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June-July '00 Articles:

Capital Punishment on Trial

Notes from the Cultural Wasteland

The Good Negro

A New Kind of Revolution

(music reviews)

Social Security "Deform"

Unholy Alliance: The CIA & KLA

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Top Picks | Vinyl Reviews | Label Addresses


57 WaltzArgentinaSpectator Records • 57 Waltz offers up their Alt/Indie/whatever they're calling it this week Rock with this 10-song CD featuring real live instruments. Yeah, I know that's not exactly gushing, but they are good, they can play their instruments well, and other than an unbelievably annoying and much too long high-pitched sound in the first track, it's more than listenable. And, I'm just guessing here, it's probably even better while stoned. Get Argentina, light up and listen, then let me know, ok?

A.P.P.L.E.All Punks Please Leave EarthBroken Rekids • Recorded live in NY in 1987, A.P.P.L.E were a rocking punk rock outfit. This release is rough, angst-filled, politically influenced and a great example of why A.P.P.L.E. is still a hugely popular band, years after they broke up. The sound is '80s punk rock, ala Dead Kennedys but with female vocals and more creative guitar work.

Against All Authority24 Hour Roadside ResistanceHopeless Records • The voice sounds different than what I recall AAA sounding. Then again, I haven't heard much since their last full length. The music is fast and the politics are in the forefront, living up to expectations from these long-standing political activists/musicians/punks. I really appreciated track 14, an excerpt from a radio program on Strontium 90. Though I miss the vocals from their earlier releases, this is still a fine punk release with hints of ska.

Agent FelixCooler Than Youself-released • Actually, they are not cooler than me, but they may strive for that honor. This is (I think) a self-produced demo and it's pretty good - pop-punk with catchy riffs and fun hooks. There are a bunch of songs on it and none of them disappoint. This is a band you will probably hear more from.

AlohaThat's Your FirePolyvinyl Records • Aloha has no problem blurring the line between pop and avant-garde. While there is a definite pop sound to That's Your Fire, their use of vibes and keys, played atop dynamic drumming that ventures into free jazz, adds an edge not present in everyday radio-friendly songs.

AtombombpocketknifeAlpha SoundsSouthern Records • According to ABPK's bio sheet, their musical style is called Unrock, "the deconstruction of traditional rock principles, then reconstruction of future templates for the new rock and roll renaissance." Regardless of what that means, the music is edgy, noise oriented, and slightly experimental. Their sound has not changed too much since their self-titled debut. Like the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Bald RapunzelDiazepamResin Records • This four piece from DC is fronted by the Liz Phair-like Bonnie Schlegel with Leo Doucette, Katy Otto and M W Hitt. Schlegel's vocals are soft and lovely, however, musically Bald Rapunzel has little creativity in their songwriting. The majority of tracks on Diazepam launch into the same tempo and song structure without offering up any hooks or really anything that grabs you from one song to the next. It's not bad music just don't expect to be stunned by the originality.

Balkanas/t Family Vineyard • Collaborators Bruce Anderson, Dave Mahoney, Dale Sophiea, Marc Weinstein, and Jim Hrabetin are the force behind this work. The four very long anthems contained on this entirely instrumental album are an exploration of human violence, most notably its namesake, the recent war in the Balkans. Definite ambience here, and meant to be enjoyed passively, but passionately.

Blonde RedheadMelody of Certain Damaged LemonsTouch and Go Records • Fans of Blonde Redhead will be satisfied with this, their third release for Touch and Go. The sound is a bit more mellowed than in In an Expression of the Inexpressible. Kazu Makino and Amadeo Pace share vocal duties, with Kazu's high pitched singing gracing most of the songs, sounding less frantic than before. There's even a "pop" song thrown in, just in time for the summer!

BracketWhen All Else FailsFat Wreck • It took three years for Bracket to get around to releasing their third full-length album. For fans of poppy power-punk, it was well worth the wait. This release combines super melodies, great guitar riffs and a clean-cut pop sensibility with a forward driving, uptempo pace. It's definitely Bracket's tightest release to date. Prepare yourself to be hooked on this one, singing along to all 13 catchy, head-bobbin' tunes.

Brak Presents...The Brak Album Staring BrakRhino Records • Travel to Cartoon Planet and enjoy the hilarious musical and comedy stylings of Brak. This CD is 33-tracks of silliness featuring Brak, Grape Ape, The Chieftains and other guests. You will laugh out loud at the offbeat humor and Brak's "can't help but laugh" voice.

CalexicoHot RailQuarterstick Records • Music appreciation listeners will enjoy the new Calexico offering. This CD furthers their experimentation with south of the border instrumentals ("Muleta"), and sparks a new direction towards jazzy/lounge songs in tracks like "Sonic Wind," in addition to other sonic experiments. You have to approach a Calexico CD as an total experience, as their attention to a songs construction elevates Calexico beyond the veil of postmodern assimilation to a celebration of a rich heritage.

Casket Lottery Moving MountainsSecond Nature • Boy! This is the "Catch My By Surprise" find for this issue! I really like the percussion, guitar, bass and vocals. Is it emo? Is it hardcore? It's awesome! Harmonizing vocals, beautiful sounds, it evokes feelings of excitement you want to hold onto. This will be the soundtrack for your summer. Get this soon, before summertime passes!

Centro-MaticAll the Falsest Hearts Can Try Quality Park • There are a great deal of kudos to be given to this very innovative band. They play hard, distorted, but very melodic rock (and occasionally will dip into soft acoustic for a goof) that has no interest whatsoever in conforming to any rock standards. I really loved this album anyway for its honesty, great sound, and dead-on vocalization.

Chet DelcampoThe FountainRecord Cellar • Whoa! Soft and gorgeous music that really makes you wonder why ol' Chet hasn't done himself in. My initial listen to this album netted squat in appreciation for how much heart and soul went into this work. The Fountain has an almost sensual sound and very personal lyrics from this Philadelphia based singer-songwriter. You also have to admire any modern musical reference to Tom T. Hall ("Coffee with Tom T. Hall") that doesn't come off crappy or satirical. Delcampo's no slave to trends or hipness but that's kind of assumed when you list Burt Bacharach as a primary influence.

Chicken Dog The Other White MeatSin Klub • This is some cool-ass rock. They have captured that delicate mix of metal/rap/rock that eludes so many lesser bands. This collection is 13 songs which will all make you glad that you bought it. Make sure to join their Secret Sausage Club. I'm too scared, just tell me about it.

Clare QuiltyStrongDCide • The first track here is so promising. Lush, dark arrangements with great female vocals evoke another world in "Anger is Beautiful." The remainder of this recording heads in a poppier, alternative rock direction; which is something they do quite well. Granted, I've lived through the Connells, Transvision Vamp and other college bands in the early 90's, so this CD reminds me of a time I'd rather forget. This said, this is a well-produced catchy album that you may really get into.

CursiveDomesticaSaddle Creek • Back with dark, emotionally-charged rock is this four-piece from Omaha. The vocals are sincere and intense ­ delivering heartfelt lyrics of disappointment and depression. Pounding out the feelings, the music moves at changing paces, working with the mood, whether upbeat or slowed down. There are similarities to Braid throughout this record, more than I've noticed on past Cursive releases ­ but that is not a bad thing. Each of the nine songs on Domestica tells a story ­ not a happy story ­ but a story loaded with melody, energy, and heartbreak.

Death Cab For CutieWe Have the Facts and We're Voting YesBarsuk Records • We Have the Facts and Were Voting Yes is Death Cab For Cutie's somewhat anticipated second album, since their debut, Something About Airplanes, created quite a stir when it came out. The sound in this release is a bit more restrained that the first one, trading in some of their energetic pop sound for something more emotional, softer, with doubled vocals and subtle guitar harmonies. However, they still retain that powerful energy that gained them their fans.

