The Orange County Register , Fri. July 5, 2002 - Rock Picks of the Week

Jason Ringenberg "All Over Creation" Yep Roc and
Kristian Hoffman "&" Eggbert

Hoffman and Ringenberg couldn't be more artistically different. The former is a No Wave remnant from the '70s, known for his work with the obscure band the Mumps, now a So Cal cult hero working in a pop idiom that welcomes comparison to both Sparks and Van Dyke Parks. The latter is the driving force behind Jason & the Scorchers, a twangy but hard-charging outfit that helped pioneer alt-country long before such a term existed.

What their albums have in common, however, is a reliance on notable friends to make any kind of impression on a record-buying public that probably has no idea who they are.

Not that Ringenberg sought out a stellar cast of cameos to put across his aptly titled All Over Creation, a cheery collection that swings from rockabilly rave-up to neo-bluegrass to the obligatory Gram Parsons soundalike to catchy novelties, like the opener: "Honky Tonk Maniac from Mars." .......

To those who haven't dived headlong into L.A.'s musical gene pool, Hoffman's "&" assortment also serves as a fine overview of neglected talent, be they relatively new (Stew, Abby Travis, Anna Waronker of the late, great that dog) or veterans (Maria McKee, Redd Kross' Steve McDonald, the Three O'Clock's Michael Quercio).

But, as with Ringenberg's set, the many sterling cameos never overshadow the songwriter's many strengths and quirks, even when one of his collaborators steals the show (see Waronker's Aimee Mann-ish tone on "Get It Right This Time," Rufus Wainwright's addition to "Scarecrow," even El Vez's throaty vocals on "Madison Avenue"). What lingers is Hoffman's strange but beguiling way with melodies, ones that echo generations of local sounds, from Randy Newman and Brian Wilson and Arthur Lee to the brightest lights of new wave and the Paisley Underground. A delightful listen.


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