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5 Cent Deposit – “Focus on the Negative” CD 13/44:52
I have had the pleasure to see this band play in Brooklyn a few times over the past three years, including at the late and lamented Punk Temple showcase. Always interesting to hear the screams for the multi-pierced teen girl’s dream, bassist Chris King. He also backs up the vocals of John L, guitarist and chief songwriter. Drummer Lieber finishes up this power pop punk trio. Fortunately, they are as fun to listen to as to watch. Their brand of Long Island sound (pun intended) rattles the brain while enticing one to sing along with the catchy melodies and riffs. The songs themselves focus on self-deprecation and angst about what is going on around them. If I remember correctly, their drum kit says “You’ll wanna fuck me when I’m famous.” Around these parts, they already are, though thanks but no thanks, I’ll just stick to listening to the CD. RBF
@ www.Radicalrecords.com

A Northern Chorus - “Bitter Hands Resign” CD 8/49:45
I’m not sure what genre to exactly lump this with - at moments they have a GY!BE or Mogwai vibe, but then when the vocals kick in it could be Radiohead circa their first two albums. Regardless of where you stick them in your collection, it ain’t a bad listen ...it may not be timeless or have you clamoring to listen to it over and over, but when it’s on it’s enjoyable enough. Jake
@ www.sonicunyon.com

Adam Richman – “Patience And Science” CD 12/48:40
He writes likable songs, plays every instrument and has a fauxhawk, so, why am I still suspicious? Guilty pleasure “new rock”?, that busts out with insistent tunes that contain well-balanced guitars and melodies. “What Can Make You Mine?”, “Broken Glass” and “From The Pain” could well be getting monster airplay on CMJ (VH1) stations all over. In this brave new world the worst of the worst shares the stage with semi-great art and no one says a word about it. Some of this goes the way of uber-pop rock. “The Loneliness Song” is too much like Ben Folds. Anthony
@ www.ormusic.com

Adolescents – “The Complete Demos 1980-1986” CD
These folks shouldn’t need an introduction. Living in hostile territory (1980, Orange County) they produced an undeniable classic of OC punk (yes I’m talking about that eponymous rekkid) before lineup changes took their toll, with both muse and members defecting to DI. This collection of demos features alternative, rawer (occasionally quite a bit rawer sonics-wise) versions of some of said tunes as well as an early (and admittedly premature) version of “Richard Hung Himself” and early versions of mid-period tracks. Even when the sound gets raw though the passion and energy of the times (not to mention the quality of the songs on display) still shines through. Granted it’s no substitute for having the Blue Album in your collection, but you don’t have to be a crazed uber-fan to get into this. David
@ www.frontierrecords.com

Aquabats – “Charge” CD 13/38:36
Oh dear. Self-consciously “quirky” punkish pop from folks who apparently idolized Devo but never bothered to look beyond the flower pots and the radiation suits. They’ll probably wow them on the next Vans tour but I can’t say it’ll get much play in this household. Oh yeah, they want you to know that this is not a “ska” record (like they took pains to avoid said tag before), so there you go. David
@ www.nitrorecords.com

Army Of Freshmen – “Beg, Borrow, Steal” CD 13/38:07
Ventura, CA band that rearranges the post-emo equation, wrapping some of it in swirling keyboards and the fractured voice of Chris Jay. “Uniforms” is emo but not weepy and “Gang Sign” and “Paradise” are energetic So Cal “punk.” The Hammond and Moog work around the guitars. The themes of self-reflection and renewal are prevalent, but the lyrics aren’t super-trite. (Is that a compliment?). I’m reluctant to admit it’s not total shite. Anthony
@ www.armyoffreshmen.com

Audible - “Sky Signal” CD 10/38:22
This is a very pleasant album, not amazing, but catchy and warm and friendly in a way that makes you feel as if you’ve already heard it your first time listening. Founded by a couple of dudes from that band Matt Pond PA (Jim Kehoe and Mike Kennedy), this five-piece have that typical Polyvinyl/mature emo/keyboard-heavy sound mixed with something pop-like akin to The Shins or New Pornographers or name your own popular indie-pop band. No doubt with the right push they could conquer big mountains, but only time will tell if that will happen. I’m rooting for them. Jake
@ www.polyvinylrecords.com

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Beatings - "If Not Now, Then When?" CD 5/22:06
I've never heard any of the earlier releases by The Beatings, but they've gotten rave reviews from sources I trust (like, ahem, Shredding Paper), so I'll take their word that this Boston-based band is queued up to be the next Pixies. The sound is similar, with guitars drenched in feedback and female back-up vocals, but the indulgent song writing and droney chord progressions smacks of the lesser works of solo Frank Black than the pop-punch of his seminal punk band. Hopefully this album is just a misstep on their way to “Surfer Rosa.” Miles
@ www.thebeatings.com

Bent Left – “Skeletons In Your Closet” CD 12/33:29
Snippy metalcore that isn’t punk enough. The guitars aren’t heavy at all and the breakdowns are weak. The singer’s tone and dynamics don’t vary much at all. “The Bottom Of Barrels” doesn’t explode like it could and the vocal just grinds in one mode. Best song title: “Play Bob Marley At My Funeral.” Anthony
@ www.bentleft.com

Birds of Prey – s/t CD-R 4/16:21
Don’t have too much information to go on for this on (I figure they’re based either in or near Richmond, WA, since that’s where they recorded this particular platter). All I know is that you get four slices of post-shoegazer fuzzy noise-pop, with male and female vox, They’re still obviously in the formative stages, but this is still quite good. Definitely some potential here; if they keep at it (i.e. don’t break up next week) methinks you’ll being hearing more of this particular outfit. David
@ birdsofprey00@yahoo.com

Black Sunday – “Tronic Blanc” CD 13/42:47
Solo project from Alicja, formerly of the Lost Sounds, with almost all of the instrumentation done by herself. Not too far-removed from the darkwave-edged sounds of her prior outfit, but the whole thing has an unfinished feel to it, almost as if they were demos instead of a Finished Project (not an uncommon problem with these one-wo/man projects). Not an even trade for her former outfit. David
@ www.dirtnaprecs.com

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Black Tie Dynasty/[DARYL] - "Bloody Basin" CD 6/24:08
Two Dallas/Ft. Worth bands share the bill on this split CD. Black Tie Dynasty does '80's pop like the prom band in a brat pack movie, something akin to A-Ha or Tears For Fears b-sides. [Daryl]'s pop is more '00's mall rat, i.e. bouncy emo-rock in the Thursday vein. The bands join forces for the title track, which rather surprisingly fuses the best of both generic sounds to create a unique and memorable hybrid. Miles
@ www.idol-records.com

Blitzkrieg/Paradox UK – “The Gathering Storm” CD 17/42:12
Retrospective of two 80s UK HC bands, with vocalist Spike being the common link between the two. Blitzkrieg (the earlier outfit) start off with some nice fiery HC but eventually get rockier as time goes on (a not uncommon ailment of this particular era). Paradox UK spends most of its time in the crossover camp; it’s energetic enough but aside from a couple of tracks, their songs are pretty indistinct. Comes with vids of two songs and an interview with Spike if you have the proper technology. David
@ www.streetanthemrecords.com

Blood Or Whiskey – “Cashed Out On Culture” CD 14/43:28
Unlike Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and a host of others who try to mix punk rock pain with Irish pain, these guys really are Irish. Imagine that. There will never be another Pogues, so put that foolish thought out of your head. You have to be able to digest the Pogues along with everything else. Led by singer/guitarist Dugs Mullooly, this uses a combination of banjo, accordion and tin whiste to widen the berth. Most of it’s got that eerily familiar Irish melancholy hidden in a decent song. “No Answers,” “Doors Of Hope,” Stuck Together” and “Poxy Pub” hit home runs. The second half lags a bit. Guest appearance by Cait O’Riordan, and a special message about a former member who is incarcerated and an address where you can write to him. Anthony
@ www.punkcore.com

Buff Medways – “Medway Wheelers” CD 2/6:27
Day, Childish, and Howard returnth, with a significant Who/mod edge to their Medway sound this time around. Comes to no surprise that the “flip” is a cover of said outfit’s “A Quick One”. No bonus tracks on the CD, but you do get the video for “Medway Wheelers”, complete with guest appearances from both Billy’s mum and his mustache. Not quite a life-changer (though the mod touches show he’s still capable of surprises), but not one of the lesser moments in Mr. Childish’s catalog. David
@ www.damagedgoods.co.uk

