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[whitespace] Birds and Bad Boys

A gifted singer and songwriter makes a brooding debut and a pair of punk bands put the pedal to the metal

My Art Is a Bird
Musicollage Records

As a singer, Ariel's talents are undisputed. Both solo and as a member of a cappella vocal trio Mayim, she easily wins audences with a strong voice, clear phrasing and a timbre that gets gritty when the lyric calls for a little more color than her otherwise airy, pure tone. With her debut CD, Ariel shows off both a deep songwriting talent and a surprisingly mature feel for record production. With My Art Is a Bird, Ariel creates moody textures dark with piano and strings, funky with a laid-back groove (credit local heroes Daniel Lewis on bass and Jimmy Norris on drums) or pensive and wistful with a slinking English horn. It's a remarkable collection, a set of songs loaded with uncommon music, some seemingly ready for adult contemporary radio play (the lead-off track, "Counting All the Stars," and "Into the Clouds"). Most, though, are the kind of introspective and dreamy epics that could hardly be pulled apart and disconneted from each other--a loose song cycle from a highly talented young woman with the world at her feet. (Rob Pratt)

Boy Kicks Girl
Public Display of Aggression

A smorgasbord of spitfire Descendents-styled "chuga chuga" guitar progressions, kamikaze-powered drumming and psychotherapy-riddled vocal sneers, "I Still Believe" is an awesome, kid-tested, mother-approved pogo orgy. I highly recommend listening to "Anti-Social Girl" while watching Boy Meets World on mute--Topanga really shakes her hips to this kind of stuff. You can argue that punk is dead, and a couple of tunes here prove this, but somebody still has to play the funeral reception--and somebody still has to bring out the Carbona and spray paint and destroy every Porta Potty in the South Bay. There are now officially two things that do not suck about San Jose: riding the mechanical bull at the Saddlerack bareback and head banging to the bullseye zippy rock of Boy Kicks Girl. Contact the band at P.O. Box 18914, San Jose, 95158 or on the web at http://www.bkg.com. (Matt Koumaras)

Nothing to Lose
Little Kid Records

Santa Cruz punks Loadstar sound big and bad on their second CD, Nothing to Lose, the band playing its gutsy power trio sound for all it's worth. Songs have snappy arrangements, but fall down lyrically, crowning the band's strong songwriting with we're-all-pals-and-it's-cool odes or tributes to relationships desired or doomed, done in awkward verse. Loadstar obviously has the musical part of songwriting down (and the trio plays on the disc with well-rehearsed precision and punch), but Nothing to Lose seems better titled as Nothing to Say. It's otherwise a totally pumping (if short) set turned out on a tough, sharply mixed recording by Bart Thurber. (RP)

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From the February 23-March 1, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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