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Ocasek - "Cinematic 1996 - 1997" CD 18/49:07
Recordings taken from 2 albums, an EP a single and some compilations from, you guessed it, 1996-1997, this re-mastered release is strange and eclectic and unbelievably contains music created by these guys when they were only 17 years old! Recorded mostly on a 4-track, there is an incredibly raw sound to this album, and to call it lo-fi would be an understatement. It's rawness is beautiful and it's melodies are infectious. Sharon
@ www.digitalisindustries.com MP3 Download

OCS – “Two” CD 22/52:15
Otherwise known as “Dwyer: the Basement Tapes”, featuring the infamous John Dwyer (Coachwhips, Pink & Brown, et al) with just an acoustic guitar and some bits of noise at his disposal for company. Actually the evocative gtr-picking is closer to Fahey than (insert “unplugged” cliché here) with snippets of found and/or manipulated sound/noise effectively mixed in for good measure. Probably not the disc to put on when you want your teeth (sonically) kicked in (that’s what the Coachwhips are for) but for those lower-key moments this should do just fine. David
@ www.narnackrecords.com

Of Montreal - “Satanic Panic In The Attic” CD 14/43:31
Normally I would be deliriously happy with this kind of shiny catchy techno-pop, to all appearances well skilled in So-Cal melodic confidence and Silicon Valley microchip discipline. On repeated listening, however, it all gets a bit overbearing and unduly eager to please - like characters in a TV commercial where they consumed Mentos spiked with Prozac, then found themselves sat in front of synthesizers. Pat
@ www.polyvinylrecords.com

Offspring - "Splinter" CD 12/32:02
I've never been a big fan of this band, and this isn't going to change my mind. More sk8er punk for the kids form these ScCal punk veterans, the songs are fast, but they've always lacked the melody that I crave in a song. One song, "Hit That", features a weird synth line running through the song, and there is a fairly nice acoustic guitar running through "Spare Me the Details". And the last song is a complete satire on old crooner tunes of the 20's and 30's, with a fake scratched vinyl sound. But most of the rest of the CD is fairly typical stuff. Plenty of punk foolishness about partying and drinking, plenty of the all too familiar guitar punk anthems that have always been their staple. This isn't going to convert anyone to liking them who hasn't already, but fans of the band should be satisfied with this release. Steve
@ www.columbiarecords.com

Old Ghost – “Light Returns” CD 10/41:56
I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing the past two generations of rock/post-punk musicians discover, nurture and explore the country music/roots music aspect of their artistic personalities. Going back to Elvis and the rock-a-billy roots of rock and roll, with feet firmly planted in the brown dirt of American music, running through Dylan, Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Jackson Browne, Lowell George, all the way to Nick Cave, Will Oldham, Neko Case, Kurt Wagner, Ryan Adams, P.W. Long, and on and on and on. Rock and roll, when forced to look inward and confront itself, always has to come to grips with country music as the bedrock of (White) American musical culture. Add the blues and you have the base elements of all of rock history. Old Ghost yearns to be a part of that self-aware legacy. When a band’s press kit declares them congruent to Palace Bros. or Songs:Ohia many folks will be skeptical, and with good reason, but here the “shared musical language” suggestion is not so far-fetched. “Blinking Out the Dust”, “Threw It Away”, “Summer Days”, the first three songs all demand to be noticed, and singer Paul Hutzler’s mid-range delivery is distinctively timbered. The use of violin in this context can be overdone but the springier touch on some of this helps alleviate that problem. “Spread It Around” weeps with a grayness that calls up a somber trans-Atlantic tone and illuminates the universal pain of the Irish musical vernacular. “Black Coffee, Corn Whisky” dances with a rustic weariness. “North Shore Town” drifts toward the liquor store at a slow waltz. Real fine work by a sincere bunch. Anthony
@ www.morphius.com

Oma Yang – “Bang Bang” CD 9/43:38
I read in the press info that came with this disc that Oma Yang consider themselves poised between Mogwai, Don Caballero, Brian Eno and Can. Wow, that’s not a lot to live up to. Don’t believe the hype.This is just benign instro-noodling with a clean rock sheen. Muzak for misfits. Anthony
@ www.slowdance.com MP3 Download

On the Speakers - “EP” CD 6/21:50
I accidentally saw On the Speakers open up for the Stills at a show a few months ago and I was blown away. I convinced myself it wasn’t the cute drummer or the rockstar hot lead singer, but that it was the music that moved me. So when I saw that I had received the not-yet-released at showtime CD to review I jumped for joy. So exciting! And then I played it. “Hmmmm...” I thought, “I remember loving this band so much I wanted to marry them AND I even bought a bra with their name on it. Why am I so unmoved?” I haven’t quite answered that question yet, but as best I can figure, these boys wooed me, but their music does not. They sound like what they are - an LA band of pretty boys who make rock music ala the Stills and the Wrens and the Walkmen and they aren’t bad. They just aren’t as good. Sharon
@ www.onthespeakers.com