Death ThreatPeace & SecurityTriple Crown Records • DT blends metal with older style punk and hardcore, creating a hybrid of intense, pounding, emotional ferociousness. The pace is rapid on most of the tracks, the vocals spoken/screamed with the occasional background "sing-a-long" chants. The lyrics are sometimes good, sometimes really bad (for example: "Hardcore till the day I die / Hardcore, it comes from inside"). Overall, though, this three-piece from Connecticut is pretty solid.

Departure LoungeOut Of ThereFlydaddy • I like this. These are slightly happier (sappier?), head-bobbing tunes for Radiohead fans who've finally gotten over that breakup. There's just enough of an electronic edge to Departure Lounge's groove to smooth it out without beating you over the head with it, though it comes on strong on songs like "Starport". Gotta give these guys extra credit for their gutsy choice of covers as well: "They Don't Know" fits this band like a glove. Understated and supercool.

Destination DaybreakOne Beautiful Hour self-released • Few intensely angry bands convince me that I should pay attention. Destination Daybreak grabs me by my hair and forces me to listen. From the first breakdown I know they're for real. Screamed vocals delivering intelligent lyrics (those I can make out) slide over complex hardcore music that is as ferocious as it is heartfelt. The musical composition is so creative, and presented in such a quick manner, that you have to listen several times to hear how much is really going on. Despite less than great recording quality, this six-song EP out of Central Florida is not to be missed.

Destination: Earth!Trapped In Hyperspace With ...self-released • OK, are you ready for this? Take your favorite surf rock and rockabilly bands, strap them to a Titan rocket and launch them right the hell to space! What results is Destination: Earth! That's the only way I can describe this. These guys (R5-D4, 7-Zark-7 and Raider-X) are completely immersed in the future and all things that belong there. This is surprisingly good, especially Raider-X who is one badass drumming astronaut. This is a lot of fun and is worth your dollars, or whatever they use in the distant future.

DianogahBattle ChampionsSouthern Records • You might be tempted to lump Dianogah into the guitar-picking, shoe-gazing post-rock scene, but you'd miss an important distinction between them: Dianogah has no guitar player. This two bassists, one drummer group doesn't pretend that it has some deep musical purpose -- they just don't know how to play guitar. That aside, you could say their music is melodic, moody, and mostly vocal-free. Extra points for those who know the origin of the name. (Give up? It's the garbage-eating creature from Star Wars.)

DJ Sasha CrnobrnjaStop Shopping, Start Crafting!Codek Records • It's ironic that this CD's liner notes encourage you to reject modern manufacturing and mass-production, opting instead for a more hand-made approach, when dance music itself is usually produced with machines that merely re-use sounds that were made by someone else's hands. All that aside, Stop Shopping, Start Crafting! has a certain uniqueness to it, being less polished than most of today's plastic and chrome dance music. The beats are mid to low tempo, falling into and out of the trip hop category.

Dora FloodLost On EarthDouble Play Records • While originally from Fremont (and later transplanted to San Francisco), Dora Flood easily traverse musical grounds usually traveled by British bands like Oasis, Radiohead and the Verve, with plenty of guitar picking and even some atmosphere-inducing electronic sounds. The moody guitars complement the melodic style of Michael Padilla's vocals, while the use of keyboards appears often, but is not relied upon as a crutch.

ElliottIf They Do?Initial Records • This 30-minute release combines songs from different time periods in Elliott's career: two brand new tracks, two songs from their first EP "In Transit," a previously unreleased song and an instrumental. Their sound is energetic and emotional, at times reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate.

English EarlFind YourselfFlat Five Records • Too many times the press materials that accompany CD's list vague or ridiculously wrong references or "sounds like" bands for the CD's they accompany. It's nice that English Earl actually stay true to their influences as they say they do. They list Lennon/McCartney, The Hollies and late 60's pop as their influences and they're right on. These are simple songs that everyone can enjoy for a nice, calm listen.

E-Town ConcreteThe Second Coming Triple Crown Recordings • This is the second release by E-Town Concrete, where they combine straight up hip-hop with hardcore metal in a unique way. Most songs seem to be divided into two parts, the hardcore part and the rap part, even though there is way more hardcore than rap. This is good, since the rapping is mediocre. E-Town Concrete is an excellent hardcore band, yet they dirty it up by trying to conform to the latest musical fad.

Every Time I DieThe Burial Plot Bidding Wars GoodFellow Records • This is a short disc - only five tracks and I'm sorry to say that that is enough. The music starts off as OK, very decent hardcore, but then the singer starts up and you get the distinct impression that he has just sustained a serious kick in the nuts. It's too screechy. There is great energy and potential here, but the vocals need get reined in and settled back some.

Evolotto1776Sin Klub Records • Man, every time I think I've heard the best CD, another comes along that tops it. Evolotto is a solid hardcore disc, though it's not very hardcore, mixing it up a little here and there. Nearly every song starts off with a really cool, really heavy bass line and you think they're going to plow into sheer destruction every song. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but every song has a hook. It's different from the standard hardcore.

fake braindepartment of our waysWABNARC • Spacey power-pop. There's almost enough of a smartass edge to the lyrics to drive them into punk territory if they weren't so damn clever, but given the music, this is a good thing. I could get into this stuff, especially songs like "doomed!", where they slide into a psychedelic groove with an abandon that the Flaming Lips would envy. If you ever happen to be near NYC, catch a show - if only to snag the free comic book flyer. Their lead singer / artist does a great R. Crumb impression.

FiverStrings For SatellitesDevil In The Woods Records • Emo rock/power pop and it's really good. The first song didn't get me too excited but the second song is happy and got my feet tappin'. It has a definite psychedelic feel to it and would probably be an instant favorite to those who regularly spark up a fatty and puff their problems away. It's, like, cooooool, man.

Fuelmonuments to excessBroken Rekids • Ten years before their time, this compilation of Fuel material from 1989-1991 is right on target for 2000. Lyrically and sonically, they show the influence of Fugazi ("Some Gods" and "Cue to You" carbon copies the Fugazi blueprint). This said, you can see the continuation of Fuel to bands like Hot Water Music, which is what makes this a great CD to own if you like Fugazi, Hot Water Music, or contemporary emocore. This is music time would forget, with lyrics that embrace politics and social responsibility with conviction few bands share today. Perhaps we have failed the revolution, moving from Fugazi-influenced political core to Green Day songs of dating pop-punk to emo-songs of not being able to land a date. This is music for release and reflection. Give it a listen, or at least read the lyric sheet.

Galicja The Longest WaitSpectator • This is music that sets a very consistent mood of soft uncertainty, with a slow beat and cellos and accordions thrown in occasionally. The tone is extremely melancholy, and will sometimes pick up the power and provide a hard-edged couple of riffs to show us just how melancholy it is. I like this stuff for atmosphere.

Galloping CoronersDancing with the SunNeurot Recordings • If the name or this band sounds weird, it's because it was translated from Hungarian. Galloping Coroners has been around for 25 years, blending Hungarian tribal music with electric guitars to hypnotize the listener with the repetitive patters that are formed through the mostly improvised music. This 75 minute gem encompasses a live performance recorded in Budapest, where they performed alongside San Francisco's Neurosis.

GarrisonA Mile In Cold WaterRevelation Records • Garrison will probably be referred to as an emo band, but they are much deeper and creative than that simple classification. Combining a true rock sense, hardcore intensity and emotional orchestration, Garrison has created a sound they can call their own. Each song has a melodic rock approach with crescendos and tempo changes expressing true emotion, vocals that enhance it and guitar parts that bob and weave. This band will be making ears pleasantly ring for a long time ­ get on the bandwagon now.

