Donate to IMPACT
Click below for info

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

Search our Site:

sitemap | IMPACT home

Feb./Mar. '03 Articles:
Racial Profiling &
Editorial: Affirmative Action
Is This the End?
Over-Priced Musings
The New Police State
The Muddlemarch: 1
The Muddlemarch: 2
China's Moon Bears
(music reviews)

E-Mail Comments
Subscribe to IMPACT
Where to Find IMPACT
Buy IMPACT T-Shirts
Ordering Back Issues

Top Picks | Vinyl Reviews | Label Addresses

Please visit our staff page if you want to match a reviewer's initials with the name of the person who did the review.

CD reviews

1956 The Great Sleep Copter Crash Records • Dark caustic emo-hardcore that almost comes off as brilliant as the plan. Something like a hardcore Mission UK. Most of these songs bring a strong sense of creativity and musical craft. There are a few missed moments, a few spots that make you wonder if that was really the plan. Mostly this disc is right on however, finding its sound along the way. While I'm not completely blown away, I want to hear more from these guys. (KM)

3d5spd Fever in the Ice Age Two Sheds • First off, it's pronounced "three-dee-five-speed." Now, onto the album itself: Fever in the Ice Age has some prog rock touches, but not in the bad way everybody seems to remember prog rock. The subtle keyboards and interesting arrangements help separate 3d5spd from most of the indie rock crowd. "Wide Air" has a nice, indie rock kind 'o groove like the Promise Ring's "Picture Postcard." Vocally, there is a touch of both Perry Farrell and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, another band in 3d5spd's mix of sound. (CL)

5ive The Hemophiliac Dream Tortuga Recordings • Two tracks make up this CD, one 23 minutes long and the other one 14. True to form, 5ive leaves out vocals, allowing them to explore their instruments. Unlike previous releases, they seem to abandon their hard-charging sound, opting for a more hypnotic, layered one. It's not a complete transformation, just an evolution. (AL)

A Static Lullaby ...And Don't Forget to Breathe Ferret Music • I was originally attracted to the screaming/ singing mix of hardcore because it was so groundbreaking. The beauty of well sung sensitive lyrics over somebody screaming from his stomach and letting it all hang out was such a fresh music approach when I first heard bands like Grade. A Static Lullaby takes that concept and makes it formulaic. With that in mind I like a lot of this disc. Talented guys, great songs, and beautiful cover artŠ Just be bold young fellows, its ok to verge off the road a bit. (KM)

Aalacho Sugar Aalacho Music • Aalacho is multi-instrumentalist Nathan Scott, who blends different kinds of electronica to create a moody, cinematic album. His addition of guitar gives warmth to the music, not that you could recognize what sounds came from a guitar. Scott enlists some guest artists to help him out, most notably singer Hannah Vaughan, who lends her voice to a rather interesting version of Fleetwood Mac's Sara. (AL)

Airlock Drystar Surge Recordings • Airlock could be compared to moody trip hop groups like Massive Attack and Underworld, but they have a sound all their own. Ersa Tasasiz's vocals are sexy, melodic and uplifting. The tracks on Drystar are slow tempo, reverbed and somewhat smoky, powered by electronic beats and keyboards. (AL)

Alias Clark Florida EP Pretty Pony • Bands like Wax and Too Much Joy are hard to come by today. I guess people think that fun pop rock stuff is just soft. Well, they're probably right, but that doesn't prevent it from rockin'. Alias Clark are a four-piece from Orlando, Florida who, despite playing no frills pop rock/punk, rock to the fullest extent. They combine a knack for big hooks, catchy melodies, and sing-a-longs with a punchy energy that is really addictive. As if that wasn't enough, the guys have a great (sick) sense of humor that adds a whole new dimension to what they have to offer. The only thing that Alias Clark does better than play the songs on this recording is how they play 'em live. Don't miss it. (CM)

All Is Suffering The Past: Vindictive Sadisms of Petty Bureaucrats Crucial Blast Records • All I can say is - holy shit. This Maryland quartet delivers the most violent death metal / grindcore I've heard in a while. What attracted me to their music is the fact that they write music that does not rely on vocals to stand on its own. Every once in a while, the singer takes a break and lets the music speak for itself. Stops and starts abound, similar to Slayer's Reign in Blood. This is an excellent record. (AL)

Allday Afternoon Open Ended Independent Records • Radio friendly acoustic rock/melodic pop is offered on the first full length from this North Carolina band. Vocal duties are split between three members and the harmonies are endless. A solid sound throughout, the guitar work is consistent and helps to maintain a direct flow feeling throughout the disc. The lone downfall is repetition from track to track where the overall disc stays pretty well in one ballpark without taking chances. Still, the sound is solid and may have this band headed in the right direction. (JC)

Amon Amarth Versus The World Metal Blade Records • Poised to take over the death metal scene, Amon Amarth is back with their latest, Versus The World. It is an onslaught of double kick drums, super-fast metal riffs, and guttural screams. Your neighbors will definitely call the police on your ass. (AL)

Andre Afram Asmar Race To The Bottom Mush Records • Race To The Bottom is a dub-influenced, world music inspired collection of downtempo tunes. Each was built starting with some live instrumentation, then layered with samples and other electronic effects. Different styles are mixed in many songs, Middle Eastern, Jamaican, Brazilian, Caribbean, and African. (AL)

As Hope Dies Birthplace and Burial Site Undecided Records • This debut CD by As Hope Dies is pure metallic fury. I was reminded of Cradle of Filth without so much of the drama. Plus, Dani Filth wishes he could sound as utterly despondent as David Richardson. Some hardcore, much metal, and a bit of death metal is what you can expect from this EP. (AL)

As I Lay Dying / American Tragedy split CD Pluto Records • As I Lay Dying starts this split CD with 5 blistering tracks of hardcore influenced metal. The guitars are tuned waaaay down, which makes them sound great when they slow down the tempo, which they do occasionally. Next is American Tragedy, who incorporate some British metal influences in their songs. (AL)

Atom and His Package Attention, Blah, Blah, Blah Hopeless Records • Imagine this: a man and a synthesizer making quirky songs about everything from mustaches to politics and there you have Atom. Also, imagine this in some weird accident where They Might Be Giants and Propagandhi mated and had a multitalented child and put him up for adoption with the adoptive parent being Reggie and The Full Effect and the out come would be Atom and His Package. If you could follow any of the last statement you will more than enjoy this CD. (RP)

Baby Black Market Baby EP self-released • Baby is the brainchild of Craig Wedren, better known as founder and front man for Shudder To Think. This project incorporates some of Shudder To Think's punk attitude, but encapsulates it in an electronic package. Canned beats, keyboards, and samples abound. Wedren collaborated with producer Mirwais on the CD opener, a cover of the Rolling Stones's "Miss You."(AL)

Baxter self-titled Will Not Clear Man Records • This Fugazi-influenced rock, at least in the vocals, was raw from beginning to end. Two discs are included for the complete discography from this Chicago band whose members went on to form such bands as Rise Against, The Lawrence Arms and The Killing Tree. Moments are more indie rock than punk rock but they'll turn around and hit you again just when you thought they were done with distorted guitars, screamy vocals, quick tempo changes and driving drums. The first track on disc two, "Second Degree Burn,"is one of my favorites. It has elements of Cursive songs but with a little added pop. Not every song on here is a gem, but it's worth listening to, finding the ones that really capture their full potential and combining them onto one CD. But for any Baxter fan, this is a must with 26 songs of rock. (MP)

Beans Tomorrow Right Now Warp Records • Venturing outside the membership of Anti Pop Consortium, Beans brings beats that are a mixture of solid sonic sound with a futuristic vibe. The rhyme style lacks behind his delivery, but lyrics are laid out with interest and are to be deciphered and pondered upon. The sound is at times old school but progressive at the same time. Many things happen inside these beats that go from steel drums, a lo-fi electro-dub and loop-to-loop flutes to sounds un-thought of, banging all the way through. This release is not for the mainstream 'pop-hop' fan but rather someone needing to reach outside of the normal grind known as life. (JC)

Beauty to Ashes Reproduce the Common Practice Pluto Records • Beauty To Ashes have been tearing it up since 1999, and show no signs of stopping. They are not afraid to experiment out of their hardcore/metallic sound by including two tracks that rely on soundscapes and sampling. Few bands have a vocalist that can harmonize and scream, but this one does. They also do a nice rendition of the Misfits's "We Are 138."(AL)

Bedford Spaceships, Sex, and Jealousy: The Singles 1995-2001 Microcosm Publishing • Just what everyone has been waiting for, twenty-five vinyl and unreleased tracks from the no longer in existence rock trio from Wilkes-Barre, PA. Bedford brings us catchy and predictable fast power pop punk with a few screams placed sporadically throughout the album. From the pink butterflies and video arcade game on the cover, I was expecting a girl pop punk band but instead was greeted with Elvis Costello-ish vocals and punk with a twist of lime. "G.U.I"was one song that captured their vocal strength with the energy from backing screams and tempo changes. (MP)

Bill Milbrodt Nuggets In The Sky! self-released • This Annie the Clown musical adventure is a children's story told overtop musical compositions and laid out along 8-tracks. Taking place in Clownytown, U.S.A. the story begins with the "Puffnugget," which is a flower that grows after hearing you laugh, basically the people laugh and the "nugget puffs"during Annie The Clown's Nugget Day show. I don't want to ruin it for you so I wont mention what happens but I did have to go through the tracks a few times. Have you ever watched a cartoon and thought to yourself "I can't believe this is for kids!"then you get an idea of what went through my mind about the "Puffnugget" before I read the press release and made it through the disc. Overall the idea is genius, the production could not have been better. Characters play their parts out well and I'm sure kids (big and small) will get a kick out of this. (JC)

Breaker Breaker Out Of Service Martyr Records • Spinning this disc is a little like reading the obituary of somebody you would have loved to have known. This is the posthumous release of the late unreleased material of a pretty good straight-edge hardcore band that allowed themselves to break the mold. With all the elements that make hardcore passionate and powerful, and enough creativity to keep it interesting. Listening to this you just have to wonder what it could have become. (KM)

Burt Switzer 1977-2002 self-released • Burt Switzer is a Boston-area drummer who has played with numerous musicians throughout the years and this CD is a result of that. It is mostly low-quality recordings from his days with The Destroyed. It was hard for me, at first, to get past the horrible recording, but when I finally did I really began to enjoy it. At times this is very reminiscent of The Stooges and other acts of the same genre. (RP) 

Busdriver & Radioinactive with Daedelus The Weather Mush Records • I know this is hip-hop, but it's definitely pushing the genre to the extreme and enveloping the sound with a number of outside influences, from samples of children's toys, old recordings and plenty of keys and computer goodness. Busdriver and Radioinactive bring a speedy flow that is as rhythmic as it is rapid. Meanwhile, Daedelus works to produce it all into a masterpiece, a wild journey through beats and bleeps, rhyme gymnastics and out-of-this-world lyricism. Put on a helmet; this is one hell of a ride. (CM)

C'est Mortel self-titled Two Sheds Music • C'est Mortel intend for their music to be played live. For that reason, their self-titled CD is divided into two "sets,"each around 30-40 minutes in length. Their mostly instrumental sound is reminiscent of bands like Kyuss, Slint, and the Fucking Champs. (AL)

Calexico Feast of Wire Our Soil, Our Strength • Arizona's Calexico reflects their home state in their music, which has an smoky, desert-like feel. On Feast of Wire, they keep things mostly in a subdued, mid-tempo beat. The album is intimate, and you can almost feel the band playing right there in your living room. (AL)

Call Me Alice Sweet New Disease self-released • This theme-based "hybrid" rock album is a mixture of electronic melodies fronted by seductive female vocals. In attempts to combine reality with virtual reality, the bands web site and live shows have been mapping out their journey to coincide with their music. This E.P. contains remixes by John X, but the overall project is too polished. The music is well constructed but the vocals sound like they don't belong at times. (JC)

Chalet Chalet self-titled EP Walkincold Records • There are only four songs on this disc and that is really a shame because they are cool and I'd like to hear more. Wild song structures and off-key improvisations make this disc more challenging to listen to than lots of commercial radio crap, but that is a good thing. The music is fast and gritty, but it will be a good party disc. (MK)

