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Here Kitty Kitty – “This Is Broken” CD 11/25:13
Female fronted punk from Santa Cruz, CA that packs a pretty good punch. They’re comparable musically at times to the Runaways or Eyeliners, with a punk aesthetic overpowering the melodic pop elements. But there are still plenty of hooks to hang your hat on, and the two women who do the singing have strong voices that have a raw energy without getting screechy. Lyrically, the songs have plenty of anger with the title cut being a strong song about hating being second fiddle in relationships, and that’s a theme that they touch on a number of songs. They also do a strong cover of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch” in their best Joan Jett style. A solid effort worthy of picking up. Steve
@ www.loreleirecords.com >
Homosexuals – “Astral Glamour” 3XCD 81/188:30
Long the subject of whispered rumors on finer music-related discussion groups worldwide, this towering triple CD retrospective from the Homosexuals finally makes its appearance. Roaming the British Isles from 1978-1982 and usually labeled (at least by those aware of their existence) with the “artpunk” tag (one of the very few tags that could fit), this outfit seemed to respond to the statement “You can’t do that” with not so much open rebellion as with a disinterested shrug and then going ahead and doing it anyway. If not as extreme as the Throbbing Gristle/Nurse With Wound crowds nor totally operating in a musical vacuum, they, along with the Desperate Bicycles and too few others, took advantage of the (theoretically) limitless possibilities that punk with its supposedly purging of such concepts as musical boundaries had opened up to all those willing to listen (those that didn’t listen ended up creating new boundaries, but that’s another story). It also helped that these folks were actually capable of creating actual more-than-worthwhile songs than simply mucking around in the “art-for-art’s-sake” swamp that dragged down such folks as Alternative TV. The booklet (describing the band’s history and the story behind each track) gets props around this household as well. The scope of the set might scare off the uninitiated and/or more timid among you, but if you’re someone who has the slightest bit of interest in what DIY really meant (and what it could still mean now) check it out! David
@ www.messthetics.com >
Hunches – “Hobo Sunrise” CD 14/39:06
With this label you probably know enough not to expect emo-pop here. On their second album this Portland bunch varies the pace and intensity more than I remember, not that they tossed the distortion units, just put them to more judicious use at times. To be honest though they fare better when plummeting with a full head of steam instead of trying to creepy-crawl or even do the midtempo stumble. Okay, if not as consistently arse-kicking as the last one. David
@ www.intheredrecords.com

Half-handed Clouds – “We Haven’t Just Been Told, We’ve Been Loved” CD 24/33:28
It’s hard to say what happened to John Ringhofer. The Knoxville, Tennessee eclectic is writing songs that are truly unlike anything in recent memory. They are short and fall-apart structured like GBV afterthoughts, most of the time led by piano and his soft-spoken high-pitched tremolo voice, and accompanied by an assortment of strings, horns, and in some cases toys. The songs are so brief and fractured in structure that it’s a challenge to follow along, perhaps too often. “Do-dos”, “La-las” and “Bop-bops” are far more common that actually hooks that the listener can grab onto. A strange pleasure, for some. Xtian
@ Asthmatic Kitty, 545 Washakie Street, Lander, WY 82520

Halley - "Forget the Leaves, Autumn Will Change Us" CD 12/50:53
Grand, cinematic whatever-core that throws just about everything into the mix: cheap fuzzed-out guitars, Granddaddy-esque vocals, horns, electronic squall, and a schizophrenic approach to song structure. Named after the comet, this Austin band reminds me of a college professor staggering home drunk at night, recalling his early days as a wily undergraduate and creating a bit of musical mayhem to hang onto that feeling. This is complex, not-easily-classified music that should fare well with fans of Mogwai, Sparklehorse, and Neil Young (whoever you are). Sophisticated and heavily processed, Halley are what classical music must sound like to crazy ex-guitar teachers. John
@ www.likethecomet.com

Halos for Martyrs - "A Rush of Sound and the Silence That Follows" CD 6/22:41
A band that is still willing to call itself by the "e-word". By which I am, or course, referring to "emo", almost a dirty word these days, and for a good reason. It has essentially replaced pop punk as the new generic denominator for pre bar-aged bands coast to coast, especially in the Midwest where suburban angst and terminal un-coolness have found a way to not only manifest themselves but fulfill a functional purpose. It's got the trademarks: Cap'n Jazz written all over it, overextended vocals, shouting at the ceiling during a music-less part captured through the drum mics. Nevertheless, it appears that living in Grand Rapids, Michigan has given these guys the time to add some more refined points to an everyday statement, as the band works every aspect of the song in forceful builds, dynamic parts, and lots of frilly fills on every instrument. Xtian
@ www.frictiongoods.com

Hand Of Doom – “Live In Los Angeles” CD 8/43:39
This is a vanity pet project of Melissa Auf der Maur covering classic Black Sabbath tunes. It sounds like she doesn’t care at all when she sings “War Pigs”, “Paranoid” and “Fairies Wear Boots”. It sort of a feeling of boredom overall. Then she gets Nick Oliveri from Queens of the Stone Age to come out and scream “The Mob Rules”. I guess if you have free time and the mild fame she has you could pull this off. As a longtime Sabbath fan, I kinda thought it sucked. Whittaker
@ www.idahomusic.com

Hannah Marcus – "Desert Farmers" CD 9/44:45
There’s a big sticker right on the front of this disc that says “Contributions from members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor”, which I’m guessing they are banking on as the major selling point of the disc. But this ain’t no GY!BE disc; atmospherically, the music might approach their sound on occasion, but for the most part it would probably be described as avant-folk or something stupid like that. Hannah has been getting comparisons to Patti Smith and Nico, and those are probably decent starting points to go into this music with. I can’t say that I would recommend this release, but it’s not terrible or anything. I do enjoy the sound and production of this album, just wish I would have liked the actual music a little more. It’s certainly interesting enough that I’ll keep my ear open for future releases by Miss Marcus, and see how she takes things from here. Jake
@ www.hannahmarcus.com

