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Aug./Sept. '03 Articles:
Barbarism in the Afternoon
Editorial: Politics & Corp. Corruption
Notes from the Cultural Wasteland
Over-Priced Musings
The Do-Nothing Strategy
The Muddlemarch: 1
The Muddlemarch: 2
(music reviews)

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CD Reviews | Vinyl Reviews | Label Addresses

These reviews represent the "best of" music that was reviewed for this issue by IMPACT Press music reviewers. Please visit our
staff page if you want to match a reviewer's initials with the name of the person who did a review.

Third Grade Teacher self–titled Pinch Hit Records • Wow. I mean, wow. This is some seriously heavy and demented rock and roll. Drawing heavily from the roots of modern rock (Led Zep, Sabbath, etc.) this is a relentless rock and roll ride. Screaming and sultry, smooth and jagged, all at once. Exciting, demented and great. I'll put my kids in her third grade class anytime. (MK)

A Northern Chorus Spirit Flags Sonic Unyon • Full and nourishing, A Northern Chorus comes at you from all directions. It is a driving yet soft-mannered brand of "dream pop," interlaced with synthesized loops and varied instrumentation that add dimension and power to the songs. Soft, carefully uttered vocals and harmonies put the cherry on top, and one is treated to a final product of immense, epic musical landscapes. It's a journey, not like a road trip, but like changing seasons. (DP)

Blue Sandcastle If You Only Knew... self-released • It happened again. Every damned time I look at a CD and think, "Oh hell, this is going to suck," it totally kicks my ass! I don't know why, but I looked at the cover of Blue Sandcastle and thought the worst. What I got was flat-out awesome. This is music! Think faster, more reckless Matthew Sweet. Think Wes Cunningham. Think of Son Volt on speed. Think Neil Young after a bender. This is great straight-ahead rock. Really clean songs but they're still noisy enough to make you feel like you're listening to something meant just for you. There are two great covers on here – "Crazy" by Willie Nelson and "Art of Dying" by George Harrison. If you hate bands that just play a song instead of making it their own, you'll love what Blue Sandcastle can do. This is going into instant rotation in my changer. (SH)

Brother Ali Shadows On The Sun Rhymesayers Entertainment • Intense production on this disc is provided by Ant and is consistent with banging beats track by track. What Brother Ali does with those beats is showcase his rhyme style and rhyme about everything that boils from inside the depths of him. From the opening fury of "Room With A View" and "Pay Them Back" to the self-consciousness of "Forest Whitiker" and "Picket Fence" this disc is thorough with each tale and experience. Ali comes off passionate with a bit of urgency in his rhyme delivery, monotone at times and comical at others. This album touches on issues of insecurity, solitude, the line between victory and defeat, domestic violence and his Albino being. All of this gets laid out through using originality and demeanor, Slug even stops through on two tracks but this is all Ali. (JC)

Celso Fonseca Natural Six Degrees Records • Celso Fonseca's Natural is an exploration of Brazil's bossa nova/samba sounds. His voice is smooth and his vocals are in Portuguese and English, and his music is full of acoustic guitars and piano. This is for fans of Brazil's warm and seductive music, and is comparable to the music of Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. (AL)

Division Of Laura Lee 97–99 Lovitt Records • There's always that bummer when discovering a band by listening to a post-humorous release such as this. A shaking of the head, wondering "Where was I the 1st time around?" Most likely not anywhere near Sweden where DLL originate. A sound that has the shake of rock and roll, the drive of hardcore, and the creativity of DC and Mid-Atlantic bands like Sleepytime Trio and any handful of Dischord bands. (KM)

Freddie Foxxx Konexion Rapster/BBE • Also known as Bumpy Knuckles, Foxxx comes out swinging hard on this independent release. Most of the production is provided by Hidden Agenda but DJ Premier, DJ Rukas and Clark Kent also lend street bangin' beats that fit side by side next to the rough and tough rhyme style that this emcee delivers. Foxxx brought the lyrics on this release as well by attacking the mainstream industry artists and staying away from hip-hop formulas. On "Paine" he spits "sometimes I'm like a white man, don't trust me, sometimes I'm like a black man, thinking like a white man, all you niggas disgust me" and on "New Millenium" he pulls out one of his few race cards by rhyming "one man can kill a baby, one man can rape a lady, one man can hate another man cause his skin ain't Slim Shady." Always leaving behind tight verses on collaborations I was surprised that this disc came filled with so much substance and thoughtfulness, making it better than I had originally planned for – so get connected with the Konexion. (JC)

Grand Buffet Cigarette Beach EP self-released • This is beyond genre classification. It's part punk rock, part industrial, part techno and a hearty helping of hip-hop. Oh, and non-stop hilarity, both smart and silly. Regardless, this shit makes you wanna move your ass, bob your head, do shots of vodka, strip to your underwear and do the worm. It's the diversity of the musical styles featured on this that really sets it apart. These guys don't have a label; they put their material out on their own. It ends up feeling more connected with the fans, if only because of that. And for the EP price of $8, it's a pretty long EP, 10 tracks and just over 24 minutes. Need more convincing? Check these lyrics, yo: "You can take your grandparents out to brunch, but with one punch we can knock your grandparents out, it's a serious matter, they've got weak bladders, their bones are weak so they easily shatter, we are the masters, the old folk smashers." ŒNuff said! (CM)

Gus Black Uncivilized Love Immergent Records • Remember this name: Gus Black. Black is an extremely talented singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. I didn't hear his debut album but I can't imagine it being better than this one (if it is, please send me a copy!). Black manages to put just as much heart and emotion in his lyrics as he does in his music. That's a rare quality in this age of music where bad lyrics are overshadowed by polished playing and vice-versa. Black was heavily influenced by John Lennon but I hear a lot of Duncan Sheik here. I also liken him to a mellow Better Than Ezra. His voice is soft and unassuming yet it keeps you hanging on every word. He eloquently mixes a blend of piano, guitar and keyboards throughout the landscape he paints, keeping clean lines yet creating big, sometimes huge sounds. If you're looking for the next great singer-songwriter, take a peek at Gus Black. (SH)

I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House Put Here To Bleed In Music We Trust Records • From the get go this disc jams out. Heavy on that classic blues and rock sound with scruffy vocals and a harmonica addition that balances the rawness with ease. This album is fierce and crisp all the way through and is an excellent attempt at taking rock back to the forefront of popular music. Lyrics lean towards the tragic in "Dear Mr. Heston" about vocalist Mike D's brother shooting his other brother and then the government on "The Ballad Of Courtney Taylor" and "American Fuck Machine" which are about the corruption and inequality from those in power. The tight sound wound between these guys fit in with late night drinking bashes. "Gone As They Go," "Sixsixfive" and "La" all show off lyrical diversity and take certain risks not taken by many groups out there right now. (JC)

Pine Marten Beautiful Stakes and Power Poles Wild Hotels Of The Sea • Mellow indie pop with theatrical orchestral changes on the first track. Quirky but driving melodies sometimes start off simple and progressively become more intricate and easy to get lost in. Lots of arpeggiation and dissident parts. Some of the album had a Modest Mouse, twangy vocals feel. As the album progresses though, the tone gets darker and there are even Radioheadesque moments. A lot of the album was reminiscent of older Built to Spill. Even though I think they could have picked a handful of these songs to create an incredible ep, it's still just plain good. (MP)

Rocky Votolato Light and Sound EP Second Nature Recordings • A little bit of alt-country with a backing band on some tracks makes this EP more than just singer/songwriter stuff. It's not just Rocky and a guitar, although when it is, the songs aren't any less interesting. Some angry and emotional lyrics on "A Discourse On Killing" not only shows his great vocal range but interesting irony of the sweet acoustic sound musically with harsher meanings lyrically. The last track on this four-song EP, which ends all too quickly, has a violin that really fills the song. I only wish there were more. (MP)

Sunday Driver A Letter To Bryson City Doghouse Records • This Miami-based quartet has been around since 1995, and in that time they have truly matured into a sound that is downright impressive. Instead of recording this, their debut album, in Miami, the band packed up and recorded in the mountains of North Carolina. No doubt, the solitude helped them to craft this album without distractions. It's an emo-rock album with big guitars, throbbing basslines, loads of melody and heartfelt vocals that express a wide range of emotions. They remind me of such bands as Crumb, Errortype:11 and The Foo Fighters. It's unusual that it took them so long to release their debut, but it was well worth the wait. Few bands ever debut with an album of such immense goodness. (CM)

The Jealous Sound Kill Them With Kindness Better Looking Records • Three years, that's how long I had to wait to hear more of The Jealous Sound. Of course, seeing them live in between 2000's EP and this album was awesome. But now, with this album, joy fills me. I had no doubt that whatever they released would be great. Sure, I was setting myself up for disappointment, but it was not to be. Instead, the 12-track release is genius, a passionate, rocking album that can pound you with some serious indie rock and then grab you with passionate emo that won't let go, will make you feel the depression, the desperation, whatever the case. The Jealous Sound is led by former Knapsack frontman Blair Shehan, who is one of the best vocalist in rock today. He's joined by Pedro Benito (Sunday's Best), John McGinnis (Neither Trumpets Nor Drums) and new drummer Adam Wade (Jawbox, Shudder To Think). They also got Tim O'Heir (Sebadoh, Superdrag, All-American Rejects) to do the production work. The result is outstanding and one of the best albums of 2003. (CM)

The Kickass Death Metal Is For Pussies Bifocal Media • The Kickass really do kick ass. Their technical ability is amazing, while they leave you in the dust, unable to recover. Who else would be confident enough to pose on the cover wearing tight, pink briefs and wife-beater shirts? Heavy like the Fucking Champs, and intricate like Don Caballero, the Kickass explore instrumental prog and tech metal with resounding success. You'd be a fool to ignore them. (AL)

The Remedy Session Self Titled Recovery Records • Everything is good about this three-piece band from south Florida. They play emo rock with male and female vocals that harmonize together beautifully and are reminiscent of JeJune. The harmonies really make this stand out above other bands in this genre. They know how to rock but can turn around and write a beautiful love song too. Songs like "Over-rated" will stick in your head for days. I can't forget to mention that the female rhythm section is very tight and proves that girls can rock. (MP)

With Resistance self–titled Immigrant Sun • Burly as fuck would be the proper starting off point for any review of this freshman release from these giants in waiting. Mature hardcore, with soft moments like From Autumn to Ashes, enough technical points to keep it interesting and straight up core to keep it real. With Resistance drop the hammer heavy and bring it with a deadly kung-fu action grip. This ones a must. (KM)

You and I Discography Alone Records • Broken up and not forgotten, these guys were one of my favorite scream-o bands. This complete and then some collection 19 + 5 live tracks to tell a pretty complete story. With unmatched intensity and furry, You and I have the kind of passion that has you hooked in a hot second. This is truly a beautiful thing. (KM)


2 Cents Victims Of Pop Culture Centsless Records • The press refers to these guys as "punk/metal" which is really too bad. First of all, that genre is crowded and overplayed. Second, they have little if anything "metal" about them. This is punk rock, loaded with melodies and some heavy, aggressive music. But it's not metal. Hell, there's more of a grunge influence than metal. The press does compare them to Pennywise, and that's a good fit. So, lets say Pearl Jam/Soundgarden meets Pennywise. Or something like that. (CM)

31Knots It Was High Time To Escape Fifty-Four Forty or Fight! • This Portland indie-rock band takes a step forward from an already good release that was A Word Is Also A Picture Of A Word with a slight change in sound. Musically the energy level stays intense with mystery and comes off like an impromptu gathering that has them feeding off one another's energy, a change from their last release that was wound tightly without gaps in its sound. The vocal melodies continue to weep from the throat of Joe Haege and lyrically Haege again delivers with cryptic-like complexity about philosophy, politics and relations. (JC)

9 Lazy 9 Sweet Jones Ninja Tune Records • Though the Italian duo 9 Lazy 9 had been on hiatus for quite a while, they recently got back together to make Sweet Jones, which is one hell of a downtempo record. To give it an organic feel, James Bradell and Keir Fraserello added real instruments, including trombone, guitar, flute and bassoon. The result is a mellow album with a jazzy edge. (AL)

A Picturebook Of Saints self-titled The New Beat Records • These guys are, reportedly, the "St. Louis kings of rock." That's huge. I had no idea. Listening, I have to say, they do rock and I'm pretty sure they're from St. Louis. Kings? I'm not qualified to answer that, but, their brand of emocore is fucking good. There are plenty of influences (from hardcore to math rock to jazz), all blending into a pretty damn original band. Added bonus: the packaging is very stylish and creative. (CM)

Agent K Feed The Cat Giant Step Records • Sometimes compared to Herbie Hancock, Agent K (Kaidi Tatham) can infuse funk, jazz, and electronica into his broken-beat compositions. His rotating cast of guest musicians and vocalists gives each track a fresh feel. You'll be dancing in no time. (AL)

Amanda Rogers The Places You Dwell Immigrant Sun • Listening to Amanda Rogers is an exercise in uneasy sadness. On just about every track, she is singing in harmony with her own breathy voice, which is certainly nothing new – it just happens so much that it sticks out. And not like a sore thumb, mind you... that strange, seamless vocal split is definitely what she's going for, as her self-harmonized vocals speak of bitter love lost over soft piano. A great artist with a chip on all four of her shoulders. (DP)

Amazombies Bitches & Stitches Go-Kart Records • Taking it back to the 70's style punk rock roots is this three-piece band of two girls and a guy. The female vocals of Kim Kelly and Noriko Kaji are what helps this stand out, the girls were once described as going from "purring kittens to raging hellcats" – sounds hot right? The edgy urgency is present on this disc that is wound tight together by driving drums and speedy guitar riffs that never give up in the adrenaline department. Songs range in topic from loss, love and drinking, so beer cheers to ya! (JC)

Ambulance self-titled TVT Records • This is Ambulance's debut release .Their style ranges from '60s psych, '70s rock, '80s pop and '90s shoegazer. Ambulance is currently in the studio working on the next full length. (RP)

Anatomy Of A Ghost Evanesce Fearless Records • Indie rock with smart lyrics that stay based around intriguing stories is the bulk of what you get with this release. Anatomy has a solid sound of driving guitar and percussion power that is combined with vocals that come off screechy and emo in the spirit of late 80's and early 90's rock – or is it more like the lead singer of Rush? Still, there is a distinct sound here it just needs the chance to grow on you, ultimately you'll either really be into it or it's just not your thing. (JC)

Andrew D. Huber Ten Songs From The Side Room self-released • You know how you need a shot of sake after a sushi bender? Well, after you've digested all the punk and hardcore in your CD collection, let Andrew Huber clean your palette. His soft acoustic songs are right from the pages of James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg, and he even gets a little rockin' and twangy on tracks like "Tearin' Me Down." Get your mellow on. (SH)

Angelique Angelique self-released • She sings neo-soul and jazzy funk songs with a sultry voice about love, heartbreak and personal growth but this release comes off sounding overproduced even for Angelique's popish vocals. The music has a live show quality that never comes close to what Erykah Badu brings and sounds more computer generated than anything else. Most of this disc was written by the artist and sung partly in Spanish and French; she even includes a decent version of "All I Gotta Do" written by Lennon and McCartney. (JC)

