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New Music Reviews by Ashley MacQuarry[New Music]

CD Reviews

by Ashley MacQuarry

Connor Desai
Connor Desai’s self-titled 6-track EP is an impressive debut. Seattle’s Desai makes dreamily soulful jazz/pop, reminiscent of Norah Jones or Feist. Her voice is sultry, her lyrics alluring and poetic, backed by playful percussion and subtly funky bass grooves (courtesy of bassist Alex Trzyna and drummer Mike O’Doherty.) The second track,“Do I,” is sexy and jazzy. “Wake Up” adds some understated organ to the mix, with lyrics that sweetly capture the excitement and shyness of a new relationship, while “Will You Love” is radio friendly pop, plain and simple. The standouts though are “At All,” a gorgeous ballad, and “Deviance” which beautifully closes the album with a cool jazzy beat and Desai’s smoky voice channeling Feist. According to her myspace page, as of September Desai and her bandmates will be recording under the name Secret Stairs. “Same band, different name,” the page assures. They are currently in the studio working on their second album.”

Happy Ron
Terribly Happy
San Diego native “Happy Ron” Hill says that one of his goals in life is to appear as himself on South Park. In listening to his album, Terribly Happy, the influence is obvious. If you like the gleefully juvenile humor of South Park and Family Guy, you might find a laugh or two on Happy Ron’s album. His lyrics are simplistic, repetitive, and at times borderline misogynistic, tracks like “All She Needs is a Spanking,” “Sick of Her Shit” (“dedicated to the strippers of the world”), “Dickless Wonder” and “No Tantric Woman Blues.” The sentiments on “Boy Toy,” about fighting off groupies, sound more like wishful thinking on Happy Ron’s part, while the title track “Terribly Happy” is anything but. The best tracks on the album may well be “No Angel” (one of the two “serious” songs) which at least had an interesting intro, or “Mean Therapist Blues” which did make effective use of a horn section.

Horace Alexander Young
Acoustic Contemporary Jazz
If you like smooth jazz, you might like Horace Alexander Young’s album Acoustic Contemporary Jazz. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who likes smooth jazz so this is an unverified hypothesis. The album opens with a version of Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father Again.” Young removes almost all the lyrics, repeating only the title phrase, and worst of all, adds a children’s chorus. Now, when it comes to rock, a children’s chorus can be a fantastic addition to a song (i.e. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and The Rolling Stones’ “Can’t Always Get What You Want” to name two obvious ones) but with a genre like easy listening/smooth jazz, a children’s chorus is unequivocally lame, especially on a song as obvious as “Dance with My Father.” The addition of the children’s voices at the end saying “I love you Daddy” made it completely saccharine and over the top. The next track, “Heart’s Desire” is an original with vocals by Johnny Kemp. With lines like “I hunger for your tender touch in a very special way…” it is unintentionally hilarious. I played it twice. Other standouts include “Chicken ‘n Waffles” which is actually cool, in a retro ’70s disco/jazz kind of way. Another original, it shows that Young should stick to writing music, not lyrics. Likewise, “Let’s Lounge” includes an R&B chorus and a rap chant of “let’s lounge” that, while not terribly clever is at least catchy. The arrangement of the Irish traditional ballad “Danny Boy” was interesting, if only because one doesn’t often hear a saxophone and a set of bagpipes in the same song. All in all, Acoustic Contemporary Jazz would be quite at home in an elevator or a dentist’s waiting room.

School of Sorcery
Sublimatus crashed my computer 4 times. No review for them.

The Vigilante Punks
Demons From Mars
Considering the Vigilante Punks are two kids from Missouri, Demons From Mars is a decent attempt. The music consists of only a guitar and drums. Lyrically, the songs are nearly as basic. They are clearly aiming for political relevency, however they suffer somewhat due to a limited, obviously high school understanding. The tracks alternate between pseudo-political themes and the stereotypical laments of the high school punk, i.e. pop music and the preppies that love it. There are some vaguely anarchist sentiments, lines like “I want a revolution/I wanna smash the state” (“Smash the State”) and attempts at political commentary: “Saving the world by killing’s my game/you’re a terrorist if you think that’s lame… Ain’t it freaking evident/that I’m an awesome president” (“I’m the President”). “Attack of the Preppies” is unintentionally funny in its hatred for the American Eagle Outfitters set, with lines like “Cannot let the preppies know/there’s a sale at the mall today/attack of the preppies!” “ADD” comments on the over-medication of the current generation, while “Stop the Pop” says exactly that and not much more: “Stop the pop/We don’t want your poser rock.” Perhaps the biggest tip-off to the freshfaced youthfulness of The Vigilante Punks is “BFG,” an ode to a video game weapon. “You’re my virtual pal/all the zombies run from my big effin’ gun/my big effin’ gun.” Come on guys, you’re a punk band. Drop the F-Bomb. I promise I won’t tell your moms.

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