April 25, 2000
Calling All Cars On The Vegas Strip, Jucifer (Capricorn Records) 2000.
83 Walton Street, Atlanta, GA 30303
http://www.guitar.com/ for the mp3-keyword Amber Valentine
Calling All Cars On the Vegas Strip is the first CD by the Athens band Jucifer. But this band is about as far from the Athens-sound as you can get. Made up of real life couple G. Amber Valentine and G. Edgar Livengood (I have no idea what the G. is about but it isn't gentle), Jucifer describes itself as "an intoxicating brew of the feminine and the brutal". I'm not sure about that but they sure are loud. The CD starts off like every 14-year-old garage goth metal band with brooding horror movie guitar and screeching about the devil. But just as you are about to write these two off as three-cord metal wannabes, they break into "Malibu" the fourth song on the album. It's still a very simplistic riff but what catches your ear is the ethereal voice of Valentine softly crooning over the din. The CD gets consistently better not only in lyric but in both the musical arrangements and musicianship. Livengood's drumming is remarkably good considering he only took to the skins when their first drummer quit.
They make up for their lack of instrumentation by using Valentine's voice as the melodic instrument in the band. And she can surely sing-not VH1 Diva, sing nothing so bland as that, but she truly stretches the strengths and boundaries of her voice. Valentine pushes past the conventional use of the female voice much as she does the conventional use of the guitar. She plays a bass/guitar hybrid in concert (maybe you caught their show last summer at Sluggo's?) so her style is also a hybrid-traditional rock rhythm and metal guitar licks. But it really does this band a disservice to try and categorize them. In fact, just when you start to think you have them pegged as a speed metal/punk band they break into the absolutely killer "Hero worship." That's when you can see the real potential of this duo's talent. And they are talented in a way you can't categorize and their music is familiar but not like anything you've ever heard. That above all else is the saving grace of the album and may be that's what they mean by the feminine and brutal. The promotion folks say Jucifer's sophomore effort is already on the way and it will be very interesting to see how they evolve. But Calling All Cars is definitely one CD you gotta have even if it's just to say I heard them when.
-- Thomi Sharpe
Almost 10, Blue House (self-recorded) 2000
http://www.i2ii.com/bluehouse/ - for mp3 and contact
Almost 10 is the self-recorded CD by the band Blue House, a three-piece folk band from the San Francisco Bay area. They are made up of a trio of friends and their CD is well recorded, their cover is slick and their bios make you really want to sit down and have an iced mocha in their kitchen. Theirs is a truly optimistic brand of music, no brooding guitars, jet black mascara or female hate here. The songs are all crunchy granola gangly guitars and bright sunshiny lyrics. These are people you want to hang out with to improve your karma. In fact, you really want to "live in their world" not Living in Your World "watching the bottom line".
With songs like "The Sound of Your Own Heart" and "Walk With Me Again" they wrap you with Earth Motherly advice and remind you "the world is a different place than where you think you've been". It does take a little getting use to all this 'feel good' music and it might be a bit much for some (not a post-breakup album for sure). Its best listened to on a bright sunny spring morning without a hangover. This is a CD for folks who like their food vegetarian and their coffee gourmet, and Hey, what's wrong with that?
-- Thomi Sharpe