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S PRCSS - “MNML” 12/45:43
The first thing that sprung to mind when I heard this was “these guys sound like a Pleasure Forever ripoff”, but as the CD went on, I discovered S PRCSS has a lot more depth to them than that. This band is goth in the same way The Damned, or Joy Division or The Cure are goth. They are also pop in the same way Elastica or Pulp or Tones on Tail are pop. I think their own press release states it best. “We sound a lot like Britney Spears if, instead of dating Justin and being lusted after by millions, she spent her youth having sex with incompetent emo boys.” Part of what makes this CD cool is the way the music was written. It was one of those situations where each member of the band was living in a different city so the songs were written piece by piece via postal mail. It all comes together in a very creepy and infectious set of songs. The more I listen to this, the more I like it, but it's hard to put my finger on exactly why. Now that all the band members are living in the same city together, I am very curious to see what they come up with next. If you are one of those people who likes bands on 4AD and Rough Trade, I think you'll like this. Manny
@ www.frenchkissrecords.com

S.T.R.E.E.T.S. - "Bobognargnar" CD 12/29:56
Skate punk has made quite the journey in the past twenty years. I figured I would hate this as nothing more than dated re-hash. Actually, this is skate-noise for the NWO. Combining HC riffage with gnarly splooge is a good thing in this case. Not something your girlfriend/wife would appreciate, but who the fuck cares? The guitars and vocals create a swell anti-social sludge. They claim D.R.I and C.O.C. as influences but I hear something else. Something more fucked-up and anti-structural. I'm drunk as hell right now, so what do I know?, but I'm pleasantly surprised by this Vancouver slab. Anthony
@ www.globalsymphonic.com

Sadies - “Stories Often Told” CD 11/35:46
The Sadies, it seems, can do anything. “Lay Down Your Arms,” the record’s first track, is two minutes of Dick Dale-inspired surf rock. That’s followed by a bit of country noir titled “Oak Ridges.” Elsewhere on Stories… there are straight-up country rock songs, blues-influenced ballads and twangy laments. Deep-voiced brothers Dallas and Travis Good sing and play guitars like a couple of tortured souls; they sound great. There are three instrumental tracks on the album, and that’s too many for a band with such lyrical and vocal ingenuity. That said, this an outstanding record. Kevin
@ www.yeproc.com

Safari Season - "The Sound Of The Sun" CD 13/38:01
Marvelously constructed, dreamily sung, sophisticatedly arranged, this is further theoretical proof that Scandinavians have an affinity for US rock archetypes second to only that of the UK. Lars Ryan and Anders Lindgren have fashioned a whole album’s worth of post-Abba/Beach Boys pop that blends classic California melodic optimism with a distinctly Nordic radiance. To their credit, they seem to recog that their forte is not Surf City proselytism ( though "Shoot That Curl" is enjoyably lightweight in a Jan and Dean kinda way), but rather sun-dappled soft-pop reveries like "Strange Things" and the perfectly named "Layabout Dream". Even better, harmony-rich, uptempo turns like "Love Enchantment" and "Growing Young" find Ryan and Lindgren erecting a continental wall of Spectorsound rarely heard since Roy Wood and Dave Edmunds’ respective primes. Absolutely wonderful. MLH
@ www.ziprecords.com

Sahara Hotnights – “Kiss & Tell” CD 11/34:55
Their major label debut and I have to say that I totally dig it. These are 4 Swedes that take their music seriously with catchy songs that show a maturity that many of the other bands of their ilk that came along at the same time, like the Strokes and the Vines, don’t have. They’ve taken the time to hone their craft with care, adding some variety to what could easily have become some very basic faux garage. Instead, they’ve got all the hooks of a good power pop band, great vocals, and they’ve taken plenty of cues from women that blazed the path for them, from Blondie to Chrissie Hynde, and the occasional touches of Joan Jett. It’s a little smooth sounding at times, and I think it takes away from some of the raw energy these girls exude, but the songs still carry the day. No posing here, just great songs and great execution. Steve
@ www.rcarecords.com

Saint Etienne – “Finisterre” CD 12/47:46
Heard this album as being either a return to form or their worst yet, but as with most things in life methinks it’s somewhere in the middle. St. Etienne’s brand of ‘cut-and-paste’ dance-oriented post-pop hasn’t reached its expiration date quite yet, but the bright sheen of yore still seems to have faded somewhat. There are enough good cuts and musical critiques to satisfy faithful fans, others should be directed to the earlier albums. David
@ www.mantrarecordings.com

Saintface – “Hudson & Day” CD 3/12:43
This band is from New York City, but it has more in common with mopey early-‘80s pop than, say, Interpol or the Strokes. This three-song EP is fair at best – the songs are a little too Psychedelic Furs for me – and singer Peter Riley has one of the most annoying vocal deliveries I can remember hearing. He sounds like a karaoke lounge lizard. Kevin
@ www.saintface.com

Salteens - “Let Go of Your Bad Days” CD 10/28:23
‘Let Go Of Your Bad Days’ is a sprightly slice of power-pop, all weeping strings, sad brass and throaty vocals. But where others who hoe this row are so half-hearted about their execution that they make as deep an impression as Silly Putty does on sheet metal, The Salteens summon energy and conviction. As a result, their guitar-driven pop songs feel weightier than they are. Megan Bradfield sings the simple chorus of “Damn You” like it was Shakespeare, and it breathes life into what would otherwise have been unremarkable. ‘Let Go Of Your Bad Days’ is springtime with the windows down, big broad breezy songs that won’t start a revolution, but sound good with the volume high. J Edward
@ www.driveinrecords.com

Sam Bisbee – “High” CD 14/45:10
This is a pretty interesting release because of the varied styles Bisbee manages to carry off. Some songs fit easily within the basic indie pop style with plenty of guitars leading the way, while other songs that take cues from repetitive drum loops and rhythm to mimic 80’s modern rock dance tunes and drum and bass. An indie pop fan will alternate between thinking they might be listening to the Go Betweens and a toned down New Order on many of the tracks. This is one of those records that I’ve listened to a lot to gather in all the different aural experiences, and although it does seem a bit disjointed at times, Bisbee does a great job pulling off a variety of styles with catchy melody and strong adult lyrics. This sounds tailor made for an 80’s John Hughes movie, except Bisbee manages to make it sound fresh and original. One fine record, that’s for sure. Steve
@ www.sambisbee.com

Same Day Service - "Waiting for Tomorrow" CD 12/35:01
Twins Sarah and Maggie Rismassa lead this Austin, TX band that does the pop punk thing. This self released effort at its best sounds like the Eyeliners when they've got the pacing fast enough, but most of the songs are a little slower, with vocals that are a tad too detached from the perkiness of the music for me. There are some good songs on this, such as the perky "First Kiss" and "New York", which features a nice chugga chugga guitar and some better harmonies. Lyrically, it's about growing up relationships and following your dreams. This is one that has grown on me more and more with repeated listenings, and they've got the chops to make some good pop punk in the future. Steve
@ www.sdsrocks.com

Sand featuring Kim Fowley/Roy Swedeen - "The West Is Best" CD 12/20:45
In which that now-antiquarian reprobate and self-styled ‘Animal Dog’ Fowley inflicts his venal, venereal talents upon the innocent populace once again. To be fair, this bringing together Mr. Runaways with the deep vocal tones and twang-fixated instrumental work of Swedeen has its charms. There’s a palpable triple-degree-heat, high desert vibe about most of the songs here, ably abetted by various ex-Kaleidoscopers like Chris ‘Camper Van Who?’ Darrow and the multi-monikered Max Budda. Such a deftly turned musical replication of Southwestern torpor must be what makes Fowley for once seem almost restrained throughout the proceedings. A perfect accompaniment for a "Chili Cookoff’ at the "Underground Garage" of your indiscretion. MLH
@ www.ziprecords.com

Sandy Denny - "MCA Millennium Collection" CD 10/47:59
Probably the only thing that Frank Zappa and Lou Reed would ever admit to agreeing upon is the undeniable majesty found in the expressive, angelic voice of Sandy Denny. In fact, one would surely have to have a heart of granite to not be moved by anything she sang in her sadly brief time on Earth. Short of owning (at the very least) every record by the band that first made her name, British folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention, this is as good and as choice a way to be introduced to a truly timeless and ageless gem, as could ever be found within folk, rock or any other genre. Nuff said. MLH
@ www.mca.com

Santana - “Shaman” CD 16/75:21
Wasn’t it nice to see Carlos Santana win all those Grammys a few years ago? It was as if he was “discovered” only after he started working with the likes of that chump from matchbox twenty. Well, Santana is back with another record of collaborative mainstream junk. Everybody from Macy Gray to P.O.D. to Dido to Seal turns up on this album. In trying to appeal to everyone, Santana has made a record that nobody who really likes music will appreciate. Once again, congratulations on your Grammys, Mr. Santana. Now please go away. Kevin
@ www.santana.com

Saosin – “Translating The Name” CD 5/15:05
Man I thought I was totally going to hate this record. I mean, it starts right out kind of whiny with that typical “indie rock kid gone heavy but with enough Emo floating through him to stop up an elephant. But then I relaxed and let the tunes go. And, hey, I have to say…I really got into these guys. The whining turned out to be well-crafted vocals over rhythmically driven rock done with both sensitivity and aplomb. It takes its breadth with some precision and girth which will appease most rockers and even the sad kid across the street all dressed in black who still dons a wallet chain and bullet belt just to let you know that he digs the heavy stuff man. And this will get everyone in the middle to prick up their ears because SAOSIN is interesting enough that they don’t bore with just the right amount of tuneship allowing for grins and amplification across the board. Plus with only five songs what have you got to lose? It’s only 15 minutes out of your day. Man...don’t be so demanding! Whittaker
@ www.deathdouspart.net

Saturday Looks Good To Me - "All Your Summer Songs" CD 13/39:13
Thoroughly charming, ancient-to-future, retro-to-neo-and-all-points-between pop that leaves no string quartet nor tambourine rattle nor reverb knob unspared. The brainchild of Detroit musician Fred Thomas, assisted by a boatload of singers and players (including Ted Leo), this is music that in its way resides in the same parallel pop universe as Belle and Seb and the Mag. Fields, yet with rougher edges to it (the Motor City influence?) than that of B and S; likewise, Thomas seems more concerned with dazzle via sublimely sung melodies and dense, sumptuous arrangements than hitting one over the head with attempts at cosmopolitan wit and irony ala present-day Merritt. Coming to you in what sounds like almost mono - assuredly, defiantly anti-digital in its presentation, SLGTM is an alluring, tuneful treat and a half. And this is, I hear, their fifth album - too long we pop fans have slept on this lot, obviously. MLH
@ www.polyvinylrecords.com

Savages – “Long Live You” CD 5/20:08
The best part of this CD is its cover art which shows the four members of The Savages in different stages of severely rocking out. When “Long Live You,” the first song, starts you can see why. Wailing guitars and furious drumming and the vocals… I don’t think that the vocalist, Daniel Haeggstroem, has ever heard of the notion “on-key” to know what key he should be singing in, but who cares when they rock this hard? Yeah, they’re also part of the Swedish rock invasion, and they have enough sass to give the Hives a run for their money. Pam
@ www.halfacow.com.au

Saxon Shore - “Four Months of Darkness” CD 5/31:03
There’s not a bad thing I can say about Saxon Shore; they create beautiful instrumental music without any posturing or pretentiousness. It reminds me quite a bit of Tristeza, and in fact I think I like it quite a bit better than them. At the same time, it’s not the most memorable work, at least initially. Only time will tell if this music will keep it’s place in my record collection, because bands like this have a lot of competition, and let’s face it – without vocals it makes it much tougher for a band to be engaging and stand out from the pack. I have no doubt that Saxon Shore is a good band and this is an enjoyable record, but only time will tell if they bring themselves to achieve something higher than that. Jake
@ www.saxonshore.com

Scaries - "Souvenir" CD 11/24:13
I've dug everything this Chapel Hill quartet has ever done, and this is no exception. Melodic punk that certainly has influences in the indie rock vein, such as fellow hometown band Superchunk, but the songs are faster. There's a nice wall of guitars, the vocals are strong, and subject matter veers clear of the typical juvenilia (although it still works relationship territory for the most part) most of the pop punk genre focuses on. The songs also stay clear of the verse-chorus-verse-snazzy lead guitar part-chorus format, which makes for a more interesting listening experience. Take a band like the Get Up Kids, add some speed and a creative use of guitar hooks that shy away from what everyone else does, and you've got a rock solid punk rock sound. Steve
@ www.lawofinertia.com

Sciflyer - "Fair Weather Karma" CD 9/40:01
Debut full-lengther (after a couple of shorter 'uns) from yet another worshipper at the shoegazer shrine. They alternate between driving atmo-rock and dreamy songscapes and do quite a credible job at both (even the almost 12-minute "Burning Down the House" doesn't outstay its welcome). Unfortunately the band has to fight an uphill battle against the muffling misproduction that does its best to sink the album; they manage to get the upper hand in the end, but not without a struggle nor without taking causalities along the way. Still worth checking out, but I definitely recommend they switch studios (producers?) for their next release. David
@ www.clairecords.com

Scout Niblett - "I Am" CD 13/39:48
Art school finds a way to rock on this disc, and also finds a way to not rock in a way that is equally gripping. Nottingham, England native Emma Louise Niblett possesses vocal intensity and poetic lyricism reminiscent of early PJ Harvey, but the musical accompaniment has a minimalism that puts the focus right where it should be on the artist herself. Some songs strip it down to the absolute most basic level of vocals and a modest drumbeat, which has become her trademark from touring and playing solo. The songs that do feature guitar and bass keep the music to a roaring minimum. No matter what else is going on the words and vocals carry the record along, and more importantly she not only sings but has a voice in a sense that stretches beyond what you are actually hearing. She gets into your head, and that is what every great songwriter aspires to do. Xtian
@ www.secretlycanadian.com

Scruffs - "Teenage Gurls" CD 15/39:52
The Scruffs were a Memphis based band that released a critically acclaimed debut, but were long forgotten by most people except a hardcore group of power pop fans. After the release of "Meet the Scruffs" the band took off to New York, tried to hook up with a major label, wrote some songs, got rejected, kept trying, guys left the band...the typical hard luck story of a band that just wasn't in the right place at the right time. During a roughly four year period, the band wrote 20 or so songs that ranged in influences from their hometown mates Big Star to the Raspberries to radio influences of the late 70's and early 80's like the Knack and Nick Lowe.. None of them saw the light of day until 1998, when this was originally released on the small Northern Heights label. Rev-Ola picked up the rights to this and their debut and both have been given a good treatment. I've seen some criticism of this record in places, saying it's uneven, not as good as their first, but I think people have to realize that this isn't likely what an actual finished second album would have sounded like, the "filler" tracks would have been cut for a vinyl record, so you'd have the best of this release. Frankly, I like hearing as much of the Scruffs as I can. The production is upped on this, you can tell the band spent some time in the studio honing their sound trying to make the majors grade, and there are several great powerpop classics here. It's almost like they were about 5 years too late for their best songs to be hits; "Now" is an absolute killer Raspberries influenced song that would have been huge on the radio in the early to mid 70's, but people just wanted a little more anger in their songs by the time the Scruffs hit the scene. They're still occasionally playing a show here and there, and they've left us with some real gems. If you dig powerpop, this is essential. Steve
@ www.revola.co.uk

Scruffs - "Wanna Meet The Scruffs?" CD 17/72:35
Long overdue, first-time CD reissue for a lost American Powerpop classic from 1977. Plumbing similar lovelorn and lust-torn lyric territory as hometown ancestor Big Star, this Memphis quartet had a comparable gift for wrapping teen angst in winsome harmonies and guitars set on high jangle. And while frontman Stephen Burns’ vocals did at times wander dangerously close to Eric Carmen at his most earnestly horny, songs like "Revenge", "Break The Ice" and "Tommy Gun" (not the Clash song) were clearly the brilliant yet heartrending work of someone whose ladylove was _never_ going to propose going all the way. With the news that Burns is presently working on a fresh batch of tunes with members of Belle and Sebastian and Teenage Fanclub, this could not be a more welcome and foresighted reappearance. MLH
@ www.revola.co.uk

Scumbag Roads – “Bad Girl Attraction” 10 inch LP
The standout group from “The Cretins Wanna Dance” compilation has fortunately been given its very own release, courtesy of the Swindlebra label. And we’re all much better for it. As expected, it contains lots of totally rockin’ punk songs with loud guitars, driving beats, and serious tuneage. By now you might suspect that I’d have gotten tired of surly, hook-laden p-rock, but it hasn’t happened yet. And as long as younger groups like this continue to churn out high-quality variations of the formula, I probably never will. All I know is that every time I listen to this record my head begins shakin’, my toe begins tappin’, I start to smile, and I wish that I was way more fucked-up. Isn’t that enough of a recommendation? Jeff
@ www.swindlebra.de

Sea Ray – “Stars at Noon” CD 9/44:00
Where would be without Richard Ashcroft and his legion of misguided followers? About 1,200 bands poorer, I’m guessing. Hailing from Brooklyn but sounding ridiculously British, Sea Ray’s latest is a respectable but none-too rousing collection of space-pop and Verve-inspired love songs. The stuff’s fine for stargazing and pot smoking, but it fails to rouse the soul. Delicate string arrangements, expert use of dead air and neatly tucked guitar lines do much to redeem the somnambulistic proceedings, but it would take a lightning bolt to invigorate these wan vocals. Seriously: could the lead singer wake up a little before recording his vocal takes? The drumming, at least, shows some promise. But a drummer does not a band make. “Stars at Noon” smacks of trendy New York atmospherics that will either a) sound dated as hell in five years, b) portend a greater nu-rock revival or c) leave little-to-no impression on the world. I’ve got my money on “a” and “c.” John
@ www.selfstarterfoundation.com

Secession Movement - “We Need a Hill” CD 11/47:44
This album must have been mixed on headphones, because that’s the only way it sounds good. Through speakers, the drums are hollow and anemic, the guitars tinny and emasculated, and the vocals over-earnest and entirely too prominent. Without the wildly imbalanced mix this might have proved an arresting listen. D.C.-influenced rhythms, angular guitar chords, and emotive (but not emo) vocals are all well-presented and original enough. The band obviously has a distinct style and likely puts on a good concert. Sadly, that means little when the mix is this distracting. It’s not so much an issue of fidelity as it is taste and judgment. Awkward rhythmic passages and ambitious but failed production tricks only hint at their potential. “We Need a Hill” would have sounded infinitely better as a fuzzy single mic recording. John
@ www.keepsaferecords.com

Secret Shine – “After Years” CD 17/68:28
This disc collects a couple seven-inches, an EP and some album tracks from Secret Shine’s early-‘90s releases on Sarah Records. Great for dreampop or shoegazer aficionados, but numbingly thin and repetitive at times. The standout is “Loveblind,” a driving, reverb-drenched appropriation of The Smiths and Sonic Youth, all downcast melodies and gauzy feedback. Awkward drumming, hesitant vocals and dated effects plague the remaining songs. Secret Shine’s style is a sort of amalgam of ‘60s girl-group melodies and ‘80s synth-pop, and not an entirely unsuccessful one. But without a background in this genre, there’s nothing for most listeners to admire. John
@ www.clairecords.com

See Spot – S/T CD 16/47:08
I know these guys are big in the LA “skauthentic” scene, but this is mostly just crap. Overly bouncy, and sometimes bluesy ska that never finds a home and does nothing for me. Collects songs from ‘96-’03 and is just not very original in a realm that is loaded with third rate wannabes. They butcher the Willy Wonka theme “Pure Imagination”, making it unrecognizable. (The definitive re-interpretation was done several years ago by another LA band, The Negro Problem.) And there are five horribly recorded live tracks that are pretty much unlistenable. Anthony
@ www.jumpuprecords.com

