Sunday, December 24, 2006


MOUNTAIN CON Sancho Panza (Big Record Company) Being a bit of an old school rock enthusiast, rap and hip-hop tends to be a turn off. However, whenever any cutting edge imaginative group of artists manages to mix and match hip hop beats with classic pop-rock, I am the first to jump up and scream – “Aw Yeah!” Case in point – Seattle’s Mountain Con, whose innovative amalgams e.g. the jaunty powerpop slam dunking “Escape Artist,” the folk-rock funky “House Party in the New Dark Ages” and the irresistibly insistent “Rocket Out of Trash” echoes Beck, Grandaddy, the Beastie Boys and a healthy dollop of Bob Dylan! Refreshing.

MONDO JET SET Henry After A Nightlife (Pink Hedgehog) Ostensibly, Mondo Jet Set is a British indie rock band that makes all the right moves, maybe even cynically so. I mean, for the 1st three tracks, Mondo Jet Set appears to be merely mimicking the shoe-gazing flavour of the month. Then “Siren Song” hits you right between the eyes with its campy melody and heartfelt white squall and the modus operandi takes on a distinct quality. From the ethereal “On Amber” onwards, Mondo Jet Set stretches out their wings and takes flight. “Disco” is a fantastic glam approximation, “Firing at the Sky” is an intense bloodletting and “You Know Your Lover” is lovely dreamy jazz pop.

VARIOUS ARTISTS Five Way Street: A Tribute to Buffalo Springfield (Not Lame) Strange as it may seem, this is the first tribute band this legendary band has mustered thus far. Ironic when you consider that one of its members viz. Neil Young has had more than his fair share of tribute albums down the years. Better late than never, I suppose. Though Buffalo Springfield was a short-lived band, their influence extends to this day. Part of the Laurel Canyon zeitgeist that fused rock ‘n’ roll, pop, folk, R&B, blues and country into a heady mélange, Buffalo Springfield deserves to take its place as an integral part of the 60s pop pantheon. Highlights of this set – Noctorum viz. Marty (The Church) Willson-Piper and Dave (Traffic) Mason – with a spine-tingling “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing,” Maplewood’s sensitive “I Am A Child,” The Gripweeds’ muscular “Down to the Wire,” The Windbreakers’ ethereal “Expecting To Fly,” Jeff Larson’s exciting “Questions” amongst others. Add also significant contributions from Walter Clevenger, George Usher Group, The Kennedys and Western Electric and you will agree that Five Way Street is a celebration that any fan of 60s pop-rock would want in on.

THE FAGS Light ‘Em Up (Idol) With nary a tune that lasts longer than 4 minutes, The Fags are, what you might call, a quintessential power pop band. With three chords and melodies that have you humming along and energy that will keep you bopping till the very end, the Fags simplify this whole business of rock ‘n’ roll to the basics. F-U-N! Think about every kind of guitar rock that has thrilled and killed you in the last 4 decades and what the Fags has done is distilled this potent brew into a fresh sound that is also comfortably familiar. Good stuff!

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