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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 10, 2006

Scotland's dance-pop hits U.S.

Knight Ridder News Service

"Destroy Rock and Roll" by Mylo; RCA

Know what no one ever asks? Where's all the doggone great electronic dance-pop from Scotland's high hills?

Producer Myles "Mylo" Macinnes answered two years ago with Destroy's mix of Hi-Energy electronics and liquid down-tempos in the U.K. Now ready for the U.S., Mylo doesn't so much abolish rock (ardent guitars here, a Kim Carnes sample there, big drums everywhere) as slap it away for his wildly contagious songs.

While summery tunes like a jazzy "Sunworshipper" and a plucky "Valley of the Dolls" loll as if on an August afternoon's drive in L.A., "Paris Four Hundred" is its nervous Kraftwerk-ian night's equivalent. If the bubbling "Muscle Car" doesn't contain the roundest bass-bumping vibe you've heard throughout a melody so joyful, the next funkier track a vocoder-filled "Drop the Pressure" is a steelier variation on sonorous sweetness. And "Guilty of Love" with its gorgeous string swells and Prince-like howls? Oh, Scotland! Who knew?

A.D. Amorosi

"The Ways We Try" by Birdie Busch; Bar/None

Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter Birdie Busch's understated debut CD isn't a knockout-on-the-first-listen kind of album; it's more of a sneak attack. The songs fleshed out with crisp acoustic guitars, twinkling piano, and lap steel are charmingly quirky first-person vignettes about love, loss, and exploring life as a twentysomething in the big city.

Cleanly produced by multi-instrumentalist Devin Greenwood, the album's swaying, folk-pop sound is a fine match for Busch's straightforward vocals. Her strength as a lyricist lies in the ability to add layers of meaning to the most seemingly simple of lines.

On "The Cup," Busch uses that simple metaphor to represent the depths of her heart, while on "Secret Hour" she gently praises the "small quaking of pure, precious things."

Nicole Pensiero

"The Hardest Walk" by Soledad Brothers; Alive

Despite a pair of exceptional studio records (any disillusioned Stones fan should hear 2002's "Steal Your Soul" and "Dare Your Spirit to Move"), Detroit's Soledad Brothers remains an underground attraction. The usually bass-less trio's frayed fidelity and vaguely radical ideology (less prevalent here) suggest that's its preference.

The muddy sound can be frustrating. While it brings out the grime in the Chuck Berry-meets-Stooges opener "Truth or Consequences," it renders funky little details like the honking brass breaks almost inaudible.

That sludge-fi approach enhances the record's handful of somber acoustic songs, highlighted by "Mean Ol' Toledo," which laments a swing-state-gone-red through a haze of factory smoke and treated banjo.

Patrick Berkery