SPlo.gif (9k)

Use the Google box below to search our 3,000 review database

Baboon - “Something Good is Going to Happen to You” CD 12/36.29
Apparently Baboon has been around for a hell of a long time now and I’ve just never heard of them. Man, there certainly are a lot of bands in the world, so it’s not that shocking I guess. The first thing that caught my eye on this release is that one of the members plays something called a ‘Room Evacuator’ [R.E.1], I’m not sure I know what that is, but I like the sound of it, a lot. John Congleton of the pAperchAse fame produced this along with the band and I’d have to say that’s a totally natural choice. The thing that caught my ear was the pretty catchy songs. Baboon has a sort of anthemic indie rock thing going on, but with traces of interesting keyboards and odd sounds throughout that give it a unique feel. There’s experimentation in here, some of it wonderfully noisy, but not on the level of disappearing up their own rectal cavities. This is definitely feel good rock that doesn’t make me feel bad, which is rare indeed. Baboon is fairly fun, and manages to evoke the creative spirit and energy of bands like the Pixies and Flaming Lips without resorting to ripping either of those same acts off. This makes sense, seeing as how they’ve been around so danged long. Honestly I’m a little bummed out I’m just finding out about them now, but better late then never right? Conan
@ www.lastbeatrecords.com

Baby Woodrose - "Dropout!" CD 10/29:56
You'd have to be a freakin 60s garage punk addict to play "Name That Tune" on this one. Sure, I know that the opening track, "Can't Explain" is a Love original, but I had to cheat to find that "I Lost You In My Mind" was originally by The Painted Faces, or that "Who's It Gonna Be" was Lollipop Shoppe. Great stuff, but don't tell me you already knew that "A Child Of a Few Hours" is a West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band cover. There's also covers of other BW influences like Captain Beefheart, Stooges and The Saints. This has a big guitar sound and good vocals, pulling the concept off effortlessly. Mel
@ www.badafro.dk

Backup Plan – “Dearest Whomever…” CD 12/19:13
These kids from Long island can play some fast and decent punk rock with both the scream factor and the smooth vocals combined to make a full-bodied experience in the youth gone amuck realm. There is not a lot of space here between the last band to come around and sound like this, be like this, look like this, but they do have a song called “HolyShitHolyShitHolyFuckingShit” and for that title alone I raise my chalice. The hardcore standard has been raised a long time ago so its good to see the challenge taken up with boys and girls who can actually play their instruments and sing about something else than hate and fear. Well, it’s all based around that central theme but…you get the idea. The backup Plan even take an Emo approach to songwriting and attitude so that’s something kooky to stick in your mohawk. Huh kid? Yeah. Whittaker
@ www.newdayrising.org

Backwood Creatures - "Living Legends" CD 12/36:20
These German pop punkers really have the sound down; great hooks and melody run through every song. They've got a fairly unique approach to their sound too; if there was a band to compare them to it would be Weston on their first LP. The songs have more than the basic 1-2-3-4 beat, with some strong bridges that give the songs variety, good harmonies, and catchy singalong choruses. The lyrics are typical boy/girl stuff, but what the heck, I like a silly love song as much as the next guy. If you've never met a hook you didn't like, then this is for you. Steve
@ www.stardumbrecords.com

Bad Astronaut - "Houston: We Have a Drinking Problem" CD 14/47:10
They've gone from a trio to a seven piece outfit since their last release, and I'm always game for additional musicians if they can add anything to a band's sound. In this case, it's a mixed bag. This band features folks from Lagwagon and Swingin' Utters, so you'd expect a pop punk/Stiff Little Fingers influence, and it's there as an adjunct on a few songs, but they've added synths and a new wave/early Bowie "Space Oddity" sound to their mix. That's where the focus is, and for the most part, it grows on you slowly. There's plenty of stuff to rock out to here, but the electronic flourishes and breaks in the songsadd some quirkiness. In some cases, that'll hook you in, in other cases it sounds gratuitous. I was ready to totally slag this, but kept giving it more listens and found myself liking it more and more; you just have to remember it's a "grower". Steve
@ www.honestdons.com

Bad Brains – “Banned In DC - Bad Brains Greatest Riffs” CD 22/62:42
In all honesty you do NOT “review” a greatest hits album by the Bad Brains, you just pick it up and know that they were one of the greatest hardcore punk bands ever and leave it at that. This is a 22 song remembrance of the guys who fused supersonic lightning rock with Reggae and done quite well if I may say so. Some of the songs are alternate versions, remasters and/or live but all in all it recalls the early raw stuff, the “Banned in DC” sessions, “I Against I”, “Quickness” and every other single and EP release during that important time. Now I believe they are called Soul Brains and, luckily, there is not one track included from that dismal album “Rise”. So that’s good. Really…what do you expect me to say about Bad Brains that isn’t already said? I think you’re clever enough to figure this one out. Whittaker
@ Caroline, 104 W. 29th St. 4th Floor, NYC, NY 10001

Barnyard Playboys – “Corn Dog Love” CD 14/36:23
I’m all for good-natured hicks, but this record pushes it too an extreme. You just can’t name your record after a carnival dinner treat and expect to be taken seriously. These guys are adequate musicians, and singer John Lyons has an able country howl, but this is more novelty record than worthwhile bit of hillbilly rock. Kevin
@ www.rubricrecords.com

Bad Machine – “Rip Your Heart” CD 12/30:41
Total heavy Southern rock to accompany that ump-teenth pitcher of beer and all night truck drive to Austin. I can see bad Machine here playing behind chicken wire at your local roadhouse for free booze and burgers. Pocket cash and groupies are optional. This is tight and gritty stuff for the happily low brow set and I got really into this. As a true heavy rock fan it is great to see and hear bands that continually come out and strip the genre bare and have a good time doing it. Nothing complicated, nothing “artsy”, just heavy hitting whiskey rock for the kids in black cowboy hats and wallet chains. Hell yeah! Whittaker
@ Dead Beat, PO Box 283, Los Angeles, CA, 90078

Bad Religion – “The Empire Strikes First” CD 14/39:45
Yeah, the title about says it all in terms of lyrical content. It’s anti-war for sure, anti-religious right on a couple of tracks, and plenty angry on all of them. Bad Religion has really returned to form over the last couple of albums, and this full on guitar assault will not disappoint. Describing the US under Bush as “sinister rogues”, when Greg Graffin sings “we strike first and we’re unrehearsed, here we go again to stage the greatest show on heaven and earth” in the title track, you know exactly that Graffin is building the sarcasm up, and when the chorus hits, spelling out “E-M-P-I-R-E”, it hits a home run. There are a dozen examples I could site that would drive my point home, but both musically and lyrically, this is a good hardcore melodic punk album. No they don’t do anything new, and some might complain about the glossy production, but they’re in great form, topical without being cliched, and the kids trying to be the next big thing can still learn plenty from these long time punk rockers. Steve
@ www.epitaph.com

Badge - "Calling Generation Mojo" CD 13/52:05
The Detour label in England has been working to keep the mod scene alive for over 10 years now, and they do it by expanding the definition beyond bands that sound like the Jam. The Badge takes their cue in part from the blues based riffs of the Small Faces and early Who, as well as the Northern Soul dance floors. What you get is a mix of styles that produce some decent pop songs that are Beatles Sgt. Pepper era ("All For Love"), a guitar laced cover of the Temptations "Reach Out, I'll Be There", and a nice straight up cover of ELO's "Telephone Line". The bulk of the originals are closer to the Faces in style and are a little hit and miss; they lack some of the energy I prefer so the songs fall a little flat for me. But there are enough good moments here, with some nice melody and solo Weller style moments to make this one that will likely grow on me the more I listen to it. Steve
@ www.detour-records.co.uk

Bagheera – “Twelves” CD 13/33:24
I think that expectations can be one of the cruelest things. When I saw comparisons between Bageerha and bands like Mates of State, the Flaming Lips and Yo La Tengo, I was excited. How could one band combine all of the great attributes of those other bands, Yo La Tengo AND the Flaming Lips? “Twelves” (which has thirteen tracks) starts out on a high, strong note. “Long Division” is a great song. It has good hooks and has the bright, harmonic vocals of Mates of State that whet my appetite for more. Unfortunately, I found the rest of the album to be somewhat inconsistent. The lyrics of “Isolation in an Accelerating Universe” were overly intellectual, and didn’t match the guitar melody. Bagheera does sound like the bands that it is compared to, but it doesn’t combine the styles of the other bands. There isn’t a sound that is distinctly “Bagheera”. “Twelves” is fun to listen to, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Pam
@ www.asianmanrecords.com

Ballboy – “A Guide for the Daylight Hours” CD 10/40:16
When Glasgow’s Ballboy debuted on these shores last year, part of what made the record’s smartass humour so appealing was the stripped-down arrangements the songs were given. Gordon McIntyre (the Ballboy in question) favored little beyond acoustic guitar, and his off-center folk recalled both Billy Bragg and The Go-Betweens. “A Guide for the Daylight Hours” stumbles because it forsakes this formula. Here the guitars are ratcheted up, and the band attempts to create Wedding Present-ish noise jams to complement McIntyre’s wry verse. It doesn’t work nearly as well as the debut, and the result are overstuffed songs hampered by plodding arrangements. Contrast this record’s version of “Sex is Boring” to the delicate version found on the group’s debut. The new one is hamfisted and obvious, rushing foolhardy into an amped-up chorus where the original won points with understatement. “Daylight Hours” proves that more is very seldom better. J Edward
@ www.slrecords.net

Ballboy - "Past Lovers" CD 3/9:29
The title track is a solid acoustic ballad by Gordon from this Scottish outfit's third album, yet to be releasesd stateside. Then comes a Peel session of "I Lost You (But I Found Country Music) with Laura Cantrell on guest vox, excellent. Lastly, another acoustic Gordon ballad. Mel
@ www.ballboy.org

Banana Fish Zero – “United We Stand” CD 4/11:58
What is this bullshit? Half-baked poseur rock that is mildly amusing until the second listen which yields nothing. Rubbish. Anthony
@ www.banafishzero.com

Bangs – “Call and Response” CD 6/16:32
Heard a certain someone refer to these folks as “Sleater Kinney meets the Go-Gos” and while it’s not hard to see where said comparisons come from, it’s also an oversimplification. These folks have grown into their own sound (not to say they were consciously aping either group to begin with), coming up with rousing singalongs that definitely aren’t afraid to rock or even spit out some fire when need be. Very cool beans indeed. David
@ www.killrockstars.com

Baptist Generals – “No Silver/No Gold” CD 12/44:42
Texan Chris Flemmons could be Roky Erickson’s dillusional next door neighbor gone off his meds and in a shitty mood. He barely gets out the front door on the sluggish acoustic noise of “Ay Distress”, the ugliest opening song I’ve encountered in a while. “Alcohol” suddenly finds him rocking, sort of, with a drummer and a melody, sort of. F.M. Cornog, Bill Callahan and Damien Jurado might have all helped out on “500 League Reunion March”. “Creeper” is as creepy as any folkie love song could be. Parts of this are so rough it makes me think there’s hope for my demos yet. This makes Pinetop Seven sound like N’Sync. Not for the weak-kneed. Anthony
@ www.subpop.com

Bar Feeders – “50 Ways To Leave Your Liver” CD 16/35:47
I have seen The Bar Feeders play so many times that I can’t remember one single show. Why you may ask? Because when these guys hit the stage at any local bar or club across San Francisco or the Bay Area it’s a little like a mass beer fight party and reunion begins and everyone with a hand stamp and liver of gold takes the plunge and becomes a part of the whole show. The Bar Feeders are three guys from San Francisco that hang out in a local rock pub called The Zeitgeist, equipped with an outdoor seating area that you can swig pitchers, get high and eat burgers in the safety of the ‘post no bills’ walls and The Misfits blasting on the juke. The liquor fuel makes these boys go plum loco. They play mean and fun punk with speed and precision to head out the gangliest crusty head or metal maniac yearning for something other than Iron Maiden’s greatest hits. Not that I’m harping on the Maiden mind you… But The Bar Feeders here relish in the fact that they are still alive and still have enough power to do another record and do take after take of quickness and churning their guitars into sour mash. This is a lighthearted romp into the pit of drunkards that is equipped with more smiles and cymbals on fire than you can shake a pint glass at. Whittaker
@ www.thebarfeeders.org

Barbara Keith – “Barbara Keith” CD 10/35:37
Originally released in 1971, this welcome re-issue celebrates one of the most obscure musicians of that era with a very fine re-packaging by Water/Rhino. Included are nine originals and an awesome cover of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower”, that sparkles with the clarity of her crystalline vocals. She’s joined by the matricidal Jim Gordon on drums, ubiquitous session bassist Lee Sklar, Sneaky Pete on pedal steel and the late, great Lowell George on guitar as she winds her flexible and earnest voice and piano around one great hippie folk-rock tune after another, but it’s more than that. A song like “The Bramble and the Rose” could make Gram and Emmylou envious. The “commercial” centerpiece is “Free The People”, a song she composed which was first recorded by Delaney and Bonnie and, later, by Babs Streisand. “Free the people from the fire…tell the devil he’s a liar…”, a phrase that could be John Kerry’s campaign slogan. My personal favorite is “Detroit or Buffalo”, a quasi-country rocker that possesses a transcendent quality. A great summer record, this is going to get a lot of play at my crib. It’s hard to imagine how they intend to market this in the age of overwrought, over-produced, overly compartmentalized popular music, but worrying about it won’t change anything. Just light up a doob, crack that bottle of red, kick back and wait for the flood, ‘cause it’s surely not that far away. This album will live forever. Amen. Anthony
@ Water, Box 2947, San Francisco, CA 94126

