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Month: April 2006

"Carl Hauck-Something to Laugh About EP"

Band Name: Carl Hauck
Album Name: Something to Laugh About EP
Best Element: Minimalism.
Genre: Acoustic songwriter
Label Name: N/a
Band E-mail:

First off, I must compliment the artwork on this release. You guys can’t see the inside cover or the CD itself, but Carl Hauck’s Something to Laugh About EP has the best artwork I’ve ever seen on a CD-r. It retains a consistent feel throughout three very different pictures, which is very tough to do, but through subtle uses of line and repetition, Mr. Hauck made it work.

It’s odd that there’s such continuity in Hauck’s artwork, because continuity is exactly what is missing in this EP. Opener “Absolute Relativity” is a meandering, minimalist, mostly instrumental track that sprawls across exactly fourteen minutes- taking up nearly half of the album’s running time with twinkling piano, forlorn lead guitar, occasional sound clips, warm synths and softly pulsing guitar and bass. It’s not bad, but as a student of the Sigur Ros school of minimalism, I believe that there has to be substantial growth throughout a song to constitute excellence- even if the song is 10+ minutes long. “Absolute Relativity” feels more like a bunch of separate thoughts strung together than one cohesive song- the downtempo guitar and synth noodling at 8:00 has little to do with the melancholy guitar solo at 2:00 and even less to do with the acoustic guitar and vocals section at 11:50.

The acoustic guitar and vocals section does have to do with the rest of the album, though. The other five tracks on this EP are of the acoustic singer/songwriter fare- in sharp contrast to the minimalist, moody “Absolute Relativity”. While “Absolute Relativity” had a quirky, almost bizarre songwriting, these tracks are standard fare for acoustic songwriters. Hauck proves his skill at writing a melody with “Dissociation” and shows off his lyrical skill in “Weekly Heretic” (impressive lyrical highlight: “Religion makes me lose my faith in man”), but these straight-up songs don’t really leave an impression.

The two best songs here are “The Cell” and “Regretting the Future”, each where Hauck takes his love of minimalism and fuses it with a songwriter’s touch. “The Cell” feels like an improved, shortened version of “Absolute Relativity”, as Hauck sets his calm, even tone on top of the forlorn spaciousness of the music and makes a stunner of a track.

“Regretting the Future” also features Hauck’s voice, but with only a very minimal guitar line behind it. The quiet humility, direct honesty, and perfect vocal performance of the track make it a beautiful addition to any mellow mix tape.

Hauck has passions at two ends of the spectrum- moody minimalist compositions and acoustic pop songwriting. When the two come together, the songs are excellent. When the two are on their own, the results are par. Hauck’s voice and lyrics are just too good to lose, so let’s hope that there are more meetings between the two genres in Carl Hauck’s future.

-Stephen Carradini

"Baby Calendar-Fifteen Year Old Sneakers"

Band Name: Baby Calendar
Album Name: Fifteen Year Old Sneakers
Best Element: Twee Pop Experimentation
Genre: Twee Pop
Label Name: n/a
Band E-mail:

A lot of people haven’t heard of Twee pop. And yet, there is no way to explain what Baby Calendar sounds like if you don’t know what Twee Pop is. Twee pop is basically pop music that sounds really, really cute. In fact, you might say that the bands are obsessed with making songs that make you go ‘awww, how cute!’ You have to know you’re making it cute to make it as cute as it ends up being. One of my friends says it sounds like messed-up kids’ music- and I would have to agree. It is kids’ music, only meant for an older set. It takes some getting used to.

Baby Calendar is a really good twee-pop band. They stretch the boundaries of the genre in all directions, while maintaining a home sound that functions around an acoustic guitar, a very pleasant female vocalist, and a high-pitched male vocalist. It’s not punk-pop high, it’s just high. There are all manner of other instruments here, including piano (the heavily Russian “Mobile Command Unit”, in one of the only serious songs here), bells, charming choirs (“I Hate Meeces to Pieces”), synths (“Audio Blanket”), and many more. There’s some fast songs that border on being rock songs (“Industry”, “Green Tea”), and some slow songs (“Bridges”, “Audio Blanket”). Basically, everything that can be pondered has been thrown into this album. They even take a side-trip into serious indie-rock with the brilliant “Within Cell Walls”- one of the best tracks, but not representative of their overall sound whatsoever.

But even for all its experimentation, Baby Calendar does best when they just strip down their sound and focus on songwriting. “Highway Pilot 16” is the simplest song on the album, relying on an interesting strum pattern and a strong melody to carry the song all the way through. And those two things carry it through- very well. This is due in part to the fact that the dual vocalists of Baby Calendar have very unique melodic ideas- not too weird, just stuff that you don’t usually hear.

“Laboratories” is another example of simple songwriting serving best. The song almost fits neatly into verse/chorus/verse structure, with nothing but bass, drums, and guitar- and it’s one of the most accessible tracks on the album, and definitely one of the best- because they don’t let a bunch of kitsch get in the way of good songwriting. They just let their twee tendencies shine through, and it works really well.