Gauge1Tree Records • The forgotten early '90s punk band Gauge seems to have been shafted by bad timing alone. Eight years ago, they held their own playing with bands like The Smoking Popes and Green Day, and this posthumous compilation shows why. Their rhythm section and emotional lyrics are way ahead of the curve. There's a little fondness here for freaky time changes that might appeal to college rock fans, and shows what punk might have become in the latter half of the decade with a little intelligence. Recommended.

GoldenGolden SummerSlowdime Records • The members of Golden are never quite content with doing the same thing all the time. After Super Golden Original Movement, they updated their sound a bit by adding vocals to their instrumental guitar sound. Even though they sound a bit different, you will recognize their sound immediately, and you will like it. There's a definite nod to 1970's hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin.

Good RiddanceThe Phenomenon of Craving Fat Wreck • Lyrically more personal than political, this six-song EP is G.R.-style all the way. The tracks are a mix of hardcore, rapid-paced punk rock and melodic, pop-power-punk. The vocals are great, as usual and the music is top-notch -- just what we've come to expect from a band that's been doing it for nearly 10 years.

Grief... And Man Will Become The HuntedPessimiser Records • If you were saying to yourself, "Hey, where the hell is the grindcore review?!" fear no more. Here it is. This is full on, churning, heavy, indiscernible grindcore. I'm not a big grindcore fan but that's not to say this isn't good. I mean, with songs like "Hurricane Jello," how can you go wrong?

Groove FoundationLeaving Home1st Stone Records • First of all, and this is merely aesthetics, please don't use this font on your next CD, guys. My eyes still hurt from trying to read the cover and back of the CD case. Now, on to the music. This is a trio from California and they're not too bad. The first song rocks pretty good but then they get mellow for a while and drop in an instrumental before rocking out again on track five, "Gone." Then, it's kind of hit-and-miss all the way home. The band claims to enjoy improving and it shows on this debut full-length offering. I think if they got a little edgier, a little more daring and stayed with one formula, they'd kick some ass.

Groovie GhouliesTravels With My Amp Lookout Records • This is cool stuff. Pop-punk for the pop-punk minded and zany-ass horror movie kitsch for the hordes of goons who dig that kind of stuff. The disc has those kinds of songs that you hear and then find that you can't get them out of your head no matter what you do. You scream and scream and finally, driven mad, you get a drill to exorcise the music, but suddenly you realize that you like it there.

HefnerBoxing Hefner Too Pure Records • It took me a few minutes to figure out who these guys remind me ofŠLou Reed. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. The music (they call it folk) is well written and fun to listen to. I did not really like this the first time I listened, and now I simply cannot figure out why. I really like it.

HerbertSteppin' Off The EdgeFueled Up Records • The snazzy trippy colors on the back cover of this disc made me think that I was in for a 60's style metal throwback band. What I got was more like a ball-peen hammer in the back of the skull. This is driving, riff-oriented metal. Not too fast, but not slow and dragging like those suck-ass goth/death/metal bands.

Jen WoodThis Uncontainable Light Tree • This wonderful 4-song EP showcases 23-year-old Jen Wood's hauntingly beautiful voice amid folkish soft rock. I wish it were more than just an EP ­ desperately. It is rich with little surprises that make you smile, from the layered harmonies to the acoustic guitar and strong drum lines that support it.

Kid DynamiteShorter, Faster, LouderJade Tree • This may be "all she wrote" for Kid Dynamite ­ but talk about going out in a hail of glory. All 18 tracks are overflowing with intensity, driving, pounding forward with energized punk rock attitude. Despite the ferocious pace, Kid Dynamite find ways to fit melody in when necessary. They've taken the speedy skaterock sound of the mid-late '80s and given it a facelift for the year 2000. It's too bad they decided to call it quits.

Kitchen Knife ConspiracySin-PatheticSin Klub Entertainment • KKC is an extreme guttural metal band from Ohio, of all places. You'd be tempted to classify them as death metal, but you probably shouldn't, if only because you can understand their lyrics. Fans of Entombed, Gutted and Dismember will probably like this.

KrakatoaChannel Static BlackoutSecond Nature Records • Emo ... metal?! Yup, you read right. This is melodic metal, a la Iron Maiden, yet the singer sounds like he belongs in the angriest, most Alannis Morissette-hating emo band out there. This is a great disc musically for you metalheads but I'm not sold on the singer.

LandingCentrefuge EP Music Fellowship • Guitars, moogs bass, drums, and vocals all meld into one another to create quite a conception of sounds, in a very mellow atmosphere. This is music for texture's sake, where the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts. This is the kind of music you expect yoga teachers listen to while meditating, to clear their minds. It worked for me.

LeatherfaceHorseboxBYO Records • Perhaps they could call these guys "Leathervoice." It sounds as it he gargles a few broken beer bottles and staples for breakfast every morning. The music feels like radio rock, not at all the powerful punk that the promotional material made it out to be. Definitely not as punk (or good) as their past stuff.

MachiladoraWhite SandsLotushouse Records • Playing over 20 different instruments between them, the three members of Machiladora can truly be called multi-instrumentalists (that is if you consider gas pumps, frying pans and golf balls as instruments). They keep the music experimental, with touches of Tom Waits and Pink Floyd (circa "The Wall").

Mass self-titled Man's Ruin Records • Holy shit - it's like getting kicked in the nuts with a size 45 steel toed boot. This is huge, noisy and fierce. This is the music to put in when your Grandma comes and you want her to leave. This is grinding, killer noise.

Matchless On The Surface And In The Deep self-released • Matchless is a two-guy, two-girl foursome that plays really solid pop and power pop. This is a five-song EP that has me anxiously awaiting their full-length debut this summer. The songs are well crafted and the harmonies are excellent.

Mayhem Grand Declaration Of WarNecropolis Records • Those of you "in the death metal know" are aware of the Mayhem story. Mayhem has been around since the mid-80's. They're most famous, unfortunately, for the murder of their lead singer by a band mate and for the suicide of another member. If you ever have an hour to kill (pardon the pun), go look it up on the Net. It's very interesting. Anywho, my friend Chris is going to love this one. He's a big death/speed metal guy. Musically, they're extremely tight and downright brutal. It never ceases to amaze me how bands that play this fast can sound so clean. The singer, of course, is a little scratchy, but that's the gig. Death metal fans will die over this one. Not picking it up is a grave mistake.

Meisha Meisha Returns Meisha ForeverMusic Fellowship • This is an album that is centered around guitars and keyboards only, with no percussion of any kind. The guitars play patterns that slowly change until you find yourself listening to something else completely, and the keyboards follow suit. Fans of bands like Do Make Say Think, A Silver Mt. Zion and the Album Leaf will feel right at home here. As soon as you start this CD, you will be glued to your seat for the next 74 minutes (It was originally intended to be a three-CD set, but they cut it down to one!).

Michael J. Sheehy Sweet Blue GeneBeggars Banquet • Michael J. Sheehy has always loved music. After the rock and roll party that was the Dream City Film Club disbanded, he decided it was time to return to his own music. This, his debut CD, is a great departure from his Film Club days, very personal and emotional. Most songs are very slow, where instrumentation takes a back seat to his heart-felt singing. Picture a dark room, where Sheehy sits on a bar stool, eyes closed, head tilted towards the microphone, letting his true feelings out through his songs.

Moral Crux The Side Effects of ThinkingPanic Button • Here's the thing about punk: sometimes it's easy to mistake it for especially bad metal. Such was my thinking on Moral Crux until about four songs in. Not that they're bad, mind you. There's some attitude scattered through a lot of the songs here, but the vocals get a little too ambitious just as often. Fast and sloppy is how they dig it, and gosh darn-it, you'd better dig it too. Otherwise, you've just made a very bad call ... and you ain't gettin' the quarter back.