Barely Pink - "Last Day of Summer" CD 10/39:17
Barely Pink consists of four talented, above average Floridian musicians, and every song it writes sounds like it is intended for a movie soundtrack. That is to say, slightly overproduced, extremely pop, and rockin' only so far as mid-career Cheap Trick would rock. No pretension here about being corporate and fully-precedented, Barely Pink knows what it wants to do and is doing it without reservation, which is the only thing that prevents it from being wholly unmemorable. Xtian
@ www.notlame.com

Barrett Strong - "The Best of Barrett Strong" CD 12/30:57
R&B piano stylist Strong was just a High Schooler is '59 when he released the double A side classic "Money (That's What I Want)/Oh I Apologize". His records, including that one never sold well, but his primitive approach to gospel influenced R&B produced consistently good records. Strong later had success as a songrighter, co-authoring "War" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine". Mel
@ www.motown.com

Barry Adamson – “The King of Nothing Hill” CD 10/62:56
First all-new album from the man in four years; I assume he’s been spending that time honing his craft. He’s applied the lessons he learned from soundtrack to more song-structure-oriented works, with 60s/70s filmmusik, post-loungecore, vintage funk, and vox that reminds one of a superfly Ken Nordine mixed in the cinematic stew. Worth checking out. David
@ www.mute.com

Bart Hopkins - “Instrumentarium Hopkins” CD 22/49:34
Is he playing a rubber duck on that track? You might think that on a couple of Bart Hopkins compositions, but one only needs to consult with the16 pages of liner notes to verify which of more than 60 created instruments are used on each of Hopkins songs. He is somewhat an expert in the experimental musical instrument realm, with almost 20 years producing books and lengthy articles devoted to the subjects of creative non-traditional instrument making. The result is remarkably listenable, partly because of the idea that he’s playing something called “membrane reeds.” This is ambient music, so don’t expect to come away humming any melodies. Pam
@ www.windworld.com

Baseball Furies – “Greater than Ever” CD 14/30:50
These folks have improved by leaps and bounds from their humble beginnings, becoming a fine garagey punk outfit in the process, and here they ably demonstrate that they’re able to keep it up through a full-length as well as within the confines of a 7”. Among the issue’s leading contenders for the coveted title of Band Least Likely To Find Themselves Produced By The Matrix. David
@ www.bigneckrecords.com MP3 Download

Baxter Dury – “Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift” CD 9/40:15
For those smelling the connection, let it be known that Baxter’s daddy is the late Ian Dury, most notorious for being the eccentric leader of British punk-pioneers The Blockheads. In all probability Old Man Dury would not dig his progeny’s debut disc. He would probably say, “What kind of old bollocks is this? This is hairdresser’s music!” – and that is a direct quote from Baxter himself. Wait just a moment! Don’t be so hard on yourself, Dury old chap. My old man would undoubtedly call you a “Pussy”, but most people would say you’ve tapped into something rustically cockney, warm-sounding, perhaps even Lennonesque. Overwhelmingly moody and British, right in line with Primal Scream and Spiritualized. Xtian
@ www.roughtraderecords.com

Bayside/Name Taken - split CD 8/30:39
A split between two indie punk bands on opposite coasts, each contributing four songs. All new material, this is a must have for fans of either band. And apparently each has quite a fan base and a rigorous touring/recording schedule. Bayside, from Long Island, has a sound that most certainly fits in well with past touring mates Get Up Kids and Dashboard Confessional. SoCal’s Name Taken, while less well known, has a similar sound. Their tracks (the last four) are actually more pleasing, with more interesting lyrics, better vocal sound, and fuller, cleaner music. Look for both bands on TRL on a television near you. I could see it happening. Sharon
@ www.dyingwish.com

BBQ – s/t CD 12/38:26
Reverb-drenched Post-Rockabilly twangin’ and yellin’ from Mark Sultan and friends of Spaceshits and Les Sexareenos semi-infamy. Of course it’ll probably come as no surprise that said “friends” are actually Sultan himself under various pseudonyms, not only playing all the instruments but actually playing them all at the same time (none of this protools/multi-tracking stuff). Still, whether due to dexterity and skill or the masking qualities of lo-fi production, it does actually sound like there’s a full band behind Sultan instead of coming off like your average one-man-band novelty. Worth cranking up at your next barbeque outing. David
@ www.aliensnatch.de

Bearsuit – “Cat Spectacular!” CD 12/28:59
Upbeat-twee-pop that instantly sounds British; I was drawn in from the get-go. Sounds a lot like the Milky Wimpshake school of pop music, mixed with the frantic energy of something along the lines of Bis. Incredibly catchy, all this really needs is to be heard by the right folks and there’s no telling how big Bearsuit could get. Jake
@ www.bearsuit.co.uk MP3 Download

Beat Crusaders - "Howling Symphony of..." CD 7/14:37
An American release of an album that's been out in Japan for three years; the Beat Crusaders are an interesting mix of 60's bubblegum harmonies, Cars new wave pop, and the full guitar hooks of Weezer. There's a whole genre these days that uses synths and keys to put exclamation points on the melody, and it really brings back the influence of new wave bands like the Cars or Joe Jackson to music. Take away the keys, and the songs are still strong power pop numbers that stand up on their own merit. The vocals are strong too, that's the place where there's a little innocence mixes with the crunch of the guitars and keys. A fun release for a sunny day. Pat
@ www.squidvswhale.com

Beatifics - "The Way We Never Were" CD 10/33:17
It's been six years since their debut full length, but the wait is more than worth it. With melody to spare, frontman and songwriter Chris Dorn (the rest of the "band" consists of friends helping or former band mates...hard to keep a group together after six years!) doesn't rely solely on the tried and true pop geniuses like Brian Wilson, the Beatles, and Big Star to influence his music; rather he takes the best of each and adds his own flourishes, like a mellotron, to his intricate melodies and occasional melancholy lyrics to create a unique pop sound. A song like "February" marries the styles of Elliott Smith and Big Star without some of the pretension and with better vocals, while the next tune, "The Only One" has an orchestral arrangement that keeps the melody fresh. My favorite tune on this is the rockier "In the Meantime", complete with a fuzzy guitar and a loudness that strains Dorn's voice to get over the top in all the right ways. Most excellent. Steve
@ www.busstoplabel.com

Beatles - “Let It Be... Naked” 2XCD
The “Let It Be” album was the soundtrack to an excellent film of a Beatles recording session in 1969. The band members apparently felt the album was such a minor work that they abandoned it before completion. Producer Phil Spector took on the project after the band dropped it, and it was eventually released after the band recorded and released “Abbey Road” and then broke up. This new version has stripped away some of Spector’s embellishments, resulting in an album even less interesting than the original. This is not only worse than the first release, but also worse than the bootlegs of the “Get Back” sessions that surfaced in 1970. The bonus disc is studio conversation. No thanks. Mel
@ www.thebeatles.com

Bedford – “Spaceships, Sex and Jealousy: The Singles” CD 25/64:00
Like is this some kind of anthology or something? Yeah it is…but with 25 songs all in the genre of modern garage speed punk gone goofy I can see that perhaps Bedford was an underground success that slipped right by me. Regardless, with a lot of fun and good times, these boys hit the mark and didn’t disappoint me at all. It is what it is… they are what they are. And we have to thank them for that. It’s pretty non-stop, but does take the chance and lets us all relax for a second before hitting us over the head again. The best part is that Bedford are not in the aggressive punk faction, rather they take aspects of the scene and made it like a cool frat party gone horribly right. Afterwards you’re left with a good smile on your face and enough left over bologna to feed a nation. Maybe… Whittaker
@ www.csleboda.com/bedford

Beehive & the Barracudas - “In Dark Love” CD 13/37:37
Featuring members of Rocket from the Crypt, the PeeChees, and the Red Aunts, Beehive & the Barracudas second release is a real doozy. Dueling male/female vocals, sounding not too dissimilar to what you might get if the B-52’s got a little more punk and less kitschy. This is the band that should be getting all of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s thunder, but unfortunately they don’t have the hype machine backing them. A great record to put on at a party or as background music to a monster movie marathon, and a pretty damn good live show to boot. Jake
@ www.swamirecords.com

Beerzone – “British Streetpunk” CD 24/64:33
It’s never a good idea to review new streetpunk groups after listening to classic punk and Oi records, since the more recent stuff almost always pales in comparison. Beerzone certainly isn’t up to the exalted standard set by the Angelic Upstarts or the Leyton Buzzards, but by comparison with many of their contemporaries they fare reasonably well. At their best, as in “Beerzone`” they crank out super-catchy mid-tempo numbers with funny lyrics and way cool lead guitar bridges, and even their lesser songs are pretty damn good, not to mention mercifully free of macho posing. No doubt they would sound even better live and after downing a few shots, but whether they end up standing the test of time, like their forebears, remains to be seen. Jeff
@ www.captainoi.com

Beerzone/Misguided - split LP 17/42:15
Beerzone are caught in a spirited performance at while opening for Dropkick Murphys street punk straight outta the UK, complete with Clash cover (“Complete Control”). Sound’s your basic walkmanrama but the band puts out a spirited enough performance to almost rise above the sound. The Misguided (wisely) settle for the studio, coming up with some pretty rousing tuneage for s-punks to drink beer and, er, drink more beer to. David
@ www.77rpmrecords.com

Bellakun – “…Cantar Para Espantar la Soledad” CD 6/29:14
The Bellakun is some decently interesting bi-lingual indie rock out of Texas. The title translates to “sing to scare away the loneliness”, or at least that’s what the cheat sheet sent by the label tells me. They describe themselves as being “…sprinkled with Tristeza and Three Mile Pilot”, which is a more than reasonable assessment, but I’d additionally throw in a little Built to Spill influence as well to round things out. It’s nothing that blows the doors off the place, but I was pleasantly surprised. Jake
@ http://www.hasanyoneevertoldyou.com/bellakun.htm

Belle & Sebastian - “Dear Catastrophe Waitress” CD 12/48:19
Since this is B&S’s first album on a new label and without mainstay member Isobel Campbell (who has released her own solo CD which is quite good), so expectations and anticipations were varied as to what the outcome of this new record might be. Well, as far as I’m concerned, it’s great. Some fans may be disappointed with the new direction of some of the songs (lots of horns! Upbeat songs! ELO influence! Trevor Horn production!), but I feel there’s not only enough of the classic B&S flavor for us old timers, but I actually like the new stuff as well. There are a number of quality tracks – ‘Wrapped Up In Books”, “Step into My Office, Baby”, “Dear Catastrophe Waitress”, and most importantly “I’m a Cuckoo”, which is probably my favorite song by them since their early days. Although not their best record (if you’re new to the group go pick up “Tigermilk” or “If You’re Feeling Sinister”, two of the greatest pop releases of the last 10 years), it certainly stands up to most of their other releases and is obviously better than that “Storytelling” fiasco. Jake
@ www.roughtradeamerica.com

Belvedere – “Fast Forward Eats This Tape” CD 15/40:54
The fourth album by Calgary-based pop-punks is their most interesting to date because they get away from the by the numbers Sum 41 pop punk style of their earlier efforts. Adding some punchier near metal riffs to the guitars and some occasional changes to the songs in midstream, the band shows off an increased sense of urgency and maturity. In fact, there are hints of glam and power pop on songs like “Closed Doors”. It does veer a little too much into hardcore territory at times, but most of the songs still have just enough melody to keep them somewhat interesting to my ear. Although I can’t say I like them much better than before, at least they’ve got something unique now that separates them from a million other bands. Steve
@ www.unionlabelgroup.com

Belvedere/Downway – split CD 10:35/19
These two bands go pretty well together and Sessions Records wants you to check ‘em out so here ya go! A split EP with each band doing 5 tunes. Downway is up first and they do a good job of pounding out tight rock with acceleration antics and a decent amount of heaviness mixed with the palpable lyrics you can actually understand! How cool is that? Their tune “August” is good enough to be featured on like TRL or something but we’ll have to wait and see about that. Belvedere is a bit harsher and reek of some tough guy looming in the heart of an injured boy pushed around in the halls once too often. But they rock and for that I tip my skewed baseball cap...that is if I owned one. They are pretty fast and should get the 15 year old out there stomping on each other if and when this band makes it to the Vans Warped Tour. Overall, Belvedere and Downway play decent quick rock and I am sure they’ll be playing at the next half pipe competition in your city! Whittaker
@ www.unionlabelgroup.com

Ben Kweller – "On My Way" CD 11/42:31
A more mature Kweller? I dunno, sounds about the same, although he’s toned down the glossy pop sheen that shined on much of his last album in place of a number of mellower singer/songwriter type songs, many of which sound like they could have been plucked from a Jackson Browne album (especially “Living Life”, which is probably the best song on the album to boot). The Weezer comparison is still there, but less so in song structure now and more just because Kweller’s voice sounds quite a bit like Rivers Cuomo. Honestly, I think this guy is very talented, and expect big things from him. He’s not there yet, but this is another step closer to being a really fabulous song writer. Jake
@ www.benkweller.com

Ben’s Diapers – “Middle Eights for Modern Lovers” CD 5/16:04
Does this Finnish band realize how they’re opening themselves up for ridicule with their name (e.g., full of …)? Anyway, they end up being somewhat decent pop rock, with some catchy riffs and harmonies. Nothing too deep, but easy listening. And guys, calling a song that a listener just finished hearing “fucking boring” at the end of it (“She Got Signed”) doesn’t make ya look too favorable), specially when you’re right. So let me take this time to say that I’m proud of French label Pop the Balloon for releasing all this Euro music that would otherwise never be heard State-side. RBF
@ Pop the Balloon, France