Seekonk - “For Barbara Lee” CD 8/46:12
Seems like my review box has been overflowing with these similar types of mellow groups. Fact is, they’ve all been pretty good for the most part, and Seekonk is no exception. With this crew we find a wide array of instruments (horns and xylophones and even an amplified birdcage for chrissakes!), but never used in an overbearing way – very much a ‘less is more’ philosophy at work here. Alternating male and female vocals, both quite breathy in nature, which sometimes harmonize together in a fashion not that dissimilar to Ida. With only 8 songs and well over 40 minutes of music, you know you’re in store for some long songs, and that might be my only complaint here – that ‘less is more’ aesthetic that they apply to their music might also be suited for some of their songs, as they can from time to time go on a bit too long. Other than that, not a bad album as Kim Chee Records continues to put out quality music with each passing release. Jake
@ www.kimcheerecords.com

Sekiden – “Junior Fiction” CD 11/73:30
A trio from Brisbane, Australia that sounds a bit like the Mr T Experience vocally, espeially on the opening song, with great hooky pop tunes that rely on guitars and plenty of new wave keyboards to drive the melody, and simple tunes that evoke memories of Nick Lowe crossed with the Psychedelic Furs. There’s plenty of crunch to the guitars, lending a very Weezer “Buddy Holly” sound to the songs, and the breezy pop hooks and harmonies will make you tap your toes whether you want to or not. I could do without some of the electronic effects, and the last track on this includes a long electronic noodle-fest of little noises that is just plain silly, unnecessary, and seems to cover about 30 minutes. I wish I knew why bands decide to put things like this on the end of really good albums, but I guess everyone has something they need to get out of their systems. Otherwise, a fun romp through the world of new wave powerpop. Steve
@ www.microindie.com

Sekiden - "Love Songs For Robots" CD 6/17:18
Antipodean trio serve up a half-dozen tidbits that balance melodic, yet meticulously streamlined and radio-friendly hard pop a la the Cars (or, more accurately, imitators like The Rentals) with a pronounced patina of digital foofaraw. Opening cut “Alexander” and the computer-spreck of the closing title cut make good representative bookends of the band’s approach. MLH
@ www.modularpeople.com

Seksu Roba - "Pleasure Vibrations" CD 14/63:09
A duo of Nipponese nubiles and their pals create a most substantive, neo-electro-pop disc that tantalizes, surprises, and makes equal room for post-Ralf’n’Florian futurism, melody and microchip-generated funk. Danceable, even sexy in a robotic sort of way at times, calling to mind everyone from Gershon Kingsley to YMO, early Dee-troit afronauts like Atkins and May…even finding time for covers of folks as disparate as Jimmy Webb (“Up, Up and Away”) and MBV (a woozy “Moon Song”). Thanks are extended on the sleeve to Moog and Theremin, but also to Damo Suzuki and Toni Basil, which somehow seems equally fitting given the contents. A pure, uncut, Shinjuku bleep hour of auditory enjoyment. MLH
@ www.eeniemeenie.com

Selecter - "The Trojan Songbook" CD 15/46:29
I thought the first Selecter album was the best release by Two-Tone as part of the short lived ska-punk movement of 1980. Their second album was a dud, and now comes an album of covers, mostly '60s tunes from Jamaica. Great selection of songs, but these watered down versions verge on easy listening. Pauline Black's sweet vocals on "Johnny Too Bad" certainly aren't true to the song. Their interpretation of Jimmy Cliff/Pioneers "Let Your Yeah Be Yeah" drains the life out of yet another classic. The band just doesn't rock, and Black's singing is MOR. A disappointing return. Mel
@ www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com

Selfmademan - “The Daylight Robbery” CD 10/41:19
I think this would be considered ‘emo’, but I’m never too sure these days. Was Jawbreaker emo? Because that’s who these guys remind me of the most I guess; or if not specifically Jawbreaker, than much more of that era than the current one like Hot Water Music and a bunch of those Revelation bands that people were into in the early nineties. This group of French Canadians has produced a fairly catchy album here, one that grows on you more each time you hear it. Actually, it even grows on you as you hear it the first time, at least it did that for me; I wasn’t into it initially but as the album wore on I found myself more and more into it. Melodic and rocking at the same time…a combination of two great things in music that sometimes are quite hard to put together. Selfmademan doesn’t do a half bad job in a genre that I’ve never been too crazy about, even if it’s not the most original music in the world. Jake
@ www.smallmanrecords.com

Seneca Laines - “Telekinetica” CD 6/17:11
This is the most British sounding CD I’ve ever heard come from a couple of guys in Rochester, NY. Quality dreamy shoegaze with a very 80s sound ala Psychedelic Furs crossed with early Depeche Mode. Richard Butler’s voice has definitely been channeled through Slaines (guitarist/vocalist for Seneca Laines) and it fits well with the layered guitar sound. Sharon
@ www.senecalaines.com

Serious Suicide – “Off With Your Head” CD 7/24:34
Like I think everyone in Serious Suicide is 40 years old and they used to worship X but then Goth theatrics came into play and after easing up on their drug habits they decided to form a band and put out an album. I mean, that’s just my assessment, but by the looks of the scary lead singer lady with jet black hair and smeared with blood, followed by three dudes that look like they could be the annoying team of humor-free night roamers at Burning Man equipped with top hats and round “Dracula” sunglasses. I don’t know. Okay…the music itself is simple cabaret rock with late night horror TV dramatics sung by a woman who wants you to be frightened of her because her love is so DEADLY!!! I mean, at least “Off With Your Head” isn’t noisy or overly arty, so it’s got that going for it. It could be all “rrreeeeoooorrr squeak squeak, chop chop” and stuff but it isn’t. It’s pretty straight ahead. Other than that I recommend checking them out with some caution because this bride wears black and is carrying a big butcher knife. Oooohhhh!!! Whittaker
@ Serious Suicide PO Box 93062, Hollywood, CA 90093

Service Group - "Minimum R&B" CD 9/35:49
Most members of Service Group hail from more established and fairly popular bands such as Big in Japan (Todd Smailes, guitar), Ozma (Ryen Slegr, keyboards), and Crushstory (Kirklyn Cox, drums). That isn't all, I'm almost afraid to tell my friend that Dylan Hay-Chapman, (a cast member of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is the principal songwriter of the Service Group. It will just feed his fascination with the brilliance of that show. In any case, the experience of these band members is apparent all over the place in the great melodies, with sunny guitar and fun samples and hooks all over the place. It's power-pop love. Pam
@ www.squidvswhale.com

Settlefish – “Dance a While, Upset”CD 10/54:39
This band resides in Bologna, Italy, though led by a Canadian, Jonathan Clancy. Che cosa? I’ve heard them called “emo punk`” and “indie rock”. What’s left out is artsy and possibly bordering on pretentious. The sound is usually ballad speed with a few vocal raves here and there, backed by dissonant sound that vary from tinkle-tinkle to crashing and banging, all usually in an amelodic fashion. The songs are obtuse and off-putting, not to mention lengthy, with lyrics like “Scream at horizons while stars enclosed in gasses like to disappear as carved in the pulse of my artery…” Well, you get the idea. Poetry or masturbation? Either way, it’s been done before and nothing is new here. Only question I have is regarding the liner notes: on “Camouflage Iris`” is it supposed to be “young street” or, more likely, “Yonge Street”? I’m just opaquely curious. RBF
@ www.deepelm.com

Seven Feet Four - “Departure/Arrival” CD 9/27:11
Another band of Swedes that knows how to rock. This is a post-hardcore outfit exhibiting more imagination than many of the bands on this label on tracks such as “Auto Emotion” and “Omerta.” The most memorable tune is the nearly-brooding “I Will Die Alone”, adding a dark dimension with more atmosphere. Not bad, but there’s not enough here to launch them into the stratosphere. Still, it’s better than Linkin Park. Anthony
@ www.coalition-records.com

Sevenout - "Back From Reality" CD 10/34:08
This is a mixed bag, a couple of songs have a great power pop feel with big guitars, and others make the band sound like a bad rock bar band. A song like the third track, "Stranger" is a good example of their more pop efforts; great melody, handclaps, some nice harmonies, and a general Don Dixon/Mitch Easter feel. The next song, "Sister Misery", is another nice pop tune, but it goes downhill on a song like "Heaven's Gate", which makes them sound like a bad 70's southern rock outfit. The lead guitar work also is lacking much imagination. If they stick to the more melodic pop material, then they're OK, but otherwise, it's been there, done that. Steve
@ Orbital, PO Box 2296, Monroe, MI 48161

Seventeen - "A Flashing Blur of Stripped Down Excitement" CD 14/44:34
Seventeen released only one 7 inch in their day, later renamed themselves The Alarm and turned into a decent, if rather hackneyed version of U2. Too bad they didn't continue on this vein; I'd rather they'd become a much less hackneyed version of the Jam. Recorded in 1979 on a 4 track as a demo that was sent to labels in an effort to get signed, this is a fun lost skinny tie power pop gem, maybe more along the lines of the Records or the Rubinoos than some of the mod bands they played with at the time, including The Jam and Squire. There are plenty of Beatles and early Who influences, the 4 track gives off a great deal of charm, but you can hear some tremendous jangly lead guitars buried way back in the mix, and the harmonies are also killer. There are a couple of covers here, a very straight up version of "Please Please Me" and the Troggs "I Can't Control Myself". Probably my favorite reissue, if you can call it that, of the year. Steve
@ www.vinyljapan.com

Sex Maniacs – “Mean as Hell” CD 12/21:51
Three of the Voorhees reconvene, reinvent themselves as sleaze rockers, and crank out such tunes as “Four Big Dicks” and “Time To Rock” (yes I hope they’re joking as well). To confuse things further they throw in an Out Cold cover as well. They still have the powercrunch of their old unit, so it’s not quite like too many of the old-school bands that drifted into crap rawk (as opposed to the ones that drifted into crap metal/crossover or crap pop). Still, I can’t quite say it’s an even trade for the Voorhees yet. David
@ www.manicriderecords.com

Sex Sex Sex – “Eerie Nights” CD 12/50:03
This is like gutter New York punk, circa 1978, gone full blown White Zombie with just the right amount of Misfits influence thrown in and a bow down to early, early Motorhead. The whole album sounds as if it were recorded in their basement with a cheap 4 track and loads of cold booze. Cold like a dead hand. Oooooh! The seminal “creepiness” of Sex Sex Sex (what a name eh?) is in itself a little discerning since their sound is opposite of any kind of Goth or Danzig influenced musicality. This is more get up ‘n go punk rock done with fervor and grace but still reeks of purification from a grave left opened and last night’s prom date. They could be invoking the spirit of The Damned whence they first hit the scene. Because the world started to scratch their head…”are they Darkwave? Punk? New Romantic? What?” It’s that sort of disclassification that always makes me smile. Just go with it and see what emerges from the creative blender. These guys put in the right amount of sacrificial wine (think Thunderbird or Night Train), eyeballs, condoms, safety pins, shoe lint and that scary alter piece your friend owns; yeah the friend that always dresses in black and throws empty beer bottles at buildings. “Eerie Nights” is fine and dandy and should be accepted for what it is. What is this? Whittaker
@ www.pfefferscheisse.de

Shark Pants – “Porno Snakehead” CD 9/15:24
Christ, but this album just flies by. Nine blisteringly lo-fi gutter-rock tunes in just under 16 minutes. This Tuscon, Arizona band wears their Minor Threat and Stooges influences proudly, but don’t think they’re just another hipster entry in the Nu-Rawk Sweepstakes. “Dogner” has more invested in early ‘80s hardcore punk than any clan of retro scenester would. “Say it like you got a pair!” lead singer Isaac screams on “Canyonero.” Right on, dude, right on. Looking for a sweet Zeppelin coda? “Later Alligator’s” got you covered. It’s all here, really. The relentless drumming and furious riffs are perfectly placed. The vocals snarl and wail beautifully. These guys just might be the best band out of Arizona (no offense, Giant Sand). Just listen to “Chukis” and tell me you don’t agree. John
@ www.sharkpants.com

Sharks and Minnows – “The Cost of Living” CD 21/70:28
It’s pretty unreal; every single song on this CD sounds like it could be a hit on one of those mainstream modern rock stations like Live105 here in the Bay Area or whatever might be the channel in your town. The sound has a hyper, punk edge, but blended with a 90s mainstream pop sensibility; that isn’t to say this is “pop-punk”, but merely that you can hear elements of both genres contained within Sharks and Minnow’s music. If I had to compare them to someone, later-era Jawbreaker, Sensefield, even the Wrens come to mind first. It’s all very clean, well-produced, and professional, which can be both good and bad depending on your outlook. One thing is for certain: the album is way, way too long. They might want to try leaving them wanting more next time around. Jake
@ www.sharksandminnowsmusic.com

Sharon Tandy - "You Gotta Believe It's..." CD 26/76:05
A friend known here in SF for her sizable vocal talents recently remarked to me that, if you only relied in received wisdom, you'd have thought that in the Sixties, there were a total of five female rock/pop singers in the whole of the UK. Praises be, then, to certain contemporary record co.'s for their efforts in attempting to redress this lack in balance. Companies like RPM and their excellent ongoing DREAM BABES series, and the folks at Ace, who compiled this amazing find. Born in South Africa, Sharon Tandy, finding the pop scene there too limiting, decamped to England at the peak of 'Swinging London'. There she laid down some tracks that up til now remained the property of serious UK collector scum. More's the pity, as the tracks herein prove astonishing evidence that Tandy stood toe to toe with more popular Beat Girls of the era like Sandie Shaw and the incomparable Mme. Springfield. Heck, she even cut a session in Memphis, backed by the MG's, two years before Dusty. (Sadly, her record company shelved it. Fools.) It's a tribute to Tandy's talents as a singer that these cuts aren't even the best stuff on display. Her gutsy, confident vocalising was put in the service of a surprisingly wide range of material: the hip-grinding R&B of "Hurry Hurry Choo Choo", the proto-Goth witchqueen fare of "Daughter Of The Sun" (supported as on many of these cuts by the amazing Fleur DeLys), even a heavy rock version (a la Vanilla Fudge's turgid chart-toppers) of "Our Day Will Come". In between these is everything from late night torchers to Marvin-n-Tammi bopping bombast, all essayed with style and passion. Here's hoping, then, that Sharon Tandy's day has indeed arrived. MLH
@ www.acerecords.co.uk

Sharp Things - “Here Comes the Sharp Things” CD 15/53:30
Well, the Smart Things may be coming, but they sure are taking their damn sweet time about it. However, as so few bands are capable of these days, The Sharp Things do slow right. The album opens with “I will Always be Swimming in this Sea`” which takes a few listens but inevitably works it’s way under your skin. The rest of the album passes at the same slow burn pace, but the appeal is undeniable - any band that can pull off tracks like the wannabe Billy Joel-outtakes “Boys Club” and “Lonesome for the Man`” with a straight face deserves a hard look. Singer Perry Serpa’s vulnerable vocals are the main attraction here, but the Sharp Things add viola, piano, trumpet and much more to the standard guitar/bass/drums formation, and the result is an album that is sharp indeed, passing by harmlessly on the first few listens but needling it’s way under your skin before you even realize it. However, this isn’t just ballads by numbers, this is a band that takes chances - for instance, while most bands save their slowest number for the album closer, the Sharp Things give us the rollicking (by their standards) “Missing the Daze`” which also allows Serpa to flex his vocal range a bit. Somewhere, a teenager is listening to this record and crying over an unrequited love. Ryan
@ www.thesharpthings.com

Shazam - "Tomorrow the World" CD 12/39:48
Catchy '70s rock n' roll is the flavor, with a hint of honky tonk and a touch of glam. The vocalist is from the Rolling Stones/Black Crowes school, and there are guitar solos galore. A bit of hardass punk drumming brings the tunes into the current millennium and gives the Shazam a nice twist. Yep, this record rocks. Mark.
@ Not Lame, PO Box 2266, Ft. Collins, CO 80522

She Wolves – s/t CD 5/14:04
A pure example of why they call a threesome a power trio. The She Wolves successfully walk the fine line between punk and metal. Starting with a foundation of Tony Mann’s hard drumming (he worked on DeeDee’s last album), he strongly supports the bass playing of Laura Sativa, and the guitar and perfectly fierce, growling vocals of Donna Nasr. Also, the songs support them, as well. The opening cut, “Art of War” is classic punk, and “Chupacabras” shows they have a sense of humor. There’s a cover of the Doll’s “Trash,” with Donna throwing in a very sexy sounding “So, how is it you call your loverboy?” But for me, the centerpiece is the minimalist, kickin’, and hysterical “Hundred Bucks.” RBF
@ www.shewolves.com

Shesus – “Loves You….” CD 15/37:04
A newer outfit featuring members of GBV, Lazy, and Brainiac among their ranks. Solid, if not spectacular, garagey singalong punk with female (and some male) vocals. The problem is that as properly noisy and energetic and listenable as this CD is, it doesn’t quite manage to leave a lasting impression upon the listener, underscored by an indistinctive swap at Bowie’s “Hang On to Yourself”. Still, tunes such as “B-Side Radio”, “Powertie”, and “Here Comes Nothing” give one hope that all it’ll take is a bit of development in order for Shesus to properly deliver the goods next time around. David
@ www.narnackrecords.com

Shinobu – “Exhaustion, Exhaustion” CD 6/18:32
Pretty decent straight up indie rock songs here from this SF Bay Area quartet. Reminiscent of the Smoking Popes in places, both musically and vocally, with catchy guitar based songs that have some good pop melodies and interesting bridges. The there isn’t a lot of variety from song to song until you get the last track, which is an acoustic number, and the singer’s voice definitely hits some flat notes here and there, but they’ve got the chops to get better with a little more experience. I don’t think they’ll change the world or anything, but it’s an OK first effort. Steve
@ www.shinobuband.com

Shipping News – “Three Four” CD 14/68:54
Friends of mine have praised this band in the past but I just don’t hear it. This overly long record gathers a couple ep’s and alternates between sparsely adorned, dust-in-your-drawers bent acousticisms like “Sickening Bridge…” and “Variegated” and ham-handed, bass-addled sleepers like “Paper Lanterns”, which is over eight minute long. The one notable exception to this is the Slint-like instrumental “Haymaker”. Cut in half this record would be twice as effective. Anthony
@ www.quarterstick.com

Shiva Burlesque – s/t CD 9/41:22
Reissue of the 1987 debut from this outfit best remembered (and currently being plugged) as the group from which three of its members later went off to Grant Lee Buffalo, though said outfit’s fans might be a tad unprepared for what they would find here. This is the kind of faceless post-post-punk – with darker undertones but not quite goth – that used to populate used bins across the nation. Probably best recommended for GLB fans either starved for “new” product and/or interested in checking out the roots of GLB, but basing on its own merits this release doesn’t have enough of them to stand up on its own. David
@ www.hexagramrecords.com

Shocker – “Up Your Ass Tray” CD 7/15:51
Raw and edgy guitar punk from Jennifer Finch, ex-bassist of L7 that sounds like a great L7 record from the Sub Pop years that got lost in the shuffle, minus L7’s wah-wah pedal. Pretty fun and loose, quite catchy, and overall just a damn good seven song glimpse of what The Shocker is capable of. The cover of the 60’s hit “Angel of the Morning” is a little too over-produced and too close to “Let’s Pretend that We’re Dead” for the rest of this record. I hope The Shocker stays in the more primal punk rock mode for at least a few more records, because they’re on to something sizzling! Jesse
@ www.oglio.com

Shods – “Tippy”CD 15/44:52
Damn fine stuff, here. Using a sound that is reminiscent of the Pogues and Them. They even do a cover of Them’s “Here Comes the Night.” There’s not a bad cut here…well, “Bobby’s Birthday Party” is a bit of a shade of the Lopez Beatles’ “Bitchin’ Party`” but the rest makes up for that. Kevin Stevenson’s vocals are appropriately raspy, and the rest of the band keeps up. If this mag used a scale to judge these releases, this would be right at the top. It’s hard to pick out a fave or two ‘cause there’s plenty to chose from. Each one is ‘60s punk influenced, with a touch of Celtic, and almost all are danceable. Booze and chicks and all the rest. Worth the expenditure. RBF
@ Poorhouse Records, no address

