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Vera Clouzot / Doug Hoekstra Combo / Melmac / Magic 12 / Empty House Cooperative (hinah)
As the CD-burner continues to instil fear into the heart of the industry, expect to find more and more limited releases like these offering an alternative listening experience, with the all-important blessing of the artists themselves. French label Hinah (hosts of the CwaS web-site no less) are five releases into their series of mini-albums, a genuine labour-of-love venture with the altruistic aim of promoting the music they admire in an affordable, collectible edition. Of the releases to date, the first and third releases, by Vera Clouzot (a band with an affection for American Music Club who appeared on the recent 'Come On Beautiful' AMC tribute) and Melmac (Parisian noise experimentalists) have both sold out, and the others should soon follow suit. The Doug Hoekstra set was recorded at an in-store performance in Iowa City late last year and draws heavily from recent albums 'Around The Margins' and 'Make Me Believe', closing with a rousing rendition of Hoekstra's former combo Bucket Number Six's Rose on the Dashboard. While not boasting the sonic quality of the other titles, the set and limited edition nature of the release should make it an essential purchase for Hoekstra fans. Boston's Magic 12 performed at a benefit show for local DJ Mikey Dee and their eight song set which highlights their most recent 'Dear Diary' album is augmented with three demos from their self-titled debut. Current release 'Improvisational Music' by Empty House Cooperative is two lengthy pieces (an hour in total) by Pullman/Come guitarist Chris Brokaw, cellist Jonah Sacks and Willard Grant Conspiracy's David Michael Curry on viola, trumpet and guitar loops. Avant-garde chamber music, sometimes soothing, sometimes as welcome as steel wool across the eyes. Forthcoming releases from Hinah will include CwaS favourites M Ward and Greg Weeks... time to sign up methinks!

Matt Dornan
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002