LAIKA & THE COSMONAUTS
Cosmopolis - CD
I can't think of a better band to provide the soundtrack for a Silver Surfer movie than this Finnish four-piece. For the last 20 years Mikko Lankinen, Janne Haavisto, Matti Pitsinki and Tom Nyman have been mixing the sounds of thundering surf with spaced out vibes from beyond the outer limits. This 27-track blast is a career retrospective and a last hurrah. The group has decided to pull the plug while they are still as popular as ever. It's odd how today's fractured musical scene can support this kind of retro band. When surf music was new the whole trend went by so fast that many teens never had the opportunity to play in a surf band because by the time they learned to play an instrument the style was as acceptable as hanging out with your parents. Now, even though the band has been at it most of their adult lives, there will be hoards of fans at their upcoming farewell gigs that won't be able to believe it's all coming to an end so soon. Whatever. If you missed this quality sci-fi surf combo the first time, they've made it very easy for you to make up for lost time. (Yep Roc Records - www.yeproc.com)

THE LAST CONSPIRATORS
Warparty - CD
One of my fondest memories of visiting New York for one of the mondo sixties blow out shows was meeting Tim Livingston while he was manning the Sundazed Music merch table. I was never aware of his punk outfit from "the day," The Morons, but I like this latest group. The sound here is straight ahead rock and roll with an eccentric vocal edge. Tim sings and writes all his material. The Last Conspirators remind me a bit of Richard Hell and The Voidoids, Saccharine Trust and The Flesheaters. Tim sings passionately about war, alienation and life in a crazy world. Fellow Sundazed rock god Bob Irwin mastered the tracks and lent guitar duties on one track, "Walking in Hellfire." Music is in Tim's blood and he brings a wealth of influences to his songs. '60s psychedelia and '70s punk rage permeate this eclectic mix of angst rattled modern rock. (Driving Rain Music - www.drivingrainmusic.com)

THE LEATHERCOATED MINDS
A Trip Down the Sunset Strip - CD
I have a few exploito records of the late '60s. This one is definitely a classy diner in a sea of greasy spoons. Eccentric versions of hits of the day are interspersed with traffic sounds and original instrumental filler. The difference between a lot of other albums that were produced to cash in on the success of rock and roll and this one is the quality of the musicians and hustlers involved. Leon Russell, Snuff Garrett, J.J. Cale and some of the best session players from Oklahoma conspired to create a work of inspired brilliance. And, hopefully, make a fast buck. The twelve songs are mostly covers such as "Eight Miles High," "Over Under Sideways Down," and "Sunshine Superman," with some Cale penned teen guitar workouts sprinkled throughout. "Sunset and Clark," "Arriba," "Pot Luck" and "Non-Stop" didn't have hit stamped on them, but they sure sound cool now. I have no idea who convinced the group to tackle "Puff (the Magic Dragon)," but at least it's done as a quirky instrumental. It's about marijuana, right? (Sundazed Music - www.sundazed.com)

THE MOE GREEN SPECIALS
Self-Titled - CD
I know this CD was released in 2005, but the label just got around to sending it to me (I guess I'm not first on a lot of lists) and I really like it. The band is not unlike an instrumental version of The Sadies. There is a whole bunch of variety, the musicians are inventive and spot on, the songs are good and there is a rootsy vibe that just puts me in a good mood. The band is from Holland, but is apparently well traveled. There can be no other explanation for songs such as "Sacramento," "The El Monte Case," "Maplewood Drive" and "Malibu Rendezvous." Maybe they'll tour in my neck of the woods someday. If they do, maybe they can dedicate "Julia's Waltz" to a very near and dear friend of mine. Tasty spaghetti western inspired instrumentals from a six-piece band that manages to play everything from trumpet to accordion to castanets to congas and every type of guitar ever conceived. Excellent! (Green Cookie - www.greencookie.com)

THE OKMONIKS
Party Fever!!! - CD
Fun, organ-fueled rock and roll with slightly distorted female vocals. The band is from Kalamazoo, Michigan and reminds me quite a bit of The Ramones. Maybe it's the fact that most of their songs are short, have catchy melodies and center around simple boy meets girl and love ensues (or doesn't!) scenarios. "I'm On My Own," "It's Not You," "I'm Done" and "Teenage Timebomb" are all songs Joey could have had fun with. The band has put out a few singles and thought that's what they were going to do with this latest batch of tunes. The label was so impressed with the nine songs that were presented as possible tracks that they decided to put out all of them. This is a nice debut from a swinging party band. (Slovenly Records - www.slovenly.com)