Shonben - “1999” CD 9/32:38
It would appear this is a postmortem release by a band that was around for a time period between January 1999 and January 2000 from the UK. The music they play is… well emo, I don’t care for that term and don’t like applying it, but its dead true here. This is sort of ok, sometimes and has its moments, but it’s kind of like co-worker rock. You know “hey Jeff from accounting is playing a gig down at Rock city, you going then?” I bet the emo kids in the Midwest ate this up, and more then a few songs made a mixtape or two. They still might for all I know. Conan
@ http://thenewestindustry.com/

Short Round/Sidekicks - split CD 7/19:59
Short Round gets three tracks, the Sidekicks get four, and frankly, I can't help but want to pick up a CD with a song entitled "Dr. Dre and Bruce Springsteen Are No Longer My Friends" just out of curiosity. Turns out the song, by the Sidekicks, is about the fact that Bruce and Dre seem to have backed off from some of their harsh rhetoric about police brutality. It's probably the best song on here; the Sidekicks do a cover of Dinosaur Jr's "Feel the Pain" that does nothing to add to the original version, and most of the material here just falls into the angry young adult punk vocals over some marginally interesting indie rock guitars category. I guess I should give Short Round a little more credit than that; they've got the better songs, solid punk numbers that remind me a tad of later Husker Du in places, with interesting time changes and decent vocals that don't go over the top. Far from essential, but still better than the crop of MTV punk numbers bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182. Steve
@ Let's Go!, PO Box 156, Campbell, CA 95009

Shortie - “Worthless Smiles” CD 10/37:03
Don’t you hate it when a singer reminds you of someone and you can’t think of who the hell it is? Pogus, the vocalist in question here, sounds exactly like… Damn! It’s on the tip of my tongue. That is so distracting I cannot properly review this record. I know there’s a song called “David Bowie” that is kinda noisy and has a gravelly vocal and they cover “Sour Times” and do a decent job of it. But I still can’t think of who he reminds me of. Shit, it’s gonna bug me all day. Anthony
@ www.gobigrecords.com

Showbag! – “Never Get There” CD 4/12:15
Amiable but ultimately wan indie rock that offers passable melodies and a brave cover of the Guided By Voices rarity “Trap Soul Door”. The brief EP is comprised of sturdy rockers like “Sabre Toothed Tales” (which recalls early R.E.M. – but flimsier) and over-earnest ballads (“Never Get There”, “How Much Would it Hurt?”). Showbag! Collapse because they seem to trade on sincerity – “How Much Would it Hurt?” bleeds so much raw longing that it seems almost self-parodic, while “Never Get There” ends up eerily recalling the Kid Rock unit-shifter “Only God Knows Why”. J Edward
@ www.ziprecords.com

Shutdown 66 – “Welcome to Dumpsville” CD 13/40:13
Thanks to Get Hip, the original limited edition vinyl version of this album (on Australia’s great Corduroy label) is once again available. Stylistically, Shutdown 66 specialize in blasting out primitive, tough-sounding '60s R&B and garage à la the Beat Merchants, early Pretty Things, or Australia’s own Missing Links. This could be a recipe for disaster in less capable hands, but this band performs them with sufficient chops, panache, and moxie to pull it off. Primitive r’n’r has never really gone out of style down under, as it often has in other countries. One might even suggest that it runs in the blood of every pissed-off, alienated Aussie lad, which may be why they’ve always excelled when it comes to outright rockin’. Shutdown 66 are one more in a very long line of ass-kicking Aussie outfits, and they have the good sense to write their own songs rather than simply cover older material by other bands. Jeff
@ www.gethip.com

Sick Lipstick - "Sting Sting Sting" CD 12/28:30
I'm sorta over the little girl sounding vocals, big boy sounding guitars of the riot grrl movement. The Sick Lipstick doesn't seem to do much to take it to a different or new place. But I can't deny respect to my fellow women who are rocking out to a loud and happy audience! And you can certainly rock out to "Sting Sting Sting". I dare you to not shake some booty. Sharon
@ www.tigerstylerecords.com

Sickidz - "Now And Then" CD 9/26:51
This Philadelphia horrorbilly quartet was one of the more devoted acolytes of the Legion of The Cramped back in the early 80’s, even getting Lux’n’Ivy to produce one of their records. Evenly split as per its title between rare live cuts from their heyday, and re-recordings by a recently reconvened version of the band, Mick Cancer and cohorts still hold fast to their swamp spooked rocking ideal. Love the jittery thrash thru Mel Brooks’ "Springtime For Hitler". MLH
@ www.steelcagerecords.com

Sidecar - “You’re Killing Me” CD 15/43:58
Sidecar have a nice big super-crunchy guitar sound, I’ll give ‘em that - it has a dense, layered texture like that of their heroes Hüsker Dü. Some of their songs are pretty darn good, too, but the vocals have an unsatisfying, overly generic feel. That alone will unfortunately keep me from listening repeatedly to this CD. Jeff
@ Trap Door, 3428 H Street #5, Sacramento, CA 95816

Sidekicks - "This Is Euphoria" CD 13/36:20
Angst ridden melodic punk from the SF Bay Area. The angst comes mostly from the lead vocals, which wash over the music to the point where they are the definite focus of the band's sound. The band formed about 5 years ago, when the members were 14 years old, and judging from the lyrics, they seem to have been through a lot in life. What else could possibly inspire a tune like "Your Misery Will Be My Life's Work" or "Smirking Revenge"? They seem to have a lot of anger to express in their songs and manage to sound true to the lyrics; maybe these kids are the future of what real emo punk will be about. It's not my cup of tea, but I see them going places down the line because the kids will get into the raw sound and alienation of the lyrics. Hell, it even grows on an old fuck like me. Steve
@ www.letsgorecords.com

Signal To Trust – “Folklore” CD 8/21:13
What great cover art! Who doesn’t want to see the day when deer and wolves will hang out together and get along? Signal to Trust’s influences get along just fine: Dismemberment Plan meets mid-period Minutemen. Some of these songs also have the storytelling flow that all those great Minutemen songs did, however, in the process also suffer from some of the pitfalls when they depart from this strategy and forget about melody. Isolation rock from the Twin Cities. Xtian
@ Modern Radio, PO Box 8886, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Sigur Ros - “( )” CD 8/71:49
Go ahead, call Sigur Ros pretentious - they want you to. An untitled album of eight songs, each also listed sans title. A singer who wails in a bastardized mix of Nordic and English, and then invites fans to submit their own interpretations of the lyrics to their Web site. They seem to spend more on CD packaging than they do on little things like say, song titles. But no matter how much they overdo their schtick, they always do it well, and “( )” is no exception - each track here slowly works it’s way under your skin, before cascading over the listener with walls of sound. It’s a concept that simply must be heard to be believed, but in the end nearly every second of it works. Sigur Ros have pulled of a truly amazing feat - they’ve written emotional songs without a single discernible lyric. Ryan
@ www.sigur-ros.com

Silent Kids – “Tomorrow Waits” CD 11/46:43
Originally recorded in band members’ homes, “Tomorrow Waits” was only planned for a limited release in the band’s home town of Atlanta, GA. Luckily, this great psychedelic pop made it to a wider release. Yes, the moog takes the traditional guitar, bass and drums over the top, but the Silent Kids distinguish their pop sensibilities more with some drum machine and sampling. I’m torn between wanting to see what they could do next time in a studio, and never wanting them to get out of the house (recording), lest it sacrifice any of the lo-fi goodness. Pam
@ www.twoshedsmusic.com

Sillies – “America’s Most Wanton” CD 12/40:23
A retrospective of this late 70s/early 80s Detroit outfit. This starts promisingly enough with “Break Loose”, a blazing punk rocker that could fit on any KBD compilation, and indicates potential that belies the group’s silly name. Unfortunately as the CD goes on (especially after the fourth or fifth song) the tunes become noticeably more lackluster, and the oh-so-shocking puerile lyrics on some songs makes one more embarrassed for them than because of them. There are some good songs after that point, but it becomes more a series of peaks and valleys (mostly the latter) than a consistent collection of primal punk. Comes with multi-media goodies including a photo gallery, band history, and live (reunion) footage. David
@ www.scoochpooch.com

Silo The Huskie - "Sons Of Columbus" CD 12/46:35
Since the days of Rocket From The Tombs, Pere Ubu and Devo, Ohio has been a place where new music has fed off itself despite what the rest of the world thought. A brief list of the major/minor bands that have emerged from the Buckeye state also includes God & Texas, Afghan Whigs, Scrawl, Ass Ponys, Guided By Voices. I would not hesitate to place Silo The Huskie among those misfits and miscreants. They rock with an awe shucks attitude that makes ya want to hug 'em. "When To Run", "Pete Way", "Four And Twenty", "Yellow Freight" and "Argentina" all demand to be played again as I try to breeze through. Yeah, I know, genuine white guy guitar rock died well over ten years ago. Now we have Korn. Horseshit I say! Just gimme indie rock! Truer words were never spoken. Anthony
@ www.tiberiusrecords.com

Silverstein - "When Broken is Easily Fixed" CD 10/38:39
Victory's latest melodic hardcore offering is more melody than hardcore, and mostly just dull. It's really hard to tell one tune from another on this disc. The tempo changes from the first track to the second, but that just means "Red Light Pledge" sounds like a slowed down version of "Smashed Into Pieces". "Giving Up" follows, and you just wish they would. But they go on, to play paper thin songs such as "November", "Bleeds No More" and "Wish I Could Forget You". Maybe this will be exciting to someone. I nearly drifted off whlie listening. Mark
@ www.victoryrecords.com

Simian – “We Are Your Friends” CD 12/40:45
Simian’s album titles have quite a knack for announcing what you’re about to get yourself into. Their last release, “Chemistry is what we Are” drew universal approval but failed to take any chances. Their latest is like a good friend – it challenges you, it makes you doubt it, but in the end it reassures and delights. “We are your Friends” is perhaps the first psychedelic rock album in years to truly challenge the listener – imagine if Stone Roses were fronted by the Gallagher brothers. After easing you into the transition with the swinging “La Breeze” and “Sunshine,” the album really reaches into its bag of tricks to produce a blast of 70’s style glam rock in “Never be Alone.” You may not believe it at first, but Simian are your friends – they could have easily given us another album of bland dream-pop, but instead they reared back and challenge the listener to broaden their horizons. Bravo! Ryan
@ www.wearesimian.com

Simone White – “The Sincere Recording Co. Proudly Presents...” CD 12/42:09
With a voice like Joni Mitchell mixed with the smoothness of Dido, the tempo of Julie Cruzee, and a touch of the quirkiness of Mary Margaret O’Hara, Simone ballads her way though the many angsts of love and slice of life views. Her little girl voice with maturity beyond its years whispers and lulls the listener to pay close attention, a device that works for her. One could imagine her standing in a crinoline dress (the dress is actually shown on back cover of the CD) in front of a piano, or thin this case, a small combo, crooning soulfully. Cool interpretation of the King/Goffen number “I Didn’t Have a Summer Romance,” as well. RBF
@ www.sincererecording.com

Simpatico – “Club Life” CD 5/22:00
This is the work of Australia-based Jason Sweeney – five dramatic songs based on the simple formula of jangling acoustic guitars and programmed drum backbeats – based thematically on conversations between the author and current/former paramours. I hate to be hard on this stuff, but it’s really unremarkable Stars/Club 8 pop. If you like Morrissey, but don’t miss his old band, this might be for you. Scott
@ http://pleasurecraft.va.com.au

Simpatico – “The Boy Is Mine” CD 6/21:22
“There Is No End To This Day” provides a slow guitar break amidst six airy, echoey electronic compositions, including Simpatico’s cover of Joe Jackson’s “Steppin Out,” not one of the better covers I’ve heard lately. Pam
@ http://pleasurecraft.va.com.au

Simple Plan – “No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls” CD 13/46:42
This is the kind of typical radio friendly pop punk that drives 12 year old girls wild and bores guys like me. Simple Plan isn’t horrible, but neither is an enema once you’re done…because it feels so good. Anyway, these five dudes have it all planned out, and it’s simple! that success will come if they play this kind of rot. Plus they had a song on the Scooby-Doo soundtrack so that should tell you something. Zzzzzzzzz… Whittaker
@ www.lavarecords.com

Simple Things - “All I Ever Wanted” CD 2/6:50
Intriguing but ultimately slight single that combines a galloping melody with buzzing C86 guitars and muffled vocal melodies. The A-Side is as flat as spelt soda, but the B-Side, “Like a Thief” approaches Flatmates-level genius, pairing a heartbreaking vocal line with revved up instrumentation. A mixed bag from the Simple Things, but if they can hone in all the things that make the second song great - the melody, the distortion, the cassette culture carelessness - they may be on to something. J Edward
@ Casino Records, Germany

Since By Man - "We Sing the Body Electric" CD 11/34:24
Heavy duty experimental hardcore, with a hint of jazz. The songs are all high concept, just like the album title. This kind of thing can often come off silly, unless a band really has the talent to do it right. Since By Man has the talent. The emotion is genuine, the musicianship first rate. It takes true guts to put handclaps on a hardcore record. Since By Man does it, and it works. Nice. Mark
@ Revelation, PO Box 5232, Huntington Beach, CA 92615

Singapore Sling – “The Curse of Singapore Sling” CD 10/43:06
Though they hail from Iceland, Singapore Sling are neither as quirky as Bjork nor as ethereal as Sigur Ros. Pulling a page from the Velvet’s buzz-and-drone songbook, Singapore Sling crafts ten gently chugging pop songs that often sound like slowed-down C86 singles. Henrik Bjornsson’s guitar is prone to repeating a single phrase over and over again, sounding stuck in a trance. It works to mostly rapturous effect – the songs cast an engaging spell. Because the organ is mixed as high as the guitars, the songs never bludgeon nor get stuck in morass. Instead, they sound sinister, like The Jesus and Mary Chain with more nuance. Bjornsson’s low, emotionless voice is well suited to such ominous music, and Singapore Sling never uses slow tempos as an excuse to meander. Spooky and sinewy, “The Curse of Singapore Sling” grows more haunting with each go-round. J Edward
@ www.stinkyrecords.com

Single Frame Ashtray - “Burn Radio Airtest” CD 8/17:29
This is some of that hip new music all the kids are talking about that isn’t all that new. Single Frame Ashtray is helping take indierock to that danceable place. Some of the more rocking parts of the album are reminiscent of Les Savy Fav, with the dance tracks feeling more akin to stuff going on in the NYC electro scene. Combine 80s synth pop with 90s Dischord style rock and this is what the marriage produces. I can’t resist. It’s a lot of fun. Sharon
@ www.alreadygonerecords.com

Single Frame Ashtray – “Wetheads Come Running” CD 20/37:49
I tried playing this three times, and the only thing I can remember each time afterwards was how annoying it is. Apparently taking from the past (new wave, post-punk, supposedly Krautrock but seems more influenced by those influenced by same), this starts off promisingly enough, but it gets more and more irritating as it goes on until you begin to wonder if it’s just more collegiate wanking in a postmodern guise. There are enough promising moments not to write them off just yet, but overall I can’t say they’re there (wherever “there” is supposed to be) quite yet. Wetheads come running, everyone else go the opposite direction. David
@ www.singleframeashtray.com

Single Frame - "Wetheads Come Running" CD 20/37:39
Have you ever noticed the train wreck fashion kids at shows that look like they've read one too many issues of Vice and Fader and are wearing every single cool thing in their closet all at once. An embarrassing self-consciousness pervades their existence making them uncomfortable to even look at. Imagine all those qualities embodied in a band, and you've got The Single Frame. A forced air of hip coupled with a lacking basis of real talent makes this 20 track album 20 tracks too long. Mona
@ www.volcoment.com

Singles – “Better than Before” CD 14/37:31
Earnest powerpop that proves said term (“Powerpop” that is) doesn’t necessarily have to be an oxymoron. They take their cues from the usual 70s heroes of course, but there’s also a generous helping of merseybeat here as well; they’re definitely “modern” enough to avoid the “retro” tag but you can’t help but think (and probably not for the first time) how different music as we know it would be if a certain group had gone from Hamburg to White Album with no stops in-between. Still, if this doesn’t exactly break any new terrain, it does provide a solid-to-good listening experience for those to whom “Powerpop” is not a dirty word. David
@ www.rainbowquartz.com

Sinkcharmer – “Stars in Winter” CD 17/43:07
I think that this trio incorporated every instrument they could get their hands on into a song for this release. “Stars in Winter” contains a dozen or so songs that are almost brilliant and another handful that are great. It starts out with the nice gentle, eerie and yet dreamy “The End” and moves through several songs that have something missing that could really take them over the top. The result is still 17 strong indie-rock compositions that are fun to listen to. Pam
@ www.unstoppablerecords.com

Sister Sonny - "The Bandit Lab" CD 17/1:10:21
This album is over 70 minutes long but it's worth your time. There's an incredible amount of variety on Sonny Sister's fourth album. Gentle electro-rock (a la The Notwist), laptop pop, danceable, symphonic romps and Portishead-style dirges (with male vocals) are all here. Sister Sonny hail from Norway, but you'd never know it. They sound more like geniuses from New York or Chicago that have tapped into some wellspring of European subtlety. Their only weaknesses are the songs' unrelenting smoothness. Every edge curves serpentine-like into the other. Nothing is remotely out of place. The only hint of spontaneity lies with the vocals, which are all over the map stylistically. Highly refined, often experimental ambient pop for the sensitive and intelligent listener. John
@ www.fiveoneinc.com

Situation – “Reece Nasty” CD 5/21:03
Psych-tinged pop-rock, not dissimilar to the genre that most researchers refer to as “Britpop”, now considered dead in its land of origin but still kept alive by various “stateside” outfits. The opening track “Don’t Wait For Me” is okay but the rest of these reminds me while I never got around to picking up those Oasis records. Amicably forgettable, though if you jonesing badly for a Britfix, you might want to check it out. David
@ www.elephantstonerecords.com

Sixth Chamber – “Molded Truths” CD 10/31:47
At the very least this band has a fascinating background: bassist Rahne Pistor was in the Undead with Bobby Steele, and guitarist Sevan Kand is the offspring of Valor and Gitane DeMone of Christian Death. In fact, Kand was in utero when Catastrophe Ballet was being recorded (you have to wonder what that was like). If this was an experiment in child psychology, I would conclude that a considerable amount of molding had taken place. Though certainly not as innovative or notable as Christian Death were in their respective time period, The Sixth Chamber undoubtedly ranks among the esoteric ranks of goth-rock, without being too hung up on the stinging guitar attack aspect that rules the genre today. This has a cold, strange sound, and one should expect nothing less. Xtian
@ Novokkane Noise, 1055 Sanborn Ave. #105, Los Angeles, CA 90029

Sixty Stories – “Anthem Red” CD 12/41:38
Female fronted hard pop from Canada, done well in a style that hits that gaping demographic chasm waiting to be filled by adult pop punk bands. Why Canadians do this so well remains to be seen. Maybe the “crap” never makes it across the border. Which is fine, just keep sending the most current melodic, catchy stuff and forget the rest. Oh, and dig on the lyrics – they’re deep. Xtian
@ www.smallmanrecords.com

Skulls - “Therapy for the Shy” CD 11/28:23
Who would have imagined that a new LP by remnants from one of the better ‘77-era LA bands would end up being one of the best punk releases of 2003? Not many, I’ll wager. Yet they’ve defied all expectations by kicking out an album chock full of snotty, hook-laden ‘77-style punk songs, one that is better than 99% of the so-called “punk” releases by today’s bands. Has-been punks rule, OK. And why not, since they helped invent the genre? Jeff
@ Dr. Strange, PO Box 1058, Alta Loma, CA 90701