Carolyn Mark and Friends – “Just Married: An Album of Duets” CD 14/43:50
Let me start this off by stating outright that Western Canadian Carolyn Mark’s voice is right out of classic golden age country twang of the Pasty Cline and Loretta Lynne. And yet, there is a punk sensibility to her that coldcocks the listener into submission. Every note she sings is spot-on, and that is true as well to just about every partner she duets with on this Mark + others collection. Starting off with one of the best cuts, “Fireworks” (with NQ Arbuckle), she follows through, including “Done Something Wrong”, with “Fort Pier, which could have easily been one of the classic Lynn/Conway Twitty couplings. There’s also the quite humorous (or should I say humourous?) “Rocket Piano Man”, with Amy Honey, which – in royal punk fashion – skewers the likes of Sir Elton and wobbly Billy Joel. Classic country swing is present with “Slow Poke” with Nathan Tinkham and “The Colour of Love” with Dave Lang. The songs are a mixture of covers, by the likes of Hank Williams and Gordon Lightfoot (Canadian content issue?), and originals. As satisfying as this release is, I would love to hear what kind of collaboration would result with the likes of Mark Erelli, or Ontario’s Scotty Campbell. RBF
@ www.mintrecs.com

Citified – s/t CD 9/18:16
Apparently recorded as an one-man project (though now they’re a “real” band), this is some pretty good atmo-pop-cum-ringing post-college-rock (when said term meant something before becoming as meaningless as “alternative” is now) here. The only real drawback is that the vocals can give one Interpol flashbacks at times, but it’s far from being a terminal infliction. Based on the first two tracks one hopes they’ll go even more in the dreamy atmo-pop direction next time around, but overall this is definitely worth checking out. David
@ www.eskimokissrecords.com

Clyde McPhatter –“The Genius of…” CD 27/73:34
A collection of tracks where vocalist McPhatter does his thang, featuring his complete run with the Drifters as well as some Dominoes tracks, featuring both hits and the B-side/album track obscurities. McPhatter was one of those folks who helped shape rock-n-roll during its formative years with his R&B-laden vocal stylings. Of course, the next question would be whether the music itself is any good or merely an inoffensive musical bed designed not to compete with the accompanying vocalist. While there’s not too much of the kind of stompers you’d find on Crypt-related compilations, it’s still pretty good (mostly) slow-midtempo early R&B, the kind that got its start on street corners across the land. David
@ www.revola.co.uk

Coachwhips – “Peanut Butter and Jelly Live at the Ginger Minge” CD 10/21:10
You probably know the deal by now: raucous noisy no-way-we’re-leaving-the-house-intact garage that’s fine stuff indeed. One of the songs here is titled “I Made a Bomb” which seems appropriate, not because we’re talking a musical “Ishtar” here but because it explodes out from your speakers, causing mucho collateral damage. If this is indeed their last blowout at least they went out in style. David
@ www.narnackrecords.com

Consafos – “Tilting at Windmills” CD 10/40:30
This album manages to sound alt-country with very little actual twang, and it’s all because of the voice of singer Stefanie Drootin. She and her whole crew have connections to the Bright Eyes family, and although they don’t sound like Bright Eyes you could certainly imagine them as a fitting opening band. Every review I’ve seen of the band seems to mention the Cowboy Junkies, and I can see where folks are coming from but Consafos are missing the creepy nature that made the Junkies so interesting. There is promise in this group, but they have a ways to go. Jake
@ www.greydayproductions.com

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Continental – “What Was Gained…” CD 7/36:25
This instrumental recording could be any of a handful of other bands as its wavering synths waft in on “Sown.” Underlying the bright, trebly walking lead lines is a tight-ass drumming exercise that accosts American Analog Set in the men’s room at Denny’s. “I And I Midnight Rendezvous” discovers Flying Saucer Attack while eating peanut butter and banana sammiches with Trans Am. The last track, “Pillow Talk” allows the whole thing to degenerate into rotted piano and crumble away. Kept waiting for them to stumble, or wade into waters way too deep. Each of these songs is approachable. Anthony
@ no address

Copyrights – “We Didn’t Come Here To Die” CD 13/27:45
Fairly rigid, pop-ish punk that doesn’t have any snarl. They build some of their songs around catchphrases such as ‘got a face for radio’, as on “Face For Radio.” Okay if this is a first record by a band of teenagers. Next time try to actually get out of the box. Anthony
@ www.insubordinationrecords.com

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Cuban Cigar Crisis – “Flags of Discontent” CD 10/44:03
I guess this is okay. Didn’t really push any of my buttons. Singer-songwriter rock, but it comes off as really lame most of the time. Lyrics like “Would you cry at my funeral?” (from “Funeral Parlor”) and “Why must we divide/under morning sky?” (“Morning Sky”) don’t help much. Right from the start, with an overblown and muddy recording, “Bliss” gives the feeling of claustrophobia, with buried vocals over sluddgy sounds. The sound gets better after that, but it all feels contrived. Singer/guitarist/writer Charles Eden does have his moments, like on “Nepo” (the only song here he didn’t write…hmmm). While he is the band, the person I respected the most is drummer Harry Cantwell, whose answers to an interview range from “No comment” to “Fuck off.” The rest of the group needs a little more of that fire. RBF
@ www.cubancigarcrisis.com

David Thomas – “18 Monkeys on a Dead Man’s Chest” CD 9/45:25
David’s back, proving once again he got his edge back. Apparently more of a musical narrative than just another bunch of songs strung together (though to be honest one could really use a lyric sheet), Thomas and co. throw in brass, guitar, and electronics to take you on an unsettling journey indeed (heck, you could pass off “Nebraska Alcohol Abuse” as an earlier Laibach track) Never mind Nick Cave, I’ll take David Thomas for quality “literary” rawk anyday. David
@ www.smogveil.com

Daydream Nation – “Bella Vendetta” CD/10/42:52
Another helping of that ol’ swirl-psych-rock, more focused this go-around. It helps that the tunes have a bit of kick to them instead of merely moping around at half-speed. If the tunes were catchy enough to actually stick instead of almost instantly fading from memory they’d really have something here. As it is it’s somewhat less than a life-changing experience, but swirl-psych-rock fans should find this worth at least a listen. David
@ www.elephantstonerecords.com

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Desmond Dekker - “Israelites” CD 19/53:03 (DualDisc)
Dekker’s title song here was the first worldwide hit record to come out of Jamaica. It was produced by Leslie Kong who produced some of the island’s greatest music back in the ‘60s, including Toots and The Maytals. The ska/rock steady era created some of the greatest records ever, similar to the magic of Motown at the same time. Perhaps Dekker’s seminal masterpiece is “007” which appeared on “The Harder They Come” soundtrack. That song is slick in comparison to much of Dekker’s early work which contains a raw magic. This updated anthology contains many, but not all, of Dekker’s greatest hits which have been released in more permutations than I can keep track of. The DVD layer side of this DualDisc has surround sound, and sounds just great. It has a different on-screen photo of the artist during each track, and says what year the track is from. Seminal stuff that passes the test of time. Mel
@ Trojan Records

Eddie Haskells – “Dumpster Divin’” CD 10/28:00
Anonymous, No Cal, convenience store punk that doesn’t do much except make you pine for the real thing. Give ‘em credit for not trying to be The Heartbreakers, but they don’t have the tunes or the tools to pull that off anyway. Instead, a song like “London Girls” owes more to the Pistols than anything else. The collage of show flyers behind the transparent tray offers up a good look at where these guys fit in the grid, opening for the likes of Dickies, Vibrators and Lewd. Anthony
@ www.supersm.com

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Eternity’s Children – “Timeless” CD 10/24:26
This record is a good example of what became tagged as “Sunshine pop”: light (at least in comparison to some of the heavier sounds of the time) and airy and upbeat in sound, if not always in lyrics. The first song, “I Wanna Be With You”, is of fairly-high quality, sounding like the kind of tune that a member of Stereolab would slip into one of their DJ sets. The rest ranges from standard-to-above-average if-not-as-memorable genre exercises. Okay, but aside from the first song it’s not really that much more than an above average period piece. David
@ www.revola.co.uk

Ex – “Turn” 2XCD 14/86:56
There are bands that play what is considered “punk” and bands that are actually PUNK, even if they don’t quite fit into any blueprint; long-time readers should probably know which category this lot falls into. Recorded once again by Steve Albini this lot remains as dedicated and passionate as ever, without really becoming preachy, as always willing to go exploring and find new ways to grow on (but never abandon) their angular-punk roots. Not to mention that they’re one of the few bands able to incorporate Ethiopian influences into their music without going all Graceland on us. Recommended. David
@ www.touchandgorecords.com