Angie Reed The Best of Barbara Brockhaus Chicks On Speed • Somewhat of a concept album, The Best of Barbara Brockhaus follows fictional character Barbara Brockhaus as she makes it through her boring life as a secretary with racy fantasies. Musically, Reed combines minimalist techno and hip-hop with her dominatrix-sounding voice. Plus, there are two videos as a bonus. (AL)

Ann Beretta The Other Side of the Coin Thrown Brick Records • I've been waiting to like Ann Beretta again. Recent shows and recordings never hit me quite like the early stuff did. Turning the volume down and stripping some of their best songs down seems to have done the trick. 13 acoustic tracks, some classics from their catalog, and some others mixed for good measure, and you have a simple yet strong record. (KM)

Anti-Anti Horray For Everything Fast Music • These punk rockers hail from Port Charlotte, Florida. For those of you who don't know what a small-ass town that is, Anti-Anti may be the coolest thing there. The band can be grouped along with other pop punksters such as The Queers, Screeching Weasel and Quit (from Miami, Florida). Expect to be pounded with rapid drumming, super tight melodies and plenty of sing-a-long opportunities and "Ooooh, Aaaah, Waaaa, Waaaa" parts. It's good stuff that'll distract you from lame radio "punk" and help you drive more quickly. (CM)

Araby Your Wate and Fate Curve The Earth • Boston's Araby have a sound that kindles recollections of rainy summer afternoons, half dressed and cuddling close to a girl you've been so all about, and yet don't really know well enough to be as naked as you are. Reminding me of The Beatles, a hard-hitting Elliot Smith, or a less intense Sunny Day Real Estate, the dueling vocals accompany some accomplished guitar and rhythm. (KM)

Armor For Sleep Dream To Make Believe Equal Vision • First impressions are key they say, and with a name like Armor For Sleep, I was eager to like these guys. With a real poppy emo sound, that still has a bit of teeth, AFS still don't have enough to make them stand away from the crowd. There are a few tracks that really stand out, but nothing that makes a complete work as a whole. (KM)

Audio Out Send ...Or Does It Explode? self-released • For nearly seven years, Audio Out Send (AOS) has been working to perfect and explore their sound. The four-member band is based out of Sacramento and has played out all over Cali, but hasn't journeyed too much further. It's a shame that the masses aren't getting exposed to their synth-influenced indie pop. For the most part, AOS performs floating, heartfelt tunes with jangly guitar and smooth musical landscapes drifting in the background. On occasion, they'll increase the pace ever so slightly, but this is definitely a more mellow album. (CM)

Babbletron Mechanical Royalty Embedded Music • Opening with a stuttering beat on "I Need To Be" DJ Pre provides a bouncing backdrop for emcees JayManila and Calm-Pete to deliver their furious and thoughtful rhymes upon. Everything on this release is upbeat, not just musically but within the slick style of wordplay as well. This disc as a whole lacks that consistency to flow straight through as beats also come from Rjd2, MF Doom, Ese and Hipsta. It's Pre who keeps this disc moving while producing some of the best tracks like "SpecialFX," "Broke Down" and "Dope." (JC)

Barbaro Nolte Dopamine Records • Barbaro is a metal trio from...I don't know where actually. This is a solid disc that's defying my labeling magic right now. At times, they sound like Megadeth, like a progressive metal band, at other times I hear Tool... One thing is for sure: they're tight. They stay true to their hard rocking roots but also manage to venture into some experimental territory at times, a la Living Colour. (SH)

Beat Happening Music To Climb The Apple Tree By K Records • Beat Happening have been, well, happening for a fraction of a second less than forever. For whatever reason our paths have never crossed, and this recording might explain why, sounding like Johnny Cash hanging out with Sonic Youth and coming away worse for the experience, there's not much here that draws me in, and even less that keeps me there. Minor highlights, but mostly it all avoided me. (KM)

Beauty Pill You Are Right To Be Afraid EP Dischord Records • This five track EP starts off with an emo feel complete with back and forth male and female vocals and beautiful guitar melodies. The next track, "You are right to be afraid" picks up the pace giving us some strong indie pop rock. The movement and feel of the slower songs reminded me of Two Thirty Eight while the girl vocals were more like Rocking Horse Winner with quirky lyrics. (MP)

Becca Dalrymple One Road self-released • The press refers to the "radio ready sound" of this release. And they're correct in pointing out just how ready it is for radio. This is mainstream, fem-fronted country pop rock that is loaded with energy and plenty of melody. Becca has a great voice and the tunes are definitely strong for the country genre. It's hard for me to say much more, simply because I can't stand country. But, I can tell that Becca does it well and there's certainly potential and the possibility that she'll be gracing the airwaves of a local country rock station near you. (CM)

Billy Johnson Roadshow self-released • This is radio-friendly rock that combines many styles to give you Johnson's brand of down-home music. You'll hear Johnson toying with blues, funk, folk, country, soul and rock. His vocals are very expressive and he has the ability to present them in different ways, from quietly crooning to passionately singing to belting out the lyrics with intense emotion. He won the 2002 Minneapolis Music Awards "Best Male Vocalist" award, so you know the cat's got skills. On this release, Johnson is joined by a number of folks to back him up musically, including an impressive performance by female vocalist Andra Suchy. (CM)

Bitch And Animal Sour Juice And Rhyme Righteous Babe Records • When talking about a mixture of sounds and styles energized with craziness, sexuality and sarcasm these two ladies take the cake. Things get so off the beaten path that the zany experimenting on their second release becomes so refreshing. Rapping over a hard hip hop beat on the song "Croquet" or taking a stand against the men of the world on "Feminist Housewives" the carefree approach on this disc is entertaining and surprising just the same. A twangy country-ish sound comes out on "Don't Do Crystal" and this Bitch and Animal even go after Eminem on "Secret Candy" rhyming about giving it to him from behind - if you know what I mean. The music within is a combination mainly of drums, violins and ukuleles and the vocals range widely through harmony, spoken word and lots of humor – what a trip. (JC)

Blood Has Been Shed Spirals Ferret Music • Some of the most complicated metalcore I've heard in a while comes from Connecticut, in the form of Blood Has Been Shed. A barrage of guitars and drums hit you from the opening seconds, and don't let up for 35 minutes. Not to mention the sliced-open-throat vocals. (AL)

Blue Epic Love & Hate EP TVT Records • These five tracks, which includes a cover of Neil Young's "A Man Needs A Maid", is a powerful tune-up before releasing their debut full-length. Melodically strong and emotionally charging, the music here has been tagged as having the "fire of early U2 and lyrical honesty of Neil Young." The comparisons tell only half the story though, U2 was never this intense and the vocals on this disc carry that intensity in a way Young never did. "Underwater" and "Roses" are two of the tracks drawing attention to this band out of Birmingham. (JC)

Blue Shade Witness Blue Shade Witness Double Zero Records • Combining elements of American and British rock into a fluid pop rock sound has this EP floating through emotions of sadness, joy, disappointment, hope and love. This disc is heavy with a familiar approach of radio ready songs. Soft sung vocals and a repetitious musical drive allows listeners inside the "uncompromising, powerful, vulnerable musical commentary" enclosed within. These six tracks all blend as one thanks to the driving guitar and emotional atmosphere. (JC)

Bobby Birdman Heart Caves States Rights Records • Avant-folk performer Rob Kieswetter (AKA Bobby Birdman) becomes mesmerized inside lo-fi electronic music and delivers smooth vocal harmonies reminiscent of the desperate, intimate and often disconnected world of Pink Floyd's The Wall. Only six tracks on this disc but an aura of mischievously misbehaving accompanies the synth-pop vibe and carries the mood through the late night good times and the regret that follows closely behind, all wrapped up in a kind of understanding. (JC)

Bonobo Dial ŒM' For Monkey Ninja Tune Records • Downtempo master Bonobo continues to create music that combines samples and electronic equipment with live arrangements and instrumentation, using sitars, flutes, and other instruments. He proves that songs don't have to be overly complicated to work. All you need is a good beat and some nice melodies. (AL)

Born From Pain Sands Of Time Gangstyle Records • Mosh-core with kick drums galore, BFP bring the hardcore Euro style, and put out some of the best stuff I've heard from that side of the pond. A lot more metal than core, there is still an old school feel to this, while not mired in the past. Absolutely beautiful artwork only adds to the package. (KM)

Bottom of the Hudson The Omaha Record Absolutely Kosher Records • If this was terrible I was prepared to use the following juvenile and obvious line: "Perfect name because this CD belongs at the bottom of the Hudson." I don't know why I've been so irritable, but Bottom of the Hudson deserves better. They have taken many of the elements of the 90's underground scene and turned them into this impressive debut, which would have fit nicely in the Matador Records catalog circa 1994. There's a definite quirky pop sensibility that brought to mind Yo La Tengo and Spoon at times. Good stuff. (CL)

Breather Resist Only In The Morning Deathwish • This CD is just over 21 minutes, and frankly, I don't think I could take any more. It was extremely intense metalcore similar to Converge or Coalesce. Of course, as soon as it was over, I listened to it again. (AL)

BrokenNess BrokenNess self-released • While BrokenNess sounds like they've got some 60's psychedelia in them, they manage to bring their sound up-to-date, rather than trying to be a Beatles cover band. They're not reinventing the wheel but they're taking it for another spin. This is good pop, sometimes edgy, sometimes mellow. (SH)

Bronwyn Through The Fog, Through The Pines Greyday Productions • This four-piece, fem-fronted indie rock band hails from Portland and I immediately heard similarities to the angular, jangly style of Modest Mouse. The two female members of the band harmonize vocals frequently and perfectly, playing off each other as well as with each other. The indie rock tunes on here move from slow and emotional to uptempo and aggressive. The whole album comes together as a truly original musical work that bound to catch the ear of many a new listener. (CM)

Bryan Barnett Two & Out self-released • Bryan Barnett's second full-length, Two & Out, features a number of familiar faces from the Minneapolis music scene & beyond: Alva Star's John Hermanson, N.E.R.D.'s Eric Fawcett, and former Son Volt-er Dave Boquist, among others. Barnett and company churn out some alt-country-ish tunes, like Elliott Smith or Mark Eitzel after listening to, well, Son Volt or Uncle Tupelo for days on end. The songs do have a tendency to run a little long, with some topping the six and seven minute mark. Additionally, many of the songs are similar in tempo and the slow pace can get a bit monotonous at times. Two & Out is not a bad effort at all; there are some solidly crafted songs here. With a little more variety and some more concise tunes, this could be a very good record. (CL)

C Rayz Walz Ravipops Definitive Jux • Things here start out with a lot of energy, bangin' beats and a fierce rhyme style brought on by C Walz that never calms down. This Stronghold member has put together an original collection of tracks that sounds like the future of hip hop and feels like it came straight from back in the day. That may be because not only does this emcee go on about what was happening back then he still touches on what is going on today and the days to come. His voice is rustic and mostly harsh sounding while he spits rhymes like "I'm acting shady cause I live around trees" on "Thug Melody" and on "The Essence" accuses Jay Z of "stealing my blueprint." With this release you get what you'd expect from this label including appearances by Wordsworth, Vast Aire, MF Doom and more on "The Line Up." (JC)

C.D. Truth Chemically Dependent Foot In Mouth Productions • Sound quality really causes this disc to suffer at times, vocals are mostly drown out by the balls-to-the-wall distortion and punk aggression. Other than that, this wild rocked-out trip carries the attitude of the outcasted and outnumbered. The riffs and rhythms get creative and catchy while giving that feeling of doing something wrong or crazy. Tracks like "Your Mama Found Out," "Columbian Drug Lord" and "Queen Of Blood" standout but this whole disc is put together well. (JC)

Canoe I Give You...Canoe! Amazing Grease Records • I give you...The Hives! I hate planting a big ol' label on a band like that but it's not always a bad thing. Case in point: Canoe. This kind of reckless abandon rock is in right now. All the kids are listening to it and some of us older farts, too. It's catchy, it's tight and it's better than getting punched in the throat. Though, at times, listening to this makes you feel like doing that to the person next to you. In a GOOD way, of course. This is loud, raucous, fun rock. If you like the Hives, Vines, White Stripes, etc. you'll dig this with a shovel. (SH)

Cat on Form Structure and Fear Southern Records • Loud abrasive rock and roll. With a feel not too far of a stretch from Pretty Girls Make Graves mixed into a more obscure Discord band. Screamy vocals over hard hitting indie rock makes for a chaotic mess that might take its self a little too serious, but at the same time this sounds like one of those bands that when you see live you walk away grinning and telling everybody who wasn't there how they missed it. (KM)

Chris Clark Empty the Bones of You Warp Records • I guess you could compare Chris Clark's music to a less schizophrenic Autechre. It's full of glitches and clicks, tempered by underlying melodies. He keeps things firmly planted in the mid-tempo range, except for some ventures into ambient. Long live laptop music! (AL)

Christopher Blue Songs For Lovers, Loners & Losers self-released • Blue is a crooning one-man show for the most part. Sure, he has a couple guests on a couple tracks, but mostly it's just him, his gravely Waits/Drake-esque vocals and his jangly, soulful guitar-work. He does kick the pace up a notch on a few other tracks, with additional instruments including drums, bass, piano, moog, and some unusual things, such as a glass vase. It's a slice of Americana with a pinch of indie rock and punk attitude. (CM)

Clarence Bucaro Sweet Corn Burnside Records • With a background in blues, this singer-songwriter dips into Americana and a bit of roots music on this, his debut release. Produced by Andres Osborne, the sounds range with diversity while keeping the warm vocals that Bucaro provides with ease. African rhythms, Dixieland jazz, Latin guitar and banjo sounds are all meshed into one cohesive feeling of good time, down home blues. With his influences being the likes of Billie Holiday, Van Morrison, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, be assured that this disc contains some fine songwriting lyrically and musically. (JC)

Cowboys International Revisited self-released • This is a look back at a fairly unknown band who, in 1979, was on the cusp of the new music scene. Their frontman, Ken Lockie, has decided to re-release the material to the masses, so those who missed this influential band have another chance to hear their sound. Fusing elements of Bowie with a unique sound that likely influenced such bands as the Psychedelic Furs, Howard Jones and Modern English, Cowboys International really were ahead of their time. Their music could have been easily used in an early John Hughes movie with all the thrill of the '80s generation, using romantic vocals and a pop edginess that shows the band's appreciation for the exploding punk scene of the time. (CM)

Cronic Noi self-released • I never like to pan a CD. It takes a lot of work to create it, regardless of quality. But, while Cronic should be proud of their release, it's not very good. The first problem is that it isn't recorded too well. But this is their debut CD, so allowances can be made. But it doesn't get much better from there. Cronic is made up of two people, Craig David on guitar, bass, drums, percussion and some vocals along with Ingrid Baumgart on guitar, bass, percussion and vocals. They certainly create a sound that is bigger than two people, but the result is a weird blend of punk, metal, goth and too much artsy drama. If not for the crappy recording and schizophrenic songs, this might not be so bad. (CM)

