Home Grown

Spring's sprung, so it's time for our critics to reap and sow the good and not-so-good of local recordings

-- Suzan Colon

BIG TALL WISH
Big Tall Wish
(cassette demo)

My big tall wish is that this act would come up with a better name, something more along the lines of their previous moniker, Poetic Injustice.

The new band's focus is similar to the old one's: a big rock sound built around moody, thoughtful lyrics and Kathy Fleischman's powerhouse vocals. Fleischman, one of three former P.I. members, is difficult to pigeonhole. One minute she's barreling through a straight-ahead rocker like "Black Rain," the next she's crooning an ethereal melody like the chorus from the atmospheric "Saturday in Devonshire."

While the tape is promising, there is something oddly lethargic about the band's overall sound. Maybe Fleischman should leaven her lyrics with a bit of humor or old-fashioned sex appeal; maybe her voice pushes the upper registers so frequently that it gets shrill after a while; maybe the songs just need more inspiration. Whatever the reason, it's going to take a little polish to make this Big Tall Wish come true.

Todd Anthony

BLACK JANET
In Many Colors
(independent release)

I've been wailing this baby on-and-off for a few weeks, and I continue to be amazed by how different it sounds - from track to track, as a whole, and from itself. Somehow my cognitive facilities are not adapted to adjusting for the variety; "Mirage" could not possibly be a song by the same band that plays "Masters of Deception." Sometimes Janet sounds like one of those cool, no-wave, underground-but-slick rock bands, sometimes they sound like old-school guitar rockers, other times they sound like something else altogether. I guess I'll get over it.

Common and shared ingredients are a pervasive sense of drama - be it dark tragedy or dark comedy - often set in a gloomy motif (check the smoke-fogged deep blues of "Beware") and the devastating vocal interplay between Jim Wurster and Marsha Lewis throughout. Beyond that are plenty of hooking riffs and touches (e.g., the meaty guitar solos, also from "Beware") and an overall sound so textured you'll never unravel it all. As potent as anything out on the majors right now, and give the Black ones extra points for the groovy cover of the Vesper Sparrow nugget "Don't Give Your Love Away."

-- Greg Baker

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