As should be obvious to anyone who regularly scans these pages every week, Mole Tracks has been dormant for quite some time — in hibernation, if you will. It’s not just because the Ventura music scene has itself been in somewhat of a lull over the last few months, though it certainly has (sadly, the recent spike in activity is a result of yet more venues entering their final death spasms: the Underground, Sunday nights at the Livery, etc.). It’s also because after typing the same superlatives and descriptive phrases for the same bushel of bands for so many years, a man needs a break, a period to relax, reflect and do some DVD reviews.

But as they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder and I’ve begun to miss my personal literary clichés. So, in an effort to get back into the game a bit, let’s rehash some of those old chestnuts and see what the county’s stalwarts have been up to all these many months, shall we?

Army of Freshmen: The veteran synth-pop pep squad spent a couple weeks in Japan, where they’re actually starting to make some minor waves (it’s no wonder — their music is like the soundtrack to a Japanese game show, after all), and are now resting comfortably on American soil prior to heading out yet again this summer on a tour with their apparent brothers-in-arms, improbable onetime Grammy nominees Bowling For Soup. Their newest disc-based explosion of hyper-caffeinated bubblegum, Under the Radar, is due around the same time.

Franklin For Short: Shockingly, Ventura’s prolific indie pop woodsmen do not appear to have a new album to promote yet this year, but they are performing at what’s apparently being labeled Bummer Fest, a.k.a. the final Livery show, on June 11, which now also features Le Meu Le Purr, Glass & Ashes, the Fucking Wrath and the reunion of the Whereabouts.

From Satellite: The big-time alt-rock quartet have been rolling around the country opening for nu metal refugees Taproot, adding them to their career tour-buddy list that already includes Hoobastank and Alien Ant Farm. They’re also pimping their new video for “Just Another Girl,” which is getting spins on second-tier music television channels such as Fuse.

Maria: Oxnard’s most out-there ensemble (now a three-piece) has launched its own label, YAY!, which their press release claims “is here to bring the fun back in pop!”  Hey, any band that uses amplified vacuum cleaners as instruments and smashes cinder blocks as part of their live show definitely knows what fun is all about. The imprint’s first four releases are all seven inches — as in records — and include the debut from dreampoppy newbies Catwalk and two efforts from Maria themselves, as well as a fanzine that comes packaged with an old-school flexidisc. The full YAY! Roster — all two groups — brings fun back to Grady’s Record Refuge on May 27.