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Nagisa Ni Te – “On the Love Beach” CD 11/65:36
Multi-instrumentalist Shinji Shibayama has been around long enough to be on the cutting edge in multiple musical movements in his native Japan. As the founder of Org Records, he’s been influential as not only a musician but by putting out the work other visionaries such as Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Shibayama’s current endeavor, Nagisa Ni te, features him on practically every instrument writing progressive folk rock influenced by 60’s psychedelia and honest-to-god musical know-how. It’s got a mystical feel to it, bordering on contemporary, but too simple and naked to really get branded like that. This disc is actually a re-release that originally hit the shelves in Japan in 1995, but didn’t find it’s way to the USA. That’s fine, because “On the Love Beach” misses a moment that never truly happened here in the States. At least not yet. Xtian
@ Jagjaguwar MP3 Download

Nakatomi Plaza - "Private Property" CD 10/35:22
This contains a few previously released songs as well as some new ones; but if you're like me, they're all new to you. It's a fairly interesting mix between screamy emo and melody, with male and female vocals working well together. It's a sound that's been done by any band with a Lifetime fetish that decides they need to smooth over the rough edges a bit, like the Get Up Kids and others but Nakatomi Plaza retains a bit more of their edge than others in that faux emo MTV wannabe category. It's nothing Earth shattering, but not much is these days, so if you're into this kind of sound, you's do worse than to pick up this release. Steve
@ www.immigrantsun.com

Naked Aggression – “The Gut Wringing Machine” CD 13/36:46
This is actually a set of demos for the album of the same name (the title was taken from a Bukowski book) but chances are good you haven’t heard said album since its label pretty much buried it (and seems to be resisting efforts to revive it). As such it’s a bit on the rawer side (since they weren’t originally intended to be the band’s final release) but the passion and energy still shine through, with lyrics that are more heartfelt and, well, gut wringing than your average post-Blink band (who probably thinks Bukowski was the character John Belushi played in “Animal House”) can manage. Not quite the epitaph the band originally intended (not that it was originally meant as an epitaph at all) but as the final NA release it leaves the band off on a high, if melancholy, note. David
@ www.rodentpopsicle.com

Nashville West – “The Legendary Nashville West Album” CD 18/55:52
This might be the first alt country record ever. Recorded in 1967 – a year before the release of the Byrds’ alt country forerunner “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” – this record finds a group of session players beating the Byrds to the punch. (Two members of Nashville West would join up with the Byrds later on.) Playing a mix of traditional songs and country standards, the band merged country and rock in a way not seen before. This is equal parts solid record and historical document. Kevin
@ www.cherryred.co.uk

National Acrobat – “TNA:The Complete Recordings” CD 30/76:42
Bristling, angular, enigmatic post-HC from a Louisville, KY. institution that called it quits in 2001. If you ask me, they never received their due among the sea of HC bands that overtook the world in the 90s, and here’s a chance to get acquainted with their complete catalog. Syncopation is the word of the day, along with disrhythmia, dyspepsia and diarrhea. They represent with bursts of weird, tight, mangy songs like “Damn Asplundh”, “Of Jeffersonian Thought”, “Mexican Movie Stars” and “Blood is Sweeter Than Honey.” There’s lots of energy wrapped in neat little packages and this stuff will grow on ya if given the chance. Better than the vast majority of the metal-flavored HC I encounter writing reviews for mags like this. Anthony
@ www.initialrecords.com

National – “Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers” CD 13/44:54
I’m always excited to hear bands that hail from Ohio (best state in the union and land of my birth), and while these boys are currently living it up in Brooklyn, they all come from Cincinnati. The content of this absolutely mesmerizing CD reminds me a little bit of another Cinci favorite of mine, the Afghan Whigs. Something about the love and lust and heartbreak and bitterness. Matt Berninger has a voice like cigarette smoke, morning after whispers, and five o’clock shadow. There’s a little bit of Tom Waits buried in there somewhere. The disc alternates between indie, Will Oldham singer/songwriter style, and post rock musically oriented tracks. Bliss. Sharon
@ www.brassland.org