Exploited – “Death Before Dishonour” CD 19/68:10
Reissue of the 1987 LP with the “Jesus is Dead” and “War Now” releases tacked on to give you more bang for your buck. By this time Wattie and this-week’s-band-members were tweaking the formula a bit, giving the music more of a metal feel (but not enough to turn into English Dogs-style crossover) and adding little bits here and there (The female backing vox on “Sexual Favours” was a nice touch). Granted it’s far from being a timeless classic but in retrospect it’s surprising decent, especially given that the success-rate of long-time UK punk bands around that time was usually pretty low. David
@ www.captainoi.com

Feelers – “Learn to Hate the Feelers” CD 15/21:44
This is the kind of punk rock tuneage that Blank Generation ezine would drool over if they were still around, but since they aren’t I’ll have to do it for them. KBD-style snotty punk just like grandma used to make that’s short but oh so sweet and with enough of its creators so it’s not just KBD-by-nubmers. Oh yeah, if you’re wondering where Sean from the Reatards ended up, look no further. David
@ www.dead-beat-records.com

Fine China - "The Jaws of Life" CD 12/42:13
You'd think it'd be hard to sound wimpier than Death Cab for Cutie, but this Arizona band's melodic indie-pop is so harmless, so fragile, you want to slap them just because you know they won't slap you back. It doesn't help that front man Robert Withem's sings in the same register as a twelve-year-old boy. For fans of Ben Gibbard, The Smiths, and crying at Lifetime Channel movies. Miles
@ www.youmakemehatemusic.com

Five Emprees – “Little Miss Sad” CD 25/59:49
A group from Benton Harbor, Michigan, whose catchy frat rock song “Little Miss Sad” was a local 1965 hit in Chicago, where I often heard it on the radio. The slower, ‘50’s-ish “Hey Lover” is also excellent, and there are several other very enjoyable tracks herein (like “Little Miss Happiness” and “Pretty Face”). On the other hand, there are numerous mediocre covers and these geeky-looking short-haired guys basically had a pre-British Invasion sound. I’m not sure that they entirely warrant such a comprehensive retrospective release, but it’s great to be able to hear the title cut again whenever I want to. Jeff
@ www.arfarfrecords.com
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Five Outsiders - "On The Run" CD 12/35:27
Energetic cache of post-surf instrumental rock from this Gothenburg, Sweden quintet. A spaghetti strainer of Morricone, a dab of Ventures, some “Magnificent Seven” Western-style sawdust... soak heavily in reverb and enjoy. Nothing earth shaking, and I've heard flintier efforts from Cali bands like Pollo Del Mar and the now-venerable Insect Surfers, but a fun twisting-in-the-sand soundtrack all the same. One minor gripe: not enough showcase moments for Outsider Zrinko Culjak's hearty tenor sax blowing. MLH
@ acmerecords.net

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Fleas And Lice – “Early Years” CD 21/53:54
I’m sure we’ve all heard several thousand seven inch singles by bands that try to sound like these sloppy Dutch freaks. This disc gathers tracks dating back to ’93 with the “Parasites” 7 inch. Loose-fitting, trad-punk cum proto-HC that pleads with us to open our fucking eyes and see that the world is a meat factory full of scum and the war will never end. Personal favorites are the anti-raver “Rave Is Your Grave”, the anti-Nazi “Deutschland” and the anti-poseur “Up The Punks.” Anthony
@ www.rodentpopsicle.com

FM Bats – “Everybody Out…Shark In The Water” CD 7/9:06
College-radio-type sinister, neo-noise quartet tosses out a buzzy, surfy guitar sound and distorto-vox on songs that are super short and sweet and dodge all around the dial. A whiff of Pussy Galore, a taste of Modey Lemon, what’s happening here, in it’s tiny way, spans twenty years. Anthony
@ www.vinyldogrecords.com

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Go! Team - “Thunder, Lightning, Strike” CD 11/36:39
Remember that DJ/mash-up/pastiche group from Australia called The Avalanches? Well, The Go! Team sounds pretty much like a live-band version of those guys: every possible style of music all mushed together, creating a sound that on paper shouldn’t work but somehow does. And not only is the album as a whole as eclectic as my grandmother’s curio cabinet, even within the songs the music jumps from place to place. I quite enjoy this, although I’m not so sure that the album will have much long-term staying power. Jake
@ www.thegoteam.co.uk

Gore Gore Girls – “7x4“ CD 7/23:28
The Girls are back to full strength in terms of membership (cover shows them as a four-piece) but still seems to be in a transitory stage musically. Not that they’ve been tinkering with their trademark girl-group goes-garage sound, but the record as a whole seems rather inconsistent; while you have gems like “Loaded Heart” and “Mary Ann”, other tracks like “Sweet Potato” don’t quite work. Let’s see what the next full-length brings. David
@ www.goregoregirls.com

Great Redneck Hope – “Behold the Fuck Thunder” CD 11/9:18
Four guys from Colorado Springs, Colorado whipping up a whirlwind of thundering internse noisycore, but with an always-welcome sense of humor (without necessarily turning into AOD or, worse, the Dead Milkmen). Granted you could throw more than a few “Locust” and “An Albatross” comparisons at them but they still have enough of their own personality to deflect any “copycat” tags. Besides, they spit out righteous enough ‘core that you’d have other matters on your mind while listening to this. David
@ www.thinkerthoughtwrong.com

Guapo – “Black Oni” CD 5/44:33
Guapo (Dan O’Sullivan, Dave Smith and Matt Thompson) teeters on the edge of anarchy in the post-everything world but never goes ass over tea kettle as they should. Using harmonium, mellotron, electronics, and so on, to supplement guitar, bass and drums they flit around like an annoying housefly. Dan’s keyboards are the crux. The eleven minute long “part two” isn’t all that far from Cul De Sac. “Part three,” which is ten minutes long, starts off as a quiet, high-end ambience and becomes a neo-prog jack –off session. I actually thought of the 70s band Nektar as I was composing this sentence. I guess they knew what they wanted, but in order to justify 44 minutes they should have exploded a bus or firebombed a bank or something. This just barely registers on the mind-bending scale. Anthony
@ www.ipecac.com

Guitar Wolf – “R.R.E.” CD 16/37:36
Reissue of the 2000 album from GW, remastered and with a bonus track tacked on for good measure. From the sound of screeching tires that open this record, it’s four-to-the-floor high-octane GW-patented rocknfugginroll that doesn’t let up until the finish line (and then does a few victory laps for good measure). Play this LOUD and be sure to hoist one in the memory of Bass Wolf as you’re doing so. David
@ www.narnackrecords.com

Holly Golightly – “On the Fire” CD 3/9:35
On the CD version you get an extra song and a video taking place at one of those old-time dancing contests (where for at least some of the contestants the contest takes a far-second to being in each other’s arms for an extended period of time). Taken from the “Slowly But Surely” album and that describes this number as well; a slower but still unmistakably-Hollyesque post-Medway number. The other two numbers quicken the pace a bit without quite going full-throttle. Not bad at all. David
@ www.damagedgoods.co.uk

Hot Damn! – “The Girl Can’t Help It” CD 13/27:21
Punk rock with female vocals with a post-Motorhead feel to it. Seriously, imagine a Motorhead 45 slowed to 33 (okay, with the pitch cranked up a bit), excise the leads, change the vocals, inject (even more of) a sense and appreciation of rock-n-roll’s golden age (trust me, the title track and “Short Shorts” aren’t your usual punk-rock-trash-the-classics) and this would be the end result. In other words, a winner. I’d definitely take this over the likes of, say, Nashville Pussy any day of the week. David
@ www.steelcagerecords.com

Hot Water Music – “The New What Next” CD 12/41:22
Hey, it’s on Epitaph, need I say more? Yeah, I guess I do… The vocals have a Joe Strummer growl to them (but more on-key than the late Joe), and this Florida-based band may only occasionally sound like the Clash, but one can hear the influence. Well, they consider themselves post-hardcore (I agree), so imagine a more structured, more studio-influenced sound. Actually I was surprised by the high gloss production values, causing me to consider what the band is like live, and what the material presents. It’s like they have one foot in “We want our MTV”, and the other in “Fuck MTV” hard sound. Well, New Wave was punk mixed with mainstream, so someone needs to come up with a new term for this straddle. “Alt post-hardcore”? Newer Wave? No, I’m not saying – or even implying – that they’ve sold out, they’re just musically being agnostic. Well, anyway, who cares; the band rocks, and I guess that what matters, right? Still, I get the impression I’d like this band even more hearing them perform live. Oh, for those interested in this kind of thing, they’re named after a Chuck Bukowski book. RBF
@ www.Epitaph.com

