soundbites
October '03

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The Black Eyed Peas
Elephunk - A&M Records

You’d think that any band forced to play alongside Justin Don’t-hate-me-because-I’m beautiful Timberlake and Christina Running-out-of-things-to-pierce Aguilera would have a hard time replenishing their hip hop fluids after being sucked dry as toast every night. Fortunately, you’d be wrong.

L.A.’s hot & tasty Black Eyed Peas have shown on their third album, Elephunk, that they are quite chock-full of some nice, juicy funk (do you think they might add a little legitimacy to the other’s street creds? Makes you go hmmm…). With new vocalist Fergie (yes, she’s babe-licious) puttin’ a little breath into the proceedings, and with a big helpin' of ridiculously infectious tracks like "Let’s get Retarded," (Hey, they said it), not to mention a generous side plate of "Hey Mamas," slick rasta rhythms, it’s hard not to want seconds, and easier to forgive them for the company they keep. -Brandon Whitehead


Amy Saia
Souldier - Chilaha Records

Local musicians Amy and Scott Saia prove that while three guitars, a bass, organ and drums may seem like a heavy load for two people to carry on a single album, it’s possible. Recorded in their basement, the two wrote, produced and engineered the upbeat and lyrically poignant album, which reflects on Saia’s life and her outlook on the world.

Saia’s vocals hold a striking resemblance to a raw Aimee Mann, but Saia tends to draw back from written high notes. Although many of the guitar strumming patterns seem to run together from song to song, the introduction to “Work” breaks this mold, and the syncopation of the chorus is a beat you are sure to be tapping for days.

The title track also stands above the others because of its minor key and its meanderings on historical figures. Saia proclaims everyone is a soldier; we just all fight different battles. "I am just a souldier warring in and out all day…lonely is my anthem, lonely is this song of mine." - Jessica Chapman


Glasseater
Everything is beautiful when you don’t look down -
Victory Records

With more "pop" than "emo" in their punk sound, Glasseater’s fourth album (in as many labels) eats up a bigger than average piece of credibility from the neo-punk pie, although the taste can be a little bland here and there.

"Greetings…Goodbye" starts off the album with just the right attitude, ripping out some high-speed drums and nicely pointless lyrics that makes the head bang, even if some of the middle tracks sag a little. Not everything is beautiful here, no matter where you look, but there’s still plenty to see. -Brandon Whitehead


Jerry Dowell
Prelude to Apocalypse - Thunder Source Records

One of the best aspects of an independent artist is his or her ability to mix styles and abilities without the stigmata of projected sales or corporate sponsorship (although they could use the money).

KC's own blues/jazz/country/etc. musician Jerry Dowell epitomizes that attitude well with his second album, Prelude to Apocalypse (such a heavy name, Jerry!), proving once and for all that 13 different songs are better than 13 songs that sound exactly the same.

While starting off a bit jaggedly with "Dog Solider," Dowell quickly redeems himself with well-built tunes like "Loaded Gun," and the downright perfect "Dead Buildings." They don't call it "range" for nothing baby, and there's obviously little Jerry and his gang won't try to grab. The end of the world should sound so good. -Brandon Whitehead


Dashboard Confessional
A mark, a mission, a brand, a scar - Vagrant Records

When one is forced to pick through the 99-cent drive-through menu that is the world of Top-40 radio stations today, one must choose carefully. For instance, a nice Spin Doctors Shake might sound good, but since nobody ever wants more than one, the item soon vanishes into the mist, like the McRib. A new favorite on that list is Dashboard Confessional, led by vocalist Chris Carrabba trying to channel Kurt Cobain (and doing ok, more or less), while being backed by a decent band trying to channel the Pixies, who aren’t even dead.

With their third album, A Mark, A Mission, A Scar, hitting the shelves, or wherever they put them these days, complete with a DVD, these guys have luckily managed to expand enough beyond fast-food music with some tight playing and just enough spice to make the them more filling than your average McBand. -Brandon Whitehead


Various bands
All’s Not Quiet on the Alternative Front - Alternative Weekly Network

Damn this is a good compilation, even if it uses that totally dubious label "alternative." The taste of so many styles and so much good music on this CD just adds to the argument of how crappy commercial radio is — along with most major labels. There’s punk, country-alt, hip hop, pop, gospel, power rock, blues boogie, R&B, techno dance and some jazz.

Atlanta-based Five Star Iris kicks opens the disk with “World Needs Now,” a fresh, hard-driving message song: "there’s no time to debate/have you seen the paper today/we got CEOs with hollow looks and corporate kitchens cookin’ books/eating our 401ks." Funk seasoned with free-form jazz percolates "Em" from the New Jersey band Lemon Juice Quartet. Sheer butt-shaking ‘70’s moves emerge from Eugene, OR with the full-band R&B sound of the Satin Love Orchestra’s "Growin’ Me A Mustache," — "big, black, thick and long..." A guitar in Texas-drive pushes "Gone Are the Days" by Two and A Half White Guys out of Salt Lake City. Blues ‘n’ gospel brings the Rochester, NY-based The Campbell Brothers home in "I’ve Got A Feeling." The whole CD got me home. -Bruce Rodgers

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