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Bats and Mice – A Person Carrying A Handmade Paper Bag Is Considered As A Royal Person

With this release, Bats and Mice tries to take what was perfect about their sound and incorporate into it something new.

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Bats and Mice, a band comprised of former Sleepytime Trio members released their album, Believe It Mammals, in 2002; but after a year they seemed to fall out of my memory. Believe It Mammals was a stunning album complete with lush guitars, deep bass lines, forceful drumming, and muted vocals that seemed to exude emotion effortlessly. The songs on that album became the soundtrack to my life for years after its release. So imagine my happiness and fear when I saw that Bats and Mice had released something new. Happiness because I’ve wanted to hear new music from them for quite some time and fear because I was afraid that I would taint the new release by thinking that nothing could be better than Believe It Mammals. They also had some line-up changes that made me think that their music would be switched from the muted melodies of their last release to the something less appealing … such as crunching guitars and less than perfect harmonies. While A Person Carrying A Handmade Paper Bag Is Considered As A Royal Person is a lot more polished than Believe It Mammals, it still has that not all familiar music that made Bats and Mice one of my favorite bands.

The first track, “The Royal Paper Bag,” is purely instrumental which makes for the perfect introduction to the new sound Bats and Mice are producing. It is automatically noticeable that there won’t be anything muted on this release and it isn’t a bad thing. The pounding drums of the newest member, Luke Herbst and the perfectly matched bass and guitar make for a wall of sound that just takes over everything that stands in its path. The second track, “Military Smile,” features the familiar vocals of former members David Nesmith and Ben Davis. This track begins with a light guitar riff but you slowly come to see that this track manages to give each instrument their time in the limelight. After the short guitar solo it seems as if this song belongs solely to the bass. The heavy bass line takes control of everything, weaving together the different instruments as if it were the thread in a handmade sweater. Yet as soon as I was getting acquainted with the bass, the drums kick in to take over – and what a glorious takeover it is. The percussions flourish as the bass and guitar takes the backseat to the overwhelming pounds Herbst produces. Towards the end of the track, all of these elements blend together with the vocals to finalize the first complete song by the band.

With this release, Bats and Mice tries to take what was perfect about their sound and incorporate into it something new. They fill this short four track EP with enough of the old stuff, so as not to alienate old fans, and a lot of the new sound to produce a release that once again leaves this listener craving more; unable to withstand the wait for the next full release.

(Lovitt Records)

Reviews

Alice Cooper – Breadcrumbs EP

Few frontmen of rock will ever be as enigmatic and as timeless as Alice Cooper

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Alice Cooper Breadcrumbs

For a large number of Alice Cooper fans who didn’t experience everyone’s favorite snake-adorned shock rocker at the height of his powers through the ’70s, most probably were introduced to Cooper through 1989’s hair-metal infused generational breakout album Trash. That was at least, my introduction to Vincent Furnier, at the age of 9 years old, seeking for something to satiate my love of hair metal and shock rock. Trash was everything Bon Jovi’s New Jersey was- big, radio-friendly- but had that added sense of danger and darkness that didn’t come with the pretty side of hair metal. However, as sure as songs like “House of Fire“, “Bed of Nails“, and the ubiquitous hit “Poison”, are still great today, long-time Alice Cooper fans know that Cooper is at his most enthralling is when he taps into his garage rock lineage, cut from the same mold that was paved by bands like the MC5.

So for those born in the early 80s like myself, the initial foray into the world of Alice Cooper meant that you had to work your way back into this long-running discography to find the rich, often timeless work Cooper is best known for. In 2019 Alice Cooper himself is working his way back on his latest EP, the aptly titled Breadcrumbs. The 6-song EP finds Cooper revisiting music and artists connected thematically by what ties them all together- the Motor City. This Detroit-centric EP features Alice Cooper’s take on songs by Suzi Quatro, The Dirtbombs, Motown soul singer Shorty Long, and of course, The MC5 (the EP also features guest guitar and vocal work from Wayne Kramer). Included in the mix are a reworked version of the 2003 Alice Cooper song “Detroit City” and one new cut, “Go Man Go”.