Skywave - "Synthstatic" CD 14/47:38
Sounding very British, these three lads from Virginia (I think!) make a ton of noise with some great swirling guitars, fitting somewhere between shoegazing My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain material, all with touches of industrial edginess. The Ravonettes are getting the big JAMC treatment these days, but this band sounds more like the real deal, taking some of the garage aesthetic out and adding the Spectorish Wall of Sound feedback to the mix that gives these songs layer after layer of blasting sound. I like them at their best when they race through a song at breakneck pace, but when they take the speed down to more normal limits, they've got the ability to get atmospheric and still make it sound good. I do wish the vocals were a little more upfront at times; they are washed out and down in the mix intentially, so you can barely make out lyrics, but what the hell, I'm a melody and hooks kind of guy, and this is full of both. Like they say on their website, "Killer Rock n Roll". Steve
@ www.alison-records.de

 Slapshot – “Digital Warfare” CD 12/29:46
It’s official: Choke and Slapshot are back on the top of the heap. Go back to school Blood for Blood, the original Boston metallic punk thugs are back! After the really good “Olde Tyme Hardcore” and the re-recorded greatest hits CD last year, Slapshot comes back as ferocious and pissed off as they were on the seminal “Step On It”. Their songs “Had it with Unity”, “Stupid Fucking Kids”, and the tongue in cheek covers of “Straight Edge” and “C Is For Cookie” (Minor Threat and Sesame Street respectively) prove that the band’s humor and lyrical bluntness is in fine form. Musically, they’re a little faster than “Olde Tyme Hardcore”- what a great addition to their catalog! Jesse
@ www.bridgenine.com

Slapshot – “Greatest Hits, Slashes, and Crosschecks” CD 21/51:55
Unlike Suicidal Tendencies hilariously awful re-recording of their old hits, Slapshot pulls off the job beautifully. The re-recorded versions of some of the tunes off “Step On It” are actually faster than the originals! I’m a long-time fan of some of Slapshot’s records (“Step On It” and “Old Tyme Hardcore” are my faves), but this collection exposed me to some tunes that I missed the first time around. Hard, fast, pissed off, and tough as nails. This is the band that taught Blood For Blood all they know! Jesse
@ Bridge Nine, PO Box 990052, Boston, MA 02199

Slats – “Pick It Up” CD 11/35:34
On “Another Physical Reaction” this midwestern trio of nerds pulls off the fairly tremendous feat of sounding like Bob Pollard and the GBV crew jammin’ with the Grifters, right down to the lead guitar squalls. That high water mark doesn’t last long. Their m.o. boils down to quick bursts of self-proclaimed “art-punk” in a thinly veiled 70s veneer. That works okay with the echoey vocal on “Teena.” But, clever and cute notwithstanding, some of it is just gibberish (“I Believe Tim McVeigh”). The uncluttered demo-ish quality of the production suits them, and there’s a yin/yang to the songs that combines devil-may-care slacker vision with a polished pop ear. This label is based just a few miles down the road from where I’m sitting in Milwaukee, so I suppose I should show some regional loyalty, but you gotta hold bands like this up to the light. If they’re full of holes, you gotta call ‘em on it. Two out of five stars. Sorry. Anthony
@ www.latestflame.com

Slaughter and the Dogs – “A Dog Day Afternoon” CD 15/54:50
Until last year, Slaughter and the Dogs- one of the original U.K. pub punk bands along with Cock Sparrer- had never played in the United States. Originally a band from 1976 through 1980, Slaughter and the Dogs re-formed for one of the British Holidays In The Sun festivals in the mid-90s, and did a tour of the U.S. in 2002. This live record combines the CBGB’s show and the San Francisco show from that tour. The sound is great, and the performance of the songs seem perfectly fine. The problem is that the band weren’t really that good of a band. Like a lot of punk bands from any era, they had a couple of good songs and a lot of forgettable ones. Their signature song, and one of the very first U.K. punk singles ever, is “Cranked Up Really High`” followed closely by “Where Have All the Bootboys Gone.” Unless you’re a completist skinhead (the band became seen as forerunners to the 81 U.K. oi/skinhead revival), there’s no reason to favor Slaughter and the Dogs over much better contemporaries like Sham 69, Cockney Rejects, The Business, or Cock Sparrer. Put either of the Slaughter and the Dogs tunes against “If the Kids Are United`” “Police Car” “Drinking and Driving`” or “Sunday Stripper`” and it’s clear that Slaughter may have been decent, but never in the top tier of British skinhead or punk bands. Conclusion- this record sounds fine, and the performance is fine, but the tunes aren’t worth all the trouble. If you’re a fan, great, you’ll come all over this performance. If not, don’t bother and do yourself a favor and check out one of the other 4 bands I mentioned above instead. Jesse
@ TKO, 3126 W. Cary St. #303, Richmond, VA 23221

Sleazies – “Trite Ditties and Meaningless Crap” CD 11/25:20
This is a fun debut from this Providence, RI band who sound like a cross between the Dickies (especially on the vocals) and the Sex Pistols. Musically and lyrically, their name fits, with songs about sniffing glue, “killing dad and mom and your date after the prom”, lots of sex, and drinking poison. As politically incorrect and silly as some of the lyrics are, they’d fall flat if the songs didn’t have plenty of perky melody to back them up, and that’s exactly what these songs have, in that always great 1-2-3-4 early Ramones style. This is one helluva stupidly fun disc, recycling every great hook done time and time again in punk rock, with equally silly lyrics, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s done with the kind of energy these guys put forward. Pelado has been putting out some fun ’77 style punk releases, and this shows once again that it’s are a label to be trusted to release great stuff that sticks to the roots of punk. Steve
@ www.peladorecords.com

Sleepy Township - “All These Records” CD 20/53:17
This Aussie outfit of two girls and two guys traded off on instruments and vox, lending an idiosyncratic variety to their sound. Although they sound like a bedroom band, the artwork appears to show them recording in a studio. Some hard earned money wasted there. The songs are all written by the various members, with lead vox from whoever wrote the tune. ST broke up in 2002 after almost 8 years together. Mia Schoen, who also played in the excellent band Huon has gone on to a solo album. For the lucky folks who discovered ST they were a unique pop band who will be missed. Mel
@ www.geocities.com/sleepytownship/intro.html

Slick Fifty Seven – “The Ghost of Bonnie Parker” CD 12/50:59
These guys are cool. Any band that can take their roots and love of pure country and fix it up with hot rock and a goofy attitude gets a few nods from me. I had a great time with these three boys and want to highly recommend checking this out. But first you’re going to have to hitch a ride on a 18 wheeler, get drunk on Lone Star in your local roadhouse, watch a lot of Corey Haim movies and then you’ll be prepared. Some punk, some twang, and a whole lot of good cheer. It’s sort of rare to find bands like this without them being too macho and getting into the whole brawlin’ and boozin’ aspect of country punk. But it seems that we have found one. Yee haw!!! Whittaker
@ www.laughingoutlaw.com.au

Slipslide - "The World Can Wait" CD 11/39:11
Most urbane and appealing debut from this British quartet. Liberally steeped in folk-rock root broth, with rather charming vocals and harmonies, very much in the tradition of thoughtful jangle merchants of the near past. You can almost see the fringes of their buckskin jackets as they play. “Back To Work” and the yearning “Halfway Over Town” are standout cuts. MLH
@ www.slipslideonline.com

Slipstream - "Transcendental" CD 14/64:52
The first inclination might be to lump these guys in with the shoegazer set. They, at first, seem inimical of My Bloody Valentine et al with their layered guitar work and foggy vocals. But, as the record progresses, think more along the lines of early Primal Scream and maybe good smattering of Spiritualized, perhaps even Stone Roses and Ride during the guitar-oriented parts. The vocals disappear for several songs, but they usually retain the flowing beats and relaxed rhythms of “Screamadelica”. This is an accomplished record that does a great job of taking the best things from late 80s/early 90s British psychedelic rock. So if that stuff floats your boat, give this band a try. Scott
@ www.parasol.com

Slomo Rabbit Kick – “Bass Monster Lives In The Bass Forest” CD 17/33:43
This is one of those kitchen sink lo-fi singer songwriter pop records swirling with scattered guitar, keyboards, occasional drum machine, and lazy, dreary vocals. So, yes, it’s a lot like Pavement. “Bass Monster” starts out as a frenetic power pop record, moving from hook to random hook until a new song start the whole process again. But after the first few songs, it gets self-indulgent and slows down into straight ahead riff-oriented power pop. Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie mixed this, and it does sound similar to the Barsuk label’s guitar-pop of John Vanderslice, Long Winters, even a little Death Cab for Cutie. Not bad, but it really lacks the charm of the better power pop mentioned above. Scott
@ www.slomorabbitkick.com MP3 Download

Sloppy Seconds - "Destroyed" CD 21/50:54
A classic from 1989, these guys from Indianapolis have been putting out some great pop punk for a long time, and it's great to get their first proper full length finally re-issued. Usually funny (and slightly offensive, thank goodness!), always melodic, full of Ramones style 3 chord punk, that crosses into the vocal style of the Vindictives. With their classic "I Don't Wanna Be A Homosexual", "Runnin' From the CIA", "Janie Is A Nazi", and rapid fire cover of "Leavin' On A Jet Plane" and four bonus tracks, this makes for a fun listen that never gets tired or stale. Steve
@ www.coldfrontrecords.com

Slow Gherkin - “Run Screaming” CD 11/39:07
Bland ska-rock that employs tenor, alto, trumpet and trombone but they don’t construct conducive arrangements for their tools. There are a couple catchy songs, but, for the most part, James Rickman and A.J. Marquez’s flat, tuneless vocals leave a lot to be desired. I hit fastforward on most of this. That ain’t good. Anthony
@ www.asianmanrecords.com

Slow Reader - s/t CD 11/36:40
What would the world be like without Elliott Smith? For one, this band wouldn't exist. And even though countless groups have mined the Elliott Smith-Granddaddy soft-indie-pop tunnel, I still find myself following the better ones all the way to the end. But that's not to say Slow Reader are a total Smith rip-off. They just take so many cues from him you'd think they were his understudy. I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff, so my powerlessness should be a warning to all of you. Slow Reader are trying to get on your good side! Let them earn it, then maybe you'll call them a few days later (after the pregnancy test). John
@ www.fueledbyramen.com

Sly And Robbie – “The Dub Revolutionaries” CD 16/55:36
Sly and Robbie are not only the most (in)famous rhythm section in the sordid history of reggae, they are outright celebs that inhabit a planet all their own. Their discography is a massive who’s who of just about anyone you can name in the reggae world. Here they team up with the Mad Professor (Neal Fraser) and horn player Dean Fraser to produce an hour’s worth of sweet instro dub. Utilizing the ‘rockers’ style of rhythms, which helped redefine reggae and dub, they operate within a mostly self-articulated dancehall framework. The songs are all originals except for “Memphis Happiness”, which is a re-working of the Al Green classic, “Love And Happiness.” “Cool Dude” is infectiously groovy, as is “Peaceful Dub.” Dean Fraser offers some stoney Jamaican-flavored horn work on several tracks, particularly “On The Drop Of 1.” Not to be forgotten is the guitar playing of Black Steel and the understated keyboards of Leroy Mafia. As a producer the Mad Prof. has a fine touch, creating a light and airy sound, avoiding an overly heavy dub feel. The result is as smooth as my girlfriend’s ass, and baby that’s smooth. Aces all around, and splendidly enjoyable listening in the heat of the summer sunshine. Anthony
@ www.rasrecords.com

Sly Stone - "Seventh Son" CD 19/48:32
This is a batch of recording by Sly before he formed the Family Stone; all the songs are from 1963-66 and most are originals that work everything from early 60's teen pop rock and doo wop, to Motown and Phil Spector style soul and the early sounds of funk/rock that later became the trademark of the Family Stone. Sly's voice on some of these songs is barely past puberty; high pitched and perfect for the style in the pre-British invasion days, and as you listen to this, you can figure out where the groove started to change and Sly started to figure out how to write some heavy funk bass lines. Larry Graham's funky bass runs deep into the groove through most of the songs, and there are a half a dozen songs on this that were later torn down and rewritten as Family stone songs. And those aren't even the best tracks on this; it's the great early style soul stuff I really love on here. This is highly recommended for fans of everything from funk, sweet 60's soul, and anyone with any interest in Sly whatsoever. Steve
@ www.vampisoul.com

Smart Brown Handbag – “Fast Friends” CD 13/51:06
Smart Brown Handbag are so earnest, they’d probably call your mother ma’am and bring you roses on the second date. Nice guys – boring musicians. Singer David Steinhart would love you to think of him as incarnation or Morrissey, but at his best he sounds like Blink-182 on their “message” songs. When he spits out “you just want to take everyone’s bloody good advice” on “Push the Bell,” you want to feel his anger. If only it didn’t sound like he could bust out laughing at any point. The rest of the album is competent yet uninspiring power-pop, throw it on in the car on a night out on the town and no one will beg for it to stop, but they won’t break out into an impromptu session of head nodding either. Ryan
@ www.stonegarden.com

Smogtown – “Early Recordings – 1995/1996” CD 19/34:10
Yep, just as the title implies you get demo tracks from this would-be streetpunk outfit. Not quite sure if this outfit quite rates the archival treatment; it’s not that the tuenage these folks cranked out was necessarily bad, just pretty much punk-by-numbers if you know what I mean. None too satisfying I’m afraid. David
@ www.disasterrecords.com

Smoking Popes - "The Party's Over" CD 10/32:14
A final release by this most beloved band from Chicago, who signed to a major label after a long feeding frenzy (personally saw the sharks circling at a show in SF, it was funny to see the suits cozying up to the band), but there were other things more important to lead singer Josh Caterer than money- namely finding religion. The band broke up after one major label record, but left behind a bunch of covers that never made it to record previously. These are mainly classics like "Stormy Weather" by written by Harold Arlen and made famous by Lena Horne, "Zing!" by Judy Garland, Rodgers and Hart's "Bewitched", Burt Bacharach's "Wake Up Crying" and others. Frankly, I don't much care who wrote the songs, I'm just happy to hear Josh's voice on just about anything. His latest band, Duvall, is also quite good, but there's something special about the original lineup of the Popes that makes these songs shine in pop punk glory. Steve
@ www.doublezerorecords.com

Smut Peddlers – “Coming Out” CD 14/30:21
Blazing O.C. motorcycle bar punk, with rockin’ tunes about heroin, partying, heroin, partying in Germany, and motorcycles. At one point they dip into pretty simplistic right wing one-liners, e.g. “The man on T.V. and the people you meet say you’re homophobic if you’re not a fag” (from “State of the State”), which, like many simplistic leftist bands, proves some bands should steer clear of political lyrics. On the other hand, the song “F.T.W.”- about motorcycles and cars- is dead accurate and a great look at the life of a cyclist in our “climate-controlled cage” (i.e. “car”) dominated roads. Musically, the Smut Peddlers mix the best of bands like The Stitches and Electric Frankenstein. You already know if you’re going to buy this. Jesse
@ www.tkorecords.com

Snags – s/t CD 12/32:39
Latest outfit to unleash Sir Bald Diddly (of Sir Bald & the Wig-Outs obscurity) upon an unsuspecting world. Recorded at Toe Rag, mixing vintage Modpunk (anyone familiar with the pre-AOR Who experience déjà vu with “Won’t Let You Down” with garage, a tad of surf, and a touch of Medway sprinkled in for good measure. If not beginning-to-end consistent there is some quality tuneage on here. David
@ www.thesnags.co.uk

Snapcase – “End Transmission” CD 13/45:47
bands that helped kickoff the parade of aggressive metal-edged rock bands in the Midwest circa 1992. Credit must be given to Snapcase: these guys have been rough and tumble from day one, never broke through, stick to their politics, and have evolved ever-so-slightly enough that people still buy the new record. Well, young males with anger management issues still buy the new record. And still go to the shows and do the whole wild flinging of limbs thing and fight in the parking lot. Not that Snapcase has ever vocally endorsed that behavior, just implicitly through pounding away and the screamy rah-rah vocals. Xtian
@ Victory, 346 North Justine #504, Chicago, IL 60607

Snivelling Shits – “I Can’t Come” CD 12/42:04
Damn it’s good to see this around again! This band (formed during the heady days of ’77) actually consisted of a couple of journalists and some musician friends cranking out jokey paeans, taking the piss out of the scene around them. Unlike certain other jokers (no names mentioned of course) they were able to rise above being a mere puerile-joke band. The proof is in the way they were able to effectively satirize the form and heroes both lyrically and musically, from turning VU’s “I’m Waiting for the Man” into a ode about jonesing for a Brit soap opera to the speed-induced sexual dysfunction of the title track. The centerpiece of the album though is the wonderfully irreverent “Isgodaman?”, the ultimate answer (two decades early) to that noxious “What if God was One of Us?” slop. Comes with four bonus demo tracks, the best of which is a version of SS mastermind Giovanni Dadamo backed by the Damned on the co-penned “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause”. David
@ www.damagedgoods.co.uk

Snoozer - "Winter Stops All Sound" CD 6/13:05
Snoozer is a one person "band" from Providence, RI, with Susie Ghahremani doing vocals, playing various keys, moog and bass, and writing the songs. The opening track of this, "Labor Day" is a fun organ driven number, with multi-tracked vocals leading the way, full of hooks and a Heavenly twee indie feel. Other songs don't have the same perky energy, but fit well in the cannon of simple indie pop explored by Lois, Sarah Doughter, and Rose Melberg. What really differentiates this are the vocals; as I said, they're multi-tracked, so you have harmonies and doubled up leads that give her voice added strength. This is a fun CD from a talented songwriter and performer. Steve
@ www.boygirlparty.com

Snow Dogs - "Deep Cuts, Fast Remedies" CD 12/44:28
This is amazing. After last year's MTV-alternative soundalike record, "Animal Farm", Snow Dogs have actually come back with a disc that is not only good--it shows real growth. Sure, it's still somewhat watered down, like indie guys trying to punk out. But credit where credit is due. The tunes are tighter, tougher and better. No true punk fan is going to enjoy this, but indie folks who like their music with a slight edge should be pleased. Mark
@ Victory, 346 N. Justine St, Suite 504, Chicago, IL 60607

Snowdonnas - "Over Now" CD 9/41:35
Are you sure this lot is from Texas? If given a blindfold test I’d have sworn this lot were a lesser-known chapter of the early 90’s Brit shoegazer scene. Very similar attack to be sure - muzzy, gauzy sheets of guitars, sweet harmonious vocals fighting to be heard above the six-string squall, the whole bit. In its way rather enjoyable and worthy of the old A for Effort, but nothing to motivate me into taking down my Mark Gardiner posters, at least not before hearing his new solo stuff. MLH
@ www.ballyhoowithdrawal.com

Soap Star Joe – “Ziggy Niszczot (Never Played Guitar)” CD 4/14:15
I’m generally skeptical of records or bands that are titled in homage to earlier artists, and Ziggy Niszczot – the name of an old rugby star – is no Ziggy Stardust. But this trio of Aussies (no wonder they like rugby) acquits itself well on this four-song EP. Singer Nick Wilson sounds a little like Paul Westerberg on the very cool title track. The song called “Flemington” is a fun little stomp and “Magnets Coil” flat out rocks. Very nice stuff. Kevin
@ www.soapstarjoe.com

Sodastream – “A Minor Revival” CD 13/48:29
You can call these guys the Australian version of Belle & Sebastian, cause that’s pretty much exactly what they sound like (I also hear a bit of Stone Roses in there, but Stone Roses purists – I know a few – would probably kick me in the balls for saying that). Sometimes when bands come out and sound exactly like someone else it bugs me, and other times it doesn’t. I’ve never been able to figure out why that is, but I assume it has something to do with how well they’re doing the ripping off. Sodastream, to be quite honest, does a great job, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I listen to this nearly as much as I do B&S. Well, maybe not quite that much…but still a well played release by these Aussie chamber-popsmiths. Jake
@ www.microindie.com/records/