Hard Times – “Blow Mind” CD 22/57:30
Rev-Ola is the Cherry Red subsidiary that specializes in soft harmony pop from the 60s, which I’m not really partial to, and late 70’s power pop, which I like. The Hard Times, a band from San Diego, fall into the former category. The opening song “Candy Man” is about as good as this gets, since it has a catchy melody, tasteful instrumentation, and pretty vocals. Alas, most of this CD isn’t nearly that good, filled as it is with lame cover versions and originals that are hopelessly sappy and syrupy. Frankly, this is the type of wimpy music that only dorks like – then and now. Jeff
@ www.revola.co.uk

Hard-Ons – “Very Exciting” CD 14/39:32
Hard to believe (no pun intended) that these folks have been around for 20 years! Despite some melodic touches, this is closer to their later rockier material than the pop-punk classics they were once capable of. Fortunately they seem to have escaped the speedcore ghetto that they previously drifted into; with a few exceptions (including a worrying attempt at a “breakout” song), the tuneage contained within ranges from solid-to-pretty good and is overall better and more distinctive than their Taang-era material. Folks still hoping for another “Girl in the Sweater” or “All Set to Go” probably shouldn’t bother, but it’s better than you’d probably expect at this late date. David
@ www.badtasterecords.se

Harper Lee – “Everything’d Going To Be OK” CD 9/33:55
The British duo is apparently named for the famed author of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” I don’t get the connection, and for all I know there isn’t one anyway. But I do know that Keris Howard (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and bandmate Laura Bridge (guitar, drums, piano) make some seriously moody – at times even dreary – music. The titles of the nine tracks – the emotional desolation of “I Can Bear This No Longer”; the cheery little number called “Miserable Town”; the heartbreaking “Unreciprocated” – are a pretty fair indicator of where this band is coming from. Howard and Bridge are both skilled musicians, and their second full-length album is a highly competent effort. If you love misery, this one’s for you. Kevin
@ www.indiepages.com/matinee

Hatepinks – “Sehr Gut Rock Und Roll” CD 13/23:32
The French version of the Rip Offs or the Briefs- a little less frantic than the former, a little more lo-fi than the latter. Think punk with skinny tie flair, who have the good sense to cover The Pagans and to keep it simple. The lyric sheet’s in French, although the tunes are sung in English. It’s pretty rocking and rad, and the fact that they’re from Europe and presumably have endearing French accents doesn’t hurt. Will this knock The Briefs off of my turntable? No, but they’re probably a blast live. Tour the US soon please, thanks! Jesse
@ Lollipop, 7 Impasse Monsegur, 13016 Marseille, France

Havoc - "Our Rebellion Has Just Begun" CD 12/32:46
By the numbers street punk- more on the mohican and bullet belt side of things than the skinhead side of things. Sing-a-longs about the scene, drug abuse, the American Dream, and people talking shit. Oh yeah, and a tune called "Selective Service" about not wanting to be forced to go fight for the US. That's a bit weird since we have a volunteer military, and there's been no draft since the 1970s? The only other thing that stands out here is that the band's found God, which is a rarity in the bullet-belt punk scene. I don't care what religion they are, I just wish they (and the hordes of carbon copy "street punk" bands) would try playing music that's not completely generic. Jesse
@ www.punkcore.com

Haymarket Riot – “MOG” CD 9/30:49
Post-punk (whatever that means) with a pop infusion, the Riot are interesting, if on the non-formulaic formula side. Okay, I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but it does if one listens to the music. The band takes a punk pop idea and then crashes it, with jagged instrumentation. Usually, it works. Still it’s usually dissonant same-old agit-punk pop. The fact that this was recorded in 5 days, which gives it an almost live in studio feel, helps give some edge and power. I get the feeling they’re more fun live, and I’d be happy to see them. RBF
@ www.thickrecords.com

Head of Femur – “Ringodom of Proctor” CD 11/43:45
Head of Femur represents yet another quality band out of that fertile breadbasket of college radio music known as Nebraska. Yeah, that still sounds funny to me as well, but it’s hard to argue with the amount of popular indie rock music that’s come out of this state over the last few years. Containing alumni from a number of popular Midwestern bands (Lullaby for the Working Class, Bright Eyes, Commander Venus, Bobby Conn, The Flying Luttenbachers, among others), Head of Femur’s debut ‘Ringodom of Proctor’ might be better than anything these other bands have released. Their sound might be best described as a blend of Beach Boys/Elephant 6 inspired pop crossed with the homegrown goodness that is Bright Eyes (in fact, I had to check the liner notes of the CD to be sure that a couple of their songs weren’t being sung by Conner Oberst himself, the voices are that similar). The do a great job of infusing multiple instruments into the mix – vibes, keys, horns, etc – in a manner that accentuates rather than detracts from the music. This is possibly one of the better pop records of the year. Jake
@ www.greydayproductions.com

Helgas – “Til The Wheels Fall Off” CD 12/27:36
Pretty darn good mixture of Social Distortion, the Replacements, and a little Electric Love Muffin from these southerners. The combination of the twang with the punk pays off with the Helgas. This band really shines when their female guitarist has the lead vocals; her voice is laconic yet rockin’, kind of like a calm Joan Jett. Unfortunately, she only sings two tunes here. The male vocals are fine, but are not as distinctive as the female’s vox. No lyrics, but that’s alright since most of the words are easily understandable. Jesse
@ Pelado, 521 W. Wilson #C103, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Helicopter Helicopter - "Wild Dogs with X-Ray Eyes" CD 12/37:29
This prolific Boston band recalls the guitar-happy sounds of late '90s indie rock. Singer/guitarists Chris Zerby and Julie Chadwick don't veer from the tried 'n true power pop blueprints with their melodic vocals and pleasingly familiar chord changes, but it could be a lot worse. "Talented Socialites" rails against mindless hipster bands, while "Like Detroit" and "Waves Roll in to Boston" give props to the atmospheres of those cities, good and bad. Clean production and extremely tight playing take a bit of the edge off, but I'm sure Helicopter Helicopter mix it up in a live setting. Recommended if you can't get over albums like "It's a Shame About Ray" and anything by the Posies. The delivery borders occasionally borders on cheesy, but a little calcium never killed anyone. John
@ www.initialrecords.com