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Insurgence – “Statuatory Of Liberty” CD 6/13:38
Mid-range HC excrement, produced by Jack Endino, that has a melodic sensibility on the opener, and a sense of humor on “Ani Difranco Is Annoying.” There’s not much going on rhythmically beyond the pounding 1-2 drum parts and quick time fills, but the rest of one song, “Everything Has Died,” is good enough to overcome itself. Anthony
@ www.theinsurgence.com

International Businessmen – “The Formula” CD 11/36:24
This CD has definitely grown on me. With sharp metallic (read as tinny rather than heavy) guitar resonance that sounds like a heavy use of the bridge pick-up, this effect works for the band more than not, adding to their pop-punk leanings. RBF
@ www.InternationalBusinessmen.com

Jascha Ephraim – s/t CD 14/43:29
Who the Hell is Jascha Ephraim?, you ask. He’s definitely not the nice little Jewish boy your momma wanted you to marry. This guy makes Bobby Conn seem perfectly normal, a one man band with a penchant for writing looney tunes about being Jascha Ephraim. His electro-pop is loaded with hummable ditties like “Get With My Girlfriend,” about his mom “getting with his girlfriend,” “Hebrew Screw-up” and “Kitty Was Born To Die.” There are four short breaks called “Baby Time” that involve childhood recordings of him by his mother. That’s where it all began. Best track is a preposterous spoken word piece that mutates into an underwater ballad entitled, “Goldfish Euthanasia.” Remember kids, “fish don’t have any sales experience,” so there’s no way they could work in a gun store. Thanks for giving the world a song called, “Out Humpin’.” Anthony
@ www.jaschaephraim.com

Jason Anderson - "The Wreath" CD 10/36:37
Nice indie-folk from the artist formerly known as Wolf Colonel. Anderson's plaintive vocals and open strumming put him on the Bright Eyes end of the folk spectrum, though his optimistic outlook and hopeful lyrics keep the emo from getting too maudlin. Add in some strong songwriting and a full band accompaniment of drums, piano, and female vocals, and this is easily Anderson's most mature work to date. Miles
@ www.indiepages.com/wolfcolonel

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John Entwistle - “So Who’s the Bass Player” 2XCD
A 38 song compilation from the Who bass player who died in 2002. Much of his solo work showcased here rivals his other band/day job. His first two albums, “Smash Your Head Against The Wall” and “Whistle Rymes” are among the most underrated in rock annals. The first 11 of these tracks are from those albums, and pick up where The Who left off. Entwistle’s next couple albums were more oldies flavored, the best tune being “Mad Dog” a parody of the 1963 girl group hit “My Boyfriend’s Back”, on which John appropriately turns the vocals over to three female singers. The second disc has its moments, with tracks like, “Try Me” and “Too Late The Hero” which sound like something on a classic rock radio station. Entwistle didn’t sell all that many records as a solo artist, and didn’t exactly pack ‘em in on tours either, but if you like that classic rock sound, this anthology demonstrates he rates way high. Mel
@ www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com

Konks – s/t CD 12/32:47
Debut album from Boston outfit cranking out fuzz-laden garage rock. Noisy without drifting into ultra-distorto territory (Not that moi is necessarily against said production technique, just that sometimes it’s okay if the needle doesn’t slam into the far end of the red). Includes a “nice-try” Aerosmith cover, though one wonders why they bother with past-their-prime when their originals are nothing to sneeze at (“King Kong” is the fave here). Won’t mind seeing what this gang is capable of live. David
@ www.bomp.com

Krunchies – “In De Winkel” CD 12/19:41
More coolness from Chicago. Debut full-lengther (i.e. they have twelve songs instead of only six) featuring righteous raucous punk with fine screeching female vocals that would make Blatz proud (the male vocalist doesn’t do too shabbily either). Makes me wonder what they’d be capable of live. One of my faves of the month. David
@ www.criminaliq.com

Little Killers – CD 12/27:40
High quality punk’n’roll, apparently from somewhere in New Yawk. They’re on Crypt, so you know that they will rock and not get overly complex on you. Since the Little Killers are a two-girl, one-guy three-piece, the sound seems a bit sparser than it might be if they added a second guitarist. Even so, they rip out riff-heavy stuff with short but sweet harmonica breaks and nice dirty leads, so if you still like your r’n’r primitive and with hooks, this CD will be just the tonic you need. Several people have already raved to me about their live shows, so I wouldn’t advise missing them if they happen to come to your burg. Jeff
@ www.cryptrecords.com

Locust – “Safety First, Body Last” CD 2/10:09
Another helping of avant-core, getting closer to Melt Banana territory (if not quite up to said outfit’s admittedly high standards this go-around), with more electronics and genre-tweaking than ever. Not quite a giant step forward (newcomers wondering what all the fuss is about would be advised to head to, say, the self-titled album or “Flight of the Wounded Locust” first) but folks already in the know should still be able to groove on this. David
@ www.ipecac.com

Long-View – “Mercury” CD 12/52:56
Problem with this Brit band is it presents way too hard. Call it “cathedral rock”, or “U2-like”, or whatever; it’s like trying to imagine what Tammy Faye actually looks like through all the make-up. In other words, they use way too many adornments and accessories. The songs are potentially harmless, but you really go have to go hacking with a machete to find the core. Even the vocals are highly effected (and affected), with a bland and lusterless rendition. The single “Further” is the one getting the airplay, but “When You Sleep” is catchier to my ear. I believe the way the band sucks in the listener is that they lull us through long songs (avg of about 4 minutes) and repetitive sounds, much like they do when one gets a massage. It is akin to watching someone walk in slow motion. It is releases like this that make me truly appreciate stripped down punk. RBF
@ www.ColumbiaRecords.com

Longwave – “There’s A Fire” CD12/45:30
Hmmm… what exactly are they going for? Dreary adult contempo-rock? This dull, shapeless five-piece serves up about four minutes worth of meat surrounded by 35 minutes of tasteless mashed potatoes. How does a band like this get signed to RCA? Anthony
@ www.rcarecords.com

Loud Clappers – “At the Smash Party” CD 5/15:38
Lo-fi, simple, and sludgy. There’s a bit too much distortion, but the songs hold up through it. If I could be there at the next “smash party” taping, I’d pull out the echo, but otherwise, not much to complain about. Most of the melodies and instrumentation is stripped down to its basic pop rock center, and then fed through a manipulation that makes me think, as a metaphor, of someone who Photoshops an image, but is a root beginner in the process. The image is great, but needs quite a bit of tweaking. I especially like the finale, “Engine Driver”.  RBF
@ www.LoudClappers.com

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Lozenge – “Undone” CD 14/57:04
Chicago collective that includes Kurt of the Flying Luttenbachers. It’s a mish-mash, a hodgepodge, a conglomeration of zany improvisation and broken riddims, yes. From Varese to Stockhausen, Zappa to Beefheart, Mt. Shasta to The Boredoms, this kind of up yours approach to structure or harmony or control enjoys a long history. I have, over the years, encountered the odd recording that demands its place alongside those founders, but they are few and far between. As much as I want to fully appreciate the ugly oboe runs, the pots and pans percussion and the “eight year old playing the Moog” parts on this, it’s the fucked up vox that really stick out like a sore thumb up your ass. Too band we don’t get more of that. This is just unruly when it could be unholy. Anthony
@ www.mylozenge.com

Magnoila Electric Company – “Trials & Errors” CD 10/72:22
If you’re into folk rock with a country flair (e.g., slide guitar and twang), this is a quite enjoyable live album. And if you’re stoned, you may get grooved into the sheer length of the songs, averaging 7 minutes per. Mind you, it’s not mindnumbing and seemingly never-ending as Phish, nor space cadet folk like the Dead, it’s more intelligent singer-songwriter, flexing with full group. The songs themselves (and their performance) are high quality, as is the sound. If not for the applause at the end of the songs, one would hardly know it was live.  RBF
@ Secretly Canadian, 1499 W. Second St, Bloomington, IN 47403

Manic Street Preachers – “The Holy Bible–10th Anniversary Edition” 2XCD + DVD
This a lot to take in – disc one gives you the full “The Holy Bible” album plus live bonus tracks; disc two gives you the US mix of the same album plus demos and Radio 1 sessions; and finally, there is a DVD of videos, live performances and a band interview. It makes me tired just thinking about it. I don’t think you can be much more of a completist for this one record than this, and it’s fitting I suppose, given that it was singer Richey James last album before disappearing in 1995 (and he’s still missing, and presumed dead at this point). They pack more politics in this record than the Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy, all piled on top of a sound that has always seemed three parts PiL-style post-punk with one part straight-forward brit-pop. Since this has been out for ten years now most folks have probably already formed an opinion on the band, and this album may be a bit dense for a newcomer; but for an already established fan, this will be like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Jake
@ www.manics.co.uk/