National Splits – “Fontana” CD 16/37:21
This is the sort of record that makes you happy to have wasted your time reviewing all those other records that were awful. Every once in a while, you get a hold of that one CD of a band you’ve never heard of and it blows you away. This CD, the National Splits’ second release ‘Fontana’, was precisely that record for me. The National Splits is the solo effort of one Mike Downey from Wolfie fame, a pop group that released a few records on Parasol and Kindercore a few years ago. The best way I can describe the National Splits? It sounds like someone put glam rock (think David Bowie, T Rex, and even more recently Destroyer) in a blender with Guided By Voices and produced a damn tasty beverage for the listening public to consume. OK, that’s a really stupid analogy but you catch my drift. This is lo-fi recording how it’s meant to be heard, in short poppy bursts from a man who obviously sounds like he’s having a blast playing it. And consequently, it’s tough not smiling when you listen to it. Jake
@ Luna Music, 1521 W 86th St, Indianapolis, IN 46260

Natural Dreamers – s/t CD 14/32:24
I am SO over artrock. If you're not...if you still like Deerhoof (John Dieterich and Chris Cohen of Deerhoof and the Curtains are also in Natural Dreamers) you'll quite probably like this. Minimalistic and edgy. Just 2 guitars and drums and lots of noise (and sometimes little noise). Sharon
@ www.freneticrecords.com/natural/info.html

Natural History – “beat beat heartbeat” CD 11/27:36
First thing I thought of when I popped this in, was… wow, this is very Spoon-esqe rock. I checked out the website and noticed that, yup… they are opening for Spoon on their current tour. That makes sense since Natural History have the same sort of Elvis Costello jamming with Wire and XTC feel that Spoon does. The songs are fairly terse usually around 2 minutes, they say what they need to say and then get out of town, a lot like Wire did when they first started. I’m not sure how much staying power Natural History will have in the long run or if they will continue to concentrate on developing their own voice, but this is pretty good overall, especially if you like Spoon. Conan
@ www.startimeintl.com

Nazz - "Todd Sings" CD 15/48:36
This is a third release of rare Nazz material that has been sitting in Robert "Stwekey" Antoni's warehouse for 30 years, and most of the songs here are demos or unreleased material recorded in 1968. A lot of these songs later appeared on "Nazz III", but with Stewkey handling the vocal chores; he didn't like the direction Todd Rundgren's songwriting was taking, and Todd left, leaving the songs behind. Stewkey then took Todd's vocals out and did them himself. Some of the songs are obviously toned down demos, while others have a more finished feel and are closer to the final versions released. It's interesting to hear Rundgren's vocals on work that eventually was released with a different vocalist, and you hear the beginnings of his long solo career on these songs. Definitely something that will appeal to Rundgren fans. Steve
@ www.airmailrecordings.com

Need New Body - "UFO" CD 22/40:34
I've heard quite a bit about Need New Body, and all of it almost universally positive. Need New Body are most certainly a unique sounding and daring band, one song is frenetic mixes of keyboard and insistent, near nursery rhyme level melody, and then the next is a pretty "folk-ish" song. Soon enough there's a faux beat box song and banjo number. What the heck is going on here? The obvious reference points are Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, with the mixing of numerous styles of music and times, sometimes in the same song. Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 and the Residents come to mind as well. The bottom line is that this is eclectic and pretty cool. I can't say every moment is brilliant, but it's got a high enough hit ratio for me for a big thumbs up. I actually dig this a good deal. Conan
@ www.file-13.com MP3 Download