Hella – “The Devil Isn’t Red” CD 13/33:27
This time around they dispense with most of the flourishes that graced “Total Bugs Bunny…” and get down to the business at hand. Yep it’s another serving of that guitar/drums maelstrom that they’ve become renowned for. While it’s so easy for these things to turn into wankfests, the Hella folks manage to keep things tight and intense, with enough inspiration and imagination to keep their works from being mere muso-workouts. A righteous racket indeed. David
@ www.5rc.com MP3 Download

Hellfire Sermons - “Hymns: Ancient and Modern” CD 19/68:39
The title of the new Hellfire Sermons album is entirely appropriate, because their hymns are more than happy to wear their influences on their sleeves, both ancient (Joy Division, The Chameleons UK) and modern (Interpol, with a surprisingly healthy dose of Damien Jurado). Pity the poor soul who sees this at a listening station at the record store and writes it off after the opening “Freak Show” as another Joy Division wannabe, because there is plenty more fun to be had here. “Quicksand” is so danceable and catchy that it wouldn’t stand out of place at a wedding reception. The band suffers from a bit of schizophrenia, as they can’t decide if they want to be jolly or sad, and the album runs a bit long for the novelty to hold out, but there’s plenty worth hearing here. “Gentleman Caller” almost steals the entire show by itself by alternating from morose and yearning to bouncy and sing-a-long-able within seconds. Fans of all types of current underground music will be able to find two or three songs they like here, but I’m not sure anyone will fit it into their top ten. Ryan
@ www.busstoplabel.com

Hello Defective - "Kill Us Now" CD 9/41:07
One might think psychedelic wannabes would look a bit further than The Flaming Lips for inspiration. If one was thinking about Hello Defective, one would be wrong. It's not that these guys outright suck. Their grasp of complex arrangements and penchant for tasty, textured squall is a definite asset. It's just painfully obvious that they're following other bands' trails instead of blazing their own. The grating vocals and mid-fi production don't help much. Vaguely baroque electro-pop shouldn't sound this flat, but it does. John
@ www.element115recordings.com

Hello Defective – “Plastic Hearts” CD 4/17:00
It’s a good thing everybody likes Flaming Lips so much - because it is giving bands like Hello Defective a reason, maybe even an excuse, to exist. Mid-tempo spaced-out American rock for those who can’t get enough mid-tempo spaced-out American rock. It’s there if you want it. Xtian
@ www.element115recordings.com

Helper Monkeys – “No Release” CD 18/34:37
Sloppy melodic punk that could actually be better served by being even sloppier. The songs are decent ditties that are often fast paced, with plenty of pretty typical pop punk hooks and bass lines. They don’t hang their guitars on the hooks necessarily though, with some serious axe wielding from time to time, bordering on a more hardcore style. Thing is, they slow things down a notch or three a bit too often, and the production is kinda lifeless; it seems like they were going for a big sound, but it just sounds kinda tinny. The thing that works best for bands who are trying to sound somewhat like the Queers is to be a little more snotty and off the cuff. These guys are getting there, but there needs to be a spontaneous sound to their songwriting and playing that seems to be missing here. Steve
@ www.thehelpermonkeys.com

Hem – “Rabbit Songs” CD 16/45:30
Hem is one of the best new bands out there. Sally Ellyson has an ethereal vocal style and she is backed by three guys (Steve Curtis, Gary Maurer and Dan Messe) who play guitars and mandolins, piano, drums and the glockenspiel. The sound is bolstered by the band’s use of artfully-arranged strings. The track titled “Lazy Eye” – which relies on little more than piano and Ellyson’s voice – is an understated beauty, and “When I Was Drinking” is as cool as it gets. Plenty of bands have made fabulous debut records and then fallen flat on their collective egos, but hopefully Hem is made for the long haul. This is an outstanding album. Kevin
@ www.rabbitsongs.com

Henry Fiat’s Open Sore –“Adulterer Oriented Rock” CD 47/48:15
A collection of rare/demo/7 inch/compilation tracks from the masked ones. They obviously take their cues from such folks as the Dwarves but crank out the songs at such velocity that some of these tracks end up resembling vintage 80s hardcore. Granted there are times when it all threatens to become one big soundalike blur, but they manage to avoid that particular trap. Works as well as double-shots of caffeine, that’s for sure! David
@ www.coldfrontrecords.com

Henry Fiat’s Open Sore – “Idiotia Hyperactiva” CD 24/24:53
Pretty much an emo-free zone here. With song titles such as “Shut Up You’re Fucked” you can tell these folks are proudly following in the footsteps of such folks as the Dwarves and Mummies (well, that and the face masks). Could be more distinctive in spots, but over all a solid slab of rip-roaring punkfuckingrock to do naughty things by. David
@ www.coldfrontrecords.com

Henry Fiat’s Open Sore – “The Parallel Universe of…” CD 25/35:21
The masked ones are back, with 25 more short sharp shocks to your system. They’re no strangers to Mummies and Dwarves comparisons (thanks to their speed, choice of facial wear, and the ol’ “fuck you” attitude) but their Damned cover shows where their true roots most likely lay. Overall a definite improvement over past releases (which, if not always as distinctive weren’t exactly slouches either) so pick it up today! David
@ www.coldfrontrecords.com

