Title:So Far Out, So Good!
Band:The Dee Rangers (Sweden)
Label:White Jazz Records
Highlights:Total Despair
Gotta Move
Out Of Orbit
Ultimate Expansion
I Can't Understand

I don't know much about the Dee Rangers except that they're from Sweden and they sound a lot like The Fleshtones (who are good but not one of my favourite bands so I won't raving about this album as much as some others I'm sure) Anyway, So Far Out, So Good! is their debut album and it is a solid effort of soulful garage rock. The songs are catchy, well played and well recorded without being too slick. They might have benefited from a little more variety but that's probably missing the point. I don't know what it is about Scandinavia (in particular Sweden) but they seem to be going through a real garage renaissance at the moment with the likes of The Hives, Strollers, Maggots, Flaming Sideburns, Royal Beat Conspiracy to name but a few. You can add The Dee Rangers to that list.

Band:Deniz Tek
Label:Red Eye Records
Highlights:Blood From A Stone
Day To Ride
Dozen On Ice
Condition Black

For his second solo album, Outside, Deniz Tek joined up with the Celibate Rifles' Kent Steedman and Nick Reith on guitar and drums respectively as well as with Jim Dickson on bass and old cohort Pip Hoyle on clavier. For many people Outside was a welcome return to form after the surprisingly mellow nature of his first album, Take It To The Vertical. To me Outside comes across as a continuation of the Visitors album Deniz recorded back in 1979, both musically and lyrically. The mood of Outside is quite bleak yet positive, dealing with how the human spirit over comes adversity. Both Tek's and Steedman's guitar playing is impressive and powerful, biting like the ice cold wind on your face. The songs themselves range from out and out rockers, such as Blood From A Stone, Dozen On Ice and the great Condition Black to more brooding and bluesy tracks such as Waiting, Give It Up and Walking. However, the highlight of Outside is undoubtably the title track. If you don't drown under the tidal wave of feedback then Nick Reith's drums will pummel you into submission. This leaves the final track, Sailor's Hymn, sounding like a quiet moment of reflection after surviving a monster storm. The only thing I find disappointing about this album is Deniz's singing, which tends to be bit too flat, especially on the slower songs. Nevertheless, Outside dispels the myth that Deniz's solo work is inferior and disappointing.

Title:The Dialtones
Band:The Dialtones (Sweden)
Label:Screaming Apple Records
Highlights:Too Young
Switchblade Stomp
Back In The City Tonite
Jean Jeanie
Take Me Back(To My Girl On Time)

The Dialtones self titled debut album is in my opinion one of the better punk records released in the last couple of years. Unlike many so-called punk bands, these guys understand and have captured the true spirit of the Ramones. Even with most songs coming in under 2 minutes, The Dialtones don't seem to have the urge to play at 100mph on every song, something many similar bands feel compelled to do and as a result you are able to actually enjoy the songs, my favourites being Switchblade Stomp, Back In The City Tonite and Take Me Back. Hopefully for future releases The Dialtones will continue to concentrate on writing memorable songs.

Title:Road To Rome
Highlights:Can't Get What You Want
Please Don't Lie
Dead Stars
Something Heavy

DM3's second album, Road To Rome (a pun on the Ramones album Road To Ruin as everyone in DM3 has Italian surnames) comes as close as you could expect to the perfect power pop album in a traditional sense. It is not often that one comes across an album that startles, pleases and impresses from beginning to end, like Rome To Rome does.

Whilst it is hard to pick out any song that really stands out, the opening track Can't Get What You Want is perhaps the highlight of the album with its vibrant atmosphere, raucous vocals and sharp power chords. Just as good is Something Heavy, although the feel is totally different. A more somber song, as the title suggests, Something Heavy is highlighted by Bob Patient's brilliant Hammond organ. Bob Patient's keyboards are also prominent on Dead Stars, which was apparently inspired by Albert Goldstein's derogatory biography on John Lennon. Other songs such as Speed Freak, Second Floor and Soultop all emphasise Dom Mariani's trademark crunching guitar chords and ability as a lead guitarist without forgoing any of his pop mastery. On the other hand, Pleaze You, I Thought You Were Foolin' and Show You are the kind of sincere and uplifting pop songs that I fall for every time.

Road To Rome encapsulates everything I love about power pop - great songs, big power chords, catchy melodies and tight, no bullshit playing. Add to this the brilliant mix done by Mitch Easter and what you have is an album that is nothing short of a classic of the genre that will stand the test of time.

Title:Rippled Soul
Label:Citadel Records
Munster Records
Dial 04 Josephine
Last To Know

Rippled Soul was DM3's third and final studio album. A darker and more varied record than previous releases, the tone of Rippled Soul is set by the second track and lead single, Lure, with its crunching guitar and sly come-on lyrics. Rippled Soul is more also guitar heavy than previous releases Dom Mariani's skillful ability as a lead guitarist has always been one of the main features of DM3's sound and Rippled Soul is no different, except this time Dom has turned the guitars up even more and let his fingers do more of the talking. This is especially evident on Augustine, which is the albums slowest track. Where you would normally expect acoustic guitars, Dom has grinding power chords. Other songs like Better Light and Big Bad World are both in the same mould.

However, Rippled Soul still the classic pop songs that we have come to expect from DM3. Quicksand, Falling For You, Anyway That You Like and Dial 04 Josephine are all as good as anything DM3 have previously released. Quicksand (the first song that Dom ever wrote with Julian) is particularly impressive with its catchy chorus and probably should have been released as a single, not that anyone would have payed attention. Another one of the albums highlights is the Julian Mathews penned Last To Know, which has a neo-psychedelic feel thanks to some great Beatlesque keyboards and appropriate fuzz guitar. Perhaps the most interesting track is the Devo-like instrumental, Rippled Soul, which ends the album and is totally unlike anything DM3 have ever done before.

All in all, Rippled Soul is DM3's most varied album and although it doesn't match the heights set by the perfect Road To Rome, it still contains more than it's fair share of timeless pop songs. Over the last decade DM3 have forged a solid reputation as one of the world's premier power pop bands and Rippled Soul should reinforce this view.

Title:All Things Come
Band:The Dreamdayers
Label:What's That Sound Records
Highlights:Rescue Me
The Hardest Words
Hold One
Yesterdays Gone

I don't know much about the Dreamdayers - they first came to my attention when I heard their track Signs on the Lost Weekend CD - except to say that they hail from Sydney and play an engaging brand of jangle/power pop, not unlike bands such as The Someloves, Church and Knievel, whose guitarist and singer Wayne Connolly also produced their album, All Things Come. For a debut, All Things Come is extremely strong considering they hadn't played a live show before it was recorded. Just goes to show the wisdom in taking the time to properly write, record and release your debut album in order to get it right. But what really makes The Dreamdayers stand out are the three fundamentals; good songs, good singing and good playing plus a strong rhythm section for added weight.