Neon Hearts - "Popular Music" CD 14/40:33
It’s an age-old story: band releases single, band builds following (the first two sometimes in reverse order), band signs with label, band fights with label over the latter’s general boneheadness, label releases record that doesn’t exactly build on band’s strengths, band gets dispirited and breaks up, giving middle finger to aforementioned label along the way. The production does end up dating the songs, trying to pound a round band into a square pop-rock hole, but some of the songs manage to rise above the muck, and you do get two early seven inches, including their very fine ’77 release that are worth the price of admission. The booklet also features notes for each song (featuring no small amount of bitterness towards their former label). Of course, this also makes me want to pick up the “Ball and Chain” CD (apparently including demos of some of these tracks) so I can see what might have been… David
@ www.overgroundrecords.co.uk

Neptune - “The Ballet of Process” CD 12/41:09
Hooray! An album by Neptune, I really like these guys and have been meaning to see them for awhile, which is no easy feat since I live on the other side of the country from them. These guys play tense, noisy, sometimes theatrical rock that evokes thoughts about a more cohesive US Maple, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers (when they were both good, and scary!) Tom Waits and maybe the most interesting parts of Primus? They also MAKE their own instruments, out of scrap metal and saw blades and what not, which is really interesting, go to their website to see this, seriously crazy. Neptune started as a sculpture project and sort of evolved into a band from what I understand. I have yet to see them live, but from what I understand it is quite the experience, until then I will enjoy the “smooth” sounds of the ballet of process. So should you. Conan
@ www.misterrecords.com MP3 Download

Nerf Herder - "My E.P." CD 10/23:19
Song titles like "Fight for Your Right to Masturbate" and "I Got A Boner For Xmas"? Check. All the requisite hummable turns and twists to offset and distract from the blare-and-buzzsaw soundtrack? Check and double check. Contract for appearances on every Warped Tour from now till George W. drops the Big One? Check-a-freakin-roonie. Maybe these guys should have stuck to doing Joss Whedon TV themes. MLH
@ www.honestdons.com

Nervous and the Kid - s/t CD 10/32:06
A quartet out of Portland, OR, these 10 songs are countryish pop songs along the line of Neutral Milk Hotel. With male and female vocals and a folksy atmosphere to the songs, they've got a relaxed style that sucks you into the songs, with some handclaps here and there, and simple instrumentation. On occasion, they get downright sloppy indie pop sounding, "Stoned Ponies" is a fine example of their better work. They do go way off the mark on a couple of songs, with too many off key melodies and just don't work with this simple style, but they are a nice band to listen to when they're working the melody in a straightforward manner. The cardboard sleeve for the CDs are hand silkscreened, and the whole run is limited to 500.
@ www.turnrecords.com MP3 Download

Nervous Cop – s/t CD 10/30:13
Corral the drummers from Hella and Deerhoof and let them loose, throw in some harp work from Joanna Newson, and then electronically tweak the whole shebang. Sounds promising, right? Still, while there are some good moments here, it never quite manages to gell into anything as stellar as you’d expect from such a concept. In retrospect maybe it would have been better to have more Newsom and less electronic tweaking and just let them have it out (I think they have enough of a clue not to churn out an album of Moby Dickheads). As it is, this is yet another exemplifies the “not-bad-but-don’t-give-up-the-day-job” nature of such side projects. David
@ www.5rc.com MP3 Download

Nervous Eaters – “Eat This!” CD 12/44:59
You’ve probably heard the one about the 60s garage band (I’ll be merciful and won’t mention their name) who played one of the Cavestomps, but instead of cranking out the classic garage rock the fans were expecting (and which the band was told the fans were expecting) they subjected the audience to horrid AOR rock. Any future shindig should similarly think twice about offering these guys a booking. Yeah it’s the original Boston band (or at least Steve Cataldo and some others) but instead of playing the classic Killed-by-Death punk that made them beloved by punk scum the world over, they’re churning out crap rawk. A more energetic form of crap rawk, but crap rawk nevertheless. Avoid. David
@ www.notomorrowrecords.com