Hentchmen – “Three Times Infinity” CD 12/29:40
First album from the Hentchfolks since, oh, 1998 or so. Post-garage rock, with relatively clean production, obviously in love with the garage/frat/pop sounds of yore but not content to merely wear the uniforms. The songs themselves range from solid to good. An occasional lack of pep keeps this from reaching top division status but they manage to crank out the tunes with at least enough vigor not to fall into the dreaded bar-rock trap. Solid party rock overall. Includes covers of Big Joe Turner and Devo (!) that are Hentchmanized to the point of sounding like the band wrote said tunes themselves. David
@ www.nortonrecords.com

Her Space Holiday - "The Young Machines" CD 10/44:28
Earlier this year I was wowed by what I heard from the Postal Service, the closest comparison that I can find for Her Space Holiday. Ben Gibbard transformed his peripatetic vocals into succinct, earnest songs that crescendoed and climaxed, and to back it up was the cheesiest 80s electronic sound. The combination works so well that I can't pass one of the shops on my street without hearing it coming from at least one of them. The electronic sounds from Her Space Holiday are infinitely better and more complex, yet it doesn't move me as much. That can only be because there isn't enough to the quiet undercurrent of vocals. "Tech Romance" stands out as one of the songs that seems to be going somewhere, but even after several listenings, I couldn't come away humming a single tune. Pam
@ www.dirtyloop.com

Hawaii Mud Bombers - "The Best So Far" CD 16/43:00
Another Swedish band that does the surfy pop punk thing better than just about any US band; I just don't get how a band from such a cold outpost of the world can throw around songs about being at the beach, driving the Woody, and surfing with your girl can do this stuff with such authority. Full of soaring guitars and harmonies, this release is actually a compilation of some of the band's material from a couple of full lengths and a couple of other limited releases in Sweden. One thing that separates them a bit from other bands that do this kind of thing are some great female vocals (both lead and backing) by Hanna Soderberg. They fit right with their influences from US bands like the Ramones, Revillos and Barracudas and carry the same nordic torch as the Yum Yums, Psychotic Youth, and the Travoltas. Maybe the Northern Lights confuse all these great Scandinavian bands that they live near the shores of Hawaii, but whatever the reason, surfy pop punk doesn't get much better than this. Steve
@ www.wizard-in-vinyl.com

Hero Pattern – “Cut You Out” CD 10/33:18
Hailing out of New Jersey, HP set down some tracks of straightforward rock with a pop twist. And while it’s not necessarily something new a brilliant, they play with competence and with just enough hooks to make this a possible college radio draw. RBF
@ www.lonesomerecordings.com

Hidden Cameras - "The Smell Of Our Own" CD /42:10
Gay Canadian singer/songster Joel Gibb decided to communicate his particular worldview via the means of what he calls 'church folk music'. Actually, if you wanted to get all soundbyteish, this band's music could be glibly described as Belle and Sebastian with cojones. Doing so, however, would negate the fact that there's a certain naughty majesty and infectious joy conveyed throughout that makes the Hidden Cameras more than mere derivatives - and having, among their many attributes, the sweetest string arrangements this side of John Cale at his most baroquely pop certainly doesn't hurt either. A real find all told, and a band to watch closely indeed. MLH
@ www.roughtrade.co.uk

Hieronymus Bosch – “Havin’ Fun, Soundin’ Good” CD 8/25:28
Fun, surf-tinged pretty-boy garage rock by three sleazy looking fellows from Brooklyn. It’s got speed and chord changes that might be considered straight up punk rock at times, if not for the adherence to style and feel that pulls it back together. The opener here is an instrumental scorcher, and the best song on the disc. On a few tracks it degenerates into mid-tempo bruiser rock, which is good for diversity, but it’s leadfoot surf-rockers that do the trick for Hieronymus Bosch. Xtian
@ www.hbosch.net

High Beams – “Hallucination” CD 11/29:55
Debut full-lengther from this outfit, containing a refugee from the late Mullens among their ranks, though they end up making more of an impression here than his old band ever did. Gets close to that dreaded “bar-punk” sound at times, but on the whole this is more-than-solid punk that induces occasional flashbacks of Radio Birdman circa “Burn my Eye” (if not quite with that band’s patented raw power). David
@ www.dead-beat-records.com

High Canadiens - "Empty Chairs; Festivity" CD 10/52:09
Are intelligent lyrics and an obvious knowledge of Classic Country enough to make up for unappealing vocal delivery? Not on this album. Rock, twang, and downtrodden balladry intersect beautifully on the instrumental portions of these songs, but the hoarse singing is absolutely groan-inducing. The lead singer's unconvincing wail pulls it into parody territory, like some nightmare cover band of Crosby, Stills and Nash. The High Canadiens might need to rethink their singer. I know I've come to a decision, and it doesn't include listening to this album again. John
@ www.perhapstransparent.com

High Llamas - “Beet, Maize & Corn” CD 12/40:30
Well, nothing new here. Some High Llamas releases are a little better than others, but they all mostly sound the same, right? In my opinion, this one might have bit more filler on it than some of the others, but ‘The Holly Hills’ is a great song well worth hearing. Longtime fans aren’t going to be disappointed by any means, but probably not the best record to go to if you’re looking for a starting place for this band – try ‘Hawaii’ or ‘Gideon Gaye’ for a good jumping off point. If you’ve ever been a Beach Boys fan, then you may have a soft spot in your heart for the smooth melodies of The High Llamas. Jake
@ www.dragcity.com