Danny McDonald Summer City Zip Records • Is this the feel good album of the summer? I have no clue, but someone else might call it that. It's really catchy pop rock that makes me think of a slow moving Sunday afternoon. But wait, it also can pick up the pace with a sort of rockabilly feel and I'm ready to put on my dancing shoes and head out for a drunken Friday evening. That diversity keeps this album from disappointing. McDonald doesn't do anything you haven't heard before. You get solid vocals, good melodies and 11-tracks worth of listening enjoyment. (CM)

Dataclast vs. Earwigs Split CD Crucial Blast Records • This split CD will test your resolve and dare you to listen to the whole thing without wanting to kill yourself. Dataclast goes first, with 29 tracks of electronically created grindcore that is too brutal for mere words. This metallic glitchfest is unlike anything you may have heard before. Next up is Earwigs, with a different approach. They make fucked up, stream-of-consciousness abstract noise compositions that will bring you down from the high created by Dataclast. (AL)

Defari Odds & Evens High Times Records • Things get off to a good start on this release, Defari keeps a low-key flow with a touch of attitude and wordplay while using the services of a number of producers. E-Swift provides beats and trades rhymes on "Inner City" which finds the two boosting about being on top of the rap game which then becomes a main theme on this release. Beats are also provided by Evidence, Fredwreck, Porse and Barbershop Kiz; the overall Cali sound comes off braggadocios, G'd out and laid back. Guest appearances include J-Ro, Tash, Phil Da Agony, Traci Nelson and Dilated Peoples. "Spell My Name" and "Los Angelinos" stand out on this sub par effort. (JC)

Deminer Woes And So's Johann's Face Records • Melodic/emo punk from the windy city here. This is straight-ahead, rockin' punk that's plenty raw for all you purists but doesn't get repetitive. The title may not make you think "sure hit" but "Porkchop in Every Bottle" is a great song. (SH)

Dengue Fever self-titled • Mimicry Recordings • Dengue Fever is a six-piece band with heavy international influences and, despite playing together since 2001, this is their debut album. Most notably, the band is inspired by '60s Cambodian rock music. The female vocals are incredible and authentic, a true Cambodian vocalist, not just someone imitating the style. This is melodic pop rock that breaks boundaries, fusing Eastern elements with Western elements and incorporating an arsenal of instruments, including farfisa, sax, flute, percussion and more. (CM)

Destruction Made Simple Terror Stricken Youth A-F Records • If you like your punk rock fast, uncompromising and utterly political, then Destruction Made Simple is for you. Raul Landeros will charge you up with his in-your-face vocal style, and the non-stop barrage of guitars and drums will leave you begging for more. (AL)

Drive Til Morning Self-Titled Deep Elm • With a name like that, on Deep Elm no less, me saying this band falls into the emo category might be monotonous. The saving grace of the whole thing is this guys voice, thick like gravel and whiskey, a young Tom Waits or John Cougar, and damn it I love this shit. Musically it's not genius, but its simple like it should be, although some of the digital stuff I would have left on the production room floor. Infectious. (KM)

Dudley Perkins A Lil' Light Stones Throw Records • The production is provided entirely by Madlib, whom without a doubt makes this disc worth listening to alone. That doesn't mean that Dudley did not do his part to shine on his own album though. His style is along the lines of a singer/spoken word artist that chooses to float track by track with songs about his mom, weed, evils of money and his higher being. Vocally his uncanny approach is a confused in and out jab style that resembles a mellowed out mix of ODB and Busta Rhymes (he also looks a bit like Snoop). This disc sounds stripped down like a demo and although you get the impression that Dudley could come with a better effort, this is indescribably addictive and perfect for a smoked-out rainy afternoon. (JC)

Elad Love Affair A Woman Gives Birth To A Gun And It Stabs Her Immigrant Sun • Think of a sassier At The Drive In and your thinking along the same lines as Elad Love Affair. Female vocals that are in no way sweet or sensitive or play into any silly stereotypes, but instead play out as heartfelt, straightforward and emotion laced. At times they go from creative to experimental in a moments notice, leaving your ears trying to catch up, but your no worse for the experience. This ones gonna make some noise. (KM)

Electric Frankenstein Meets El Nada Split CD Finger Records • These two punk bands give it their best with four songs each on this split CD. As a twist, each covers one of the other's tracks. Electric Frankenstein does "502 Blues" and El Nada does "N.Y. Knights." Electric Frankenstein's raw, sloppy sound is complimented well by El Nada's more straightforward punk sound. (AL)

Electric Turn To Me Electric Turn To Me self-released • Wow, where do I start? A more aggressive, punked up Siouxsie Sioux? The bastard child of goth rock, prog rock, and punk rock? There are just so many elements and influences floating around in Electric Turn to Me's music. Each song feels familiar and comfortable, yet is a unique combination of sometimes disparate parts that yield wild new results. There's definitely no pigeonholing this band. Check out this four song EP and find out for yourself. (CL)

Eleven Eyes Depth Perception New & Improv Records • As soon as I started listening to Depth Perception, I was immediately reminded of Groove Collective. They seamlessly merge improvisational-sounding jazz with funk, hip-hop, Latin, and electronica. Their use of a turntablist adds some urban flavor to the music, much in the same way Herbie Hancock uses one. In fact, they cover Hancock's "Maiden Voyage." (AL)

Europa 51 Abstractions Lo Recordings • Europa 51 features members of Stereolab as its core, but has guest appearances by plenty of musicians, including members of High Llamas. The result is a folksier version of Stereolab, toned down in its futuristic leanings, with more emphasis on the string department. The multimedia CD features a 25-minute short film and a music video for the track "Four Steps In The Sun." (AL)

Existi Vein and Wire self-released • More complicated than my ex-girlfriend, with as many quickly changing personalities as well. Flashes of technical indie rock, splashed with hardcore intensity. They pull it off, or at least do something interesting enough that you don't go darting across the room to press eject and end the musical experiment. A work in progress, but something intriguing none the less. (KM)

F Hinterland Morticia Records • Six tracks are included on this disc and things get started with a driving electro rock sound on "The Killing Sky" where keyboards and drama punctuate their mood. Compared to the likes of Interpol, Doves and U2 this L.A. band is creative and carries an atmosphere within their sound that is experimental and futuristic with a progressive feel. Vocals match the bands sound with a melody that floats overtop the interchanges of ups and downs coming from their instruments that are all over the pop landscape. Can't wait for the full length. (JC)

Fairburn Royals The Free EPTwo Sheds Music • This quartet from Athens, Georgia has been together since December 2000. Luckily, they aren't stuck still playing run of the mill college rock. Instead, the band fuses elements of many genres, including lo-fi rock, indie and mellow, shoegazer pop. This four-song EP is a good taste of what they do. (CM)

Film School alwaysnever Amazing Grease • This four-song EP showcases Film School's understated pop style, the press release says to file under "Atmospheric Indie Rock." Couldn't have said it better myself – it is a kind of half-heard, half-there sort of music, but that is not to say that it is half-assed. Just kind of hanging like a fly on the wall that sings, plays swirling, delicate melodies, and keeps a slow-steady beat. It truly fills a void. (DP)

Flattbush Smash The Octopus Kool Arrow Records • Smash The Octopus is an exercise in musical chaos. Extremely fast guitar shreds and machine-gun drums rumble away while the lead singer yells and screams, sometimes lyrics, sometimes indecipherable noises. Think of Fantomas, with occasional singing and fewer breakdowns. (AL)

Floating Opera Burning Lighthouse self-released • Creating eclectic songs using a variety of instruments comes easy for this massive collective of musicians based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Lori Allison provides almost all the vocals and does so passionately, sometimes too dramatically. Instruments used on this release include keyboards, trumpet, acoustic bass, saxophone, violin, cello, guitar, drums and electric bass. They claim their influences to be Burt Bacharach, "Imperial Bedroom"-era Elvis Costello, Brian Eno and, at times, Tom Waits. Yes, it's a truly mixed bag, but Floating Opera pulls it off. If you're looking for a full-bodied, eclectic, dramatic musical mix, this is for you. (CM)

Free Verse Inventing An Archetype Demirep Records • Hey! Chick rock! I bet the ladies in Free Verse are hopping a plane right now to kick my ass for saying that. No offense meant, ladies. Seriously folks, this is aggressive, punk/hardcore stuff here and it's good. It has that just right mix of garage and polished musicianship. Imagine if Hole hadn't gone all glam and glitzy and never left Courtney's garage. That's Free Verse. They would kick the s&^% out of The Donnas, K? (SH)

Fugs Blood for Oil Mutant Press • Fugs are a novelty band in the finest traditions of Dr. Demento, but they are not leaving their chewing gum on the bedpost or bouncing their boobies with Alley-Oop. Their brand of low-production values novelty music is a humorously incisive criticism of the new American empire and takes a few stabs at American culture also. It's light on music, which is a kind of honky-tonk rock, and heavy on words, which have no compunctions about blasting everything in sight ­ kind of like "neo-Fascist America," as the Fugs would say. (DP)

Gatsbys American Dream Ribbons And Sugar Rocketstar Recordings • On their sophomore album produced by James Paul Wisner, this band out of Seattle brings catchy melodies with this collection of up-tempo progressive rock. What comes through lyrically is loosely based on Ribbons And Sugar, which was done by George Orwell. The comparisons are that this album questions the motivation behind societies ideological, political and musical rebellion, bringing to conclusion that change starts with yourself before change takes place in the real world. Aside from these details, this band simply jams out with heavy attention towards the variations of guitar work. (JC)

Ghost Mice / Saw Wheel split CD Hill Bully Stew Records • This is new school meets old school, punk meets folk. Drop the electric, the feedback, pick up the acoustic guitar, a harmonica. Ghost Mice is Hannah and Chris. Both sing fantastically, passionate and harmonic. It reminds me of the acoustic Jeff Ott (Fifteen) stuff. It's got a punk bite, but it's really acoustic folk tunes. Saw Wheel also embraces the folk-country sound but, like Ghost Mice, there's a sincere, punk attitude to it. The vocals are mostly male, rough and gritty. The guitar jangles in the background, but this is a bit darker than Ghost Mice; there's not nearly as much pop to the songwriting, more blues. (CM)

Giddy Motors Make It Pop Fatcat • Elaborate song structures and non-standard timing give Giddy Motors a sound which is as distinct as it is interesting. Drawing from jazz, punk, and hard-core, these three guys blend their talents to create something new and wonderful in a world of cookie cutter bands. (MK)

Graffiti 61 Mind BlossomAmbidelic Records • zzz...oh sorry, you woke me up. Not because Dominic Massaro, AKA Graffiti 61 makes boring music, but because it is some pretty slow ambient music. I dare you to stay awake as waves of sound, droney guitars, and repetitive loops lull you into the dream world. His 60's psychedelia influences are thrown into the mix, creating a style Massaro calls Ambidelic. (AL)

Greg Annussek Little Palaces self-released • Annussek has great vocals that speak right to you. Most of the songs have a bit of pep and the jangly, Americana pop style of music really grabs you. There's more country twang than I'd prefer, but his New York City perspective is an interesting aspect to his songwriting. It's Annussek's ability to sound so passionate and heartfelt about his music that is most impressive about this ten-song release. (CM)

He Who Corrupts Master of Profits Forge Again Records • I smell a lawsuit. For their cover art, CD art, and even for the first few bars of the CD, He Who Corrupts have unabashedly copied Metallica's Master of Puppets album. That's where the similarities end, though. This grindcore is infinitely harder and more destructive than anything Metallica ever did. Piercing vocals, chugging guitars and super fast drumming. Think of a slightly more coherent version of The Locust. There's even an enhanced portion with a 23-minute concert in it. (AL)

Helicopter Helicopter Wild Dogs With X-Ray Eyes Initial Records • Indie rock with female and male vocals caused me to hear The Anniversary through this entire album. There's some great use of keyboards and some catchy choruses but some of the songs started to sound the same after a few tracks. This band knows how to write great pop songs, but should try to work on making their sound a little more original amongst the many male/female indie pop bands. (MP)

Hoods Pray For Death Victory Records • You can throw the old "don't judge a book by its cover" theory out the window with this disc because with a title like Pray For Death you get what you pay for. The disc opens up with an intro saying "you're a whore, you're born one you'll die one" before blasting off into "John And Kitty" where screaming rants holler, "rape me" with attitude and vengeance. "Bastard" then kicks in with pounding drums and a crisp and solid rhythm of aggression lyrically and musically; setting the tone that would then follow throughout. Songs are presented with pure hardcore hostility about betrayal, depression, brawls, addiction and death to every enemy. This is some serious metal that comes at you with the rawness. (JC)

Horace Pinker Red-Eyed Regular Off-Time Records • This band is incredibly huge! They've shared the stage with such bands as Bad Religion, Green Day, Blink-182, Nofx, Sick Of It All, etc. They've been featured on many CD and DVD compilations, as well as playing in over 18 countries (including the Groez Rock Festival!). Surprising how a band of this "status" and featuring one of the most abnormal names in the universe is still unknown to me. Blending a Hot Water Music and The Ataris vibe, this band produces a sound that isn't really all that interesting, but talented in a sense of those who appreciate this style of music (which is many). Not standing out and smacking me in the face, but definitely an album that has been well thought out and is very diverse/cultural. Not a lot to boast about on my part, but as The Reading Rainbow would say... "You don't have to take my word for it." (CMax)

Houston Bottom of the Curve 54-40 or Fight! • Grab a map, kids, and get ready for a crapload of geographical references! Houston is the name of a city in Texas, but is also the name of a band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their guitarist and bassist are from Duluth, Minnesota, while their drummer is from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. They play some District of Columbia-style melodic post-punk that would fit in nicely with the Dischord and DeSoto Records crews. If you're lucky, Houston the band will be coming to a town near you soon (consult your map for exact location). (CL)

Hypnofugue Laugh At The World self-released • Oh boy, I'm going to have to put my thinking cap on for this one. Hypnofugue doesn't sound like anything you've heard before. They're parts industrial, part funk, part's like Fishbone merged with Linkin Park and they started playing trip-hop. Whoa. I even surprised myself with that one! You owe it to yourself to listen to this, that's for sure. You have to listen to their cover of "When Doves Cry" at least. I can't say it's better than the original but they certainly made Purple One proud. (SH)

I Farm Is Lying To Be Popular Go Kart • This is machine gun fast and relentless in your face music. Most interesting is certainly the lyrics. A bit difficult to make out without the liner notes, but this is an insightful, articulate and rather funny bunch of guys. Rockin' songs - great lyrics. Do you need more? (MK)

Iggy Taylor Schtuff self-released • Randy Newman with a bad attitude is who I liken Iggy Taylor to. He also has some pretty heavy Beatles overtones here. Not bad people to be influenced by. Iggy offers straight-ahead rock and some nice, melodic ballads. Low-budget rock at its finest. (SH)

