Hip-ometer Rating ~ 7
Ulysses - "010" This is the latest vehicle for Apples In Stereo main man Robert Schneider and I have been holding off writing the review for some time now, for two reasons. The first is the reason plaguing all my recent work, my stereo is down. The second is the fact that I never have been able to like or access his work. I was hoping it was going to be the former and not the latter once I got to listen to this on my stereo. I heard it during the same session where my feelings changed about the Memphis album, but they did not change for this. The opening track Push You Away isn't too bad, but there was little after that for me. I just dislike the genre. The vocals, the melody lines, just everything about it is SO american it gives me the willies. For whatever reason his voice cuts right thru me, the playing is sort of a garage band homogeny, and as I said, the song construction is too american. Why did I buy it? I didn't, it got sent to me as a promo. It's cases like this where I feel awful. I feel sorry I had to listen to it, I feel sorry I have to report back saying I didn't like it, and it's a situation that makes me never want to take another promo again. It would spare me, the publicist and the band. So what I am saying is I do not like this, but you might. I am serving notice it is out, and suggest you listen on your own. I can say it bothered me a lot less than a lot of his other work has. That at least has to be one nugget worth mentioning. So it gets a 7 for benefit of the doubt and you decide.
Label ~ Eenie Meenie, 10 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.6
Up Escalator - "Trying On The World For Measure" Another well deserving disc which has sat on my back burners too long is this debut by the Up Escalator. It is quite good, but as equally hard to describe to you because it covers a lot of genres without ever straying too far from what it is, if that makes any sense. It is divided into A and B sides which have their own distinct feel with the former being decidedly more informal, with some slower tracks reminiscent of bands like When In Rome without all the sentimentality or the Kane Gang without the jazz. In fact track four On The Wall is quite a moving piano ballad that sounds all the world like one of Steven "Tin TinĒ Duffys best numbers. On the B side things get a bit more techno and on a whole it can be best described as a lost opus to the Mute label. So in essence this is an effort diverse enough to be likeable to those fond of the Lilac Time or Depeche Mode. If you happen to like both of them itís just win win. I will mention I am assuming the disc is a CDR only release however it is nicely done and aside from coming in a singles case it does not look like one and the sound is better than average for that genre as well. Quite worth looking for if you dig 80ís styled pop laced ballads with a lot of catchy hooks.
Label ~ Self (cdr), 11 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 5
George Usher Group - "Days of Plenty" Another of those things which broke my heart. I first heard the title track to this Lp on the Parasol Sweet 16 comp Vol 1 and fell in love with it. It's a gorgeously romantic song, so I was very eager for the album to follow. However this Lp got put back and put back, supposedly undergoing endless mixings to make it "perfect". Well it finally got finished, and I got it, and when the opener Smoke That Kiss (which really is a stupid title) came on, I almost cried. The song is a torrent of bad american bluesy rockabilly chords and his voice sounds just awful on this track. To be fair, there are a couple of songs on this that are OK, but for the most part I can't even listen to this record. It's too, TOO american, his voice sounds terrible, the guitars are a choppy american bluesy mess and I just can't stand it. A bitter blow it was for sure, I had such high hopes, but such is life. If you can't get enough of CCR or "Classic Rock" then you'll probably like this, but there was no hope for you then anyway.
Label ~ Parasol, 12 Tracks, 2000