Martin Denny – “Exotica” CD 24/63:38
Reissue of the seminal record that defined a genre, featuring both mono and stereo mixes. I’ve probably said it before, but Denny’s (underrated) talent was in as much an arranger as anything; so instead of simply being rote EZ with bird noises and what not tacked on (or, alternatively, going the opposite direction and going all Spike Jones on our arses) you ended up with well-constructed exotiworks evoking images of a Pacific paradise that usually existed only in our imaginations (and perhaps the occasional Trader Vic’s, after a Mai Tai or two). Whether you’re an oldtimer interested in having both mono and stereo mixes at your fingertips or a newcomer looking for an entrance into this world known as Exotica you definitely need this in your collection. David
@ www.revola.co.uk

Masonics – “Outside Looking In” CD 12/35:16
Latest release of post-Headcoat Medway garage, with former Headcoatee Ludella Black taking some lead vocals as well. Not too much in the way of ravers, it’s mostly slow-to-midtempo numbers, though they do cut loose on the closing title track, but they prove they don’t have to kick it in high gear to make a lasting (positive) impression. They even do a good surfy number in the form of “The Runaway Goblin”. Overall I daresay this is their best release yet. David
@ www.vinyljapan.com

Messengers – s/t CD 12/33:00
Solid punk fronted by more-than-solid female vox; I know it’s become a cliché to use this comparison with any-punk-band-with-female-vocalist but there really are tinges of Ms. Penelope Houston in the vox at times. If the tunes aren’t exactly up to the Avengers’ standards, the vocals help carry them along. David
@ www.punkcore.com

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Mishka – “One Tree” CD 8/33:30
Very pretty reggae that one can definitely get into a groove with, but there is something lacking. From what I can figure, as I am not a reggae expert (though I’ve been listening to a lot lately), Bermuda native Mishka has the vocal sound down, and the songs themselves fit the perscrip. Thing is, with the heavy use of a drum machine and programming, there is no deep bass thumping that I picture as a lynchpin of the sound (though a bass is actually listed, played by David Ayers, who also plays guitar). Perhaps with an actual all-human band, and some alternate arrangements, this has high potential as the songs are sufficient for the sound, such as the title cut and “In a Serious Way”, it’s just this recording that is lacking. RBF
@ www.Cornerstoneras.com

Modern Giant - “Satellite Nights” CD 11/47:48
I was pretty certain what I was getting into here from the cutesy drawings on the cover art - upbeat, simple tweeish girl-pop. I was mostly right: definitely pop and definitely a female singer, who is a bit reminiscent of Liz Phair in voice but not foul-mouthedness. But there is a male singer too, and although pop, it’s not the straight-forward simple kind... being that they are from Australia, I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising that they might have a sound somewhat similar to The Clean or one of the other legendary Kiwi acts. Not a spot on match, mind you, but when they get wound up like on “If I Close My Eyes” you can definitely hear it. Jake
@ www.popboomerang.com
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Mumps - "How I Saved The World" CD + DVD
Too tuneful, too smart, too excitable, too effete. Too shiny-happy for the safety-pin rabble of Punk. Far too early for the skinny-tie party of the New Wave. Factor in America's steadfast acceptance of everything in their rock stars but intelligence, this was basically the story of Lance Loud and the Mumps, whose recorded legacy from the 70's is finally, lovingly surmised in this fantastic anthology. This expands upon the previous anthology from 1994, “Fatal Charm,” by including a handful of unreleased songs (current favorite: the surprisingly grimy "Stake In My Heart", inspired by and offered to the Cramps, who passed). Additional manic pop thrills come in the inclusion of a raw but remarkable DVD of vintage live performances (shot everywhere from CBGB's to their NYC rehearsal space, AKA chief Mumps composer Kristian Hoffman's downtown flat!), in addition to clips from a 1990 L.A. reunion gig that showed Lance Loud's talent as a goofily charismatic frontman had not dimmed over time. This is one for the ages, and one that millennial smart-pop fiends and aging art-punkers (guilty as charged!) alike will derive much kicks from. MLH
@ www.sympathyrecords.com

Pink Razors – “Scene Suicide” CD 8/12:18
Good hi-energy, short-but-sweet catchy punk rock (with one acoustic number at the end) straight outta Richmond VA, and pop-laden without being putrid. Pretty fun, though perhaps a bit too brief (I’ve heard of “always leave them wanting more”, but this goes by almost too fast to make an impact). Still, definitely a band to keep an eye on. David
@ www.roboticempire.com

Prefects – “Are Amateur Wankers” CD 10/31:39
These folks, who came out of the original UK punk boom and eventually metamorphosed into the Nightingales, didn’t leave behind much in the way of recorded documentation; you only get ten tracks here, one of which (the fabled “V.D.”) is from a 2001 reunion. Our loss; what we do have on display here proves to be some quality goods indeed. One can best compare them (in attitude, if not always in sound) to bands like Wire and Magazine (and, one could argue, Buzzcocks), applying some creativity and experimentation (if not in an overly self-consciously manner) to their music and not sticking to what was already becoming a punk rock blueprint, though they show they could still smash it up with the best of them. Hopefully there are some more live tapes and whatnot waiting to be unearthed as well. David
@ www.acuterecords.com

Reel Big Fish – “We’re Not Happy ‘Till You’re Happy” CD 14/59:50
I was curious to hear this band, because they go by the same initials as me, and I keep running across them in Google. Pretty decent rock ska, with punk attitude (e.g., “Turn the Radio Off”). They even make Morrissey’s “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful” listenable, and do a decent ska’d version of Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” and Social Distortion’s “Story of My Life”. “Don’t Start a Band” is reminiscent (content wise) of “So You Wanna Be a Rock’n’Roll Star” in its cynical look at the music biz. Yeah, there’s a lot of anger on this CD towards specific people (including “Say Goodbye”, “The Bad Guys”, and “Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em”), which gets tedious after a while. At the end of the final cut, there is a long “freak-out” that is a cross between “Revolution #9”, Walter/Wendy Carlos’ “Timesteps” (from “A Clockwork Orange”), and a buzzsaw. RBF
@ www.Jiverecords.com

Robotnicka – “Spectre en Vue” CD 13/27:21
Self-proclaimed disco-synth riot-punk with lyrics sung in French and apparently of a political nature. Imagine the younger sister of Stereo Total grabbing some friends, a drum kit, and an analog keyboard, consuming too much sugar, and going apeshit in their closed bedroom before going out to conquer the world (and is that a cowbell I hear during “Discowgirlz”?). Revolution Robotnicka style now! David
@ www.bloodlink.com

Satelliters – “Hashish” CD 13/38:59
Pretty good psych-tinged garage (and I’m not talking post-Vines) from this long-time (ten years and counting) German outfit, who obviously have yet to sacrifice their garage-sale record collection to the gods of eBay. The last tune (“1969-The End Of Time”) isn’t quite the apocalyptic epic it aspires to be, but otherwise this is pretty fab indeed. Put down that pipe and pick this up. David
@ www.dionysusrecords.com

Sharp Ease – “Going Modern” CD 12/27:17
Debut release from this LA outfit. Kinda like an updated version of the riot grrl (and post-same) bands (Excuse 17, etc.) that wasn’t afraid to get noisy. Vocalist has personality to be sure, cooing and swooping without overdoing it. Still obviously finding their way, but with songs like “Patio Chair” I daresay they have a future. David
@ www.thesmell.org/olfactory

Sick Bees – “The Marina Album” CD 13/16:22
Tweaked (without being too self-consciously “quirky”) pop songs, featuring the ol’ home-recorder “Should we? Oh why the fuck not?” attitude in regards to construction of said tunes. There are admittedly a few groaners here and there (are folks STILL using the old “cat/pussy” lines in 2005? Apparently so.) but overall it works more often than not. “Chim Chim Cher-ee” indeed. David
@ www.uprecords.com

Sidekick – “So Far Away” CD 10/24:50
Actually, their material reminded me a bit of the Adverts; pop punk with clear annunciation and harmonies, yet with an anthemic feel to them that almost demands that you shout along with them. All the songs are catchy, and well played/sung. I was particularly fond of “Generation.” Plus there are some lightning guitar bursts that come out of nowhere, brightening up an already gleaming number. “We’re just bored teenag”…er, I mean, “My future is going now-e-here.” RBF
@ www.Galeforce-records.com

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Silo 10 – s/t CD 8/53:50
This Texas guitar duo’s release was apparently recorded in an actual grain silo (hence the name) in order to take advantage of its natural reverb capabilities (beats the usual home-studio/96-track-behemoth alternatives). In other words another case of the “studio” being used as an instrument, since this results in pretty good atmospheric soundscapes, not dissimilar to, say, Windy & Carl circa “Antarctica”, if with a bit more unease emanating from the mix. Of course you have to wonder what they’ll do for an encore (hopefully there’ll be one). David
@ www.unclebuzz.com