Channel 3 Ch 3 Doctor Strange Records • If you like the first song on this disc, you will like the rest of them. This disc is a pretty decent punk rock disc, but the songs have a disturbingly similar sound to one another. There is not much to say about it, really. (MK)

Chuck McCabe Bad Gravity Day Woodshed Productions • Touching on life and death, this release is acoustic based folk with blues and Celtic influences. With a long line of session players backing him up, McCabe sings on about bums, bars, hard workers, rude waiters and visits to a church and cemetery. The overall sound comes off as a cross between popish country-rock and seems a bit over-polished, like too many takes were done in the studio causing the emotion to turn stale. (JC)

Con Dolore Sailor's Warning Claire Records • In an effort to make their music a bit more pop, Con Dolore stripped down their lineup a bit and made Sailor's Warning shorter than its predecessor, This Sad Movie. Some aspects remain, like Kristy Moss's beautiful, dreamy vocals, complemented by Ed Ballinger's. The result is a pop gem. (AL)

Coronet Blue Coronet Blue Laughing Outlaw Records • Sprinkled with spirituality and passion, simply nothing can save this release. Vocals are traded back and forth between to singers but neither set of lungs carries the bands sound anywhere near originality. The music here is 80ish mainstream pop rock with simple riffs and ideas. (JC)

Crème Blush Basket of Bets self released • The 80's comeback is in full swing, with plenty of bands coming out with new wave and electro inspired records. Crème Blush is one of those bands, consisting of two ladies with plenty of drum machines and keyboards. The vocals are mostly devoid of emotion, much like the electronic instruments they use. (AL)

Crooked Fingers Red Devil Dawn Merge Records • Who would have guessed that former Archers of Loaf frontman Eric Bachmann would reemerge as a Tom Waits-style crooner? Though he sounds more like Neil Diamond on a bender, Bachmann churns out the same style booze-drenched, nicotine-stained, melancholy tunes as Waits. He's the wise, silent guy at the end of the bar, who observes everything and knows all too much. There's a trace of Nebraska-era Springsteen in Bachmann's storytelling, and a much-needed, underlying glimmer of hope. (CL)

d Henry Fenton Autumn Sweet Laughing Outlaw • Australian Fenton arrives with this stateside-recorded debut pop album, which incorporates elements of alt-country rock, and speaks of lost love and wandering. Fenton's clear but edgy voice guides us through his set, soft guitars pushing us through a world of non-biting loneliness, as though he is taking time off from people to explore the music within. (DP)

D.O.A. Win The Battle Sudden Death Records • Who knew these guys were putting out new stuff. It's on the better side of good too, not sure I'd say it compares much to the earlier stuff, but there are some good punk gems on this one. Sadly I really didn't care for the "Just Say No To The WTO"anti-globlization anthem, which sounds too much like they said "hey lets write an anti-WTO song in 5 minutes." "Mexican Holiday"is a lot of fun. (KM)

Damien Jurado Where Shall You Take Me? Secretly Canadian • After last year's more rocking I Break Chairs, singer-songwriter Damien Jurado returns to his more subdued sound on his latest effort. Jurado's minimalist folk songs of middle America are reminiscent of artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Will Oldham. Whether he's exploring Americana or cranking up the amps, Jurado is an intriguing songsmith, like his frequent collaborator David Bazan of Pedro the Lion, whose character sketches of morality have an almost literary quality. (CL)

Dan Potthast Sweets and Meats Asian Man Records • I don't know Dan Potthast, but I'm guessing he's a geek. I'm one myself, and we can sense our own kind. When he's not fronting MU300, Potthast is churning out cool acoustic tunes in an Elvis Costello or a Weezer-ish, Rivers Cuomo vein. He's got the whole melodic, clever lyrics, and well-crafted song thing down. Buy this album and satisfy your inner geek. (CL)

Dave Corwin Many Hands Attitude • For the second time in this issue, I am at a loss to easily classify a disc. I am very happy about this. This disc draws from a vast array of musical styles and influences played on a wide variety of instruments including the Tabla, Gopichand, Doumbek, Bodhran, Kalimba, and many others. The songs on the disc that are the most successful are the ones that avoid western song structures and develop many layers of sound and rhythm. A nice diversion in a plastic music world. (MK)

Daycare Swindlers Heathen Radio Go-Kart Records • Some people have no clue how important reviews are and how the cheesiest one can ruin any man's reputation. Especially, when the music is so incredibly "far out"and unique in style that it can not be related to anything, so knowing this, here comes the cheesiest review known to man for a band of the diverse/counter-cultured nature. Daycare Swindler's are a cross between the vocals of The Vandals, Black Flag, and Exploited, combining with the music style of the Circle Jerks, 98 Mute, and Pennywise. While listening to this CD, it is impossible to slip into the "bored"state of mind, for the Daycare Swindlers can't bore you and their drummer leaves you breathless! Every song is different and leaving you wanting to know what the next song sounds like. How come I have never heard of these guys before? (CMax)

Dearly Departed The Remains of Marianne Mayweather One Day Savior Recordings • With emotional vocals and arpegiating guitars, it's easy to hear influences such as Sunny Day Real Estate throughout this four song EP. It's not innovative, but they do what they do well. "The Masquerade"ended the tracks with some rock but then surprised me with an acoustical instrumental at the end, just enough to put my emo sweater back on and write a poem. This emo rock band was formed from members of Inside, Tension, Scarab and Helen of Troy combining intricate and beautifully melodic musicianship. (MP)

DJ Spinna Here To There BBE/Rapster Records • This release is arguably one of the tightest albums from The Beat Generation series. The hip-hop, jazz and R&B flavor here may have made this a top pick had it not been for the promo beeps throughout. Imagine reaching an answering machineŠthat would be the continued beep I'm talking about - made it hard to pay attention to this creative collection. Appearances include Jigmastas, Apani B, Jean Grae, Rise, Soulive, Vinija Mojica, Shaun Escoffery and Akil. (JC)

DOA Hardcore '81 Sudden Death • The second album from one of the classic punk pioneers has been re-released. These Canadian rockers helped put punk rock on the map in the early '80s and this album is probably one of their best and most influential pieces of work. Hardcore '81 includes such classic tracks as "D.O.A.," "My Old Man's A Bum" and "Waiting For You." But as an added bonus, this new reissue includes the four tracks from the Don't Turn Your Back On Desperate Times EP recorded live for John Peel. There aren't many albums that deserve being re-released, but this is certainly one that is well deserved. (CM)

Emok Crumbs Spaff Records • These three guys originally were based in Israel but moved to the states in 1998 to avoid the mandatory army requirements in their homeland. Crumbs is a five-song EP that is tight as hell, very aggressive and extremely creative. While fitting into a punk/math rock genre, they bend the boundaries to fuse elements of rap, emo and straight up rock and roll. There's a load of distortion and feedback, conservative but effective use of samples and song structures that will blow your mind. (CM)

Estrogenocide self-titled M.H. Records • Estrogenocide cites as influences both Depeche Mode and Napalm Death as the basis for their "synthpopgrindcore"sound. The vocals are both comical and violent in nature, and have a snake-like quality, like a death metal singer who can't quite get low enough. The music features a lot of keyboards that remain pretty consistent throughout the twelve-minute disc. (AL)

Evergreen Terrace Burned Alive By Time Eulogy Recordings • Maybe Jacksonville, Florida will go down as the place that spawned Evergreen Terrace, instead of those Limp Bizkit pussies. Hardcore vocals are mixed with sporadic melodic singing, and a guitar assault that spares no one. Really enjoyed their cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence."(AL)

Fairburn Royals From A Window Way Above Two Sheds Music • Vocal harmonies and guitar melodies fuse well on this indie rock release that sometimes gets 'rough-around-the-edges.' At times comforting and other times straight-to-the-point jam sessions, this disc dabbles in a lo-fi pop sound with layers of background noises; but still keeps its edge within an overall project that is held together by good production. The first track is heavy on the pop-rock vibe, but the comparisons to the early works of the Replacements, Pavement and Guided By Voices, weather valid or not, give a better idea of what to expect here. Songs are based on everyday living and more than a few stand out such as "Anti-Drug," "For A Reason"and "Lonesome Townie Blues"just to name a few of the many on this album. (JC)

Feederz Vandalism: Beautiful as a Rock In a Cop's Face Broken Rekids • Do you think you are punk? Got yer Docs? Yer Rancid pin? These guys will smash your face in then steal all your money over the Internet. Here is the most anti-social band I have ever heard. There is a distinct Dead Kennedys feel to the low-end production and tendency toward minimal song structure. There is a message, which is obviously paramount to the music, though: Fuck everything, then fuck it again. As a special bonus, there are MP3s of each song included on the disc to help topple the music industry. You will like this. Really. (MK)

Flashlight Brown All That Glitters Is Mold self-released • What happens when thrash punk legends Rancid meet the smooth melodic punk and breakdowns of The Bouncing Souls? Flashlight Brown is produced with All That Glitters Is Mold. Sadly, this CD only contained three songs (with a bit of an enhanced CD portion), but in these three songs are beer sing-a-long anthems, rhythm driving guitar parts, vocals with a meaning backed by harmonies that I thought could only be produced by the "Daily Epitaph Band." The guitar parts bring in the two different genres as they expand through the great music style such as ska, garage rock, Oi!, Punk, etc. Their music is symbolic to their lives and they have fun with it! So do remember Foxy Lady? When you're feeling down, pop in some Flashlight Brown! (CMax)

Four! self-titled Paco Garden • This is all of Four!, their album, vinyl tracks, comp tracks, and some rare gems. All in all, it amounts to 35 tracks of snotty pop punk in the same vein as Screeching Weasel. And it's fucking good. No, it's great. Colorado was lucky to have these guys rockin' the state for so long. This discography covers the band's entire lifespan, from 1994 through 1997. What makes Four! so great is that, while there have been a number of amateur, crappy bands duplicating this style of pop punk, I have heard few (if any) that are as adept at it as them. If you need a real punk rock fix, this is it. (CM)

Garrett Sawyer Anthem Music Discovery Network • Garrett is a singer/songwriter from California. He performs well-orchestrated pop tunes that have strong melodies and an Americana kind of feel. However, I'm not too fond of his vocals. They aren't awful, but they're just not very strong. I think Garrett would be better off finding another singer and stick with his songwriting. (CM)

Garrison The Model Iodine Recordings • There is something about a Garrison record that sounds just like, well, a Garrison record actually. On the landscape of indie music they have done something only the landmark greats have been able to accomplish, to craft a sound that is distinct to them. This latest offering holds the standard, and its only weakness might be that it doesn't push that standard. Hell, you can't ask too much I guess. This one falls only slightly behind "Be A Criminal" as some of their best stuff to date. (KM)

Geography/Foxhole Split CD Chumpire • Chumpire presents a fourteen-song split CD from Geography and Foxhole. Geography starts off with some heavy power punk, with those screaming vocals the kids are so crazy about nowadays. "Kinetica" has a fat-ass guitar riff straight out of the Helmet songbook. Next up, Foxhole delivers some chaotic and energetic indie punk. (CL)

German Cars vs. American Homes One in a Million Mishap Productions • Quirky, artsy, and energetic are some of the ways to describe German Cars vs. American Homes. Comparable to Landspeedrecord, the Aquabats, Devo, and Frank Zappa, they hardly have a formula when composing music. Aside from singing, spoken word and even conversations are used to deliver lyrical content. Regular instrumentation is augmented with cello, keyboards, toy piano, vacuum cleaner, and "human metronome,"whatever that is. (AL)

Gold Circles Abuse The Magic Copter Crash Records • With their sound running in many directions, this Kent trio pushes out an album that comes off garage-rock heavy in that the many moods resemble an early morning/late evening jam session. Vocals are full of anguish, percussion is raw and guitar work is not so much shredded grunge as it is thick distorted metal. Aside from the aggressive drive musically, the lyrics are well written and are what really stand on their own. Stories of women coming and going and a little smoke to get you by are fitting tales during the horrid Northeast Ohio winters. (JC)