BUCK OWENS & THE BUCKAROOS
Buck Owens in London - CD
When this album was released in 1969 it would have been about the last album I would have had any interest in. It sure sounds wonderful now, though. The fact that The Beatles had covered "Act Naturally" had completely escaped my teen radar. Buck and his stellar band rip through eighteen tracks, three of which are medleys of their bigger hits. Though the music is strong, the playing exceptional and the vocal harmonies are awe-inspiring, some of my favorite moments are found between songs when Buck, Don and Doyle have fun with the audience. Buck jokes that if the rumors of The Beatles moving to America are true he and his band are going to move to London. Trust me; some of the banter is very entertaining. Being a Sundazed release, there are four songs included that were not part of the original album, and there are copious liner notes (by none other than Deke Dickerson, for crying out loud!). For us Merseybeat diehards, there's even a swinging instrumental the lads cooked up for the occasion called "A Happening in London Time."
(Sundazed Music - www.sundazed.com)

THE PAGANS
The Blue Album - CD
I was truly amazed at how good Buried Alive was when I picked it up way back when. Michael Hudson has one of those voices that you either appreciate or wish you could strangle the life out of. If you are in that second camp, this nasty set might inspire you to even more vocal chord mayhem. The nine songs here were recorded live in Wisconsin in 1988. "Cry 815," "She's a Cadaver," "Real World," "One Night with You," "Give Up," "Heart of Stone," "Can't Explain," "Her Name was Jane" and "Us and All Our Friends are so Messed Up" are played with all the venom and irreverence the band could muster and Mr. Hudson's cracked gurgle floats over the whole mess like a spastic sheep herder keeping the unruly brutes from going too far astray. Apparently, the band took more time between songs than they did playing the songs; each song is cut off before the between song banter began and the next one starts with an abreviated intro. In a move guaranteed to make the promos collectables, the advance CDs contain an extra file with band photos, press materials and even a bonus track, "Multiple Personalities." I could make a mint on e-Bay, but I'm keeping mine. (Smog Veil Records - www.smogveil.com)

KING PARIS PLUS MARTINI KINGS
"Show of Stars" - CD
I like going to all the Tiki shows that have been springing up all over the place for the last ten years or so. While it's fun to see the headliners on the main stage, it's usually even more fun to catch a low key Martini Kings performance in the small room, by the snack bar, behind the dumpster (just kidding!!) or where ever they end up. I've picked up a whole slew of their CDs at their gigs and I have never been disappointed. Brothers Frank and Tony Marsico play vibraphone and bass respectively, but Frank likes to take a vibe break from time to time to play percussion and marimba. Drummer Daniel Glass often joins them. For this latest recording, their smooth exotic sounds are augmented by the guitar work of King Paris. If you are a fan of Martin Denny and Les Baxter, you won't want to miss out on this superb combo. The guitar works remarkably well on these songs, though the group certainly never sounds thin without guest musicians. Spark up a Tiki torch, pour a nice big Mai Tai and mellow out to "Invasion," "Shadows on the Sand," "Surfin' Sitar," "Let's Rumble," "The Kings Ride," "Bongo Mambo," "No Drink 'til Cabo," "Steelin' a Wave" and "Return to Bikini Beach." If this CD doesn't put you in a good mood your turban's too tight! (Swingomatic Records - www.martinikings.net)

THE RIVINGTONS
Papa Oom Mow Mow - CD
If you don't have a good Rivingtons collection you just aren't covering all your rock and roll bases properly. Yeah, the title song, which The Trashmen scrambled up with "The Bird's the Word" and based their career on, is one of the best things here, but there is a whole lot more. While The Rivingtons could do inspired nonsense all day long, they were also consummate vocalists who could do ballads capable of making you cry... all you gals and girlie men that is. There are 23 tracks on this latest comp and for every zany "Kickapoo Joy Juice" there is a stirring "My Reward" to bring you back to Earth. To be honest, I didn't really do the math to determine if there's an even mix of novelty and straight tunes. Who can concentrate on such worthy endeavors when the band is blasting "Mama Oom Mow Mow," a song that makes Papa seem tame in comparison? The band offered the masses a "Love Pill," but spent much of their career "Standing in the Love Line." Such are the vagaries of the rock and roll world. Go figure. (Shout - www.shoutrecords.co.uk)

SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS
Countrypolitan Favorites - CD
Everyone's favorite finger lickin' good chicken flingers are back with another winner. This time out, the tireless trio has put their patented rootsy good time stamp of approval on a bunch of covers. Mary, Rick and Dave do spirited, spot on versions of a bunch of songs that seem like they were written for the band and a whole bunch of others that, at first blush, would seem like they were written for just about anyone but. "Oh Lonesome Me," "Engine Engine #9" and "Wolverton Mountain" are a few fine examples of the former. While it's plenty satisfying grooving to these tracks, it's a true wonder to hear what SCOTS do with songs that are not such obvious tracks. Probably the most out of character tune is the T-Rex teenybopper anthem, "Life's a Gas." It works. If you like the band and you like artists such as The Kinks, The Who, Credence Clearwater Revival and The Byrds, this will make for a fun party record. It's been a hit at many a festive soiree at GAB Manor. (Yep Roc Records - www.yeproc.com)