Irish Car Bomb Tacos and Porno's Purple Skunk Records • Hailing from the mighty popular South Florida, Irish Car Bomb is a cool band. A strong blend and heavy mixture of, in my opinion, The Dropkick Murphy's, Guttermouth (the band and the term), NOFX, and tiny pinches of Less Than Jake. This unique, but remotely odd, style they conduct themselves as must be working, for it has landed them on the Vans Warped Tour and on stages with such acts as Glasseater, Bouncing Souls, and The Casualties! I may not agree to their terms of living and their lyrics, but all in all a good band with a lot of energy, heaviness and fun! What more could a fan of the punk rock genre ask for? (CMax)

Joe Mannix White Flag Bongobeat • Mannix plays jangly singer/songwriter music with sincere vocals and personal lyrics. It's down home music with a big city flair. At times it's reminiscent of James Taylor, other times more like Jim Croce or Bob Dylan. Mannix has spent his whole life in New York City and played in a pop-punk band in '90s before deciding to go solo. (CM)

Jon Doe Meet Jon Doe... Day By Day Entertainment • Hip hop DJ/Producer Jon Doe has a host of underground talent featured on this compilation of beats and rhymes which serves as a showcasing of his sounds. The beats here are smoothed-out collages of samples, bass and treble and this may need to be heard two or three times before appreciating what is offered. This mellow head-nodder full of lyrical treats features appearances by MF Doom, 7L and Esoteric, J Sands, Binkis, Supastition, C Rayz Walz, Declaime and more. (JC)

Jorma Whittaker self-titled Secretly Canadian • The frontman for Marmoset has broken free to release an honest, personal, solo album that is dark, yet jangly and melodic. Jorma's vocals are great, fluid, and sincere, flowing over each track at patient, measured pace. The music, while never moving too quickly, does cover plenty of ground, not simply putting the listener to sleep, but more so coaxing them into a numbed daze. Jorma has relocated to NYC from Michigan, and the Big Apple is definitely a more appropriate place to create this sometimes-artsy and always-hypnotic style of music. (CM)

JusVon I'm JusVon Parliament Records • Feels a lot like 70's era soulful blues and delivers with that same kind of exuberance. Self described as "neo-blues, neo-soul, neo-ballads" the live band sound adds to the atmosphere of old school rhythm and blues with some old school soul. This disc successfully drifts in many directions with the help of horns, keys, background singers and the vocal complexity of JusVon which begins to stand out on tracks like "I Don't Understand Me". What we have here is something twenty-something's can dig as much as their parents and grandparents. Original songs are included as well as ones by the late Buddy Ace; influences cross between the likes of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. (JC)

Karsh Kale Liberation Six Degrees Records • Karsh Kale's take on electronica blends sounds and influences from American and Asian cultures into one. This is no laptop creation, though. To make his music, Kale employs the help of his band Realize, as well as guests Zakir Hussain, Bill Laswell, and the Madras Chamber Orchestra. (AL)

Katie Marie Been Here Before self-released • Katie is a 20-something musician from the UK with strong vocals and a good sense for jangly pop music. There's nothing groundbreaking on this six-song EP, but what you do get are finely crafted pop tunes with flowing female vocals and a folksy kind of feel. Her delivery is passionate and reminds me, at times, of Fiona Apple. (CM)

Kenny Thomas Still Dirdy Dirdy World Entertainment • Alabama Kenny holds it down for the Deep South on this disc about the country, the hood and the ups and downs of surviving the world. Production is mostly done by Kenny and has that signature Southern sound of crunkness. Lyrics are mostly short bars that come off clichéd in substance but the rhyme style carries a gutter kind of attitude, overall very little is provided to make Kenny standout from the pool of talent in the Dirty. A few tracks show promise for the future – "Too Much, Too Much" touches on the excesses in life, "Lord Knows" is a dark look towards death. But what carries this disc until the end is the extra "bonus tracks" that feature Kenny spitting with depth and creativity over quality sounding production. Shows promise for the future. (JC)

Kenny Thomas Unkut Vol.1 Dirdy World Entertainment • Unlike the formulated Still Dirdy debut, this release has that raw and straightforward feel throughout. "Weak 2 Me" features B Nasty and is a slammin' lead into the album, things slightly disappoint when album filler material is next, but not much keeps this down. Kenny brings bangin' beats, tight production and a step up from his previous set, appearances from Cool Breeze, Shunn B, Ty Cutta, and more are included. Kenny continues to represent for Tuscaloosa as well as the Dirty South with beats that sound like carry-overs from the last album but they incorporate a New Orleans-style bump to them. Most of these tracks are equally worthy of praise but on "Name Kallin'" the Eminem/50 Cent beat for "Luv Me" is used while Kenny calls out rapper's names to tell a tale like "I Fiend to cause Havoc/on stage I'm live/my Black Thought will take Ghetto Boys to the Pharcyde/it's in The Roots/so never take this MC Lyte/I'll leave rapper's with a Scareface for touching the mic." What this disc does for Kenny is prove he is progressing. (JC)

Kevin Blechdom Bitches Without Britches Chicks On Speed • One half of Blectum from Blechdom, Kevin Blechdom (actually Kristin Erickson) is pretty talented at making computer music, and not so talented at singing. That doesn't stop her from making some of the most original, unusual music I've heard in a while. More explicit than a 2 Live Crew album, she sings about sex, whether with humans or animals, and leaves no detail to the imagination. Plus the fact that most songs feature the banjo makes the album just a little bit weirder. (AL)

Keystone All-Stars Once...And Young Jump Start Records • The opening track on this disc, "Concrete Rulers," is the most intense punk song I've heard this month. It's just brutal, in-your-face punk. Take THAT! They take it down a notch after that, but open it right back up on "Broken Hearted Paradise." Great reckless punk here. (SH)

King Of Prussia Blood Rains On My Hometown Best Friend Records • Synthesizers and girl vocals that actually rock. What more can you ask for? Maybe good melodies and uniquely composed songs. Male vocals create some great harmonies, too. The perfect use of keyboards and male/female vocals reminded me of The Anniversary, but then changes to an almost alt-country electric feel at moments. Each song is different from the last creating a diverse, catchy indie pop album with unconventional lyrics. (MP)

Knee Jerk Cruel & Unusual Knot Known Records • Colorado's Knee Jerk have been around since 1997 and is still going strong. This is their second full-length release and it actually came out in 2002. The album shows off Knee Jerk's ability to craft tight, power-punk tunes that are very melodic, at times poppy and full of energy. Think Green Day meets Blink 182. (CM)

Kut U Up Pulled Over . . . Your Eyes Are Telling Me Different Son Rowboat Records • I was determined to hate these guys because of their god-awful band name. With a name like Kut U Up, I was expecting them to be opening for someone like Slaughter or Warrant at a county fair in Iowa. But instead of cheesy hair metal, these guys churn out some catchy anthemic rock, equal parts indie and pop punk. Don't let the name fool you; this is some damn good stuff. (CL)

L'Spaerow s/t Lucid • This album has a keen sense of darkness, if there can be such a thing. Tweaky "electro-goth" synth noises in the background set a haunting stage for a desperately passionate guitar rock album with an uneasy mood. And this mood is what defines this band, making it stand far and apart – their writing is wholly reflective of it. It keeps pressing that heavy darkness into you, song after well-calculated song, a very mature and real band which speaks volumes with just a few bars. (DP)

Lake Trout Another One Lost Palm Pictures, LLC • Like many other bands, Lake Trout likes to experiment with rock music. Achieving a vibe comparable to Radiohead and Coldplay, they make sometimes ethereal, sometimes in-your-face music. Elements of electronica show up here and there, but this remains a rock record. Don't forget to check out the extra MP3 and the link to their secure website. (AL)

Lenore Syndrome Your Lips Taste Like Microchips What Else Records • Chaotic and noisy, with a punching backbeat that keeps the whole mess inline, Indiana's Lenore Syndrome seem to be presenting their dream journals from a week of nightmares. With a sound like a mutated Joy Division, all of this is pretty strange in the new wave- hardcore hybrid sense of the word. LS actually pull it off which is the crazy part. (KM)

Leonard Goetz Allure Innocent Words Records • This Champaign, Illinois quartet suffers from an identity crisis, ADD, or possibly both. Their songs are all over the place stylistically, but who the hell cares when they're this catchy? From indie rock to bouncy, grooving pop to reggae, Leonard Goetz seems to know no boundaries. As well, they put their unique stamp on everything they do, giving this diverse album a very natural feel. The songs flow seamlessly despite their differences, making this a truly enjoyable listen. (CL)

Let It Burn Hello Good Friend Alone Records • They call it "rock-core," I call it old-school punk. They do have a BIT of a new punk sound but for the most part this is punk for guys with Mohawks and snarls. There are only six songs on here and while I encourage you to listen to the other five, the standout track is the last one, their cover of "Miss You" by the Rolling Stones. (SH)

Lewis and Clarke Bright Light EP self-released • First off the packaging of this three-track disc is pretty cool. As for the music inside, this is atmospheric rock with that basic strum of guitars accompanied by keys and drums. Very mellow and folkish at times, their subtle approach stays firm enough to come across authentic and serious with the sound they create. Songs are pretty good but nothing really stands out as the music on this flowed together as one song. (JC)

Life Is Bonkers Full Moon Nation self-released • It's like a kooky trip to the circus and all of a sudden, you are somewhere else. It just doesn't make sense. But it's fun so what the hell. These two guys definitely do not take themselves too seriously and that adds to the joy and wonder of Life Is Bonkers. Get Bonked. You'll be glad you did. (MK)

Lifesavas Spirit In StoneQuannum Projects • Vursatyl and Jumbo The Garbageman spit their verses with a mixture of swagger and confidence. Real tales of everyday life and positivity are intertwined with tricky wordplay and ideas like on "Hellohihey" where the adventure inside the mind gets mapped out with some detail and concept. "It's Over" shows off lyrical diversity and "State Of The World/Apocalypse/War" is a jazzy track that helps this disc become well rounded while touching many areas of the hip-hop spectrum. These beats are packed tight with bouncing grooves and driving soul. The more this gets played the better it keeps sounding, the production holds things together well and a lot is offered here. Any true school hip-hop fan can appreciate this. (JC)

Light Weight Holiday self-titledPorterhouse Records • LWH are a four piece rock band from Cincinnati, Their style is hard to describe, their influenced by bands like The Undertones, The Small Faces, Teenage Fanclub and Superdrag. So if you are into any of the following bands you will more than likely be stoked on these guys. (RP) 

Lock and Key No Fate Irresponsible Records • This one grew on me. Playing a style of melodic hardcore that would be best described as "sounding a lot like Hot Water Music" they have a good straight forward approach and flow, sincere lyrics, that seem honestly sung. It's not the most monumental record your ever going to hear, but its an accomplished one, one that will be a progressive step toward something hopefully great, this one doesn't have that special something that sets it apart and makes it a classic. (KM)

Loop Guru Bathtime with Loop Guru Hypnotic Records • It's been about five years since the last Loop Guru album. Bathtime with Loop Guru sees the group experimenting with dub-influenced downtempo, with samples that bring a global feel to the record. If you are more into their high-energy stuff, you may be disappointed. But if you like the slow stuff, look no further. (AL)

Louis Logic Sin-A-Matic Solid Records • Relating to the street leveled 9-5 workers of the world, this release has tight production (mostly by J.J. Brown) with rhyme flows and lyrics that get raucous, alcohol-induced, political and even shouting attacks at label execs, critics and fans for their close-minded judgments. What this authentic underground emcee brings on this disc is a consistent product that shines from front to back. Catchy hooks are aplenty next to beats that bump with samples and genuine clarity, appearances by Celph Titled and Apathy are included. The whole album is slammin' and I didn't even need to get past the promo voice that constantly interrupted it to figure that out. (JC)

Lovewhip Bouncehall Squirrelygirl music/Juicy Juju Records • Talk about a groovy good time feeling had by all and this disc is what you're talking about. Because of Lovewhip kids all over the world can feel like they're in the Caribbean every night of the year. Hailing from Boston, this band has female-fronted vocals with world groove music that they have dubbed "world booty pop." Refreshing and entertaining straight through, these ten tracks require a mixed drink to top off the atmosphere with style. Soak up the sounds of Jamaican reggae, ska, juju and African beats then let the horns carry you away. (JC)

LSA Underwater Blues Illellements • LSA is Aliza Grant, and this EP features five tracks from her upcoming album BitzandPieces. In just under twenty minutes, she explores drum and bass and trip hop, and sometimes a mixture of both. Her sound is more organic than most, and well worth a listen. (AL)

Lynyrd's Innards "Untitled No. 3" What Else? / Morphius • This Chi-town three-piece has been around for a long ass time, 13 years, actually. They were there when bands like Green Day and Screeching Weasel were just getting noticed, but didn't get the same exposure. The guys play power pop, melding punk attitude with sticky melodies. It has the raw punk energy of the Buzzcocks with the melodic, pop flow of Green Day (or The Queers or some other pop punk band). But there are obvious influences from earlier "punk" bands like The Cars and The Police. It's really one hell of a releas. (CM)

Mad Parade Bombs And The Bible Dr. Strange • These guys have been around since the early '80s and have remained a mainstay of the punk scene. With aggressive, yet melodic, music, gruff vocals and a working class Oi! energy, Mad Parade enthralls the listener. It's like a more amp'd up version of Social Distortion. This is all new material, too, and the band sounds as good as ever before. (CM)

Man Machine Time Beach Records • One man, one bass guitar and one bass drum. I'd love to see this guy live. He hates everything I hate. I love that. This is angry music that actually has an intelligent and humorously delivered message. "Fired" is one of the best fuck-this-job songs I've ever heard. It's amazing how full the songs sound given the severe self-imposed instrumental limitations he has on himself. This is excellent. (MK)

Mark Brine For Karrie self-released • With very Dylan-esque vocals, Mark Brine offers up bluesy acoustic folk tune after tune. Brine has been doing solo music since the 1960s, so he's definitely been around, perfecting his art with each year. Besides Brine's solid guitar work, he has guests on the album playing such instruments as fiddle, violin, upright bass and piano. (CM)

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes Take A Break Fat Wreck Chords • I just love this band. This is their fourth record, and once again they cover old songs and inject some punk rock life into their forgotten melodies. It's hard not to smile when they shred through Lionel Ritchie's "Hello," Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman," or Seal's "Crazy." In all 13 tracks get the makeover treatment. (AL)

Mea Culpa They Put You In A Mask Empty Records • Political from the opening track "Waiting For America" until the conclusion of "Wall Around The World" this disc of rock and punk is served up with rebellious behavior. Much of this feels UK influenced but these four Seattle guys still stay inside their own realm of jamming out with a crisp and straight ahead approach. Always socially and politically engaged, it's no surprise at the angle taken by Mea Culpa on this release, much of this stays musically consistent throughout as well. (JC)

Miasis Self Titled Self Released • This is a very different approach to the hardcore or math rock genre. I'm not exactly sure which one this band is going for and I don't think they need to know. They are making mathy indie rock with a hardcore singer and doing it well. The first track takes you on a melodic hardcore drive with technical and impressive musicianship but then slows down for an instrumental indie song that even begins with acoustic guitar. Definitely worth a listen just for its uniqueness. (MP)

