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Indie Rock: David Scott Jack, Many Birthdays, Melodic Energy Commission, the Pigs, the Terminal Generation

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DAVID SCOTT JACK: Roadkill Charades (CD on David Scott Jack Music)

This release from 2005 offers 39 minutes of straight-ahead rock.

Here we have a selection of accessible rock cultivated in alternative loam and flourishing with exceptional appeal.

The instrumentals are all conventional: snarling guitar, rumbling bass, and durable drums. The remarkable part comes in what is done with them. The guitars growl with determination as they belt out sustain-heavy licks with inventive nimble-fingered riffs. Rhythm guitars provide suitable auxiliary chords, giving the songs a pleasing fleshiness. The basslines are slick and almost hidden. The percussion is resolute, providing powerful rhythms untainted by flashy tricks. There are some electronics, but they are generally utilized to enhance other sounds.

Each track features strong vocals, masculine and capably articulate. The lyrics deal with everyday occasions: getting drunk, struggling to overcome self-limitations, seeking worthwhile companionship, fighting the demon bottle and coming out clean and still standing. Triumphant stuff, focusing on battles everyone can understand and aspire to mirror.

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MANY BIRTHDAYS: Sub Rapid Express (CD on Red Cake Records)

This CD from 2005 offers 41 minutes of quirky pop.

Many Birthdays is Doc and Kiki.

This is an interesting dose of alternative rock generated in a strange mixture of places: Nara, Japan and Austin, Texas. Combining elements of low-fi electronics, folk, and noise rock, the band employ a variety of samples recorded in Japan mixed with their own quirky guitar, eccentric percussives, electronic effects and treated vocals.

The music is engaging despite its jarring qualities. Sounds are assembled with a sense of irony, creating a discordant flow that fuses illbient with musique concrete, then injects a taste of art rock with all its unpredictable mannerisms. Instead of intellectual messages, the songs convey a flighty sense of documentation like a sonic diary recounting incidents of personal importance.

Although spurning any commercial sensibilities, this music retains a vivid charm that will appeal to fans of Beck or Radiohead.

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MELODIC ENERGY COMMISSION: Time Is a Slippery Concept (CD on Energy Discs Records)

This release from 2005 features 52 minutes of pleasant space rock.

Melodic Energy Commission is Don Xaliman, with numerous guests.

Blending inventive guitars with a plethora of additional instruments (from theremin to violin to flutes to dulcimer to drums), Xaliman generates a very slick dose of trancey space rock that alternates from dreamy voyages to more conventional powerhouse stylings.

Innovatively bent guitar chords swim through a nocturnal terrain littered with churning eeriness and pleasant drones. Sometimes it's an acoustic guitar undergoing the mutation. Congenial effects sparkle with complimentary luster, embellishing the tuneage with their exotic flavor, often sounding like Hawkwind creeping in at the ethereal edges.

Some tracks feature vocals. Some of these pieces exhibit folksy nuances swamped in eclectic sensibilities, with comfortable drumming and wavering violin and durable guitar riffs. Others pursue a more abstract structure with verbal musings backed by meandering effects.

The pieces that deliver most satisfaction, though, are the instrumental ones, with their delightfully spacey overtones and mesmerizing charm. Vaporous realms are captured and injected with a touch of edginess, peppered with growling things just beyond demonstrative perception. Cosmic tranquillity becomes laced with a hint of dark portents.

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THE PIGS: Oink! (CD on Disturbing Music)

This CD from 2005 offers 54 minutes of straight ahead rock.

The Pigs is versatile mainman Geoff Westen, with Lewis Goldsmith and Jefferson Kewley on guitars, Paul Hertzog on keyboards, Eric Gotthelf on bass, Dennis Conway and Ed Tuduri on drums, Richard Elliot and Phil Kens on saxophone, and additional vocals by Colin Carter, Nina Conway, Ron Magness and Patti Mitsui.

Remember Eighties rock that expressed simple sentiments with kick ass rhythms and strong riffs? Well, the Pigs are bringing it back. While hardly top 40 material, this music dwells in an indie region of wide appeal, designed for audiences who spurn popular music but seek straight ahead rock devoid of any political undercurrents or Hollywood movie tie-ins.

Solid drumming supports slick guitar licks and thumping basslines. Toss in a little sax to give it some sparkle. The lead vocals are rich and emphatic, and the backing vocals provide a choral tint that makes it all very appealing.

The tunes are tight little pieces that possess vibrant luster and catchy riffs. Dealing with human distractions like love and parties and loneliness, the charm is universal and undiluted by artificial flash. The music is hearty and direct.

Fans of Sparks or Polyrock shorn of all the quirkiness will enjoy this music.

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THE TERMINAL GENERATION: Our Monstrosity (CD on World Hate Media)

This CD from 2005 features 47 minutes of agro industrial music.

The Terminal Generation is: Hugo Mustafo, Dr. Sickmon Fraud, Frog Eyes, G. Beastly, and Felon.

This music goes into attack mode with its first note, and the frenzied assault is relentless throughout, never wavering or giving quarter for an instant. Angry, vicious, bloodthirsty, the band is determined in its quest to shatter eardrums and slaughter sacred cows everywhere.

The tuneage is so wildly packed that it's difficult to dissect the individual instruments. There's drums, pounding and fierce. There's guitar, tortured and searing. There's a bevy of nasty electronics and a host of imploding samples. And there's vocals, hoarsely shouting and emphatically screeching and demanding attention, conveying angst and displeasure with vitreous fever. Feedback plays a vital role too, harnessed to accentuate the crafted cacophony.

Combining elements of industrial, metal and hip hop, the band somehow manage to avoid herniating themselves in delivering this intense dose of sonic rage. The frenzy is pure and devout. The tunes are savage, and there are coherent melodies hiding in the prickly morass.

An exhausting display of sonic fury.

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