Neurotic Swingers – “Artrats” CD 10/24:54
From France, this is one hell of a punk/powerpop disc. Not in the modern power pop sense, where a lot of bands hang their hooks on the pop, but in the power sense. The punk rock comes first; with songs that are full of crunchy guitars, but without sacrificing a single hook anywhere. They’ve put out a few other releases, and they’ve all echoed the sounds of the Dead Boys, the Saints, and early Damned, and they add plenty of garage punk raw energy to the sound. There is a single thing original about this, but bands with this kind out boundless energy are rare these days, and this is their tightest effort to date, as they don’t miss a beat anywhere on this. Steve
@ www.chez.com/lollipoprecords

Never Heard of It - "Limited Edition" CD 10/43:10
This is their forst full length; they've put it out themselves and taken to the road to sell them via the Warped Tour, other shows, and 11 months of touring. It's good to see a band relying on old fashioned D.I.Y. methods, but then in the same press stuff, they're talking about now being managed by a former record executive, plus they've got a PR firm now. Which is it guys; street cred or sell out? Ok, I'm kinda kidding, but it does sound like they've gone from one extreme to another. Oh, you want to know about the music? It's pretty standard pop punk fare, three piece stuff and a lead vocalist with a decided Screeching Weasel influence. There are a couple of songs that definitely hit the mark, including a decent cover of "Build Me A Buttercup", the poppier "Where Am I", and "No Regrets" is a good Weasel/Queers style tune. These guys have plenty of talent and since they're working so damn hard at it, I'm guess we'll hear plenty more from them in the future. And wait out the last track if you've ever had issues with Tequila. Steve
@ www.neverheardofit.com

New Anxiety – “The New Anxiety” CDEP 5/20:01
The New Anxiety sounds a lot like the old anxiety of young indie rockers. That is, anxiety of treading any considerable distance that hasn’t already been blazed by those who have paced the genre before them. It’s okay because bands are still getting away with this so long as they sound good. Students of jazz fusion find that they like rock a lot more than they admitted as adolescents, and start playing indie rock. It’s toothy and tight, not a bad outing in this particular field. Xtian
@ www.thenewanxiety.com

New Black – s/t CD 9/32:52
Their press release wants to compare them to a cross between the B-52s and Q and not U, which seems reasonable I suppose. More than anything, though, is that they kinda have the same punk rock energy and pop song hooks to make me think of Pretty Girls Make Graves (and the male/female dueling vocals don’t hurt that comparison either). This is nothing amazing, but it’s a fun listen, and I can only imagine they put on a fantastic show. Just listening to the CD you can practically hear them jumping around the studio while they recorded it. Jake
@ www.thickrecords.com MP3 Download

New Christs – “We Got This” CD 15/62:40
Spirited, breakneck side-project of Radio Birdman’s Rob Younger, The New Christs have all of that outfits power, volume, and tunefulness. “We Got This” is swagger and showmanship from the get-go, marrying garage’s raw power with the sneer and swagger of Jagger and Bolan. At a time when the market is flooded with “rock” records (note the quotes), “We Got This” is a full-on real-life rock record, a grizzled, grimy collection of songs that draw power from their simplicity. Younger’s voice is the band’s greatest asset. He huffs and pouts and sneers out notes with humbling bravado. What’s most engaging about the record is the band’s willingness to take their time. Rather than whip through the songs like punk rock speed freaks, most of the songs on “We Got This” are gnarled, mid-tempo barnburners. When the Christs do full detonate, as they do on “He’s Too Slow”, it stands out because of the rest of the record’s restraint. At fifteen songs, “We Got This” is a bit too long, but taken in short blasts, the record works like a charm. Despite their name, there’s nothing messianic about The New Christs. They’re not out to save rock & roll. And at the end of the day, it is that which is their most endearing quality. Simple rock, delivered with conviction. I’d almost forgotten what that sounded like. J Edward
@ www.smogveil.com