No Merit FomundaFlat Five Records • Wow! This is a nice surprise. I really couldn't get a reading on this band from the artwork or pictures in the disc but this is really cool rock/alt rock. The cover of "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon" smokes. The band is definitely talented and the singer sounds a bit like Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots.

Organic Grooves 2Codek Records • File under Trip Hop, Leftfield, or as Organic Grooves likes to call it, "Cosmic" music, or "Hippie-hop." DJ Sasha Crnobrnja likes to blend world music elements along with electronic music, to produce a hypnotic sound that employs samples as well as live instruments. You'll probably find yourself spacing-out without realizing it. That, or subconsciously swaying with the gentle, spacey beats.

Pedro the Lion Winners Never Quit Jade Tree • This laid back artist sings very simple, mellow songs about "characters being both at war and peace with their surroundings." There is a very somber mood that exudes from some tracks, and an upbeat optimism to others. It's a very good mix.

Plastic Spiritual Kung-FuCrustacean Records • While Spiritual Kung-Fu, the full-length debut from Plastic, is peppered with electronic sounds and sampled, that does not prevent this Wisconsin quintet from doing their business, which is to rock. A suspense-building keyboard intro pumps you up for the radio-ready opener song "Shine," whose title accurately describes the album. Like all things plastic, this album is very well produced and should remain listenable for a very long time.

Quix*o*tic Night for Day Ixor Stix • Hailing from the DC-area, this three-piece plays garagey, indie rock that doesn't sound like anything I've heard before. The vocals are shared by all three members -- Christina (ex-Slant 6), Mira (ex-The Blue Rider) and Brendan (ex-Murder). The music is creatively diverse, blending noise with rock, garage with pop, melody with chaos, complexity with minimalism. Some might call this artsy ­ take that however you want.

Rachel's/Matmos Full On NightQuarterstick Records • The first track on this CD, "Full on Night," is actually a reworking of a track by the same name that appeared on Rachel's debut album, Handwriting. The second half of the song (it's 12 minutes long) was rewritten to include strings, keys and percussion, as opposed to its original ending, which was just an ambient texture of rain sounds. The second and final track (18 minutes) gives Matmos a turn to shine. Given full access to the master tapes of the first track, as well as samples from Handwriting, and some live performances, Matmos created a sonic collage that, while being a work all its own, still maintains identity of its parent band, Rachel's.

Radio 4 The New Song And DanceGern Blandsten • The opening track on this 11-song, debut album brought to mind The Cure's "Killing An Arab." It's a great comparison because too many new "punk" bands are pigeonholing themselves, while Radio 4 has combined varying styles to create a unique sound. They take heavily from the early punk sounds of The Clash, The Cure and Mission of Burma -- but Radio 4 adds a pointed, more aggressive aspect to their songs. The melodies are infectious, getting under your skin and forcing you to move to the beat.

Red Roses for a Blue Lady The Return to MelancholyEulogy Recordings • This vocalist should enter a screaming contest ­ he'd win. While some metalcore bands have screaming vocals, these are worse than most. The vocals are thick and always sound like the guy needs to clear his throat. And, while the music is creative, intense and full of cool breaks and changes it's all lost on the awful vocals.

Reggie and the Full Effect Promotional Copy Heroes & Villains • The story behind this release is that it was recorded in the mid-late '80s but everything was destroyed in a fire -- until these tapes appeared. Well, believe what you want. This 14-track release on The Get Up Kids' label sounds quite a bit like the Kids. There is heavy use of keyboards, like on the Kids' most recent releases. The vocals are solid and the music is super melodic and definitely in the emo vein. There is interesting us of electronic effects throughout that sometimes works ­ sometimes doesn't. With all the pre-release hype I was expecting a little more, but it's still a solid album.

Rev. Neil Down American FriendBurnbarrel Records • The Rev. plays bluesy, garagey, country-influenced music with an "old" feel reminiscent of Roy Orbinson and Johnny Cash. This release is 10-tracks of toe-tappin', guitar-drivin' tunes.

River City High Richmond MotelBig Wheel Recreation • The opening track will grab you with its harmonic vocals and creative music -- melodic, tempo changing, hook-filled and heartfelt. With a rock and roll feel, the album storms forward from there with a '80s rock meets '90s emo attitude. There's only one downside to this release -- it's a four-song EP and they've teased me into wanting more.

San Agustin amokhali Family Vineyard • Once you can get past the pretension of the almost completely brown cover with brown words dictating what this brown album is, you'll find a very interesting work of music underneath. Entirely improvised, San Agustin plays "cascading, flickering blues" straight off the cuff without aid of archaic sheet music. If you're fascinated by live TV, you'll be doubly, perhaps triply fascinated with the way these five play together spontaneously without tripping over each other.

Secret Hate Pop Cult Vomit Cornerstone Records • And you thought they were gone? Hell no! Though they disbanded back in mid-80's, they're back now (with three original members) kicking ass like never before. This is one of the best punk releases I've heard this year and it's no surprise. Their first EP "Vegetables Dancing" is somewhat of a cult favorite, and "The Ballad of Johnny Butt" from that EP was covered by a little band called Sublime. You're going to keep hearing about them so you might as well be a leader and not a follower. Get it first!

Shai Hulud/Another Victim A Whole New Level of Sickness split CDTrustKill Records • Shai Hulud feature a new line up on this CD, having moved from South Florida to upstate New York. This is continuation of their amazing hardcore output, with three tracks by the heavy music heroes. Another Victim are a hardcore/metal group from Syracuse. Lyrically, this is a ton better than their debut on Equal Vision. "Free in Constraint" has some of the best writing here. Though Another Victim lacks the melody and heavy finesse of Shai Hulud, the two bands compliment one another for a solid record, complete with a hidden track of hardcore screams.

Shelter When 20 Summers PassVictory Records • I've never been a huge fan of Shelter, but this record is interesting, complete with a standing apology for Ray Cappo's earlier preachings ("I Can't Change History") with Shelter and Youth of Today. The music is guitar-focused rock, and pretty good stuff for what it is. I really like the vocals, which are sung and have a bit of harmonizing. It's the CD to get the middle school set into hardcore, and give the 30 above set some easy listening hardcore from familiar names. Give it a listen. You may enjoy it.

Shiner StarlessOwned and Operated • Veterans of the indie music scene, Shiner increases their number from three to four, giving their heavy, melodic music a deeper texture. It is a departure from your basic indie pop, having a very pleasing, almost organic sound with great harmonic vocals.

Silent Majority You Would Love to Know Initial Records • This Long Island quintet has energy to spare, as is evidenced by their latest release, the EP You Would Love to Know. You could call them hardcore, with heavy guitar work and raspy vocals that are intelligible most of the time. Their songs have plenty of tempo changes, keeping the listener interested and avoiding repeating themselves.

Sloppy Seconds Garbage Days Regurgitated Nitro • I love these guys. I have loved them for years and now, finally, they are brought back into my life. This EP features seven songs, all covers. You will find Joan Jett, Dee Dee Ramone and a tune from Peter Pan. It is wonderful. Even though the songs are not originals, they still have that special, drunk punk Sloppy Seconds sound.

Solomon Four Shortenedself-released • I didn't realize how much I liked folk music until I heard this four-song EP by a foursome from Cambridge, Mass. Surrounded by quirky, guitar-based music and filled in with creative, poetic, intelligent lyrics, Solomon proves that folk isn't dead (pay attention, punks!). Sounding like Cat Stevens meets Barenaked Ladies meets Bob Dylan, Solomon is one of those bands that probably won't get the attention, respect or fans it truly deserves. Listening to this CD will make your Sunday afternoon more than just the day before you go back to work.

