Volcom Entertainment/Amerige Records

It's always nice to see perfectly good, hard-working bands who've kicked around for years finally scrape up enough dough to make an album. Yeah, CD manufacturing is cheaper than ever these days, but it's still not that cheap. In Relish's case, it took them so long to pound out this "debut" disc that we feared CDs would go the way of eight tracks before we'd ever see product from them. But now it's here, and while we frown upon the use of weathered clichés like "well worth the wait," you get the idea. Anyway, this Fullerton-based trio isn't about to feed you flowery, girly-girl love songs. They're about tension and dissonance—music that knees you in your privates and leaves it planted there until they finish tearing at you. Good examples are "Uncomfortable Silence," in which guitarist Laurita Guaico churns out a terrifically menacing, uneasy riff over and over that would've fit nicely on the soundtrack for The Blair Witch Project. Several songs are about relationships, too, and all of the pain that goes with 'em, like "Bled," on which drummer Lynnae Hitchcock meshes a very Sabbath-ish groove with Michele Walker's bass rumblings, running them underneath hell-hath-no-fury lyrics like, "You said we'd be together/And you walked away." There are a couple of ballady songs, but the best tracks are the ones that crunch with meaning. Like the near-blasphemy of "Born Again," which is about parentally induced religious paranoia and features the album's most evocative lines: "My dad put a Bible by my bed/It felt like I had a gun up to my head" coupled with immaculate, soaring "I saw the light!" choruses. Relish might go straight to hell for that, but at least they made a great album first. (Rich Kane) For more information, call (714) 562-6765, or look on the Web at, or drop them a line at

  Dido No AngelArista Records

A great CD to have sex to. Not quite as great as George Michael's Faith (you all did—admit it) or Sade's Love Deluxe, mind you, but it'll do the, um, trick. You've probably heard the first single, "Here With Me," infiltrating modern-rock radio; when I first heard it, I thought it was Chrissie Hynde-as-produced-by-Sarah McLachlan. I don't love it—yet—but I seem to be playing it over and over. It's one of those soothing-but-catchy-at-the-same-time songs, a very safe bet for Clive Davis and the boys at Arista (I could almost hear ol' Clive on the phone screaming, "Get me a Sarah sound-alike!"). Judging by the number of musicians and programmers listed in the liner notes (no less than 35), it's safe to say they didn't want to leave anything to chance, either. The collection appears to have begun as a home project (seeing that the last seven tracks were produced by Dido and her brother) but the first five songs (the target singles, no doubt) were calculatingly handed over to slick-vet industry producers Rick Nowels and Youth. The difference in the songs is obvious. The snare doesn't crack too hard, the downbeat is flawless, and the guitars are strummed perfectly, so as not to interrupt your sweet, sweet lovemaking. Dido has a pleasant-enough voice, mixes her lyrical agenda between soft love paeans ("Thank You") and bemused, twisted ironies for ex-lovers ("Don't Think of Me," "All You Want"), and gosh, she's cute! A tame but mildly intriguing debut. (George Fryer)

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