These guys have a bright future in their little niche. Their songwriting skills are great, their use of auxiliary instruments is fabulous, the songwriting style is quite unique, and the vocals are good enough. It takes a while to get used to it, because it’s so different than what most are used to listening to, but hey- stretch yourself. You just may like Baby Calendar’s Fifteen Year Old Sneakers. At the very least, you’ll be able to say you like Twee Pop and impress all your hipster friends.

-Stephen Carradini

"C Raus Run"

Friday, February 24
Tulsa Little Theater
Tulsa, OK

On Friday, February 24th, a variety of artists played a show put on by Connor Raus’s C Raus Run Entertainment ( The show had a huge variety of acts, from the acoustic pop of Alex Cartwright to the dance-rock/rock of Before Sunday to the grungy rock of Red Ecco. ADD really took the cake though, with their eclectic performance encompassing all of the previous genres except dance. Without further adieu, pictures.

"Call AAA…Cause Here Comes the Breakdown"

Friday, February 24, 2006
Strike Anywhere / With Honor / A Global Threat / Van Damage
The Championship, Lemoyne, PA

Between schoolwork, actual work work, and setting up and attending job and internship interviews, I have had little time to attend shows, or do anything personal for that matter, which makes Allison one sad puppy dog. Apparently, this utter lack of free time makes me talk in the third person and see only hardcore shows when I actually go out. The last show I went to was no exception.


Van Damage, a local traditional hardcore favorite in the greater central Pennsylvania area, and presumably a favorite outside this area as well, played the last show that I attended, and was the opening band at this one. With their one-two punch of the musical equivalency of a high octane energy drink and ability to put on a ferocious live show, I expect big things for them outside the state soon. Big things, mark my word. Unless, of course, they do that whole ‘it’s cool to break up after the release of your first CD and then all start separate bands that sound exactly like our old band’ thing that good bands sometimes do.



Next to play was A Global Threat, a hardcore punk band whom I had never listened to prior to this evening. As a disclaimer, I should probably state that I’m not a fan of punk music at all. However, after seeing this band play, I have to admit that I rethought that statement…several times. Punk music, I have decided, is merely the politically motivated distant cousin of hardcore music. While the hardcore kids are jumping around and smashing skulls in yelling something about being true to yourself and the scene and everything else in the world, the punk kids are running around smashing things yelling about political ideals and Republican scum and healthcare. Sometimes these lines blur and I was lucky enough to have attended a show where they did. Like the band before them, A Global Threat put on a great show; powering through a set of politically inspired punk rock songs laden with fast guitar playing and bass lines, along with even faster lyric spitting.



The lineup seemed to switch from hardcore to punk and back twice, with the next band, (and the one that I went looking forward to the most) With Honor being the next hardcore band to play. Recently, their vocalist left the band, but from their set, the average concert-goer would have no idea that the vocalist filling in was merely that; a fill-in. They played an awesome set with brutal breakdowns and probably the most crowd interaction of the night. Probably one of the most amusing things I’ve been witness to at a show in a while was a kid who drove 8 hours to see this show. He was virtually emotionless through the first two band’s sets, but when With Honor took the stage, he sang along with every word, and jumped onstage with the singer at least half a dozen times. It was like you told him he won the lottery and got to sleep with Paris Hilton. Only he wasn’t guaranteed to get a venereal disease.



The last band was Strike Anywhere, another politically motivated punk/hardcore band like A Global Threat that many of you may have heard of previously. Their dreadlocked vocalist must have burned off an entire value meal’s worth of calories with his stage antics, flying around the stage like some gymnast on steroids, complete with many aerial tricks of the toe-touching variety. Their melodic and excessively energetic brand of political punk rock certainly motivated the crowd, including myself. So in conclusion, if you plan on seeing any of these bands in the near future, you should probably call AAA…cuz here comes the breakdown.

-Allison Frank

"Thirteen Stars-These Places"


Band Name: Thirteen Stars
Album Name: These Places
Best Element: Originality
Genre: Indie rock/ pop
Label Name: Hale-Bopp Space Records

Awesome music, unique vocals and cool indie vibe: what more could I ask for? Thirteen Stars is an up-and-coming indie rock band that follows suit with many of the new indie rock bands popping up around the county. What separates Thirteen Stars from the others is their ability to incorporate other styles of music into a very generic style of music. On their new album,These Places , Thirteen Stars makes the transition from indie rock to pop, and also dabble into some punk.

I really enjoy music that bridges the gap between two or more styles of music, and Thirteen Stars does that exactly. Their innovative music creates a certain depth that some newer indie bands lack. I fell in love with the singer’s voice. I don’t believe the album would have sounded good if anyone else sang. His voice cuts through the instrumental mix and gives the music more of a sonic punch.

Thirteen Star’s These Places was an album that I enjoyed from start to finish. I could not really find anything that I did not like about it, and you can tell that the band really knows what they are doing. If you like cool indie rock and pop check them out.

-Zack Albrecht