Speedbuggy USA Cowboys & AliensCargo Music • If Social Distortion were more country and less punk, this is probably what they'd sound like. The band features ex-members of NOFX, Sugartooth and Junkyard. The tunes are catchy as hell and take cues from such artists as Tom Petty and Merle Haggard. Speedbuggy has created indie-country for the new millennium.

Starmarket Four Hours Light Deep Elm Records • Last year Starmarket released Calendar, one of my top ten albums of the year. It is an amazing work of melodic energy and intensity. But Four Hours Light has already made my list of most disappointing albums of 2000. Every song on this album seems like it was crafted for radio -- those "new rock" stations. There is little or no energy and few times there is hope, the music drops back into a wimpy melodic rock sound that made Third Eye Blind popular. On Calendar, the vocals were awesome ­ but on this release, where the vocals are more upfront, they are mediocre at best. There is little good I can say about this album. Get Calendar, because this record deserves less then four hours of light.

Steadman Loser FriendlyOzone Recording Co. • Hailing from the UK, Steadman decided to do things their own way after problems arose with their major label contract. It's a good thing they did, because this record is great! Not only is this superb guitar driven indie rock with a touch of pop, but it is rounded out by strings and keyboards that make Loser Friendly one of the better CD's I've heard in a while.

Steve Von Till As the Crow FliesNeurot Recordings • Steve Von Till is truly a multifaceted individual. First, as singer for the aggressive metal outfit Neurosis, and as a member of the atmospheric Tribes of Neurot. Finally, Von Till reveals yet another musical project, his debut as a solo artist, "As the Crow Flies." Here he explores the acoustic side of music, playing unamplified guitars over piano, violin and cello. Songs take their time to develop, one of them being over 10 minutes long. This disc would play nicely after listening to Neurosis' "Times of Grace," calming you down after the storm that is Neurosis.

Strange Sanity Bronx Breadrens EP Marcion Records • Ready to battle with their rhymes and beats instead of guns, the duo called Strange Sanity (Blak Skar and Del Cloga) pump out hard beats and skilled flows. Combining new school gangsta styles with old school ghetto beats, Strange Sanity comes correct with bumpin' music and intelligent lyrics. This crew deserves respect -- a full-length release is something I'm looking forward to.

Stungun Shape of a Dream Twee Kitten Records • After reading the promo sheet for Stungun, I was thoroughly prepared to loathe this band. Let me quote directly: "Stungun play dreamy angst pop for the terminally teary." Oh, vomitarama. Actually, upon listening, while no bucket o'crispy fried sunshine, they certainly aren't the Sylvia Plath of southern CA in a two-person band, either. This is not a great CD, but I think I would like them live. Perhaps it's just poor production or maybe they don't translate to a recording studio well, but music that is intended to be "uncluttered, atmospheric music that is at once futuristic and steeped in classic form ..." just comes across tinny and slow.

Sunshine Velvet SuicideDay After Records • I hold some affection for this band on the basis of their band name and fun release title. Oh, the irony. I'm easily amused. So how do they sound? A lot like a dark trio of guys who spent time (a lot of time) listening to and being influenced by Peter Murphy. There's some other new wave influences going on here as well, meshed nicely w/some 90's technology and minus the heavy synth sound. Yep, they're pretty good.

Suplecs Wrestlin' With My Lady FriendMan's Ruin Records • A better reviewer than me might be able to resist the temptation to slip in a wrestling reference. Me, I'd just like to say that Suplecs will piledrive your CD player! OK, now that that's out of my system, I can recommend this one to fans of hardcore southern rock everywhere. Plenty of fuzzbox guitars here, with even fuzzier vocals. Their slower, nastier songs are best, sliding along the barroom floor with that nice little Black Sabbath crunch, while the fast, loud ones will definitely knock the velvet Elvis off the wall of your trailer. Dig it.

The Agency EnginesFiddler Records • From Miami, Florida comes this four-piece rock band. The energy on this release is non-stop ­ when a song dips it picks up and hits you again. Each song is like a swift kick to your side, a melodic dose of powerful rock that has a sound akin to The Stereo but rougher, far less candy-coated. The vocals are a perfect compliment to the music, using background singing only when necessary ­ delivering lyrics that are worth listening to.

The Ataris/Useless I.D. Let It Burn split CD Kung-Fu Records • The Ataris are back with their brand of uptempo pop-punk that is as catchy as can be. Included are five brand new songs, some re-recordings and more. You can't help but sing-a-long. Useless I.D. takes up the rest of the full-length. They are a foursome hailing from Israel. Their sound is akin to The Ataris, quick-paced punk rock with super melodies, wild guitar parts and tempo changes to make you dance.

The Creators featuring Mos Def & Talib Kweli The Hard MarginBad Magic • With this Remix CD you get three versions of "The Hard Margin," one instrumental, one edited for radio, and a street version. As the title of the CD suggests, Mos Def and Talib Kweli contribute their rhyming talents to the tracks. The fourth track is "No Love," featuring F.T. (which is better than the title track, in my opinion).

The Dickel Brothers The Recordings of the Dickel Brothers Volume TwoEmpty Records • For some reason, The Dickel Brothers really like 1920's and 30's American rural string band music. We're talking banjos and washboards here, folks. Not being a fan of this genre of music, I'll try to be as objective as I can. Let me say this: it's done very well. Even the background vocals have that crackle that was prevalent in very early recordings. All but two of the songs are "taken" from someone else and played in the traditional arrangement, so, if anything, your grandparents might enjoy reminiscing to this.

The Eclectics limited-edition CD singleJump Up! Records • The Eclectics certainly aren't pulling your crank by naming themselves as such, as their poppy melodies incorporate very unorthodox keyboard set to "church organ," giving their music a poppy-churchy feel. Two tracks of good, catchy, punky stuff.

The Explosion Flash Flash FlashJade Tree • With a rockin', old school style of punk rock, The Explosion blast out of the speakers with a fast pace, creative tempo changes and excellent vocals. At times reminiscent of Dillinger Four and other times Naked Raygun, The Explosion will punch you in the face with each new track.

The Explosion self-titled EPJade Tree • This is a good punk CD that runs the spectrum of 80's style punk. The musicianship is top notch, as is the production, giving their music the distinguishing element of proficiency. The better tracks are "Hero," "Youth Explosion" and "Channels." I could do without the drunk-rock numbers, but there only two of those. If you like TSOL, the vocalist reminds me of them.

The Holy Childhood Up With What I'm Down WithGern Blandsten • Fronted by songwriter Danny Leo, The Holy Childhood are an eclectic blend of rock, soul, jazz, country and new wave. The band has numerous members creating a sound all its own ­ this isn't an obvious combination of styles. The sincere, sometimes intense, vocals mesh with the music to create songs that are genuine and honest.

The Inciters Doing FineJump Up • The Inciters are a long standing soul band that draw their inspiration from the late 60's/early 70's sounds that fueled the Northern Soul scene. They boast a fine horn and rhythm section and great vocalists on their second release, yet I'm only able to connect on a few of their songs. My favorite song is "Lay This Burden Down," "Me, Myself & I" dips into an earlier 60's upbeat tempo, and "The Inciter" is a funky instrumental. The Inciters are an acquired taste, as my definition of soul differs in that I'm focused on Stax/Mo-town/Chess era R&B. If you enjoy Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, and soul music from the early 70's, you'll enjoy this.

The Jazz Cannon Amateur Soul SurgeryFunction 8 • Here's the scene: Dolemite's bad-ass body gets frozen and brought back to life in the year 2010. He's pissed, he's chilly, he's ready to do some pimpin'. Everywhere he goes, The Jazz Cannon is his soundtrack. Full of gritty techno slow jams done right, this CD can only be viewed through the darkest, coolest pair of shades you own. And just when you start to get lulled by the grooves, the spoken word vocals on tracks like "(Last Days) In Candy's Room" will have you feeling comfortably thrown for a loop. Highly recommended for long, long nights full of strange women and choices you'll regret the day after.