Good Clean Fun Positively Positive 1997-2002 Equal Vision Records • This retrospective collects five years of songs by Good Clean Fun, thirty of them to be exact. This is straight edge hardcore at its best, with short, super fast songs and hurried up vocals. A few of the songs have never before been released, but are now yours to enjoy. (AL)

Gresham It's Always Been There Function 8 • This is the ultimate feel good album. Acoustic guitars meet Rhodes keyboards in a jazz-meets-folk-meets-rock concoction. Gresham's voice is both wise and smooth, and Tommy Guerrero's bass and guitar playing adds to the laidback-ness. It is quite obvious they are from California. (AL)

Harkonen Shake Harder Boy Hydra Head Records • Harkonen's sound can be described as slowed down, sludge metal with hardcore influences. They keep it steady in the mid-tempo range, going for size rather than speed. The vocals are easier to understand than most hardcore bands, yet keeps all the aggression. (AL)

Henry Cyanide self-released • On their debut E.P. this trio mixes folk-pop, grunge and indie rock to make a disc that bounces with influences from the likes of Dinosaur Jr., The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, R.E.M. and Weezer. This album starts out heavy and transitions into a multi-dimensional experiment that continues to sound better with each listen due to the changes in sound and style. Nothing here is too serious, just a good time collection of songs. (JC)

Hilltop Distillery ...Died In The Woods State Byrd Records • This mostly instrumental band creates music that is engaging and hypnotizing at the same time. They incorporate elements from math rock and jazz, evidenced by their frequent seemingly improvised breakdowns. The few vocals that show up are given secondary importance. (AL)

Hollis and the Mighty McGregor Miss The Plane self-released • Hollis and McGregor meet in Glasgow, Scotland and this debut album is the culmination of their efforts. It's 13-tracks of mellow-ish indie pop that flows from one tune to the next. It's a good thing these guys met, 'cause they make beautiful music together. (CM)

Hope And Suicide Razorblade Smile Ides Of March Records • Scott from Bloodlet's side project, and it sounds just like that. Faster and harder than the newer Bloodlet stuff, this will remind people mostly of older straight up metal-core Bloodlet material with a slight feel of something newer. Scott's powerful voice is in full form, but this really isn't much a departure from anything else he has done. (KM)

Human Drama Cause and Effect Projekt Records • This CD will only be available on, and it is worth it. It has a melancholic and smoky feel. You can feel the sad resignation in Johnny Indovina's voice as he sings about choices taken and not taken in his life. The music is somewhat subdued, with some mellow beats, keyboards and guitars. (AL)

Icons of Filth Nostradamnedus Go-Kart Records • Icons of Filth have been going at it for twenty years, and they have never sounded better. Nostradamnedus is hardcore punk that does not rest for a minute, with angry vocals and socio-political lyrics denouncing capitalism and assaulting corporate greed. (AL)

Immortal Lee County Killers Love Is A Charm Of Powerful Trouble Estrus Records • This raucous band tears out the gates with furious intensity, ripping your ears to shreds with their garage punk angst. They combine punk elements with the best of classic rock and country blues. You end up with 11 sweat-soaked tracks that are hard to ignore. These guys must put on a sick live show. (CM)

Immortal Technique Revolutionary Vol. 1 Viper Records • The first track "Creation & Destruction"uses a RZA beat from the Notorious B.I.G. track "long Kiss Goodnight"and sets the tone for things to come. Immortal is a Latino emcee that spits political, insightful and very opinionated tales about life and the real problems that separate people of the world, which he explains is not by race but rather by class. The overall disc brings to mind a Killah Priest or Wu-Tang Clan "Killa Bees"kind of vibe where the treble stands out and the bass serves as the accomplice. His flow is sincere and filled with angered concern. Spoken word pieces are included as well, most notably the must hear "The Poverty of Philosophy."Once you swallow your initial reaction to what is provided here, you soon begin to form your own outlook on the world around you. Not much info came provided with this disc other than the contributions and production credits are from the likes of Jean Grae, Rheturik, Pumpkinhead, Blackpanther and Poison Pen among others. (JC)

Into Ashes If You Need A Reason Copter Crash Records • If You Need A Reason is a six-song EP for this quartet. Into Ashes features some aggressive guitar work. At times, they sound like a heavier Texas Is the Reason. There are some emo touches, with slow building arrangements, and some screamed vocals. It's nothing revolutionary, but it's not bad either. (CL).

Jello Biafra Machine Gun In The Clown's Hand Alternative Tentacles Records • Could there be a better time for Jello to make a return to the spoken-word realm with a three-CD set? President Bush, Sept. 11th, the war on terrorism, globilazation, all give him plenty of fodder. The ideas here are well organized and Jello has a great firebrand style that brings the truth and lets it hit as it needs. Really one of the best spoken-word on the subjects of the day I've heard so far. (KM)

Jesse Malin The Fine Art of Self Destruction Artemis Records • Am I just being paranoid, or is Ryan Adams everywhere? Between touring with the Rolling Stones, feuding with Jack White, and countless other projects, the ubiquitous Adams found the time to produce, mix, and perform on former D Generation singer Jesse Malin's debut solo album. The Fine Art of Self Destruction is much more a folksy, roots rock album than the punk influenced rock 'n roll of D Generation. The songs are solid and the production quality is quite good. Fans of Counting Crows and Adams, of course, will enjoy Malin's evolution into an alt-country singer-songwriter. (CL)

Jesuseater Step Inside My Death Ray Deathwish • Even non-Christian me wasn't prepared to like a band called Jesuseater, mostly because I don't like things that are done just for the shock value. The thing is these guys can rock you good. Featuring the first singer from Dag Nasty, with a sound like dirty underwear on a supermodel, and enough attitude to fill any stage you know. They reminded me a little of Fall Silent. Give it a play and you will be walk with the converted too. (KM)

Kiss Me Deadly self-titled Blueskiesturnblack • Math rock meets post-punk meets emo on this debut full-length release from Kiss Me Deadly. The guitar work is deftly creative, weaving an intricate tune that is enthralling. I'm also particularly fond of the vocal duties, shared between Adam and Emily, playing off of each other perfectly. It's an intense journey across a number of soundscapes, each unique in and of themselves, making this release that much more enjoyable. This is an album that is guaranteed not to bore you. (CM)

Kissing Chaos Enter With A Bullet Fueled By Ramen • A side project gone full time featuring ex-members of Pop Unknown, Sparta, and Mineral with enough energy to power a small town at least. Sounding in the vein of labelmates Recover, a little like At The Drive In, a bit like a screamy QuicksandŠ that gives you an idea. Sound and song structure that pushes the limits of imagination, pulses relentlessly and begs to be heard live. Worth a listen that's for sure. (KM)

La Motto self-titled Does Everyone Stare? • La Motto features ex-Asexuals singer/guitarist Sean Friesen. The resulting ten-track offering is a rock and roll pop gem. La Motto is deep rooted in guitar rock that takes from such bands as The Replacements and J Mascis. The tunes are a good balance between energized rock and power pop, held together with a knack for strong melodies and catchy lyrics. This is one of those bands that could be on commercial radio but is destined to stay on college stations. (CM)

LES The View From Here self-released • Citing such influences as Nirvana, The Pixies, Radiohead and A Perfect Circle, Les is a guy who knows the sound he is looking for and seems to have been able to get it on disc for you to enjoy. This is aggressive alternative rock that does not sound like every other piece of ear garbage that you hear on the radio. The songs are well written and have a distinct sound, which sets them apart. (MK)

Life In A Blender Tell Me I'm Pretty Fang Records • Using a quirky, cabaret-like style, Life In A Blender offer up 13 unusual, pop tunes. At times they remind me of Cake, Squirrel Nut Zippers and They Might Be Giants, even Talking Heads, not necessarily blended (ha!) together, but at separate times. This is a fun collection of music that is diverse, strange and pretty damn good. (CM)

Life Is Bonkers Songs To Crash Cars To self-released • This disc takes the award for the strangest disc I have reviewed in a very long time. These two gentleman sound like some weird offshoot of They Might Be Giants. It is an oddly interesting disc. You want to listen to it all the way through to see what will come next. Since it is only five songs long, it is worth the listen. (MK)

Little Jeans Little Jeans Asian Man Records • As we all are painfully aware, the whole lo-fi, home recording thing really got out of control in the mid-nineties. Any jackass with a four-track, myself included, thought they could be the next Pavement or something recording crap in their bedroom. The one thing that most of these people were missing was decent music. A good song is a good song regardless of where and how it was recorded. Fortunately, Little Jeans has got the goods: solid indie rock tunes, with a hint of surf rock (hey, they're from Hawaii). "Eskimo Kiss,"the lead off track, reminds me of the Pavement classic "Summer Babe." These guys should have a full-length album out later this year, so this five song EP will have to hold you over until then. (CL)

Loose Fur Loose Fur Drag City • Loose Fur is an alternative music geek's dream: Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche, and newest Sonic Youth member/solo artist/producer Jim O'Rourke. This disc has a very loose, relaxed feel. It's the sound of three guys who genuinely love making music just having fun. The trio mixes in some cool percussion and lots of random sounds to these folksy rock songs. (CL)

Mark Mallman Who's Gonna Save You Now? E.P. Guilt Ridden Pop • On "The Red Bedroom" Mallman sets the stage in a dramatic, atmospheric way; the overall album is a solemn look at life through a lonely mans mind that is stuck in the 70's and has been dragged through the times. Five tracks that appear on this E.P. are outtakes from those sessions as well as parts 1&2 of the title track (part 1 is from Bedroom). Without hearing these b-side tracks, the appreciation for what the Bedroom album is may not have come to light. The piano-driven rock sound he brings is pure pre-indie with touches of late Beatles psychedelic pop, and comes off catchy and refreshing. Much thought and inspiration is applied by this singer/songwriter. Tracks like "Hook Hand" and "7 a.m. And Sober Again" come off haunting and truthful, there is enough here that having one disc without the other (along with the track "The Black Bedroom") just wouldn't be complete. (JC)

Matt Bonner Signs of Passing Stone Circle Records • It's always nice, when reviewing a pile of discs, to run across one that simply defies easy description. This disc is very cool, but very hard to describe adequately. It is the kind of music you might hear on any radio station from rock to easy listening. It is that very escape from genre which makes it such a treat to listen to. If you like recent Pink Floyd, you will like this. But this is no PF knock off. Matt Bonner has forged a unique sound. That alone makes this a worthwhile disc. (MK)

Matt Taylor Relay I.O.U. Records • For those laid back nights of relaxation or solitude, this moody and gentle disc is just the trick. Acoustic guitars, keyboards, cellos and a touch of spacey atmospheric vocals are a direct resemblance of Nick Drake, Van Morrison, and Cold Play to name a few. This album combines the Into The Deep E.P. and the Five Songs E.P. into one mesmerizing collection of songs by Taylor and could prove to be a good starting point towards further progression as a musician. (JC)

Meridians Divided Blind Will Not Clear Man • Unfortunately, Blind may be it for Meridians Divided. After they completed this album, the band went on a break that looks like it's going to be permanent. Too bad, because this is an extremely well done album. The songs, the production, and the cover art are all top notch. Their thoughtful, introspective emo tunes are done beautifully. Reunion tour, anyone? (CL)

Michael The Day After My Confidence self-released • Here's another impressive band hailing from Athens. The college town has cultivated many successful and solid bands. Add Michael to the list. They're a punchy indie rock quartet with strong pop influences. Michael has been playing together since 1993 and their maturity as a band definitely shows through on this release, their second full length. I expect many more good things to come from these guys. (CM)

Mira Calix Skimskitta Warp Records • Skimskitta is 61 minutes of ambient, atmospheric experimental electronica. No gaps exist between the tracks, and sounds are made with, among plenty of vintage equipment, stones. The album has an eerie quality to it, and at times feels like the soundtrack to a horror movie. There are vocals, but only on a few tracks, and then they are buried, treated like any other instrument. (AL)