Benny – “Finnish Road Junction” CD 10/21:58
With a name like Benny, this band better be fucking good. Surprisingly, they are! This British band channels Naked Raygun, the Effigies, and fellow Brits Leatherface. Benny’s brand of melodic punk (with plenty of wit, charm, and fast parts) is not by-the-numbers Weasel or Bad Religion, instead it’s got more of the “mature” Chicago punk sound with none of the immersion into self-indulgence that sunk so many of those bands in the late 80s and 90s. Two covers, but neither are glaringly obvious- the Men At Work one I didn’t even notice until the 4th listen! The band makes them their own for sure. And anyone who can cover such an awful band as Men At Work without me ripping the CD out of the stereo is very skilled. Apparently this is a side project? Part-time band? of the dude who runs the label. Shame, I’d be stoked to see this band on US soil! Thumbs up! Jesse
@ Boss Tuneage, PO Box 74, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2WB, UK

Bergen White - “For Women Only” CD 18/49:39
In which a well-respected, late 60’s Nashville musical arranger decides he’s deserving of the spotlight that clients Elvis and Glen Campbell insist on hogging, and confidently steps out as a bona fide solo artiste to precious little acclaim. Till now, that is, thanks to the tireless efforts of the UK’s preeminent pop salvaging record label, Rev-Ola. This is a most ornate, expansive showcase of singer-songwriter-driven orchestral pop from 1970. The whole affair amazingly sounds more like what was emerging at that time from the heads of Jimmy Webb and Harry Nilsson, rather than the conservative climes of Music City USA. Precisely and at times gorgeously borne up by Nashville’s session elite of the period - the ‘Area Code 615’ crew - White’s vocals adhere mostly to a pleasant, Southern-accented midrange, thrillingly prone to the odd Del Shannon/Lou Christie falsetto leap, as evidenced by the storming, Bach-tinged pop gem “On and On”. In addition, an affecting take on Barry Mann’s romantic ballad “Lisa Was”, while treading this side of syrupy, proves White to have been as gifted at heart-tugging histrionics as the aforementioned Nilsson. White also essays tunes by future singer/songwriter paragons Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury and David Gates in equally splendid and sophisticated fashion. MLH
@ www.revola.co.uk

Bert Switzer – “1977 – 2002” CD 19/68:11
A collection of tunes featuring drummer Bert Switzer, from his early days with punk outfit the Destroyed to material of more recent vintage. Can’t argue with his drumming skills, but the material he appears on is pretty mixed. The later tracks are pseudo-avant wankfests (or, in the case of the cover of Ozzy’s “Crazy Train”, just wankfest period). And despite the promo sheet describing The Destroyed as one of the “wildest punk bands”, the relatively subdued mediocrity that characterized the also-rans of the era outnumber the more crazed numbers on display here (take the lo-fi sheen off some of those tracks and you might wonder about them as well). Still, the Destroyed do come up with a couple of decent tracks, and while the two tracks from Monster Island (his collaboration with guitarist Henry Kaiser) get kinda wanky in parts, they’re pretty listenable as well, surface noise or no. The CD’s only $4 anyway, if that helps. David
@ www.bertswitzer.com

Besnard Lakes – “Volume 1” CD 7/44:01
I’m always a little skeptical when the press release for a review bothers to let us all know that “this is a concept album.” Despite my admiration of pop and melody, I’d like to believe I can figure out that something is “artsy” and “deep” when I hear it. PR aside, meet Olga and Jace Lasek, husband and wife team behind the outfit and earnest producers of all music progressive. Recorded, mixed, and played by the pair in Montreal, “Volume 1” admittedly succeeds where other prog groups fail in combining their penchant for instrumental songcraft with a firm handling of rock melody and rhythm. While the first part of the record is permeated with a Spiritualized-esqe haze, the psychedelic rock gives way to more aggressive rhythm oriented pieces with subtle hooks weaving in and out of the foreground. In fact, it’s this very integration of pop and prog that seems to give them their MO, and they flaunt it expertly. The concept here might be above my reckoning, but the tunes sure sound good. Scott
@ www.thebesnardlakes.com

Beth Orton – “The Other Side of Daybreak” CD 10/54:57
I like Beth Orton. Her voice is quirky enough that it has a fine distinction, and her songs are deep. And her musical style is sort of post-punk, but more than anything reminds me of Moby. Problem is, I really do not like Moby. Orton is not pretentious like he is, but she does seem to have this need to use a lot of electronica to back her up. And I won’t even go into song lengths of over 11 minutes and the rap part in one. Most of the cuts here are either alternate takes, live cuts, or just didn’t make it into her previous “Daybreak” CD. Perhaps she is trying to update the folk/singer-songwriter genre, but electronica is just too distracting. Hearing the beeps and bloops actually makes it sound more like a ’50 sci-fi movie and anything modern. What’s next, a theramin? Please, your music is quite lovely, so let me revel in its pure beauty. RBF

Better than Bullets – “Round One” CD 16/50:03
Solid muscular hardcore, apparently based out of Panama City, Florida, though they sound closer to the sounds coming further up north than the emotional punk of Gainesville. BTW are these guys still around? At presstime their website was down and an article on Up at Arms mentioned BTB as being one of the “former bands” whose ashes they rose out of… David
@ www.betterthanbullets.com

Bettie Serveert – “Log 22” CD 13/61:00
You know who these guys and girl are, right? Yeah. You own their amazing album “Palomine” don’t you? Of course you do. Well then you’ll be happy to know that this here new offering is just a step up from that and it continues their sound and elastic touch to detonate a quiet fuse across scratchy record players and top 10 lists a plenty. The Dutch trio continue down the road of art rock that Liz Phair once did, Blonde Redhead still do and Veruca Salt, um…are they still around? Anyway, the songs are taught and structured around Carol von Dijk’s knowing yet wryly laidback vocals to make you think of candy stores showering you with heavy drops of multi-colored beans and your downtown at dusk with a heavy rain about to fall. There’s even a Stereolab feel to some of the ditties and that made me happy. I like Stereolab. No really. And I used to like Liz Phair too. It’s like, the cats in Bettie Serveert know they rock and don’t have to prove it so they just write what they want and play in a relax manner and that right there takes them to a higher level than most bands that sound, or try to sound, like they do. “Log 22” takes us down many roads and we are glad we came along. Because it’s a pretty smooth ride…let me tell you! Whittaker
@ www.parasol.com

Bettie Serveert – “Punkcast #340: Live at the Southpaw” Video CD 12/45:00
Joly MacFie has been posting his DIY video concerts on his website since 1997, and loaning them to NYC TV’s “New York Noise” for almost the same amount of time. MacFie’s website, Punkcast.com, is an appropriate record of the New York band scene and an even greater testament to MacFie’s veracity as an underground music fan. The choppy picture on this long-running live series reminds me of a community access cable show where “cool” video effects from the 1980s were employed liberally. But it's hard to fault MacFie. What better way is there to cheaply capture hip indie bands in New York? Holland’s Bettie Serveert is an exemplary subject. The performance is excellent, of course, showcasing Bettie Serveert’s muscular brand of indie dreampop. The sound is great (must be straight from the soundboard) and the songs are even better. The pixilated shot quality is a bit annoying at times, but overall this is a great document of an important band in its prime. Kudos to MacFie and his genre-jumping website. John
@ http://punkcast.com

Beulah - "Yoko" CD 10/44:59
The heavy arrangements full of horns and strings are for the most part gone, and what you're left with on their fourth full length are songs that are less bouncy and straight up pop than their previous releases. There are apparently a multitude of personal reasons for the darker nature of the songs and lyrics, including band leader Miles Kurosky's breakup with a longtime girlfriend right in the middle of recording Yoko, which might account for the title of the CD. Accused of being downright twee in the past, this release fits more into the Wilco/Flaming Lips cannon, with louder guitars, an occasional booming loudness to the rhythm section and lyrics about breakup and betrayal. The strings and keys aren't done away with completely, but they now intertwine with the guitars rather than being a focus in the melody. It's a big change for the band, but shows that they know they are headed straight into adulthood now, complete with both the joy and heartache that can mean. This should open them up to a wider audience that had dismissed them as a simple pop band, because they've shown they can actually get down and dirty with the best of them now. Steve
@ www.velocetterecords.com

Bevis Frond – “New River Head” 2XCD
Reissue of the epic 1991 release, restored to its intended form and (with nine bonus tracks) then some. While some feel this is the man’s masterwork I have to disagree; not that it’s bad, but there are more than a few tracks that really (and I mean REALLY) could have used an editor, a feeling that ironically wasn’t as strong with his earlier one-man releases. Still, some of the affected works reappear in superior shortened demo form, and there’s still some fine psych-jam-rock to be found here. Not his most consistent release, but definitely one that grows on you. David
@ www.rubricrecords.com

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - “Save My Soul” CD 11/44:15
These clowns have been making the same record since their inception, and getting rich in the process. The formula is basic. Alternate between overly busy, up-tempo juke jumpers and piano-soaked barroom blooze and you’ve got it. I can only imagine seeing them live, preferably in a small, tightly packed venue, with lusty, sweaty females grinding all over the place. That’s their raison d’etre, the records are just an afterthought. Anthony
@ www.vanguardrecords.com

Big D and the Kids Table – “Gipsy Hill” CD 13/27:27
Hey, when did ska-punk get good again? Crikey, between this and the new one from fellow Bostonians The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Propaghandi may have to re-write their epic “Ska Sucks” tune! All over the map, Big D and the Kids Table are unafraid to mix instrumentals, oddball crowd skits, ska, and ska-punk with insightful, entertaining lyrics- definitely a keeper! Includes Jonathan Richman and Rudiments covers, this record is loopy, loose, and fun. Pick it up (yes, yes, pun intended)! Jesse
@ Fork in Hand, PO Box 230023, Boston, MA 02123

Big Midnight – “Everything for the First Time” CD 12/44:20
Big Midnight turns back the rock-and-roll dial and recaptures the sound, if not always the spirit (not that I’m old enough to really know), of the 1970s as delivered by doctors Pop, Bolan, Jagger-Richards. Sure, these former Richmond Sluts are hardly the first to re-embrace 70s rock and its corresponding shaggy hair and tight flared jeans, but I quite like their swaggering bass lines and bluesy guitars. Lily
@ www.alive-totalenergy.com

Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys - "It's Time" CD 14/43:22
A return to the full combo for Big Sandy, who has over the years expanded the style of the band from a fairly straight up rockabilly band to one that now encompasses Western Swing, Cajun, and some good ol' boy country. What makes them so special for me is that they manage to take styles that have been played by bands for over 40 years and bring their own style to the table; no imitation here, just some great musicians who obviously love the various genre they play. The CD was recorded live with the band as a whole, and it gives the feeling of a live performance; with Big Sandy's great baritone carrying the songs. He's done a variety of music over the years, including a lot of R & B and doo-wop, and he's careful to not to sing over the top of the music, almost using his voice like an added instrument. And unlike a lot of bands who try to breathe to much rock into their rockabilly, the Fly-Rite Boys sound relaxed and patient as the songs develop. I've seen them live, own a few of their earlier works, and this is the smoothest and most diverse I've heard them. Steve
@ www.yeproc.com

Bigger Lovers - "Honey in the Hive" CD 11/41:30
Having heard the Bigger Lovers' earlier records, I was thrilled to hear them continuing their tradition of smart, bittersweet guitar pop. Each song on "Honey in the Hive" overflows with memorable riffs and gratifying melodies. The opener "Half Richard's" might borrow its bass breaks from "Radio, Radio," but the buoyant rhythms and harmony vocals are pure ecstasy. In fact, a lot of the melodies are recognizable bits of other scattered pop debris, but much like an American version of Sloan, The Bigger Lovers appropriate the pieces perfectly. Dark, painful sentiments bury themselves in textured guitar squall and well-placed chord changes. "A Simple 'How Are You?'" adds playful organ to the hook-laden mix, while "Emmanuelle" balances geek rock with 70s falsetto anthems. Certain songs might be a bit too plaintive for some ("Bought Your Ghost"), but The Bigger Lovers display so much variety that you're never bored for long. God-damn, but these guys are catchy. Highly recommended. John
@ www.thebiggerlovers.com

Bill Haley & His Comets – “The Best of: 1951-1954” CD 18/43:53
Though it might be hard to believe now after decades of the gauzing effects of nostalgia, there was actually once a time when the impact Bill Haley’s music had on American society was similar to that of the Pistols’ in ’76 UK, complete with moral indignation, like souls inspired into musical action, and the occasional bit of violence, not to mention a notion that things weren’t quite going to be the same again. His joining of post-swing R&B and hillbilly may not have been totally seamless, but it was still enough to help change Music As We Know It. You don’t get “Rock Around The Clock” (like you don’t have that tune memorized already) but here are 18 more reasons (including “Rocket 88” and “Rock the Joint”) to prove the point once again. David
@ Varese Sarabande/Universal, 10 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

Bill Hicks - "Love Laughter and Truth" CD 18/43:56
Finely wrought social commentary has always been at a premium within the dime-a-dozen, empty-calories world of standup comedy. Local Bay Area standups like Will Durst and Johnny Steele have done their estimable part to keep the flag flying, but even they don’t seem as fearless nor as observationally dead-on as the late Bill Hicks. Hicks was truly a one-off, quite possibly the only worthy heir to late lamented Lenny’s bravura throne, who like Bruce, shuffled off this coil way too soon. This cd is the first batch of what will hopefully be an ongoing series of performances from the Hicks archives, and a must for comedy fans who like a good dollop of reality with their levity. To his eternal credit, Hicks did always manage to be befoul-yourself funny (of special interest to SP fans are his riffs on Hendrix and Keith Richards), even when hitting audiences between the eyes with the sociopolitical inequities of this-American-life-as-we-know-it. As one Mr. Waits says on the sleeve, "long may his records rant even though he can’t." Amen to that, Young Tom. MLH
@ www.rykodisc.com