Soft Boys – “Nextdoorland” CD 10/41:15
The post-lads return with their first new studio album in too many a moon, and unlike too many reunions, neither passing of time nor their time apart has dulled their ability to create some fine post-Syd tuneage together. The only real drawback is that the somewhat sparse production saps some of the fire out of the songs, especially compared to how they’re treated live. (Perhaps co-producer Pat Collier reined them in a bit too much). Still, harping aside the songwriting hasn’t suffered, and while this isn’t “Underwater Moonlight” it’s still a good platter indeed, and something I’d take over the last few solo efforts of senor Hitchcock (or Rew for that matter); let’s face it these guys belong together. Let’s hope the gang stays around for awhile. David
@ www.matadorrecords.com

Solea - "Even Stranger" CD 5/15:00
This band has a pretty strong lineage; Sergie Loobkoff of Samiam handles guitar chores, Garrett Klahn of Texas is the Reason is the lead singer, and other members include Nico from Knapsack on bass and Johnny Cruz of Samiam drumming. They've created a nice mix of songs influenced by their previous work in other bands, fitting neatly between the more tortured emo of Texas and the more rockin' pop punk of Samiam. The songs' strength lies in the number of pop hooks; they're plentiful and stay with you; Garrett's voice hangs in there with them and is mixed well with the strong guitar work. There isn't anything unique here nor are any of the songs so great that you'll immediately throw it on a mix, but as a whole, it works as intelligent pop with some good punk moments. Steve
@ www.3mileagerecords.com

Solger – “Codex 1980” CD 16/27:19
Going in reverse order: the Ugly is of course the original seven inch in all its murky, recorded-underwater anti-glory. You can still hear the snarling raw power struggling to break through, but there’s a reason why so many folks who picked this up (usually for major $) expecting a major onslaught upon their auditory senses were, well, a tad disappointed. Taken straight from vinyl to enhance your masochistic listening experience. The Bad is taken from Solger’s final show, with SQ only slightly better than what you’d find on the original seven inch, but featuring otherwise unreleased songs and telling covers (Damned, Germs). It’s listenable enough to make one wish there was some enhanced video action of said show going on. Finally there’s the Good: the seven inch tracks remastered and resequenced by Jack Endino that restores these tunes to the way they SHOULD have been: powerful intense fuck-off hardcore with the power and the (anti-)glory finally coming through loud and clear, slamming your sorry ass to the nearest wall and making you realize, yes, they really were worth all the fuss after all. David
@ www.emptyrecords.com

Something About Vampires And Sluts - "I'm Not Afraid Of Sex" CD 7/21:15
Never mind their horrible band name; these kids have something worth noticing. Catchy synthpunk tracks are headed by a young lo-fi Robert Smith-esque vocalist (they even cover the Cure's “Grinding Halt”). They're a longshot from anything I'd call amazing, but the album is definitely fun, and seems like they'd be ever more fun live...check them out! Mona
@ www.coptercrash.com

Something Hollow – “Busted Wings and Rusted Halos” CD 11/35:18
Black Cat Music for the snowboard set. Accessible melodic 00’s punk that never reaches the lyrical twisted-ness of BCM or the catchiness and dynamics of Bracket or Dillinger Four. Next! Jesse
@ Victory, PO BOX 146546, Chicago, IL 60614

Sometimes Seven – “The Songs I Was Telling You About” CD 11/38:26
It’s as if three of your bros got together and formed a good band. You wanted to join but they really don’t need a flugelhorn player at this stage of the bands development. So you lean back and listen. It’s kind of obvious that they really admired Husker Du and that Bob Mould guy’s illustrious career. Light yet filling songs with a definitive aptitude for resonance and cymbalized combustion. There is a certain silence to their rocking out that is hard to explain here. With all of the peal happening, Sometimes Seven give us the hushed treatment, making the entirety so much more valid that I was impressed without being forced into the thought. Unabashed pop gone sad guy with a happy gene that is as infectious as most of the song crafting. Not bad. Whittaker
@ Round Circle, PO Box 98, Dyer, NJ 46311

Sonic Orange – s/t CD 4/16:14
A touch of psychedelia to their ‘60s-influenced pop sound make them close enough to bands like Oasis, and yet different enough to be autonomous and to raise the radar. That’s a pretty good range. No matter how you slice it, though, it’s still melodic, emo-pop, with some spacey (moody?) guitars and groovy lyrics. And despite the overly grandiose level to the point of obnoxiousness of their press (“…effortlessly set to assume the superstar mantle…”), it’s still good music. RBF
@ www.sonic-orange.com

Sonic Youth – “Murray Street” CD 7/45:43
I have the utmost respect for Sonic Youth, always have. And yes, there is a “but”… Jeez, they really do go on and on and on (average of over 6 minutes per song). And it’s not like this is a bunch of rave-ups where you can get into the groove. Most of the time, the tunes are ballads that seem to drift off hypnotically to instrumentals. Makes me wonder if they’re trying to be a cross twix the Velvet Underground and Phillip Glass, especially on “Rain on Tin.” Even when Kim gets some vocal time (wait for the middle of the last cut, here), like Nico, it’s more interesting than on key. I don’t have a problem with that, though what I do find disturbing is that I keep picturing the Monty Python “Travel Agent” sketch where Idle goes on about Watney’s Red Barrel, and Palin’s agent is yelling “shut up!” The reason it’s called minimalism is because it’s supposed to be minimal. Sonic Youth have turned it into a classic oxymoron. RBF
@ www.sonicyouth.com

Sonic Youth/I.C.P./the Ex – s/t CD 8/29:34
More than a few twits out there have slammed this record because it’s not “Washing Machine Pt. 2” or anything else that could have Kristen Hanna dancing around in videos; said people are totally missing the point. 4/5 of Sonic Youth teams up with some members of the Ex (a group with whom SY is not unfamiliar with) and some members of ICP (including Hans Bennink) and enter the “Fishtank”, leaving SY’s patented noiseindiestructuredpopwhatever at the door to take on the wonderful world of free jazz. Non-jazzbos tackling ”instant composition” can be a tricky proposition, but fortunately these guys (including SY) are not inexperienced in the genre, managing to stay focused enough to get their improv on without lapsing into “noodling” or falling back upon the post-fusion licks that certain “avant-garde” folks seem to love so much. The fact that they manage to keep the tracks short (only two tracks are over four minutes) instead of going on for 20 straight minutes in a row probably helps as well. This won’t get played between bands at the next Noisepop event, but it’s definitely worth checking out. David
@ www.tgrec.com

Sorry About Dresden – “Let It Rest” CD 12/44:53
A depressing band name, fully complimented by moody Chapel Hill rock that wears glasses and grew up listening to Jawbox but found itself missing most of that early 90’s anxiety. Instead, Sorry About Dresden has a honest pop awareness that enables it to write songs that are understandable to the mainstream college radio crowd. The Chapel Hill community continues its unrivaled streak of producing bands that could never even be considered remotely sexy. Xtian
@ www.sorryaboutdresden.com

Sounde Minds – s/t CD 5/20:17
The Sounde Minds are one of the most fucked up bands I’ve heard in awhile, like some blasphemous composite sketch of The Cure, The Rolling Stones and Sentridoh. Their sound is especially convenient considering the recent New York crop of 70s/80s-damaged hipster rock. They’d fit right in. Their instrumental approach is novel: seemingly off-time, paper-thin drums and clean electric guitars awkwardly frame injured, insanely melodic vocals. The structures are simple and consistent, employing one-string guitar leads and chugging barren chords from track to track. The elements don’t always come together seamlessly (as on the dreadful “Girls Can’t Choose At All”), but when they do you feel transported to another era of rock. Sloppy but heartfelt, rhythmically obtuse but melodically appealing, The Sounde Minds are one of the more thrilling bands mining the past in the present. John
@ Lo Hope, 556 Lincoln #3, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Sounds Like Violence – “The Pistol” CD 6/27:52
Apparently they’re from Sweden, but garage/Gearhead folks who’ll check this out based on that info will be in for a surprise. This is emo, Deep Elm style, and one of the better examples of said sub-genre: melodic without being saccharine, powerful and passionate without being melodramatic or contrived. Granted it helps to be into this genre in the first place, but emo (ex-)kids looking for something to re-spark their faith would be well advised to check this out. David
@ www.deepelm.com

South Bay Bessie - s/t CD 16/29:01
After a promising "Intro" describing a mythical sea monster named Bessie, this band quickly falls into tired pop punk melodies. There are a few neat rock n' roll guitar noises here and there, but such moments are overshadowed by a complete lack of imagination. Bottom line, you can't rock just by throwing in the occasional Kiss riff. Mark.
@ South Bay Bessie, PO Box 3482, Flint, MI 48502

Soviettes – “LPII” CD 14/23:22
If the Rezillos were around today in the post-Kill Rock Stars era, relocated to Minneapolis, without the sixties (as in “Thunderbirds are Go”/”Pop Art”, not “Summer of Love”) fixations but with their way with a uber-catchy tune still intact and female vox taking center stage, you’d most likely have something like the Soviettes. Needless to say this is very cool beans indeed. David
@ www.adelinerecords.com

Special Goodness – “Land, Sea, and Air” CD 12/39:34
In case you don’t recognize the two consternated looking fellows on the back of the bin card, just read the sticker on the front of the package. Why, that’s Atom Willard (Rocket From the Crypt) and Pat Wilson. Note the little winged “W” under Pat’s name. Wowee. That guy must be in Weezer. Good selling point, hence the sticker. The good folks at the record label aren’t going to let that little detail go unnoticed. Certainly, upon listening to this disc, the relation or worship of the aforementioned bands is obvious, and definitely resting more on the laurels of the band that put more hits on MTV. And why not do just that? That band hasn’t made a bad record yet, and while Rivers Cuomo is stroking his ego and pondering the timing of his next delivery of hits the rest of the band has got to occupy their time somehow. So, on with the side projects. As long as they’re respectable, we’ll all be more than ready for the goods the next time around. Xtian
@ Epitaph, 2798 Sunset Blvd., LA, CA 90026

Special Pillow – “Inside the Special Pillow” CD 13/54:25
Mix a bit of folk rock with psychedelic effects, and you have Special Pillow (perhaps a nod – no pun intended – to the Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow”?). Psychedelically speaking, this is much better than the so-called British neo-psych that was forced on us in the early ‘80s, but still, this is a tad pretentious. Well done, but ostentatious none-the-less. Songster Dan Cuddy presents his songs with aplomb, and if they were played pure pop, my attention would more likely be right there. Modern psych comes off as more electronica than electric, with a heavy production hand. Don’t get me wrong, as modern psych goes, this is well done: the songs try their best to be catchy, and Cuddy’s voice is a pleasant tenor, in a Chris Stamey way, it’s just that, I’m over it. I prefer more stripped down, plug-in-and-play these days. I must be listening to a lot of punk and singer-songwriter, those two bastions of lo-fi. RBF
@ www.specialpillow.com

Spectacular Fantastic – “New Equations for the Simple Mind” CD 13/48:50
Another one-man band, captured in the living room. It’s ever so slightly southern-fried mid-tempo rock filed under alternative with a space age resonance. Not a bad disc, but the recording makes it sound a bit empty at times. Xtian
@ www.ionikrecords.com

Spectacular Fantastic – “Vortex of Vacancy” CD 13/42:52
Not to be confused with The Special Goodness, this Cincinnati Psyche-Folk outfit has lots more to offer than the similarly named band that is better known. This CD is full of great songwriting, spearheaded by Indiana native Mike Detmer. Like every other Midwestern songwriter, he’s greatly affected by external forces that his peers on the coasts are most often free from. Things like mad cows, single-lane bridges, parents who like Brooks and Dunn, etc. You can hear this right from the start. It’s touched by alt-country and folk influences, but in such a way that it’s hard to single out any by name except Neil Young and fellow Ohioans the Ass Ponys. But not as country as the Ponys, and not as rock as Mr. Young. Great melodies, great pop. Xtian
@ www.spectacularfantastic.net

Spectors - "Beat is Murder: Cockfights and Cakefights 1992-1996" CD 21/57:04
Another great band with a garage sound that pre-dates the popular movement of today, The Spectors are just plain fun. According to the liner notes on this collection, the members fought constantly. The unified cool of their sound is therefore all the more astounding. None of the conflict can be heard in these amazing tunes. These guys move like a single entity, rockin' out and recalling a time when big belts and sideburns were the in thing. "Private Dick", "Oh, How to Do", "Gotta Sow My Wild Oats", each and every song is an instant, rump-shakin' classic. Crazy, baby! Mark
@ Get Hip, PO Box 666, Canonsburg, PA 15317

Speedealer – “Burned Alive” CD 17/40:24
These guys are always touring. I mean, I’ve seen them so many times and they always deliver an amazing show. Half stoner rock, half crusty punk but all rawk n rool with an equal amount of fast and sludgy tunes. I mean, I think Speedealer (formerly known as REO Speedealer but got in trouble with the aging stadium rock band over name infringement…if you can stand it!) should only do live albums because that’s where they always are: On the road and on the stage. Well, they do get into the studio now and then, but its only an excuse to hit the trail again and open up for bands like Pantera, Motorhead, The Misfits, etc, all of whom I’ve seen them play with. Plus other headlining shows in clubs where the beer flows like wine and heads bob up and down in repetition to the 70s rawk gone ballistic meatgrinder in a meth lab about to explode. Man I love these guys. It’s like you want to both hug and kill your best friend when you hear this music. Well that’s me anyway. Plus my best friend owes me money so…there’s that! Whittaker
@ www.radicalrecords.com

Speedwell - "My Life is a Series of Vacations" CD 4/13:36
Jimmy Eat World hath spawned some awful imitators, or at least it's starting to sound that way. Take Speedwell, a well-meaning but uninspired band from Washington, D.C. Their faceless, radio-ready emocore is as stifling as it is earnest. Is this the product of Jimmy Eat World's oppressive ubiquity? Let's hope not. It would signal a bleak future for all those upper-middle class white kids with guitars. John
@ www.speedwellrockmusic.com

Spencer Davis Group – “Keep on Running” CD 20/68:46
At first glance this comp might be mistaken for a “greatest hits” collection, since it does include most of this British R&B/white soul band’s biggest numbers. But in reality it’s more of a rarities collection that contains a mixture of radio sessions, live songs, and LP tracks spanning the group’s entire career (‘63-74). Although huge Spencer Davis fans will no doubt gobble this up, less obsessed listeners would do better to pick up their first two albums, both of which were recently reissued by Sundazed. Jeff
@ www.cherryred.co.uk

Spicy Rizzaks - “Actually no…this is it!” CD 3/11:23
The lead singer’s name is Jon Bon Rizzak, the guitar player is Eddie Van Rizzak, on bass we have Bootsy Rizzak and Ringo Rizzak plays the drums…of course. Pretty funny concept for a pretty fun band. The three songs here are speed rock gone full blown backyard warrior with a great sense of humor and heavy enough sound to make them rise above the usual frat rock one would expect from an outfit like this. “Action Slacks” is almost an epic fable of backseat love gone horribly wrong. Or right…you decide. All in all, in three songs, The Spicy Rizzaks impressed enough for me to say check ‘em out or maybe just wait till the full length or even if they come through to your town, because I bet they put on a pretty good show. When you hear them you’ll visualize the four boys jumping around and flailing through smoke machines and flashpots. At least that’s what I saw. Whittaker
@ Bwatt!, 97 Clinton St. #1B, NYC NY 10002

Spinning Jennies - "Stratosphere" CD 12/47:11
Veteran Bay Area power-pop combo carries on in what-ain’t-broke-why-fix fashion on their fifth CD release. The material engages in a tuneful yet amiably hard and crunching fashion that, while not exactly remaking the power-pop wheel, is certainly possessed of much personality and zest. Fantastically faithful rip-roar through 80’s LA paisley deities, the Three O’Clock’s “Jet Fighter” shows some recent history smarts, too. MLH
@ www.thespinningjennies.com

Spirit - "The Best of Spirit" CD 16/54:38
Spirit were a staple of progressive FM radio in the late '60s with tunes like, "Fresh Garbage", Nature's Way and "Animal Zoo". They brought psych and jazz elements into their ecclectic progressive rock sound. Their one crossover smash was the catchy rocker, "I Got a Line On You". An excellent collection of tunes that hold up surprisingly well, although the 5 bonus tracks don't add much. Mel
@ www.legacyrecordings.com

Spiritualized – “Amazing Grace” CD 11/43:03
J. Spaceman (Jason Pierce) cannot be called “prolific”. 4 years passed between Spiritualized’s last two full-length releases, and he’s notorious for working out details ad infinitum. This time around it only took Pierce 2 years to get a new disc out to the public, and this sprint to the finish shows with “Amazing Grace” being surprising in its relative minimalism when compared to his 2 previous efforts. Granted, the sound is still big and ambitious. It is, after all, a Spiritualized record. However, Pierce has really stripped the sound down from the opus category to just being grandiose rock. The orchestra is gone, the guitar is back in the forefront, and the entire disc was recorded in 3 weeks – a timeframe that is miniscule compared to what we’ve come to expect from this guy. Some of us missed the blistery drug-addled psych-rock feel that all but disappeared on “Let It Come Down”. Maybe Pierce knew this. People who thought the last disc was just a little too much on all front will dig the returning sting on tracks like This Little Life of Mine and Cheapster, and it’s nice to just hear Pierce sit down and play a song or two without needing a philharmonic or choir behind him. He still has enough soul on his own. A step towards the past looks like it will be better for the future. Xtian
@ www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com

Spitalfield – “The Cloak and Dagger Club” CD 5/25:08
Glossy pop-punk, this release is chock full of melody and harmonies, with a hard-driving sound. The production is so slick, it’s hard to get it to stick to my brainpan. Everything is in place here. It’s obvious these guys are vying for the top of the field, and from this sound they have the chance. The college radios should be eating this up. Will the punx accept it, who knows. Maybe locals? Don’t get me wrong; the band is highly talented, in style, musicianship, vocals, and especially songwriting. I’ll just leave it to the college radio listeners, and let them decide if this is what they want to hear. In general principal, when it comes to the harder pop sounds, I’ll stick with something a bit rougher. RBF
@ www.spitalfield.net

Spits – s/t CD 9/17:37
The Spits reactivate to grace us with album #3. Not so much wave-influenced punk as much as if Robbie da Robot (or, more likely, 4 primitive robots like the one shown on the cover) listened to too much Ramones while being programmed by their obviously mad creator. One more reason why the Dirtnap label means quality. David
@ www.dirtnaprecs.com

Split Habit – “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” CD 10/50:36
This is a decent power pop effort from this band out of Chicago, but it’s also got some problems. The songs aren’t anything new (problem #1), but people who write them off as just a Good Charlotte (or insert any of the current crop of pop punk drivel on the charts these days) rip off band are missing something here. They’ve got some song structures here that stray from the straight up 1-2-3-4 rhythms, and the catchiness of the material also separates them from the pack a bit. Having said that, Split Habit goes in so many different directions (problem #2), from pop punk to faux-emo (problem #3) to dance-ish new wave like stuff on the last track that they lack a vision of their own (problem #4). There is a lot of promise on this disc, but it suffers from a lack of any real direction. Yeah, it’s catchy, yeah it’s something you’ll tap a toe to here and there, but it’s not something you’ll listen to more than a couple of times; then you’ll look for something else to listen to. I do think they’ve got plenty of potential though, and will keep an eye open for future efforts. Steve
@ www.doublezerorecords.com

Spokane - “Measurement” CD 8/35:27
This is what my friend Greg would all ‘sleepy time’ music. Spokane make Low look like an upbeat group. This is the fourth release from this mellow lot, and the group has now grown into a three piece with the addition of bassist Robert Donne (known from Labradford and Breadwinner). Since I haven’t heard their previous albums, it’s hard to say how this has changed from those other discs, but from what I’ve read they seem to be pretty much staying the course. Alternating male and female vocals are the name of the game, combined with extremely atmospheric music along the lines of less frantic Dirty 3, the aforementioned Low, and maybe even a little newer Mogwai thrown in for good measure. Although I don’t think I would want to attend their show without a cot to lie down on, the album is a nice pleasant listen and worth checking out. Jake
@ www.jagjaguwar.com

