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Ronnie Po

Ronnie Po

Texas native Ronnie Po wrote, plays on, produced and recorded (in his own home) every track of Stranger, an album of country-influenced pop-folk tunes. Groups like Wilco can get away with some country tinge, but Po's combination of twanging guitars and pop beats comes across like a soundtrack for a Texas-based sitcom. His quick strumming and sauntering solos conjure up images of shanty towns, tumbleweeds and galloping horses; the bass ambles like a cowboy who's just dismounted from a long ride; and the themes are country clichés: love, devotion, infatuation, broken hearts. Po, unfortunately, doesn't have a good ear for country lyrics. "Time can mend a broken hand/and a broken heart," he croons in "Amorie." There's no arguing with the obvious. (Bernice Yeung)

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Butter 08
Butter 08
Grand Royal

If variety is the spice of life, Butter 08 is the condiment. This campy project led by Russell Simins (of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) and Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori (of Cibo Matto) swings from gangster-hideout numbers ("9mm") to Santana-like explorations ("Dick Serious") to blunted lounge music ("How Do I Relax?"). It's all quite random and New York, something one would expect from a combo plate of Cibo Matto and JSBX. The best track is the Speed Racer quickie "Degobrah" (during a recent Butter 08 appearance, the song was brought to life by a spastic rapper wearing a Yoda mask). (Todd S. Inoue)

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Count to Ten

The members of Frogpond look young enough to still need Mom to cart them to the mall, but while most musicians their age are blowing out amps in their garage, the Frogponders are creating pretty, upbeat pop songs. Frogpond isn't a group of half-ass thrashers; the foursome throws down solid chords, rich harmonies and on-the-money percussion. Equipped with a strong melodic sense, Frogpond knows the ingredients for the perfect pop tune: harmonized vocals, energized guitars, syncopated rhythms and an infectious chorus. "Be," one of many catchy songs on Count to Ten, works because it is candid and unpretentious. Frogpond isn't ashamed to be simple; the band goes with what sounds good, rather than what will impress. (Bernice Yeung)

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From the October 3-9, 1996 issue of Metro

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