act in the ’80s inspired by Hard-Ons
and others. While this album is not as memorable and hilarious as the group’s
’80s releases such as Dick Cheese, it is still a worth album in the group’s
formula of toilet humor and punk with metal in a vicious blender. (3)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


Guigou Chenevier
Le Batteur est le Meilleur Ami du Musicien (The Drummer is the Musician’s Best
Friend)

In polySons
inpolysons@free.fr

With this compilation, Guigou Chenevier (Les Batteries, Etron Fou LeLoublan) explores
the melody-inferring possibilities of percussion as distinct from rhythmic chores.
That is, these works were created in a “backwards” fashion by giving the musicians
the rhythms as a starting point. Musicians that ably took up the challenge include
Haco, Jean Derome, and Sue Garner, among others. Aside from one Guigou Chenevier
solo track, the other eleven selections represent musicians from around the world
responding creatively to Chenevier’s drum tracks as the germ of a new piece. The
last piece is that solo work and is an open invitation for any musician to “finish.”
The works tend to be odd and angular pieces (Kenji Itoken, “Odd or Even”) or floating,
disembodied and haunting (Sue Garner, “Eggs, Salt, Vanilla”). Since no one answered
with a “song” or a “tune”, this is a compendium of oddly inspiring experiments.
(4.5)


Various Artists
The Rocky Horror Punk Rock Show
Springman Records

You just cannot go wrong covering the songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
This begs the question, would the film be half the cult success without the great
music? As someone that used to spend every weekend as Rocky in a tight-fitting
yellow swimsuit and gold, spray-painted tennis I really love this punk rock take
on the songs. Some standouts are “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul” (The Phenomenauts),
“Sweet Transvestite” (Apocalypse Hoboken), and “Eddie’s Teddy” (Swingin’ Utters).
However, there are really no dead spots in this rocking set of covers that also
includes Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, Groove Ghoulies, Pansy Division, and
The Ataris. (4.5)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


John Howard
Kid in a Big World
RPM Records

The vivid imagery and crystalline soul vocals of songs like “Goodbye Suzie” recalls
Elton John on this extended reissue of John Howard’s 1975 album Kid in a Big
World
. The CD debut of the album is extended by seven tracks. These include
demos, extra tracks from the album as well as the single b-side “Third Man” and
an alternate mix of “Goodbye Suzie”. Howard himself, looking back, notes the narrative
and imagery of these songs. Says he, the songs “reflected the fantasies, dreams
and observations from a young guy from the North of England.” Fortunately, this
“young guy going, ‘Listen to me, I’ve got something to say'” had a great way of
saying it and great help in the studio. This included Abbey Road production by
Tony Meehan with Peter Brown as engineer. Argent had two representatives in there,
too: Rod Argent on keyboards and Bob Henrit on drums. This is excellent song-oriented
Brit-pop that was, at the time, overwhelmed by the attention given to disco. RPM
has done a great service in preserving this superb album. (4.5)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


Wanda Jackson
Heart Trouble
CMH Records

This collection presents the Queen of Rockabilly with a variety of featured artists
doing such classic Jackson material as “Cash on the Barrelhead” and “Hard Headed
Woman” along with newly written material, such as “Walk With Me”. James Intveld
wrote this gospel-styled song for Jackson. Among the guests on the album are The
Cramps (backing on two tracks), Rosie Flores, Elvis Costello (both in duet) and
a handful of tracks with Dave Alvin. The 65-years-old Wanda Jackson sounds great
on this disc in the fifth decade of her career. One of several standout tracks
is the duet with Costello on “Crying Time”. (4.5)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


Country Teasers
Full Moon Empty Sportsbag
In The Red

Country Teasers is as much post-industrial as it is country. This is not alt-country,
unless Butthole Surfers is alt-punk. This is The Country Teasers’ first proper
full-length studio album of new material in four years. The group approaches its
rare, prolonged venture into the studio with fresh amazement, referring to the
studio in “Boycott the Studio” and “Please Stop Fucking Each Other”. This last
title also brings up the fact that the group gleefully self-marginalizes with
noise and four-letter words. This is not an album for the faint-hearted, but may
be one for the jaded. Even though the group colors outside the lines and brings
a rich palette of ragged, mechanical sounds to the table, very little of this
material congeals into something truly memorable. (3)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


Kra
Guttural Shock
YLE Radio Vega

Stäni Steinbock and collaborator Reijo Lainela started Kra in 1980. The group’s
name comes from the raft used by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. The music
by the long-lived Finnish group from the Swedish culture of the contested Åland
islands is also adventurous. Stäni has done theatric kantele music and Reijo founded
Gamelan Hanuman, perhaps the only gamelan in Finland. The music combines all this
into something exotic, but more equatorial than arctic, but embracing the charm of traditional Nordic music. The group uses little
of the instrumentation (fiddles, accordion, etc.) that has come to characterize
the folk revival from that part of the world. In this music, guitar, drums and
a horn section are occasionally adorned with musical saw, recorder and more, including
gamelan instrumentation, for a feel that could
be ska meets the East. (4)


Garageland
Last Exit To Garageland
Foodchain Records

The indie rock revolution of the late ’90s produced an ocean of mediocrity and
a few glimpses of genius. Much of that genius came from the ocean-bound island
of New Zealand, like this debut originally issued in 1997. The group’s subdued
use of noise and catchy melodies brings to mind Pavement and late-period Sonic
Youth. Garageland picks up where Pixies left off with catchy garage-pop. To the
original 15 tracks are added eight bonus cuts. Most of this material was never
released in the United States. This includes an inspired cover of “So You Want
to be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” by The Byrds. By balancing the clamorous with the
joyous, Garageland delivers winning indie pop. (4)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


Estradasphere
Quadropus
Web of Mimicry Records

Like Jucifer, Estradasphere has one foot in death metal (“Jungle Warfare”) and
one in indie rock. The group also offers a blue-eyed rap-metal homage to big-time
wrestling (“Bodyslam”). Every track is self-contained in the diverse genre spectrum
covered by this wild and wacky release. There is also the hilarious;y tongue-in-cheek
“At Least We’d Have Today” which is equal parts Motown pop-soul and Beach Boys.
Skilled arrangements and a witty sense of humor congeals this grab-bag of styles
into a jambalaya of impassioned musical schizophrenia. This mad experiment gets
the blessing of Trey Spruance (Mr. Bungle, Faith No More), who testifies to the
group’s talents and arranged strings for “Speck”. (4)

Listen
to or Buy at Amazon.com


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