Mico Outside The Unbearable Grows G-7 Welcoming Committee Records • This Canadian rock band combines elements of indie, emo and punk. Strong vocals and driving melodies with emotional lyrics give them a Further Seems Forever meets Casket Lottery feel. A good looking CD layout with random pictures of inanimate objects probably carries some deeper meanings within the lyrics that are accompanied by them, but nothing blatantly obvious of course. This is followed by the traditional blurred picture of the band. Sometimes the rhythm section stands out and there are keyboards but they seem to take the back burner. All in all, this is a good emo rock album with stronger points than others but worth giving a listen. (MP)

Minmae Microcassette Quatrains BlueSanct Recording • Simply put this is a lot of nothing but noise. The first track stretches the drone aspects of this disc past nine minutes and from there the rest is a collection of guitar feedback, synth and barely audible words in the background. Recorded originally to cassette about four years ago this re-issue carries much significance to the artist. Minmae feels the music is reflective of his interpretation of everyday life, hence the noise drowning out the importance of the message. One moment this makes you feel annoyed then confused before becoming subtle and accepting the rock bottom atmosphere it traps you in. (JC)

Minus Halldor Laxness Victory Records • This follow up to their solid debut on Victory takes a rock and roll twist. Sounding like classic rock in a blender, there are solid metal parts that show some of their roots, but this is most definitely a different feel. They pull it off well for the most part, creating something like a heavy Cave In or a more updated Into Another. An interesting choice of directions, but one I'm willing to give solid props to. (KM)

Moore Brothers On and Out Amazing Grease • The brothers, who grew up living in the same room and now share an apartment in Oakland, play innovative soft rock with many twists and turns and Beatles-like harmonies. It's smart, passionate, and incisive, shifting moods and styles. The subject matter is all over the place, exploring "problematic relationships, marriage, and nuclear explosions." Great record and great talent. (DP)

Much The Same Quitter Never Win A-F Records • Out of Chicago, the power pop punk formula on this disc rages on with hopes of hitting the airwaves. Mixing contagious melodies with the "rah-rah" screams and thunderous bass guitar, what is provided here is the soundtrack to high school kids across the country. "Conclusion" rambles on about how "you're better off without me" and tracks like "Liar" and "Miss The Pain" are self-explanatory emotional outbursts. (JC)

Murder In The Red Barn Murder In The Red Barn Ed Walters Records • Musically this disc is a tougher and punkier version of 80's Police and not much more intimidating that that. Murder brings a more melodic structure to punk using oft-rhythmic guitar work, experimentation and the aggressive bass guitar that carries the mood. Although the concern for chaos is with merit just by the band name alone, mostly the wreckage is emotional and comes from the new vocalist who carries on in a raspy and extensive way on this five track set. (JC)

Murder Weapon Nervous Wreck Martyr Records • Murder Weapon, whose members have done time in bands like Scarlet, Down To Nothing, and Dead Serious, takes no prisoners on this 11 minute EP. They revive elements form old-school 80's New York Hardcore, and mix it with modern hardcore. (AL)

NAOP Hard To Deny Gangstyle Records • Go for the throat style mosh-core, with a sound that recalls early 90's Victory Records bands, a lot of metal, a lot of core. Nothing brilliant or earth shattering, but they do it up right. Great lyrics that also follow the pattern of pretty typical hardcore themes. This band follows the rule of thumb that says if you going to do a typical genre music, you better do it on a level of the genre, and not just recycle the same old boring guitar rifts... NAOP would never be confused with boring. (KM)

Neil Hamburger Laugh Out Lord Drag City Records • Neil Hamburger is a comedian who attempts to make you laugh by being insufferably unfunny. I say attempt, because he does not succeed. This has to be the lamest comedy album I have ever heard. I laughed exactly zero times. (AL)

Nicotine School Of Liberty Asian Man Records • Bands always joke about how they're "huge in Japan." But in the case of Nicotine, it's true. This album has sold over 60,000 copies in their home country and for damn good reason. This is some ripping punk rock in the vein of Lagwagon and NOFX. Of course, it's not just a total style rip-off. I mean, these guys are Japanese! But, they aren't breaking any new ground here. Instead, you get 17 tracks of guaranteed punk rock enjoyment, rapid, melodic, full of youthful angst, intelligent lyrics (in English) and tempo changes a-plenty. (CM)

No Surrender White Power Black Magic Surrender Sound • Consisting of members Seraphim, Gnomad, Mr. Steeples and Dabar Asad this concept album focuses on war, hatred, apathy and poverty and moves towards healing. The background music and beats are filled with horns and a spacey avant-garde approach. The flows spit by these emcees have a spoken-word element alongside the psychedelic jazzy beats and provide an overall mellow atmosphere that starts with the opening track. The aura of deep ideas and thoughts makes this interesting just by the concept alone and provides plenty to pay attention to. Appearances by Mike Ladd, Rob Sonic, Creature and Antibalas add a touch of diversity to an already concerned collective. (JC)

No Turning Back Revenge Is A Right Gangstyle Records • I have to admit I don't get over-excited about bands that describe themselves as old-school New York hardcore, the exception being bands that are actually from the old school in NYC of course. I certainly don't get hyped when I read bio's that tell me this band is celebrates hate. Its tired, its played out, and if I want old school hardcore go to the source and skip this one at all costs. (KM)

Noise Ratchet Noise Ratchet The Militia Group • A basic formula of solid rock with great melodies, hooks and tempo changes are all included on this six track E.P. that serves as a follow-up to their debut full-length Till We Have Faces. Everything on this other than the acoustic "A Way To The Heart" sounds the same musically. I would not be surprised to come across a music video or hear something from these guys played endlessly on the radio sometime in the future because the catchiness is there. (JC)

None Dare Call It Treason Prepare For The Quiet Wars Demo • self-released • Call them what you'd like to call them, either way this style of so-called "music" can be summed up into category that most bands from our lovely "Sunshine State" of Florida seem to be falling into... crap. This band comes off to me as inexperienced (sounds like they picked up their equipment from the local pawn shop, bought studio time and just played whatever seems to come to mind at the time). Their lyrics are not only brutally disgusting and gruesome but provide nothing to"catch anyone's eye (unless a fan of Charles Manson) and their riffs are yet two chords away from nothing. Props to them for being the first band in history to send me stuff, but too bad it's going to be used as a resource (fireplace fuel) instead of promotional and gratification devices. Maybe I'm a jerk. Get this demo and tell me what you think. I just tend to like something with a little more talent. (CMax)

None More Black File Under Black Fat Wreck Chords • This New Jersey based band is named after a Spinal Tap reference. NMB plays catchy punk rock in the same vein as Good Riddance. Definitely not ground breaking by any means. If you are familiar with any Fat Wreck Chord bands you will notice a definite similarity between them all and NMB is no exception. Oh, it's the dude from Kid Dynamite's band. (RP) 

Okkervil River Down The River Of Golden Dreams Jagjaguwar • With wavering vocals and jangly music, Okkervil River kicks off their third album. Could this be folk emo? Maybe. Regardless of genre labels, this is a solid, honest and impressive release. You could file this along with the new alt-emo-country stuff such as Palace (Will Oldham) and Wilco. It's comforting, but at times dark. Either way, it sucks you in and won't let go. (CM)

On Broken Wings Some of Us May Never See The World Eulogy Recordings • From the opening scream of the first track, "Maybe the Earth is Flat," you feel bombarded with aggression. On Broken Wings plays insane metalcore comparable to Converge, with sporadic slips into Death Metal, especially in the vocals. They never slow down, and by the end of the album, you are completely devastated. (AL)

On Trial Blinded By The Sun Tee Pee Records • What if At The Drive-In had been big in 1960? They would be called On Trial. Just heavy fuzz-guitar rock here, with a psychedelic vibe. On "Pour Soul" they ask, "Have you been good to yourself now?" Give this a listen and you will. (SH)

P.I.C. Sexy Picnic Riding Mower Records • Emcees/vocalists J-Bomb, Sulu and Un-G Wasmabati headline this band heavy on sax, keyboards, trumpet, bass, guitar and DJ skills. This funky pimped-out disc is filled with a house party vibe, mixing bursts of horns, Latin rhythms, 70's funk beats and smooth jazz that keeps every track steadily flowing throughout. The good time, big band approach makes this album sound like a live show. Cross amusing hip hop with Frank Zappa and this is what you get, an old school feel that still carries relevance, like what Beck, Sublime and the Beasties once did. The variation of influences inspiring these artists range from the likes of Run DMC, Pharcyde, Tribe, De La and Fishbone, but they stay true to what makes their style distinctive. (JC)

Party Of One Caught The Blast Fatcat Records • Tightly wound percussion with jangly guitars are at the center of this three-piece band, the brainchild of guitarist and songwriter Eric Fifteen. Recorded on an 8-Track, what is included here sounds very rough, but in this case adds to the element within its atmosphere. Lyrically the attitude towards genocide, gang violence, religion, war and sex stays consistent throughout, appearing to be influenced by the likes of Patti Smith, Nirvana, T. Rex and The Ramones with touches of grunge and electronica. "Six Million Anonymous Deceased," "Belgrade Sends Its Regards," "Fine Line Between Us" and "Baby Doll" are what keeps this disc sizzlin'. (JC)

Pesky An Effort To Do Good Closed System • This is pure poppy indie rock that's catchy and fun. Quirky sounds with tinny guitars reminded me of Minus the Bear but way poppier. There are some good harmonies and even keys here and there. Songs like "Apologize" show originality while some of the others are just pure pop. The bass sounds solid but the guitar is very tinny and had a tendency to grate on my nerves and steal my ears attention from the rest of the music. Nothing innovative. Indie pop has seen better days but it's definitely a head bobbing album. (MP)

Pilot Scott Tracy Flight 0713 What Else? Records • Formerly The Causey Way, Scott Stanton and Tracy Cox now comprise Pilot Scott Tracy. And wow, this is really cool indie rock loaded with new wave and '80s synth influences. Both Scott and Tracy sing, adding diversity to each track simply by having some male and some female vocals. The keyboard lines are used effectively, not excessively has is the case with so many recent indie bands. The resulting tunes are melodic, sometimes danceable, loaded with fuzzed-out guitars and a great attitude. Scott and Tracy are married, so, barring a divorce, we could get a lifetime of music from the duo. (CM)

Pinkeye D'Gekko Rhythm & Western Force MP Entertainment • Nothing can be done to squeeze this disc into a musical category, this project is all over the place with great results. Is it rock, country, folk or Beatles influenced? What tends to make these "mixed down home instruments with British invasion styles" work is the sly transitions into each track after changing their original musical format. "Possibly," "Most Of The Time" and "Another Quick Store Robbery" are a few tracks that stand out and range in diversity but check out "L.P." as well. No matter what, this disc is for the people that enjoy a little sarcasm with an assorted taste in big band jams and would like to hear all of it playing at one time. (JC)

Placer Summer Dopamine • This Boston quartet is certainly not soft on the ears. They play chaotic, dissonant indie rock that jumps all over the place. The melodies are a bit hard to come by, buried beneath the activity. I do like the dueling male and female vocals, aggressively belted over the staccato musical strokes and spastic beat. This is one of those bands that I think a lot of musicians will really respect from a technical standpoint and I think some of that is lost on my non-musically gifted self. It's a truly rocking album, though, and one that I think is likely to grow on me. (CM)

Plan A Project self-titled Go-Kart Records • Get off your couch all you lazy punk rock bums! Throw away all the empty beer cans lying around your living room floor and wake up, because do I have a surprise for you! Go-Kart Records is proud to announce "The New Age Punk Rock Gods," and I think this was the exact same idea Go-Kart had going into the signing of Plan A Project. Ok, Stay with me kids. Imagine Operation Ivy and Rancid (the two greatest punk rock bands of all time) colliding! To top it off, throw in the upbeat guitar parts and harmonies of The Bouncing Souls and the chorus sing-a-longs and hoarse vocals of Dropkick Murphy's and you have this "New Punk Rock Sensation" hailing from New Jersey. Their constant recording efforts and touring with such acts as Anti-Flag, AFI, Flogging Molly, etc. has gained them much more attention than they had ever thought. Surprisingly enough, I had never heard of this band before, but it's just a matter of time before they'll be blowing up your AOL Punk Rock Radio Station and headlining to the masses. (CMax)

Polysics Neu Kung Fu Records • Originally available only in Japan, "Neu" is finally available to the US masses. Its 14 tracks feature their combination of synth pop and raw indie rock that is chaotically amazing. If you like bands like Devo and Kraftwerk, you should check out these guys. (AL)

Poor Luther's Bones That The World May Sing Far Away Music, Honky self-released • Well, I can't. I just can't put a label on this. As soon as I get one song figured out, they change it up. These guys go from purely experimental noise and voices to something akin to Fireside Theater to the Beatles to latter day Pearl Jam. They're all over the place. Have a listen for yourself! (SH)

Poulain For Passengers Fiddler Records • The 1st Poulain self-released record wooed the critics (this one included) and created enough hype to get them on a label. This second serving hasn't stuck to my bones as much as the pureness of the first one did. Not as soft, not as simple, but still that almost trademark subtle tone of voice that moves you. In all these 4 songs add a nice rung in a ladder of a band that could really rock (gently of course) your world. (KM)

Prefuse 73 Extinguished Warp Records • Even though his last LP, One Word Extinguisher, came out just recently, Scott Herren decided he just had too much to give the world, so he released this 39 minute EP, subtitled Alternate Takes and Beats from One Word Extinguisher. There are some similarities to the LP, but it feels like a completely new album. If you like Prefuse 73's chopped up take on hip hop vocals and beats, then you will definitely love this CD. (AL)

process23 Premonitions self-released • San Francisco's process23 harkens back to the sounds of 80's British alternative. Co-founder Matt Jobin's jangling guitar work is dripping in reverb while partner Tina Noyes provides some melodic bass lines reminiscent of the style of New Order's Peter Hook. The results are quite good, with hints of the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Cure lurking as well in these 10 well-crafted songs. (CL)

Pseudo Heroes Prison of Small Perception Go Kart • Nothing more or less than a good ol' rock and roll album. Straddling the line between metal and pop rock radio style music, this is what rock and roll is meant to embody. There is a little something for everybody here and with all the guests from famous bands who contribute to this disc, you will find lots to listen to. (MK)

Psycho + Logical Street Villains Vol. 1 self-released • Without press info to straighten out what this disc featuring emcees Necro and Ill Bill is all about, one can only go by what he has in front of him. 21 tracks are mostly freestyles (or are they written freestyles?) over mainstream rap beats and are hosted by Uncle Howie and Kid Joe. The grimy gangsta wordplay flooding this disc is sub par at best. It's hard to listen past the jacking of beats throughout this but at times the flows do stand on their own before coming off repetitive in the end. Q-Unique, Whore and Sabac Red also appear. (JC)

Psykick Girl The Needle Has Landed self-released • This is heavy on the electro-pop tip, with strong female vocals adding a passionate, dramatic element to the ethereal, textured sounds. The tempo is mostly quick paced, perfect for dancing the night away. Psykick Girl uses a number of styles to create their own brand of music, taking cues from rock, breakbeat, house and new wave. In the end, the key is McKeena Rowe's singing ability. She takes over each song and, regardless of what music is backing her, creates an emotional intensity that is hard to ignore. (CM)