Bill Mallonee -“Perfume Letter” CD 11/ 47:47
Highly prolific Bill Mallonee might just be the Stephen King of songwriters. With fourteen albums on his resume he must have a lot of time on his hands, and with Perfumed Letter, he makes the most of it. As one of a thousand songwriters branded with the inevitable Dylan comparison, Mallonee has outlasted that tag and proven to be a compelling enough roots rocker. He abandons that sound slightly with this more pop infused collection. It is a strong disc that manages to mine some dark characters while delivering the synth-soaked goods musically. Matthew
@ www.pastemusic.com

Billions - "Never Felt This Way Before" CD 10/41:07
The Billions are a Christian group, but fortunately they're not “Christian rock” or “Christian punk” (inherently oxymoronic terms). It's Christian indie pop, which I think Pedro the Lion have shown us is a fairly viable art form, (as long you don’t thump your Bible too many times per song). The Billions craft gorgeous, bittersweet melodies a la The Shins and sprinkle them with the experimental electronic sensibilities of The Flaming Lips and their ilk. Lyrics and sentiments are about as pointed as pink bunny slippers, but it's impossible to deny the beautiful, accomplished arrangements. Three different songwriters (Sam Billen, Dan Billen and John Jared Bowes) knit together a mellow, harmony-obsessed blanket of soothing sounds. A well put-together album, but don't come around if you have anything against Jesus Freak scenesters. John
@ www.northernrecords.com

Billy Childish – “25 Years of Being Childish” 2XCD
25 years of Billy C., from the earliest of demos and live stuff with the Pop Rivits (and you thought his usual output was lo-fi?) to his recent works with the Buff Medways, with a few stops at the House of Delmonas/Headcoatees and other side-projects along the way. Along with giving a pat musical history this release helps gives lie to the assumption that all of Childish’s tunes sound alike: while each track is undeniably stamped with his own identifiable style, he manages to tackle a wide range of sounds such as Merseybeat, stomping garage, post-Kinks, post-Stones, 77 punk, blues, folk, wistful pop, and even some Cleveland style noisepunk on the demo version of “Pretty Baby”. As usual with these things you can quibble about certain inclusions/exclusions, especially considering how many releases he has to choose from (though they do include “Wild Man”), but overall a good looksee into the world of the Childish one. David
@ www.damagedgoods.co.uk

Billy Ward & His Dominoes – "The Essential Masters Featuring Clyde McPhatter" CD 19/54:38
What can I say about this really? Classic doo-wop from the fifties – not essential, but still pretty damn good. Ward was a classically trained musician at Julliard, and his music was known for crossing color lines back when music was quite segregated (yes, even more so than now). This collects most of the group’s hits, along with a few B-sides and whatnot, for an interesting glimpse into the now sound of the 1950’s. Jake
@ www.varesesarabande.com

Birddog – “Songs from Willipa Bay” CD 7/23:48
Birddog is the performing moniker for Bill Santen, a folksy-type of fella who has enlisted the help of his famous friends (namely Jason Lowenstein and Paul Oldham - at least famous in the indie world we all pretend to reside in) in the production of his latest effort ‘Songs from Willipa Bay’. While I can’t find it designated as such anywhere on the album, this seven song release is a little short to be considered a full length, but makes for a nice heart EP. The music is pretty likeable, reminding me of Neil Young, the Byrds, and Palace in particular, with tinges of Elliott Smith-ish pop here and there; which is fitting, because apparently Smith played a hand in the discovery of this Lexington, Kentucky native, who has now settled in Portland. I don’t think anyone who’s a fan of any of the Oldham’s records could go wrong with this release; it’s a decent listen for those who enjoy more folksy, less twangy alt-country music. Jake
@ www.karmarecordsinc.com MP3 Download

Birds of Prey – s/t CD-R 9/20:07
Dark fuzzed-out guitars, muted melodies, and mountains of downtrodden atmospherics screech in unison on this self-released, self-titled CD-R from Seattle. Judging from the trebly highs and guttural lows, I’m inclined to think one person played all these instruments directly into a computer. The liner notes are practically nonexistent, so it’s hard to tell. I’m also guessing Birds of Prey would sound radically different in concert than they do here. Lyrics are incoherent and buried underneath heaps of static. The subdued keyboards and guitars mesh the stoicism of Joy Division with the casual, sarcastic dejection of Freed Weed-era Sebadoh. Beats are supplied by what sounds like a mid-80’s drum machine; all snare and no crash. The momentum is actually quite powerful, if only they songs could last more than a minute and a half. This is definitely not Pop Music, but it’s something close. Maybe Pop’s goth-stoner neighbor, the one that wears eye shadow and worships Galaxie 500 in his basement. Good stuff, very lo-fi, which just the right amount of art-noise and electric drone. John
@ Birds of Prey, 804 NE 106th St. #1, Seattle, WA 98125

Bitchin – “The Night Life, The Tight Style” CD 12/30:32
Good, vital punk straight outta Florida. To be more exact, this is best classified as melodic post-Jawbreaker punk (including one acoustic number that’s actually not cringeworthy) that has more vim and vigor to it than many a like-minded outfit. Good female vocals is a plus as well. Yeah this could have come from the early/mid-90s, but it compares quite favorably with (i.e. sounds better than) most similar bands of said era. David
@ www.noidearecords.com

Bizarros – “Can’t Fight Your Way Uptown From Here” CD 13/44:51
Akron’s unfavorite sons of parking lot rock (with heady overtones) are a good survivor story. Having been around in the late 70s they apparently recorded a debut LP in 1978, for soon-to-be-defunct Blank Records, that went unreleased and they never got to ride the wave that carried Devo, Pere Ubu, and the Dead Boys out of Ohio and into musical history. Robert Christgau coined the phrase, or did he, “junkrock riffs” in ’77 when he wrote about them in the Village Voice. They look to be in their fifties now and more power to ‘em for releasing this when they could understandably want to say ‘fuck it’ at this stage. It’s not really bizarre at all, and more polished than junk, it’s pretty straight up, intelligent, well-arranged midwestern “college rock.” I use that phrase because this is way too smart for the idiot masses to appreciate or fully grasp, and modern rock radio would be at a loss as to what to do with it. Jerry Parkins plays some bitchin’ lead guitar lines that sizzle with tension, and there are some swell chord progressions, which is what rock is built on. Frontman Nick Nicholis and his limited, workmanlike range references Wayne Kramer, briefly, and will remind you of a few other singers as well, but his tone is perfect for this material. The opener, “67-77”, is great, as is the title song. Taken as a whole it’s a little samey and maybe too unpunk in places, but overall it’s rock solid. I believe this magazine’s own RBF digs ‘em. He’s probably in pretty good company. Anthony
@ www.thebizarros.com

Black Jetts – “Bleed Me” CD 11/33:11
Sound like one of the punk bands that sprouted up right at the very beginning (say 75, 76), back when there still weren’t too many influences to pick from (Iggy and garage sound like the more likely choices here), with a West Coast (I'd say maybe SF) feel to it. Not quite as stellar as the more seminal of said releases but it’s still a solid enough platter. David
@ www.dead-beat-records.com

Black Lips – “The Black Lips” CD 14/31:07
Blank-minded dirty strut by way of Atlanta, GA – like finding an 3rd generation dubbed Cramps tape on the bathroom floor of a punk club. The Black Lips give every indication of being irresponsible human beings and musicians just having a good ol’ time sounding drunk and sloppy. This disc will either make you want to take a hot, soapy bath or open another can of Schlitz. Xtian
@ www.bomp.com

Black Lips – “We Did Not Know the Forest Spirit Made the Flowers Grow” CD 10/29:41
These Atlanta boys sure know how to make songs under three minutes feel like half-hour psychosis-scapes, set in dark, dusty garages jam-packed with distortion, vocals that fade in and out, random spacey sounds, wailing, and feedback within their walls of noise. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on how high you are. But if you’re in the mood for rousing garage punk/rock, you won’t find it here. For what it’s worth, the CD includes a Quicktime video for “Fad,” but all I got was a white screen – but wait. Maybe that is the video…. Lily
@ www.bomp.com

Black Print – “Movement” CD 5/15:23
Now I don’t want to use that term “Emo” because when I do folks run up to me and scream “what do YOU know about Emo, metalhead?” To be quite honest with you, I don’t know a whole lot. Why? Because when it comes my way, all CDs labeled “Emo” I find myself rolling the eyes and sighing. “Poor little guys,” I utter. “Nobody loves them.” Black Print on the other hand might take that easy approach but then slam it harder to the temple and chase the whimpering shoegazers out of the room. Grow some balls, they might yell out, but don’t forget whence the pain stems from. In all honesty, Emo is a bunch of privileged white kids trying to find some drama in their lives. These guys have that tone that they actually know some downtimes and want to reject it by letting lose and moving on. Still, they purvey a wave of harmony and solace in their almost screams, almost punk feel to the songs, which are more poetic turns of the knob rather than obvious choices in trying to make you “feel”. This is a fine EP to discover this band with and for observers of the Emo, take note: Your balls are growing as we speak! Whittaker
@ www.quincyshanks.com

Blacktop – “I Got a Baaad Feelin’ About This” CD 26/71:17
A complete retrospective of Mick Collins post-Gories/pre-Dirtbombs outfit (including album, single, and Australian-only tracks) which featured guitarist Darin Lin Wood‘s Birthday Party-goes-garage tendencies meeting Collins’ punk-n-soul in a back alley on the wrong side of town. Even if it doesn’t quite fulfill its potential of such a pairing, it’s still intriguing enough to make one wish they’d stuck around to become the powerhouse they promised to become. David
@ www.intheredrecords.com

Blanche – “If We Can’t Trust the Doctors…” – CD 12/43:58
Amazing country punk. Sort of Rank and File meets Gun Club with a Johnny Cash “fuck you” attitude. Their press mentions Lee Hazelwood, which seems very appropriate, as well. The center of this group, Dan Miller and Tracee Miller (married) started out in Detroit with what would eventually split off to become the White Stripes (Jack White even helps out on this release), but Blanche is definitely heading in a different direction, thankfully. With songs that have a dark edge, yet with a twang, Blanche sucks your soul and your ear. Tales of bourbon and superstition surrounds a great cover of Gun Club’s “Jack on Fire”. While Dan leads most, Tracee’s soft voice occasionally trades back and forth with him, reminiscent of a bizarro world version of X. Plus, there’s a nice hidden track that sounds like it could be off one of the Bristol sessions, or an Alan Lomax tape. Could easily become a staple on my player. RBF
@ www.cassrecords.com

Blanketship – “Threeps” CD 25/60:03
“Threeps” comes off as the soundtrack to a lost David Lynch film. Grating, high-pitched electronics molest innocuous synth beats so subversively you can almost hear the electronic sobbing. “Found sounds,” Tangerine Dream-style keyboard, and disquieting dissonance is constant on here. The unholy combination of Wendy Carlos and Add N to X couldn’t devise something this subtly twisted. “Dwarfism” sounds like Aphex Twin in kindergarten, while “Leedungareed” plays like a refugee from the land of budget electronics. Bizarre, and pretty damn good. John
@ www.g25productions.com

Bleeding Kansas/La Mantra De Fhiqria - split CD 11/30:13
Bleeding Kansas is very, very mad. "It's Times Like These That Make You Want to..." is a sneering new skool hardcore rant, racing along at breakneck speed and snarling about confrontation and violence. "The Thought Escapes Me" brings down the tempo a tad, but the anger is as strong as ever. La Mantra De Fhiqria sounds the same at first, until the weird vocal arrangements take over. Co-vocalists Tim Murphy and Peter Chauncey scream over, under and around each other, creating a lyrical dance that is both intense and beautiful. Mark
@ Arms Reach, 1220 W. Hood #1, Chicago, IL 60660

Blood Group – “Volunteers” CD 12/41:21
The duo of James Jackson Toth and Miss Jessica B. create dark electropop without being neurotic, and without abusing the privilege of machinery. In fact, this record leans more towards orchestral than electro, like latter-day Bjork. Even better, The Blood Group depends on ambience more than dance-ability, and really throws some strange moods to the listener. It’s hard to believe this is the duo’s first full-length effort. The first time I listened to this disc it put me in a mood very similar to the one I experienced the first time I heard “Dummy” by Portishead. It wasn’t a totally unfamiliar feeling: an offshoot of horny and intense, settled into the darkest corner of a sketchy party with someone who’s eyes are darker than yours though you didn’t think that was possible. Like being bitten while kissing. Yes, that’s happened to me before. But when I actually get that feeling from music I take note. Xtian
@ Le Grand Magistery, PO Box 611, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303

Blood on the Wall – s/t CD 12/38:44
I’m not really sure what to make of this release, but I know I like it. Blood on the Wall owe most of their influence to Sonic Youth, but some how a lot of it got filtered through some sort of fanciful machine that makes them sound like a punk-influenced Violent Femmes, even down to singer Ben Shank’s voice. There are a couple of exceptions to this sound though, most notably “On the Mouth” where Ben’s sister (and fellow band mate) takes over vocal duties and produces what sounds like a Jesus & Mary Chain outtake, and it’s probably the best song on the record. An extremely interesting debut, highly listenable and quite catchy, and just “out there” enough that even the cool kids should like it. Jake
@ www.thesocialregistry.com MP3 Download