New Creatures – “Media Brainwash” CD 9/14:02
Reissue of an earlier (1984) batch of songs that were originally meant for a vinyl release but never saw the light of day until now. Based on this audio evidence, the band differed from many of their contemporaries in that they didn’t quite have enough of the breakneck velocity needed to be tagged as hardcore, settling for a more medium-tempo approach (at least in the studio; live it may have been a different story). Not bad, and not lacking in irreverence, but quality-wise this isn’t that much different than all the other second-or-lower tier bands of the era that never found their way onto collector’s lists (usually for good reason). Folks who were there at the time will rejoice over this, everyone else will probably find it unessential. If you want to know what Ohio was really capable of, pick up the Agitated reissue (also on this label) instead. David
@ www.smogveil.com

New Creatures – “Penelope Flowers + Live at Stache’s 88” CD 15/43:24
Light yet heavy rock done with both tone-downed perfection and indie rock credo. The “Penelope Flowers” album, basically the first half of this CD, was done back in the late 80s and resounds of home recording twinges. But that’s the charm of the whole thing. It’s gritty and jangly enough to make a well-rounded album, sort of a pleasing account to everyone. The live section is a bit more raw and angry and offsets the first half with aggression and pit inspiring antics. Overall...not bad. And where are they now? Whittaker
@ www.smogveil.com

New Grenada - “The Open Heart” CD 11/39:16
This is the sort of band your “clever friends in college” would have. One of the people in the band would have been an ex-metal head, one was the "band geek", one was probably a dungeon master at some point, and one was definitely a poetry writing “artist". I'm pretty sure that's what New Grenada are like in real life, and I do know that two of them are friends from Art School, and two of them run Plumline Records together. They have song titles like “Zaxxon Attacks”, “Detroit Rock Sucks” and “Steady Diet of Slayer”. They sort of make me think of Nerf Herder or Weezer. Sort of irony loving, sweater and spectacle wearing, closet metal heads writing kinda jangly guitar rock pop songs. Overall pretty okay I guess, but nothing really jumped out as me as “great”. They do sometimes use a Keytar though, and I generally consider that a plus in any band. Manny
@ www.newgrenada.com

New Mexican Disaster Squad - s/t CD 12/24:45
Well executed, hard as nails punk in the classic tradition. The lyrics are about the usual things: media mind control, human rights being squashed, personal persecution. It's good stuff, if not terribly original. Mark
@ www.newmexicandisastersquad.com

New Pornographers – “Electric Version” 13/46:41
I heard the New Pornographers for the first time driving down iway 101 with a guy who got a slightly crazy look in his eye when he exclaimed that he didn’t know why the New Pornographers “Mass Romantic” wasn’t the hit of the year. That ride started a love affair with the New Pornographers: their poppy hooks, their harmonies, the clever lyrics in catchy songs. When “Electric Version” came out, I had fearful anticipation, like a schoolgirl with a crush returning to class in the fall. Would it be as good as it was before? After all, the Pornographers are a side project for some of its members, including the popular chanteuse Neko Case and Dan Bejar of Destroyer. “Electric Version” lives up to the expectations created by “Mass Romantic” with better production. My crush is renewed. Pam
@ www.matadorrecords.com

New Wave Hookers – “Ass & Frederick” CD 14/27:37
This is a pretty cool little disc that grew on me after a couple of listens; with songs that are more powerpop than punk. I think you get the idea of what this band is about in part from their choice of covers, you’ve got the Parasites’ song “Fool For You” and the Dee Dee Ramone solo tune “Trust Me”. This German band does a nice job of keeping the fast paced songs full of hooks without getting too sugary. The production is near lo-fi garage, which is fine for some of the more sloppy material here, but probably hurts the effort overall. It’s still has some mighty fine and humorous moments (like their wacky use of the chorus of the Beatles “Norwegian Wood”), and when they keep the pop front and center, like on the fun “A Low Now” (hmmm..methinks they meant “Alone Now”, but then again, maybe not), they’re as good as any pop punk band around. A good comparison when these guys are doing their best is M.O.T.O., a band that can take referential and make them their own. Steve
@ www.wanker-records.com

