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  • Odyssey Number Five

    • 10 out of 10
    • Powderfinger
    • Guitar-driven rock out of Australia, Powderfinger has not seen much exposure in the States, but should get a nod for their toe-tapping songs. Building off their previous release, "Internationalist" (
  • Haunted

    • 10 out of 10
    • Poe
    • Dropping like a bomb on some of the blah musical offerings of her contemporaries, Haunted was one of the best albums of 2000, obliterating the competition.

      Ostensibly a tie-in to her brot

  • Pretty Hate Machine

    • 8 out of 10
    • Nine Inch Nails
    • For years I wanted to make music that sounded like something between Love and Rockets and Ministry. In 1989, Trent Reznor beat me to it with this genre-defining album, and it smacked me upside the hea
  • De Nova

    • 10 out of 10
    • The Redwalls
    • Wow! Perhaps my 5-star rating is simply because the Redwalls are not only new and fresh (none of them older than 22!), or perhaps its because -- despite their ages -- they are able to totally capture
  • Jagged Little Pill (Acoustic)

    • 6 out of 10
    • Alanis Morissette
    • Ten years after the original release, comes the traditional celebratory acoustic re-recording. The album has held up remarkably well. While it is not as meaningful to me as it was when I was sixteen,

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iTunes Music Review - Spanks for the Memories

  • Spanks for the Memories

    • 8 out of 5
    • Asylum Street Spankers
    • Reviewed by Bryan Chaffin
    • Buy this album from
    • Buy this album from iTunes Music Store
    • The Asylum Street Spankers are...well...The Spankers. Hailing from Austin, where I saw them live dozens of times, the band played entirely acoustically, with a style that borrows equally from the Blues, Jazz, Country, and Bluegrass, while dipping into the 1920s, 30s, 40, and 50s. Few bands can attempt such a montage and pull it off, and fewer still can do it without spiraling into a morass of stale kitsch, but this incarnation of The Spankers did it, and Spanks for the Memories is in most ways a great representation of that.

      While each of the band members sings a song or two, it is guitar god Guy Forsyth's numbers which stand out the most, starting with a cover of Robert Johnson's rocking and stomping Blues classic "If I had Possession Over Judgement Day." Guy Forsyth at his best in both his singing and playing, this song is what The Spankers were all about.

      Another Guy showcase on the album is "Hometown Boy," a not-so pretty look at growing up in a small town in Texas, though you have to listen hard to catch the themes of racism and violence. It's truly beautiful, in a sad and haunting way, and the sparse harmonies are about as close to perfect as you can get.

      Co-front person Chrstina Mars shines on "Shave 'Em Dry," though the version found on Nasty Novelties is better (Note: The Explicit Lyrics warning is quite appropriate for that record). Colonel Josh's cover of "Hesitation Blues" and Stan Smith's rendition of "Walkin' & Whistlin' Blues" are also standouts for those two performers, while "Lee Harvey" is one of the few numbers from band-member Wammo that I like.

      On the negative side, the engineering on this album is weak, and few of the recordings do the performances justice. The beautiful harmonies in "Tradewinds" are barely heard, and everything is muddied in the amusing rework of "Smoke that Cigarette" that The Spankers call "Funny Cigarette."

      The problem stems from the fact that this is a large band that is entirely acoustic, and few studios have the ability to properly record such performances in this age of isolation booths and directional mics. Indeed, Spanks for the Memories was recorded in an empty house, and not one that is known for its acoustic prowess. Still, it's a great album, despite its technical shortcomings.

      Note the hidden track from Pops Bayless called "Pinch Me" at the end of "Hometown Boy."

      Favorite songs: "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day," "Walkin & Whistlin Blues," "Tradewinds," "Funny Cigarette," "Hometown Boy," "Lee Harvey."



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