Sportique - Communique No. 9 CD 8/17:22
Though they may have originally garnered attention for being the band Amelia Fletcher retreated to following the dissolution of Marine Research, Sportique have gone a long way to refine their brawny Fall-Meets-Weddoes rock blueprint. Recorded at Toerag, the same studio where The White Stripes laid down their lauded Elephant, Communique No. 9 is all sneer. The eight songs here work from a bare-bones background: thumping bass, whistling organ, and brittle guitar. Over that comes Greg Webster’s wry Marquis Cha-Cha delivery, howling phrases like “Welcome to the manifesto!” over stuttering riffs. “Angry Street” pops and pulses, propelled by Fletcher’s hiccupping keyboard line and Webster’s taut strums. Webster does recalls both Nikki Sudden and Mark E, especially the way he draws out syllables in lines like “I’m not nach’rally fusssaayyyyy”. All of these elements make for an envigorating rock record, one that channells the past without gratuitously aping it. J Edward
@ www.indiepages.com/matinee

Spraydog – “Mint Hand” CD 14/43:04
Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Spraydog melds fuzzy guitars with a driving beat in a way that produces memorable guitar pop tunes with a frequently ethereal style, much the same way that Dinosaur Jr. did on “Green Mind.” This is a bit lighter, though, and the shared male/wispy female vocals help pull it all together so nothing here sounds out of place. Xtian
@ www.spraydog.co.uk

SPRCSS - "Taste Like Daughter" CD 6/25:04
This two man outfit has just released their latest effort on My Pal God Records and, save for one song, produced an unmistakably forgettable record. Imagine a San Diego indie rock band a la Pinback or Hot Snakes, except more monotonous and annoying. I'd have no problem writing off this band and this album...except track #3 is so fucking good! My advice to you my friend is to buy this album, copy "The Sun Provides Vitamin D," then sell it back to the record store and get an album you can actually listen to the whole way through. Mona
@ http://sprcss.com

Springfields – s/t CD 14/27:42
Not only are the Springfields’ lyrics brainless, their music is faceless new-style melodic punk- minus any hint of catchiness. Hopefully this is their first release, and later releases will show signs of songwriting and intellect. This would’ve been a demo tape 10 years ago, listened to only by the band members immediate circle of friends, but thanks to the CD revolution we’re all possible victims of their mediocrity. Not to say that this is awful, it’s just not distinct or dynamic in any way. Here’s hoping they put out a decent record next time. Jesse
@ VMS, PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203

Squires Of The Subterrain - "Big Boy Pete Treats" CD 15/44:55
Think these guys are local, maybe not, while certainly contemporary, while Mr. Miller is a veteran British psych-rock also-ran much beloved by fans of mags like Ugly Things. This is a collaboration between the two, which features the Squires airing out 60's chestnuts from Miller's musical archives. Nothing terribly surprising if you're a fan of the psychpop / freakbeat thing and its many practitioners, past or present, but perfectly and reasonably listenable stuff nonetheless. MLH
@ www.squiresofthesubterrain.com

Squirtgun/Teen Idols - split CD 4/8:53
Two songs by each band, both of whom are now on Fat. Neither have changed their style much since the last time I heard them; they both do basic three chord Ramones style punk pop. The Teen Idols songs are a little more fast paced and utilize some great guitar leads in the middle of songs. It would be nice if they took better advantage of bassist Heather's vocal skills on these tracks, but that's life. Squirtgun is the musical vehicle for Mass Giorgini of the Sonic Iguana production studio, and their songs have a touch more humor in the lyrics. I've heard both do better songs, but if you're a fan of the bands, pick up this limited release and you won't be disappointed. Steve
@ www.asianmanrecords.com

Staci Twigg - "True Tales of Love, Rejection and Fury" CD 11/34:32
ST open with the well-delivered hard pop of "See Saw" and sound kinda like Scrawl. Singer Julie's vox are strong and clear but after this track the record mostly degenerates with each subsequent song until it is harmless brand x rock. "Adrenalin" and "In the Meantime" rise slightly above the basement, but not much. Anthony
@ www.stacitwigg.com

Staggers – “One Heartbeat Away From Hell” CD 11/37:39
Well now…here we go. This band, The Staggers, reminds me if Glenn Danzig were to hop on the punk-a- billy train and wind up in some roadhouse just outside of Jacksonville. The music is tough guy, full tattooed and fulla whiskey, they creep through tombs and back alleys to crate tunes that are tightly wrapped up in punk rock honky tonks and plenty of love for pompadours and finely crafted sideburns. And to be quite honest with you, this is one of the better bands in that genre to come along in a while. Fans of Necromantix and Social Distortion should take heed and head out to the local record barn to see if your copy of The Staggers has arrived. It has just the right amount of rumble, spittoon heavy weight and seething darkness to formulate an easy score on the “Man You Gotta Hear This” factor. I would imagine these cats being amazing live and talking about old horror movies afterward would be required. Or how much we miss Johnny Cash. Maybe all of it. Glenn Danzig…BEWARE!! Whittaker
@ www.hauntedtownrecords.com

Stairwell – “The Sounds of Change” CD 10/35:01
Get mah skates so I don’t hurt myself sliding over this glossy production. Strongly mainstream material. Not surprising, considering they list their influences to include nearly ALL top 10 radio kinda material, like The Smiths, Nirvana, and Huey Lewis & The News (Ugh!). Actually, they are geared to “make it” and definitely have the sound down. Their sound and harmony is tight as OJ’s glove, and they rock out. I can see great things in their future, like MTV, possibly a shot on Saturday Night Live, that show with Carson Daly, Letterman, and so on. But are they having fun? Personally, I’m looking for a more rough edge, and a band that doesn’t necessarily seem to take themselves so seriously. RBF
@ www.stairwell.net

Stalag 13 – “In Control” CD 13/20:57
A legit reissue of the Nardcore fave; there was a previous blink-and-you’d-miss-it reissue on Lost & Found, but this version has the advantage of printed lyrics, improved sound, and four bonus tracks (not to mention the greater probability of the band actually getting paid). While it’s not quite as timeless as Adolescents, Zero Boys, etc. (even at their best they weren’t quite as distinctive as, say, Minor Threat) this is still a powerful slab of period hardcore that’s held up better than most of the Nardcore crew. Time to break out that skateboard again… David
@ www.drstrange.com (MP3s available)

Stand & Fight – s/t CD 12/18:05
Yeah, straightedge hardcore is just my bag to be reviewing. I just don’t much care for the stuff, and this isn’t much different that any other band I’ve heard in the genre. Maybe a little less on the metal edge than some of the other bands I’ve heard, with some definite power chord stuff on the guitars, but it’s still full of lyrics I can’t understand and bass lines that chug along way too much for my tastes. I don’t think they’re bad or anything, but it’s just not my cup of tea. The first six songs are fresh studio recordings, while the last six are demos. Frankly I find the demos a tad more interesting, since the weaker production actually gives the songs a little more definition to my ear; you can hear the lyrics more clearly and the guitars some through in a less amped up style. But I’m not going to dig this much no matter what, but then again, I’m not the guy to listen to on this since all this style does is give me a headache. Steve
@ www.bridge9.com

Stand-Ins – “Clean Slate” CD 12/38:49
This power trio is actually made up of musicians who are members of other bands (The Eskimos, Neat Stripes and the Routine Felonies) in the Athens, GA area, who joined together as a lark side project. It proved so much fun for them, this CD is the result. I can’t remember the last pure rock album I’ve heard, but the song “Sharp Stick” has a strong bearing of “In-Da-Gadda-Da-Vita” (baby). Though occasionally over-modulated to fuzziness, the band accomplishes its goal, including the inevitable solos. RBF
@ Medium Build, PO Box 574, Athens, GA 30603

Stanton Meadowdale - s/t CD 12/25:30
This randomly lo-fi disc of skeletal acoustic-rock songs references fellow Texans like Spoon (vocals) and Baptists Generals (guitar and drums textures) but doesn't offer a whole lot of variation on their finely-tuned styles. It's agreeable music, with frequently clever lyrics, but devoid of anything resembling innovation. "Girl" might as well have been a Stones cover, while "Waiting by the Phone" and "King of Carlton Cigarettes" were, I think, already written and recorded by Guided by Voices. Impossible to hate, but difficult to love. John
@ www.simulcastrecords.com

Starbelly – “Everyday and Then Some” CD 12/43:10
Dennis Schocket, Bryan Ewald and Greg Schroeder, the three members of this rock outfit, share the songwriting and singing chores on the band’s second disc. Their vocal style is infections on tracks like “Hello, Hello,” a swirling little number and the smartly-titled “Broken Hearts in Stereo.” These guys love their vocal harmonies and they excel at the sub-four minute pop song. A thoughtful and catchy record from a band worth watching. Kevin
@ www.starbelly.tv

Starflyer 59 - “Old” CD/2X10 inch
Sure, Starflyer 59's name may suggest alternarock mediocrity (Matchbox 20, anyone? 12 Stones? Anyone???), but if you haven’t heard them yet, don’t mistake these guys for the same old packaged angst. The vibe here is far more similar to a hybrid of the Cult and My Bloody Valentine, shoegazer rock with a hint of goth, particularly in the sinister “Underneath” and “First Heart Attack.” The band also expand their chops for a bit of catchy strumming in the form of Passengers`” which sticks in your head and announces itself as the album’s standout track from moment one. This one’s not for everyone, but old SF59 fans will slip right into this one, and a few newbies might end up coming along for the ride. Ryan
@ www.starflyer59.net

Start Trouble – “Every Solution Has Its Problem” CD 14/49:04
More of the same from the major labels. Man, what else is there to say about some of these melodic punk bands that write generic songs. They try to wear their hearts on their sleeves, but sound just like a million other Warped Tour bands, and think the way to write a love song is to say “I want to fuck non-stop, I think your beautiful/You gotta tell your dad I’m cool”. Yeah, right…someone says that to my daughter and they’re getting a baseball bat between the eyes. They can’t seem to find a niche on this, jumping from “punk” to ska and lovely ballads like the one I quoted from above. Please note the sarcasm in that last part. No wonder the punk pop is dying off as a marketable force; the majors just don’t have a clue. Steve
@ www.columbiarecords.com

Starting Line – “Say It Like You Mean It” CD 13/47:37
OK…these guys are being primed for hitting the midway big time. You can smell the Warped Tour all over these guys, all of whom fit the cute and spiky haired look we all know and love from all of the same bands and same videos across the board. 14-year-old girls will swoon and 14-year-old boys will want to start a band just like this so they too can have 14-year-old girls swoon over them. If only they can get the zits to go away and just learn how to play an instrument. So instead they but the CD, keep their job at the Wiener Hut and skateboard into the sunset hoping someday that the cute red haired girl will notice them. The same girl with a poster of The Starting Line in her locker. It’s all a big circle and it is all necessary in the finite scheme of things. Good luck kids! Whittaker
@ www.drivethrurecords.com

Starvations – “Get Well Soon” CD 11/31:38
The Starvations continue down that country-folk-blues-punk path, having picked up a new accordion player along the way. “This Is What You Wanted?” has a nice Bad Seeds feel to it, and while the ghost of the Gun Club still rears its head up at times, these Starvations folks seem to be growing into their own sound. That said, while this is solid and energetic and all-that, this particular release (their second full-lengther) doesn’t quite make the impact their recent seven inch waxing did. Not bad, but one of those releases you should probably borrow from a friend because making the decision to part with some hard-earned bucks. David
@ www.goldstandardlabs.com

State Control – “No Escape” 9/14:04
More Bosstown hardcore, influenced by ye olde 80s UK hardcore; you can almost see the Mohawks as the music blares out of the speakers. Nothing new of course, but unlike more than a few similar-minded folks out there they manage to inject enough energy into the proceedings to make it through on intensity if not originality. Check out the title track if you need convincing. David
@ www.rodentpopsicle.com

Static Taxi – “Closer2Normal” CD 10/35:04
This posthumous release is of the late Bob Stinson, after he’d been booted from the Replacements for overindulgence. His guitar work really stands out in each of the original tunes, with more of a Johnny Thunders feel than a Paul Westerberg one. The sound is described as “acid blues`” due to the late ‘60s heavy rock sound, but there is definitely a late-‘80s clarity and pop style within that influence. Ray Reigistad’s vocals are grainy, and lend a level of legitimacy to the overall tone of the songs. Inside the CD booklet is a paragraph that explains the history of each song, which raising the appreciation of them that much more. RBF
@ www.birdmanrecords.com

Statica – s/t CD 14/45:39
Martin Blasick leads Statica down a road of powerpop harmonies and catchy melodies. And while it’s all pretty sweet, it’s not sickeningly so (e.g., The Rembrandts). In fact, Martin’s voice sounds a bit like Bob Mould’s, just a bit more straight-laced. This is especially true on their cover of “The Morning After” (the theme from “The Poseidon Adventure”). Their press describes them as a mixture of the Raspberries, Beach Boys and Big Star. Sure, why not, ‘cause they would have fit well into the pop scene of the early ‘70s, alongside Bread and maybe the Buckinghams. Either way, this trio is sort of the equivalent of comfort food with a bit of bite. No threats here, just harmonious down-home listening. RBF
@ www.deliriumrecords.com

Steady Ups – “Soul Of The City” CD 21/66:50
Sacratomato-based ska band that has been around for ten years, they opt for a more reggae-fied roots vibe than a manic ska presentation. Example, “Better Days”, which incorporates just enough horn work to accent the phrasings, not overpower them. A lot of this works on both levels, laid-back Anglo-ska or terse reggae. “You Amaze Me” is accessible, third wave pop rock-ska with a dyno female vocal by Shannan Robinson. “Live Forever” uses a simple organ rhythm to underscore a sharp rocksteady groove. They maintain a consistently high standard throughout, balancing deep soul, dub and dancehall. Not an easy task. They deserve more recognition. But, so do lots of us. Anthony
@ www.jumpuprecords.com

Steel Pulse - “Millennium Collection” CD 13/49:48
Given the political turbulence that England’s West Indian populace dealt with during the 1970’s, it seemed incumbent upon them to develop their own homegrown rebel sounds - which produced bands like Matumbi, Aswad, the dreaded (not in the follicle sense) UB40, and of course Handsworth’s finest, Steel Pulse. At their best, most were a match for their Kingston brethren, and the Pulse were no exception. As with most discs in the Millennium Chronicles series, this is a well-considered skimming of career highlights, in this case focusing on the band’s early, and for some best, recorded work. That said, it’s a bit of a shame some of their more commercial 80’s work for Elektra (cuts like “Stepping Out”, for ex., from the wildly successful Earth Crisis LP) was thought unworthy of inclusion. All told though, little to find fault with here, and worthy accompaniment for the burning of a spliff or three. MLH
@ www.hip-o.com

Steinbecks - "Branches and Fronds Brushing the Windows" CD 6/25:23
I'm thinking that if I win the lottery, I just might head down to Australia. They're relatively far removed from world politics, so unlikely to be too big a terrorist target, it's far away from the U.S. in case Bush wins re-election, and has a nice climate, from what I can tell. Plus, there are a ton of great bands there! The Steinbecks have been around for awhile, forming from the ashes of the Sugargliders, doing indie pop stuff way before the Lucksmiths and others from down under made their mark here in the states. I think part of the reason for their lack of recognition is that they release material on an infrequent basis; a full length in 1994, and ever since, just a handful of singles. At least what they do put out is quality, "Song For Today", the third track on this, is exceptional indie pop along the lines of some of the best of the Housemartins. "Mens Suit Hire" includes a trumpet, a great female backing vocal, and most tracks have a nice gritty guitar running through them. Prime material that fans of the Lucksmiths, Belle and Sebastian and others in the vein would like. I just hope this means there will be more coming from this fine band. Steve
@ www.microindie.com

Stella Luna –“Stargazer” CD 4/26:24
More of dat ethereal “oceanic” rock that used to be called “shoegazer” back in the day, with m/f vox. These folks expertly conjure up swirling waves of noise like My Bloody Valentine used to do, with the atmospheric wall-of-sound that Slowdive could come up with during their prime, resulting in quite a tasty release. Superior to many a band trading in similar sounds. David
@ www.clairecords.com

Stephin Merritt - "Pieces of April" CD 10/26:40
This is the soundtrack to the film "Pieces of April" and it features Merritt's work exclusively, either with the Magnetic Fields or songs done for the 6ths. Some of the material is previously released, but there are five new songs here; four Fields tracks and one solo song. There isn't anything new here; Merritt has always been one of the more eclectic songwriters around, mixing guitars and electronics into a unique blend of indie pop strumalongs. Merritt's intentionally crooning deep vocal style fits the music; adding to the melancholy nature of the songs. The imagery of Merritt's lyrics often are of love going slightly askew, but always in the end love is the most important thing. When he sings on "Stray With Me" "when I come home in the morning and I'm too drunk for lies, stray with me", you know that he believes in a love that will make it through both good and bad times. That's a theme that populates these songs, and it works for me. Nice stuff, and nice to hear in the press release that Merritt is working on a new Magnetic Fields release for 2004. Steve
@ www.nonesuch.com

Stereophonics - “You Gotta Go There to Come Back” CD 13/59:11
Tanks to the White Stripes, today’s listener has any number of options for major-label, dirty blues, from the Black Keys to the Kills (both of whom are excellent). However, not until has an act deserved a comparison to that most holy of blues rock grails, the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street.” Stereophonics make blues rawk, where gospel singers are a fifth instrument instead of an occasional novelty. The album kicks of with the shuffling “Help Me (She’s Out of her Mind)`” and keeps the groove going throughout. Vocalist Kelly Jones says in the liner notes that the album was recorded at a song-a-day clip, and “very spontaneous and very raw and very fast.” This technique really brings these songs to life, as the vocals aren’t always perfect, and the songs don’t resonate with any kind of studio polish. Throw this one when you’re playing pool over cigarettes and bourbon, and then just try to get it out of your player. Ryan
@ www.stereophonics.com

Stereosoul – s/t CD 10/36:51
Sometimes retro and derivative can have bad connotations, but I don’t mean that when I say that those words best describe Stereosoul. Okay, its production value is glossy beyond control, but the songs range from suitably silly (“Internet Life Sucks”) to rockin’. And there is a definite strong hint of hookage. Hailing from Springsteen territory of New Jersey, Stereosoul is a power pop band strongly influenced by early ‘70s AM radio, and early ‘80s FM pop (Supertrampp meets Rick Springfield?). Formed as Cosmic Avenger, Supersoul has morphed into a band that would probably sound like a lot of fun at a party, or Bat Mitzvah. RBF
@ www.stereosoul.com

StereoTotal - “Oh Ah” CD 20/47:15
For years now I’ve been wondering why I can’t get into this band. It has all of these elements that I like: the French yeh-yeh pop, Gainsburg covers, quirkiness (the first track contains a great typewriter solo!). So why is it that I can’t seem to make it through an entire album? I know part of it is Francoise Cactus’ dangerously flat vocals on this re-release of their 1995 CD. It seems that after a couple of great songs (i.e. “Moviestar” ,“Johnny”), a real dud is stuck in there (i.e. the limp , “Push It”, “Comme un Garcon”), so that halfway through, I’m so grated, I can’t make it to the end. Stereo Total is ultimately a band whose music comes across better when described in print than when actually heard. Pam
@ www.killrockstars.com

Stereotypes - "1" CD 8/27:34
In an era of fake rock n' roll, with "alternative" translating to overehyped gimmick bands like the Donnas, White Stripes, etc., and bastardised corporate versions of rock genres demographically targeted to kids who wouldn't know the real thing if they heard it, San Diego's Stereotyoes are a breath of fresh air. Taking '60s influences like Motown, Dylan, Stooges and Velvets, Stereotypes create memorable tunes with a edgey contemporary sound all their own. The arrangements and production add a lot to the mix, and the lead vox coming out of a guitar amp are distinctive and cool. "Knives" alone is worth the price of admission - if it doesn't rock your world nothing ever will! The last time an unknown American band put out an album this good was Guided By Voices' "Same Place The Fly Got Smashed", and that was back in 1990. Mel
@ www.stereotypesmusic.com/