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Skulls – “Beyond Warped – Live Music Series” CD 11/23:08 (DualDisc)
Dual disc of live set and hi-definition DVD with footage from the Warped Tour, club videos and ROM-only bonus content. Two words: tired, aimless. “Can Punk Rock Pay The Bills” smacks of the 80s and “Summer of Hate” is Meatmen-ish rube rock, but this just flat out sucks. Please, no more. Anthony
@ www.immergent.com

Slaughterhouse Four – “Broken Hearts And Broken Strings” CD 6/18:02
The first song by this Astoria, NY outift, “Child Labor,” is rudimentary, but sincere, as they flail about musically trying to find themselves. And I’m not sure what to make of some of the lyrics. A passage from “War Movies Played Backwards,” (“I’ve found a quest in asking questions/You’re trained in changing the subject/Each tragically hopeful suggestion/Succeeds in making you upset”). That could be as much about Ann Coulter as it could be about a girlfriend with issues. Anthony
@ www.slaughterhousefour.com

Smashing Orange - “1991” CD 12/46:38
I bought their debut 7 inch “My Deranged Heart” in ‘91, and they seemed poised for big things, but their subsequent releases never lived up to the promise. The original lineup on this East Coast band had Rob Montejo and his sister Sara on vocals. The packaging and lack of liner notes are disappointing, but the music is classic stuff. Dreamy fuzz rock similar to Ride. If you are a shoegazer, pick this up. Mel
@ www.elephantstonerecords.com MP3 Download

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Solly – “Get It Wrong It’s Alright” CD 11/37:06
Mainstream style pop rock will usually have me driving the porcelain bus, but part of this Solly (I will avoid the obvious pun possibilities) release is actually quite listenable. The best cuts are ”Waste Awhile” (where sections sound like they were lifted right off the opening bars of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”) and especially the opening cut, “Welcome Down”. Most of the CD is a bit TOO mainstream pop style for my liking. They have high energy levels, solid catches, and good vocals. Now all they need is a touch more originality. But don’t get me wrong, they’re well on their way. RBF
@ www.ZoundsSounds.com

Sonnets – “Mystery Girl” CD 14/50:42
Supposedly a melding of 60s mod, 70s punk & glam (the latter isn’t immediately apparent, but it’s in there), and 90s powerpop (which admittedly had more power than its 70s counterpart), which truth to tell isn’t a bad description. Not sure how they’d take this, but somehow I also get (early) Smithereens vibes as well (mainly in the vox) or at least a younger and feistier version of same (the influences they draw upon don’t seem to be too dissimilar). Pretty good, though it works better when it pumps up the energy level. David
@ www.failedexperimentrecords.com

Stairs – “On Sleep Lab” CD 15/60:40
While not particularly amazing or anything, this new and final album by The Stairs is a well crafted chunk of catchy pop songs that should be heard by many more people than will actually happen. From Boston, these lads have a love for the lo-fi (whether that is purposefully or out of necessity), and it suits them; think of a more saccharine, jangly Guided by Voices without the fake British accent. Or maybe they sound like a less-whimsical Of Montreal? Either way, they have an ear for hooks and there are plenty on this record. My biggest complaint: this album is too long and could stand to be edited down a bit, but then again I’ve always been a “less is more” type. Jake
@ www.thestairs.com

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Stereotypes – “3/Leftovers EP” 2XCD
There’s two CDs here from this San Diego quartet: first the LP “3” (following long-players “1” and “2”), and the added “Leftovers” filled with just that: songs that did not make the final cut and outtakes of those that did). Okay, enough with the exposition, let’s get to the release. Man, they come soooo close. Their version of college/mainstream radio cross is effective, and I can see them being picked up. And, unfortunately, for all the reason I was not totally impressed. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some kickass stuff here, such as “My New Friend” and “Kill, Keys, Money, and Jewelry”. The musicianship is fine and songwriting of melody and hooks is all right. My problem with them is expressed in their press release, which states, “They did manage to trade in some of their gritty vocal sounds for a slightly cleaner production value.” That grittiness is also what made them different from every other band you hear on the radio (that grittiness is much more prevalent in their added “Leftovers”, and is actually much closer to why they have a following, and their potential: it kicks). Plus, now there’s an occasional Mellotron that pops up here and there that is beyond distraction, it outright ruins anything it touches (they don’t call it “Mello” for nuthin’). Perhaps the vision of the band is to reach the “money for nothing and the chicks for free” level. This CD may get them this, but is it worth the loss of musical soul? RBF
@ www.wishingtreerecords.com

Thee Missouri – “In Voodoorama” CD 11/49:56
Once upon a time there was a German band called Missouri, very morose and gothic sounding, like how a crumbling old cathedral would sound, you know, if they wrote and performed songs. But then they added a “Thee” to their name, added some electronic elements and a thick dollop of sultry straight from the Afghan Whigs’ filthy little world. Things don’t seem quite as depressing in this new land they occupy, but it has that feel of an old pulp detective novel, you’ve got one eye peeking over your shoulder, on the lookout for trouble. I’m not sure any of that makes a lick of sense, but this record is great, especially the epic final song “Lord, I’m Ready”. Jake
@ www.missourimusic.de/

Tim Burgess – “I Believe” CD 14/51:03
Former Charlatans UK singer apparently wanted to make an album utilizing the musics of this new homeland (these here 50 states) really badly – and did so, really badly (song titles such as “I Believe in the West Coast”, “Oh My Corazon”, and “Po’Boy Soul” should tell you all you need to know). Okay maybe it’s not terrible but it’s so faceless and generic that it’s hard to see anyone getting excited about this. Even (especially?) ardent fans of his old outfit – and old sound – might leave this with feelings of puzzlement instead of approval. David
@ www.kochrecords.com

Tri-Fives – “Won’t Back Down” CD 11/27:06
Despite the similarity in bandwear these folks aren’t so much Hi-Fives as their predecessors, Sweet Baby Jesus. Yes they dress in matching suits, and the opening to the first track induces promising-enough Dave Allen flashbacks, but this soon settles into that familiar pop-punk sound. Still, if they’re not pushing any boundaries, they do have enough youthful energy and vigor to make this listenable (i.e. make one’s eyes glaze over while listening to this) which does put them ahead of more than a few folks still mining this stream. The best parts are when they go full-on (vintage) East-Bay-style punk on us. David
@ www.thetri-fives.com

Ulver - "Blood Inside" CD 9/45:51
Ulver is not your typical Scandinavian Black Metal band. Yeah, they're gloomy. Yeah, they're theatrical in that art-goth/Renaissance Fair sort of way. And, yeah, they all probably own the director's cut versions of every Highlander movie ever made. But musically, their symphonic "concept albums" are so bizarre and genre eclectic that they resemble something closer to Brian Wilson's “Smile” than Metallica's “Kill 'Em All”. “Blood Inside” has got a little bit of everything, early 80's synths, chamber orchestras, sludgy power chords, Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies, uber-metal guitar solos, etc. It's obvious that these guys could care less about what's "cool" these days (in the US or Scandinavia), which one minute is really refreshing, and the next really cheesy, and then kind of brilliant, and then pretty embarrassing. Miles
@ www.jester-records.com/ulver

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Wide Right – “Sleeping on the Couch” CD 12/43:22
Depending on which event one uses as a lynchpin, rock’n’roll is at least 50 years old, rock is at least 40, and punk is at least 30. It is only logical that rock’n’rollers/rockers/punkers are also aging. And what happens to them? Usually, they have a real life with real families and real employment. The Bernie Kugel Experience, from Buffalo, once stated in a demo, “20 long
years making rock’n’roll/Never made a penny playing rock’n’roll/But dig this man/I pay the rent.” Point is, there is a definite void as most of us age, since song topics rarely change from youth-oriented sex, drugs and r’n’r (e.g., Stones, name-a-band-who-just-got-back-together). But then again, there’s Wide Right, a trio also from Buffalo. Leader Leah Archibald fills that niche by using a hard rock base to discuss the life of motherhood, employment, and looking at rock’n’roll from a middle-aged fan’s perspective. Sort of what Nancy White does to the folk rock scene up in Canada. “Sleeping on the Couch” is full of wisdom through alternating filters of comedy and wistfulness. But it never, ever backs down. Leah uses these methods to get a point across: just because we rockers are aging and have lives, does not mean that one loses the joy of the music, or you can fuck us around. She deals with the likes of her child’s obnoxious teacher, her son’s NOT coming out of the closet, sex (and lack thereof), the hots for a younger band member, and, of course, the wonders of Buffalo (yes, there are). There’s even a kick-ass version of Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill.” It’s all about the joy of the music, and she (and the band) handles it superbly. At a punk show a couple of years ago, I had some guy condescendingly said to me, Hey, you made it through the whole show”, not knowing that I’ll most likely see more live and loud music in one year than he will probably see in his whole life. Remember Mel Brooks’ retort, “We mock the things we are to be.” RBF
@ www.poptoprecords.com