Puffy Amiyumi Nice Bar/None Records • Straight out of Japan this group brings some pop laden rock with female fronted vocals and some head on energy that strays from time to time. The opening track "Planet Tokyo" is a powerful introduction that combines the melodic vocals of Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura with a guitar heavy sound before singing in Japanese on the teen anthem "Tokyo Nights". Diversity is king on this jangly disc where the rock approach shares center stage with touches of disco, new wave electronics, pop punk and mesmerizing songs; the music is mostly American and the lyrics are mostly Japanese on this release. (JC)

Pushing Red Buttons Pushing Red Buttons self-released • PRB is a five-piece outfit from NY, NY but they sound like they lived in the UK for a few years. I hear a lot of Brit-pop influence here. I think Sir Paul would be proud. When they kick up the guitar they sound at times like something Brian Wilson might have come up with. It's catchy pop that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. (SH)

Quiet, Lovely Automata, Musica self-released • Upbeat and poppy without sounding trite, Quiet, Lovely have some interesting things going on here, in a sorta indie-vein sounding maybe like a faster moving Death Cab For Cutie with a little more ass shaking. The vocals are quirky, but hit some good moments, but over all it's the drumming that really moves. Something sort of interesting indeed. (KM)

Quintron Are You Ready For An Organ Solo? Three One G Records • The ever-quirky Quintron is back with his unusual "Drumbuddy" instrument, which he uses to create his music. Cleaner sounding than his previous efforts, Are You Ready For An Organ Solo? has a BS2000 vibe, with crazy organ sounds, canned, pseudo-electro beats, and scratchy vocals. (AL)

Racin' For Pinks Racin' For Pinks self-released • What's scary about this band is that they don't seem to take themselves seriously, yet they unleash some pretty ferocious punk here. With songs like "5 Clicks Outside of Denang" and "Kneel Before Zod," it's clear that these cats are having fun. It comes through loudly on this EP. (SH)

Remy de Laroque Carol's On My Mind self-released • Remy coos over jangly, melodic pop tunes that are hard to resist. The Paris native now lives in NYC, but his romantic French ways show through his music. The melodies roll beneath his smooth vocals, leading some to draw comparisons to Coldplay. This is one of those records you may not think you're going to like, but the songs stick in your head like gun on your shoe. (CM)

Req Car Paint Scheme Warp Records • The 14 tracks on Req's latest CD, Car Paint Scheme, were originally gathered for the Skint label, for their 12" Daily Beats series. They are minimalist hip-hop and electro influenced beats, with some additional effects and sliced up vocals added. (AL)

Restraining Order Five On Blue self-released • With a peppy attitude and a nerdy pop rock swagger the horns and bass guitar on this release will have you moving whether on your feet or sitting down. The music sounds loose and carefree like Zappa and vocals sound like Weird Al. The lyrics are sarcastic and joke about being used by and ignored by the ladies. Five tracks are included on this disc and are simply a no strings attached good time collection. (JC)

Riddle of Steel Python Ascetic Records • At first, I wasn't sure but the more I listen to it, the more I like this. Riddle is a power trio that re-defines the term. These three dudes have a tremendous amount of musicianship but manage to keep a solid sound rather than turn into some experimental mumbo-jumbo. I hear some Fugazi here, I hear some Helmet, some King Crimson...they can at times sound indie, others progressive, at other times they break into almost a hardcore groove. They're tough to put a label on and I'm sure that suits them just fine. (SH)

Rufio 1985 Nitro Records • Rufio! Rufio! Rufio! Were the last words that seemed to be engraved within my head during every hour of school and every sleepless night after first hearing this amazing band! That was the first album. Now I have a new remedy (second album) to replace the old flaccid and un-used. Intertwining guitar hooks, melodies, and breakdowns like you've never heard before, incredible detailed structure and the pure enthusiasm and talent of these guys make me want to jump around half naked in my Ronald McDonalds undergarments. Their recent signing to Nitro and their compassion towards all genres and styles, not to mention their crazy live show, has been nothing but shortening the time till Rufio becomes a household name, and not just a Captain Hook character. (CMax)

Rusty Santos Outside Versus In self-released • This is the second release from Rusty Santos. Rusty plays a very minimalist blend of synth driven pop. Influences range from Rocky Votaloto, Atom and his package, and The Weakerthans. A fairly solid sophomore release worth checking out. (RP) 

Ruth's Hat The Hitchhiker's Guide To Rock and Roll Fast Music • Cripes that's a long CD title. This is what I like to hear ­ a bunch of guys having fun playing music. This is unpretentious, high-energy, pop-punk with melodies and some keyboards here and I hear some Chuck Berry in there? If these guys haven't been listening to 50's and 60's music, they fooled me. (SH)

Sand The West Is Best Zip Records • Remember when Butch Vig and those dudes from Garbage got together? The producers who thought, "Hell, WE can make music better than the idiot bands we produce?" Well, I don't know if Kim Fowley thought along those lines, but that's what we have here. Fowley has been involved with acts ranging from The Runaways to Kiss to Warren Zevon. With Sand, his latest band with partner, Roy Swedeen, Fowley gives us a taste of his, what I've termed, "blues-a-billy." This isn't fast enough to be rock-a-billy but it has some of those same traits. Heavy on the tremolo guitar and blues riffs, with a healthy dose of twang tossed in. It's not for the musically unadventurous. If you're intrigued, you'll probably like it. (SH)

Scarlet Something To Lust About Ferret Music • A full-on metal assault is unleashed on this release. Pounding drums and vein popping vocal screams are alongside twisted guitar and industrial mayhem. On "Revolver" a drug trip is referred to as "the revolver blowing of my head" and the song feels true to its words. Six tracks are presented on this disc and every bit of it reeks of sex, drugs and chaos without a sign of daylight forthcoming. If you've ever been there, than you know what I'm talking about. (JC)

Scott Tuma The River 1 2 3 4 Truckstop Records • Performed entirely by Tuma, the mixture of guitar, harmonica, harmonium and organ in all their gentle ways has produced a captivating soundscape to lay around and become lost within. A very mellow and mesmerizing collection of chords and an aura of self-cleansing are wound throughout this release just as the river may be flowing. This is great background music, coming off like your own movie score for anytime of the day or anytime in life, it feels like a healing process taking place with tired pleas for forgiveness being ignored and then forgotten. (JC)

Scout Niblett self-titled Secretly Canadian • Scout is a powerful vocalist with a great musical vision. This album runs the gamut, from noisy indie rock numbers to angst-ridden vocal displays over minimalist drumming to slow-tempo emotional tunes. Never absent, though, are Scout's passionate vocals, whether delivered quietly or shouted out. The more uptempo track "I'll Be A Prince" really grabbed my attention. But it's one of the only (maybe the only) that moves at a more rapid pace. The rest are somewhat downtempo, but far from lacking drive, using a Feng Shui type of energy to accomplish more with less. (CM)

Shane Scott All Over Now Playroom Records • OK, attention WB Executives! Sign this guy up NOW! This guy will make all the girls scream and he's talented as hell! He has put together some really catchy tunes. He's not edgy but I don't think he means to be. He's very talented and writes really tight songs that are super radio-friendly. If he gets a break, you'll see a lot of him very soon. (SH)

Siouxsie & The Banshees Seven Year Itch Sanctuary Records • To celebrate their 2002 reunion group, Siouxsie & the Banshees put out this CD and DVD highlighting two of their performances at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire. Each is sold separately, and features a different track list. The CD includes classics like their hit "Peek-A-Boo," and a few surprises, like their cover of the Beatles' Blue Jay Way. (AL)

Slickshoes Far From Nowhere Side One Dummy • Solid and tight poppy punk in the South California style. Catchy but not enough to really ever leave you hooked, just enough to spark your interest. Lyrically they are beautifully more complex than the average pop-punk release, and this proves to be their saving grace. (KM)

Spitalfield Remember Right Now Victory Records • This energetic Chicago quartet puts the pedal to the metal and rocks out with highly melodic, slightly poppy indie rock with touches of post-hardcore. The emotional vocals are full of harmonies and melodies. I can only imagine what these guys must sound like live. (AL)

Stars of Aviation Snow on Snow Stars of Aviation • This EP from this veteran British indie band proceeds very softly and slowly to get where it's going, "at the speed of an icebreaker." Within this patient yet insistent mold, beautiful layers and crescendos weave in and out, giving it a spacey, otherworldly quality. Synths and acoustic guitars dance around each other like helixes. This album is gorgeous, and the only thing wrong with it is that it's too short. (DP)

Stephen Clair Little Radio self-released • Clair offers up intelligent indie pop rock that is stripped down with an Americana feel and loads of melody. The singer/songwriter now lives in NYC and his gritty tunes have a big city feel despite their homey qualities. The obvious comparison to Lou Reed must be made, and that's definitely not a bad thing. But it's Clair's witty but simple lyrics that are really the grabber; they'll get your attention and hold it for the entire album. (CM)

Stretcher self-titled EP self-released • I'd love to review this CD, if only I could find my face! See, it MELTED OFF when this came on!!! Wow. This is effing hardcore. How this dude doesn't have laryngitis is beyond me. There are only four songs on this EP and I'd really like to hear more. Great music, tight as hell, blazing riffs, machine-gun core here. (SH)

Strung Out Live in a Dive Fat Wreck Chords • This is the fourth disc in Fat Wreck's "live in a Dive" series, and Strung Out keeps the high quality shown by the previous albums in the series. In it, they recount their career, playing songs from their first album, all the way to their latest full length. They even included a cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark at the Moon," which they only play live. The cover art and comic booklet that is a staple of the series was drawn completely by frontman Jason Cruz. (AL)

Sunshine Blind I Carry You Underground Inc. • For more than seven years, Sunshine Blind has been crafting their electro-pop-goth style. Using flowing female vocals over minimal electronic beats and sounds, they create fluid, dramatic pop tunes. It's easy to get sucked into the tracks, despite being rather dark and depressing, as the melodies are ethereal and infectious. So, slap on your eye-liner and knee-high boots and get ready to dance the night away. (CM)

Superstrings For Superfriends Fantastimo & You're Next Universal Contact Records • The name may strike you off as "weird," but that's not even a part of it. Out of all the CDs I have reviewed, and even out of all the bands that have ever graced the attention of my ears, this has to be the most diverse and definitely the weirdest. Imagine Radiohead and Coldplay song structures and melodies, combined with the background screaming of Matchbook Romance, and the infectious guitar style of Thrice and Thursday, and that sounds remotely close to Superstrings for Superfriends. To top it off, they're politically influenced and share the intelligence of their messages with that of Anti-Flag and Propagandhi. Their album cover is pretty odd and their songs definitely "out of the norm" and even though this sounds like something my grandfather would listen to, I like it. Someone call up MTV2, I smell a World Tour along the way. (CMax)

Sven-Erik Seaholm Upload self-released • Sven-Erik plays well-orchestrated pop music that makes a lot of use of piano and delivers a "big" sound. It's definitely a mainstream sound, but it's more complex than most of the schlock you hear on the radio. Combining elements of big band, funk, pop, rock and country, you end up with a wildly diverse album. (CM)

Tabula Rasa The Role Of Smith Equal Vision • I recall being pretty harsh on their first record, this one however is a refreshing surprise. More complicated, more technical, and a bit more to the heart than the last release, Tabula Rasa have found their way to better graces with this reviewer. Their sound could be described as hardcore lite, with vocals that sound like a lounge singer. Still not amazing, or something you are going to rush to tell your friends about, but still... good show lads, good show. (KM)

Tao The Intermediate Present Universal Constant Records • Bass guitar is what stands out on this disc. The heavy and steady bass funk comes from Ben Trujillo and carries on with a Les Claypool attitude and deserves the attention of being in the forefront. This three-piece garage band uses vocal effects, tight drum work and guitar work that knows its place throughout these six-tracks that come out raw. The recording is very grungy and sounds low budget, but that's what gives it that proper packaging. This sounds influenced by early 90's rock and could use better production overall. (JC)

Temple of Fire Deformed Sampler BurpGun Records • Three songs from TOF's full-length disc "Deformed" here. If you miss 80's metal, this is as close as you're going to get. (SH)

Tennis LaundromatWatermark Records • Complicated pop that sounds branded and too hip, or at least too trying too hard to be too hip. NYC jazz musicians trying their hand at the indie-pop scene, and this pretty much sounds exactly as it should. Good stuff, but nothing that kept me digging for more. On the benefit of the doubt this one feels like one that might grow on me in time. (KM)

The Avenging Disco Godfathers of Soul The Ultimate in Authenticity and Musical Usefulness Alone Records • Ahhh, yes. With songs that have titles like Headache in My Ass, you know that you are in for a treat. This is hard-core with a twist. There are wacky, Mr. Bungle-like interludes and interjections in that songs which definitely separate them from standard run of the mill hard-core. there is a brave display of originality and talent here. (MK)

The Black Watch Very Mary Beth Stonegarden Records • Since 1987, John Andrew Fredrick has been the driving force behind The Black Watch and he continues to create original, solid music on this latest release. The album is a strong indie rock release with some dark moments and new wave influences. There are electronic elements fused with guitar feedback and jangly moments coupled with Fredrick's sincere vocals, leading the listener on a diverse journey. The Black Watch has been compared to such bands as The Cure and My Bloody Valentine. I'm not sure if they work individually, but Fredrick definitely borrows from each to create a unique sound. (CM)

The Blackouts Every Day is a Sunday Evening Lucid • The Blackouts are a four-piece from the holy land of Illinois that play straight-up power garage rock. Their catchy hooks capture all of the simple rock greatness of a young Mellencamp, with snottier vocals and a great deal more distortion. Their massive, balls-out guitar chord attack is just what you need for driving down the highway with the windows down music, recommended to be enjoyed loud as hell. (DP)

The Butcher Mass Destruction Manual Gangstyle Records • As you guessed from the title, this is a collection of show tunes. Did I fool you? This WOULD be show tunes if there was a show called "Smash your brains in with my truck." The Butcher is a hardcore outfit from Holland (isn't that veird?). This is, lyrically, the funniest hardcore album I've heard. From "Ketchup Is King" to "Gilles de la Tourette" (about a person who says the eff word a lot) to "Too Many Morons," well, you get the idea. Sonically, it's loud and heavy. It's hardcore that makes you laugh. Huh? Sure. (SH)

The Chiodos Bros. The Heartless Control Of Everything Search And Rescue Records • Listening to this band makes you think you might have heard before, the reason being they seemed to have "borrowed liberally from poor sources." A little indie, a little mall-emo, a little pop punk... and they scream it out too just to complete the mix. (KM)

The Divorce There Will Be Blood Tonight Fugitive Recordings • The 70's meets the 80's. These guys write some good catchy choruses with The Strokes like guitars mixed with synths and distorted bass. The vocals are strong at moments but it can grate on your nerves a few tracks into the CD. There's a guy credited for screaming. I'm all for some screaming, especially when it's needed, but sometimes it just feels like bands are doing it to do it, just to credit someone for screaming. So this is rock n' roll, 80's dance and screams all wrapped up into a nice little tight package. (MP)