Bloody Hollies – “Fire at Will” CD 11/29:07
The Bloody Hollies’ first album (“Got It Where It Counts”) was what Buddy Holly might’ve sounded like had he survived the plane crash, then went on to suffer silently as a postal worker for 20 years before finally snapping. In a nutshell, fuckin’ brilliant. The second album by this trio from upstate New York continues in the same frenzied vein, though with more subdued moments, and occasionally veers South for some country-fried action. I’d be shattered for life if these guys weren’t phenomenal live. Lily
@ www.sympathyrecords.com

Blue Eyed Son – “West of Lincoln” CD 12/41:40
Andrew Heilprin leads LA’s “sonic surf smoke punk” band 40 Watt Domain. Now, like many other punkers who want to see their vision grow and break out of the bounds of expectation, Heilprin is trying his hand in more of a solo singer-songwriter style. Using the late Elliot Smith’s drummer (Scott McPherson) and engineer (Doug Boehm), and then channeling some of Smith’s ethos and style, he actually comes across sounding more like Sheryl Crow (see “Outside the Main” for an example). There’s even the hint of strings and woodwinds. This may alienate some of his fans, and draw new ones. Anytime someone does a Deadalus and breaks the bonds that tie to the ground, there’s some danger. But this shows that it may be worthwhile. RBF
@ www.eeniemeenie.com

Blue Horizon – “Locust Years” CD 10/47:43
A good bar band, but not much more. Sound like the Eagles sometimes. No thanks.
@ www.bluehorizonmusic.com

Blue Sky Mile – s/t CD 7/26:27
Scream if you love emo! It’s getting increasingly difficult to creatively describe records like this that sound like nearly direct copies of Sunny Day Real Estate’s “Diary” and the Get Up Kids “Something To Write Home About.” Perhaps the frustrating thing is bands like Seattle’s Blue Sky Mile is that they have a knack for good guitar and vocal melodies – and they rock all right. Still, Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla recording of half this EP can’t really change things up enough to make this worth a second listen, at least for those like me who have heard this millions of times before. Maybe if they were rapping instead of singing….nah. Scott
@ www.Blueskymile.com MP3 Download

Bluebird – “Hot Blood” CD 13/52:31
Not too sure if this is the bluebird of happiness or the pigeon of depression. Either way, Bluebird the band is a tight and nifty outfit that delves into pop rock realms without the total Foo Fighters influence coming out. They’re too smart for that it seems. And to top it off, Dim Mak Records continually puts out impressive releases so hearing something this good isn’t really a surprise. Not a whole lot of change ups but the timing and ability is there and for that you should rear your head up and ask the hipster behind the counter “hey…what is that?” You’ll be happy you did. Whittaker
@ www.dimmak.com

Bluebottle Kiss - "Revenge Is Slow" CD 12/51:45
An Australian import with talent to spare. Bluebottle Kiss create ethereal guitar pop rooted equally in 90s American indie and mournful Brit-pop love songs. The rhythmic swirls and ragged vocals perfectly complement the straight-ahead performances and intelligent lyrics. "Last Cinema" takes a stab at Coldplay's shadowy formula (think up-front vocals and mountains of reverb) while adding a distinct power-pop edge, while other tracks nose around in patience-testing atmospheric ballads. Liking the lead singer's voice is key in appreciating Bluebottle Kiss, and you might not be up to it if you enjoy your guitar pop smoothed out into sheets and cut into bite-size bits. John
@ www.inmusicwetrust.com MP3 Download

Blueline Medic – “Text Bomb” CD 11/33:22
These guys are the Australian version of Jimmy Eat World, and if there’s a Van’s Warped Tour within earshot of the Land Down Under these guys will be headlining it after this record comes out. It sounds produced enough to sell with an exclamation mark, but maintains rawness in the guitar department and doesn’t subscribe to trickery or overly-aggressive post-production. It sounds good for what it is, and the kids in Australia need a home-grown band of this sort. Xtian
@ www.bluelinemedic.com

Blues Goblins – s/t CD 10/43:09
A collection of blues covers by Sam Coomes of Quasi, this bizarre mix opens with a nasty, noisy, rangey cover of “Drunken Spree” by Skip James. There’s no way he can sustain that edge so he immediately brings it down with a modern , accessible version of Muddy Waters’ “Still A Fool”. He pounds away on “Black Snake Moan” and does a raggedy take on Charlie Patton’s “Spoonful Blues”. He closes with an eight minute deconstruction of “Rollin’ and Tumblin”, with blaring sax by Stanley Zappa. Fans of Quasi should check this out, otherwise it’s just a novelty. Anthony
@ Off Records, no address

BMX Bandits – “On the Radio (1986 – 1996)” CD 17/47:43
The BMX Bandits have helped launch the careers of numerous bands (Soup Dragons, Eugenius, and one of my all time favorite bands Teenage Fanclub), without being able to get too far out of the starting blocks themselves. They do have a fairly large cult following though, and I can only imagine that this release of live tracks recorded with the BBC between the years of 1986 and 1996 will be a welcome joy to their ears. Personally, I’ve never been a very big fan of the band, and this record didn’t do anything to change my mind. If you like quirky power pop, you’ve got it right here by the tons. The release also includes a couple of live tracks by the Pearlfishers with BMX main man Duglas T. Stewart appearing as a special guest, thus earning these songs a spot on this compilation. Jake
@ Vinyl Japan, 98 Camden Rd, London NW1 9EA UK

Bob Dylan - “Blonde On Blonde” 2XLP 14/73:08
Blonde… may be the greatest album ever. If it weren’t maybe we wouldn’t nitpick about the fact that over the years every pressing has sounded slightly different than the others. When the LP first came out in 1966, separate stereo and mono versions of LPs were standard procedure. If you wanted the stereo version it would cost a buck more. It may seem odd now, but in those days mono sold more, making the mono mix the priority. Bob Dylan personally supervised the mono mix on Blonde…. What’s the difference? Well, I’d say that the mono mix is full of subtleties and nuances, the stereo mix is fine, but if you listen close you’ll hear that the mono version is superior, and sounds like great pains were taken to get it precisely the way the artist intended. If you have this on CD, you have the original inferior stereo LP mix in one form or another. I think there have been at least 6 CD versions, mostly with slight differences. The bottom line on the stereo/mono issue is that Blonde… is a better listen in stereo, simply because it is in stereo. There is yet another version of Blonde… available on a format called SACD which plays in some DVD players. It’s in stereo, and it’s by far the best version released to date. I assume that some day Columbia will use the SACD mix to replace the substandard CD releases that have plagued Blonde… for the past 15 years. Mel
@ www.sundazed.com

Bob Dylan - “Live ‘75” 2XCD
These live albums by Dylan are tremendously important historic documents as well as great music. The previous volume of “The Bootleg Series” was “Live 66” which documented one of the most legendary tours of all time. This one is a bit different in that it is pieced together from 5 shows on one tour. 1975 was the first year of The Rolling Thunder Revue tours. The ‘76 tour had it’s own live album, the universally reviled “Hard Rain”, which contains the rawest performances of Dylan’s career. “Live ‘75” is a tour de force with a great set list including “Desire” era material mixed with a wide ranging retrospective of Dylan’s ‘60s tunes, with the singles such as “Like a Rolling Stone” conspicuous by their absence. I’m used to listening to the many bootlegs from this era, so the recording blows me away. The presence in Dylan’s voice here is more impressive than on most of his studio recordings. 22 songs in all, and mine came packaged with a DVD with 2 performances from “Renaldo and Clara”, a movie which sucked away 4 hours of my life, but it was a long time ago so let’s forgive and forget. Mel
@ www.bobdylan.com

Bob Dylan - “The Hybrid SACD Boxed Set” 16XCD
These re-issues of 15 titles from the Dylan catalog are all available individually, and they all include a SACD layer, six of the SACD’s also offer a new surround sound mix. That’s fine if you are one of the dozen people on the planet who own an SACD system. Some of the albums have been remixed, with the usual mixed results. Let’s start with “Blonde On Blonde”, previously released as a single disc SACD, and now as a double disc hybrid set. I’ve always thought BOB, Dylan’s first full fledged foray into R n R, was the greatest album of all time. Well, this new version exceeds all expectations, making the previous version sound like junk. Time to trade up. “Bringing It All Back Home” from 1965 is a major sonic upgrade as well. “Highway 61 Revisited” from later in ‘65 is a mixed bag, with the new mix providing a more refined bottom end, but harsher vocals which really detract, and the same is true of the new mix of “Another Side of Bob Dylan”. “Desire” and “Planet Waves” both are enhanced by their remix/remaster, and although PW wasn’t a great recording to begin with, Dylan’s song writing was still in fine form. 1976’s “Desire”, an album of songs co-authored by Jaques Levy creates a distinctive sound thanks to good arrangements, and some fine fiddle playing from Scarlett Rivera. The follow up to “Desire” was the under-rated “Street Legal” in ‘78, which sounds identical to its previous CD incarnation, which was a dramatic upgrade of the original release, which sounded like Dylan’s vocals were recorded in the next room, which in fact they were. One other title that must be mentioned is 1975’s “Blood On The Tracks”, where Dylan’s lyrical genius is at its apex on perhaps the most acclaimed album of his career. Mel
@ www.bobdylan.com

Bob Marley and the Wailers - “Rastaman Vibration - Deluxe Edition” 2XCD
Originally a single LP in it’s ‘76 release, RV now becomes a double album including a 10 song live set from the ‘76 tour recorded at the Roxy in Hollywood. It’s an excellent recording of a typically fine Wailers show. The bonus tracks include alternate mixes of RV tracks including “Johnny Was”, but the best add-ons here are the superb singles, “Jah Live” and “Smile Jamaica”, although the dub side of “Jah Live” is missing, which is a shame because that’s one of Marley’s best tracks ever. Mel
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Bob Marley & the Wailers - "Grooving Kingston 12" 3XCD
This 3 CD set is a DVD sized package with liner notes on a twelve page bound in booklet. Jeremy Collingwood's notes sure pack a lot of info into 12 pages, and the graphics are first rate too. The first disc is Tuff Gong era singles including "Craven Choke Puppy", "Lick Samba" and "Guava Jelly", three of the Wailers greatest tracks, none of which ever surfaced on an album. Disc two is mostly the Lee Perry "Soul Rebel" sessions which have been released way too many times already, since it hasn't been totally clear who owned the rights. The final disc has some interesting rarities including an acoustic medley, the long lost "Music Lesson" and a rerecording of "I'm Still Waiting". If you know a reggae fan this would make a nice gift item. Mel
@ www.hip-o.com

Bobby Sutliff - “Perfect Dream” CD 12/45:50
Apparently ever singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar and a notebook of half-ideas is getting a record contract these days, from the popular (Dashboard Confessional) to the “who?” (Bobby Sutliff). Unfortunately for the elitists, Bobby’s low profile doesn’t make him any better of a songwriter, and these 12 tracks pass without a single line that makes you smile or hook that makes you want to hear it again. The vocals are perfectly nondescript, and...there is simply nothing more to be said here. It’s bland. Ryan
@ www.notlame.com

Bobbyteens - "Cruisin' For A Brusin'" 13/28:38
The third full length from this SF quartet of three gals and a guy picks up right where the others left off; sweat drench punchy 60's garage punk with a ton of swagger, a touch of the Ramones and girl group sound, and great songs. Nothing like a song entitled "Hot Sweet and Sticky" to get the blood boiling, that's for sure. Take a couple parts raw lo-fi Joe Meek production, a few handclaps, sloppy crunchy guitars and sassy female vocals and lyrics about sex, cruising for boys, bitching about boys, and just plain old having fun and you've got a fun release. They don't do anything new here, but who'd want them to, right? Steve
@ www.estrus.com

Bolides - "Science Under Pressure" CD 12/49:15
Simultaneously high-concept and low-brow, with vaguely scientific and blatant double-entendre lyrics of a medical nature, growled and yowled over a space-noise-saturated garage rock backing. Sort of a Kaiser Permanente version of the Mummies, with big old chunks of decaying Devoluted spuds added for roughage. MLH
@ www.dionysus-records.com

Bombshell Rocks – “From Here and On” CD 13/38:12
Third record from this kick ass melodic Swedish punk band. It’s nice to hear Bombshell Rocks figure out their own style after taking lessons from Rancid on their first couple of records. This is a sonically dense record, much more overlaid melodies and guitar lines, which may seem like overkill at first listen. Sometimes the thick production distracts from the songs underlying catchiness, but at other times it differentiates Bombshell Rocks from their peers. For instance, Randy – who are similarly brilliant – have a little thinner sound that wouldn’t work for Bombshell Rocks. While occasionally a Bad Religion who-ah pops up, they’re still too fast and furious and rough to appeal to a broader audience. Every time I listen to this I like it more and more! Jesse
@ Epitaph, 2798 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Bon Voyage - “The Right Amount” CD 10/30:00
The second effort from California pop group Bon Voyage doesn’t stray too far from the formula of the first. It’s with good reason - Jason Martin (also of Starflyer 59) songs are sweet like Blow Pops, and his wife Julie’s breathy alto provides the proper measure of smoke and blue-light. The songs are slighter than those Martin writes for Starflyer, but that’s no matter. The choruses are indelible, like Mazzy Star on Xanax or Julee Cruise fronting The Pandoras. The guitar lead in “The Third Marie” is crooked as a question mark, punctuating Julie’s coy delivery. Though the thumping drum machine and whirring serve as 1980s footnotes, the vocal melodies are classic Phil Spector girl-group gold. Haunting, heavenly, and sticky, sticky sweet. J Edward
@ www.toothandnail.com