Mock Orange First EP Dead Droid Records • In addition to being the state flower of Idaho, Mock Orange is the name of a four-piece Indiana band. On their previous full-lengths on Lobster Records, the band had more of a punk rock sound. Now on Dead Droid Records, Mock Orange has evolved into a more indie pop, amped up Elephant 6-type style. With a full length to be recorded by J. Robbins, who also produced this EP, in the works, things are looking good in the Mock Orange universe. (CL)

Muggs Dust Anti Records • When I saw this CD, I immediately thought, "Solo album by House of Pain producer, must be hip hop." I could not have been more wrong. Muggs (AKA Lawrence Muggerud), has put together a down-tempo rock record. That's right, a rock record, and a pretty good one at that. Instead of singing himself, he got others to do it, including Everlast, Josh Todd and a haunting Amy Trujillo. His sound is very smoky, Pink Floyd influenced and incorporates some elements of electronica, hip-hop and dub, but they are kept at a minimum. (AL)

Never Heard of It Limited Edition Unmotivated Records • Predictable pop-punk rock in the style of The Ataris. First of all, the cover says NHOI. I guess I'm supposed to know what that stands for. Well, I didn't and thought "Noy,"which is how it sounded when I said it out loud, was the name of the band. It's not even a cool acronym that would help you remember the real name of the band. The quality of the recording was pretty good. I've heard worse musically, but NHOI is producing what every other punk band is; melodic, catchy pop punk songs with whiny vocals and occasional harmonies. The inside cover, under the CD and the back is plastered with pictures of NHOI. Fourteen-year-old girls everywhere can drool over their over-styled, gelled, spiky hair and their preppy punk style. The black and white acronym cover is more punk rock than these pretty boys. Watch out Good Charlotte, these boys are ready for TRL. (MP)

New Mexican Disaster Squad Abrasive Repulsive Disorder Breaker Breaker Records • Fast and loud 80's style hardcore that doesn't sound lost in time, but has a taste of today mixed in. NMDS have developed their sound in the past years and brought some really tight, hard hitting, socially relevant songs to this release, making it their best to date. Well worth a spin in your player that's for sure. (KM)

Nightingale Alive Again: The Breathing Shadow Part IV The End Records • Alive somewhat of a concept album, channeling 70's prog rock complexity with British metal's soaring vocals, owing more to the former than the latter. The songs are very complex, highly melodic, and somewhat melodramatic, due to atmospheric effects and vocal harmonies. (AL)

Noam Chomsky The New War On Terrorism: Fact and Fiction AK Press • Chomsky presents here in the style we all expect from him a timeline, history lesson, and a criticism of American policy as it corresponds with the concept of terrorism, both before and after Sept. 11th. Tracing the roots of the problems we face as a country, and the evidence that we have dug our own grave in many respects. A must for anybody concerned with the actions of our nation. (KM)

Open Hand The Dream Trustkill • Hailing from Hollywood, this quartet doesn't care about the glitz and glamour, it's all about the rock. Combining numerous influences from punk to hardcore to eclectic pop, Open Hand creates an aggressive, melodic sound that is full of driving energy and emotion. In the end, you have a punchy, 11-track rock album that is as unique as it is familiar. This is one of those bands you're sure to hear more about, whether it's on local college radio or down the road on MTV2. (CM)

Potion Circa Blue Orange Records • Potion is a two-piece electro-pop band from California. They play dancey tunes that are somewhat hypnotic, but lack any real creativity. The female vocals aren't bad, and it's hard to really judge a band based on a four-song EP. Overall, though, the band sounds like something out of the '80s underground pop-keyboard scene that doesn't work now and probably wouldn't have wowed too many people back then. (CM)

Premonitions of War The True Face of Panic Goodfellow Records • Clocking in at just under 20 minutes, The True Face of Panic is as ferocious as it is heavy. Rooted in hardcore, but exploring speed and death metal, Premonitions of War never lets up, with an aural assault in the best of the metalcore tradition. (AL)

Pressure Point To Be Continued... GMM Records • Now, this is what I am talking about, "Everyone grab a beer (even though I am straightedge) and sing-along Oi!/Street Punk Music!" Pressure Point, who has dubbed themselves as "anything besides late for dinner,"bring the madness to the insanity of Street Punk! With a cross between Rancid and The Dropkick Murphy's, and with some elements of The Casualties and even The Bouncing Souls, this band is no where close to fading away, which may be why their record is named what it is. If you think about it, who can resist screaming hardcore guitars, insane thrash vocals backed by melodic harmonies, and musicians who know their instruments better than you know the August '02 Issue of Playboy magazine? Their words of unity, anti-racism, fascism, and hate mixed in with an incredible lineup of punk rock knowledge and capabilities will leave the generations of punks craving for more, and Pressure Point is just what they need. It's a punk rocker's dream! (CMax)

Pretty Mighty Mighty Normal Derailleur Records • Despite my childish urge to hate anything and everything associated with Ohio after the Fiesta Bowl debacle, I am really digging the latest release from Columbus' Pretty Mighty Mighty. How can anyone, even a distraught Hurricanes fan, possibly resist this hook-laden indie rock? Apparently these guys have been around for over a decade, and I'm surprised they haven't garnered more attention with songs like this. All right, Buckeye state, you win! (CL)

Primitive Painter Armadillo in the Snow EP Dead Digital • The title track for this EP sets the tone with a beautiful melody and a muffled house beat. The next three tracks continue the exploration of house music, in a style similar to Aphex Twin's earlier stuff. (AL)

Pulseprogramming Tulsa for One Second Aesthetics Records • Aside from Bogdan Raczynski's myloveilove, not much IDM / glitch music has been concerned with emotions. Pulseprogramming explores moods with the use of vocals, adding a bit of a pop edge to their music, while keeping the electronica intact. The overall atmosphere is a mellow one, especially due to their hushed, beautiful keyboards. (AL)

Punchbuggy The Great Divide CD Does Everyone Stare? Records • I've heard of these Canucks before. One of those conversations you have in bars when things get quiet between friends and you start talking music. It was on that long ago and mostly forgotten conversation that I picked this CD up and gave it a spin. Punch is a good word, melodic punch. Some of the songs are slightly watered in the pop structure, and I think it's a missed turn and a wrong direction for them. When the music doesn't go that route its great. (KM)

Putrescine self-titled 3 Bay Hopper • Putrescine's (AKA H2NCH2CH2CH2CH2NH2) ultimate goal is to destroy everything in their path, employing a wall of thick guitars and distorted bass lines, frenetic drumming and ear-piercing vocals. They incorporate math rock's complexity with hardcore's ferocity in a not-soon-forgotten sound. (AL)

Re:Cooperation Transatlantic Collaboration Uncle Buzz Records • It took David Cooper Orton and James H. Sidio five years to put this project together. They were drawn to each other by their love for sampling sounds, and they express that love in this recording. Taking a cue from Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, they create loopy, somewhat ambient passages that evolve into more beat oriented material as the record progresses. (AL)

Reaching Forward Complete Discography Martyr • Rapid flowing hard-hitting old school hardcore from the Netherlands. 32 songs with some live covers of some classics that are pretty good. Evidently in the euro-hardcore sphere these guys make some noise, so this release of a "complete discography"puts together everything that has come before, and is hard to find in the States and gives us Yanks a good introduction to one of Europe's heavy weights. (KM)

Red Velvet Revolution Bring It On self-released • RVR is a quartet from Canada that plays college rock with influences taken from metal, classic rock and punk. The tunes are very mainstream and radio-friendly. The lyrics, though, are quite intelligent and, in some instances, socio/politically charged. And, I'm pretty sure these guys are a bunch of ganja smoking cats, since this release is labeled as RVR 420. I doubt they have 419 other releases. Their herb smoking definitely comes through in the style of music they play. Smoke up! (CM)

Rizzudo self-titled Moodswing Records • A mostly instrumental band manned by three brothers, Rizzudo makes eclectic and sometimes quirky rock music. They sometimes sing, but their voices are so deep in the mix that I missed them upon first listen. Their use of Roland and Moog keyboards adds a touch of retro without making this an 80's revival album. My only complaint was that the album was too short. (AL)

Robert Jackson Personal Jesus AIF Records • For over ten years, Robert Jackson has been making music. This release showcases ten tracks of rock with elements of acoustic, metal and classic rock mixed in. Both lyrically and musically, this is a strong release. Jackson definitely has a knack for creating solid rock tunes that, while remaining creative, can appeal to a mainstream audience. (CM)

Running Like Thieves Same Time Next Year Livewire Records • Some rock, some punk, some hardcore, what more could any scene kid with a Hot Water Music sticker on his car want? Well, it's not quite HWM, more like Pennywise meets Motorhead. The drums were muffled at times and took away from some of the recording, although they seemed better on some songs than others. This album seemed like it had potential, but I think the second track, "Your Version of the Truth" sums up the album better than any long winded review could. "It goes on, it goes on, it goes on and on and on and on."(MP)

Samus Desengano Crucial Blast Records • Samus is for those who like their music with no apparent direction. While the overall style of Desengano leans in the heavy / sludge rock direction, the band sounds more like an improvisational outfit than a group playing prewritten songs. (AL)

Scissorfight Potential New Agent for Unconventional Warfare Tortuga Recordings • Even though this CD has six tracks, only four are songs. One is mostly silence, and another is some guys talking in what I think is German. The four songs are pretty good, heavy on the low end with plenty of fuzz. Excellent listening for fans of High on Fire and Scene Killer. (AL)

Slick Fifty Seven The Ghost of Bonnie Parker Laughing Outlaw Records • This disc has, without doubt, the creepiest fucking picture I have ever seen on a disc. Yikes. Here is your ration of bar-brawling, bottle-busting cow punk for the new year. This is a raucous, fun romp through the southwest, tanked up on beer and Hank Williams records. This will grow on you whether you like it or not, but you will like it. (MK)

Slobot A Banner Year For Slaughter Uterine Fury Records • Slobot doesn't make music. They combine tape loops and samples with noises and vocals in the rather experimental A Banner Year for Slaughter. No beats. In fact, nothing that even resembles a song appears on this record. You have been warned. However, there is a video included in the disc that is amusing. (AL)

Slow Reader Self-Titled Fueled By Ramen • We could title this one, "Rory and Gabe from the Impossibles do their best Elliot Smith impression." With that in mind this is really pretty damn good. If you don't think "this is those guys from the Impossibles"you will love this record. This couldn't sound less like the Impossibles. Very impressive that they had these songs rolling around inside their heads the whole time. It's a cold day wrapped up in a blanket kind of disc. (KM)

Snowy Lilywhite PVC Lotus • Snowy is a studio collaboration of Steven Roback, co-founder of L.A.'s Rain Parade, and vocalist Bonni Evenson, whose ghosly vocals are in the forefront of soft lullabies. It creates a kind of Mazzy Star mood, very melancholy, soft and swaying. It is definitely a record for those who are between periods of joy in their lives, or for those who wish to be reminded of the periods of sweet sadness, which are often more meaningful. (DP)

Sometimes Why Presents To: All Loose Ends Goodtimeszy Music • Tight production pushes this three piece along with authority and attitude. This release is heavy on guitar and musical arrangements that blend well with high-pitched vocal melodies; they come off strong and fit perfectly with their sound. Though the vocals do get tired at times everything is intense here, but not too intense, lyrics stand out as well. The fine line between alt-rock and radio punk is one thing that comes to mind. (JC)

Songs: Ohia The Magnolia Electric Co. Secretly Canadian • This is veteran indie band Songs: Ohia's 7th full length record. They come from humble Midwest and Appalachian roots of poor economy and dismal weather, and that mood is somberly captured in these wistful tunes. It's a different kind of blues, a mesh of country "working class rock"or "white soul." This music is real, it speaks of hard times and a small ray of hope for better ones ahead. (DP)

Spengler We Need A Miracle Blue Skies Turn Black • I have to wonder if Spengler is named after Harold Ramis' character Dr. Egon Spengler in "Ghostbusters." This self-proclaimed "not for profit"trio based out of Montreal has shared the stage with the likes of Mike Watt, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, and Owls, among others. The songs on We Need A Miracle share a common theme of the encroachment of urban society into nature, particularly their native home of Canada. Intricate guitar work and unique song arrangements provide a solid foundation for their lyrical message. Spengler is no Ray Parker, Jr., and that's a good thing. (CL)