New York Dolls - "The Best Of New York Dolls" CD 11 39:40
They were arguably the first American punk band, but regardless of your take on that, the Dolls rockin' tunes hold up just fine. Can anyone doubt that "Personality Crisis" and "Trash" are among the better tunes ever. This disc takes the best of the tracks from the band's two official albums, creating a Dolls 101 of essential tracks. Mel
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - “Nocturama” CD 10/56:27
Now a full twelve records into his solo career, it’s becoming awfully easy to accuse Nick Cave of the same crimes as Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen - namely, writing the same song over and over and over again. To do this would be a grave mistake. Cave may have spent the years since “Let Love In” writing the same type of song, but his angle of approach always varies. It’s like Godard continually remaking Breathless, but changing the lighting with each go-round. Cave directly addresses love on “Nocturama”, but not with the same kind of cloddish, clunky verse that sabotaged “The Boatman’s Call” - arguably his weakest effort. “Nocturama” instead opts for hints and implication, always leaving the door cracked. Cave may announce “It’s a wonderful life” at the record’s start, but he quckly amends the sentiment with the pained rejoiner “if you can find it.” “Right Out of Your Hand” seems to speak of devotion, but it also bears the signs of manipulation and callousness. The Seeds, as always, are masterful, teasing out shadowy songs that lurk and skulk beneath Cave’s undertaker vocals. Perversely, the only weak spots on the record are the two moments when Cave attempts to reclaim his garrulous past. Both “Dead Man in My Bed” and the 10+ minute “Babe, I’m On Fire” sound strained, forced, and strangely defensive, the sound of a man protesting his age too much. J Edward
@ www.anti.com

Nick Drake – “Made to Love Magic” CD 13/41:52
Like fellow lost soul Syd, Mr. Drake didn’t leave behind comparatively much in the way of recorded material. This latest retrospective gives it the ol’ college try, coughing up one “new” track, as well as a few songs taken from similar collections, and a few that have been recently “treated” (different mixes, orchestral embellishments added, etc.). Leaving aside questions as to whether Nick would have approved of the “treatments” given to some of the material here, unlike most similar hodgepodge collections the material here is still good enough to stand up on its own. “Bottom of the barrel scrapings” and “Nick Drake” don’t seem to go together no matter how far they have to go to come up with new “product”. Still, fans will have to face the fact that, barring the electronica remix rekkid, this might very well be it for the Nick Drake canon. David
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Nico - “Nico In Tokyo” CD 11/54:46
Nico was a ‘60s scenestress and underground film star who is probably best known for her guest vocals on the first Velvet Underground album. She performs both “All Tomorrows Parties” and “Femme Fatale” in this 1986 concert, two years before her death in an accident. Her mournful, heavilly accented vocals and self-accompaniment on harmonium may constitute an aquired taste for most listeners. Jim Morrison of the Doors was Nico’s male muse, and his dramatic poetic approach is one he successfully imbued in his former girlfriend. Her final song here is a nine minute version of The Doors “The End.” Mel
@ www.cherryred.co.uk

Nicotine - "School Of Liberty" CD 17/28:51
I was hoping for rapid Japanese ripcore and instead I got poppy oi-ish HC. These cub scouts celebrate the joys of being punk without being very punk. With a name like Nicotine they should sound like a HC Zeni Geva. Candy Cigarettes seems more appropriate. Anthony
@ www.asianmanrecords.com