High Llamas - "Retrospective, Rarities and Instrumentals" 2xCD
Perhaps one of the 1980’s most heinously overlooked combos was Ireland’s Microdisney. Theirs was a band possessed in the classic style of opposite poles of creative tension; Cathal Coughlan’s opinionated, John Caleian aggression dovetailing into Sean O’Hagan’s MOR subversion. Soon enough, at the turn of the decade Microdisney split apart, Coughlan choosing to ply his manfully crooned bile in the vessel of The Fatima Mansions, while O’Hagan went further into the pop mystic by way of The High Llamas. This is a totally enjoyable, sumptuous skimming of the cream of six albums and a decade’s work, during which O’Hagan and cohorts explored the deepest reaches of the post-B.Wilson/VD Parks orchestral pop universe and came back with some mighty attractive aural specimens. MLH
@ www.v2.co.uk

Higher – “Star is Dead” CD 5/18:02
Fine pop rock band. Fine guitar-driven musicianship. Vocals are fine tenor. The harmonies are fine-tuned. The songs are finely written. The point of this is why bother. As good as the band is – and, really, they are exceedingly good, top of the line – but they sound like every other fucking band of its genre. If you’re into this sorta group, you really will love it. Top notch. Perhaps if they roughed it up a bit. Or perhaps I just want a new toy. RBF
@ www.fiddlerrecords.com

Highspire – “Your Everything” CD 13/71:45
The CD kicks off in grand style with “Until the Lights Go Down”, which engulfs the listener in cooling waves of sound. Said track is so good that it’s actually a disappointment when it turns out they don’t remain in said style; from there on you get variations in both sub-genre (post-Ride swirlpop, trip-hop influenced pieces, modern shoegaze (with some crossover) and quality. Which isn’t to say that album doesn’t contain further peaks or isn’t solid overall. If they can realize a whole full-lengther with the style/quality of opening tune we could have a monster on our hands Track listing is different by a song or so depending on which label’s version you pick up. David
@ www.clairecords.com

HiM - “Lila” CD 5/21:25
Let it be said here and now that Doug Schiarin can do no wrong in my book. He’s easily one of the best drummers in rock music today, and witnessing him live, no matter the setting, is something to behold. HiM is not my favorite work by this man (I mean, he was in June of 44 and Codeine, 2 of my favorite bands ever for chrissakes!!!), but it’s still damn good and a sight better than most bands to play this style of music. Obvious comparisons to Tortoise may hold some merit, but there is much more of a jazz/world music/Fela Kuti vibe to this than most groups that get the Tortoise comparison thrown at them; this is due in large part to Schiarin’s interesting choices in percussion layered with Rob Mazurek’s stellar Coronet playing (would that be Coronetting?). Add to that some terrific packaging containing photos and designed by the massively talented artist Thomas Campbell (who co-owns the Galaxia label), and you’ve got a recipe for winning. Jake
@ www.galaxia-platform.com

Hint Hint - “Sex is Everything” CD 6/20:07
Any CD with the cover of multicolored cats humping called ‘sex is everything’ is probably not going to be especially austere, that’s a rule of thumb. So what is it? How about dancey sort of punk stuff? Works for me, you know stuff like PiL, Liars, and maybe even a touch of Les Savy Fav style guitar stuff? This is fairly catchy and it’s a no brainer that they can probably incite heavy amounts of dancing under the proper conditions. I can picture the well coiffed and smartly dressed hipsters bumping and grinding at the sold out show already. I’ll be honest; I’m not sure if they are adding anything brand new to the overall cauldron of music out there just yet, but it is enjoyable nonetheless and for a newer band, pretty danged good. One thing I will hand it to Hint Hint is that they do not overstay their welcome on this release, it gets in, and does what it needs to do, then gets out, wondering if there even will be a second date. This is on the label Cold Crush which is run by Steve Aoki of Dim Mak and Derek Fudesco from Pretty Girls Make Graves, which I would say is a great label for these folks to be on. Conan
@ www.coldcrushrecords.com/

Hip Tanaka - "Splinter" CD 10/40:19
This Boston band's accomplished sense of pop craftsmanship is evident in their fine balance of multi-tracked vocals, aggressively melodic guitar, and multi-part harmonies. If you grew up with these guys you'd worship them and go to all their shows. Since you didn't, you'll probably be mildly impressed in your (or my) jaded hipster way, wondering what separates them from any other prog-punk-pop hybrid out there. The songs feature great hooks, lots of instrumental variety, and pleasing changes, but the shaky vocals and familiar tone prohibit closer inspection. John
@ no address

His Name is Alive – “Last Night” CD 13/63:34
Listening to the early His Name is Alive recordings, you’d never imagine he’d end up here. Mostly laid-back, fairly mellow R&B/quiet-storm funk that sounds like it’s aiming for the uptown crowd; even the Hendrix cover (which contains the most guitar you’ll find on here) comes off as being self-consciously “refined” and “tasteful” (i.e. reined-in). Unfortunately this is benignly bland at best, and the overextension of some of the songs (especially the laid-back fusion-disguised-as-cosmic-jazz “Someday My Prince Will Come”, which wears out its welcome within the first of its 11+ minutes) helps put a drag on the proceedings. It’s “well-made” and all that, but I was invited to a gathering where this was going to be the “party music” (as this is described as being in the promo sheet) I think I’d stay home with the Sun Ra DVDs. David
@ www.4ad.com

Ho-Ag – “Equals Go At” CD 12/55:32
Darker-post-hardcore avant-rock/punk that’s none too focused; they remind one of a modern update of those punk bands in the 80s who felt that they’d “outgrown” punk but admirably didn’t want to follow their herd in the rock/metal arenas. They ended up cranking out longer songs that had a darker (relatively) slower feel to them but lacked too much in the way of anything that’d leave an impression (especially when compared to the likes of such contemporaries as vintage Buttholes, Big Black, and Scratch Acid). Not to say this bunch doesn’t have more of a clue than said bands did, but all in all I’d be lying if I said they’d worked out the quirks yet. Considering that today’s discerning music consumers have considerably more in the way of “Avant Rock” to choose from, this can be considered pretty non-essential. David
@ www.misterrecords.com