On Trial - “Blinded by the Sun” CD 12/47:10
I wasn’t in the mood to review much of anything and had not heard of this band, but the first few bars of “Blinded by the Sun” made me realize the universe was expanding without me. That realization does a number on your skull. Despite my anonymous battles, of which no one cares, the whole machine of commerce keeps chugging along. It smacked me in the face. I have to do something drastic to change my mode. Isn’t that what the psychedelic revolution was about? Finding a higher being inside yourself. Music operates in a parallel space in consciousness that can achieve a higher state and capture a muse. That’s what psychedelic music is about, but it is a difficult mode to attain. Every song on this record achieves its own nirvana, “Too Late”, “Miles Away”, “Downer”, “Poor Soul”. Post-everything supersonic psych-food of the Gods. I’m beginning to see the light. I won’t forget what happened today, and I’ll remember that moment when the new me began to emerge. Thanks for the wake-up call. Anthony
@ www.teepeerecords.com

One Care Pile-Up - "Worst Episode Ever" CD 18/59:11
This looked like it might be from yet another one of those pop-"punk" bands (only this time straight outta the U.K.) who formed in the wake of the Vans Tour (and broke up when the members went off to college and/or the band got dropped by their label), but the revelation of a prior release on the estimable Damaged Goods label (usually a name you can trust) gave one hope. Alas, while the, you guessed it, amiable pop-punk on display here ain't bad, it doesn't come anywhere near standing out from the rest of the pack. If you can't get enough of that post-post-post-late Descendents sound check it out. Otherwise I can't say your life will be adversely affected if you miss out on this. David
@ www.crackle.freeuk.com

One Man Army - "Rumors and Headlines" CD 12/30:32
Straightforward punk rock, One Man Army is far more well produced than your average DIY punk bank, which is why it's more fun to listen to. Yeah there's tons of noise, but the vocals are clear and unobscured and backed up. Be forewarned, this is punk rock , thus no trace of oy on this CD. I dare say that punk fans won't miss it a bit. Pam
@ www.byorecords.com

Oneida – “Each One Teach One” 2XCD 9/58:15
Reissue of the 2000 double album from this NY outfit. CD1 featuring swirling waves of pure concentrated Freakout and the kind of psyched-out drone rock that outdoes Spacemen 3 and makes one wonder what Tony Conrad, John Cale, et al would think of their illegitimate (grand-)children. CD2 is more ‘conventional’ post-acid rock, though in this case ‘conventional’ is a VERY relative term, especially when we’re talking in terms of left-of-center-and-out-of-the-ballpark-altogether ROCK. Despite some nit-picking on my part (even if it’s in keeping with the continuity of the original double-album, this could easily have fit onto a single disc), I daresay this is the place to go the next time you’re in the mood for a brain-melting listening experience. David
@ www.jagjaguwar.com MP3 Download

Operation Makeout – “Hang Loose” CD 10/33:24
This Vancouver-based trio suffers from an acute case of a bad name and a slightly less pointed symptom of having that recognizable jangly kid-oriented Northwestern punk sound you can dance to. Sort of like Huggy Bear, but not sloppy, and a bit more creative in the song-structuring department. Lots of parts, lots of changes, but consistently boppy and jumpy without being hyperactive. This is a co-ed effort, and it shows. It’s fun, and very balanced. The girl vocals are better than the guy vocals, but for the most part they sound best together. Imagine that. Xtian
@ Mint, PO Box 3613, Vancouver, BC Canada V6B 3Y6

Operators – “Citizens Band” CD 12/33:44
You can’t resist a Breeders comparison when listening to this band, which is rather exciting, considering that the last Breeders album wasn’t that good. The Operators have great energy for their college rock. Their music is fun, jangly guitars, theremin, and catchy melodies with good hooks, male and female vocals. Their lyrics aren’t any better than they need to be, but there are some good moments like, “you’re brother used to break dance, now he’s got a job in finance.” Try “Citizens Band” and “Rock City” for the most fun. Pam
@ www.unstoppablerecords.com

Oranges Band – “All Around” CD 12/39:50
This is an aptly titled CD given the band’s history. The tour was scheduled, and an album recorded before the band was assembled. After a touring “all around” the band sat down to focus on recording. I have to admit that what was holding me back from liking the Oranges Band is singer Roman Kuebler’s voice. It’s a voice that is distinct and clear, lacking any rock n’ roll gravely-ness, in much of the same manner as Elvis Costello. It’s this distinction that makes it harder to pay attention to the strong, poppy melodies and harmonies, the multiple guitars. Keubler toured with Spoon last year for the “Kill the Moonlight” tour, and the influence on the Oranges is clear. Pam
@ www.lookoutrecords.com