Nightfist – “The Epic” CD 6/28:02
Metallic instro, neo-prog rock played by a gang of just out of high school adolescents that grabs you by the collar immediately. Pack the party bowl on the bong ‘cause this baby won’t let go until all the classic rock dinosaurs have made their way out of the record boxes and onto the turntable. It rocks in that bombastic, heavy-handed post-psych way that brings back memories of getting stoned at Tower Park and in Scott Elsner’s basement when Rush, Yes, Sabbath, Led Zep, Uriah Heep, Stacy Vandeput and Mrs. Elsner were all competing for attention. Truly fucking amazing in its genuineness, while also being quite hilariously overwrought in it’s own post-modern way. Given the current spate of horrid nu-rock bands who think they’ve invented technically heavy music we could use about a hundred more like this to challenge that ridiculous idiocy. “Arabian Gun Party” blew me out of chair. There’s nothing out there quite like it. Anthony
@ www.temporaryresidence.com

Nina Nastasia - "Run to Ruin" CD 8/31:10
Sluggish and brooding art rock abstractions and painful post-modern sadness. Recorded by Albini, these songs, overall, take solid shape despite the bleak mood and troubling rhythmic patterns. Nina dips into the deep end of the oil slick and draws from all directions, Patti Smith, Tori Amos, but it goes deeper, with accordion, cello, banjo and piano a sad, black gypsy vibe hangs in the air. The post-grunge "I Say That I Will Go" turns into a heavy Black Heart Procession. Most of the songs swim with a morbid energy. Figure these lyrics from "The Body", ("My blood for you/My lover's bruise/My clothes are scattered/My skull is fractured.") These songs have a certain ugly honesty about them. I hear ghosts in the quiet spaces between the noises and notes. Anthony
@ www.touchandgorecords.com

Nineteen Forty-Five – “I Saw a Bright Light” CD 12/44:28
This is a lot of fun. And it sounds like they’re having a blast, as well. This female-co-fronted trio would not be called “tight” or anything above “minimalist`” but after 3 years together, it’s obvious this is the sound they’re going for, and it sure does work for them. Hell, they even make an organ sound right. While the songs may sound simplistic on the outset, all one has to do is listen closely to the lyrics and realize there’s more going on that first meets the ear. The harmonies are all rough and ready, and the playing falls along the same lines. The sound is a bit muddled at places, as if the needles were way into the red, but that’s easily forgiven…in this case. Fave cut is “Aurora Borealis.” RBF
@ www.daemonrecords.com

No Choice – “Dry River Fishing” CD 12/37:38
Easily one of the better Brit punk releases I’ve heard in a long time. Sort of like the sharp leftist politics of the Crass, with Gagz’s vocals reminiscent of Joe Strummer, but stronger. They’ve been around sporadically over the last 20 years or so, but rarely recorded, so not only are they tight, their message is still strong and needs to be heard. Bush policies, the power trip of the clergy, corporate mentality, and society’s ills in general, come under their scrutiny. As they put on the inside case, “This is our truth.” The musicianship is outstanding, including a gunfire drum roll that is an attention-getter. This CD is stunning, and should be listened to by any serious punter. RBF
@ www.thenewestindustry.com

No Trend – “Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex” CD 11/30:42
Reissue of their 1987 (and final) release, the album where their increasingly-tenuous links to punk/hardcore as we know it were finally, irrevocably broken. No Trend almost seemed to be affected by a serious case of Dada, with tweaked tuneage incorporating horns, funk, lounge, and more. Unfortunately what they gain in variety they lose in intensity; despite some stellar tracks their sonic attack ends up unfocused and diluted as it goes all over the stylistic map (Unlike their earlier works some of this could be written off as being, gulp, “wacky”). A nice try at ye olde musical subversion and undoubtedly fun to make, but ultimately not as successful as their earlier attempts at abrasion. David
@ www.touchandgorecords.com