On his reworked “Detroit City”, the song is given a rawer makeover, sounding far less produced than the original. Gone are the orchestral overdubs with the song relying more on the loud bluesy guitars- perhaps the way it was meant to sound. Suzi Q’s “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” stays fairly faithful to the original, but Quatro’s vocal sneer is replaced with.. well, Alice Cooper’s vocal sneer. MC5’s “Sister Anne” is almost as great as the original 1971version, with the added benefit of today’s production qualities.

The EP’s one new track, “Go Man Go”, is very much Detroit, and very much Alice Cooper. It’s rock n’ roll roots are coated with a little bit of rockabilly, a little bit of garage, a lot of attitude. Like this EP, the track should be a precursor of Alice Cooper’s anticipated next album. The hope is that he continues this work of keeping things dirty rock n’ roll as the results are more often than not, pretty great.

Few frontmen of rock will ever be as enigmatic and as timeless as Alice Cooper. Breadcrumbs is a noble effort meant to tease and build anticipation than satisfy your craving for all new Alice Cooper material. It’s done just that, hinting at what could be around the corner. On top of which it shows that there are few rock stars who will ever reach the status and longevity of everyone’s favorite rock n’ roll snake charmer.

(earMUSIC)

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Reviews

Goo Goo Dolls – Miracle Pill

The Goo Goo Dolls have always just written good music for people who cared only that the music was good

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Goo Goo Dolls Miracle Pill

One of the most remarkable things about the Goo Goo Dolls is their steadfast consistency amongst the ever-changing backdrop of popular music. Six years ago when they released Magnetic, I wrote that the band remained unchanged in the face of their supposed “waning popularity” in the eyes of pop culture and radio charts. It’s true that many of their contemporaries that made it big alongside them in the late 1990s are long gone, but for the Goos, they’ve quietly continued to be above everything else, themselves, just older, wiser, and continuingly more refined. Miracle Pill is their 12th studio album and is the natural progression from 2016’s Boxes. Like their previous release, Miracle Pill continues their musical evolution away from alternative rock to the more serene territory of adult contemporary. Sure, it may sound like a bad thing, but like everything the Goos have done over the past 25 years, it’s supremely confident and composed.

They may not write songs with the caustic bite like “Here Is Gone” anymore, but they have been finding comfort in the more introspective pop-strewn melodies found in songs like “Lights”. Similarly, in the new album’s lead single and title track, the Goos tap into bouncy, easy-to-digest pop empowerment. Songs like “Indestructible” show that the band haven’t put down their guitars just yet, constructing songs that are still fond of their alternative rock roots but have found comfort in grander, more expansive sounds.

The album’s best moments are when the Goo Goo Dolls unashamedly tug on the heartstrings like they’ve done so many times before. The quiet jangly nature of “Over You” does this particularly well, while the bigger, electronic-infused arena rock of “Lost” shows that this type of music is just done extremely poorly by bands like Imagine Dragons. “Autumn Leaves” is a throwback to the kind of songs found on Let Love In and Dizzy Up The Girl, sounding organic and wistful, while the closing of “Think It Over” is the kind of song they’ve been hinting at since Something For The Rest Of Us. It’s part quintessential Goos, but contemporary and timeless at the same time.

Credit to the Robby Takac songs of the album too- “Step In Line”, “Life’s a Message”- both some of the finest songs Takac has written. He is often cast in the shadow of John Rzeznik’s more recognizable sound, but on Miracle Pill, his work is the best its sounded since Dizzy.

The Ringer recently wrote a piece titled ‘The Goo Goo Dolls Were Never the Cool Kids, but They’re Still Standing’. I echoed these sentiments in that Magnetic review years ago, but if there was anything long time Goo Goo Dolls fans know is that the band were never concerned about popularity or being “cool”. The problem with being cool in music is that it fades. The Goo Goo Dolls have always just written good music for people who cared only that the music was good. Not much has changed in that sense, and really, that’s much better than being cool.

(Warner Bros.)

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