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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Four   September 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca

    Localcentric CD's For Your Tune-Starved Player!

    Mark Bignell

    Ecovedo 101: Songs Of Alejandro Escovedo    
    Roots / Rock   
    Various Artists

    An inspired and fitting local tribute to the well-loved and respected Texas singer/songwriter musician, fighting the effects of Hepatitis C. Alejandro
    Ecovedo is a huge influence on many in the local music scene.

    Some of his most ardent fans turn up on this album in every aspect from the singers to the players to the cover art to the production. Any time, money, blood, sweat and tears anybody could spare went into this labour of love.

    This album serves as a fine a primer if you aren't familiar with his music. The artists here have also put their own spin on Alejandro's muse, as opposed to just performing straight cover versions.

    Highlights include: Ray Condo (in, sadly, his last session) gives a jovial reading of "Everybody Loves Me" in fine shuffling, rockabilly style. Herald Nix (expect a new album from him on the new Northern Electric label) offers his chunky and melodic guitar in a slow waltz to "Nickel And A Spoon.” The Sadies (not so local, but indie) along with Blue Rodeo's Bazil Donovan and Glenn Milchem (The Goods, the Baz & Stumpy Joe) take a seemingly unassuming turn at "Crooked Frame," which later shows its enviable charms. A marvelous Beatles-Tomorrow Never Knows treatment is given to "Home By Eleven" by members of The Modernettes and Pointed Sticks.

    You can hear the humbled respect in Butch Murphy's voice, as him and his Bughouse 5 ride the highly memorable, driving melody of "Rhapsody.”

    "Wave" is given an atmospheric slant by Bob Egan. Brian Goble (Sub-humans) takes the lead vocal on an old school Punk version of "Pyramid Of Tears,” backed by an encouraging bunch of youngsters known as Solemn Fist. Joe Mavety's cool rendering of "About This Love" includes finely punctuated, gentle wah-wahed guitar, timely mandolin fills, later Hammond organ touches and warm backing vocals from Joni Taylor. Other highlights: Kevin Kane's gorgeous version of "Follow You Down" with later trumpet inclusions by the Salteens' Rob Caldon. Linda McRae and Cheerful Lonesome's punchy go at "One More Time.”

    Heather Griffin's (and Good Wood) fearless, full-throated vocals on "Paradise.” Another grouping of Modernettes and Pointed Sticks members under the guise of Captain Morgan on  "Last To Know.”

    And finally: the most unusual version on this impressive album: The Minimalist Jug Band, making the most of a stressed out, talking voice and washtub bass on "Thirteen Years.” All money raised from sales of this album goes directly to assist Alejandro Escovedo in his recovery.

    If you need more info on this project, please visit: http://songsofalejandro.com

    Boompa Volume One    
    Indie Rock / Pop   
    Various Artists

    Most all the songs have a bright sense of fun to them. They're not overproduced and highly melodic in an old school sort of way; with a bit of dirt allowed to settle to give these acts a more distinctive sound.

    This CD holds some fine ear candy and offers some refreshing variation that makes for a very rewarding listen. (There are also a couple of hidden live tracks. I won't tell you by whom).

    The folks at Boompa should be greatly applauded in their efforts. Boompa is one of many newer indie labels offering more unique local and international acts a place to just be themselves.
    Australia's Sekiden gets things off to a brisk start with their digital meltdown opening--call and response ending with "Alexander.” Don't blink, you'll miss it. Run Chico Run's  "Jacques And Madeleine" has an intriguing low-fi darkness-meets-lounge vibe to it.

    Calgary's The Dudes arrive, their guitars giving you the impression they're right for riding into the sunset with their catchy, car-cruising, indie rock gem "Dropkick Queen of The Weekend.” Choppy, hypnotic harmonizing guitars open Reverie Sound Revue's "Rip the Universe" to an intelligent electro-back beat and deceivingly carefree vocals.

    On to the much bally-hooed Sparrow, featuring Jason Zumpano, offering a splendid slice of intelli-Pop in "Mountain On Mountain" with some fine changes in tempo and welcoming descending chords. The Dirtmitts offer their performance with something a bit faster, and simpler, but no less charming: "House Arrest.”

    Former Carnations member, Thom D'arcy, brings along his new project The
    Ladies & Gentlemen, complete with circling keyboards fills, almost whispered vocals and a chorus which doesn't leave your head: "You can ‘Stay’ if you want to. But you can't sleep in my bed." The keyboard fills don't either. A more rhythmic, minimalist and electronic adventure awaits you with Circlesquare's "Non-Revival Alarm.”

    Other memorable tracks include: Natasha Thirsk's deceptively simple "Don't Think,” which she funnily enough didn't want on the album. The Lucksmith's, with their lovely 1960's tinge, with chiming guitars and later trumpet fills (courtesy of The Salteens' Rob Calder) in "Midweek Midmorning," and The Salteens closing out a very eventful listening with an alternate version of "Time you Have Been Wasting.” Here come the trumpet fills again! Yippee!!

    To know more about all things Boompa visit: www.boompa.ca

    Till Next Time, Happy Listening.

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