Hockey Night – “Rad Zapping” CD 12/41:39
It was bound to happen eventually, the unholy marriage of the Pixies and Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Hockey Night is Paul Sprangers, who needlessly combines rapping, break-beats, electronic burps and farts and bouncing, buzzing guitars into a bloody mess that yields no surprises. Another reason to look with a jaundiced eye upon the damage electronic music has inflicted on our psyches and our world. Anthony
@ www.hockeynightmusic.com

Holly Golightly – “Truly She is None Other” CD 13/41:16
Best known as one of the founding members of the Headcoatees, Golightly’s forte nowadays is more slow-to-medium (mostly the former) numbers, going for the post-garage seductive chanteuse sound with the accompanying smoky 60s nightclub ambience. The songs are never below solid (aside from an ill-advised take on #6) but a lack of standout tracks (her previous waxings always contained at least a few) and not too much variation in pacing hurts this. Feels like she needs to inject some life or energy or coffee or SOMETHING into the proceedings in order to make this more memorable. David
@ www.damagedgoods.co.uk

Holy Modal Rounders – “Good Taste is Timeless” CD 12/36:59
Reissue of the 1971 album from one of the more outré of the folk/country outfits then roaming the land. While they weren’t quite to country what Ayler was to trad jazz, they weren’t exactly embraced by Buck Owens fans. Some quality country tuneage with an attitude that’s irreverent and light-hearted without lapsing into goofiness or Bonzo Dog Band antics (despite “Boobs a Lot” sounding tailormade for Dr. Demento airplay). Next time your friend is in the mood for some “Americana”, slip this on and let the fun begin. David
@ www.sundazed.com

Holy Sons - "I Want To Live A Peaceful Life" CD 13/31:17
Holy Sons is Emil Amos, who also plays drums in the Grails, a band I like a lot. Here he apparently does it all himself except for the strings by Tim Horner. There is an ugly beauty in spare, unadorned earthy songs like "Trivialized", "Stunned", "Spirits High" and especially "Ready To Die". In the same way one can get lost on the dusty back roads covered by Will Oldham and friends, this stuff also has the ability to depress the shit out of you. I love music that is dark, morose and cuts to the bone, but sometimes the heaviness of one's life is played out so well in the emotions of dark music that it's just too much to bear. At least he cranks up the guitar amp on "Desire" or I may have slit my wrists before this disc ended. As much as I would recommend this, I wonder when the hell I would ever listen to it. Anthony
@ www.filmguerrero.com

High Water Marks – “Songs About the Ocean” CD 13/37:56
Featuring Hilarie Sidney of Apples in Stereo on guitars and vocals, along with members of Preston School of Industry, Swedish band Palermo, and Von Hemmiling, you would expect a fun fuzz based guitar disc, and that’s pretty much exactly what you get. Produced by Robert Schneider of the Apples, this has all the melodic hooks you want in a great pop record, with echos of Guided by Voices, a bunch of the Elephant 6 bands, and plenty of C86 influence as well. The production is definitely lo-fi, and the lead vocals, shared by Hilarie and Per Ole Bratset of Palermo and a perfect match for the fast paced tunes. A fun record that is perfect for fans of the perkier Guided By Voices material. Steve
@ www.eeniemeenie.com

Homunculus – “Words” CD 11/42:28
If you’re a pop-rock fan, and the first two songs of this album don’t charm the pants off you, report to your local lost and found – you’re missing a pulse. It’s not rocket science, but “Words” constantly surprises with its freshness. Unlike so many other indie-pop albums, the hooks stand out and announce themselves from the start, drawing the listener in and inviting them to stay for a while. Homunculus offers an easy charm that wavers a bit over the course of a full album but never completely fades, especially on tracks like “Kitten Got Claws” which, if nothing else, will force many to make room in their CD collection to keep this one around. Simple, and better off for it. Ryan
@ www.homunculture.com

Honkeys - "Tequila Mockingbird" CD 16/42:27
Not to be confused with the Honkies (Brits with horns who've hung with the Dog Faced Hermans), this buncha Honkeys specializes in driving surf (or at least surf-influenced) instro-sounds, with an energy that most wannabes (including more than one "name" outfit) seems to lack. With former instro kings Man or Astroman? having pulled a Major Tom on us (i.e. lost in space, no forwarding address), I daresay the Honkeys are well-placed among the contenders for the throne. David
@ www.gollygeerecords.com

Hooton 3 Car - s/t 2XCD
This British punk band was around for about 9 years, put out three full lengths and a bunch of 7 inch singles, and they're all here on this nifty twin disc set. Working the same territory as Husker Du for their guitar sound, this band was a staple of the Crackle label for most of their career and helped define a UK guitar band sound that propelled Crackle into one of the best pop punk labels in the world, along with bands like Broccoli, Skimmer, and Chopper. You'll not hear a band do a better job of playing energetic punk that takes in all the melodic elements of bands like Senseless Things and Mega City 4 and punishes them with buzzsaw guitars reminiscent of Bob Mould, Leatherface, and "Flip Your Wig" era punk. This is a great double disc that anyone into melodic punk will instantly fall in love with and make you rue the day you missed out on these bands originally. Steve
@ www.crackle.freeuk.com

Hop on Pop – “As Drawn By Ethan, Age 2” CD 13/45:22
Hop on Pop can be taken two ways: first, get into listening to pop music, and the other, considering the CD title, it could be a comment to a child. Father of two and the center of this group, Todd Leiter-Weintraub, presents his personal vision of a powerpop sound that is both charmingly non-professional, and well written and performed. While being very personal and a bit sugary (emo-pop?), HoP doesn’t talk down to the listener. If you’re looking for punk angst, you definitely need to search elsewhere. Along with the pop songs and harmonies, every once in a while there’s some guitar wailing, like on “False Start.” Pleasant. RBF
@ www.spadekittycom