Books Lie – “Weep” CD 13/31:45
Second full-lengther from this up-and-coming NY outfit. Not as manic as some of their contemporaries, but still manages to get the job done. Not to mention that their gift for song titles continues with such gems as “Death of an American Dumbass”, “More Concept than Conscience”, “It Doesn’t Take a Brain Surgeon”, and “Letter to My Psychiatrist”. This doesn’t quite have the impact of their debut but it’s still a pretty good slab of fast’n’frantic, with some nice non-‘core/experimental soundbits (not soundbites) thrown into the mix as well. David
@ www.coalition-records.com

Books on Tape – “Sings the Blues” CD 16/60:05
Todd Drootin, the splice-happy maestro behind Books on Tape, has incredibly eclectic tastes. Whatever you want to call his music – electro-ambience, laptop pop – it’s never predictable. Tape hiss, bowed bass, cheap organs, and a library of beats grace songs like “Death in the Sex Shop” and “Circus Animal Battle Rap.” Glitchy and fuzz-laden, a lot of these tracks could be Add N to X outtakes, or the off-handed product of a less hyperactive Squarepusher. But since I couldn’t tell you the different between Kid Koala and Kid606, I’m not sure where this fits in the larger context of IDM. “Sings the Blues” is so packed with meticulously layered elements that genre references are irrelevant. Just try listening to the molested bassoons and synth bass in “The Crucial” and tell me this guy isn’t crazy. Or brilliant. John
@ www.greydayproductions.com (MP3s available)

Boss Martians – “The Set-Up” CD 13/46:29
The fifth album by this Seattle outfit presents a hodgepodge of musical styles: power pop, garage pop, poppy melodic punk, rock ‘n’ roll. The songs are all well-crafted and packed with pop hooks, no doubt about it, but I can only seem to focus on one thing – that the singer sounds dead-on like Elvis Costello (when he’s not sounding like a whinier Billie Joe Armstrong). I bet you’d think “Oh, Angela” was by Costello himself if you heard it, too. Anyway, there you have it. And if it makes any difference, you can get your Hammond organ fix here. Lily
@ www.musickrecords.com

Bottles And Skulls – “Born in a Black Light” CD 11/37:13
Mangled Metaphor #58: If the Bay Area music scene was a British pub, Bottles And Skulls would be the loud patron with his own brass name plate on his barstool, always drunk, usually witty, and sometimes incredibly depressed and sullen. Bottles And Skulls have been taking the tired punk bar band schtick and twisting it like a witch’s tit. This band has astounded thousands of soused punks and rockers for years, and yes, they still kick ass when one’s sober. Turn it up, read along, and check out the next big thing out of the San Francisco bar scene! Jesse
@ Sickroom, PO Box 47830, Chicago, IL 60647

Bouncing Souls - "Anchors Aweigh" CD 16/47:30
I'm not sure why I was given this album to review. I didn't like the Bouncing Souls when they were poor, and I don't like them now that they're rich. That's not to say I don't respect them and their progression. They started with nothing and "made it" in the music industry. This album seems to be a sort of reflection on their past, as well as a coming to terms with their positions now. Their songs definitely show more complex musicianship than their first albums, and their lyrics seem more (I hate to use this word) mature. I'm sure “Anchors Aweigh” will be welcomed and appreciated by the Souls' loyal fans, just not me. Mon Amie
@ www.epitaph.com

Box-o-Car – “In the Future…on Mars” CD 7/24:52
Press release talk about blending the new wave tunefulness of the Cars and Adam & the Ants with the grit of the glam bands of yore, but while bit and pieces of said outfits peep their heads up from time to time, this is basically just polished radio-ready post-Green Day rock with one eye on MTV. The fact that they feel the need to mention the inclusion of three of the songs in said channel’s “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” should tell you all you need to know. Not horrid, but far from essential. David
@ www.box-o-car.com

Boy's Star Library - "Sugar & Water" CD 11/29:45
Big, dumb, happy indie pop full of sunshine and crisp guitar notes. Irresistible stuff, even if it has been done by the countless other bands. High-register vocals and randomly mutating guitar tones recall a lot of the better aspects of the Elephant Six Collective and early Pavement. You're going to be brushing your teeth for a long time after listening to this indie confection, but I don't know if you'll want it around all the time. It becomes a bit cloying after too many listens. John
@ www.boysstarlibrary.com

Boyracer – “To Get a Better Hold, You’ve Got to Loosen Yr Grip” CD 22/35:36
One of indiepop’s most tenacious outfits, UK combo Boyracer has endured no small amount of adversity over the course of its ten year lifespan. Having changed labels and bandmembers more times than Madonna has changed accents, Boyracer landed finally on 555 Records. Their latest, the self-applicably titled “To Get a Better Hold, You’ve Got to Loosen Yr Grip”, continues their tradition of falling-apart pop songs. Stewart has the kind of coy, wounded voice that makes pop fans go weak, and when it’s paired with the group’s clunky, chugging guitars and explosive percussion, the results teeter between fantastic and fantastically awry. Best are songs like “Glitter”, where the guitars and under-amped and the full range of Stewart’s emotion shimmers like the aurora over gloomy bass and shimmering guitars. The supercharged “In Love” is a keeper from the rowdy set, fuzzy guitars kicking in for the simple, two-word chorus. They’re like a prepubescent Smiths recording on a Fisher Price tape-deck. It’s not that Boyracer is especially raucous – they’re just kind of loud. Frequently this giddiness recalls the reckless heyday of The Beat Happening, which is to say that it’s pleasant if not entirely unfamiliar. “To Get a Better Hold…” will likely thrill the faithful but leave the rest unmoved. J Edward
@ www.rawbw.com/aelison/555/ MP3 Download

Boys Night Out - "Broken Bones and Bloody Kisses" CD 6/20:46
These Canadians mix some standard fast paced Jawbreaker style emo music and vocals with some hardcore screams mixed in here and there to put an exclamation point on some of the lyrics. There are also more than a few metal guitar parts (the opening chords of "The Only Honest Love Song" are a prime example) creating a dichotomy of sounds; you can't tell whether this band believes in the power of the song or the lyrics. This has all the good elements of a band like Rites of Spring, along with some of the worst parts of hardcore, where the scream overwhelms everything that comes either before or after. Still, it's better than the cookie cutter pop punk, faux emo, or streetpunk that's out there, because you hear the angst in every bloody scream. My cup of tea? No, but it's got a ton of emotion and they're definitely doing something not enough bands do these days; which is throw every ounce of guts into your music. Steve
@ www.onedaysavior.com

Boyskout – “School of Etiquette” CD 12/38:03
An all-female quartet (formerly?) from San Francisco incorporating the edgier bits of “wave” into their sound, with synth that won’t bring back memories of Berlin and a guitarist who remembers that the early B-52s had more than just kitsch to them. Their debut CD starts off with a bang, leading out of the gate with such stellar tunes as “Jesse James”, “Back to Bed”, and “Secrets”. Unfortunately they can’t keep up the momentum, ending up dragging a bit on the moodier numbers/with numbers supposedly moody ending up dragging instead. Still, there’s enough here to promise good things ahead. David
@ www.alive-totalenergy.com

Brand New - "Deja Entendu" CD 11/48:49
Hmmm, this is tough one indeed. So much of this four piece is the same shit you hear on rock radio alternated soft/loud Linkin Park-verses and shouty emoting choruses laying out all their pain with lines like "we won't let you in." TRL, anyone? But, there's another layer to Brand New that give me pause a melodic dramatism that brings to mind the sullen and intense rock of Catherine Wheel, and the more sussed, whine-free rock of the Foo Fighters. The vocals are solid and not too "emo", the lyrics are surprisingly engaging and wry, and the production work creates a dark backdrop not unlike some of Tool. I'll give them credit for creating an accessible, artistic rock record but stay away from the MTV studio, guys. Scott
@ www.brandnewrock.com

Brando - “943 Recluse” CD 18/47:27
Not unlike the fat, surly actor that this group is named after, Brando comes across as a likable listen despite its ability to be a little irritating from time to time. They play a pretty familiar brand of quirky lo-fi pop, with just a hint of 60’s psychedelia thrown in. It makes me think of the mellower, more Beatles-influenced GBV stuff crossed with Lilys much of the time, but the release as a whole tends to be all over the map. At it’s best, and I may be the only one who feels this way, this record reminds me of why I love Shudder to Think so much; at it’s worst, it reminds me of why it wasn’t a bad thing that everyone and their brother stopped doing the “lo-fi thing” when it wasn’t hip anymore. Jake
@ www.lunamusic.net/brando

Brandtson - “Death and Taxes” CD 6/19:08
The first thing I noticed about this record was that it’s on Deep Elm, which led me to believe it would feature excellent production, an abundance of post-punk melodies, and possibly an annoying emo-ish lead singer. `Man, I hate it when I’m right. Brandtson isn’t outright bad. There are millions of kids that would devour this shit without blinking. That said, there’s also little to distinguish this amiable but overly-familiar EP from a slew of other vaguely-political punk outfits. These guys try to so hard that you've gotta give them credit for effort. Just don’t treat them like they’ve broken any new ground, cause this kind of stuff was played out ten years ago. John
@ www.deepelm.com

Brazil - "Dasein" CD 6/26:11
A fairly interesting release, with some appealing stylistic touches. When Brazil stays away from traditional punk structures and instead leans on haunting melodies, the songs really take off. There are some nice keyboard moments here, great string sounds and a good deal of lyrical creativity. Hints of Gary Numan, David Bowie and solo Peter Gabriel material can be heard. This is both an unusual record for the Fearless label, and an unusual record period. Mark.
@ Fearless, 13772 Goldenwest St. #545, Westminster, CA 92683

Break The Silence – “Near Life Experience” CD 14/41:28
I guess I’m getting older. This kind of screamo-emo punk used to do something for me; and I mean more than make me want to change to a different disc. Maybe it’s just that there are so many bands that have “been there, done that”. Maybe it’s just that I can’t find the rage I used to for life, although I still get plenty pissed off about things. I just channel it differently now, and when I want to listen to music, I want to feel better about the world, or at least a little happy, not all tense and feeling like all I want to do is cringe when the screaming starts. It certainly mixes in some speed metal with melodic and emo elements, and it features some people with musical talent, including ex-members of 88 Finger Louie and Rise Against, but it can’t seem to find it’s mark or stay with one style long enough to really engage the listener. I’m not going to be much of a fan no matter what, but other people who might dig this are going to get turned off by a song here and there, and then it just ends up in a pile of never listened to CDs. Man, do I have a lot of those now. Steve
@ www.hopelessrecords.com

Break-Up – “She Went Black” CD 5/18:24
Refugees from such diverse outfits as Crème Blush and Blue 88s get together and focus on cranking out some unpretentious rocknroll with such tunes as “Life Of Crime” and “Don’t Save Me” sticking around in one’s cranium long after the party’s over. Fun ditties to dance (as opposed to practice self-conscious “ironic” dance moves) along to. David
@ www.thebreak-upmusic.com

Breaking Laces - "Sohcahtoa" CD 12/36:37
Wow, where the hell did this come from? Willem Hartong is Breaking Laces and if there's a God somewhere in the universe he will be breaking hearts all over the place with stunning songs like "Meagan". He's been busking in the subways in NYC for quite some time trying to raise enough cash to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. His Ring-o-Meter at BreakingLaces.com is up to a healthy $519.18. He embraces pure pop songcraft but adds enough backwards charm, ennui and power chordings to separate from neo-MTV dross like the horribly overrated John Mayer. His voice is a tad Matthew Sweet-ish at times but I can overlook that with songs like "God in Training", "Where's Her Mind", "Okay" and "Global Warming Day", all glittering gems of form and melody. Send him a buck or two. If he makes it big one day I'm sure he'll return the favor. Anthony
@ www.sidewindermusic.com

Breakup Society – “James at 35” CD 16/48:32
Fantastic powerpop here, with the opening song “Robin Zander” giving you most of the musical cues you need. This band comes out of the ashes of the Frampton Brothers, and shares some of their rockin’ tunefulness musically, but rips through the songs here at breakneck pace without sacrificing the hooks. This is actually a concept album of sorts, as the songs take the singer back to his childhood and the longing for a girl from his school days. And naturally, the backdrop for all of this is that he’s stuck in Mitchell, SD. I’m sure being holed up there would make you think about anything that might have been, be it being a guitarist like your idol or being with your muse, who you imagine as the “New Ronnie Spector”. Great fun here, and it’s nice to hear a band take on a theme that’s as much fun as this that just about everyone can relate to in one way or another. Steve
@ www.gethip.com

Brent Arnold and the Spheres – “Last Boat” CD 9/43:46
If the Boston band Morphine had guitars, this is what I imagine they might sound like. Not exactly jazzy, but arty and just enough avant-garde to make it into “something else.” Some cuts seemed almost “prog” (e.g., “To the Sea”). While guitar-based, there’s a lot of strings going on here, like the violin, cello and viola. At an average of 5 minutes per cut, the listener must be committed. RBF
@ www.uprecords.com

Brett Rosenberg Problem – “Problematic” CD 13/33:26
Hailing from Boston, Rosenberg is the leader of a pop rock trio. He doesn’t just posit his influences, but screams them out. For example, “I Lied” could have been lifted out of Tom Petty’s first album, “My Sister Amelia” could be in the Kinks canon, and some of “Are You With Me” has Stones splattered throughout. Don’t get me wrong; this CD has been growing on me, as Rosenberg is a solid songwriter. “Ameila” is definitely one of the better cuts. RBF
@ www.qdivision.com

Brian Jonestown Massacre - "Spacegirl and Other Favorites" CD 13/72:23
Technically, this actually isn't the BJM, rather a collection of early band demos knocked out over many long nights by the chemically addled brains of the operation, Anton Newcombe. All told, pretty much their usual stock-in-trade of fuzzy, muzzy drone rock - best typified by the epic 16-minute (plus reprise!) title cut - although those of us who like their psych more compact and energized will find much to like about cuts like "When I Was Yesterday"and "That Girl Suicide". MLH
@ www.bomp.com