Stereotypes - “2” CD 8/25:28
There’s nothing particularly new going on here; very much along the lines of many of the new breed of poppy-garage rockers like the Von Bondies or the White Stripes or whoever. Yet, I find this release extremely easy on the ears and not a bad listen at all. I’m thinking this is mostly due to two reasons: first, the songs are catchy, in a very Spoon or Exploding Hearts-like way; second, singer John Finkbiner’s voice has this great ear-catching quality, very pleasant to listen to. What’s more, the band keeps it short and sweet with this release, never giving you the chance to get bored with them (more bands could take a lesson from this – a lot of the time, less is more). Jake
@ www.stereotypesmusic.com

Steve Burns - "Songs For Dust Mites" CD 12/45:48
In which celebrated kid’s TV host, who forthrightly counts among his fanbase ‘stoned college students’, hooks up with some other folks held in regard among the young and chemically altered, namely Steven Drozd and other Flaming Lips regulars. The latter’s sonic fingerprints are all over this, but it’s primarily Burns’ show. It’s not unpleasant, the guy has a decent enough voice that can be gutsy as well as intimate, and even if the melodies do occasion to walk on the sensitive nouveau-troub side, Drozd and crew provide enough dazzle and detailing in the arrangements to keep the bulk of this at least interesting, if ultimately inoffensive. Still, not what one would think of coming from the mind of the former Mr. BLUE’S CLUES, and all the more welcome for that. MLH
@ www.piasamerica.com

Steve Caballero – “Bandology Vol. 1” CD 18/60:25
This documents pro-skater legend Caballero’s musical journey from his best-known band, skate rock gods The Faction, through the overwrought synth-tinged period of the late 80s (Odd Man Out), the metal period of the early 90s (Shovelhead), and the female-fronted melodic punk years (Soda). Honestly, you could chart a course of Northern California punk/underground history, for better and for worse. I’m bummed I missed Soda, they sounded right up my alley. When’s volume 2? Jesse
@ www.sessionsrecords.com

Steve Earle – “The Millennium Collection” CD 12/43:39
Earle was one of the first “new country” artists in the ‘80s (songs here range from ’85-88). What made him so different is that he added a little rock into the formula and upped the production values to create something somewhat new, sort of like what Dylan did in ’65 to folk. Though this was not as earth shattering as Dylan, it still was one of the reformations leading to the modernization of country (note that the same is said for Dolly Parton’s “9-5” period). Anyway, while Earle was busy changing the face of country, in retrospect, the music on this CD seems kind of naïve (as is looking back at the NYC punk scene, considering what was to follow) and the production heavy-handed. In fact, one may conclude that Earle has become a victim of his period’s technology, because so much of the production makes the songs sound like they could be on the “Footloose” soundtrack. RBF
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Stiff Little Fingers – “Guitar and Drum” CD 14/45:12
Some of the punk rage is missing for sure, but that happens 27 years after a brilliant debut. Still, Jake Burns and the rest of SLF (including Bruce Foxton from the Jam) produce a good disc, maybe their best in 15 years or so. The title track opens the disc, and the chorus of “I believe in the power of guitar and drums” still says it all for these guys. There’s a nice tribute to Joe Stummer next, and there are several other good songs, with songwriting shared by Burns, Foxton, and the other band members. If anyone is picking this up and expecting to hear a song as brilliant as “Suspect Device”, then you’ll be disappointed. But they’ve still got the chops, occasionally hit some strong punk nerves, and use their maturity to create an album that puts most punk bands to shame. Steve
@ www.kungfurecords.com

Stillroven – “Too Many Spaces” CD 14/40:08
I liked quite a few of the mid-60’s offerings on the first Stillroven album put out by Sundazed, but this new, previously unreleased LP showcases the Minneapolis band at its worst, i.e., in its late 60’s psych and boogie rock phase. I don’t know about anyone else, but I could never stand this type of heavy, wanky, self-indulgent, blues-based crap, which not only served as the death knell of 60’s garage music but was also precisely what ’77 punk constituted a reaction against. Despite the presence of some cool psychedelic guitar work and a couple of good tracks (like “Tin Soldier”), this style of music unfortunately doesn’t sound any better in retrospect than it did when it was first recorded. Jeff
@ www.sundazed.com

Stingers ATX – “This Good Thing” CD 19/75:38
Originally released by Germany’s Grover, this Stingers’ latest finally makes it over here with the usual bonus tracks (3 new ones, 4 dubs). Pleasantly solid ska/rocksteady (with nothing in the way of cliched pseudo-Bosstones skapunkisms) that, if not earthshattering, helps show that there is still signs of life in the depleted genre known as ska. David
@ www.jumpuprecords.com

Stitches – “Five More Songs From…” CD 5/11:59
The reissue of the long-gone “Four More Songs From the Stitches” release, with their side of the split seven inch with Le Shok thrown in for good measure. Stitches do their patented brand of snotty ’77-lovin’ punk with no let-up in quality or intensity (if you’re looking for someone’s “sensitive” side you’ve come to the wrong place). Also includes two live videos of the Stitches in action for your viewing pleasure. David
@ www.kapowrecords.com

Stitches – “Twelve Imaginary Inches” CD 12/27:43
First full-lengther from this outfit of punk rock misfits (and proud of it, fucker) since 1995, still taking their cues from the vintage punk of yore though they seemed to have lost a step or two this time around. It’s a solid enough release, and more than solid on such tracks as “Foreign Currency”. Still, I’d be lying if I said they haven’t done better before. The enhanced CD comes with a video of “Automatic” if you have the technology. David
@ www.tkorecords.com

Stomper 98 – “Jetzt Erst Recht” CD 11/30:49
German Oi band with a saxaphone, odd. This record is full of melodic German-language skinhead chants, but the sax throws in a weird X-Ray Spex feel, kind of like if Poly Styrene was a 200 pound tattoo-covered German skinhead guy. Okay, maybe that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s a weird and unique thing none the less. Most of this is tough guys being melodic in a punk way- a.k.a. Oi- with some 2nd wave ska thrown in. I think if I saw these guys live I’d be sold on their schtick. The German lyrics include brief English explanations of the tunes, otherwise there’s no English in the package. A refreshing change, it’s almost as if the band’s from another country or something! Ha ha ha, I kill me… Jesse
@ DSS, PO Box 739, 4021 Linz, Austria

Stop It! – s/t CD 9/31:52
The music fits right in with the art-kind motif of the whole shebanga here. Stop It! play jangly throb rock with no basis for actual rhythm or tempo but do not deviate from the tonal creations they imbue with raspy screams, herking guitars sputtering from out of nowhere and a drummer you know smashes his set right after a good show. Or a bad one. Both I could see. Its gnarled displacement for the jilted age of drug mused kinder genius’ that like jungle gyms and minimalist fine art hung in smoky dungeons and trendy cafes. There are songs here, sure, don’t get me wrong, its just that they tend to spray and flail around in their own soup until one ends and another jumble hut begins making us all wonder what the hell the name is of this band anyway. But whatever you do…don’t stop it. Let it carry on. Let it mind its own business and thwart until the light of the morning after. Whittaker
@ www.roboticempire.com

Stop Motion – “Crushed” CD 11/37:31
Part punk, part pop, part arty, but mostly mainstream. It’s the later that drags this south Florida release from “party” to college radio. While music is very well played (these guys know their instruments) and the songwriting and singing is tight, it just does not have enough of a flair to keep my interest. Kind of release that would be played by a preppy trying to prove how cool he was. Or the girlfriend of a bandmember (in Brooklyn colloquialism, a “coatrack”). The problem is they are trying too hard to be cool, or to be on the radio. They may succeed in the later. Cool logo, though. RBF
@ www.thestopmotion.com

Straight Outta Junior High – “Kiss of Deaf” CD 14/42:46
Straight outta Omaha, these guys have been at it for a couple of years now, and have the musical sense of the NOFX and a sense of humor to the lyrics. Songs about building a home out of styrofoam, an opening cut that is nothing but name checks of people, places and things and being unable to get it up when the girl he’s been lusting after has to do it Limp Bizkit. There’s also rocking version of the insipid Bonnie Tyler tune “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. There’s not much else to say really; if you are a fan of speedy pop punk in the Fat vein, then this will serve you very well, if you’re not, well, you still might get a laugh or two out of it. I happen to think it’s pretty fun. Steve
@ www.fastmusic.com

Strangeways – “Power Pop” CD 14/40:18
Yet another fabulous reissue on the great British Detour label. Although the title of this CD is “Power Pop”, you’d be mistaken if you assumed it was at all wimpy. At their best this late ‘70s UK band cranked out super-dynamic rockin’ numbers with punky guitar power (as with “Dancing” “You’re On Your Own”, and “Stop”), which are not unlike the great songs by Irish groups like Rudi or the Moondogs. Even the poppier cuts have loud guitars and big hooks, and there are also some Jam-like neo-Mod tracks (like “Show Her You Care”) and a cool punk version of “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. Fans of the “Power Pearls” comps should love this record. Jeff
@ www.detour-records.co.uk

Stratford 4 – “Love & Distortion” CD 10/55:08
Pretty nice sophomore full-length from this SF outfit. Yeah they trade in ye olde noise pop, but it’s closer to folks like Ride and (in a few places) such post-shoegazer pop outfits like Adorable than the usual Sonic Youth /MBV/Slowdive Axis of Indie. Some songs delve into dream-pop, other times they crank up ye olde guitar-noise, sometimes they mix the two to satisfy yer swirl-pop yearnings. A quality release, what more need be said? David
@ www.jetsetrecords.com

Street Dogs – “Savin Hill” CD 15/41:06
Mike McColgan, who is the original lead singer of Dropkick Murphys, is back with another Boston rooted punk band and does a good job with it too. It seems that time away from the studio and the road has given ol’ Mike a good turn for the better as he honed his voice and his words to a grand pinpoint. The tunes here are driving and core without being too meathead-ish or dull in the center of the speed storm. Mainly the Street Dogs like to talk about the working class, which is quite understandable if you have spent any time in Boston. Great town, but man, there is a LOT of blue-collar dudes and the bars line the streets like carnival ducks waiting to be shot. Which is why the town has such a distinct sound. Angry but with a soft center and an almost Irish beer drinking song anthem to each ditty. You can just see the crowd pounding their fists and singing along to each and every tune, knowing the words even more than the singer does. It’s always a fun sight to see. And with the Street Dogs here you’ll get every bit of that experience. Plus its good to see McColgan back in the race. At this steady pace, he’ll come out ahead of the rest. Whittaker
@ www.crosscheckrecords.com

Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs – “Maximum Overdrive” CD 18/49:25
Here we have the first Cheetahs’ LP, plus songs from a couple of rare cover track singles featuring Deniz Tek (of Radio Birdman fame) and Cherrie Currie (ex-Runaways). It’s filled with their trademark high-energy punk’n’roll – you know, the kind of stuff that’s most appealing live in small clubs when one is way intoxicated – along with poppier tracks with loud guitars (like “All I Want” and “Peppermint”). “Little Tokyo,” “Thought that Crosses My Mind,” “More Fun,” and “Gettin’ Sick” are all terrific songs. Jeff
@ www.alive-totalenergy.com

Striking Distance - "The Bleeding Starts Here" CD 17/22:33
These four guys are a DC hardcore band that, according to their liner notes started "almost as a joke band". This is a re-release of their first seven inch, a nine song, ten minute affair originally put out in 1999. Also included are demo versions of six songs from their CD "March To Your Grave", and covers of Minor Threat's "Screaming At A Wall", and Void's "My Rules". The first nine tracks are all fairly one-dimensional and mediocre "hardcore", but the songs do get better around track ten (i.e. when the demo versions from their CD start). So I guess you would probably be better off just buying the "March To Your Grave" CD than buying this one, unless for some crazy reason you've “just got to have” that first Striking Distance seven inch. Trust me, you don't. Manny
@ www.reflectionsrecords.com

Strokes - “Room on Fire” CD 11/33:05
Don’t let the “other” reviewers fool you - the Strokes haven’t grown up with this album, and they haven’t improved upon their sound. And, frankly, that’s just fine. “Room on Fire” could have been titled “Is this It Part 2" but hell, that was one hell of an album. And while th Radioheads of the world are content to give us the sound of a new band on every album, the Strokes would rather take the sound many fawned upon (and, I fairness, many panned) and simply extend it to 11 fantastic new tracks. While “What Ever Happened?” is a little harder and “Under Control” is a little slower, this is the Strokes sound at it’s essence, from Julian Casablancas’ phoned-in vocals to Fab Moretti’s steady (too steady?) hands on drums. Give me the crazy new direction from other act - in the meantime, the Strokes have crafted a follow-up that fans can toss in and tap their toes to from minute one. Can that be so bad? Ryan
@ www.thestrokes.com

Strung Out - "Live in a Dive" CD 21/68:15
Live or canned, this is just another weak Fat Wreck band, pretending to be punk. I swear, half the crowd noise seems to be people booing. And well they should. The whiney sound on this record doesn't stop with the vocals. The guitars have a whining quality as well. The playing is so wimpy and unexciting, these boys would probably be kicked out of band camp for being too mainstream. Mark
@ www.fatwreck.com

Stuck-Ups – “Human Doll Express” CD 12/2:30
Pretty fine fem-voxed punk, laden with attitude and spite, plus they actually know how to use a keyboard. Musically they take their cues from vintage skinny-tied punk, back when punks actually were still wearing skinny ties before said apparel was co-opted by the Knack wannabes (bastards!). Definitely worth checking out! David
@ www.sympathyrecords.com

Stud Cole – “Burn Baby Burn” CD 14/38:57
Who the hell is Stud Cole? He is actually Patrick Tirone, a/k/a Tyrone, a/k/a Virgil Trux. This disc collects LA recordings from ’63 to ’68. The phrase “undiscovered genius” is overwrought but applicable here. This is pure uber-rock-a-billy of the highest order. There is a haunting, organic quality to the recording that you never hear on modern day records, almost a ghostly quality. It’s fuzzy (“Burn Baby Burn”), bluesy (Waitin’ Time Blues”), psychedelic (“”My Baby’s Comin’ ”) and suave (“Oh…I love you”). Not a dud in the bunch. Incredibly, Cole never caught on in LA and left the biz in ’68. Gotta give Norton props for this one. This guy was Lux and the Cramps twenty years earlier. He utilized the whole palette of roots music and did it expertly. Anthony
@ www.nortonrecords.com

Stylex - “False Start” CD 7/24:08
Stylex takes electro-rock paranoia a step further on their latest full-length. Espousing the same dystopian boogie ethic as Devo and Brainiac (two of the most influential, under-credited Ohio bands I can think of), Stylex up the ante with mechanically tight arrangements and abrasive, confrontational lyrics. Low rent rhythms and vocoders meet walls of guttural guitars in ways that would make Tim Taylor proud. I see nothing keeping Stylex from being a national sensation on par with The Liars or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Very New York, very dark, and yet these guys are from my alma mater of Bowling Green, Ohio. What the…? At least they’re not ashamed of it like, say, former BG’ers Aloha (who like to pretend they're from Cleveland). Excellent, ass-tight production and vicious shards of melody are all the more reason to pick up this challenging, thickly-layered mindfuck. John
@ www.stylexohio.com

Styrenes – “It’s Still Artastic” CD 27/73:54
Retrospective of this semi-(underground)famed Cleveland outfit, featuring Paul Marotta and a revolving cast of characters, from the early daze of “Draino in My Veins” to 1998. They always seemed like one of those bands doomed to be eternally falling between the barstools: too arty and not aggressive enough to be punk, too edgy to be “art” or mere pop, but not edgy (much less “out there”) enough to strut proudly alongside the likes of Electric Eels and early Pere Ubu. Granted it’s not bad, but unless you’re already a fan or a hardcore Cleveland aficionado/collector you might find their works haven’t held up as well as those of their contemporaries (though there are 12 unreleased tracks here to tempt you if you belong to one of the groups above). David
@ www.roir-usa.com

Subarachnoid Space – “Also Rising” CD 10/60:49
“Also Rising” is the 8th full-length album in as many years for this San Francisco improvisational-based psychedelic rock quartet. After 7 records, this outfit has succeeded in carving out a sound, a niche, and a process that makes improvisation sound vastly premeditated. Well, at least sound like there is a common direction that all the noise swirls, droning, and assertive percussion are heading toward. At times, this gets intense, and always remains focused like a laser beam pointed directly into your pupil. Xtian
@ www.strange-attractors.com

Subb - "Daylight Savings" CD 13/41:33
Self described ska-punk out of the Montreal area; they've been around since 1992, and seem to have some identity problems. See, they've got the ska influences in a couple of songs and mix it up with some hardcore punk, but mostly play some straight up melodic alt indie/faux emo stuff ala Jimmy Eats World. They'd be better off sticking to what they say they are, a ska-punk band, because all you've got here is a band that sounds just like a bunch others. I suppose there are a few catchy moments, but it's not anything to get excited about. Now maybe if they actually used a ska beat in more than a couple of songs here and there, or as something used to break up another monotonous melodic "punk" song, you'd actually have a band that would have a unique sound... Steve
@ www.stomprecords.com

Subhumanz – “Live in a Dive” CD 26/67:49
Good sound quality, featuring Dick and co. slamming out tunes that still sound as good now as they did back then with fortunately little in the way of, ahem, modernizing “embellishments” or, at the other end, phoning in listless renditions as they capitalize on prior glories. Despite a few noticeable omissions (I know enough not to expect “Get to work on Time” anymore, but no “Ex-Teenage Rebel”?!?) the fans will definitely not be let down; probably the best in the “Dive” series so far. David
@ www.fatwreck.com

Subincision – “Jingo” CD 11/29:10
All right, whatever. Total punk rock with the band members all geared up in Army fatigues donning guns and American flags behind them with an image of an impaled soldier on the cover. They have this song called “Infidel Fight Song” which is a total blockhead reaction to the 9/11 attacks. They may not be serious about this but there really isn’t any release from the grip of absolute suburban militant gone aging jock to make me say “hey that’s kind of funny”. Maybe these guys are just joking. I can’t really tell. In any respect, the music is Social Distortion gone overly opinionated tough guy. But if I’m wrong about this I’ll be the first to apologize. I just don’t get it. Whittaker
@ www.substandard.com

Subincision - s/t CD 17/42:13
This is bizarre and kind of creepy. No doubt that was the intention. Vocalist John Mendiola seems to be quite unwell. "Fan" is a sick tune about devotion, madness and mutilation. Mendiola goes from a growl to a high pitched wail, then shoots somewhere in the middle, finding the tone of someone who really should be locked up. The band backing him up is appropriately manic, playing as a single, fucked up unit. For all this out of control strangeness, the tunes are also catchy and appealing. Subincision has nothing sweet or positive to say, but these boys do offer up an engrossing sideshow. Mark
@ www.substandard.com

Subsonics - “A Lot to Forget” CD 15/31:17
The fifth (!!!) LP from this Atlanta group features lots of cool garage-y material with a scratchy guitar, a moody ambience, and unabashed Lou Reed-style vocals. This sort of thing could easily be lame if it was overly derivative or the songs stunk, but the Subsonics make their stellar influences sound remarkably fresh. In this day and age, that’s quite an accomplishment. “I Will Walk Alone” may be the best of a batch of fine songs. Jeff
@ Slovenly, PO Box 204, Reno, NV 89504

Sue Thompson - "The Hickory Anthology 1961-65" CD 26/65:52
The Nashville recorded country-pop tunes of Sue Thompson may remind you a bit of Brenda Lee or Teresa Brewer. Her top 10 hits from '61 and '62, "Norman" and "Sad Movies" are mostly ignored by oldies stations today, as well they should be. There are at least a couple of gems here though, her last pop hit, "Paper Tiger" written by label-mates The Newbeats, and the superb "It's Break-up Time", which incredibly never charted. Mel
@ www.acerecords.com