Spiv Don'tcha Know Pop Sweatshop • Chris Barber is Spiv. He plays pop rock tunes that use plenty of harmony and melodies. It's a ten-track, catchy release that is very radio-friendly. Production on this release was done by Ken Stringfellow, who has done work with the Posies, Big Star and REM. (CM)

Squirtgun / Teen Idols The Dysfunctional Shadowman Split CD EP Asian Man Records • Here's a four-song pop punk treat for lovers of Screeching Weasel, The Queers and The Ataris. Each band does two tracks, with both bands making tremendous use of catchy melodies, great hooks and hard-to-resist tempo changes. It's too bad there are only four songs, but it is a limited edition (2,000 copies) release and the tunes are damn good. (CM)

Subincision Jingo Substandard • Disappointment is something I am going to have to cope with from now until the day I die. When discovering this CD, I paid no attention to any other CDs in my grasp, then reading the press that came with it, I popped it in my CD player hoping for something incredible. What I got was a band that displays "false imagery"and a band that does it well. On their CD pamphlet there was reference to anti-war and army slogans, pictures of mockery, etc. In there lyrics was none of this. Their style was that of a combination of The Misfits and Devo; sure, it sounds unique, but it down right blows! This band must be out to preach what they "think"they are against, propaganda. (CMax)

Sylvie I Wish I Was Driving Does Everyone Stare? Records • It's great when something unexpected comes along like this one. A really subtle combination of driving indie-rock and soft melodic charm. Canada's Sylvie diverge enough from the path of known to explore something that begs the ear to explore. At times they sound sort of like Jawbox on Valium. (KM)

Symphorce PhorcefulAhead Metal Blade Records • Long live power metal! High pitch, melodic vocals are at the center of Symphorce's music, backed up by razor sharp riffing and powerful drumming. Even though reminiscent of bands like Helloween, Judas Priest and Queensrÿche, this is no 80's band. They are centered in the present with an eye toward the future of metal. (AL)

The Arrivals Exsenator Orange Thick Records. • This is the sophomore release from South side Chicago quartet The Arrivals. These guys have put together a solid album with notable Naked Raygun influences. With straightforward riffage, sincere vocals and a strong rhythm section this a truly rocking release. (RP) 

The Blam self-titled self-released • The Blam is a four-piece rock band from Brooklyn. The opening track sounds a lot like The Strokes, which was really disappointing. Although the first track left a sour taste in my mouth, I'm really glad I endured the rest of the album. After a few spins, these guys began to slowly show their differences from all of those other hyped up NY bands. The Blam has blended and borrowed styles from bands like The Jupiter Satellite and The Strokes to form their own sound. (RP) 

The Blinding Light Glass Bullet Deathwish, Inc. • Led by the painful screams of Threadbare vocalist Brian Lovro, hardcore outfit The Blinding Light should really be called The Deafening Light. Metal guitar work is present, with nods to Slayer and Converge, as is the machine gun drumming of death metal. (AL)

The Bottoms Up Blues Gang South Broadway Blues self-released • This is blues, through and through. The St. Louis trio features solid female vocals, great acoustic guitar work and killer harmonica playing. They are also joined by a number of guest musicians. If you're in need of a serious blues fix, consider this your heroin. (CM)

The Bygones Circles Deraileur Records • The Bygones play a new country/ Americana style just feels like a dirt road into the countryside. Moments of lyrical ironic genius, but musically overplayed at times this release is a tick below average. A few good songs, but falling short of a good overall release. (KM)

The Cadets Finding The Straight And Level Snowglobe • I gave it a chance, I thought maybe this was one of those discs that's charm would grow on me. It never happened. The Cadets sound like a countrified Joy Division, but after a few listens it still did nothing for me. There is talent here, but it misses everything on this recording. (KM)

The Clean Anthology Merge Records • The Clean have been playing since 1978 (except for a while around 1983 where they broke up), and are still going strong. This two CD set includes 46 tracks that span their career, including some previously available only on vinyl. Their garage-y, psychedelic sound is as fresh today as it was back then. (AL)

The Corleones Soundtrack To Suicide Sickboy Records • This is high-octane rock and roll with loads of punk attitude. The Corleones are based out of Utah. The hand-screened CD is limited to 300 copies. And it's a badass packaging job. The screened art is violently awesome and the inside art is even more violent. It's a photo of a nude girl covered in blood laying on a bathroom floor with the song titles written in blood on the tile floor next to her. Now that is fucking cool. Luckily, the CD doesn't survive on packaging alone, as the 13 tracks deliver a unique, intense aural experience that is well worth checking out. (CM)

The Damnwells pmr+1 In Music We Trust • The title stands for "Poor Man's Record plus one bonus song,"as the band is vehemently opposed to the term "EP"to describe a short record. You'd think with a name like the Damnwells, they'd rock hard, but their music is a dreamy, layered amalgam of fine instrumentation. Great harmonic vocals and incorporation of varied, inventive sounds elevate the listener to a higher plane and they slowly inject the serum of soft pop greatness into the brain. (DP)

The Demonics Ritual On The Beach Coldfront Records • This is what you get when you mix Cali surf songs from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, Beach Boy vocal harmonies and a bit of popish punk rock. The result is a strong collection of well-crafted jams that stand out from the normal congestion of music around today. I can't stress the words 'surf' and 'punk' enough to describe the vibe within this release, tracks like "Mavericks"and "Bikini Bitch"are a good example of what to expect, which is a harmless album of good time jams to bake under the sun to. (JC)

The Dropscience Dies Tonight Happy Couples Never Last • Sounding like a mix of late punk, new wave, DC post hardcore, and straight up rock and roll, these boys are on to something. Its interesting to think of something so moody coming from a place like San Diego, their sounds could make you think of something cold, lonely, and beautiful in a climate barren and further north. The Dropsciecne have sampled the fare of modern music and offer you this one as their interpretation. (KM)

The Eight Bucks Experiment Volume Junkie Blue Moon Recordings • Imagine if you had an ADD monkey gave him caffeine shots directly into the bloodstream and then locked him in a 10 X 10 room. That might match the sheer chaos the 8 Bucks bring. Sorta a dirty southern bar fight mixed with some spit and whistle. Some metal, some punk and all attitude. (KM)

The Exit New Beat Some Records • These three guys from NYC bringing a lot of emotional intensity to the forefront with their full-length debut album. Combining elements of such newer bands as Errortype:11, Jimmy Eat World and The Get Up Kids and older bands such as The Clash and The Police, the eleven tracks all flow into one another perfectly, melding a number of styles to create an ending result that is unique. The heartfelt vocals are supported by the driving energy behind the music that, at times, allows itself to slip into a slower tempo if only to enhance the intensity of the music. Whether it's the pounding drums, the tempo changes or the vocals, every bit of it grabbed my attention. This band doesn't front as punk or hardcore, they're straight up rock and that's just fine with me. (CM)

The Fenwicks Truth & Memory: Live and Unreleased at Arlene Grocery NYC self-released • This is the Fenwicks' first recording in two years, and it is of a live performance in New York. They describe their sound as "Afro-Celtic Yiddish Ska Guaranteed To Make You Sweat,"and that's a pretty good description. You can't help but start dancing to the beat of each of these songs. Ska might be passé, but who cares! Get this CD and enjoy. (AL)

The First Step Open Hearts and Clear Minds Livewire Records • Solid old-school straight-edge hardcore. Fast, hitting, and begging to be heard live. Anthem songs covering the same ground you'd come to expect from most bands of the genre, drug-free living, animal rights, and friendship issues. Great for what it is, but nothing groundbreaking. (KM)

The Goodboy Suit Within Walls Without Windows Copter Crash Records • Something makes me think of this band as a louder Hoover. Only because they have the same feel of something bigger looming all around the music. Something dark and unsettling hovering about every moment unsure of its intentions. GS have an intensity that strikes at the anvil hard. (KM)

The Graves Love, Love, Love Film Guerrero • Sad pop, but you could expect that out of a rainy place like Portland, OR right? Its gentle and it swings, sorta like a porch swing at twilight. It reminded me a little of The Microphones or Elliot Smith with a band. Some of the songs played a little with my emotions and made the quiet afternoon more thoughtful than it had been before, and that's the hope of any kind of art, to affect the people who experience it. (KM)

The Holy Ghost Color Sympathy Clearly Records • Indie rock is a real nebulous term, isn't it? I still love to throw it around anyway because you can't go wrong with it. Well, the Holy Ghost is indie rock (damn, that looks kinda funny reading that back), but that doesn't even begin to describe their sound. There's something intangible and highly addictive about their music. Is it the odd chord progressions, the hypnotic vocal melodies lurking in the mix, or some subliminal quality? Whatever it is, the Holy Ghost is a band definitely worth checking out; make up your own indie rock sub-genre for 'em. (CL)

The Marato Dirty Stories Blue Skies Turn Black • Here's some Marato trivia for ya: the band is named for "a promiscuous Grand Dane." Those wacky guys! Band name origins aside, the Marato's serpentine guitar lines and tight rhythm section create a very cool math rock lite sound. Think Television, Mission of Burma, and Don Caballero jamming together. The vocal melodies sweeten the dissonant music, creating an impressive debut EP. (CL)

The Necronauts Melodic Array of Change High School Football Records/Sunset Alliance • From jangly indie pop to driving punk rock to a wee bit of funk, The Necronauts hop from genre to genre effortlessly. The Arizona trio's tunes recall a number of alternative staples, particularly the Pixies (hey, what indie rocker hasn't been influenced a little by the Pixies over the past 10 years?). This is some good stuff from the Grand Canyon State. (CL)

The Others Latest Rendition Bad Rep Records • This female-fronted punk/indie rock album was recorded and mixed by J. Robbins and has shook off any idea about an exclusive 'emo' label being placed on this band. Aggressive and straightforward, the music here is super tight and mosh pit ready. Not too punk and not too rock, the music is comprehendible and versatile, the guitar work carries the sound while the vocals grab and caress every note on cue. Good stuff here. (JC)

The Perms Clark Drive Hugtight • The sophomore effort from this Canadian power-pop trio is a delightful, good-hearted collection of fun. The music is inspired by the likes of Ben Folds Five and Weezer, shifting frequently and seamlessly between horns, acoustic, and electric guitars, with great harmony vocals as the centerpiece. This trio could really taste cool success in the future - they've got a great toe tapping, swinging sound that would appeal to a gigantic audience and talent in excess. (DP)

The Skulls Therapy For The Shy Doctor Strange Records • Here is a big dose of punk rock kick in the face to keep you thinking straight while you sniff your glue. The songs are totally uninterrupted or obscured by gentle subtleties. This is stand-alone, non-stop rock. (MK)

The Sound of Rails Night Time Simulcast Caulfield Records • This is The Sound of Rails' second full length, and in it they take post punk to a new level. Instrumental tracks based on repetition coexist with vocal numbers that showcase their rhythmic abilities, similar in some ways to Fugazi. (AL)

The Teeth Send My Regards To The Sunshine self-released • Elements of Cake and high-pitched Elvis Costello-like vocals turn the quirkiness of this indie pop-rock album into a feel good extravaganza. Each guitar, drum, bass and piano part find their spots naturally and feed off of one another's style with energy. To begin with, influences range from the likes of The Velvet Underground, The Beatles, Chuck Berry, David Bowie and Fugazi, the sound of this band is a direct progression forward from what these musicians have already blessed us with. Prepare to be challenged by the sounds that are within this release, the reward is ultimately refreshing in the end. (JC)

The Theory of Abstract Light self-titled Odd Halo Recordings • The Theory of Abstract Light is a side project by Ben Carr, guitarist for 5ive. In contrast to his heavy guitar sound with 5ive, Carr creates droning guitar atmospheres and acoustic passages that hypnotize the listener. Abstract is an excellent way to describe the sound. (AL)