Brideshead - "In and Out of Love" CD 14/39:42
It's pouring rain as I write this, yet I can almost feel the spring sun on my neck, hear the birds singing and chirping, and see the flowers blooming in one of those time lapsed photo shoots where everything is speeded up as I listen to this. Light and airy pop that would fit neatly into the Sarah Records cannon, with simply strummed acoustic and electric guitars. Other musical accompaniment includes a trumpet and trombone, some strings, and some lush vocal arrangements. Jangle is definitely the watchword here on the guitars, the songs also evoke some memories of a toned down Orange Juice. Martin Nelte's deadpan vocal style is augmented by some incredibly sweet female backing vocals from time to time, which makes for the perfect accompaniment, along with some nice handclaps and always perfect melodies. Really gorgeous lush jangle pop that's sure to be on my top whatever of the year list. Steve
@ www.shelflife.com

Brief Candles – s/t CD 7/41:47
Debut full-lengther of Peorian post-shoegazer indie rock, featuring dem ol’ shimmering waves of sound (though shoehorned into something close to song structure instead of soundscapes) that ranges from languid to soaring, with both male and female vocals among the atmospherics. The tunes themselves are solid-to-quite-good; another band to keep an eye on. David
@ www.silentfilmsoundtracks.com

Briefs – “Off the Charts” CD 11/23:43
Some folks are complaining that this ain’t as stellar as their previous one (I think a couple of these songs were previously released as singles) but I dare say this is still one of my faves of the issue; fun wave-infected punk rock that’s still get you a-boppin’. They may be off the charts (or at least out of their major label deal) but not out of our hearts. David
@ www.dirtnaprecs.com

Briggs – “Numbers” CD 14/40:14
If “Dead End Storys” One Man Army, “Out Come The Wolves” Rancid, and the Dropkick Murphys had a bastard man-child, that man-child would be The Briggs. They’re decent enough to go down well-worn musical paths and not come off as totally generic or unoriginal, although they are not ground-breaking in any sense of the word. Definitely a good, working band that is fine. No more, no less. This could be a lot worse and forgettable, instead, I’m gonna keep this for a while and see if it improves with time. Jesse
@ Disaster, PO Box 7112, Burbank, CA 91510

Bright Lights – s/t CD 15/27:43
Somewhere along the line, indiepop transformed from coy, fey, and retiring, to big, clunky and loud. Bright Lights are just such a band – the vocals are undeniably twee: shy, weepy and wounded. But they’re surrounded by total cacophony: each drum threatens to detonate the speakers, and the guitars are amped to crackling. If this is an attempt to offset the horn-rimmed geekiness of the music it doesn’t work, but it does help make the proceedings overall a bit more bearable. There’s nothing exceptional about The Bright Lights, and Frank’s helpless Muppet vocals often border on insufferable. But their combination of garrulous guitars and 5th grade nerd vocals are an interesting, if deeply unsettling, glimpse of the future. J Edward
@ www.rawbw.com/

Brightblack – “Ala.Cali.Tucky” CD 8/39:57
If I close my eyes while I listen to this record, I’d swear I think I’m back home in the mountains of North Carolina, sitting on the porch on a warm evening watching the fireflies flash their butts around and listening to the symphonic chirping of the frogs and the crickets. Imagine if you will someone got the bright idea to mix Mazzy Star with Palace, and the result would be something akin to this. In fact, those Palace boys Paul and Will had a hand in helping with this recording, adding back up vocals, bass, whatever. A truly beautiful recording, but I’m pissed that it really makes me want to quit my cubicle job and big city life and go back to the country where I belong. Jake
@ www.thebrightblackmorninglight.com/

Brighter - “Singles 1989-1992” CD 15/53:28
The great Sarah label issued four singles from this Brighton trio, and all 15 of those tracks are rescued from collector’s hell here thanks to the fine folks at Matinee. The songs are pretty and poignant, with gentle melodies and heartfelt lyrics. The poppiest moment here is “Poppy Day”, one of C-86’s finer moments. Mel
@ www.inddiepages.com/matinee

British Sea Power - "The Decline Of…" CD 13/57:29
It really is maddening at times, clocking the poor quality of most British bands hogging all the media attention these days. I mean, Coldplay (Radiohead minus the warmth)? The Darkness (a vaudevillean parody of a genre that became a parody of itself long ago)?? British Sea Power may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but their command of walloping, rhythmically skewed, guitar-soaked noisescapes, spiced with the occasional and startlingly pretty midtempo number, shows there’s far more ingenious and hungry talent out there than meets the eye on the cover of the NME even now. ‘A’ for effort at least. MLH
@ www.britishseapower.co.uk

Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham - “L’Avventura” CD 11/44:11
Combine the vocalist from Luna, David Bowie’s producer, and the voice of Jem (from Jem and the Holograms), and it would be difficult to get anything other than a gorgeous pop record. And that’s what L’Avventura is, albeit gorgeous in a laconic, meandering way. L’Avventura doesn’t try very hard to win you over. It just keeps serving up cotton-edged pop that’s not too far removed from Phillips’ and Wareham’s work with Luna. Visconti’s not an overbearing producer, but his flourishes are evident, be they surging strings on “Night Nurse” or the twinkling xylophone that accents the straight-faced and totally sincere cover of Madonna’s “I Deserve It”. Visconti keeps the vocals crisp, as he did on Bowie’s vastly underrated ‘Heathen’, and it’s easier to hear many of the nuances in Wareham’s delivery that were underplayed on Luna outings. A warm and sexy record, L’Avventura - while not a drastic departure from any given Luna record - is a worthy side trip. J Edward
@ www.jetsetrecords.com

Broadcast – “Haha Sound” CD 14/44:13
These folks seem to have a tendency to be compared to Stereolab, but at this point it’s safe to say that they’ve surpassed said outfit. Ranging from the driving “Pendulum” to the dreamy “Before We Begin”, all with a distinctively otherworldly feel to them, this is sparkling post-space-age pop at its finest, what more can I say? Sheer bliss David
@ www.warprecords.com

Broadcast Oblivion – “Transmita Olvido” CD 10/31:40
These guys are clean. Featuring ex-members of Murder City Devils, Scared Of Chaka and Droo Church, Broadcast Oblivion comes alive with power punches so soft and precise you’d think a fluffy puff sledgehammer kissed you. Just the right amount of jangle, with some jingle pop and heavy rock to round off a very impressive debut album. Really, there are songs here that could easily take over the radio and whatever but I doubt it because it’s too cool and good so look for them on the road or on the local high school or college radio station. I swear…if you are into any of the three members former bands and like, say, The Kinks and Deep Purple then check this album out. That’s all I need to say about it right now. Because if I say too much I may get in trouble when this CD hits big and I have throngs of new fans going “no way man…its like sonic-pop-nitro-riff-rawk but with a hint of Heavy Emo and Nu Indie.” Whatever the hell that means! Whittaker
@ www.burnburnburn.com

Broadzilla – “Lady Luck” CD 13/62:01
Um… Okay. It took me quite a while to ingest this band, these three hot rock ladies from Detroit who play a mean selection of driving tunes which cross the White Zombie and L7 border and into the rink of roller derby crash up bitches gone trailer park arsonist. They’ve won all sorts of awards in their hometown and even got the attention of Fred Durst of (ugh!) Limp Bizkit to open up a show they did in Detroit once with Cypress Hill. But, trust me!, Broadzilla do NOT play Nu Metal or rap rock at all. It’s the kind of rock to drive Cameros to with flamejobs rocking the sides or to get tattooed to by a beefy Amazon named Barbie Wire or something. Joan Jett would be proud. I think…I hope. The three ladies here rock the heavy eye makeup, bright Girl Rawk Power tattoos and red leather jumpsuits with cleavage and spiked bracelets to add to the decadent fantasy that woman can rock hard, if not harder, than most guys I know. Check these chicks out and tell me what you think. Or at least see them live. I’ll bet you go up and ask one of them to marry you. Watch. I bet! Whittaker
@ www.detroitmusic.com/broadzilla

Broilers – “La Vida Loca” CD 9/28:02
This CD contains this German Oi band’s “La Vida Loca” EP, plus their “Schenk mir eine Blume” 7 inch. The cover has an odd “restaurant” theme, and the music consists mainly of mid-tempo songs with very loud guitars, gruff vocals, and soccer-style singalong choruses. In other words, it’s more or less what you’d expect from a release on the cool Austrian DSS label. Some of the Broilers’ guitar leads and frills are particularly melodic and tasteful (as on “Geister die Ich rief” and “Paul der Hooligan”), and their songs are generally well above average. Other than the two anemic reggae-ish tracks, I like this a lot. Jeff
@ www.dssrecords.com

Broke Revue - "Oldtime-Futureshock" CD 14/43:16
On this U.K. import, D. Melior is moonlighting in another deserted southern swamp, or maybe he's ditched his other band(s) for this. Either way he sinks further into his own little cesspool of greasy rock, dirty blues, and drunken shit blasts. R.L Burnside's "Jumper on The Line", with the shuck and jive rhythms, provides a launching pad. The second song, "All those letters", has a warm Lyres presence. After that he gets sidetracked. "One More Time", too bad he can't turn more of his half-baked tunes into stuff like that. Some of this hits too close to home right now. It's funny how music works that way. After the second listen I can hear how the sum of the parts does become greater than the parts themselves, just like in life. Anthony
@ www.smartguyrecords.com

Broken Bottles - "Not Pretty" CD 6/16:02
Old school SoCal punk here, with a couple of decent songs and a singer who has the Mike Ness/Social Distortion snarl down pretty well. Nothing too imaginative here, the songs have some pretty silly lyrics with a song about Kelly Osborne ("I'm in a porn with Kelly Osborne") and another about goth chicks. I guess they think they're humourous, and occasionally they are, but it also often sounds kinda dated and stale. If you want to be the alternative in Southern California to the whole Good Charlotte thing, then get a little more original or funny before you put out anything else, OK? Either one will be fine. Oh yeah, lose the eyeliner too. Steve
@ www.fingerrecords.com

Broken Hearts - "Want One?" CD 20/72:18
Mike Mazzarella has been a member of power pop group the Rooks for several years, but prior to that, he was a member of the Glastonbury, CT mersey pop band, the Broken Hearts. This is a reissue of their one LP, plus 11 additional tracks, mostly recorded during various rehearsals. The nine songs from the original LP fit the Beatles "Love Me Do" era perfectly; nice bouncy pop songs that take more than a few cues from early British invasion material. I personally prefer the more raw demos that fill out the CD; they have a lot more of a reckless abandon that is missing from some of the songs from the proper release, and show just how good this band probably was as a live act. A couple of the Mazzarella songs on the demos portion became songs later done by the Rooks ("Circle of Fools" and "Always You and Me"). The Broken Hearts were more than Mazzarella too, songwriting chores were equally split among Tom Bittel and Jamie Beckett, guitarist and bassist, respectively, and their material is just as strongly rooted in great Mersey pop. I wonder what happened to those two guys! This is a fine artifact of a band that could have been contenders for the top of the pops, and it was great call by the Paisley Pop to reissue this material. Steve
@ www.paisleypop.com

Broken Social Scene - "You Forgot It People" CD 13/56:14
This album is one of the best things I've heard in years. It's only halfway through the year, but I'll bet money right now that this ends up on dozens of people's "top 10 of 2003" lists. Broken Social Scene is a collection of musicians and artists that formed out of Toronto in 1999. This album lists 10 band members and 5 guests, and you can feel all those people's presence in the music due to the sheer weight of its lushness. People are going to talk about this album the same way people talk about Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", or Eric Clapton's "Layla and Other Assorted Lovesongs" or Stereolab's "Dots and Loops", Or XTC's "Skylarking". I can imagine this record coming out in the 70's 80's or 90's and being loved as much as people will love it in the 00's. Imagine a dozen or so art house musicians who have spent time writing their "difficult and arty" songs and all coming together to write a perfect collection of "pop" songs, and doing a really, really good job of it. This is Broken Social Scene's second album, and I hope they come out with more and more. But something this big and beautiful has to be fragile...I hope it lasts. Manny
@ www.arts-crafts.ca

Broken Spindles - "Fulfilled/Complete" CD 10/32:36
Joel Petersen of The Faint has stopped elegantly posing to death long enough to release a second album for this dark electronic side project.  Originally incarnated to create a soundtrack for a movie which was never released, Broken Spindles has continued with a much stronger second album. Though some tracks are pure synthpunk bliss, complete with anxious string orchestration and robotic vocals, most fade into forgettable background music. I applaud Petersen's expansion from the straight forward electropunk of the Faint, but I would still pick Danse Macabre or Blank Wave Arcade over this album any day. Mona
@ www.saddle-creek.com

Bronze - “Presence of Greatness” CD 4/13:52
“Is it over?” asks Bronze singer Paul Handyside on the opening title track. No Paul, it’s just the beginning for this bright young three-piece of pop rockers. Four near-perfect little tunes, two electric and two acoustic, none shorter than 3:26 and none longer than 3:28 (including an acoustic redux of the title track). Bronze is another feather in the cap of the Bus Stop label, which lately has had quite a little run of undiscovered acts like this releasing EP’s that suggest the label is building a stable of fine acts and should have a bright future. Ryan
@ www.bronzeweb.co.uk

Bronze – “The Statue in the Stone” CD 12/44:54
Pretty, but hard-to-get-excited-about pop from a band of young Brits. Plenty of jangly guitars and fretful lyrics, some vocal harmonies. Good enough, far from great. Kevin
@ www.busstoplabel.com