Wilderness – s/t CD 10/44:29
This album by Wilderness is just not very good. It’s got kinda a post-rock PiL vibe, the sort of thing I normally love, but it just doesn’t work here for me. I think this is mostly because of the singer’s voice, which makes me want to pull a Chopper and cut my ears off. Not surprisingly, Pitchfork loved it in their review, further reminding me of how different my tastes are from theirs. Jake
@ www.jagjaguwar.com

Willowz – “Talk in Circles” CD 20/62:18
Whereas their debut album was a hot platter, this one makes all the impact of a reheated potato. Granted one can’t blame them for wanting to expand their musical horizons (and not taking everything at 120 per) and there’s still some KBD-quality garage tuneage here, but the magic touch seems to be fizzling out. Maybe if they had done some more pruning (with twenty songs at over 62 minutes we’re talking double-album here) this would have had a better hit/miss ratio; as it is, one hopes that they can do a rethink and avoid the Too Much Too Soon syndrome. David
@ www.sympathyrecords.com

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Windsor For The Derby – “Giving Up The Ghost” CD 10/35:48
Operating well below the radar of any mainstream purview WFTD (Dan Matz and Jason McNeely) are a playa in the post-rock game. This time out they incorporate a more up-tempo post college radio quirkiness and a little noise. “Praise” rocks along on a vibrato of metallic keyboard sounds. The vocal on “Shadows” drones through a field with a shiny organ line while a New Order drum beat keeps rolling time and builds to a shuddering finish. “The Light Is On” is minimal airy pop. Quite a few bands could take a lesson. Anthony
@ www.secretlycanadian.com

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Xiu Xiu – “La Foret” CD 11/46:35
Every time I try to listen to Xiu Xiu, and oh how I’ve tried, I never seem to “get it”. It’s like everyone else is in on the joke, and it’s very frustrating. I’ll give Jamie Stewart one thing for sure: he’s a very original singer and songwriter with his own distinct voice, something not many can claim these days. And while that is certainly admirable, it doesn’t necessarily make me want to listen to his music. I don’t even know how to describe the band’s sound; sometimes it’s hauntingly folky and mellow, then the next track will be a glitchy electronica-rock song, and then he kinda rocks out ...there are even a couple of numbers on here that remind me of Joy Division, and not in that Interpol “gets compared to them but doesn’t actually sound like it” way, but the songs honest-to-god sound like Joy Division. That, or my ears are broken, which is certainly possible. Anyways, I can’t really say to buy or not to buy this, but Xiu Xiu is a band worth checking out just to see how you react to it. You may hate it, but at least you’ll know you haven’t missed out on anything. Jake
@ www.5rc.com

Yowie – “Cryptooology” CD
Aside from the difference in lineup (two-guitars-and-drum as opposed to bass-and-drum) one could be forgiven for mistaking this for a new Ruins record. Not to say that they’re consciously trying to be copycats but do seem to be, um, heavily influenced by said outfit’s patented hyperactive spastic-and-elastic prog-on-45 with-the-pitch-cranked-up sound. Fortunately they also seem to have taken notes regarding that band’s (usual) insistence on quality since, if it doesn’t quite overpower the masters, it’s definitely more-than-worthwhile as a listen in its own right. In other words, recommended. David
@ www.skingraftrecords.com

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V/A - “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit Neil” CD 16/52:03
A tribute to former Monkees songwrighter Neil Diamond. 99% of these “tribute” projects are dodgey at best. Actually I’m being way too kind; they exist to fill the bins in the compilation section at used CD stores. This one is certainly a cut above. Silver Needle do a heck of a job on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. Jeremy Morris’ version of the Monkees “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” is another winner. There are other solid covers here by Desparation Squad, Flamin Locos, Moonshine Mountain Boys, etc. I don’t like tribute albums, but this one is a lot of fun. Mel
@ www.deliriumrecords.com

V/A – “Fort Worth Teen Scene, volume 1” CD 24/56:13
What non-Texan could’ve imagined that there were so many boss mid-‘60’s garage bands emanating from one Texas city that Norton could manage to release three separate volumes of them? Although I can’t say whether the other two volumes are equally good, since the label only sent volume 1, this one can fairly be said to kick ass. There are quite a few primitive covers, as one might expect, but some of ‘em are stunningly good (like the Tracers’ version of the Stones’ “She Said Yeah”). Better still are the punked-out originals, such as Larry and the Blue Notes’ “Night of the Sadist” and “In and Out,” the Jinx’s “Come On Up,” the Wyld’s Stones-influenced “Fly By Nighter,” and – best of all – the Rising Suns’ unreleased shredder “I’m Blue.” There are also some fine atmospheric, moody numbers like Five of a Kind’s “I Don’t Wanna Find Another Girl” and the Bards’ (not to be confused with the Northwest band with the same name) “Thanks a Lot Baby.” A long overdue release of the products of an amazing local garage scene. Jeff
@ www.nortonrecords.com

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V/A – “Garage Beat ’66” volumes 1, 2, and 3 CDs
Most ‘60’s compilations fall into one of two categories – 1) collections of relatively well-known “hits” reissued for nostalgia’s sake, or 2) collections of insanely obscure songs reissued for the benefit of obsessive collectors and aficionados. These three volumes of “Garage Beat ‘66” fall somewhere between these two poles, albeit closer to the latter in that they feature lots of ‘60’s garage tracks that are reasonably well-known to connoisseurs of the genre but practically unknown to the general public. Yet there are still good reasons to reissue them again, ‘cause this time they are apparently taken from the original master tapes instead of from scratchy, potholed 45s (although several have already appeared on single band releases put out by Sundazed). In any case, volume 1 is the punkiest of the lot, with killer snot-nosed blasts by the Sparkles (including the original of “No Friend of Mine”), Fever Tree (an absolutely amazing early side with one of the best ever fuzzed-out leads), the “In,” Dog, the Olivers, and the Eyes (mind-boggling moody punk), along with fetching psych punk from the Odyssey and the Fe-Fi-Four + 2, etc. Volume 2 is mainly just plain garage, by which I mean that it isn’t generally as belligerent and fuzz-laced, but it does contain stellar tracks by the Menn, the Electras (psych punk), the Sonics, Third Bardo (more psych punk), the Spiders (pre-Alice Cooper), the Go-Betweens (moody), Five Americans (surprisingly rockin!), The Litter (a great Small Faces cover), and We the People. Volume 3 is still more psych-oriented, and it showcases some fab songs by the Mourning Reign, the Answer, the Brogues (featuring some pre-Quicksilver Messengers), and Living Children. All in all these are really excellent comps with a great sound, and with any luck Sundazed will add several more volumes to the series. Jeff
@ www.sundazed.com

V/A – “Golden Grouper Vol. 1” CD 18/59:44
Most decidedly NOT a label sampler or a tour/store/clothing line-tie-in, just a compilation of 18 bands (not all of them on the GSL label) who most likely have few, if any, Weezer CDs in their possession. With noted post-post-punk outfits like the Wives, Weegs, Black Ice, and 400 Blows among others on hand you know what you’ll be getting yourself into i.e. dark-edged sounds that seem intent on creating their own categories instead of politely fitting themselves into existing ones. Some bands aren’t quite adequately represented by the material at hand but overall this is worth checking out. David
@ www.goldstandardlabs.com

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V/A – “Hair” CD 24/74:40
Remember a few years back when we had a buncha surf bands doing a tribute to “Jesus Christ Superstar”? Well guess what, they’re back at it, this time taking a swipe at “Hair”. It works best when the band on hand gets creative and “surf-ifies” the song in question instead of trying to be at least somewhat reverent (especially when they ditch the vocals). Standouts include Atomic Mosquitos, Bustin’ Burritos, the space age surf of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and of course the Atlantics’ rendition of “Aquarius”. David
@ www.omomworld.com

V/A – “Just Go Destroy Everything In Sight” CD 17/43:54
Oh all right, if you insist. This is a compilation of various up-and-comers from the Japanese scene cranking out punk in a variety of styles (melodic, overmodulated garage, hardcore, streetpunk, etc.). Some good stuff here, Have Nots in particular stand out, if not overall something that’d compel me to swim the Pacific over for (fortunately that’s what we have folks like Guitar Wolf for). David
@ www.dionysusrecords.com