The Lawrence Arms Ghost StoriesAsian Man Records • Fronted by former Broadways vocalist Brendan Kelly, this three-piece from Chicago pumps out melodic, power punk with heartfelt, often-gruff vocals. The tunes are loaded with hooks and tempo changes to keep the music original as hell ­ borrowing styles from Jawbreaker, Crimpshrine, and The Broadways without stealing or duplicating what's already been done. This is their second full-length and it's as good, if not better, than their amazing debut.

The Mercury Program From The Vapor Of GasolineTiger Style Records • Hailing from Gainesville, The Mercury Program's post-punk, indie, emo is a trip through musical beauty. Vibraphones are utilized generously, and jazz-influenced drumming make this an unusual listen. Pay attention, or you will be swept away into a trance by the repeating guitar riffs, and the CD will be over before you know it. You do not want that.

The Promise Ring Electric PinkJade Tree • The Promise Ring's Electric Pink is an EP of melodic rock. This particular selection has a few new tracks from earlier this year and some leftovers (that's not a bad thing!) from last year's popular "Very Emergency" release. "American Girl (v.01)", one of the leftovers, has a simple catchy sound that is reminiscent of the Dead Milkmen. The entire EP is damn good stuff. Bohlen and Gnewikow put together some guitar bits that make you want to dance and sing along. This is one of the better albums I've come across this year. No bullshit, don't miss it.

The Relationships TrendTwee Kitten Records • The Relationships are tight. Tight as in Œstraight-laced'? No. Okay, maybe a little. But also tight as in really together, which is what happens when you get this many grizzled veterans of the English pop scene to join forces in one band. The music is sunshiney and sugar coated, sure, but avoid the knee-jerk reaction that comes from hearing lyrics like "We play music / we have fun" closely followed by hand-clapping. The lack of irony doesn't hurt the songs a bit. Be sure to check out "All God's Children", with Oasis' Andy Bell lending a hand or three on guitar.

The Robots The Day Of The RobotsMan's Ruin Records • These guys are not afraid to rock! Neither are they afraid to drink until they see triple, and they probably don't mind mashing the bottle on their heads either, judging from the lyrics. This is double-time rock-n'-fuckin'-roll done well, which is to say fast, loud, and with a lot of riffing. There's a little rockabilly edge in here too, but lets not get hung up with semantics, all right? Just start drinking and everything will be OK by the fifth song or so.

The Scoldees My Pathetic LifeOff Hour Rocker Records • If all the "loud music" bothers you, The Scoldees' brand of acoustic/pop rock will probably be right up your alley. The music is sincere and well-crafted. The melodies and harmonies are catchy while the female-male vocals are complimentary to the music.

The Slackers Live at Ernesto's! Hellcat Records • This is a must-own release for all fans of the Slackers and traditional ska! The Slackers have always put on a live show that was strong enough to change my bad mood to good, and here they capture a live set for us to experience over and over again. The recording quality is good, and you have all the better songs from their three studio albums, including "Runaway," "You Don't Know I," and a great "Keep Him Away."

The Stand Point of ViewJump Up Records • This is an interesting mixture of Ska, Pop, and 60's garage rock. You have 3rd Wave Ska on "In Motion," Pop-Ska on the really catchy "33," and an odd yet captivating tune like "Clouded," that is familiar yet fresh. Though the initial novelty of the organ wears thin, the male and female vocals work so wonderfully together in tracks like "Solution" and "Quality Control" that you forgive the Dance Hall Crashers-cuteness of the first track. A definite must own, as this record will be reference point in the evolution of the US ska scene.

The Tossers Long Dim RoadThick Records • Do you know what "Erin Go Bragh" means? Did you enjoy the music behind "Riverdance?" If you answered yes to either of these questions, you'll like The Tossers. This Chicago band blends traditional Irish music with a punk rock ethic, to create an explosive combination. I guarantee you'll be drinking Guiness at your local Irish pub after you listen to The Tossers a few times.

The Trey Gunn Band The Joy of MolybdenumDiscipline Global Mobile • Some of you may recognize Trey Gunn from his other job as co-guitarist for King Crimson. His guitars are unconventional, achieving sounds that resemble keyboards and violins. He plays two guitars known as the Warr guitar and the Chapman Stick, both made exclusively for tapping (think Eddie Van Halen, but slower). Gunn recruited Tony Geballe to play the more traditional guitar parts and Bob Muller to bang on all sorts of percussion instruments including tabla, bandir and dumbek. The result is an avant-garde, world and fusion blend that was recorded completely in the analog world, giving The Joy of Molybdenum a sense of warmth and presence.

The Urchin Fragile Songs In Lukewarm DreamsBroken Rekids • This threesome from Japan plays emo-influenced power punk in the vein of Dillinger 4 and old Jawbreaker. The pace is uptempo, the vocals are hard to understand (heavy Japanese accent delivering English lyrics) while the music is aggressive and melodic but far from poppy. They cover Pegboy's "Field of Darkness" and do a damn fine job. There's 14 tracks and each offers a solid, powerful dose of rock.

The Vandals Fear Of A Punk Planet & Oi To The World Kung Fu Records • Punk, punk, punk. There are two discs (sold separately) here and both are punkier than the next. These are the most classic, bare bones punk discs I heard this time around. If you just want upbeat, whiplash-inducing punk with no preservatives (well, a little splash of funk here and there), either one of these will do you fine. This s#$% is cool! And for the sake of comedy, Oi To The World is a punk Christmas record.

The Verna Cannon Movie Star FacesCargo Music • Soft and soothing, The Verna Cannon offers seductive gems that would be utterly incomplete without the hypnotic vocals of singer Molly Ledford. So perfectly polished and emotionally gripping, it's hard to believe these people are from South Carolina.

The World Is My Fuse Good IntentionsEspo Records • Blaring and bashing forward, this debut CD is an emotional rock attack. Combining melody with dissonance in a way that is both appealing and addictive, The World Is My Fuse pounds out fourteen tracks of their own style of energized music. Featuring amazing and intense artwork for the CD case and booklet, this work of art goes beyond the intensity of the music.

Tiara Again Cast In Anyway Records • This subtle pop-rock release from four Ohio guys is extremely well orchestrated. The sounds are sincere and often soft while the vocals are delicate but emotional. But Tiara can still pack a punch, using fuzzed-out guitar and pounding drums. There are spacey elements that make parts of songs somewhat dreamy, drifting along till the music kicks back in, waking you up from your pleasant daze.

Turing Machine A New Machine For Living Jade Tree Records • It is interesting that this DC trio would choose to name themselves after an abstract representation of a computing device created to give a mathematically precise definition of a mechanical procedure. Their music is at times both abstract and mechanical, exploring its dual existence. Completely instrumental, this math/art-rock group explains its philosophy through aggressive guitar work and non-stop drumming, without uttering a single word.

Turnedown When Things Go Right Sessions Records • With Andrew of Strife and Roy from Downset, one would think this band would be hardcore metal. But, instead, Turnedown is a pop-punk, skaterock hybrid. Every track is as catchy as the previous song, loaded with cool guitar parts and creative tempo changes. One thing I noticed is that Turnedown sounds a lot like Digger on this record. That may or may not be a good thing ­ but the similarity is unmistakable.

Urban Dance Squad Artantica Triple X Records • After the recent flooding of the airways with Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit sound-alikes, you might be tempted to dismiss Urban Dance Squad as another copycat. The fact is, however, that they've been playing this rap-metal combo since 1986. In fact, they were the first rock band to use a DJ. Remember "Deeper Shade of Soul?" Nowadays, they keep chugging, adding a bit of electronica samples and hints of reggae to their heavy hitting sound.