Noahjohn – “Water Hymns” CD 13/44:37
This is slow, brooding and twangy rock from a Wisconsin-based band of three guys and two girls. They blend guitar and bass and drums with an odd but nice mixture of viola, lap steel guitar and organ. On tracks like “They Will Call,” the band’s five members sound like they know there’s a world out there, a big one, spinning fast, but they’re happy to play traditional instruments and sing sad songs. With bittersweet ballads and some wry social commentary, this is a smart, if a bit sleepy, record. Kevin
@ www.killdeerrecords.com

Nobokazu Takemura – “Songboook” CD 19/73:57
One of Japan’s most innovative laptop composers takes a different approach on this disc, using more live instrumentation (think acid and orchestral jazz), plus the first instance of vocals I can remember from all of his past releases. The longer tracks that hit warm tones and strange grooves highlight the disc – simply layers and layers of loose-leaf electronica. The disc only falls when the wispy, childish vocals sing along solo with little key blips on short, afterthoughtish songs. It just feels too much like a curious child screwing around with a Christmas keyboard until the batteries run out. Xtian
@ www.bubblecore.com

NOFX - "Regaining Unconscious" CD 5/16:56
I wonder if the hacks in NOFX realize they are describing their own band in the opening track, "Medio-Core". This band has been making half-assed, pseudo-topical music since day one. "Medio-Core" talks about how the kids eat this kind of derivative, unoriginal crap up. The success of NOFX proves this statement to be true, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Sure, there are the usual lame attempts at social commentary here, poor puns and annoying choruses. But for punk which really comments on social issues, try old Dead Kennedys or Zounds. Oh yeah--and all you kids with bands: stop littering your sets with NOFX covers. Play your own damn songs. Mark
@ www.fatwreck.com

NOFX – “The War on Errorism” CD 14/36:18
Spurred into action by the current bozo in action, NOFX return with their patented melodic hardcore tuneage with pissed off lyrics aimed towards GWB, the growing cluelessness of way too many people and the sad state that punk rock seems to falling in, stopping to reflect on their first Descendents and other such matters. While they’re never be confused for Crass, they have far more of a clue than the many who try to ape the sound but not the glory (much less the beergut) of NOFX. Not to mention that they actually seem to try to develop the songs instead of relying on someone else’s (perceived) formula. David
@ www.fatwreck.com

Noise Ratchet-s/t CD 6/21:09
Noise Ratchet only do one thing, but they’ve got it down. Shards of fragmented guitar fly around on “Fiction Arms”, like they know where the bread is buttered. Singer Joel Hosler has strong pipes but it all comes out very samey on five of the six songs. The only exception is when they bring it down on the semi-acoustic, almost Beach Boys-ish, “A Way to the Heart.” If you’re sticking to a signature sound the singer needs to bring some variance to the mix, unless you’re the Ramones. Come to think of it, even Joey had his softer side. Anthony
@ www.themilitiagroup.com

North of America - “Brothers, Sisters.” CD 11/45:23
Think Fugazi’s last decent album was “Repeater?” Then North of America is for you. Stop and start dynamic guitars pepper this album, layered with vocalist Mark Mullane’s insistent howl, which has enough emotion to it to give the album a perfect organic quality to offset the pounding behind it. “Keep it on the Download`” and “Oh My God, Oh My God, Everybody Oh My God” carry a particularly urgent beat, although the music does occasionally cross over into retread emo territory just a bit (Get Up Kids fans will love “Let’s Get Tight.”). Overall though, it’s one hell of a strong effort, and there’s plenty here to suggest you’ll be hearing more from North of America. Ryan
@ www.level-plane.com

Notwist – “Neon Golden” 10/41:32
Buncha folks in high hipster places seem to think this is the bees’ knees, so why did I think this was so frigging boring? There are some decent moments (like the opening “One Step Inside Doesn’t Mean You Understand”) but just because the post-beats post-rock on display here is more accessible than Godspeed or whatever doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. Parts of this actually reminded me more of a “post-rock” version of (lesser) New Order than anything else. So far only available as an import, though it might be released domestically by the time you read this. Either way save your bucks. David
@ City Slang, no address

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