The beautiful people: a Lizard Family gathering (Lizard Family Music)

The success of Dayton's Guided by Voices and the subsequent (and predictable) major label interest in the areas around Dayton and Columbus, Ohio will hopefully soon result in higher profiles for indies like LFM and close neighbours Skeptical Cat. Until it does happen though, the Lizard Family and their ilk will get on with what they do best: music recorded as it should be---in a garage. In this particular case, the music in question is two excellent songs from each of five excellent bands.

Label samplers can often be an unhealthy mish-mash of artists that sit uneasily as a whole, a common trait of compilations in general as a matter of fact. Happily though, Beautiful people lives up to its family gathering subtitle as all five of the bands obviously share some common US guitar pop lineage and, in fact, stretching the metaphor some, there's a touch of incest too with a couple of players flitting between bands. The five bands in question are Earwig, Preston Furman, Monster Zero, Ugly Stick and Bigfoot---"five of the Midwest's greatest bands" if label-meister Lizard McGee is to be believed. Best bands in the Midwest? What more could you ask for from a "flavour of the label" CD? Well, you could ask for intrigue, comedy, information and gold marker pen on the sleeve. All of which you would find here too. Hurray!

Earwig are first up, their take on the noisy-pop genre puts them very much on a par with current radio favourites Placebo. Slightly more tuneful perhaps and not wearing the emotional baggage quite so openly, they still have a powerful punch and glorious fuzz.

Preston Furman and Monster Zero offer a couple of tracks apeice; Monster Zero on a bit of a Pixies-vocal tip, Preston Furman just rock out. Again, we're firmly planted in scratchy-speed-tune territory, but both bands manage to stay fresh. Both bands also feature on another LFM release, a split 7", with 4 more songs between them. Difficult to say, but I think the songs on the 7" shade it. Just.

Things slow down for the wonderfully-titled Ugly Stick. There's a country twang to HANK which comes as a welcome relief after the full-frontal assault of the first six songs, but with Hardly believe they show label solidarity and crank out a smashing beat-up up-beat pop song.

Last, Bigfoot play out with a more mellow version of the same. Featuring two members of Ugly Stick, it's perhaps no surprise that they have more in common with them than the other three bands. Cousins perhaps, when the others are brothers. Listening to them brought lots of other bands to the tip of my tongue, but not quite far enough that I could spit them out. I'd've liked Wait so patient to degenerate into feedback and shouting as it threatened to, but otherwise no cause for complaint.

Beautiful music by the beautiful people.

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