The Flops Ooh La LaMockingbirds • The Flops is made up of John Munson (from Semisonic) and Matt Wilson. This double-CD is a live recording of the band plus a CD-ROM that includes a video, photography and the fiction of Minneapolis writer Sam Magavern. Musically, this is strong acoustic material, from two passionate and skilled musicians. The melodies are strong and ever-present while there's an intensity about the music despite it not being electric. The CD-ROM is just an added bonus to an already great album. (CM)

The Forgotten Out of Print BYO Records • I didn't receive and press material for this disc and now I know why: I don't need it! This is old-school punk. If the picture in this CD was taken in black and white, you'd think it was from 1973 in London. This is loud, rude and in your face – just the way punk was meant to be played. (SH)

The Funeral Ruled By None Endwell Records • Big guitar hardcore, with every element you want to find. A good mix of Sick of it All old school and Hope Conspiracy new school sounds, this band brings it like a gun to a knife fight. Lyrically they remind me of older Snapcase, with assorted personal agendas per song. Despite an uncreative name, The Funeral bring it down heavy. (KM)

The GC5 Kisses From Hanoi / Horseshoes & Handgrenades Thick Records • Fans of the GC5 will be happy to know that the long time out of print Kisses from Hanoi album has been re-released. To sweeten the pot, they threw in the Horseshoes & Handgrenades EP, for a total of 19 tunes of working class punk rock. (AL)

The IOs self-titled Self Released • Indie pop with a synthesizer. There's a lot more of this immerging and I think this band has the right idea but they're not quite there yet. This three-song demo shows a lot of potential especially with tracks like "Laika" that have male and female harmonies and tends to stay away from the traditional indie pop. The synth parts give it some originality. The male vocals have an eighties sound to them along the lines of Brit pop while the female vocals are soft and sweet, much like those of Denali. (MP)

The K10 Prospect The K10 Prospect Nessa Records #1 • A few tracks are included on this E.P. and none of them are worth the time. Hardcore metal and punk meet with agitation on this release and things could sound better from this three-piece band. Wearing their anti-war feelings on their sleeves at least gives them some direction. Problem is, the vocals are so lost behind the music and sound ruffled, even while attempting to follow along with the printed lyrics included. Until production makes this sound better there is no reason more than 10 copies should be printed. (JC)

The Life And Times The Flat End Of The Earth EP 54-40 or Fight • Lead by former Shiner frontman and songwriter Allen Epley, The Life And Times gives us their debut EP. The music is emotionally powerful, heavy on feedback, melodic and, at times, dark. Think Jawbox meets Radiohead. Or something. The six tracks on this release are absorbing, using sound textures to lull you in, and then hooking you with sincere vocals and numbing melodies, with enough tempered aggression to prevent this from becoming weak. (CM)

The Luxury Liners Overboredself-released • Nashville's The Luxury Liners are just waiting for that big break. They have that radio rock sound, not like Linkin Park but more like John Mayer or Foo Fighters. I'm not saying they necessarily sound like either one of them, but I think they appeal to the same audience or genre of sound. That said, this didn't do too much for me. It is certainly well produced; the sound is crisp, the vocals strong and the music well crafted. But nothing about it really grabbed my attention. Apparently it hasn't grabbed a label's attention yet, either, since they remain unsigned. Personally, though, I'd sign Œem because they have all the makings of a successful radio rock band. (CM)

The National Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers Brassland • Could this release from New York (by-way of Ohio) budding flowers The National couldn't be titled better. With a sort of Nick Cave like voice, you could almost see these songs sung next to a bed, as a confessional before a true love going wrong. Its quite immaculate actually, a good musical feel, something that raises questions in the same moment it eases old pains. Quirky, but for the right audience... Hell yeah. (KM)

The National Splits Fontana Mr. Whiggs/Recordhead • Mike Downey is the brain (and the voice) behind all the music on this CD. Before this project, he was half of the songwriting team that made up '90s pop band Wolfie. Three years into The National Splits and Downey is releasing his second full-length. The music has a straightforward pop rock approach loaded with jangly melodies and a '60s sense of delight. It's a sunny afternoon soundtrack for cruising to the beach or the perfect tunes to accompany a picnic in the park. (CM)

The New Anxiety Self Titled Keep Safe Records • Tight indie rock with emo aspects. Elements of Sensefield with Ben Folds' vocals gave them a different twist to the typical emo rock band. "Monuments" really stood out on this five-song EP with staccato melodies and dissidence. Some moments even sounded Hum influenced. As the album progressed, songs seemed to drag but string accompaniment saved them. (MP)

The (no) Apologies Project Deconstruct the Dancefloor Copter Crash • Here is a world of found, stolen and mangled sounds woven together into a pair of socks to wear to the dance. Eclectic is far too weak and flabby a word to describe this casserole of wild beats and succulent sounds. If I could describe this disc better, I'd be a better writer. This is something that you need to listen to for yourself to fully appreciate. (MK)

The Paperbacks An Episode of Sparrows Pshaw! • Pop rock with good harmonies. However, the first track goes on for almost seven minutes and I quickly lost interest. The second track picks up the pace and as the album progresses, I heard some indie influences but this band seems more like an opening act for Eve 6 than Pavement. The music is underplayed with vocally driven songs that almost contain too many harmonies. The music shows some potential in tracks like "Plans in Advance" with staccato bass and a catchy chorus. The melodies start to sound very similar after awhile while the lyrics rack up trite points. (MP)

The Riverboat Gamblers Something To Crow About Gearhead Records • I think that's the first time I've heard a line from Jaws in a song. In the opening track, TRG cry, "I think we're gonna need a bigger boat." Hell, I think you should buy this just for that fact alone. Musically, this is punk. It's not pretentious, it's not soft and it's not for your mama. I hear great things about their live shows so you'll see me there if they hit FL. Get punked! (SH)

The Sick Lipstick Sting Sting Sting Tigerstyle • Screamy, screechy, whiny, noisy, and wild. This is a strange disc that I like, but I have no idea why I like it. It is definitely different than just about anything else I have heard, which is a good thing in itself. Early B-52's meet the GoGo's , meet Slayer. Wild. (MK)

The Smartest Monkeys The Smartest Monkeys self released • These monkeys are not your mama's Monkeys! These monkeys are more akin to The Hives and The Vines. They don't have quite the edge those bands do, but they have better melodies and they maintain that same energy. They have more diverse influences, too, which come results in every song having its own character. (SH)

The Snow Is The Rainbow Barry Sure Wrote A Lot Of Songs About The Girls He's Loved Suckapunch Records • So I guess this album is one guy making quirky electro-pop indie rock. There are lots of random electronic noises and rap influenced vocal melodies. Drum machine driven slow songs lead to dance tracks creating a good mixture for fans of this new insurgence of electro indie like The Postal Service or The Faint. This band is not quite there yet, but there are lyrics about a girl performing felatio. Not bad for one guy with some help on backups and trombone, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's good either. (MP)

The Suicide Machines A Match And Some Gasoline SideOneDummy Records • Political on all fronts, and bringing enough pop within this punk band to make transitions from hectic to simply groovy is your layout on this release. The hardcore sound is fused with ska and an appetite to dissect authority down to its skeleton. "Your Silence" sounds like Pantera and "High Anxiety" is so popish that it doesn't fit in, while the melodies on "One More Time" are an example of the few contrasts happening throughout this album. (JC)

The Teen Sensation Glasses Whoa-Oh Records • Pop punk with catchy songs about Brittany Spears and girls whose boyfriends fall in love with guys from the band. If you like the Queers and The Fairlanes, and you do, then you'll dig this disc. Nothing too heavy to think about, just a well done homage to The Ramones and every band that has followed in those hallowed tracks. This is a good disc. (MK)

The Telegenic The Telegenic self-released • Immediately things come off sounding like a younger version of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers with Bruce Springsteen and The E. Street Band but not in a bad way. From vocals down to the big band vibe that is full of guitars, background vocals and thought out lyrics, this disc pushes the right buttons. Every instrument blends perfectly with each other including the accordion addition and it's live energy that makes this stay steady throughout. What is offered here is a rebirth of the original rock formula of music and fun while proving good times are still yet to come. (JC)

The Threats Demos and Rarities Dr. Strange • Before I was born, 10 years before then, The Threats were born. "Cocaine crazy" guitar riffs, colossal drums, and finger picking bass lines were the "trademark" of this new genre they liked to call Oi. The Threats have produced a memory of these "glory days" with Demos and Rarities, which extends itself back to the beginnings and concludes itself with the more recent. I'm known as an "Oi Basher" from time to time, but about 23 years ago no one had any clue what a recording studio was or what punk is. Therefore, it's not a bad start for a band who has reached legendary status in the Oi business. (CMax)

The Turbo A.C.'s AutomaticGearhead Records • This is some serious punk rock, raw and sweaty and full of spit. There are plenty of sing-a-long choruses, thick melodies and enough aggression to fuel any circle pit. The lead vocals are in your face but can harmonize when needed. The Turbo A.C.'s have been doing this for a while and this new release is definitely another step forward. (CM)

The Unknown Radio Lied To Me Boss Tuneage • I hadn't heard this band before, but I immediately knew they'd been doing it for a while. Turns out, The Unknown have been together for 14 years. They play super tight pop punk with great riffs, hooks around every turn and vocals that fit right in. Some of the tracks are a bit "sweeter" than others, but it'll still grab the attention of power punk and pop fans. (CM)

The Unseen Explode BYO Records • The Unseen are a bunch of dudes with liberty spikes that like to play their guitars in leather jackets and are totally upset by the way government and parents treat them poorly. These guys spend a lot of time doing their hair and dressing in totally gnarly punk rock gear and they hope you appreciate it. (RP) 

The Young Antiques Clockworker Two Sheds Music • I almost don't want to say it, there's no way to say it and then say anything positive afterwards, but damn it if this doesn't sound like an indierock Hootie and the Blowfish. A definite college rock vibe, with some really well sung vocals and cleaver lyrics, but I can't get past the mainstream rock groove they have going one. I think my mom would like these guys more than me. (KM)

These Arms Are Snakes This Is Meant To Hurt You Jade Tree Records • More brilliant projects from those ex-members of Botch, that of course sound nothing like Botch. Technical post hardcore feel, with almost an electronic feel while not synth-core at all. TAAS also have an epic feel to them, bringing a kind of short story long feel to the whole experience. This is one of those bands you just know you have to see them pull this all off live. Not a classic Jade Tree release, but something good for the collection. (KM)

This Moment In Black History The Cleveland Finger EP Exit Stencil Records • More swagger than a glam-metal rockstar in his prime, these guys let it all hang out. Almost some old-wave and rock and roll aspects, this one captures a sound unique and fun like old B-52's meets The Kinks. Their garage sound feels a little too contrived and typical, but I won't let that stop me from digging it. (KM)

Throw Rag Desert Shores BYO Records • They refer to themselves as playing "sailor rock." I have no fucking clue what that actually means, but I can tell you they fuse punk rock (ala the Sex Pistols) together with elements of funk, classic rock and lots of sweat. The band is six members deep and includes a trumpet/washboard player. The vocals sound like an angst-filled, spastic version of Johnny Rotten meets Mike Ness. I can't even begin to imagine how insane these guys must be live. (CM)

Throwdown Haymaker Trustkill Records • Throwdown will pound you into submission with their Trustkill debut, "Haymaker." They blend some pretty aggressive hardcore with some melodic elements and screamed positive lyrics, creating a highly energizing sound. No doubt you'll be ready to kick some ass after listening to this record. (AL)

Tim Keyes Sketchbook self-released • I like to refer to this type of music as "Mid-Life Crisis Rock." Despite an intriguing and somewhat artsy intro track, it turns into mainstream, mediocre rock from there. Keyes' vocals are given way too much attention and are a bit dramatic for my tastes. The music, while not awful, is far from groundbreaking – using some ethereal sounds coupled with decent guitar lines (sometimes jangly, sometimes feedback-heavy) and mid-tempo rhythms. There is some creative use of various sounds and electronic elements, but it doesn't save the music from being unimpressive. (CM)

Toni Lynn Washington Been So Long Northern Blues • Toni is, according to the press material I received, "the city of Boston's reigning queen of the Blues." Now, I'm not sure if that's true, but girl can certainly sing the blues and she's been doing it for four decades. I like to close my eyes while listening to this and imagine a smoky, loungy '50s bar with Toni in the back corner, singing her heart out while her band gives her the back-up rhythm necessary to truly deliver a song to the audience. That's how this album comes off to me. This isn't just depressing, need-a-tissue kind of blues. Toni also belts out some more rockin' pieces and displays her gospel roots as well. Blues fans will not be disappointed with this "queen of the Blues." (CM)

Toshack Highway vs. Sianspheric Magnetic Morning/Aspirin Age Sonic Unyon • These two bands have more in common than their history of coexisting through changes in musical direction. This two disc, 10 track E.P. brings together the spacey folk rock sound of Toshack and the atmospheric density of Sianspheric. It's a match up that comes without any fight as Toshack sounds more like the setup guy but in a soft swinging way and Sianspheric delivers the knockout punch by putting you in a dreamy state before rocking out on "This All Happened" which is one of the best tracks from this split decision. (JC)

Turn Pale Kill The Lights What Else? Records • If you're like me, you've always wondered, "What would happen if Portishead and Radiohead became RadioPortis?" Well, now you know. Turn Pale has taken trip-hop and indie and emo and mixed it into one dark, eerie shake. Drink up! (SH)

Two Joons For Tea Looking For Landmarks Sarathan Records • Very strong, soulful female vocals accompanied by indie pop rock. Vocals seem to be a cross between Nelly Furtado and Ani DeFranco, but sometimes went the raspy route of Lamb and Portishead. They jump from pop rock to trip hop and back again for some folk songs. It flows smoothly from song to song, even with the inconsistency of genres. A nice twist to the fem fronted band. (MP)

Ui Answers Southern Records • Now a quartet, Ui continues to deliver engaging instrumental music centered on two basses and drums, but augmented with a host of other instruments, including guitars, piano, banjo, and several keyboards. The songs feature both complex and simple arrangements, and never disappoint. (AL)

Ultimate Fakebook Before We Speak Initial Records • Rock and roll with indie pop aspects. This is UF in true form with seven unreleased tracks, although not every track is a full song. This is pure fun and catchy rock that has influences coming from every direction including that of Cheap Trick. For those fans of Ed Rose's work, you will be happy to hear that Eddie produced and recorded this. Normally I would compare them to bands like The Stereo but this album has some electronic moments as well with drum machines and synthesizers, making it different from their other releases. This is a must for any UF fan. (MP)

Various Artists Volume 3 Cringe • DJ Riko kicks off this compilation with turntable techniques and samples before diving head first into the diverse sounds from in and around the Columbus, Ohio area. Just as the previous two compilations provided, there is a lot to choose from depending on your style ­ things vary in sound from electronic, pop, rock and folk. Standout tracks from bands such as Silencio who on the track "10en" fuses keyboards and guitars with percussion and electronic elements help make this project worthwhile. Gypsy Witch is relentless with an aggressive rock sound on "Doomgrinder" and Brian Harnetty uses sample-based electro sounds with mono vocals on "Pretty Bird". The Husher, Classical Ass and Trailor Park Ninjas also provide good tracks. (JC)

