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Music Reviews

Randy's Buttons

April 16, 1997
Play It Loud
  Ditch Croaker Ditch Croaker, Ditch Croaker (Warner Bros. 1996) - Think heavily-amplified southern boogie. Think 34 minutes of proto-grunge. Or just think power rock trio. In any event, Ditch Croaker delivers the goods.

Ditch Croaker consists of Tim Newman on guitar and lead vocals, Floyd on bass and backing vocals, and Tim Barnes on drums and backing vocals. This intrepid trio came together in Hoboken, New Jersey, and eventually formed their own label, Fine Corinthian. The group's flair for self-promotion has created many fans along the way.

Says lead singer Tim Newman, "We feed off each other really well. You could say we're three vectors pushing toward our final goal -- to have the opportunity to reach more people with our music, to convey quality and make enough of a one day find ourselves on the oldies stations."

From the U2-influence "The Pimp" to the feedback-filled "Hebba Ho," Ditch Croaker has real talent. Rock and grunge fans will enjoy this understated jam.
Albumen The Egg, Albumen (Discovery 1997) - Meet The Egg, Britain's newest foray into electronic/dance music. With an intoxicating mix of live instruments, samples, and good song writing, Albumen is a heady mix.

Formed in Oxford in 1994, The Egg consists of Dave Gaydon on bass, Mark Revell on guitar, and twin brothers Maff (drums) and Ned Scott (keyboards). Says Mark, "It started out as long jam sessions, really. It was kind of like a story where you watch the films and listen to the music and it takes you somewhere. We want the music to take you on a journey." In live performances, that journey is a three-dimensional interactive feast, as The Egg incorporates fluid trance grooves, heavy beats, hip-hop psychodelia and ambient house flavors with the added bonus of Super 8 and Super 16 film footage.

In response to comparisons between The Egg and Pink Floyd, Mark Revell says that, "We have all been into Floyd for a long time, you might actually call us Floyd-philes. In early Pink Floyd music, you were taken on a trip. We want to do the same."

Some music pundits think electronic/dance music is the wave of the future. Albumen's extended jams on such songs as "The Fat Boy Goes to the Cinema," "Jam Tomorrow," and "Shopping" mark The Egg as emergent hatchlings. For a walk across the road with instrumental/trance, try Albumen.
Greg Kihn Greg Kihn, Horror Show (Rounder/Clean Cuts 1996) - Fans of 80's pop will remember Greg Kihn, who scored chart hits with such songs as "Jeopardy" and "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write Like That)" on such pun-titled albums as Kihntinued and Citizen Kihn (a fine release from 1985 that is not available on CD).

In recent years, Kihn appears to have drunk from the same well as Dave Alvin, another rocker-turned-traditionalist who also lives in the Bay Area. Alvin rocked out with the Blasters for many years; now he makes great solo and acoustic albums. Likewise, Kihn churned out great pop material during the early years of MTV; now, his albums feature his well-honed voice.

Kihn's last album, Mutiny (1994), received wide-spread acclaim, as it blended traditional and pop elements to reveal a talented and even-tempered artist. Horror Show (his 19th album) doesn't have the same breadth as the prior release; instead, the songs are more stripped-down and spare.

Which means that the first half of the album is a somber listen, including such cuts as "JFK" and "Waterloo Sunset." On "Trials, Troubles, Tribulations," Kihn delivers a religious traditional in a style reminiscent of Johnny Cash's recent recordings. Fortunately, the tempo picks up on the second half of Horror Show, with songs like "Alligator Man" and "Where There's Smoke."

Kihn also published a novel entitled "Horror Show" to coincide with the release of the new album. A consummate artist, and a Bay Area stalwart, Greg Kihn deserves to be rediscovered. Though some fans may find Horror Story a bit austere.
Odds Odds, Nest (Elektra 1997) - Now on their fourth album, Vancouver-based The Odds are hoping to build on their success in the Great White North. With the diversity and skills reflected on Nest, The Odds may achieve their breakthrough.

The quartet features Craig Northey on vocals, guitars, and keyboards, Doug Elliott on bass and vocals, Pat Steward on drums and percussion, and Steven Drake on vocals, guitars and other instruments.

The band boasts multiple pop influences. Thus, songs like "Nothing Beautiful" are reminiscent of George Harrison and his work with the Traveling Wilberies. Continuing in the mellow vein, songs like "Heard You Wrong" draw comparisons to the BoDeans and Crowded House. On the other hand, cuts like "Tears & Laughter" and "At Your Word" are uptempo pop rockers.

Skilled musicians all, The Odds know how to get a jam started. Try Nest.

-- Randy Krbechek
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