Various Artists A Four Way Stop 404 Records • This features four emo bands churning out their hearts in two-to-four tracks for this compilation. Hero of a Hundred Fights, Insidious, Managra, and Tinoretto all contribute their takes on emo, with "Reckless Fuiguirnet" and "The Last Picture Show" comprising my favorites list.

Various Artists Exxxile On Main St. Triple X Records • Okay. Sit back. Listen. Jane's Addiction, Angry Samoans, Exploited, Bo Diddly, and tons more. Can you imagine a more wonderful amalgamation of artists? Nor can I. This is a super sampler of a cool label. I think that it lists for $3.99 retail so what the hell are you waiting for?

Various Artists Gimme Indie Rock K-Tel • For some time now, K-Tel has been trying to change its image, by putting out compilations that would appeal to younger buyers. This is a perfect example of that strategy. This 2 CD set has a total of 30 tracks by artists such as Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr., Pussy Galore, The Meat Puppets, Yo La Tengo, The Mekons, The Flaming Lips, The Melvins, Black Flag, and The Vaselines, among others. While you might want to argue that Black Flag is not Indie Rock, that still does not make this a bad compilation. In fact, the genres vary enough that you won't get bored of hearing the same stuff over and over again.

Various Artists Millennium Hip-Hop Party Rhino Records • Raise your hand if you have seen the TV commercial for this Hip-Hop comp. It's the one with the black guy and the white guy dancing at the bus stop. The black guy shows the white guy how to dance to the beat. It is the CHEESIEST commercial I have EVER seen. I'll tell you what, though. For anyone who likes rap songs that get popular, but not enough to go out and buy the whole album, this comp is for you. You got Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tone Loc, Young MC, Digital Underground, LL Cool J, PM Dawn, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and even Marky Mark. There are 18 tracks in all, most of them recognizable (they had to throw in a few fillers). Overall, I'd recommend this CD.

Various Artists No More Prisons Raptivism Records • This is Raptivism Records' debut release. It's a benefit for the Prison Moratorium Project ­ an organization formed in 1995 to "educate the public about criminal justice issues and to give youth and communities a greater voice in criminal justice debates." Featuring 23 tracks of hip-hop, from such artists as Dead Prez, The Coup, The Last Poets, Mike Ladd and Chubb Rock, No More Prisons delivers both a powerful message and potent hip-hop from the underground. Bounce to the beat while you get a lesson on the ills of America's current judicial system.

Various Artists Old School vs. New School Vol. 2 Jive Electro • Having not heard Vol. 1, it was with great anticipation that I slipped this CD into my player, wondering how these masters of the old and new schools would collaborate. The experience left me disillusioned. Taking older rap tracks, and giving them new beats didn't work like I hoped it would. For the most part, the songs seemed disjointed, with the beats out of place with the words on top of them. I almost wished they had released the songs in their original state. There were a few notable exceptions, when I thought the revamping was done with the deserved respect towards the original: A Tribe Called Quest vs. the Propellerheads (Electric Relaxation) sounds like it was barely touched, leaving the original mood intact. A Tribe Called Quest vs. Sir Piers & Si Ashton (Bonita Applebum) has added a disco beat, flutes and background vocals to give this song a well-received makeover. Finally, both tracks featuring the Stone Roses: one vs. Lionrock (Waterfall), and another vs. Rabbit in the Moon (I Wanna Be Adored), where the songs' guitars were blended with breakbeats and house beats, respectively.

Various Artists This Changes Everything - A Second Nature Recordings Sampler Second Nature Records • This 14-song compilation features bands like Kill Creek, Grade, Waxwing, Eulcid and Sharks Keep Moving. As is the case with multi-band comp's, you get, well, multiple sounds. There is everything from emo to death metal to pop here and everything in between. It's a good disc if you haven't heard any bands from this label. I bet you'll want to pick-up a few of the bands' CD's after listening.

Voice of Reason New Beginnings Triple Crown Records • These guys are all at least a decade younger than me, so I must credit youth with having spirit. The music is somewhere between hard-core and pop-punk, and I must admit that I don't care for the mix too well. They play well and sound good, but it's too poppy to be h.c. and a bit too aggressive to be p.p. They need to focus more, but the potential is there.


Mock Orange/The Borgo Pass split 7" Northern Lights • Mock Orange, an Indiana-based foursome, rock out an emo-oriented, energized, tempo-shifting tune with heavy Braid influences. On the reverse side is The Borgo Pass, a three-piece band from Utah. Their track starts off heavy and instrumental, slowly moving into the vocal portion and becoming driving, emo/punk rock (I wish the vocals started sooner). Limited to 500 on clear gold and 1000 on black.

Richard Panic Leopard Pillow 12" Spectator Records • Panic employs analog synthesizers, drum machines and electric guitar creating a cross between new wave (ala New Order, Gary Numan) and hardcore digitial music (ala Babyland). The A-side tune is very catchy and loaded with interesting electronic sounds. On the B-side, the first track is an uptempo, rapid-fire, melodic love song and the second track is an intrumental tune with very cool, creative instrumentation.

The Calculators Simplicity and Style 10" Spectator Records • Using a ton of analog synthesizers, The Calculators have created a very-'80s sound reminiscent of Devo, New Order/Joy Division and even a bit of The Cure. This album is four cuts worth of melodic, mid-tempo, creative, new wave-ish music.

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

Boy Sets Fire After The Eulogy Victory Records • There are few bands that are as committed to a true message as Boy Sets Fire. Their politically-charged, intense lyrics are an educational experience ­ the icing on their well-crafted hardcore rock music. Pounding drums, thick, heavy guitars, throbbing bass lines and mostly-screamed vocals are characteristic of their style -- however, it's not one-dimensional. Their songs are complex, intricate works of melodic power, fierce displays of aggressive honesty -- rising and falling, but never letting on to where the music will go next. And then Boy Sets Fire will deliver a pure rock song, free of the throaty vocals, traded in for well-sung tunes that are as beautiful as they are heartfelt. Boy Sets Fire are an amazing band, both recorded and live.

Cinemaphonic Electro Soul Emperor Norton Records • This CD is cool on various levels. First, all the music on it was intended to be used as library production music, which is added to movies, television programs and commercials to add atmosphere, but isn't created specifically for the project. Second, it's straight out of the 1970's. Trust me, this isn't watered down disco. The music sounds like it was trapped inside a time capsule for the last 30 years. As soon as I heard it, I flew back in time to the days when I was growing up, watching sit-coms and blaxploitation movies, all of which relied heavily on library production music. Finally, the music itself is cool. Jazz, Funk, Disco, and any other kind of music you would have heard in the 70's is featured here, all in its instrumental glory. This is where Beck goes to find his musical inspiration. I won't go into the names of the different composers featured on this CD, but suffice it to say that you've definitely heard their stuff before on major movie releases.

Euro Boys Long Days Flight Til Tomorrow Man's Ruin Records • I'm not sure what genre Euro Boys would fit into. It has a little bit of lounge, a little bit of blues, and a touch of psychedelia. Influences would probably include Henry Mancini, The Delta 72, and Casino Royal. There's very little singing, which is good, since it maintains the loungy, jazzy ambience, even though the tempo is somewhat fast at times. Long Days Flight Til Tomorrow will help you get over your troubles right away.

Mix Master Mike Eye of the Cyklops Asphodel • I prefer hip-hop that has lyrics. But times are changing -- or maybe Mike has changed me. This four-part, 11-track DJ journey is free of rhymes, but nothing is missing. His beats and cuts are as creative as they come, mixing up styles and sounds within tracks, keeping repetition out of his vocabulary. This CD is considered an EP, but it's got more skill than most other DJs' full-length albums. Mike's start-stop beat delivery, tight scratches and offbeat tempo switches are simply awesome -- a composer on the wheels of steel. A lot of people may know him as the Beastie Boys' DJ, but Mix Master Mike stands tall on his own!