Oranges Band – “On TV” CD 7/17:00
The third EP from this East Coast garage-stylin’ indie-pop punk from Baltimore. Frontman Roman Kuebler does have a knack for non-sickening Buzzcocks pop, and while it’s catchy enough it’s nothing to jump up and scream about. This style is starting to suffer from a little bit of thematic exhaustion after all these years. Pat
Lookout, 3264 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703

Organ Donor – “Midewest/Italia” CD 10/39:09
For whose who love Bright Eyes and Neutral Milk Hotel but could do with les abrasive vocals, I submit Organ Donor. Of course, for the mainstreaming of the vocal quality, you give up song craft. Organ Donor does a fantastic job of meshing styles like the plaintive, whispered “Caroline” to the churning “Christmas Song” to the downright Ucle-Tupelo-esqe “The Longest Drive,” but as a whole it’s just good enough to earn an occasional place in your radio and just bland enough to keep you from listening to it too often. It’s finest quality lies in serving as a foil to the Neutral Milk Hotel’s of the world; in that after you hear Organ Donor, you’ll appreciate an act that’s willing to take a chance to gain your affection. Ryan
@ www.organ-donor.net

Organ - "Sinking Hearts" CD 6/14:17
Great...that's just what this world needs - another bullshit band taking up space at the record stores. This album is quite possibly the most forgettable fifteen minutes of your life. Looks like the kids in this band read a "how to" manual on how to make post punk songs and gave a go at it. Vapid lyrics and not even close to exceptional musicianship leave this album tired and boring. It's not that they're horrible, but why waste time on "ok" bands when there are so many good ones out there. Mona
@ www.globalsymphonic.com

Organic - "The Life and Times of Sal Sagev" CD 26/70:39
It's hard to tell what Organic is up to. The band comes screaming out of the gate on the opening track, all spit and anger and feedback. Then the second track rolls in, and the pretty indie arrangements take over. The spit is still there, the singer continues to scream through his throat, and the band is playing hard. Yet somehow the music itself seems to defuse the power of the songs. Imagine DOA playing Smashing Pumpkins tunes. No, wait, that would probably be hilarious. This just sounds like a band that would like to be playing songs which are a lot tougher than the ones they've written. Mark
@ Microcosm, PO Box 14332, Portland, OR 97293

Origami - "Please Exit Quietly" CD 10/30:43
If I didn't know any better, I would swear Origami were members of K Records' Olympia-based stable. They'd fit right in with the punkish denizens of that Pacific Northwestern burgh, but they're actually Aussies. Flat (but appealing) female vocals, propulsive drumming, rubbery bass lines, and noodly guitar lines allude to Sleater-Kinney and their ilk without totally ripping them off, which is refreshing. Origami contemplate playful girl punk and self-conscious hipsterisms but never lose sight of the goods (in this case, breathy vocals and a whole lotta minor-key melodies). Not much variety here, as songs alternate between upbeat sing-alongs and reflective slowcore. But what they do, they do quite well. John
@ http://on.to/origami

Orphans – “Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead” CD 13/29:10
Think seminal SF Punk meets Rip-Off with perhaps a tad of vintage East Bay (especially on “Save Me From Me”) and killer female vox and you’ll have an idea of the quality of the tuneage on display here. Another band to add to your list of “must-sees” next time they stumble into town. David
@ www.unitysquadrecords.com

Orphins – “Drowning Cupid” CD 12/42:10
This Atlanta quintet possesses a highly distinctive sound. Definitely rock, definitely charted territories brought forth with the standard instruments. The uniqueness lies in the way the guitars agree, yet still seem to be dueling with one another. They’re noisy without using a lot of distortion or effects: the band is simply playing riffs that create this effect with one another. Additionally, they’re not afraid to use some hotwired string-picking to pace the song instead of relying solely on power chords. The Orphins are a part of something larger going on in Atlanta, in general, and are certainly worth checking out. Xtian
@ www.goodnightrecords.com

Out Crowd – “Go On, Give a Damn” CD 7/32:08
Give The Out Crowd credit – like that dorky kid in high school who surprises you with a genuinely funny line every week or so, they prove that persistence pays off. From the start of this record, they sound like another group of British-rock wannabes who have decided that having guitars and retro jeans are all it takes to be the next Strokes. But then the songs kick in, and what do you know: they stick. “Good Morning” and “Gemini” in particular show off this band’s ability to make easy, breezy, carefree rock that would run the Billboard charts in a perfect world. Nothing groundbreaking, but the best rock album you’re likely to hear all year. Get it now, or hear about it from a friend a month from now and feel silly. Ryan
@ www.theoutcrowd.com MP3 Download