Brother Egg/1090 Club “Split EP” CD 6/18:52
This disc starts out with Portland’s The Brother Egg, which sounds mostly like singer-songwriter type pop music with a full band accompaniment, with an occasional alt-country leaning. Pleasant enough, decent melodies, but nothing amazing or groundbreaking here. At first listen I thought The 1090 Club was the same band, only they decided to crank up their instruments. Their sound and songs are somewhat similar to The Brother Egg, but a lot more akin to power pop than mellow singer-songwriter stuff. I prefer the 1090 half of the CD, but I wouldn’t really say it’s groundbreaking either. There obviously a lot worse stuff floating around out there, and both of these bands would work as a pop fix if you were in a jam. Jake
@ www.thebrotheregg.com

Bruce Springsteen - “The Essential Bruce Springsteen” 2XCD + bonus disc
The 15 songs on the first disc include tracks from each of Springsteen’s first 6 albums, and it does an excellent job of representing the “essential” Bruce. Tracks like “Thunder Road”, “Jungleland”, and “Rosalita” are all songs no collection is complete without. The second disc picks up chronologically with “Born In The USA” and continues through “The Rising”, including some good tunes, but nothing on the level of the first disc. The third disc is a less than essential collection of outtakes and live tracks, etc, of which Springsteen’s cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Trapped” is perhaps the highlight. Mel
@ Columbia Records

Bruthers – “Bad Way to Go” CD 11/29:21
The Bruthers were four real brothers from New York state who put out a killer double A- sided single featuring “Bad Way to Go” and “Bad Love.” Sundazed has managed to unearth a bunch of previously unreleased recordings by the band, whose material has been reissued and repackaged with this particular label’s usual attention to detail and quality. Perhaps even better than their great single is “The Courtship of Rapunzel,” with its punchy beat, super snotty vocals and lyrics, and raved-up bridges. There are several other fine originals included here, such as the punky “Don’t Forget to Cry” and the moody “I’m Gonna Be Alone,” and a surprisingly effective cover of “My Generation.” Jeff
@ www.sundazed.com

Bruthers – “Bad Way to Go” CD 11/29:21
The Bruthers were four real brothers from New York state who put out a killer double A- sided single featuring “Bad Way to Go” and “Bad Love.” Sundazed has managed to unearth a bunch of previously unreleased recordings by the band, whose material has been reissued and repackaged with this particular label’s usual attention to detail and quality. Perhaps even better than their great single is “The Courtship of Rapunzel,” with its punchy beat, super snotty vocals and lyrics, and raved-up bridges. There are several other fine originals included here, such as the punky “Don’t Forget to Cry” and the moody “I’m Gonna Be Alone,” and a surprisingly effective cover of “My Generation.” Jeff
@ www.sundazed.com

Bubblegum Complex - "Looking Down at Cloud Nine" CD 9/32:31
"I know how the game is played" sings happily at the beginning of the first song. Simple guitar chord music and quiet background drums with prominent indie pop vocals pretty much make the Bubblegum Complex what they are. They excel at it. They embrace it. Love it. They know how the game is played, and they play it well. It's almost a throwback to the early 60s. I challenge you to not tap your foot. Sharon
@ www.heatstrokerecords.com

Buddy Holly and the Crickets – “The Chirping Crickets” CD 16/34:15
A reissue of the first Buddy Holly and the Crickets LP, with four additional tracks tacked on the end. I don’t really need to say much about the greatness of Holly or these songs, since if it weren’t for Holly and the Crickets (a much underrated group of musicians), rock and roll wouldn’t be what it is today. This differs from most of the Holly repackaged goods because it takes a proper album and reissues it, rather than just compiling a bunch of “greatest hits”, or taking a body of his work from different time frames in his career. This is more of a snapshot in time; Holly at the beginning, relying on the Crickets for backing, without some of the added flourishes of strings and the like that came towards the end of his career. This is a fun listen, with plenty of familiar tunes, like “Oh, Boy!”, “Maybe Baby”, and “It’s So Easy”, plus additional songs that show the greatness of Holly and the Cricket who wrote many of their hits, Norman Petty. Steve
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Buffseeds – “The Picture” CD 12/41:37
Seems like the Brits have forsaken Coldplay based on the press for his, but this band is getting a lot of comparisons to the former darlings of the British music mags. They aren’t particularly undeserved either, as they play decent pop songs that are led by keyboards as much as guitars, all with the same easy to like melodies and occasionally tortured vocals. Lead singer Kieran Scragg has a unique voice, it’s near falsetto that works well with the songs, even when if grates on your nerves on occasion or makes you wonder whether there is also a female vocalist in the band. The subject matter occasionally belies the simple melodies, with political songs mixed in with adult relationship issues. Overall, it isn’t anything that a hundred Brit bands from Radiohead to Coldplay or Travis haven’t done before, but you can say that about just about any genre these days. This was released in the UK in 2002, and it just now seeing stateside distribution, and if they get the MTV play, then I can see this band making a real move on the charts. Steve
@ www.fantasticplastic.com

Bunny Wailer - “Blackheart Man” CD 10/45:56
The reissue of this 1976 album was the first from Bunny as a solo artist after leaving Bob Marley & the Wailers. It includes the popular “Dreamland”, which Bunny claimed to have authored, although it was actually borrowed from an obscure American ‘60s single. Bunny is backed by some fine musicians here including members of the Wailers. It’s a solid collection of songs in a spiritual vein, by an artist who is certainly one of reggae music’s greatest. Mel
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Bunnygrunt – “In the Valley of Lonesome Phil” CD 20/35:58
Apparently this outfit is up and gigging again, though while we’re waiting for new product we have this to chew on, a vault-emptying collection of tracks rescued from compilations, unreleased Kindercore records, and early cassettes. Not to worry though, these ain’t no bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings. For folks who fell in love with them with the fizzy pop of “Action Pants” (where one could make an argument of their being the leaders of the American faction of the Cuddlecore movement) this should come as no disappointment. David
@ www.thebunnygruntfamilynotebook.com/bertdax.html

Burd Early – “Leveler” CD 9/51:08
The only thing that comes to my mind when listening to this record is ‘eh’. As in ‘eh, I’ve heard better, I’ve heard worse’. The first comparison that comes to mind is a less interesting Giant Sand or a not-quite-as-suicide-inducing Hayden. His voice brings to mind Richard Buckner without the vocal inflections that make him so interesting to me. I have no doubt that many folks who listen to this record will like it much more than me, but it just didn’t grab my ear like I was hoping. Some tracks show promise (I like ‘Phonecall Away’ best), while others just drift in and out and don’t leave any lasting impression past when the sound stops lingering in the air. Perhaps next go around Burd Early will separate a little more of the wheat from the chaff, and produce something that will stick around in my head. Jake
@ www.westernvinyl.com

Burnside Project - “The Networks, the Circuits, the Streams, the Harmonies” CD 13/42:08
Today’s indie rock and electronica music share the same problem – about 90 percent of it sounds like it was made by the same four guys in a little room. Therefore, it’s shocking to see Burnside Project combine the genres and come up with something that creates a whole new standard. The album kicks off with “He Never Knew the Benefits of Caffeine,” drawing the listener in immediately, and never letting go. This is something special indeed – something your hipster friends can respect, but your rave crowd can nod their heads to in the waning hours of a wild Saturday night. Pick this one up as soon as you can – it’s required listening for today’s indie fan who wouldn’t mind a different type of sound now and then. Ryan
@ www.burnsidemusic.com

Business – “Smash the Discos” CD 19/40:58
Since I’m currently obsessing about Cocksparrer’s “Shock Troops,” most other British Oi pales in comparison. The Business is one band who has classic songs like “Smash the Discos” “Loud Proud and Punk” and the undeniable “Drinking and Driving” but still don’t make the grade. It’s unfair but their early material is musically rudimentary compared to the older and more musically experienced Cocksparrer. And it’s not just The Business I’m picking on- other classic bands like the Cockney Rejects were simple and still banged out some timeless singalongs just like The Business, but Cocksparrer just had more variety and talent in their first recordings. Obviously, all of these bands became quite talented and continued writing some classic songs for years after these first records, but this first attempt by The Business just doesn’t measure completely up to their impending brilliance. This is the intended first Business album and a companion 12” EP. Some record company problems came up, the tapes disappeared for a few years, and the band went into another studio for a different label and produced the classic “Suburban Rebels” record. Most of these songs were re-recorded for that record or for various singles. On some of the tunes, like “National Insurance Blacklist” “Blind Justice” Crass’s “Do They Owe Us A Living” or the songs mentioned above, the Business really kick ass and take names, but others are just mediocre and worth a listen only because of the band who wrote them. I already have “Harry May: The Singles Collection” on Taang- which includes “Do A Runner” and “Harry May”- as well as all of the great tunes on here except for “Work or Riot.” I’m not sure which one I’ll keep, but I think it may be the singles comp. Since this is a Captain Oi release, the insert is very well done, with liner notes and most of the lyrics! If you’ve never heard The Business, this is a good place to start, but the singles comp may be better. Good and raw, great for dedicated fans who must have more studio versions of their favorites. Don’t get me wrong, even at its most generic 4/4 punk, the Business still have a ton more heart than 98% of the current crop of oi/street punk/whatever bands clogging up the record bins today. Jesse
@ www.captainoi.com

Business – “Welcome to the Real World” CD 16/50:09
Reissue of the third album from the Biz. This starts off pretty well with “Mouth and Trousers”, but the rest of the album seems to fall into a rut. The energy’s still there (even if there’s a bit more of a rockier feel to the tunes), but it’s almost like they’re going through the motions; the classic singalong elements that made their first album so stellar are absent here. It’s better than what such compatriots as Cockney Rejects and Cocksparrer were cranking out, but definitely a step down from their classic debut (not to mention the later stuff they did for Taang). If you’re new to the Business pick up “Suburban Rebels” (also recently reissued by Captain Oi!) before heading here. David
@ www.captainoi.com

Buttless Chaps - “Love This Time” CD 11/53:41
Apparently the Chaps are known as an alt-country band, but it’s hard to see that from this recording. “Love This Time” would fit in well at any local new wave night. There are horns and choirs, and on the title track Ida Nilsen harmonizes with a three-chord Vocoder. Overall, the music challenging and only pleasurable after repeated listenings. Pam
@ www.mintrecs.com

Buzz King – “I Shave My Pussy” CD 18/60:14
Here’s a split-finger curveball of a record, and with a great b&w nude cover pic. Supposedly an impromptu jam session, but I have my suspicions, this combo lead by Buzz King on vox/guitar, can’t decide if it is Elephant 6-ish neo hippie rock or silly semi-acoustic alt-country. If the songs were there I might suggest they juggle Ween, Sammy and Apples In Stereo, but they aren’t and they don’t. It’s lightweight goof-rock that has pretensions to offend with songs like the title track, but it’s more like Nickelodeon’s version of the stuff. Great cover shot though. Anthony
@ www.buzzking.com

Buzzcocks – s/t CD 12/34:58
After a four year absence (and one Shelley/Devoto side project) the Buzzcocks have returned. This won’t wipe out memories of the early classics of course, but songs such as “Keep On” and “Morning After” show them to still be as tuneful and energetic as ever. They even do a more-than-credible job on their remake of “Lester Sands” (a.k.a. “the Drop in the Ocean song”). Not every track is a winner (a couple could qualify as clunkers), but otherwise this is a worthwhile addition to the Buzzcocks canon. David
@ www.mergerecords.com

Buzzcocks - "Sick City Sometimes" CD 3/8:36
One song from the full length that came out earlier this year (the Steve Diggle fronted title track), one Pete Shelley unreleased song, and a live version of "Paradise", from the classic "A Different Kind of Tension" LP. The latest LP is probably their best since reforming in 1989; the one song on this from that LP shows why I think the Diggle penned material has always been woefully underrated, with "Sick City" being a great song about the horrors of the seedier underbelly of city life, complete with a relentless guitar that gives the song the grit it needs. The live performance of "Paradise" was from 1999 on a pirate radio show, and it's typically great. They're probably the most vital of the first wave punk bands still around, and do not miss them if they hit your town. Steve
@ www.damagedgoods.co.uk

Byrds – “Sweethearts of the Rodeo” 2XCD 39/116:26
Some may find it hard to believe that this was produced by drag/surf music producer Gary Usher, but there you go. Much ink has already been spilt on the album proper (with good reason), but for my money it’s the surrounding trax that make this worth the bucks. From the rough and (almost) ready rehearsals to previously undigitilizated works from Gram’s International Submarine Band this here’s living proof that “Country-rock” need not have been a dirty word among thinking folks during the 70s. David
@ www.legacyrecordings.com

Byrds - "The Essential Byrds" 2XCD
There may be more than 33 Byrds tracks that are essential. After all, the Byrds first hit, their version of Dylan's "Mr, Tambourine Man", was the record that ignited the folk-rock movement. Later, their album "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" began the alt-country movement which is still going strong a generation later. The first disc here covers the covers (as in Dylan and Pete Seeger), the hit singles and popular tracks from the first two albums. Of course there are the inevitable ommissions, like "Why", "I Knew I'd Want You", "You Won't Have To Cry", "You Movin'" (from the pre-Columbia Records period) and a whole bunch more Dylan covers. The second disc, which attempts to chronicle the rest of the band's prolific career is less successful, but contains it's share of highlights from the band's more country oriented material. Mel
@ www.sonymusic.com/essentials

Shredding Paper magazine has published more than 10,000 reviews going back to our first issue in January 1999. Three thousand of those reviews are online now and searchable, including all of our reviews from 2003 and 2004. We are adding new reviews monthly.
speakr.gif (13k)

Shredding Radio Home Page