Suffrajett – s/t CD 12/36:33
So I’m not EVEN going to compare the boy/girl combo of Suffrajett to the White Stripes, but I will say that Jack and Meg have opened up the floodgates for outfits of this manner to come forth and be accepted, B-E accepted! Suffrajett (outside of the clever name!) play down n dirty rock done with enough modern tenacity yet twinged with an 80s scope that I just couldn’t pin down but could not un-avoid. Maybe because the charming and raucous lead singer, Simi, looks a bit like the girl from BowWowWow, sans Mohawk, but sounds more like Pat Benetar with street cred and a rough upbringing. Recorded in a mini storage facility in New York, guitarist Jason Chasko and Simi belted out the stripped down driving grooves with help from an ex-Elysian Fields bassist and an ex-Psychedelic Furs drummer. The stewpot of all this results in a totally fun and raw album packed with head bobbing riffs and spiky wrist bands waving in the air anthems. Remember Local H? Yeah, a bit like that but more Runaways than Ramones with a foxy lady thrown in instead of two sweaty dudes. This could be a new faction of music: Rock Two Roll…bands consisting of just 2 members. Cool man. I’m on it! Whittaker
@ www.inmusicwetrust.com

Sufjan Stevens - "Greetings from the Great State of Michigan" CD 15/66:16
This disc, the first in what is supposedly a 50-album cycle commemorating each state in the U.S. (this one being about Michigan), is a promising start to a wildly ambitious project. Sufjan Stevens wrote and arranged everything on here, though he's assisted by a host of his friends, some of which make up Secretly Canadian's crit-darlings The Danielson Familie. The gentle, pseudo-traditional songs are expertly arranged and recorded, emitting a sort of European-pop meets sophisticated-folk vibe. Sufjan's high, beautiful voice is endlessly listenable, and the masterful female harmonies only accentuate its strengths. Horns, banjo, guitar, drum machine, glockenspiel, oboe, vibraphone...is there anything missing? I don't think so. An excellent slice of musical Americana from a devoted fan of the subject. John
@ www.soundsfamilyre.com

Sugarplum Fairies - “Introspective Raincoat Student Music” CD 16/53:12
It was love at first track. 27 seconds of mismatched guitar sounds that make me wide-eyed blending right into track two where singer Silvia Ryder sounds so much like Hope Sandavol that I would not be at all surprised if someone told me this was a new Mazzy Star album. Even has that same slide-country guitar sound thing going on in the background. So, ok, this isn’t brand new sounding. But what is anymore? It’s sadly happily beautifully melancholy and good. Sharon
@ http://www.sugarplumfairies.com/

Suicide – “American Supreme” CD 11/55:17
The latest release has been dissed pretty badly in some quarters for utilizing some post-electronica touches, and yeah, the scratching bits and tads of funkiness on the opening number can be…disconcerting for folks still expecting a “Ghost Rider” in 2003. Depending on your mood this release could be seen as a weak five-years-too-late attempt at modernizing their sound or a necessary retooling to avoid a dead end. Lyrically though, they’re still as intense as ever, especially considering this album was inspired by the events of 9/11 (though hopefully you didn’t expect them to be jamming with Bruce at this year’s Grammies) and, “modern” touches aside, they haven’t exactly lightened up musically either. While it doesn’t quite have the exact sound, it’s the closest they’ve come to the feel of their vintage years in quite a while. Besides, any Suicide record produced without “help” from Ric Ocasek can only be a good thing. David
@ www.mute.com

Suicide Machines – “A Match and Some Gasoline” CD 13/31:44
Welcome back to the minors, kids! The music on display here alternates between ska and harder-edged punk tunes, the latter featuring a harder edge than I remember from their last album, though there are a couple of numbers near the end that seem tailored towards helping the band regain their spot in the big leagues (if they can wrangle it back from Good Charlotte that is). If you’ve been around for the ride for this long you probably won’t find any reason to jump off. If you won’t pay $xx for the Vans Tour just to see them this probably won’t change your mind. David
@ www.sideonedummy.com

Summer Hymns – “Clemency” CD 14/43:26
This is the kind of beautiful, bighearted record Neil Young used to make before he became Donald Rumsfeld’s spokesman and started writing shit like “Let’s Roll.” Hymns’ frontman Zachary Gresham has one of those perfectly soulful (and slightly wounded) indie pop voices. He and his band mates have made a stellar record; “Clemency” is full of outstanding country-tinged love songs and laments. Kevin
@ www.summerhymns.com

Sunday Drunks – “On the Prowl” CD 12/37:06
Even if they don’t own a pair of Cuban heels among them, the Sunday Drunks lay down a dozen rockin’ and rollin’ tracks that’ll have the whole bar howling for more when they’re over. These Texans prove (like the Joneses and the Humpers before them) that you don’t need platform footwear to stagger down the same great party path as the Dolls. Right on. Lily
@ www.dead-beat-records.com

Suntan – “Send You Home” CD 7/51:23
Yeah, you can throw the shoegazer tag at this Boston outfit, but while said term wouldn’t be entirely ill-fitting I daresay there’s definitely a Spaceman 3 influence at work here as well, especially in terms of the psych/drone that permeates more than a few of the tunes contained within; their take on the garage chestnut “I Can Only Give You Anything” alone would make Mr. Spiritualized and Mr. Spectrum nod their heads in approval. Don’t know about those horns on the final track, but otherwise if you’re in the mood for a mind-expanding experience and left the drugs at home, you could do far worse than this. David
@ www.kimcheerecords.com

Super Furry Animals - “Phantom Power” CD 14/52:31
After announcing their plans for world domination with last year’s grandiose “Rings Around the World`” Super Furry Animals have retreated back into their shells. The album’s opener, “Hello Sunshine” meanders long the same psychodelic path that the Animals have cleared, albeit at a much slower pace. The result is maddeningly what this act were considered before “Rings” - a decent, sometimes great pop rock band with some trippy leanings that runs together over a full disc. It’s a shame to have seen the band take such a monsterous step forward last year, only to run and hide from the positive publicity and best-of lists they received for it. It’s hard to believe the same band who gave us the arena-rocking title track from the last album is now dropping yawners like “Sex, War & Robots.” A damn shame, all around. Ryan
@ www.superfurry.com

Super Magnificent Action Trio – “Cuddle-Core” CD 4/12:36
I’m not quite sure why this trio makes me think of a punk rawk version of U2. Perhaps it’s the level of commitment in their musicianship, perhaps the cracking of Kyle Iman’s vocals (without the whiny-ness), it may even be the way the band comes across as nice guys. I’m not sure, but I do know where I think U2 are boring, these guys are not. SMAT are calling themselves post-emo. I don’t know what the hell that means, except these guys are okay. To put it the best I can, it’s sorta (post-)emo punk meets Beach Boys pop. Fave cut is “Summer Never Ends.” RBF
@ Frankie Chan, 107 Eastlake Ave E #207, Seattle, WA 98109

Supergrass - “Life on Other Planets” CD 12/40:43
It’s getting difficult to believe that Supergrass were ever so cartoonish that Steven Spielberg wanted to build a Monkees-style sitcom around them. Though still possessed of foppish charm and boyish good looks, the trio have evolved from noodnik popsters to bona fide above-board songwriters. “Life on Other Planets” is a masterpiece, a delirious collision of T. Rex glam and post-millenium Britpop that shoots more sparks than Independence Day. Supergrass oscillates wildly from boot-stomping bang-a-gong rockers (“Seen the Light”) to buoyant, Lovin’ Spoonful-style pop songs (“Evening of the Day”). “Grace” sounds like Jack White fronting Queen, persistent and instantly singable. What is most overwhelming about ‘Life’ is its encyclopedic knowledge of the whole history of British rock, and its ability to spit it back reconfigured and altogether different. Supergrass not only does this, but does it without making it sound like an exam in music theory. “Life on Other Planets” is light without being disposable, a collection sticky-sweet harmonies and jubilant riffs. A must. J Edward
@ Island Records

Superscope - "Torpedo" CD 12/ 37:43
More good Oz pop, with harmonies to spare, some garage keyboards and guitars that lend themselves to a more rock sound than you might get out of a typical pop album. Many of the songs are solid rockers, but this trio can just as easily produce a keyboard indie pop classic with tons of "ba ba ba da ba" chorus work ("Take It or Leave It") right next to a later era Lennon-esqe Beatles inspired tune like "Always OK". It's this mix of styles, both overflowing with great hooks and harmonies, that give this release an edge that make you keep this disc in the player long after others have hit the bottom of some dusty pile on your living room. Another great Aussie band. Steve
@ www.ziprecords.com

Superspecs – “Project H.A.N.D.S.O.F.F.” CD 8/23:57
Isn’t it amazing how many members it takes to make a great ska band? There are 10 here. These guys are great, with string and horns blasting. Live, they are incredibly strong, which is hard to capture on “tape” (i.e., in-studio). Does that mean wait to see them and not get the CD? Naw, do both. And while they get silly sometimes (cuts 5 and 6), in general, they are tons of fun and can easily get you movin’ in a circle, arms and legs akimbo. RBF
@ Fui Style, 15 Glen Hook Rd, Hillsdale, NJ 07642

Superyob – “Ghetto Blaster” CD 13/37:32
Solid British working class punk- many Oi influences creep into this intelligent, fun record. Miles ahead of hundreds of other street punk/Oi bands who are trying to mine the Blitz discography, Superyob update the tired genre and have a blast doing it. The only downside to this band getting popular is the bands who will try to copy them instead of incorporating Superyob’s chops into their own music or, goodness forbid, doing something original. Excuse the tangent, Superyob’s not to blame for unimaginative bands, they’re one of a select few who are using classic sounds and traditions and building on them to create a new sensibility. Thumbs up Superyob! Jesse
@ Superyob, PO Box 26535, London, SE3 9WS, UK

Supremes - “The ‘70s Anthology” 2XCD
Was there life after Diana Ross? You bet. The Supremes had the great “Up The Ladder To The Roof” and “Stoned Love” in 1970, their first year without Diana. Although the Mary Wilson led Supremes were never to have another top 10 hit after 1970, they continued to release some fine pop-soul, and then on Disc 2 here, they jumped aboard the disco train in ‘78 and recorded many fine efforts in that genre. This anthology documents a very underrated period for the best selling girl group of all time. Mel
@ www.universalchronicles.com

Surfin' Lungs - "Goin' to Rockingham" CD 17/55:26
These Brits released their first record in the early '80s. Which is why I found it a wee bit unsettling that, 20 years later, they're still writing songs about girls, cars, long lazy summers, and broken hearts - all delivered with an unbelievably sunny innocence. Hell, they even have songs about school principals and hanging out at the penny arcade. Apparently they left the bitterness that reportedly comes with age outside the recording studio because there's nary a sidelong wink, a tongue in cheek, nor an edge of sarcasm on this disc. But age and appropriate subject matter aside, the Surfin' Lungs do know how to write surf-themed pop confections that hearken back to endless summers of bare feet, back-seat love, and sand where the sun don't shine. And I'm not so jaded that I wasn't a little misty-eyed over "Where Young Men Go to Cry," it was so sweet! Lily
@ www.notomorrowrecords.com

Surrounded - "Safety in Numbers" CD 12/47:35
The closest comparison that I can come up with for this Swedish quintet is Arab Strap. Guitar, drums, bass, keyboards and sampling with quiet, soft and fragile speak-singing. I can't claim to like Arab Strap that much (though I'm gently coming around) and I had always figured that it was because of the vocals. Like Surrounded, Arab Strap's vocals are whispered, and I can hear the tender tentativeness in them, but somehow I always feel as though it's dishonest to keep yourself guarded in that tiny whisper, instead of bellowing out your frailties. In the case of Surrounded, the nice melodies with great orchestral flourishes distracted me from the vocals. Sad and soaring at the same time, I wish I didn't need the vocals to send it over the top. Pam
@ www.deepelm.com

Susan & The Surftones – “Wrap-Around” CD 14/35:44
New album from Susan Aadfa and company, one of the sadly few bands with a female at the helm, featuring instrumental (mainly) mid-tempo surf tuneage. This could definitely use a bit more kick at times (especially on their swipe at “Peter Gunn”) but all in all I daresay this is a worthy addition to the surf music canon. Not to mention that they beat the Clash at their own game with their cover of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”. David
@ www.omomworld.com

Suspects - "Courtesy Flush v.1.0" CD 10/13:58
A friend of mine I was discussing punkrock with the other day came up with a neat phrase to describe a specific subgenre. He referred to bands like The Exploited, UK Subs et al, as being 'sorethroat punk'. It's a term that suits this Virginia mob to a sweat-stained tee. Nothing any fan of the category hasn't heard before, so if the above bands get your motor revved, here's some more oil to add to the tank. MLH
@ theculpritsdc.freeservers.com

Suzy & Los Quattro – s/t CD 5/14:23
Band name of the issue, though the flipside is that said name leaves a lot to live up to. This is female-voxed post-Ramones (Queers) summery bubblegum rock; the memorials to Phil Seymour and Joey Ramone in the booklet should tell you all you need to know. Could use a little more grit and/or catchiness in spots, but pretty solid overall. One of those releases that Yaver will probably jump me for after this issue hits the stands. David
@ www.notomorrowrecords.com

Swamp Rats – “Disco Still Sucks!” CD 16/52:33
Get Hip has wisely decided to reissue material by Pittsburgh’s own Swamp Rats. Best known for their mind-blowing cover of the Sparkles’ “No Friend of Mind”, one of the greatest ‘60’s punk renditions of all times thanks to its snarling fuzz guitar and sneering anti-social sentiments, the band also cut a number of no less nasty-ass fuzz monster covers (e.g., “Hey Joe”, “Louie Louie”, “Psycho”, and “Tobacco Road”). They also did some mellower originals (“I’m Going Home”) and several less ear-splitting covers (including the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere”, the Stones’ “It’s Not Easy”, and two Kinks’ numbers), but the real find here is the amazingly psychotic blast “Hey Freak”. The genius behind all this was Bob Hocko, formerly of the Fantastic Dee-Jays, a long-haired miscreant who must have endured endless taunts in Steeltown. Jeff
@ www.gethip.com

Sweet Apple Pie – “Between the Lines” CD 14/54:41
From France, this is their second full length, and it’s full of breezy pop songs that reflect influences from the later Beatles and Beach Boys to more current purveyors of the sound like Apples in Stereo and Sloan. The songs use vocals lush (both male and female) both on leads and harmonies to drive the melody as much as the pianos and guitars, and it all works to create breezy pop songs with a tad of edge on occasion and more than enough psych influences to make this one hard to categorize. And I tend to think that’s something that helps make a great record; easily defined styles that mix in more than enough influences to keep it fresh, yet aren’t so scattered that you lose track of what the band is trying to do. A very good disc that piles on sweet (and occasionally rockin’ guitar) pop songs over great arrangements, this is going to make a lot of top 10 lists at the end of the year. Steve
@ www.notlame.com

Sweet Japanese American Princesses – “Virgin Vibe” CD 12/22:06
Bizarre name choice, but this Minnesota-based quintet fires off punchy, energetic, distortion-heavy punk that brings to mind the Rocks from Australia and Leather Bristles-era GBH. And the Zero Boys, at least musically. According to the press I’ve read, the band members really are Japanese, but I swear the vocals sound Australian. Not that it matters one lick cuz I’m a huge fan of both. This easily deserves two enthusiastic fists in the air. Lily
@ www.bigneckrecords.com

Swindle - "This is Not a Test" CD 14/28:36
When a weirdly distorted guitar comes creeping in on the first track, followed by rolling, slamming drums, the sense that something big is about to happen immediately takes hold. And something big does happen. The title tune explodes, sending shards of punk rock madness in every direction. All this happens in a little over a minute. Then "Porcelain" takes over, and things move to a new plateau. Each song ups the ante, making this a truly unique record. Many bands aspire to be this awesome, very few achieve it. Swindle is undiluted, original, ball-kicking punk for the modern age. Holy shit. Mark
@ www.slowgunrecords.com

Swingin' Utters - "Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass, and Bones" CD 17/35:47
Have they left the obvious Stiff Little Fingers comparisons behind? Nope. Are they still excellent? Yes! Produced by Blag Dahlia, and with the addition of Spike Slawson of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on bass and occasional vocal work, this band has the '77 style punk sound down and adds flourishes of traditional Celtic beats, accordion, a few strings, and three lead vocalists. The added variety shows a band growing from a straight up traditional punk band to one that introduces a more Pogues sound into the mix and the added variety is great. This is a band that should be making bigger waves than it has, and maybe this is the release that gets them out of their day jobs. Steve
@ www.fatwreck.com

Swingin’ Utters – “Live In A Dive” CD 23/60:50
The sixth release in Fat’s “Live In A Dive” series, this one features the Utters at Troubadour in LA in 2003. Always compared to the Stiff Little Fingers, and with good reason, this disc shows off their energetic live show. As with pretty much any live disc, you have to a true fan to really get into it, but this does have some bonuses; including a comic book, an interview, and video from the show when you stick the disc in your computer. They are a great live band, and this disc won’t disappoint fans. Steve
@ www.fatwreck.com

Swissfarlo – “Boxed” CD 12/32:00
Are there any bands left in the state of Ohio that record in studios? Okay, how about in studios that are not in their bedrooms/basements? The results of this are often “bad” (not “low-fi”) recordings, but Swissfarlo did its homework before putting it on tape and gets quality results. The band’s debut full-length is classic 90’s style two-guitar rough pop, with slightly nasal vocals. It’s got the standard collegiate hooks, and it can get noisy and aggressive at times. As so often happens with home recordings, it lacks power. But that (unlike poor songwriting) can be fixed. Xtian
@ www.datawaslost.net/swissfarlo

Swords Project – “Entertainment is Over if you Want It”CD 7/42:07
The Swords Project is the collective of two Seattle bands, The Icebreak and Slower Than. Looking over their cover, I saw words that chilled my blood: along with the standard instruments, including accordion and violin, there is sampling, electronics, and Rhodes. Coming in somewhere between new age, ambiance, lite jazz, and very, very mellow pop, the songs are unending: hasn’t anyone heard of the 3-minute song anymore? Corey Ficken’s vocals are smooth over the sounds, but this seriously influenced me to want to take a nap. A very long, and deep nap, until it was over. RBF
@ www.arenarockrecordingco.com

Sybarite – “Nonument” CD 10/46:39
Xian returns with his first release on the 4AD label. Start off questionably but eventually starts to work a good groove, with use of the horn that makes me wonder if he’s been listening to Miles Davis’s “Aura” lately. Might be put in the electronica section because he occasionally utilizes such concepts as the “beat” and the like, with some “soulful” elements, but this is pretty good modern-day ‘electronic’(without the ‘a’ at the end) music. David
@ www.4ad.com

Systems Officer – s/t CD 5/21:57
Armistead Burwell Smith IV was in Three Mile Pilot, now legendary San Diegans that offered up lengthy, complex, sculpted jazz/jizz super-prog-rockers, and he played in Pinback with Robert Crow. He knows his shit. The badge song, “Systems Officer” is shivery, dicey pop music that scampers through three decades in four minutes. Is it ever a good idea to title a song after your band? I guess so. “Signature Red” waddles around Smith’s bass playing and latches onto a spacey vocal. The press kit declares it’s “similar to Tarwater, Police, Modest Mouse.” I don’t know how fair it is to hold any band to that kind of standard, but the five songs here are solid enough to stand up to just about anything you could toss out. The dreamy (don’t ya hate it when critics use that word?) last song, “Hael” is an exceptional wicked smart piano-led rhumba that possesses a gray tone. On my year’s ten best list for sure. I didn’t have any notion what to expect, but now I want to go replace that Three Mile Pilot CD I got rid of. Anthony
@ www.acefu.com

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