The Violents Rebecca's Morning Voice Mud Records • From the cover and name of this all-girl band, I expected typical riot grrl rock. The first song has a happy clean guitar poppy feeling, but sometimes the tough girl comes through and of course, they say "fucking,"so they redeem themselves quickly from the sweet girl moment. One girl sounds Juliana Hatfield-ish while the other one takes on an Elastica feel. The two voices work well together. The album starts off on the mellow side, but switches halfway through to the harder, more riot grrl sound I initially thought they would have. I actually liked the mellower stuff better; they seemed to be doing something in between. The riot songs sound forced and like other typical girl bands. Either way, it seems to have potential. (MP)

The Wake Ups Wanna MeetŠThe Wake Ups? Laughing Outlaw Records • Harmonizing like a Beach Boy and bringing a power-pop guitar laden sound on this rock album with all smiles is this band out of Australia. Originally know as The Scruffs, this album is the bands first and was produced by Michael Carpenter. Simply put, the formula is all here, a feel good rock and roll disc with not many surprises but a clean and crisp straightforward sound. Things do get a little sensitive, just enough to be pushed into radio rotation. Check out "My Friends Are So Boring"and "You Make Me Nervous."(JC)

The Yell Leaders Noxajoy The Yell Leaders • This Midwest pop/soul combo brings together a trio of fine musicians that create rock-steady, emotional tunes. There is a great intertwining of male and female vocals leading the group, and this unique combination makes them stand apart from other artists. These vocals are uttered over such lush and rich instrumentation, you scarcely remember that there's just three of 'em. (DP)

Timescape Zero Total War X-Ray Records • Timescape were the kings of South Florida hardcore back when I first got into hardcore long, long ago. The sleeping giant wakes from its slumber with a new album after all these years. This stuff sounds just as solid as they did back in the early '90s, but it pretty much sounds the same as they did in that period too. With a sound that covers the ground of bands like Agnostic Front, and the Cro-mags they come out hitting and don't let up till the last note. (KM)

Tora! Tora! Torrance! Get Into It The Militia Group • The debut from this Minnesota act is loud, aggressive, and distorted, as it very much should be. It is heavy-hitting, in-your-face hardcore punk rock, but with a clean sound and vocals reminiscent of White Stripes. It probably goes without saying that a live show would be far more explosive, energetic, and fitting for this band's talents, but the CD certainly takes you halfway there. (DP)

Tosca Delhi 9 !K7 Records • This latest release from Tosca (Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Hall) is actually two very different CDs. The first is similar to what you might expect from them: groovy tunes for smoky rooms, with mid tempo beats and multiple layers. The second CD is based on piano compositions of an ambient nature. One final note: The CD I reviewed employed copy protection, and would not play on my PC. It also did not play on two regular CD players. Make sure to look for the label stating this on the CD back cover and, buyer beware! (AL)

Toxic Shock Four Old Seven Inches Doctor Strange Records • Man, this band is crazy, but on the other hand, pure genius and of the highest intellect known to mankind! That may be just a tiny bit of exaggeration, but you'll have to hear this band for yourself to know what I mean. I had always heard so much about the brilliance of this band, how incredibly intelligent they are and of their "invention of the creepy punk music style." The guitars are distorted far more than any band ever, the bass sounds like that of a Sir Mix-A-Lot song, and the drums are drums! Like the title of the record states, these songs are all super old and talk about the time when punk meant "punk"and how hard it was to live and come by the lifestyle. Now, in the 21st century, this band is still doing what it does best and that is making great music with a good message that will continue to spawn generations of "weird punks" till the end of the world comes upon us. (CMax)

tvfordogs Heavy Denver Wampus Multimedia • When Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous disbanded, singer-guitarist Neil Luckett had some unused material that became tvfordog's debut, Heavy Denver. But this is no collection of poorly conceived leftovers and unrealized song ideas. The performance and production are stellar, and belie the fact that these songs were recorded in a bedroom. These radio-ready tunes recall the Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Pilots, and the Catherine Wheel, among others. (CL)

Twinstar Dovetailing Jet Black Records • Hailing from the land of beer and cheese, Milwaukee's Twinstar delivers a powerful, emotional debut album without sinking into the whining and sappiness present in so much of what has become known as "emo." The "emo"label doesn't do this record justice; it's just a great rock record that jumps seamlessly from driving guitar rock to sparser, quieter songs to power pop. Tim Hanke's impassioned vocals and thoughtful lyrics are truly a highlight. Dovetailing is a very impressive debut album. (CL)

Two Steps To Infinity For He Who Suffers self-released • I can't help but think that the vocals and music don't deserve to coexist. The garage metal with a grunge rock edge is chased by lollipop, high-pitched female vocals. I'm talking about a church choir voice here where a stripped down raw sound is throughout the E.P. and the music weaves around with aggression and tempo changes. "Descent"and "Possession"are two tracks that give an indication of what this band has to offer and just how far they've yet to go. (JC)

Until The End Let The World Burn Eulogy Recordings • At the forefront of the straight edge resurgence is Until The End, who leave none standing with their heavy hardcore sound. They pound their instruments like no other band, and the guttural screaming will leave you dazed and battered. (AL)

Useless ID No Vacation from The World Kung Fu Records • I almost cried when listening to this CD. No, not because I am sensitive, emotional, or upset that I haven't had a girlfriend in 6 months (sarcasm, it's been 7), but that I used to love the "Israel pop-punk-core"this band used to throw down and how they sounded "one of a kind." My feelings have definitely changed. In No Vacation From The World, all I hear is lyrics of being "heart broken"or "missing a phone call"and the distinct voice with the sound of MXPX. I think they lost their singer, if so everything is going to go downhill. I support their "Animal Rights"movement and their promotion of PETA and their beliefs, but their music is no longer of any interest to me, even the "Enhanced CD" feature doesn't bring joy to my heart. I officially re-name this CD "Anthems for those who would like to cry." I'm so disappointed; maybe I need a good cry. I think I'll pop this back in. (CMax)

Various Artists Barricaded Suspects Dr. Strange Records • This is an old school punk comp originally released on the Toxic Shock label on various 7 inches. If you're a fan of old school punk this is definitely a cd you shouldn't pass up. Cover art by Pushead and great liner notes by Bill Toxic and an all star line up of bands featuring members of All/Descendents and D.O.A. that includes such artists as Killroy, Mad Parade, Peace Corpse and Septic Death. (RP)

Various Artists Being Black Spun Records/Waxploitation Records • Inspired by the book of the same name by Angel Kyodo Williams, a handful of conscious hip-hop artists and spoken-word poet Ursula Rucker contribute to this project. The lone problem here is that most of the tracks included are available on many of the albums you may already have. If you have wanted to get a taste of groups like Jurassic 5, Mystic, Dilated Peoples, Blackalicious and the beats of DJ Revolution, Rob Swift, DJ Spooky and King Britt than this release is worthwhile for you. A portion of proceeds go towards a non-for-profit peacemaking organization called Urban Peace. (JC)

Various Artists Does Everyone Stare? Presents a Various Artists Complication Does Everyone Stare? • This album instantly gets points from me for the cover photo of Elvis Costello's King of America LP leaning against a guitar amp. Now, while nothing on this disc sounds much like Elvis, this is still a damn good sampler. Does Everyone Stare offers up twenty-three tracks of punk and emo, and there's not a bad one in the bunch. (CL)

Various Artists Fighting Music Vol. 2 Deathwish, Inc. • Four hardcore labels got together to release over 70 minutes of the most brutal hardcore out there. Some of the 35 bands include: Converge, Throwdown, Dead Serious, Striking Distance, American Nightmare, Ringworm, Diehard Youth, I Hate You, and Count Me Out. (AL)

Various Artists Go Kart Records is the Corporate Giant Go Kart Records • The folks at Go Kart assembled this collection of thirty punk and metal tunes, half of them unreleased. Artists include Daycare Swindlers, Toxic Narcotic, The Hellbenders, Capture the Flag, Pseudo Heroes, G.B.H., Revolution Summer, Justin Sane, Lunachicks, Anti-Flag and others. (AL)

Various Artists King Britt presents...The Philadelphia Experiment Remixed Ropeadope Records • The original Philadelphia Experiment was a critical success, bringing together three musicians from diverse backgrounds to create music. This remix album should also please many, with King Britt responsible for gathering producers to add their own touch to the album. Unlike other remix albums, this one can stand on its own, even if you've never heard the original. (AL)

Various Artists Pulse From Mid-America Anatomy Records • Traditionally, I've regarded Indiana as an endless wasteland that makes my drive to Chicago almost unbearable. But now I've got this really cool sampler from Indiana's own Anatomy Records, and I feel my opinion of the Hoosier state changing for the better. The soothing indie pop sounds of Brando, Early Day Miners, and the Impossible Shapes will help ease my road rage as I head north along I-65. The bouncy, energetic music of Pop Lolita and Sex Tiger will save me from the usual mind-numbing, highway boredom. And the aggressive rock of (Longlive) The Romance Morgue and Racebannon should keep me from passing out while driving through miles and miles of unrelenting farmland. Thank you, Anatomy Records! (CL)

Various Artists Steve Caballero Bandology Vol. 1 Sessions Records • One of the most popular skaters in the sport's history, Steve Caballero is also a musical machine. This compilation features all four of his past bands with four songs apiece. Also included are liner notes by Caballero and some of his former band mates. From the Faction's skate punk to Odd Man Out's Cult-ish rock, Shovelhead's Whitesnake influence and Soda's pop punk, Caballero's musical output was as varied as it was entertaining. (AL)

Various Artists The First Church Compilation Thick As Thieves • Originally released in 1997, this compilation was considered an important release for hardcore/emo/punk fans. It is now being re-released, complete with written stories about each band's first crush, and many unreleased songs. Bands include: Jimmy Eat World, Jazz June, At The Drive In, and Pop Unknown. (AL)

Various Artists Uterine Fury Records Fall 2002 Catalog Sampler Uterine Fury Records • This sampler features four bands from the Uterine Fury: Slobot, The Zenith, rayos-X, and Natur'es Incubator. The music ranges from electronica to experimental noise and minimalism. The music is mostly lo-fi, like it was recorded in someone's basement, a quality which fits its experimental attitude. They should get a design prize for the way the CD is packaged: the disc is inserted into an emptied out 5'' floppy disk. (AL)

Various Artists Will Not Clear Man #1 Will Not Clear Man • This four song sampler features bands currently working with Illinois label Will Not Clear Man. There's the punk of Seedy Sea Controversy and Burn Elgin, the hardcore Over & Over, and the emo-ish Meridians Divided. It's a great bargain too, as this CD is available for a mere dollar through Will Not Clear Man's mail order. Good music, good price, what else could you ask for? (CL)

Vito Birthday E.P. Evol Egg Nart Recordings • Basking in the sunshine of Miami has influenced the sound of this one-man band. The four tracks on this E.P. begin with "Hold On"which is tightly structured inside a popish mellow-to-amped-up tempo sequence. Things change rapidly though. Being a drummer by nature has its benefits for Vito, the percussion work pulls his sound together no matter which direction he takes. On "Punks"he takes on just that persona and on the standout "Decatur"he pays respects to his second home with a little alt-rock edge about lesbians. (JC)

Whisky Rebels self-titled GMM Records/Victory Distribution • Again, GMM Records impresses me with another fine line of young lads who know their music and their California punk scene. The Whisky Rebels combine to bring you the Dropkick Murphy's and Madcap sound mixed with a street punk sound that must be doing these boys some good, considering the press loves them and so do "punk rock god's"such as Lars and Tim from Rancid. The Whisky Rebels bring you the tyrannies of the streets of Sacramento, and the flaws of the government in this sweet debut album with punchy chorus lines, captivating drum parts, and Oi! guitar solo's at its best! Did I mention they sound a little like Pressure Point, share the same label, and two members? Interesting. (CMax)

Woolworthy Recycler Boss Tuneage Records • There are hints of punk throughout this collection of songs recorded since 1996 from Chicago's Woolworthy, but mostly it's straightforward power pop rock. It includes their past two full lengths, an EP and even six recently recorded songs. I kept picturing Cheap Trick throughout this album, probably from the vocals but there was the occasional guitar solo as well. The vocals are pretty good and get better when the harmonies join. After the first few songs, a lot of them started to sound repetitive. They play good music but Woolworth strays from anything innovative or life changing. But that's not the point of pop rock, right? (MP)

