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Music Reviews

AstroPuppees

AstroPuppees

Little Chick Tsunami

Manatee

Art-school trash pop with a wicked attitude and a smug grin. Sounds lame? Well, it’s anything but. Kelly Ryan is AstroPuppees, and this is her third album of sultry, sing-along garage pop that transcends the narrow boundaries you might associate with such classification. From the glammy Go-Betweens pop rush of “Over Her Head” to the stylishly strutting “Electric Chair” and the breezy title track, Ryan overwhelms the listener with this weird, happy-go-lucky collection of bedroom punk.

While there’s never no doubt to who’s in charge, a solo affair like “Long as U Love” offers evidence that she’s at her best when backed up by her loose coalition of friends and musical cohorts. Amongst those adding power and life to her music, are mainstay Maureen Serrao as well as Swan Dive’s Bill DeMain and Gin Blossoms’ Jesse Valenzuela — the latter two also co-wrote a few tracks with her, although it’s her solo compositions that truly stick out. Easily bored and always on the move, Little Chick Tsunami is a fun and playful album that remains dead serious and brutally honest even as it tells jokes. Great stuff.

AstroPuppees: http://www.astropuppees.com/

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Music Reviews

Jason Ringenberg

Jason Ringenberg

All Over Creation

Yep Roc

Jason Ringenberg was alt-country before it even had a name. With his band Jason & the Scorchers, the yelping tenor produced some of the finest rip-snorting cow punk the world has ever heard. His solo career has been a bit of a hit and miss endeavor however. In particular it has lacked the flash and fire that guitarist Warner Hodges brings to The Scorchers. An abortive attempt to make Jason a conventional country star in 1992 yielded the uninspired One Foot in the Honky Tonk. He didn’t get around to recording another solo disc until 2000’s A Pocketful of Soul, a low-key affair of mostly sweet, acoustic-flavored tunes.

While on tour supporting Soul, Ringenberg found himself jamming with other musicians all over the world, including a few touched by The Scorchers’ influence. All Over Creation is a product of those collaborations.

Things get off to a great start as Hamell on Trial joins Ringenberg on “Honky Tonk Maniac From Mars,” just the kind of rave-up The Scorchers were known for. “Bible and a Gun 1863” is a banjo and fiddle-tinged, Civil War-themed re-write of a Scorchers tune from 1989’s Thunder And Fire, performed here with the song’s co-writer, Steve Earle. Ringenberg revisits the Civil War later through the eyes of Irish immigrants who fled the famine on the acoustic ballad “Erin’s Seed” featuring the band Lambchop. Longtime Scorchers fan and fellow Nashvillian Tommy Womack is along for the ride on “Too High to See,” which includes what may be the quintessential Jason line: “While alabaster lust crumbles in the dust.” Swan Dive joins him for “Camille,” a sweet, sing-songy tune for one of his little daughters. Also helping out on the disc: Paul Burch, Britain’s The Wildhearts, and Todd Snider. Ringenberg also covers the George Jones obscurity “I Dreamed My Baby Came Home,” Gun Club’s “Mother Of Earth,” and Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” (a rather tepid version with BR5-49).

But the record’s unsung hero may be guitarist/multi-instrumentalist George Bradfute,. who contributes much to most of the tracks, including the set closing “The Last Train to Memphis.” Here Ringenberg talk-sings lines about looking back without regret: “I’ll take the last train to Memphis and look at that big river / Throw in my Broken Whiskey Glass and not even feel a shiver.

With a little help from some friends, Ringenberg appears to have found his footing as a solo artist and opened up new creative horizons on All Over Creation. But that’s not to say these tracks couldn’t have benefited from a little Warner Hodges rock-and-roll crunch. Maybe next time.

Yep Roc Records: http://www.yeproc.com • Jason Ringenberg: http://www.jasonringenberg.com