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V/A - “Last Years Youth!” CD 16/43:50
Lotsa classic late ‘70s British punk. None of these bands are as well known as many of their contemporaries, Clash, Pistols, Damned, but ‘77 punk was an explosion, with hundreds of bands putting out great records. Rudi, who contribute three tracks here were the leaders of the early Irish punk scene that later developed Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers. Their “14 Steps” is a power-pop gem that alone makes this disc essential. Speaking of power-pop gems, Fast Cars, “The Kids Just Wanna Dance”, rates with the best of the genre. More great tracks from Proles, Xpress, UXB, Carpettes, Accident On The East Lancs, Sema 4, The Now and more. These are tracks of historic consequence, so make sure you get this! Mel
@ www.wizzard-in-vinyl.com

V/A - “Maestro - Music from the Motion Picture” CD 12/78:07
This is the soundtrack accompaniment to the documentary “Maestro” that covers the dance music/DJ scene from New York City from the 70s & 80s and how it has shaped the scene of today. The music which includes DJ Rasoul, Jimmy “Bo” Horne, and Astrid Suryanto; well, it’s what you would expect it to be: dance music, house music, all that sort of stuff ...they even mix one of my favorite Booker T & the MGs songs in there, “Melting Pot”. The cool thing about it all is that the whole soundtrack is put together like a DJ set itself, with the songs all beat-matched and merged into one another like you would hear in a night club. In fact, you could probably throw this disc on if you were working at a club and no one would know the difference. Jake
@ www.sanctuaryrecords.com

V/A – “Now Is the Winter of Our Discount Tents” CD 15/55:23
Compiled by Twisted Nerve head honchos Andy Votel and Badly Drawn Boy, this compilation of quirky pop is one of the most even label samplers I’ve ever heard. Nothing blew me away and nothing sucked, but pretty much everything was at least ok. I sometimes like to fool myself into believing I actually know something about music, and then you get a compilation like this where you’ve never heard of a damn band on it. Highlights for me included The Liftmen with a song called “Meat Raffle”, and it seems pretty obvious why this was awesome. Also good were the tracks by Lispector and Samandtheplants, both cute pop songs, the former employing fine use of the banjo. More banjo in pop music I’ve always said, glad someone is listening. Jake
@ www.twistednerve.co.uk/

V/A - "Our Last Day" CD 21/38:58
How much noisy-ass grindcore discordance can you take? If you're part of the masochistic target rabble Hydrahead is counting on to snap this sampler of recent releases up, at least 21 tracks worth. I must admit much of this goes in one ear and out my intestines - honestly, don't the members of Gate, Mortalized or Discordance Axis know that one Napalm Death or Naked City is more than enough? The cuts by Cide Projext do intrigue, however: hyperactive drum patter buttressing keyboards lousy with eight-bit meltdown jitters. (Analogy for aging No Wavers: imagine if Arto Lindsay had left DNA, and Robin Crutchfield stayed.) Melt Banana's single cut tossed me back into the scream and spin-cycle rhythmic maw, albeit with welcome sonic variance, while Merzbow contributes a 16-minute orgy of glitch making the grindcore beast with two backs - business as usual, in other words. MLH
@ www.hydrahead.com

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V/A – “Punk O Rama Vol. 10” CD 26/72:37 + DVD
Sometimes, when I come across a compilation such as this one, I want to just list the names of the bands for the review, and can feel confident that I’ve expressed my admiration for it. A partial list here is the Dropkick Murphys, The Unseen, Rancid, Bouncing Souls, Pennywise, NoFX, The Offspring, and Bad Religion. Lots of these are album cuts, but many of the songs are live, unreleased, or released on other rare comps. One thing that strikes me is just how pop sounding some of these punk groups appear, amidst the flashing guitars and savvy lyrics. I liked From First to Last’s screamo pop mix. But then it’s followed by gawdawful hip-hop by Sage Francis, Dangerdoom, and The Coup. This CD covers the range, from punk to emo to screamo, and everything inbetween. A fine collection, ultimately. And if that isn’t enough, there’s a DVD of music videos by 21 artists, most of which are covered here, and even include the Weakerthans. As Miss “I’m-boring-but-I’m-rich-so-fuck-you” often states, “It’s hot”. RBF
@ www.Epitaph.com

V/A – “Sigh Cry Die” CD 29/78:14
With a title like this, I was hoping for a reprise of Arf Arf’s ultra-moody “No No No” compilation, one of my all-time fave records. Although this new collection is also filled with the same sort of teen angst and tragedy, upon first listening it doesn’t seem nearly as haunting or heartbreaking as that earlier collection. Even so, there are lots of very cool and enjoyably depressing cuts, such as Kings Ransom’s “Without You,” the Bittersweets’ “She Treats Me Bad,” the Changing Times’ “She Laughed at Me” (ouch!), the Gents’ “I’ll Cry,” the Chaynes’ “Run and Hide,” the Secrets’ “Cryin’ Over Her,” and the Nomads’ “How Many Times.” Come to think of it, maybe this comp will likewise grow on me more and more with repeated listenings, as moody numbers sometimes take a little longer to insinuate themselves into one’s psyche. If you’re already down, please get rid of all of your sharp knives before listening to this album. Jeff
@ www.arfarfrecords.com

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V/A - “Teenage Triangle” CD 24/57:26
This disc reissues a pair of releases from 1963 that featured Colpix recording artists, James Darren, Shelley Fabares, Paul Peterson and The Marcels. On the first 12 tracks the artists perform the soundtrack to “Bye Bye Birdie” and do a fine job on the musical’s strong collection of tunes. The second dozen tracks features the hits from Darren, Peterson and Fabares. I assume everyone remembers Fabares’ “Johhny Angel”, and maybe Darren’s “Goodbye Cruel World”, which were both million sellers, but these artists had other great tunes, like Darren’s “Conscience” and Fabares’ forgotten follow-up “Johhny Loves Me.” This is a solid collection that gives you a taste of what pop music was like before The Beatles. Mel
@ www.oldies.com

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V/A - “The Subway Organization 1986-89” CD 20/57:20
Sarah and Subway were the two great DIY labels of the U.K.s C86 scene. Influenced by the Creation label, they put out as many timeless classics and discovered as many great bands as any 80s label. Martin Whitehead, guitarist for the Flatmates, from Bristol, ran the “Organization” as a house label for his band, and the bands they toured with like Chesterfields and Razorcuts. Subway specialized in jangle-pop and fuzz-pop with big time hooks, and about half the groups had girl singers. Some bands Subway discovered went on to other labels, like Pop Will Eat Itself, Shop Assistants and Soup Dragons. Then there were short-lived bands like Charlottes, Rosehips and Bubblegum Splash who put out truly memorable records and disappeared when the label did. This sampler is a great starting place to get a feel for what Subway was all about, but they had several dozen releases you’ll want to get if you like this. Mel
@ www.cherryred.co.uk

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V/A - This Is Crucial Reggae - DJs” CD 12/38:05
This comp kicks off with Dennis Alcapone’s “DJ’s Choice,” which just happens to be one of my all-time favorites. The second track is U-Roy’s “Way Down South,” again, one of my all-time favorites! U-Roy is one of the seminal figures in reggae history. His “toasting” over classic rock steady records was the biggest musical sensation in Jamiaca’s history. He didn’t just top the Jamaican charts, he ruled them with his three singles (“Wake The Town”, “Rule The Nation”, and “Wear You To The Ball”) that stayed 1, 2 and 3 for months in 1970. This comp features a number of distinctive performers who developed the DJ style in the wake of U-Roy. Scotty’s “Draw Your Brakes” is a particular highlight. Also included are the great I-Roy, Big Youth, Dillinger and Prince Far-I. It’s a nice overview of this genre of Jamaican music in the ‘70s. If you enjoy the Alcapone and U-Roy tracks you might want to pick up albums of their early recordings, which are fantastic! Mel
@ www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com

V/A - “Verve Remixed 3” CD 13/62:36
Not a third volume of folks remixing the works of Richard Ashcroft and company, but rather remixers getting their grubby hands on the works of jazz vocalists on the Verve label, in quite a few cases just tossing the original backing track and keeping the vox for a musical bed of their own creation. Needless to say the best tracks are those that treat the vocals as something more than mere fodder for their trademark (re-)workings. A mixed bag, as per usual with these thangs, but there are more than enough good-to-bloody-damn-good results (the Postal Service remix of Nina Simone’s “Little Girl Blue” would be a good example of the latter) to justify its existence. David
@ Universal/Verve

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