Woosley Band Marveling at the Rings self-released • Pop rock with lots of clean guitar and occasional guitar solos. Acoustic guitars come in at moments and give a twangy country feel. It was lyrically trite and when the background vocals came in, they were usually la la's. I think more harmonies could have given the album a bit more dimension. At times, I heard influences such as Bruce Springsteen and maybe even Train. I kept thinking a cowbell was going to come in at any moment. (MP)

YTBR Lovely Enough To Destroy Hazzo Records • Hailing from Osaka, Japan, YTBR has borrowed elements from pop and rock and taken them for themselves. The result is a catchy, somewhat edgy sound that would play well next to the Strokes, even though they kick more ass. (AL)


Coffinberry self-titled 7" Exit Stencil • Get ready to shake your ass. Coffinberry is a garage rock band. Their style is very catchy, mod-style rock and roll that could be compared in some ways to The Hives or The White Stripes. This recording is live, so it's really raw, making it perfect for the type of music. The guitar-work is strong and captivating while the drums pound out an uptempo rhythm that is extremely hard to resist. (CM)

Drowning Dog / The Deletist split 7" Entartete Kunst • Drowning Dog gives us "Crimson," a droning, haunting, bleep-blip electronic journey with spoken vocals overlaying it. The message is one opposing U.S. support of Israel and the genocide that is taking place there. The Deletist performs "Americans Eye Aeroplanes," an instrumental tune that is dark, enveloping and hyper while remaining melodic. Both bands are very experimental, confronting unusual musical styles while taking on controversial socio/political subjects. (CM)

Gold Circles self-titled 7" Copter Crash • Picture discs are really cool. However, they often look cooler than they sound. That's not the case here. Gold Circles sound like a heavier version of The Dismemberment Plan. They have that quirky, funky element and unusual vocal stylings that makes The DisPlan so cool. But Gold Circles is definitely heavier, using thick reverbed basslines that boom over the music and they have a more staccato approach to the overall sound. (CM)

Holding On / Coalition split 7" Martyr • Holding On hails from Minneapolis and delivers three straight-edge, hardcore tunes in the vein of Judge and Youth of Today. You get rapid fire, screamed lyrics over pounding drums and searing guitar parts. On the flipside you have Michigan's Coalition, dishing out two tracks. They are also along the same lines, but remind me more of Burn or Turning Point. This is an amazing hardcore seven-inch that is well worth checking out. (CM)

Psyche Origami Perspective 12" Imperial Fuzz • These guys take your psyche and fold it up into new creations, giving you three cuts to bend your mind to. Combining the smooth, dope ass elements of A Tribe Called Quest with supreme DJ'ing skills, this trio takes hip-hop to a new level. It'll immediately get in your head and have you bobbin¹ to the beat, savoring the cuts and chillin' to the mix of other instrumental additions (from piano to horns to congas). MC Wyzstyk is absolutely on point, rhyming fluidly over beat after beat. This is definitely a crew to look out for in 2003. (CM)

Scott Biao Army / Line of Decent split LP Paco Garden • SBA throws a fist down your throat with 10 tracks of rapid fire, screaming, sweat-drenched punk rock. It's raw, thrashy, aggressive, no holds barred rock and roll. The press says these guys rip up the live stage and there¹s no doubt in my mind that they're telling the truth. On the flip side is Line of Decent. They offer up five tracks that use thick basslines, feedback-heavy guitars and a pounding rhythm to pull you in before they kick you in the teeth. While it's definitely hardcore, there are some dark, metal elements throughout. The end result is a fucking brilliant LP featuring two incredible bands doing their own thing, and doing it more passionately than 99% of the other bands out there. The huge fold-out, newsprint liner notes are simply an added bonus. (CM)

The Braves self-titled 7" Johann's Face • The two tracks on this album are extremely good. The Braves are a five-piece from Illinois and this slab of vinyl shows off their ability to craft skillful, mid-tempo, indie tunes. While the music is precise and enveloping, the vocals are even better. Added bonus: clear, blue vinyl and limited to 400 copies. (CM)

The Saddest Landscape Cover Your Heart 7" Copter Crash • Holy crap! This is fucking awesome. These guys play emo the way it used to be played, before it started to really suck. This is screaming, aggressive, heartfelt music that will make you feel amazing. You'll want to speed and scream and strip naked and sob all at once. (Please don't.) It has been a long time since I've heard something so honest and intense. Not sold yet? It's on clear vinyl, too! But who cares?! This is great. (CM)

Transistor / Transistor self-titled 7" Copter Crash • Wow! This rips out of the gate and doesn't quit. All three tracks by Transistor / Transistor are mind-numbing hardcore math rock tunes. They combine the scream-o, aggressive elements of hardcore with a more technical, focused change of pace along the lines of emo-ish math rock. The end result is a violent journey through melody and chaos, a perfect blend to reel you in and knock you out. (CM)

Vintage Imperial Mic Club 12" self-released • This is some underground, indie hip-hop from Atlanta. You get three tracks and each is head-noddin¹ good. The first cut comes with a bit of a party attitude, keys jangling in the background as the rhymes flow along. From there, the music gets more jazzed up and smoothed out. The beats still bump, but there's a funkier element. Vintage Imperial definitely reach back into vintage hip-hop to form the styles they currently create on wax. The result is some damn fine music that truly defines the underground hip-hop movement. (CM)

These reviews represent the "best of" music that was reviewed for this issue by IMPACT Press music reviewers.

Boxingwater No Voice Will Go Unheard Spent Records • Drive Thru Records look out! Boxingwater is coming with a mission to infest the world with their cross between Deviates and Good Riddance music style and their heart-deep lyrics striving for peace, freedom, unity, and justice. This band is definitely one that will grow on me, and many others in the future, for no one can resist their "throw your hands up in the air" choruses, perfect pitch harmonies and backing vocals, and hardcore breakdowns! You want fury? Passion? Adrenaline? Then Boxingwater is the band for you, and any fan of punk music, or good music in general. Big record labels will be hitting these guys up in a few years. (CMax)

Goin' Places Girl Songwriting 101 Coldfront Records • Here is a lovely collection of pop-punk gems for all you kooky kids who love The Queers and Jan and Dean. This is a really fun disc filled to the brim with 14 tracks to make your toes tap and smile a big dumb-ass grin. Really deep insightful songs like "Can't Get A Girl? Kill Yourself" will make you rethink your idea of life itself. (MK)

Gordian Knot Emergent Sensory • Gordian Knot's instrumental compositions are majestic and cinematic. With styles ranging from prog rock, fusion, and power metal, the group's members have put in time with Yes, Cynic, King Crimson, Genesis and Fates Warning. Just about every instrument gets a solo at some point, but not in a gratuitous manner. Four guitarists help make the songs layered and complex. Emergent is definitely worth listening to with headphones. (AL)

Grand Ulena Gateway To Dignity Family Vineyard Records • Forget all you know about rock music and its many subgenres, because Grand Ulena fits into none of them. Traditional song structure is rejected, replaced with confusing and hyper-kinetic riffing. Think of the chaos that is Storm and Stress, and you are in the ballpark. Starts and stops are commonplace, as are tempo changes in mid-song. Grand Ulena never hint at what's to come, keeping you guessing at all times. (AL)

Horror Show Our Design Deathwish • All go and no slow as they say. Amazingly combining an almost 80's vocal style with a modern punk-hardcore feel all at a blistering, arm-breaking speed, I'd try to compare them to something if I could think of anything they are like... But this sound is all their own. Songs of violence and heartbreak, and I love some songs about heartbreak when they are sung like this. Completing the product with wonderful pink packaging (yes it's pink and still awesome.) As they say, this is some next level shit. (KM)

Howard Zinn Artists In A Time Of War AK Press • I don't think I've ever reviewed something as a "must own" for everybody before. I think any artist, writer, musician or the like really needs to take a listen to this spoken word disc from the historian of people's movements. His explanation of art, artists and their key involvement in movements (specifically anti-war movements) in history is as relevant now as ever, and as important too. (KM)

Jett Brando Jagged Junction Go-Kart Records • Beginning with the sonic chaos of "Heavy Rotation" this E.P. blurs many lines of rock, beats and great experimentation. What Jett does with the many sounds that are meshed together here is what Jeff Magnum, Stephen Merritt, Beck and Elliot Smith wish they could have created themselves. Vocals glide smoothly with sharpness over the majority of instruments that Jett plays himself, the mood is captivating and the six tracks here are worthy of being replayed over and over again. Production of this release comes from the help of Dalek and Jesse Cannon, making this effort a keeper and reason to be on the lookout for future projects from this innovator. (JC)

Manda and the Marbles More Seduction Go-kart • Ahh yeah. This is power pop at its finest, as Manda and crew serve up a heaping mound of new wave revival with 1970's punk rock attitude. Sexy female vocals, evocative of 80's bands such as the Bangles and Go-Go's, overlay kickass melodic hooks as this trio makes a concerted effort to whale on your punk rock ass. You just kind of know it when a band has it, and this one does in abundance. (DP)

Murs The End Of The Beginning Definitive Jux Records • Putting an official end to the beginning of his career, Murs is proving to be truly a Living Legend, and this release will hit you from angles no other album out there has even thought about coming from. Sure, Aesop Rock and El-P make an appearance but the split personality of Shock G and Humpty Hump on "Ricky Business" is the surprise catch here. The overall vibe gets a bit bumpy as a few tracks could have been left out to maintain a more consistent disc from front to back, but this is well worth checking out. Murs changes his flow from mellow to fast throughout, but his tales about changing ways on the tracks "Brotherly Love" and "Gods Work" inspire reflection on growing as a person and "Last Night" focuses on making it through another day. Not much is left untapped on this release, from tired relationships, wasting hard earned money, meditation through skateboarding and his colorblind journey through the underground, thankfully the title of the album doesn't read the other way around. (JC)

One Man Army Rumors and Headlines BYO Records • Here is a rock disc that is actually good. The songs are catchy and fun with great singing and playing. This is a disc that will have you up dancing around whether you want to or not. It has not come out of my CD player for a long time, and I'm so much the happier for it. This is a great disc. (MK)

Organic The Life and Times of Sal Sagev Microcosm • If only all three-piece punk bands could sound this good! Organic are fucking awesome. There, what else do you need to know? They sound like Crimpshrine, but better. They sound like older Jawbreaker, but more punk. They sound like the East Bay when Green Day was broke and Lookout! Records was still a small label. The vocals are gruff, throaty and in your face. The music is raw, with a pounding energy that makes you realize just how bad most other music really is. This is heartfelt, but not in the sappy emo way; this is honest, intense and furious. (CM)

Red Card Red Card Useless Chord Records • Wow, this is one badass album! Take one heaping helping of post-punk, mix in some electroclash and a touch of goth, and you're ready to rock out Red Card-style. Each song brims with an uneasy, nervous energy. There's even a song titled "Relax", with almost taunting vocals that know you'll never be able to relax. Listen at your own risk, and I mean that in the best possible way. (CL)

Small Brown Bike / The Casket Lottery split CD Second Nature Records • I haven't head of any bands doing this since long ago when Bloodlet and Damnation AD recorded the Bloodnation stuff. Two great bands changing things up and putting out a collaborative effort that shines with the best of both bands. From the first track "Wrong Hometown" to their reworking of Queens "Under Pressure" this will knock you back and then some. I see this CD sparking a new trend in split-CDS, we can only hope they are all as good. Both bands are just different enough to really bring a special kind of sound out of this collaboration. (KM)

The Forms Icarus Threespheres • Time changes, dissonant chords, moments of soft vocals interrupted by screams make up this seven song album that spans over ten tracks. The packaging is definitely worth seeing with its numerous photographs (not of the band) and simplicity that is perfectly eye catching. My only problem with the layout is its repetitive exposure of Threespheres, the label. It isn't until layers are peeled away that The Forms are revealed. The melodies flow from one song to the next and the rhythm section carries it. The pronounced bass flows harmoniously, similar to the writing of Nate Mendel. That wasn't the only place I heard subtle Sunny Day Real Estate influences, but they don't sound enough like any band to ultimately compare them. The unique stylings of this band are enough to give Icarus a listen, but more than once because it gets better each time. I can't forget to mention that it was recorded with none other than Steve Albini and mastered by John Golden. (MP)

The Jazz June Better Off Without Air Initial Records • Intricate, melodic and beautiful. The bass line to "Drugs and Models" won me over immediately. Sometimes dissident, sometimes off beat, these thirteen songs show that The Jazz June has stepped to another level and matured lyrically and musically. The bass glides from song to song with its slightly punchy tone, while keyboards fill in the gaps. "These pills won't calm your nerves" has a driving pop like melody without losing any of its creative undertones. This is their fifth release on Initial Records and simply, it's indie rock from four guys who know it best. (MP)

Tiga DJ-Kicks !K7 Records • Remix master Tiga was chosen for the latest in the DJ-Kicks series, where he brings 25 continuously mixed tracks by artists such as Soft Cell, Le Tigre, Codec & Flexor, Swayzak, Stevie V., as well as his own tracks. The CD has an electro-tinged flavor, with plenty of retro-sounding synthesizers and house beats. (AL)

Troubled Hubble Penturbia Latest Flame Records • These are difficult times, my friends. By the time you read this, we could be at war with one, maybe two, countries. If you need a respite from all the insanity of the outside world, try the soothing indie pop of Troubled Hubble. They sound like Travis from the Dismemberment Plan fronting Built to Spill. If you don't love "I Love My Canoe," you're probably part of the "axis of evil." This is brilliant guitar pop that could just save the world. (CL)

In alphabetical order. Please write them.

