astroPuppees

Little Chick Tsunami

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After a commercially unsatisfying two-album stretch on the rootsy Hightone Records label, Kelley Ryan (who more or less is Astropuppees, though as always drummer Dan McCarroll and bassist Maureen Serrao appear on a few tracks) bided her time recording the third Astropuppees album in bits and pieces, mostly recording all the instruments herself in her basement studio. Finally, Ryan self-released 2001's Little Chick Tsunami on her own Manatee label; surprisingly, what could have been an uneven collection turns out to be Astropuppees' most entertaining and consistently solid album. Both You Win the Bride and Pet were extremely spotty, setting catchy, memorable guitar pop songs against other tracks that ranged from negligible to lousy. In contrast, all ten tracks on Little Chick Tsunami have the sort of rough-edged, rootsy grace of Marti Jones' classic '80s albums (Jones and her producer/husband, Don Dixon, who mixed the first Astropuppees album, are prominently thanked in the liner notes) mixed with the sort of tart-tongued, unconventional lyrics that mark Ryan's best earlier stuff. Two tracks co-written with ex-Gin Blossoms guitarist Jesse Valenzuela -- the Beatles-ish "Any More Words" and "How It Works" -- are particular highlights, as is the soaring "Long As U Love," which has the sort of instantly memorable, swelling chorus that usually shows up on the hipper adult contemporary radio; that these stations ignored such a fine album is more radio's fault than the band's.

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