New Bomb Turks Nightmare Scenario Epitaph Records • I have a confession. This is the first time I've really listened to the NBT's. I know they've been around for ages but I don't get out often. Since I haven't heard them much I won't generalize and say this is like all their other stuff. However, I will say that if their other stuff is like this disc I need to go get more of them. This is kick-ass, take no prisoners rock, bordering on punk at times.

Seven Storey Mountain Based on a True Story Deep Elm Records • This three-piece has been around since late 1994, rocking the stage with such acts as Jawbox, Jimmy Eat World and Avail. This seven-track release is definitely their finest work to date, featuring a driving sound that is full of energy and aggression. The only similar band I've heard is The Marshes -- but SSM create a sound of their own. The melody is constant, but far from obvious -- relying on fuzzed out, fast moving guitar riffs, ever-changing drum rhythms and vocals that can be both sincere and screamed. And if the music isn't enough to grab you, the intelligent lyrics will.

The Distillers The Distillers Hellcat Records • There are no two ways about it. I love the Distillers because I love Courtney Love's voice on "Live Through This." The Distillers' vocals sound dead on like Courtney Love, with more growls, throat, drawl, and the vulnerability and pain. The songs are extremely catchy, on top of it. Listen to "The World Comes Tumblin'" and you'll be growling right along.

The Honor System Single File Asian Man Records • Two parts former Broadways members create this new Chicago foursome -- and they're awesome. They've carried over the energy and emotion of The Broadways but with cleaner vocals. They've dropped some of the snotty attitude and, instead, pack a powerful rock and roll punch consisting of tight, deep melodies, a non-stop catchy bounce, guitar work that is wildly good and bass lines that pull you along with every tempo change. Their style, while completely original, is reminiscent at times of Jawbox, Naked Raygun, Jets To Brazil, Agent Orange, and Burning Airlines. The lyrics are politically/personally charged, highly intelligent words of wisdom. While The Broadways will be missed, The Honor System has made up for it and then some.

In alphabetical order. Please write them.

1st Stone Records, 626 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 235, Santa Monica, CA 90401-2538
404 Records, Box 827, Normal, IL 61762
Anyway Records, PO Box 82444, Columbus, OH 43202
Asian Man Records, PO Box 35585, Monte Sereno, CA 95030-5585
Bad Magic, 16 Acklam Workshops, 10 Acklam Road, London, W10 5QZ
Barsuk Records, PO Box 31016, Seattle, WA 98103
Beggars Banquet, 580 Broadway, Suite 1004, New York, NY 10012-3223
Big Wheel Recreation, 325 Huntington Ave. #24, Boston, MA 02115
Broken Rekids, Box 460402, San Francisco CA 94146-0402
Burnbarrel Records, PO Box 121, Skagway, AK 99840
BYO Records, PO Box 67A64 Los Angeles, CA 90067
Cargo Music, 4901-906 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117-3432
Codek Records, 245 West 29th Street #902, New York, NY 10001
Cornerstone Records, 16572 Burke Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 92647-4539
Crustacean Records, PO Box 370156, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53237
Day After Records, Horska 20, 352 01 AS, Czech Republic
DCide, 1926 14th St. NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20009
Deep Elm Records, PO Box 36939, Charlotte, NC 28236
Destination Daybreak, 165 Tracy Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746
Destination: Earth!, 1402 N. Euclid, Indianapolis, IN 46201
Devil In The Woods Records, PO Box 6217, Albany, CA 94706
Discipline Global Mobile, PO Box 5282, Beverly Hills, CA 90209
Double Play Records, 41 Sutter Street Suite 1337, San Francisco, CA 94104
Emperor Norton Records, 102 Robinson Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Empty Records, PO Box 12034, Seattle, WA 98102
Epitaph Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
Espo Records, PO Box 63 Allston, MA 02134
Family Vineyard, PO Box 2161, Bloomington, IN 47402
Fat Wreck Chords, PO Box 193690, San Fran, CA 94119-3690
Fiddler Records, PO Box 330667, Miami, FL, 33233
Flat 5 Records, 18 East Main Street, Salem, VA 24153
Flydaddy, PO Box 545, Newport, RI 02840
Fueled Up Records, Box 14815, Fremont, CA 94539
Function 8, PO Box 411195, San Francisco, CA 94141-1195
Gern Blandsten, PO Box 356, River Edge, NJ 07661
GoodFellow, 762 Upper James St., Ste. 275, Hamilton, ON, L9C 3A2, Canada
Hellcat Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd, LA CA 90026
Heroes & Villains, PMB 361, 2118 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403
Hopeless Records, Box 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91409
Ixor Stix, PO Box 21811, Washington, DC 20009
Initial Records, PO Box 17131, Louisville, KY 40217
Jade Tree, 2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810
Jive Electro Records, 137-139 West 25th St., New York, NY 10001
Jump Up Records, Box 13189 Chicago IL 60613
K-Tel, 2605 Fernbrook Lane North, Minneapolis, MN 55447-4736
Kung Fu Records, 92 N. Citrus Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038
Lookout! Records, PO Box 11374, Berkeley, CA 94712-2374
Lotushouse Records, 46361/2 Lotus Street, San Diego, CA 92107
Manıs Ruin Records, 610 22nd St. #302, San Francisco, CA 94107
Marcion Records, 325 W. 37th St., 8th Fl., NY, NY 10018
Matchless, 122 E. Pike Street, Suite 685, Seattle, WA 98122-3934
Music Fellowship, 108 Dwight Street #4, New Haven, Connecticut 06511
Necropolis Records, Box 14815, Fremont, CA 94539-4815
Neurot Recordings, PO Box 410209, San Francisco, CA 94141
Nitro Records, 7071 Warner Ave. F-736, Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Off Hour Rockers Records, Box 62, East Norwich, NY 11732
Owned and Operated Recordings, PO Box 36, Fort Collins, CO 80522
Ozone Recording Co., 10850 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 436, LA, CA 90024
Panic Button, PO Box 148010, Chicago, IL 60614-8010
Pessimiser Records, PO Box 1070, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
Polyvinyl Record Co., PO Box 1885, Danville, IL 61834
Quality Park Records, PO Box 2464, Denton TX 76202
Quarterstick Records, PO Box 25342, Chicago, IL 60625
Raptivism Records, 61 E. 8th St., #251, NY, NY 10003
Record Cellar, PO Box 188, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
Revelation Records, PO Box 5232, Huntington Beach, CA 92615-5232
Rhino Records, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., LA, CA 90025-4900
Saddle Creek, PO Box 8554, Omaha, NE 68108-0554
Second Nature Records, PO Box 11543, Kansas City, MO 64138
Sessions Records, 15 Janis Way, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
Sin Klub Entertainment, PO Box 2507, Toledo, Ohio 43606
Slowdime Records, PO Box 414, Arlington, VA 22210
Solomon, 50 RC Kelley Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Southern Records, PO Box 577375, Chicago, IL 60657
Spectator Records, PO Box 385, Royal Oak, MI 48068
Thick Records, 409 N. Wolcott, Chicago, IL 60622
Tiger Style Records, 149 Wooster St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10012
Too Pure Records, 3a Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RN
Touch and Go Records, PO Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625
Tree Records, PO Box 578582, Chicago, IL 60657
Triple Crown Records, 331 West 57th St., PMB 472, NY, NY 10019
Triple X Records, PO Box 862529, Los Angeles, CA 90086-2529
Trustkill Records, 23 Farm Edge Lane, Tinton Falls, NJ 07724
Twee Kitten, PMB 213, 1547 Paos Verdes Mall, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Victory Records, PO Box 146546, Chicago, IL 60614
WABNARC, 408 7th St. #4, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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