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Julie Miller
Broken Things
HighTone Records

Warm, inviting, earthy, innocent and sweetly enchanting, Miller's distinctive voice is suggestive of a folkier, bluesier Cyndi Lauper. Broken Things, the singer-songwriter's sixth album, features poignant, stirring lyrics and an overall theme of heartbreak. Broken Things includes cameos by notables Patty Griffin, Steve Earle and Victoria Williams; silvery songbird Emmylou Harris even joins Miller on the impassioned dirge "Two Soldiers." Miller's "Ride the Wind" is a spirited love song, and "I Need You" ("I need something like morphine only better/ I need something like a kiss that lasts forever") is an edgy rocker. Then there's the haunting, sorrowful cello on the aching "I Still Cry," and the title track, on which she hesitantly offers, "You can have my heart though it isn't new/It's been used and broken and only comes in blue." Miller may never become a household name, but this album is absolutely exquisite. (Sarah Quelland)

First Big Picnic
Americoma Records

Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx produced this album full of gritty, Southern-fried classic rock anthems. Featuring Tommy Roberts, Buzzy James, Craig DeFalco, Michael Norton and Darrell Millar, Laidlaw comes to rest somewhere among the ranks of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Laidlaw even delivers a screaming cover of Rick Derringer's "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo." Frontman Roberts' scratchy voice is perfect for songs like the countrified shaker "Catfish Stew." Laidlaw's not doing anything new by going back to those resilient tried and true Southern roots, but First Big Picnic is a nice addition to that lip-smackin' slice of the rock & roll pie. The band's crunchy blues sound is as familiar and worn as an old copy of "Free Bird" in some smoky pool hall's battered jukebox. (SQ)


Voted Best Up and Coming Artists in the 1999 Tucson Area Music Awards (a.k.a. TAMMIES), Pathos takes an avant-garde approach on its ambitious 15-song sophomore release. Compelling and inviting, the album draws its listeners down various avenues and explores diverse musical influences ranging from the Beatles to 14th-century choral music. Led by James Martin (who writes most of the songs, sings, and plays guitar), the band features James Tiscione on keys, Bob Thomas on bass and Andy Bell on drums. There's a certain ease to Pathos' eclectic nature, which travels from the beautifully discordant, complicated distortion of noise on "Unfocused" to the folky bluegrass vibe of "In My Time." No small production, the CD--a decadent melding of pop, psychedelia, jazz, alternative rock, punk and metal--incorporates violin, viola, cello, French horn, trumpet, clarinet, flute, bassoon and a choir. (SQ)

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From the January 27-February 2, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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