Hopesfall - “The Satellite Years” CD 10/39:08
Well, it’s about time that Slipknot went emo. Oh wait - this is an entirely different band? It’s hard to tell - “Waitress” would have been the most scorching track on any of the latest nu-metal albums, and “A Man Exits`” features all the grinding and crashing guitars and urgent vocals that any fan of hardcore could ask for. An interesting little effort here, if only because the fusion of the start/stop guitar dynamic of emo with the uncompromising vocals of metal must be heard to be fully understood. For those who count Fugazi among the lightest albums they own, this is Mecca. Ryan
@ www.hopesfall.com

Horace Pinker – Red Eyed Regular” CD 5/16:35
Horace Pinker was the bad guy in that dopey film “Shocker” right? Yeah. Anyway, Horace Pinker the band have been around since 1991 and this is just a 5 song EP to get you all excited about their upcoming full length, sometimes this year I wager. The music these four guys from SoCal have mastered is pretty melodic and straight-ahead rock done with flair and that happy ambition that comes from being on the road a lot and wanting to make good rock music. “Pop punk”? Oh probably, but who’s counting? Essentially if you have ever been curious about Horace Pinker but were afraid to ask then this sampler is just for you. After that it’s up to you. Whittaker
@ www.offtime.com

HorrorPops – “Hell Yeah!” CD 13/40:08
I was so impressed with this Danish psychobilly outfit (with Nekromantix’s Nekroman on guitar) when I saw them last year that I bought their “Psychobitches Outta Hell” single on Hellcat. That song, with its “Boss” bassline and sexy, snotty attitude, hijacked my brain for several months. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about their full-length release. That’s not to say this is a bad album, because it’s not: in addition to “P.O.H.,” “Kool Flattop” is as saucy as “Mean Mean Man”-era Wanda Jackson, and “Horror Beach” is an ominous psychosurf instrumental. But the rest of the tracks just don’t grab me the same way, despite the fact that bassist/singer Patricia sounds like, for the most part, a sassier Siouxsie and the music fuses psychobilly with ska, goth, or new wave. I blame the “new punk” production for giving these songs a horror-lite edge and offending my horror-dark sensibilities. But I’m sure the Hot Topic kids will lap up every empty, sugary calorie. Lily
@ www.hell-cat.com

Horrors – “Vent” CD 13/41:52
After about three years or so the lads from Cedar Rapids, finally unleash another waxing upon the world, with a swampier to their manicness. Unfortunately they also come up with a less enviable success/failure rate in regards to the tunes on display. Supposedly more “cohesive” and “able to play their instruments” and all that, but to be honest I prefer the less controlled chaos of their debut. Not to say that ain’t no damn good - the country-blues-meets-down-home-swamp-trash is a winner when they do it well – just more of a mixed bag than before. David
@ www.intheredrecords.com

Horses - s/t CD 13/35:16
When Rev-Ola's ongoing salvage of late 60's folk- and country-rock tinged obscurities hits its mark, it's a glorious thing. Then you have stuff like this which, while not unenjoyable, still misses. For all its tie-ins with the Strawberry Alarm Clock (this band's mainmen penned "Incense And Peppermints"), Horses' sole lp instead provides a foreshadow of the post-hippie, Marin Mafia rock sound that would come to dominate the mid-70's with bands like the Doobie Brothers and G. Dead offshoots like Kingfish. Three-quarters of Horses, in fact, ended up in the latter band - this even includes an early take on what became one of Weir and co.'s most popular tunes, "Jump For Joy". MLH
@ www.revola.co.uk

Hospitals – s/t CD 11/25:25
The noise contained within this disc is probably the closest in stylistic proximity to the act of dynamiting your local Guitar Center superstore that has been achieved thus far this year, and keep in mind it’s only 2 guys pulling off the racket. This CD sounds like it was recorded in an aluminum cave. Try to imagine what it sounds like on vinyl: either a nightmare or heaven, depending on who you are. The Hospitals create a hellish bang-crash minimalist thrust and almost bequeath it a frenzied dance-like sensibility, but then not so silently acknowledge that this privilege isn’t even deserved by those who think they are “in the know”. Hipster folks have to stand back and take the middle finger and abusive feedback like everyone else does – in awe, and maybe a little fear as well. Xtian
@ www.intheredrecords.com

Hot Cross - “Cryonics” CD 10/32:55
I’ve heard some buzz about this Philly band, and I can why. The combination of gritty screaming and melodic singing that occasionally occurs is appealing and feels sort of new. It’s a strange intermixing of hard-core, metal and math rocky emo bred in a way I haven’t before heard. The more melodic parts are more interesting than the metal guitars and screeching voice that pop in and out. But the album is full of really interesting transitions, full sounds, complicated guitar parts and unexpected noises. It just keeps getting better. Sharon
@ www.level-plane.com

Hot Hot Heat – “Make Up the Breakdown” CD 10/32:00
One thing about buzzes; if a band doesn’t live up to them, there’s the risk of a knee-jerk backlash, and while these folks haven’t quite gotten Strokes or even Interpol level hype, there’s still been some. This is basically edgy post-punk/vintage-wave-derived indie rock, some of which you could probably dance to if you gave it a try, but nothing too lasting; I haveta wonder how hipsters would write HHH off as another “almost-but-not-quite” retro act if they came from less fashionable quarters. Mind you I’m not trying to say that the emperor doesn’t have any clothes, just not as many as some seem to think. David
@ www.subpop.com

