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Random Stabbings 12a

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Dresden Dolls “Yes Virginia” (Roadrunner Records)
Back for more seductive flashing of her Raggedy Ann-stockinged knees from behind the safety of her keyboards is Amanda Palmer, proffering another compendium of hyper-angst co-gloomed by her male Meg, Brian Viglione.   Less theatrical than their eponymous rookie effort, Yes Virginia will also be (aside from the post-post-whatever "Necessary Evil") a disappointing experience for anyone hoping for more X-like punking in the vein of "Girl Anachronism.”  Granted, some Kit Kat Klub non sequituring bandies keywords like masturbation about ("Shores of California") and provides backing for further disturbing revelations about her disturbing friends, but after decades now of sociopathic DIY-ers literally chucking feces at their audiences those are just ticks on the style-point checklist.  As with any musical artifact, however, everything boils down to the songwriting, and there is simply nothing wrong here.  “Sing,” may be a shameless "rock-on" pandering to the mopey gimps in the crowd and the sort of big-buildup Vegas-rock number that’s avoided like leper lotion by anyone whose posturing demands they avoid all possible comparisons to Elton John, but the all-out abandonment at the coda is a marvel.  The 70s hawking peaks at “Dirty Business,” wherein the spirit of ELO comes through with a laser-guided chartbuster, cementing the band’s place at the top of the cabaret-rock heap and finalizing their de facto appointment as the Black Stripes.  Order from Amazon.com

Joel Penner Sextet "The Church of the Little Black Dog" (Sea Breeze Records)
The star-studded list of session and live experiences of the individual members of this left-coast jazz crew could have served to ruin their joint output, but the oldies they chose were given full-spa treatments that leave no room for improvement.  Leadoff track "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" does up the Cole Porter standard with Glenn Miller panache and Weather Report levels of craftsmanship, former Boston Pops drummer Steve Pemberton tossing out impossible paradiddles as if he were feeding pigeons in the park.  Although bandleader Penner's trumpet abilities are Jedi-level, he's generous with the spotlight, allowing Joe-Farrell-trained sax player Michael Rose plenty of room to stretch out; later on, Penner, Rose and ex-Buddy Rich guitarist Doug MacDonald share equal billing in Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation."  One of the nicest bits here is, surprisingly enough, a "My Funny Valentine" that's neither hopelessly mawkish nor Sominex minimalist; Pemberton executes a surgical waltz beat underneath what eventually morphs into a brand new James Bond-ish melody.  The one original, MacDonald's "T & G," is an upbeat jam that rounds out the rest of the choices in genial fashion.  Not one hack to be heard - this is the disc of modernized ballroom your bottle of Dom has been waiting for. Order from Amazon.com


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She Wants Revenge "She Wants Revenge" (Flawless Records)
So far, Justin Warfield has exhibited all the cowardice necessary to cop the honor of Billy Zane-like Genre-Jumper of the Year for his CYA abandonment of McRap and subsequent clambering into this schlock-a-block 80s lifeboat.  His Joy Division hand-me-downs pander to the sort of mall-S&Mer who - he hopes - still eats this stuff up by the pallet-load, fans who'll deem it essential solely on the basis of the video's hotties getting red Popsicle drops on their black clothes and albino hands.  Warfield's nasal-sprayed baritone isn't sure whether to magpie Depeche Mode or Sisters of Mercy (reports of Interpol-grokking are exaggerated aside from the Wire-like deep-bass piano), but it doesn't matter - collectively the lyrics are a self-indulgent, nonsensical cesspool of goth buzzspeak serving only to provide a vehicle for the semi-okay choruses and their corresponding cyanotic verses.  Comes complete with droid-dance slop you'd find in a traveling exhibit of Facts of Life fossils ("I Don't Wanna Fall in Love").  Order from Amazon.com

Theo Eastwind “The O” (Mia Mind Music)
A busker/dealer of songs that sprout from his clinical interest in (and monk-like reverence for) the New York subway commuters that comprise his audience, Eastwind is a walking theoretical about late-night collaborations between Sting, Jimmy Barnes and Jack Johnson.  The confident chill-pop routed through this effort is hugely accessible, revealing a pure talent for neo-70s that owes little to the Austria transplant’s personal Jeff Buckley addiction – it’s Maroon 5 remanded to a John Fogerty boot camp (“Set-up,” “Anabelle”), The Police on a Lilys bender (“Head Again,” “Smoke”), nu-mod bouncing from Frampton after too many Marlboro Lights (“Ted Mahoney”).  Eastwind’s karmic backstory involves a bakery manager’s job in America that vanished the minute he stepped off the boat, leaving him with nothing but his genetic makeup, a piquant combination of Artful Dodger survivalist and boisterous old-countryman.  Artistically he’s unafraid to let his inner Chris Cornell stomp around flexing its throat (“So Far”), but in the end he’s programmed to lure coins of kindness into his guitar case, a hard-coded sensibility that keeps the album’s bass lines and multi-tracking sparse and most of the songs easy nuts to crack live. Order from Amazon.com

Ensoph “Project X-Katon” (Cruz Del Sur Music)
Off-Broadway goth-metal punctuated with terrified screams, nano-beat samples, Gollum-spat epithets and mezzo soprano Tourettes played out in a Type O environment by a bunch of incorrigible German hams dressed like little Hellraisers.  It’s one of those Berlin scenarios where the returns are predicated on the assumption that gothies will blindly snap at anything based around Kiss-like trips involving fang-faced albino batboys regardless of how loosely conceived it is.  Torch-bearing villagers who regularly storm Frankenstein’s castle would delight at having this on their iPods to set the mood; much of it wouldn’t be given a second thought if it appeared on a comp meant to spook trick-or-treaters.  Gothminister leaps immediately to mind as a May-We-Also-Suggest, but that’s about the only European obscurity with which this can be compared with a minimum of legwork. Order from Del Sur Music


Outraged ranting, indie label release news and spaghetti sauce recipes are always welcome.  Email ericsaeger@mindspring.com

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