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Brooke Mason
c/o Bitchin' Music Reviews
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Woodland Hills, Ca. 91365

Artist: The Libertines
CD Name: Greatest Hits
Artist Site: The Libertines

The Libertines are known as genre jumpers but I found this 21 track collection of greatest hits to be fairly consistent. Singer Walt Hodge does at times remind of Michael Stipe, but actually more so of Billy Idol on songs like Mile Markers and Wild Ride!

Some of the post-punk fuzz paired with new wave electronic elements take you back to the ‘80s with an Oingo Boingo sound on the infectiously quirky Voices From The Past and spooky Black Garage Door.

The Libertines are good with catchy phrases like the refrain on Wild Ride: “I can’t believe that a year’s gone by and I’ve never been to a funeral.” The lyrics are what really define this music as being alternative; subject matter that mainstream would find too risqué with references to everything from reparation to masturbation. Most of the songs have a quirky story to tell like The Libertine’s big hit, Everybody Wants to Be My Sister. Its geek love comparable to Weezer for songs like Love Lottery or Too Bad Its Raining where “My love’s like a tilt a whirl… I’m looking for a ride again.”

If you’re a fan of alternative college radio friendly bands like The Smiths, The Violent Femmes or most especially R.E.M. you have got to get yourself this album!

Artist: The Limit
CD Name: Reinventing the Sun
Artist Site: The Limit

A recent headline on The Limit’s< Myspace page read, “Emo is the new disco.” I felt this was a perfect quote from a band that is the polar opposite of Emo; a refreshing return to real rock music heavily similar to Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam

. The mix by Matt Wagner on The Limit’s latest release Reinventing the Sun is fantastic throughout. The production allows for the vocals to be at the forefront and effects are used sparingly and don’t overwhelm the compositions.

As far as those compositions go these are not pop in your mouth songs. Thematically the album deals with love lost like on the song Skywalker: “I settled down/ you should’ve come down with me/ I’ve drawn the line/ now time to walk the sky.” The song structure really spotlights the excellent musicianship of this trio that includes Bob Chmiel, Mark Daniel and Todd Grosberg. Songs like A Little like Dying exemplify this structure. This song goes over a minute before building to a crescendo with a very sparse cymbal splash and vocals that recall the best of Bon Jovi ballads.

The great rock riffs are delivered with a staccato Van Halen feel. The musicianship really shines on Time Can’t Keep Me with some mandolin and a melody that recalls Dishwalla’s Counting Blue Cars. Additionally, Mother Maria also displays a wonderful little harmonics exercise. So for those of you who would prefer to eschew the loveable “Tickle Me Emo” take heart that real rock is “Staying Alive.”

Artist: Carbon Leaf
CD Name: Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat
Artist Site: Carbon Leaf

If you like the acoustic rock sounds of Oasis or The Wallflowers you will probably enjoy Carbon Leaf. At points there is so much tambourine sound going on you might think you’re at a Monterey Pop Festival Revival complete with a Mamma Cass impersonator. But the band balances the act with the mild undertones of Jordan Medas on the harmonium for songs like Royal One. Most of the lyrics are not harmonized so much as layered in the mix, and to great effect when combined with Carbon Leaf’s acoustic guitar and mandolin finger picking. But what I appreciated the most about this album was the phenomenal poetic lyrics by Barry Privett on songs like A Girl and Her Horse and the military ballad The War Was in Color.

Under The Wire is one such example of these fine lyrics: “I wear my heart on a grimy sleeve/I bare the pressure of oil and moving steam/Unaware of my gaining speed/unprepared to move ahead or take the lead/under the wire I’m a train down the line/nothing left to lose or gain but distance over time.” The title track has a bit of a Lou Reed feel to it with spoken word, “Take a walk down town.” I almost half expected to hear the colored girls go, “Sha doop be doop.”

There’s definitely some retro action on Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat. You might say Carbon Leaf cleans up nice.

Bitchin' Entertainment - 1989