Hot Rod Circuit – “Been There Smoked That” CD 16/50:43
From the title and cover art I surmised this would be a typical low-brow entry in the, thankfully, mostly dead ska-rock sweepstakes. Wrong again, grasshopper. No obtrusive horns played by white guys with bad haircuts. This is more in the post-college radio camp that a friend of mine calls fun rock, but it’s more than that. Eclectic and smart, it’s like a self-aware, self-deprecating buzzrock that hits points all over the rock landscape. Not punk, not garage, just healthy reefer-laced tunes of high potency. There’s even a strong version of AC/DC’s “Sin City”. Well done. Anthony
@ Triple Crown Records

Hot Shots – “Jubilee” CD 14/34:16
This band was featured in Re/Search’s “Swing” book, but if the music here can be considered “swing” it’s far more vintage country swing (i.e. before Nashville reared its head) than anything involving zoot suits. Yep, this is a light-hearted stomp through the “hillbilly” music of yore, up to and including rockabilly. The “English as a second language” female vox might set off “novelty” alerts in the more sensitive among you (“American” music this might be, but perhaps it would have been better to have them sing in their native tongue…) but the music is a-boppin’ so, occasionally questionable vocals aside, I’d say it’s worth picking up. David
@ www.sundazed.com

Hotwires – “Ignition” CD 13/39:32
The drawback of being in such a stellar band as the Action Time is that, once said band breaks up, there are much higher expectations to deal with and live up to than if you were just another “new band” making the scene. This new project from Billy Nameless and Harry Stein along with a few refugees from Lunar Jet Man) isn’t that dissimilar to AT, perhaps more on the art-garage-punk tip, but it falls considerably short of making the impact their former outfit effortlessly acheived. Not to say this sucks mind you; most of this ranges from solid-to pretty good, but it’s harder to excuse an evaluation of “okay….” when they once far more than just that. David
@ www.artrocker.com

Houston McCoy – s/t CD 48/37:08
Picture yourself back at the Fillmore East or West in the late ‘60s. The stage has a screen showing projected colors moving around in a psychedelic haze. This CD could be the soundtrack playing behind it. All instrumentals, it’s a flashback to hard and acid rock, with almost a freeform jazz feel. Lots of guitar solos, melodies weaving in and out, and yet each one distinct. Back in those King Crimson/Vanilla Fudge days, I found the sound kinda tiresome, no matter how well it’s played (as it is here), which is why I found punk so refreshing in the mid-‘70s. Oh, and the 48 tracks is misleading. There are 8 pieces (suites?), followed by 39 annoying blank tracks of 4 seconds each. After this is the only non-instrumental song, a punk ska number that I found to be the most enjoyable piece on the CD. RBF
@ www.ernstjenning.com

Houston Wells - “The Complete Joe Meek Story, Vol. 3" CD 29/71:25
Glorious 1960s British country – that’s right, Brit country – produced by legendary studio wizard Joe Meek. Meek’s talent for production earned him a sizable reputation, and this record demonstrates why: it features almost 30 soaring and swooning Western rollickers. A great drinking record. Kevin
@ Sequel Records, UK

Howard Hello – “Don’t Drink His Blood” CD 9/37:15
Uh, if you insist. Second album from HH finds dribs of electronics and post-Phillip Glass repetition melded with guitar. Tries to be evocative, and the electronic bits are nice, but the guitar-n-vox end up being a tad, well, cheesy. Now I remember why I junked my Polyrock albums ages ago. David
@ www.temporaryresidence.com MP3 Download

Hugh Cornwell – “Mayday” CD 11/49:47
Import disc of a live set from ’98 by former Stranglers guitarist. He’s still got the atmospheric timbre in his voice, sounding like Dave Vanian at times. There is a lot of clean lead work by guitarist Mike Polson and Hugh is up to the task of fronting this group as he bullshits with the crowd. There’s an Aussie guitar workout, a smoky, mid-tempo guitar workout, and so on. There’s a tribute to Robert Mitchum and a pointless cover of “White Room”. Essentail for Stranglers completists. Anthony
@ www.trackrecords.tv

High Water Marks – “Songs About the Ocean” CD 13/37:56
Featuring Hilarie Sidney of Apples in Stereo on guitars and vocals, along with members of Preston School of Industry, Swedish band Palermo, and Von Hemmiling, you would expect a fun fuzz based guitar disc, and that’s pretty much exactly what you get. Produced by Robert Schneider of the Apples, this has all the melodic hooks you want in a great pop record, with echos of Guided by Voices, a bunch of the Elephant 6 bands, and plenty of C86 influence as well. The production is definitely lo-fi, and the lead vocals, shared by Hilarie and Per Ole Bratset of Palermo and a perfect match for the fast paced tunes. A fun record that is perfect for fans of the perkier Guided By Voices material. Steve
@ www.eeniemeenie.com

Hunches - "Yes No Shut It" CD 15/37:51
With bands coming out of the Portland area like the Crack City Rockers, the venerable Dead Moon and these guys, one can safely say garage rock (Northeast division) is well and truly attended to. Produced in what sounds like some Godforsaken subterranean cavern, the Hunches trash, thrash, slice and dice even the most hardy rocking souls all to pieces, occasionally stopping to deliver a more midtempo blues-rock that compares favorably with the Saints and Stooges’ efforts at same. And how you can go wrong with an Electric Eels cover ("Accident") for a kiss-off? Certainly not this mob. MLH
@ www.intheredrecords.com

Husbands - "Introducing the Sounds of " CD 14/26:08
Yowza! This San Francisco trio (all females, for those who like to keep track) cranks out some stomping rock-n-roll, touched by surf and other sounds that emanated from the garages and AM radios of yore (among the other goodies on display here, check out their cover of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow") without sounding like a "retro" act or part of the latest revival bandwagon. Not dissimilar to the Gore Gore Girls, but with a grittier edge. I'll leave the smart-ass "So, when are they gonna play with the Wives" comments to others and proclaim this to be a keeper. David
@ www.swamirecords.com

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