that's Ms. Manley to you

Wholesale Meats and Fish (Giant)
Letters to Cleo

By Kory Wilcoxson

Make no mistake about it: The four male members of Letters to Cleo are simply four guys in an all-woman band.

That's because Kay Manley is all woman. If you dare doubt it, check out the line from "Awake" when she states, "I wish we had a laugh, but you're just not funny." Anyone else want to open the door for cute Miss Manley? Letters to Cleo follows up their promising but raw debut Aurora Gory Alice with a splendid work that shows the type of maturity and development hoped for in a sophomore effort. Wholesale Meats and Fish shows that the band's sound is progressing and developing a fuller quality.

Both the songwriting and the musicianship have improved, as seen on "Awake" and "Jennifer." Both songs mix a pop catchiness with a punk sensibility. The only qualm is that at times the overzealous guitar work threatens to overshadow the teamwork in the songs.

But Manley will have none of it. Her singing is tough and smart and she refuses to hide behind either her microphone or her bandmates' efforts. She is right out front, delivering the punches and it is through her strength that Letters to Cleo continues to improve.