!K7 Records, 425 West 15th Street, Suite 2R, New York, NY 10011
3 Day Hopper, PO Box 241709, Omaha, NE 68124
Aalacho Music, no contact info available
Aesthetics Records, PO Box 82233, Portland, OR 97282
AIF Records, 37 Bates Road, Harrison, NY 10528
AK Press, 674-A 23rd St. Oakland, CA 94612
Anatomy Records, 225 East North Street, #1900, Indianapolis, IN 46204
Anti Records, 2798 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Artemis Records, 130 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
Asian Man Records, PO Box 35585, Monte Sereno, CA 95030
Attitude, 1720 Yucca Road, Oceanside, CA 92054
Bad Rep Records, PO Box 7117, Woodbridge, VA 22195
BBE, 8b Langton Road, Cricklewood, London, NW2 6QA
Bill Milbrodt, PO Box 441, Howell, NJ  07731
Blue Moon Recordings, 2075 S. University Blvd. #264 Denver, CO 80210
Blue Orange Records, 2859 Bush Street #102, San Francisco CA 94115
Blueskiesturnblack, 214 Thornhill, D.D.O., QC, H9G 1P7, Canada
Boss Tuneage, PO Box 74, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2WB, UK
Bottom Up Blues Gang, 3452A Hartford, St. Louis, MO 63118
Breaker Breaker Records, PO Box 536071, Orlando, FL 32853
Broken Rekids, Box 460402, San Fransisco, CA 94146
Burt Switzer, no contact info available
BYO Records, Box 67609, LA, CA 90067
Call Me Alice, PO Box 83205, San Diego, CA 92138-3205
Caulfield Records, PO Box 84323, Lincoln, NE 68501
Chumpire, P.O. Box 27, Annville, PA 17003-0027
Claire Records, PO Box 214332, Sacramento, CA 95821
Clearly Records, 314 23rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Coldfront Records, PO Box 8345, Berkeley, CA 94707
Copter Crash Records, PO Box 6095, Hudson, FL 34667-3095
Crème Blush, 103 Essex St. Suite 4F, New York, NY 10002
Crucial Blast Records, PO Box 364, Hagerstown, MD 21741
Dead Digital, PO Box 94, Manchester, M19 3WY
Dead Droid Records, PO Box 68061, Grand Rapids, MI 49516
Deathwish, Inc., 10 Lothrop Street, Beverly, MA 01915
Derailleur Records, PO Box 10276 Columbus, OH 43201
Doctor Strange Records, PO BOX 1058, Alta Loma, CA 90701
Does Everyone Stare?, PO Box 1006, Edison, NJ 08818
Dr. Strange, Box 1058, Alta Loma, CA 91701
Drag City, PO Box 476867, Chicago, IL 60647
Entartete Kunst, PO Box 411194, San Francisco, CA 94141-1194
Equal Vision Records, PO Box 14, Hudson, NY 12534
Estrus Records, PO Box 2125, Bellingham, WA 98227
Eulogy Recordings, PO Box 8692, Coral Springs, FL 33075
Evol Egg Nart Recordings, PO Box 570763, Miami, FL 33257
Exit Stencil, PO Box 110775, Cleveland, OH 44111
Family Vineyard Records, PO Box 2161, Bloomington, IN 47402
Fang Records, PO Box 652, NY, NY 10009
Ferret Music Corp. 47 Wayne St. #3 Jersey City, NJ 07302
Film Guerrero, PO Box 14414 Portland, OR 97293
Flashlight Brown, PO Box 19638, 55 Bloor St. W, Toronto, Ontario M4W 3T9
Fueled By Ramen, PO Box 12563 Gainesville, FL 32604
Function 8, PO Box 411195, San Francisco, CA 94141-1195
GMM Records, PO Box 15234, Atlanta, GA 30333
Go-Kart Records, PO Box 20, Prince Street Station, New York, NY 10012
Goodfellow, 762 Upper James St., Ste. 275, Hamilton, Ontario, L9C 3A2
Goodtimeszy Music, 75 Sparkhall Ave., Toronto ON, M4K 1G7
Guilt Ridden Pop, 2217 Nicollet Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Happy Couples Never Last, PO Box 36997 Indianapolis, IN 46236
Hazzo Records, 82 West 105th Street, #4B, New York, NY 10025
Henry, no contact info available
Hollis + Mighty McGregor, 900 N. Grand Ave. #60477, Sherman, TX 75090
Hopeless Records, PO Box 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91409-7495
Hugtight Records, 521 Doreen Street, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3G 3H5
Hydra Head Records, PO Box 990248, Boston, MA 02199
I.O.U. Records, 412 West Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19123
Ides Of March, PO Box 722 Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
Imperial Fuzz, 3400 Stratford Rd. Suite 4205, Atlanta, GA 30326
In Music We Trust, 15213 SE Bevington Ave., Portland, OR 97267-3355
Independent Records, 113 B Stephens St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Initial Records, PO Box 17131, Louisville, KY 40217
Iodine Recordings, 1085 Commonwealth Ave. PMB 318 Boston, MA 02215
Jet Black Records, 2843 Chicago Rd. S., Chicago Heights, IL 60411
Johann's Face, PO Box 479164, Chicago, IL 60647
Kung Fu Records, PO BOX 38009, Hollywood, CA 90038
Latest Flame Records, 1638a North Astor Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Laughing Outlaw, 8 Victoria St., Lewisham, NSW, 2049, Australia
LES, 301 E66th Street, Apt 5C, NY, NY 10021
Life Is Bonkers, c/o J. Mohr, 6640 San Joaquin St., Sacramento, CA 95820
Livewire Records, PO Box 007, Mendham, NJ 07945
M.H. Records, 36 Central Park Road, Plainview, NY 11803
Martyr Records, PO Box 995 Harriman, NY 10926
Merge Records, PO Box 1235, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Metal Blade, 2828 Cochran St., PMB 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793
Michael, 505 Sunset Drive, Athens, GA 30603
Microcosm Publishing, PO Box 14332, Portland, OR 97392-0332
Mishap Productions, 846 Pine Flat Rd., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Moodswing Records, 3833 Roswell Road, Suite 104, Atlanta, GA 30342
Mud Records, 303 West Griggs St., Urbana, IL 61801
Mush Records, 1742 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Music Discovery Network, PO Box 6205, Peoria, IL 61601-6205
Odd Halo Recordings, PO Box 5359, Gloucester, MA 01930
One Day Savior Recordings, PO Box 372, Williston Park, NY 11596
Our Soil, Our Strength, 2509 N. Campbell #335, Tucson, AZ 85719
Paco Garden Records, PO Box 18455, Denver, CO 80218-0455
Pluto Records, PO Box 1201, McKinney, TX 75070
Pop Sweatshop, PMB 148, 2103 Harrison Ave. NW #2, Olympia, WA 98502
Pretty Pony, c/o Tramontana, 12251 Knight¹s Krossing Cr, # 304, Orlando, FL 32817
Projekt Records, PO Box 9140; Long Island City, NY 11103
PVC Lotus Records, PO Box 880362, San Francisco, CA 94188
Red Velvet Revolution, 1074 College Street, Toronto, ON, M6H 1B3
Ropeadope Records, Village Station, PO Box 1021, New York, NY 10014
Second Nature Recordings, PO Box 11543 Kansas City, MO 64138
Secretly Canadian, 1021 South Walnut, Bloomington, IN 47401
Sensory, PO Box 388, Vorhees, NJ 08043-0388
Sessions Records, 60 Old El Pueblo Rd., Scotts Valley, CA 95066
Sickboy Records, PO Box 2464, Salt Lake City, UT 84110
Snowglobe Records, PO Box 591581 San Francisco, Ca 94159
Some Records, 51 MacDougal Street, #458, NY, NY 10012
Spaff Records, 56 Court Street, #4F, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Spent Records, 444 Humphrey St. #50, Swampscott, MA 01907
Spun Records, Waxploitation Records ­ no address
State Bird Records, 7408 Dixie Hwy, Florence, KY 41042
Stone Circle Records, no contact info available
Substandard Records, PO BOX 310, Berkeley, CA 94701
Sudden Death, Moscrop PO Box 43001 Burnaby, BC Canada VV5G 3HO
Sunset Alliance, PO Box 32048, Mesa, AZ 85275
Surge Recordings, 133 West 25th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10001
The Blam, 200 West 14th Street, #5E, NY, NY 10011
The End Records, 331 Rio Grande #58, SLC, UT 84101
The Fenwicks, 618 Hauser Blvd. #5, Los Angeles, CA 90036
The Militia Group, 7923 Warner Ave. Suite K, Huntington Bch., CA 92647
The Teeth, 580 Johnston Drive, Bethlehem, PA, 18017
The Yell Leaders, PO Box 2, Milwaukee, WI 53201-0002
Thick As Thieves, PMB 252, 302 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211
Thick Records, 409 N. Wolcott Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Threespheres, PO Box 349, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Tortuga Recordings, PO Box 15608, Boston, MA 02215
Trustkill, 23 Farm Edge Lane, Tinton Falls, NJ 07724
Two Sheds Music, PO Box 5455, Atlanta, GA 31107-0455
Two Steps To Infinity, PO Box 230070, Boston, MA 02123-0070
Uncle Buzz Records, 5014 Arbor Ridge, San Antonio, TX 78228
Undecided Records, 10695 Lake Oak Way, Boca Raton, FL 33498
Unmotivated, NHOI, 2677 S. Citrus St., West Covina, CA 91791
Useless Chord Records, 206 Scholes St. #16, Brooklyn, NY 11206
Uterine Fury Records, 312 Arrowhead Circle, Spartanburg, SC 29301
Vintage Imperial, 5960 Brookside Drive, Mableton, GA 30126
Viper Records, 230 Mott St., New York, NY 10012
Walk In Cold Records, 8408 Lakeside Drive, Downers Grove, IL 60516
Wampus Multimedia, 5746 Union Mill Road, Suite 315, Clifton, VA 20124
Warp Records, PO Box 25378, London, NW5 1GL
Will Not Clear Man, PO Box 911, Elgin, IL 60121-0911
Woodshed Prod., 15466 Los Gatos Blvd., Ste. 109-161, Los Gatos, CA 95032
Woosley Band, 3163 Indianola Avenue, Columbus, OH 43202
X-Ray Records, 13414 SW 111th Terrace Miami, FL 33186

Music reviews from past issues: