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CD Reviews

Local CD Revue

Music: Atherton, Melodramus, Medicine Circus

By Jenny Poplar
Posted // August 15,2007 -

Atherton Skyline Motel
Skyline Motel is an apt title for such a sparse, dreamy, smooth and distinctly Western album. These spare songs of love and roaming clearly originated in the desert, not east of the Mississippi in the green avenues of Nashville or Memphis.? Atherton certainly channels alt-country giants Ryan Adams and Wilco, but—as with most truly great records—the more you listen to Skyline Motel, the more you realize Atherton’s sedate songs hail from a slightly different metaphysical region. A seldom-traversed spot on the alt-country map which produces music much less jagged, desolate and achy than the songs of Ryan Adams and Wilco, and much more serene, collected and comfortably remote. Atherton’s sweet cup of perfectly brewed coffee or Ryan Adams and Wilco’s bitter tumbler of whiskey: Take your pick. (AthertonMusic.com)

hspace=5Melodramus 30 Silver Pieces
I am convinced that Melodramus graduated from the Rock Academy featured in Yo la Tengo’s “Sugarcube” video (Google it, people!). 30 Silver Pieces proves that Melodramus took notes when a hulking, shirtless instructor in Kiss makeup urged them to create themselves in the image of the goth, metal and hair bands of yore. Zakkary Hale’s commanding vocals complement the many guitar and synth crescendos that would receive high marks from the difficult-to-please Rock Academy instructor who sports a Jem & The Holograms-esque spiky pink wig. Melodramus is well on their way to receiving four highly coveted laminated, all-access, backstage passes for their laudable rock & roll accomplishments. 30 Silver Pieces does, however, get a demerit for length. Seventy minutes 36 seconds is long and unruly for a debut album. But I’m sure Kiss make-up dude and spiky pink wig guy would argue that Melodramus receives high marks for passion, enthusiasm and image cultivation—which the Rock Academy embraces as the primary tenants of success. (Melodramus.com)

hspace=5Medicine Circus Cinder & Ashes
Do you ever find yourself scratching your head and saying, “Now, what exactly is alternative rock?” If so, Medicine Circus is a fairly solid example of a subspecies of rock & roll which has been slowly but surely mutating into something else for more than a decade now. Cinder & Ashes is made up of six songs which are essentially bare-bones, garden-variety alternative rock. Mind you, I’m not talkin’ about the glorious basement beginnings of Sonic Youth or Nirvana here; I’m speaking about prolific radio-friendly acts like Silverchair, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains. Cinder & Ashes features slightly dark medium-tempo guitar riffs and meandering vocals. Nothing too exhilarating here, but fans of driving, basic alternative rock will dig this record. There is something refreshing about listening to an album with transparent alternative-rock roots. (MedicineCircus.com)
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