Outcasts - "Self Conscious Over You" CD 17/53:02
"You're a Disease" was one of the definitive anthems of '77 punk. In '78 this Belfast band created their second anthem of the fledgling punk movement with "Just Another Teenage Rebel/Love Is For Sops". The title track here was their third classic single in three tries. The '77 punk scene was a crowded field, and The Outcasts never became as popular in the States as they deserved to be. If you like '70s UK punk pick up either this release, or the 25 song "The Outcasts - Punk Singles Collection" on the Anagram label. Mel
@ www.captainoi.com

Outlie – “Companions to Devils and Saints” CD 11/33:58
Put together a little over a year ago by guitarist Luke Pabish of Good Riddance, this band takes some of the punk energy of his previous band but slows the tempo down and raises the chugalug faux metal melody up a notch. The songs are OK; lyrically the songs occasionally stick with the political themes that Good Riddance fans have grown accustom to and they’re sung in a very heartfelt manner, but I’m not a huge fan of this style of music in general. Although it’s all very proficient, it doesn’t do much for me. For me, it’s just one more chunky punk band. Oh, this doesn’t signal the end of Good Riddance, this is considered a side project. So don’t worry you fans of good Riddance, you can’t get rid of them that easily. Steve
@ www.porterhouserecords.com

Oval-Teen - "Yorkville, IL 1994-2001" 2XCD
This cadre of Midwest mooks collect their lo-fi youthful folly for all and sundry, and what a bountiful batch of sweetness it is. Forty-plus tunes, no waiting, in varying melodic shades of tuneful teenypop, with serious nods to Teenage Fanclub and just about every great post-Chilton/C-86 aggregation, known or unknown, to (Chelsea) boot. All this and some of the funniest liner note descriptive commentary for each tune i've seen in a dog's age. Bradley Davis and company: great younga Murricans, all. MLH
@ www.bifirecords.com

Owls - “Our Hopes And Dreams” CD 8/29:17
Enjoyably schizoid pop-rock stylings from this Minneapolis quartet. Sometimes you’re in a musty Sunday afternoon drawing room, listening to Suzanne Vega’s love child by Moe Tucker murmuring pensive music-box euphonies; other times it’s Ben Folds at Lennon’s white piano, intoning wintry imaginings. Most assured and duskily delightful either way. Pat
@ www.magicmarkerrecords.com MP3 Download

Oxford Collapse – “Some Wilderness” CD 10/45:47
This band must be totally exhausted. It goes all out on every track with scales, fills, and harmonies bouncing all around and against one another non-stop. The three guys in this band graduated from emo-screamo into an amalgam of thundering dance beats and riffage that is akin to a hyperactive Dinosaur Jr., especially when it settles into instrumental portions, with a backdrop that is unmistakably disco-dance influenced. Even when the guitar gets noisy there isn’t a bunch of hollering, and the songs are being coerced along by a dedicated bassline and drumming that is frenetic and still syncopated like a metronome. Not a dull moment here, and not a bad one either. Xtian
@ www.kaninerecords.com

Ozma – “Spending Time on the Borderline” CD 12/49:46
Melodic rock that can’t help but make one wonder if this is supposedly the modern-day “indie” equivalent of Jigsaw and all those other faceless pop-rock bands of the 70s that eventually got pushed aside by Disco and (in Britain at least) that Punk/New Wave stuff; the only difference is that these folks can’t even come up with a decent one-off like “Skyhigh”. The opening track is an okay Weezer-ish number but the rest of this is pretty disposable inoffensive one-eye-on-MTV2-play post-alternative pop-rock-by-numbers. Not the worst thing I’ve heard this issue, but surely there’s at least a few dozen (hundred?) other releases that you’re better off giving up fourteen of your dollars and about 50 minutes of your life to. David
@ www.kungfurecords.com

Ozzy Osbourne - “The Essential...” 2XCD
I’m not too sure how I feel about ‘ol Ozzy anymore, but this here collection is a definite “duh!” to the hard core following or those just curious as to what that curmudgeon on the MTV show really does when he’s not shuffling around his Beverly Hills mansion or swearing at the dogs. Disc 1 is a collection of all of Ozzy’s early works post-Sabbath and my favorite of the two. It chronicles all the greats from “Blizzard of Ozz”, “Diary of a Madman” etc, and features some great live cuts with the late great Randy Rhoads providing the fret melting fury to amp up the drugged out metal maniac, famous for biting off bats’ heads and snorting ants. Disc 2 is fine if you are into the 80’s and 90’s style Ozzy, with sugary tunes like “Mama I’m Coming Home” and “No More Tears”. To me this is an almost pop Ozz which slowly peters out track to track. But that’s just me. I prefer the harder, raw Ozzy stuff than to the video and radio friendly stuff he put out later in his bizarre career. All in all “The Essential…” is slickly packaged (surely supervised by his manager/wife Sharon) and boasts the wares of the man that made metal what it is today. Whittaker
@ www.legacyrecording.com

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