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"Push" by Flying Blind; "Levee Town," by Sonny Landreth; ""Scream Real Loud," by 7Seconds; "Hey Blue!" by Miss Mary

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Flying Blind, "Push," (Republic/Universal Records) — The rock scene of the past few years has been heavily populated with straight-ahead guitar-pop bands, some of which — like Matchbox Twenty, 3 Doors Down and Third Eye Blind — have enjoyed major success. These days it takes something special to stand out from the pack. Flying Blind makes itself heard for the most basic reason — its songwriting. The band's major-label debut, "Push," has more than its share of concise and hooky tunes that sound like they should be filling the radio waves any day now.

"Flying Blind" avoids a pitfall that plagues many guitar-pop bands — too much similarity between songs. "Push" is anything but one-dimensional. Its songs range from the sugar-sweet pop of "Smokescreen," to the cinematic-sounding "Leave," to the folky "Western September Sky."

There's nothing particularly innovative about Flying Blind's sound. And "Push" does have a few weak links among its 12 songs. But the CD has enough worthy radio-ready tunes to make Flying Blind one guitar-pop band that could take off in a big way.

— Alan Sculley

Sonny Landreth, "Levee Town," (Sugar Hill) — The opening rhythmic crash and loose-limbered guitar figures at the top of this CD set the appropriate tone for a tasty bayou romp. Spiritually rooted in Landreth's Atchafalaya Basin, La., backyard, "Levee Town" rocks with free-swinging urgency and soul. Packed with a sense of place as well as a healthy dose of fun, Landreth goes about his business, taking listeners through marshy swamplands and on rowdy tours of Saturday-night dance halls. "The U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile" pays homage to an old boat of a car Landreth and his pals used to dance on, while the title track tells a biblical tall tale of redemption in the eye of a storm. "Love and Glory" nods toward Cajun roots, calling on acoustic guitar, fiddle and accordion to carry the weight. "Broken Hearted Road" builds from quiet Delta steel to a dance with the devil. The instrumental, "Spider-Gris," gives Landreth a chance to kick his slide guitar into high gear, and Bonnie Raitt adds her vocals to "Soul Salvation" for some extra magic. Shot through with spirits and ghosts, "Levee Town" is a musical jewel shining through moonlit mists.

— Ames Arnold

7Seconds, "Scream Real Loud," (Side One Dummy Records) — A lot of folks throw around the word "sellout" when a band makes a musical comeback. Such was the case with the reformation of pioneering underground acts such as the Sex Pistols, The Misfits and Bauhaus. I'm sure it's no different for the innovative 1980s hardcore powerhouse 7Seconds, only this band never really stopped putting out new material.

"Scream Real Loud," documents one of the group's maniacal performances, live at the Troubadour in Hollywood. The recording shows that the band is still in tip-top form after almost 20 years together. The singing style of frontman Kevin Seconds has matured nicely with his coming of age, while the music dispensed from his bandmates is played tighter and more furiously than ever before. Hardcore classics such as "Definite Choice," "Trust" and "This Is the Angry" (the album gets it's title from a line in this song) are all here. They even treat us to renditions of Nena's "99 Red Balloons" and Sham 69's "If The Kids Are United."

7Seconds still has an edge, even if it may no longer be a straight one, and I see them still living by the credo of their song "Young 'til I Die."

- Angelo DeFranzo

Miss Mary, "Hey Blue!" (Stereorrific Recordings) — The incomparable Miss Mary, formally with the group The Oscillators, has gone solo with an album full of cutesy (for lack of a better word) and fun garage-pop tunes. Only one song on her debut, "Hey Blue!" even pushes past the three-minute mark, so it's a joy for folks with short attention spans.

The pixie-voiced Mary brings a smile to the listener's face with the shout and shimmy vibes of "Gimme, Gimme" and "Secret Boy." Even while kicking it down a notch with the sedate "My Baby Cries All Night Long," Mary still manages to keep her music interesting. Backed by musician buddies such as Pete Weiss of Sool (who himself has a number of musical projects going at any one time), Miss Mary's first solo effort must have been created in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. What you find in this CD's jewel box is tasty, sugarcoated ear candy.

— A.D.

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