Various Artists Den of Thieves ESL Music • ESL Music shows off their talented roster on this compilation, put together by the Thievery Corporation, showcasing various influences on electronic music, including jazz, soul, electro, hip-hop and dub. Artists include Federico Aubele, Les Hommes, Ursula 1000, Sofa Surfers, Blue States, and others. Many of these tracks have never been heard on CD, or anywhere else. (AL)

Various Artists Johnny's Blues – A Tribute To Johnny Cash NorthernBlues Music • Although the Man In Black will forever be known and remembered as a country music outlaw, much of what he has recorded also contains that bluesy sound that had us all drinking and singing along. This tribute album, like most tribute albums, is hard to be opened minded about because when other artists redo classics it's either done with originality or comes off like a cheap cover tune. In this case each contribution sounds unique. Paul Reddick & The Sidemen start things in grand fashion with "Train Of Love" and sets the stage for a number of blues musicians here to pay their respect. Garland Jeffreys gets down on "Walk The Line," Blackie & The Rodeo Kings get down right grimy on "Folsom Prison Blues," Harry Manx brings "Long Black Veil" back to life and Corey Harris adds atmosphere with "Redemption." Also on this impressive collection are Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Maria Muldaur, Alvin Youngblood and Marvis Staples. (JC)

Various Artists Kitestringing: The Prison Literature Project Benefit Versus Press • The Prison Literature Project sends books to prison inmates nationwide, and proceeds from the sale of this compilation go to that cause. The 22 tracks feature songs by, among others, Big in Japan, The Weakerthans, The Rum Diary, Noam Chomsky, Propagandhi, and Chumbawumba, some of them never before released. (AL)

Various Artists Punk Rock Is Your Friend Kung Fu Records • For a measly four bucks, you can get this sampler with 18 tracks of punk rock by the likes of The Vandals, Useless ID, Audio Karate, Ozma, The Ataris, Tsunami Bomb, and others. If that's not enough, you also get six music videos in the enhanced portion of the CD. How this record label stays in business is beyond me. They are practically giving the store away! (AL)

Various Artists Punk Seven Inch CD Vol. 1 Lookout Records • The first batch of late 80's Lookout 7 inch recordings they are re-releasing, these aren't the classics your looking for, but more the pre-heyday East Bay bands that paved the way. With an astonishing 47 songs on one CD this is a true punk rock CD. Featuring Corrupted Morals, Isocracy, Plaid Retina, Surrogate Brains, Kamala & the Karnivores, and the always amusing Yestie Girls. (KM)

Various Artists Songs To Benefit PETA Fat Wreck Chords • If you like hamburgers or fried chicken, then you should watch one of the included videos on this compilation, set to Goldfinger's "Free Me." You'll see how animals are tortured and killed so you can have a nice meal. Also included are videos from Good Charlotte and Midtown. Of course, this is a CD first, so there are 16 tracks by Hot Water Music, The Faint, Anti-Flag, The Used, NOFX, and others, as they collaborate with PETA to stop animal cruelty. (AL)

Various Artists State Of The World Tableturns • This collective is all about the DJ and proper beats. A mix tape spun with samples and guest emcees, this is sure to get stuck in your CD player. The smoothest beats make out the soundscape alongside plenty of turntable scratches, artists like J-Live delivers on "Don't Get It Backwards," and Slug shines on "Keep Steppin'." Everything here flows consistently from front to back; appearances also include Cannibal Ox, Rob Swift, Total Eclipse and Supa Dave. Tableturns is a label strictly for the DJ, who have recently embraced the emcee and this release is a prime example of what combining talents can accomplish. (JC)

Various Artists The Orange Spot Sessions Vol. 5 Orange Peal Records • The latest compilation from Orange Peal includes 23 tracks from punk and indie rock bands like Sloppy Meateaters, Agent Felix, Pansy Division, Unsung Zeros, The Berlin Project, Mad Parade, No-Direction, Forty Winks, Cell Block 5, Murdock, Clark Can't, and others. (AL)

Various Artists Traveler Œ03 Six Degrees Records • In the 10 tracks of this year's Traveler compilation, the folks at Six Degrees take stock of their output (even though the year is only half done). Variety is important to them, which is why they included the Afro Cuban sounds of Bobi Céspedes and the Spanish rap of Ojos de Brujo, as well as the table filled dance music of MIDIval PunditZ and Karsh Kale's techno, which features the Madras Chamber Orchestra. Plus, for a limited time, the CD includes a bonus disc with more global electronic music. (AL)

Various Artists Vans Warped Tour 2003 Tour Compilation Side One Dummy Records • With every passing year, the Warped Tour keeps getting bigger and better. This year's comp has an amazing 52 tracks on two discs, with bands like The Suicide Machines, NOFX, Less Than Jake, No Use For A Name, Poison The Well, Bouncing Souls, Simple Plan, Lagwagon, Mest, Avenged Sevenfold, and a bunch more. (AL)

Various Artists We Came From Beyond Volume 2 Razor & Tie • Presented by L.A. radio DJ Mike Nardone this follow up, which carries the same name as his radio show on KXLU, is as good as or even better than the collection of underground gems on Volume 1. Most of these tracks are previously unreleased and the long list of underground talent includes the likes of Aesop Rock, Eyedea, Slug, J-Zone, Wildchild, Vast Aire, People Under The Stairs, The Visionaries and much, much more. As expected the beats here are slammin' and the talent assembled speaks for itself. It's not often that compilations sound this exciting and refreshing. (JC)

Volcanic Anhedonia Rut Records • Some pretty noisy, raucous pop here, a la, well, you know who. All those "The" bands. I like this band (pronounced "Four Star Volcanic") because they have a really raw edge. There's no polish anywhere to be found and that keeps this fresh and new. (SH)

Whistle Jacket Rainy Day Sunshine self-released • Jangly indie pop with male and female vocals. Acoustic and clean guitar are mixed throughout this album and they even included a xylophone. There are some interesting compositions and instrumental combinations but it had a tendency to be droning after awhile. Some of the vocal melodies sounded like a feminine interpretation of Built to Spill but annoying. (MP)

With All Sincerity The Age Where Nothing Fits Pluto Records • This San Antonio quartet's heavy music is hard to categorize, since they blend many styles into one. From death metal and thrash, to hardcore and metalcore, the one consistent thing is their aggression. Even the lead singer screams in different styles, from high-pitched screams to guttural rumbles. (AL)

World Without Sundays World Without Sundays self-released • WWS claims to be making a name for themselves out west in LA-LA-Land, and I can see why. They've taken a pretty basic formula for pop and added serious hits of blues, emotion and anguish to it, something all those starving actor types can relate to, no? At their best, WWS build their songs into furious crescendos with front man Shoxwaken Hincks' powerful vocals turning the songs into unbridled cries for help. I don't know if radio is ready for WWS, but after listening to tracks like "Drunk" and "It's Just Started To Rain," I think they may want to start getting ready. (SH)

Yes Sensei What I Do Best Is What I Do Worst Roklok Records/The Children's Revolt • With a name like Yes Sensei, I can't help but think of The Karate Kid, and I can't help but think of the members of Yes Sensei kicking the crap of Ralph Macchio. These guys play some bad ass, raw, energetic indie rock that reminds me of the Jesus Lizard in their prime. Where's your Miyagi now, bitch? (CL)


Bassholes Out In The Treetops Double 7" Dead Canary • This is some seriously raw garage rock – exactly how it should be. There's loads of feedback and the band members are undoubtedly drenched in sweat. There is plenty of punk influence that gives it a punch, rock and roll feel. Plus, you get two slabs of vinyl for a total of seven tracks. (CM)

Edenpark Journey To The Center Of Skull Mountain 7" Nolo Records • These guys are wacky and this CDs proves it. From metal to punk to pop to strangeness ala Mr. Bungle, Edenpark keeps you on your toes. A sense of humor is sometimes better than talent – luckily, these guys have both. The music will definitely entertain, and their wit will make you giggle. (CM)

Enemy You Video To Radio 7" Geykido Comet Records • San Fran's Enemy You has already received great exposure through various tracks on comps for Lookout and Fat Wreck. And it's deserved. They play very solid power punk that has enough pop to get you addicted. The melodies are awesome and the uptempo beat really keeps you moving. The clear green vinyl is an added bonus. (CM)

Federico Aubele Postales 10" ESL Music • With Latin guitars and dub influences, Argentina's Federico Aubele's 10" Postales features two tracks that showcase his smooth musical talent. The tracks are "Postales" and "El Amor De Este Pueblo." The Spanish lyrics add a nice worldly vibe. (AL)

Figuritas #6 Haymarket Riot / Hitch split 7" What Else? • Haymarket Riot hail from Chicago but play that DC-style indie rock that the kids love to call post-punk. It's rapid, technical and aggressive and damn good. On the flip is Belgium's Hitch, who could also be called post-punk, but are a bit less hardcore and more indie rock, ala Jawbox. (CM)

Fire Down Below self-titled 7" Ed Walters • This is dangerous, in a good way. The music is blaring, throbbing, but technically creative as hell – let's call it mathcore. The vocals are screamed, screechy and hard to decipher. I don't really care, though, because it goes perfectly with the music. I'm impressed and look forward to more from this band. (CM)

Giant Bags of Weed / Shotwell split 7" Half-Day Records • Here you get two great punk bands for the price of one. GBW reminds me of the Œ90s pop punk band Sicko (Empy Records) with their punky feel but poppy music with a twang. Shotwell brings melodic punk that still has a pop, but it's a bit thicker and less stripped down than GBW. Both bands are awesome and remind me that 7"s are still cool. (CM)

Malatesta Critical Beats 12" Entartete Kunst • This mini album uses samples by Ward Churchill, Emma Goldman, Noam Chomsky, Raw Knowledge and others, laid on top of slow-tempo hip hop beats. The point is to expose how the state and corporations have taken control of our lives. (AL)

Meaty Ogre split 7" Galapagos4 • I was sure this was going to be death metal. Flip that thought. This is some bangin' hip-hop with a raw underground approach using stripped down beats and none of that over-the-top major label overproduction shit. The man on production is the ogre, droppin' uptempo beats with sweet cuts and loops. He's definitely drivin' the vibe of this release, a rugged, head-noddin' journey. But MO doesn't travel alone. He's joined by two dope spittin' Chicago MCs, Robust on one track and Rift Napalm on the other. Nice, very nice. (CM)

Rambo / Crucial Unit Sea of Steel Vol. 1 7" Ed Walters • Holy crap, this is aggressive! Both bands play speedy, thrashy, screamy hardcore that still finds a way to be melodic when necessary. This is a full on assault on your ears, so listeners beware. (CM)

In alphabetical order. Please write them.

54-40 Or Fight!,
Absolutely Kosher Records,
A-F Records,
Alone Records,
Amazing Grease Records,
Ambidelic Records,
Andrew Huber,
Ascetic Records,
Asian Man Records,
Audio Out Send,
Bar/None Records,
Becca Dalrymple,
Best Friend Records,
Better Looking Records,
Bifocal Media,
Billy Johnson,
Blue Sandcastle,
BlueSanct Recordings,
Bongobeat Records,
Boss Tuneage,
Broken Ness,
Bryan Barnett,
Burnside Records,
Burp Gun, no contact info available
BYO Records,
Centsless Records,
Chicks On Speed,
Christopher Blue,
Closed System,
Copter Crash,
Cowboys International,
Crucial Blast Industries,
Curve Of The Earth,
Day By Day Entertainment,
Dead Canary Records,
Deep Elm Records,
Definitive Jux,
Dirdy World Entertainment,
Dischord Records,
Doghouse Records,
Double Zero Records,
Dr. Strange Records,
Drag City Records,
Ed Walters Records,
Electric Turn To Me,
Embedded Music,
Empty Records,
Endwell Records,
Entartete Kunst, www.
Equal Vision Records,
ESL Music,
Eulogy Recordings,
Exit Stencil Record,s
Fast Music,
Fat Wreck Chords,
Fatcat Records,
Fearless Records,
Ferret Music,
Fiddler Records,
Finger Records,
Floating Opera,
Foot In Mouth Productions,
Force MP Entertainment,
Free Verse,
Fugitive Recordings,
Gearhead Records,
Geykido Comet Records,
Giant Step Records,
Go-Kart Records,
Grand Buffet,
Greg Annussek,
Greyday Productions,
High Times Records,
Hill Billy Stew,
Hipnotic Records,
Hopeless Records,
Iggy Taylor,
Illellements Records,
Immergent Records,
Immigrant Sun Records,
In Music We Trust Records,
Initial Records,
Innocent Words Records,
Irresponsible Records,
Jade Tree Record,s
Johann¹s Face,
Jump Start Records,
K Records,
Katie Marie,
Keep Safe Records,
Knot Known Records,
Kool Arrow Records,
Kung Fu Records,
Lewis and Clarke,
Life Is Bonkers,
Lo Recordings,
Lookout Records,
Lucid Records,
Mark Brine,
Martyr Records,
Mimicry Recordings,
Morticia Records,
Mr. Whiggs,
Mutant Press,
Nessa Records #1,
New & Improv Music,
Ninja Tune Records,
Nitro Records,
Nolo Records,
None Dare Call It Treason,
NorthernBlues Records,
Orange Peal Records,
Palm Pictures, LLC,
Parliament Records,
Pinch Hit,
PlayRoom Records,
Pluto Records,
Poor Luther¹s Bones,
Porterhouse Records,
Psycho + Logical,
Psykick Girl,
Purple Skunk Records,
Pushing Red Buttons,
Quannum Projects,
Quiet, Lovely,
Racin¹ For Pinks,
Rapster/BBE, /
Razor & Tie,
Recovery Records,
Remy de Laroque,
Restraining Order,
Rhymesayers Entertainment,
Riding Mower Records,
Righteous Babe Records,
Rocketstar Recordings,
Roklok Records,
Rowboat Records,
Rusty Santos,
Rut Records,
Sanctuary Records,
Sarathan Records,
Search & Rescue,
Second Nature,
Secretly Canadian,
Side One Dummy Records,
Six Degrees Records,
Solid Records,
Sonic Unyon,
Southern Records,
Squirrelygirl Music/Juicy Juju Records,
Stars of Aviation,
States Rights Records,
Stephen Clair,
Stonegarden Records,
Stones Throw Records,
Surrender Sound,
Sven-Erik Seaholm,
Tee Pee Records,
The Children¹s Revolt,
The iOs,
The Luxury Liners,
The Militia Group,
The New Beat Records,
The Smartest Monkeys,
The Telegenic, no contact info available
Thick Records,
Three One G Records,
Thrown Brick Records,
Tim Keyes,
Times Beach Records,
Truckstop Records,
Trustkill Records,
TVT Records,
Two Sheds Music,
Underground Inc.,
Universal Constant,
Versus Press,
Victory Records,
Warp Records,
What Else? Records,
Wild Hotels Of The Sea,
World Without Sundays,
Zip Records,

Music reviews from past issues: