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Spring '05 Articles:
Terri Schiavo & Euthanasia
God & School
The Thought Police
The Muddlemarch: 1
The Muddlemarch: 2
Ward Churchill's Sins
TV Journalism
(music reviews)

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CD Reviews | Vinyl Reviews | DVD Reviews
Label Addresses

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

Amon Tobin Chaos Theory Ninja Tune Records • Amon Tobin's sound has evolved through the years, starting out with downtempo and slowly adding more experimental influences into his music. He had been leaning in the direction of a soundtrack, creating different moods. It seems only natural that he should compose an actual soundtrack – this one for the Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory videogame. Not having played the game, I can only imagine that it works well in the dimly lit corridors and creepy surroundings that surely populate the game. From moody, atmospheric pieces to urgent, drum 'n bass inspired tracks, Chaos Theory brings Tobin's unique style that will certainly enhance game play. (AL)

Blueprint 1988 Rhymesayers Ent • Paying respects to the styles and sounds that shook the hip hop world in 1988, Ohio's Blueprint has created a nostalgic debut album, full of beats and samples inspired by the days of boom-boxes and break dancing. Blueprint takes us back, with battle raps, rhymes and slanguage on tracks like "Tramps" and "Fresh." On the banger "Lo-Fi Funk," (with Aesop Rock), Blueprint says about the President "what kind of world are we livin' in? / where you kill Martin and Malcolm, but you let this coward live." "Inner City Native Son" is a "Children's Story" kind of song about a kid who's "only babysitter was a TV screen" and "was force-fed pop culture – watching in silence," and "Big Girls Need Love Too" is a catchy one that explains itself. This album is easier to digest than his efforts with Soul Position, Greenhouse Effect and even Illogic, as he addresses his critics and peers, and sounds more focused on what he's wanted to do for himself all along. (JC)

Broadway Project The Vessel Doubling Cube Records• I was captivated by Broadway Project's 2001 release, Compassion, and I have recaptured the feeling with The Vessel. It is difficult to categorize this as electronica simply because of its production techniques. There are acoustic guitars and mellow beats that live in a hazy, smoky atmosphere. There are violins and other strings, plenty of keys, and other subtle sounds that give this album its cinematic feel. (AL)

Crystal Skulls Blocked Numbers Suicide Squeeze Records • These guys are smooth, despite a band name that sounds like it should belong to an 80's metal band from some Scandinavian country. They play some smart indie rock with hints of jazz and swing and a bit of an edge; imagine Spoon playing Steely Dan covers. So get yourself some Cuervo Gold, some fine Colombian, and a copy of Blocked Numbers, and make tonight a wonderful thing. (CL)

Daedelus Exquisite Corpse Mush Records • Daedelus continues to mystify with his latest electronic opus, Exquisite Corpse. His sound is based on the marriage of IDM cut-up techniques and hip-hop style beats. But he goes a step further into his own realm by adding samples from the '30s and '40s, using pieces of songs your grandparents used to listen to. Who else can take a sample from an easy listening Brazilian album and lay rap lyrics over it? Indeed, the appearance of rappers/hip-hop producers in his music has been growing in recent past, with guest appearances from MF Doom, Prefuse 73, and Sci, among others. (AL)

Eniac All That's Left of Us self-released • This is one of those albums that just grabs your attention right away. It is beautiful. The lyrics are well written and the music fits them perfectly. I fell in love with this album first listen through, and that is a rarity for me. I guess the name of the album, All That's Left of Us, fits perfectly as well because the band has decided to call it quits. The members have opted to play a couple more shows in order to "release" this album, but after that, it is over. Even if you can not catch one of those few last shows, this melodic masterpiece is definitely worth getting your hands on. (KB)

Kieskagato EP self-released • This operatic jazz-rock release from Kieskagato contains all the goodies - poppy guitar riffs and a jangly sound, paying homage to music's past while letting loose with a trumpet, organ and energy of a live show. With a mesh of sounds and influences, the instruments veer off into many directions and do so in a manner that pulls the listener along for a ride, much like albums by Radiohead, Pink Floyd and the Talking Heads. The five songs on this EP are a complete entity, and intriguing collection, as each track has been arranged with its own suspenseful and unique tempo, highlighted by the temperamental "Well Then, Alright." (JC)

Prefuse 73 Surrounded By Silence Warp Records • Prefuse 73 continues to amaze with his latest release, Surrounded by Silence. Sure, his music can be categorized as hip-hop, but it is so much more. In this album, there are a ton of guests, including Aesop Rock, Ghostface, El-P, Broadcast, Kazu (Blonde Redhead), Masta Killa & GZA. He slices and dices beats and vocal snippets with the precision of a master chef, creating a style unmatched by others. (AL)

The Merediths A Closed Universe self-released • "Marmalade Maggie" cries out for the return of The Beatles, even in the title. It's a very well structured song that will have you singing along with the first chorus the first time you hear it if you have any love for the eclectic sound of The Beatles. And it doesn't stop there. The second track "Right There" keeps this vibe in check, but with a keen sense of originality to accompany tastefully. The guitar even weeps like George Harrison's in the outro lead to "Cruel Kind of Love." This is a keeper for sure; keep an eye out for these guys. (SP)

The Nancy School Fancy Title for a Part-Time Job self-released • It's JAZZ-CORE! The Nancy School thought they'd step to me with their unique brand of funk meets jazz meets hardcore and I'd just wilt, right? EFF THAT! I brought my A game, bitches! Thankfully, so did the Nancies. This is by far the catchiest, most challenging shit I've heard in a long time. I know, I know, you're reading this and you're thinking, "This must sound like a train wreck through a music store into the second stage at Ozzfest, right?" WRONG! These guys are more than talented enough to pull this off and they do. With ease. If you don't believe me, listen to it. This shit will blow your mind and, at the same time, crack your neck. Sack up and buy something you'll never hear your little sister singing. (SH)

The Perceptionists Black Dialogue Definitive Jux • Akrobatik, Mr. Lif and DJ Fakts One are The Perceptionists, and they make their introduction in grand style on the opener "Let's Move," where rhymes are traded effortlessly over a hyper beat that slams with intensity. The rest of the album never let's up while touching on politics, sell-outs and everyday life. These Boston natives sound like a natural fit together overtop tight beats by the likes of El-P, Camutao and newcomers Willie Evans Jr. and Cyrus. Black Dialogue is a thought provoking collection of songs with storylines that maintain a steady flow without losing momentum. They've managed to transition between standouts like the anti-war "Memorial Day" into the more personal "Love Letters" with ease, and even slide guest appearances by Humpty Hump and the Guru into the equation for good measure. (JC)

The Vacancy Heart Attack A-F Records • I can't resist an unexpected tempo change or a hook that grabs me by the hair and won't stop pulling, and this 11-track release has plenty of both. Part punk, park hardcore, part emo and part power pop, The Vacancy balances intensity with melody, sacrificing neither over the other. There are pop melodies, hardcore tempo changes and heartfelt passion that soaks the entire album. The vocals are deep and honest, put forth without feeling forced. The pace of the album is constant, pounding out a steady rhythm that has me bobbing along without even realizing it, singing the words and being shocked that I actually already know them. This album will get under your skin and you won't want it to leave. (CM)

Tiff Jimber Obstacles Cormac • Simultaneously sexy and quirky, Tiff Jimber sings with a beautiful voice that steps slightly outside of convention. Immediately I thought of Tori Amos, in the way she can just dance vocally all over a wild, errant song and glue it all together. Her instrumentation is wonderful, obviously composed by an expert musician, and ranges from offbeat lounge music to straight up rock and roll. A delicious record, and a wonderful talent with a great future. (DP)

CD Reviews

[a]pendics.shuffle Saw Saw Soup Orac Records • The title song in this three-song disc is a catchy techno number with a solid baseline and breathy vocals. The second track is a remix by Robag Wruhme, who adds hints of IDM to the track. The final track is "Creamer," which packs the funk and hard to understand vocals. (AL)

13 & god Men of Station EP Anticon/Alien Transistor • Featuring The Notwist and themselves in a collaboration, this four-song EP (see full-length review below) is just a taste of what these electro-pop-hip-hop rockers are bringing to the table. Blending the precise, paced rapping and quirky, indefinable musicianship of themselves and the electro-pop smoothness of The Notwist, 13 & god gives us a genre-bending result that takes the best from each. (CM)

13 & god self-titled Anticon Records • 13 & God came about when doseone, jel and dax (AKA themselves) got together with Markus and Micha Archer, and Martin Gretschmann (from Notwist). The resulting album is a combination of both groups' best: themselves provide the nasal rapping and excellent beats, and Notwist provide cool singing and smooth instrumentation. The tempo is kept at the halfway point, making this album pretty smooth. (AL)

Achilles and Engineer 2x Split CD Hanging Hex Records • You've got two EP's here from Achilles and Engineer. Both play hardcore and play it well. Achilles is a little more melodic, while Engineer is pure, unbridled fury. They compliment each other extremely well. Look for Achilles' full-length CD "The Dark Horse" to hit soon. (SH)

Against All Authority/Common Rider Split CD Hopeless Records• This split starts off with four songs from the politically charged Against All Authority and finishes off with another four songs from the now extinct Common Rider. The songs from AAA all follow suite with their fast, ska-punk sound that their fans have come to know and love. Common Rider, who called it quits after 2003, offer a more reggae feel to their half of the split. The songs they supplied for the split were all outtakes from their This is Unity Music record. Overall, I feel the two bands balance each other out well and make for a great split. (KB)

Angiescreams self-titled self-released • King's X meets AC/DC meets Guns-n-Roses. Mellow, but heavy rock. Great songs, great musicians, and unique vocals...this band could be huge if they get the attention they deserve. I'll start it right here: CHECK THIS OUT!!! (SH)

Ani Minasian self-titled EP self-released • Ani Minasian is a confidant vocalist fronting a band that rocks out in the spirit of Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrissette and Sophie B. Hawkins. The trouble is, Ani doesn't do it as well as the artists she copies her style from. Whatever it is, the dated background music or Ani's singing, things don't end well on this short collection. The three songs on this EP all sound like they've been done before, from the twangy guitar swagger, down to the half-hearted attempt at coming off spontaneous. (JC)

Basement 3 Fuzzyland Merry Mole Music • Kenny Schick is the brain behind Basement 3 and he incorporates every bit of his complex instrumentation and sounds into what he does, all in the spirit of Elliot Smith. Bordering on the edge of pop and eclectic rock, this release is a creative piece of art with horns, strings and keys playing their unique parts. Song by song Kenny opens up about "everything in life being broken" and how perfect and strange the pieces fit together after being rearranged. His vocals are a bit too out of date, but this is a good album that will rekindle the past. (JC)

Bill Bat Man Grasshopper • Unintentionally invoking the soul of the late Wesley Willis, who graced us with hits like "I Whupped Batman's Ass," the Down's Syndrome-afflicted Bill "sings" chaotically over avant-garde drum machines and sound effects. The really scary part is that this record is really, really, REALLY interesting. You almost can't believe what you're hearing – it's mostly unintelligible, but I couldn't stop listening. It's incredible. It's the weirdest damned thing I've ever reviewed. Drugs recommended. (DP)

Black Tie Dynasty This Stays Between Us Idol Records • I wish there was some way to take out the first line of the opening track "Crime Scene". He sings "It looked like a crime scene covered up with ice cream". What the hell does that mean? Regardless, the song is catchy as can be as well as the second track "Die" which comes in with such ease you have to glance at your CD player to make sure that what you're hearing is not part of the first track. The vocals sound a little bit like Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode with an indie/retro rock feel to the music, but packed with originality. These guys know what they're doing. (SP)

Blake Brown Harboring Secrets self-released • Blake Brown's got that whole kinda dark, fokly introspective thing going on on his latest full-length, Harboring Secrets. Sure, it's a little Connor Oberst-ish at times, but it's quite enjoyable in that moody, I want to drink by myself kind of way. Beer won't cut it for this album; try the vino, preferably something red. (CL)

Bludshot Another Day self-released • From the opening track "Beautiful Day" it's hard to ignore the similarities in sound to white suburban rap heroes like Eminem and Kottonmouth Kingz, all the way down to the singing of his hooks that boost about smoking weed, pulling ladies and his life in the VA. Forget that the beats performed with live instruments, although very solid, sound like rip-offs of mainstream gangsta rap, Bludshot spits his flows at a quick tempo about nothing we haven't already heard before. (JC)

Blue Rose Liar Sycamore self-released • Melodic hardcore/metal from this CT-based quintet. Furious riffs and angry vocals are the foundation for this sophomore release. You have to listen to this all the way through or you'll miss some things. They mix things up very well – going from the mellow, wandering "On the Six Cornered Snowflake" to the almost punk "Penumbra" to the dark, brooding "Black Atlantis." Don't stop short! (SH)

Cadence State Lines Domination Records • Entirely produced by Cadence, this release is packed with a full roster of emcees from his inner-circle. The beats and rhymes are decent, but nothing to get excited over as a few songs sound like they needed a little more work before being released. There are a few standout tracks that include appearances by Eddie Meeks of Prophetix on "A.T.F (All Time Favorite)," CMR of Word Association on "Perfectionist" and Mike Ladd on "Gravy," but other than that, the rest is run-of-the-mill indie hip hop. (JC)

Cadiz Breakers self released • I found some Lou Barlow moments right away, and that will catch my attention any day. Vocal melodies, as well as the arrangement of "Good Times Are Few" took me right back to Sebadoh. "Under The Farm" brings that alt-country twang slightly in to set the mood of this track. The more mellow moments are along the lines of Luna. Droning at times, but soothing at others, this is a well-written album with calming effects. (MP)

Caribou The Milk of Human Kindness The Leaf Label • Dan Snaith used the moniker Manitoba until Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators sued him for trademark Infringement. Nothing says "punk" like going to court, right? Anyway, now the name is Caribou, and the music is as good as ever. It is hard to say if this music is electronic...he tours with a band, after all. He also sings on a couple of tracks, and though some tracks are a bit on the experimental side, there is a definite psychedelic vibe on the record. Handsome Dick, I'm not sure if you're handsome, but I'm pretty sure you're a dick. (AL)

Carlos del Junco Blues Mongrel NorthernBlues Music • Got your latin jazz? Got your honkin' blues harp? Got your shades? Then you are ready for something really cool. Carlos del Junco manages to combine two barely related genres in a seamless and wonderful way. Combining blues standards with some original material, this is a really great disc when you are tired of the same old same old. (MK)

Chevreuil Chateauvallon Sick Room Records • This instrumental experimentation is put together by two guys playing guitar and drums. The guitars are so layered that you think there are multiple players instead of just one. The drums keep the beat solid and steady, except when it is time to let loose with some staccato free form drumming. Think of a less frenetic version of Hella. (AL)

Chicks On Speed and the No Heads Press The Spacebar Chicks On Speed Records • For their fourth musical venture, Chicks On Speed teamed up with Spanish Band the No Heads and electronica producer Christian Vogel. This album is more experimental than their previous work, and has more rock elements than before. Their lyrics are just as biting, and the attitude remains untouched. (AL)

Comeback Kid Wake the Dead Victory Records • This is some of the best hardcore I've heard in a long time. This is CBK's second release and it realizes the huge potential this band showed when they hit the scene a few years ago. If the title track isn't one of the best rock songs you've heard this year, you're deaf. Unless, of course, you like "Our Distance" better - I can't argue with that. CBK is currently on tour with Bane across this great nation of ours. I strongly urge you to check them out. (SH)

Darren "Deicide" Kramer Rockin til the Apocalypse Ever Reviled/Fistolo • Clearly in tune with the world around him, Darren "Deicide" Kramer pounds his guitar strings alongside revolutionary words that give a hearty "fuck you" to our unnecessary hierarchies. The title track alone screams anarchy when Kramer sings "the world is blowin' up, the world is blowin' up, now why do you think that you're immune?" in a Johnny Rotten kind of way. The top-of-the-lungs approach with his vocals, and the bluesy punk rock sound he strums helps drive home the good-humored, yet unmistakably serious message that Darren has in store, which is to decide to live by your own standards. Rockin til the Apocalypse is a beer drinker's motivational tool to get you on the right track. (JC)

Deadly Weapon self-titled self-released • Y'all know I'm a sucker for metal. It's what I grew up on! Deadly Weapon is full-on 80's metal. Think Manowar, Judas Priest and Kiss. Or, for you kids born IN the 80's, did you see "Rock Star" with Mark Wahlberg? Think Steel Dragon. This is metal – crunching riffs, shredding leads and screaming vocals, just like it was meant to be. (SH)

Diamond Nights Once We Were Diamonds Kemado Records • Like Cheap Trick meets David Bowie meets Deep Purple. Classic rock at its apex. This disc has it all. Catchy riffs, hummable melodies and general coolness. This is good stuff. (MK)

Dip Leg The sympathy without love I've Come For Your Children • The melodies move from soothing to energetic, all the while spastic abrasive vocals carry another tune. This vocal tune is sometimes a little too harsh for my taste, but it is contrasted with such beautifully written rock. Oh yeah, they are Japanese, so this adds another level of coolness to the band. Although the vocals can be abrasive, I can't understand what the hell he is saying anyways, so he got a free spin on that one. They did put the lyrics in both Japanese and English inside the cd, which is an added bonus. Pure Japanese screamo at its best. (MP)

Distance 8 Miles to Empty self-released • Wow. This is a pretty amazing effort from this Florida band. Distance plays solid, heavy, emo-metal, a la Finger Eleven and Stain. This is extremely tight, slickly produced, radio-ready metal. I expect to see them opening for some major acts this summer. (SH)

DMBQ The Essential Sounds From The Far East Estrus Records • This Japanese band has a drummer named China. I like that. If only I could say the same about the music. It's not bad. It is fast and furious all out rock and roll. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with it but it just didn't grab me. It was like a coked up high-octane remake of a Ted Nugent/Jimi Hendrix jam session. Lots of distorted bass and noise. (MK)

Dorn The Overseer California Dream EP Abstrakt Konfusion • With production coming from DJ AK, Specie, Madlib and High-Dro, Dorn The Overseer spits quick flows with a "chip on a shoulder" attitude over some solid sounds. The style that Dorn uses never allows the beats to breathe, as he prefers a "more the merrier" approach by rhyming endlessly on each track, without really even saying much. Basically, the bread and butter on this EP out of Santa Maria, California is what the production team brings to the table, because without them, who's Dorn supposed to oversee? (JC)

Eddie Turner Rise NorthernBlues Music • This Cuban-American band mate of Otis Taylor uses his guitar to combine Afro-Cuban rhythms and blues-rock sounds into mesmerizing adult-contemporary songs. The attitude and style that Turner conveys is a confident songsmith that stands apart from his peers. Whether covering Jimi Hendrix, and making "The Wind Cried Mary" all his own, or rocking out on the electric "It's Me," the production really brings the vibe to the forefront on a solid album of grown up attitude. (JC)

El Oso Whichever Chapter Covers Now Contraphonic • El Oso, which is Spanish for the puma or the panda or some other delicacy, brings us indie pop from the great city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This isn't your older sibling's jangly, sugary indie pop; it's got its experimental and electronic moments without getting pretentious. Best of all, it goes down well any of Milwaukee's fine adult beverages. Yeah! (CL)

Eleven Minutes Away Arson Followed Me Home Deep Elm Records • It's been a few years since I've heard anything from Deep Elm and I was a little amazed that they fell into the whole "Hey I'll scream while you sing melodically" gimmick. I guess that's what's selling, but man does it get old real quick. These guys have the Thrice guitar tone and leads down to a science and most of their style for that matter. There is something very unnatural about the vocal part to "Purpose is Distraction". At times the vocals remind me of The Stryder. I hear Beautiful Mistake as well as far as the vocal harmonies go in the second track "I'm a Doctor, Not a Doorstop." Except I can walk away with a Beautiful Mistake song stuck in my head, whereas with these guys I couldn't wait to take it out of my player. (SP)

Evan Emge Along Came A Guitar Orange Peal/Milktree Records • Evan Emge sings songs with his acoustic guitar about stoner nymphos, smacking ass and his bipolar problems. The solid guitar playing can not be overlooked, pull up a chair and grab a beer, because this is authentic drinking music. Sarcastic tales and remarks highlight this release, such as on the short ditty "Poppin' Cherries" where he sings, "poppin' cherries is my favorite thing" about his 13-year-old friend Stephanie "bustin' pussy on her bicycle seat." Silly, silly stuff – enjoy. (JC)

Every New Day The Shadows Cast Hand of Hope • I think I could listen to the guitars alone and be completely blown away. I have absolutely no idea how the fuck there are only three of them in this hardcore punk band from Winnipeg, because the sound is huge. The guitars are bobbing and weaving like a champion boxer, blazing huge chords and ripping killer, soaring solos. The grooves on this are sick, like an infectious disease that crawls under your skin and grows, overtaking your body. A disease you'll actually like having, causing you to unexpectedly scream out in harmony with the chorus, your fist held high in the air. This 12-track release is a harmonic blend of aggression-soaked hardcore and punchy, melodic punk rock, all balanced with a dash of heartfelt passion. Polished, but not overly, Every New Day is a slick hardcore trio to keep your eyes on. (CM)

Fantômas Suspended Animation Ipecac Recordings • Ahhh, the terribly twisted mind of Mike Patton. This is the fourth Fantômas album, and it is just as weird as the first three. This album is similar to their first one, characterized by heavy and super-fast riffing, and staccato bursts of screams. Suspended Animation also features all kinds of cartoon-like noises, which add a touch of humor. All in all, Fantômas remains a band that is to be enjoyed by the more adventurous listener. (AL)

Far Rad This Candy's Gross Johann's Face Records • Far Rad rules! It doesn't hurt at all that they include Raymond Scott, electronic music pioneer and the original author of many of the songs from the old Warner Brothers cartoons, in their thank you's. A sound reminiscent of Faint, Atom And His Package, and more than a little bit Devo, serves as a delivery system for some clever vignettes about girlfriends, parties, and crappy halloween costumes. The music is fun, and catchy more often than not, with a wierd theatrical quality to the vocals that I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like before. If you like electronic music with humor and soul, go out and find this album, and play the hell out of it. (SJM)

Fingers Cut Megamachine self-titled Thick Records • The cheesy side of this band reminded me of The Barenaked Ladies, which made me nauseous at first with the first track "Rough Dreams". However "Recovery" was just that for the record with its Smashing Pumpkins acoustic riff "Disarm", if you will. "Sugary Fruits" and "Do You Hear Wedding Bells?" sound far too much alike to be back to back on the album. I am shocked that no one told these guys that before completion of the record. The lack of diversity in the acoustic guitar tone really hurts the overall feel of the album and takes away from the very few memorable moments it has to offer. (SP)

Foetus Love The Birdman Recording Group • I have heard the name Foetus for years, but had never run across his music. Now that I have, I can't understand what all the fuss is about. Sure, the music is a bit out there, and includes some interesting sounds and orchestral arrangements, but the whole CD sounds (and looks) like it was put together in one afternoon after having too many cocktails and no previous experience. (AL)

Four Letter Word Like Moths to a Flame Newest Industry • Four Letter Word has seen quite a few line up changes since its start in 1991. The band was formed in Cardiff, Wales, U.K. The songs on the album are all fast, pissed-off punk. The aggression is aimed mostly at the government, just like other political punk bands out there. The album sleeve is covered with propaganda and there are even sound clips in between and during some of the songs. This band is thorough. They know what message they want to get across and they do it well. (KB)

Frank Grimaldi Balance self-released • An honest and telling collection of songs are displayed on this release. Grimaldi uses his baritone voice to sound a lot like Elvis Costello and David Bowie over an array of sounds which range from new-wave lounge and ballads, to jazz-funk and rock. His manner comes off confident, yet insecure at the same time on tracks like "Bad Habits" and "Faggotry Personified," where Grimaldi confesses his most personal secrets with a more insistent approach. The music helps keep this album from tiring out too quickly, but in the end leaves only a handful of songs to come back to. (JC)

French Toast In A Cave Dischord Records •For fans of dischord, this is worth a listen. Electro beats accompany simplistic guitar melodies, layered with catchy vocals. This two-piece shows off their talents with minimal instruments and a solid, full sound to back it up. Garage rock moments invade tracks like "Lion's Den," while other tracks put off more of an indie rock element. Organ adds a new sound to "Anger in Your Eyes." Some of the tracks are just good rock n' roll, but what is really impressive is the number of musicians that it took to put this together. (MP)

Frog Holler The High, High's & The Low, Low's EP ZoBird Records • This six-member band out of Pennsylvania pays homage to their weaknesses, their faith and their roots, to create indie country rock. Using the likes of a banjo, harmonica, accordion, mandolin and various styles of guitars, this album feels genuine throughout its highs and lows. Frog Holler jams out to a pop rock driven sound that's known as the American landscape, with catchy songs and crisp instrumentation found in tracks like "Sleepy Eyes," "Off Course Walkin" and "Supposed To Be livin'." (JC)

Funeral Dress Come on Follow SOS Records • Punk. Capital P, capital U, capital N, capital f*&%ing K. Real punk. THIS is the best cover of "Cum on Feel the Noize" I've ever heard. It's not the best song on their 12-song release though. That superlative goes to the very next song, "Beer and Women." (SH)

Funeral Dress Party Political Bullshit SOS Records • These veteran punk rockers from Belgium are the genuine article. They rock all the way the hell around. Worthy of the title "punk as fuck". Mohawked, multi-colored-haired, boot-wearin', middle-finger-wavin', these guys play hard speed punk in the finest tradition of the great masters. Props to Europe for spawning these shining examples of humanity. (DP)

Glass and Ashes Aesthetic Arrest No Idea • This is my first time hearing these guys and I am thoroughly impressed by them. G and A sound like a cross between Planes Mistaken for Stars and Twelve Hour Turn. I have always been a fan of everything No Idea Records has put out and its bands like this that only solidify that notion. (RP)

Gods Among Men self-titled Sardonic Sounds • If you could read the diary of a Goth girl trying to get a grip on life, it could be similar in tone to this release from Gods Among Men. Songs are constructed as drawn out compositions with a thick bass guitar, tight percussion, viola and samples to direct female and male vocals that range from screamo to operatic in sound. A dramatic and morbid mixture of hardcore and sluggish metal makes for an interesting sound, but the music itself is too much in the forefront, drowning out the voices of each person in the band. (JC)

Grayskul Deadlivers Rhymesayers • Oh, this is tasty. Featuring Onry Ozzborn and JFK of Seattle's Oldominion and Rob Castro on bass, Grayskul's Deadlivers is an exceptional hip-hop album. The beats bang out an infectious pace, providing the proper backing to the aggressive approach Grayskul takes, spitting out verse after verse, using haunting keyboards and tempo-changing breaks to keep you on your toes. The somewhat dark feel to the album is balanced out with a jazzy influence; the album remains rugged, but still has a strong, soulful side that shines through despite the overall energy. (CM)

Great Plains Gypsies Stare Into the Sun Sunny Smedley • The ever-evolving Great Plains Gypsies, led by Dan Whitaker, is now six-members deep and sound as if they spend their time playing gigs at the local country saloon. Their blues rock sound crosses the borders of folk and country to provide a steady beat, catchy enough to overlook Whitakers vocals that sound like a cross between Kenny Rodgers, Bob Segar and Elvis - to little satisfaction. This offering has some good songs, but nothing to keep you coming back. (JC)

Grip Grand Poppin Pockets 12" Look Records • A transient during his youth as a hip hop fan, Grip Grand rhymes about being broke, over an inspiring and catchy beat, on this 12" single that features a remix and instrumentals. His scruffy flow and precise delivery calls out to the crowd to "pop your pockets for us, just turn them inside out," while proclaiming empty wallet status by adding "my lyrics are the only gold that I got in my mouth." Gotta love the honesty, the remix features AG and production comes from Grip and DJ Design. (JC)

Hal Cragin Wet Grassy Ground Catvalley Records • Quite a sublime turn for this former collaborator of Iggy Pop and They Might Be Giants. Hal Cragin, bassist extraordinaire, begins this release with a soothing instrumental complete with an atmospheric aura. The rest of Wet Grassy Ground follows suite with a mellowed-out jazzy vibe that touches on pop rock tunes and mesmerizing music. Arranged and recorded entirely by Cragin, his second offering provides rust-like melodious vocals (reminiscent of a Leonard Cohen type), an assortment of sounds, and songs about being lost among natures setting. Cragin's style is better suited on dreary tracks like "Blink Of An Eye" instead of the more peppy offerings such as "Never Too Late," and overall, though there are a handful of standout tracks, this set comes off a bit dated and tired. (JC)

Hella Church Gone Wild / Chirpin Hard Suicide Squeeze Records • I had been looking forward to Hella's next album for a while. You can imagine how great I felt to see that their latest is a double album! What you can't imagine is how disappointed I was by the first CD, Church Gone Wild. Sure, it has the totally spastic sound that duo Spencer Seim and Zach Hill create with drums and guitars. However, they also decided to add vocals (!), which completely ruins the album. At least the second CD, Chirpin Hard, sounds more like a proper Hella record, except that they use video game-sounding effects, which makes it easier to take. (AL)

I The Nominonivore Sling Slang Records • Electro music with moments of indie pop rock weirdness. It has catchy pop melodies with vocals influences somewhere intersecting around Bono and Thom Yorke. This band has created a radio ready electro pop band with layers. "Like Hate" is a very dancy track, but then the next track, "The Happening," is a rock pop song all the way. The sound reminded me of Keane. The band describes their music as a psychological exploration of the human mind. I think they say it best when explaining the album, "Sometimes you just get all nuts...we just happened to write it down." (MP)

I Am Is . . .It's What Life Feels Like When You're Lost Out Here Debauchery Records • Most bands aren't brave enough to release a double-album, let alone their debut. But I Am Is isn't most bands. The first disc starts out with some Elephant 6-style indie pop with better recording quality. The disc segues into some more alt-country sounding tunes, and is followed up with a second disc of acoustic tunes. Fans of tuneful indie pop should eat this up, but be sure not to spoil your dinner. (CL)

I.T. Low Income Housing Domination Records • Recorded in Memphis, these southern Chicago natives (rhyme spitter INFINITO and beat maker Thaione) create the duo known simply as IT. This release, put together during a short recording session, has a handful of standout tracks but overall could have used a little more preparation. The basic stories and flows presented lyrically are mostly forgettable and the production is a similar low-budget sound that has been around the underground for quite some time. "Samuel L. Jackson VS. Dolomite," "Bubblegum Artists" and "1884 Berlin Conference" are songs that showcase how good this album could have been. (JC)

Imperial The Grave is My Poem EP Pluto Records • This EP is nothing short of being totally amazing Imperial has definitely made a metalcore masterpiece. Having two vocalists really helps set these guys apart from other hardcore bands of today. If you have never heard these guys think Overcome meets Poison the Well. (RP)

in-V Cast Straight Succession Records • When I first started listening to Cast Straight, I was about to label in-V as just another pop punk band. After a few more minutes, I began to see that this North Carolina based four piece did have some elements that separated them from the rest of the bunch. The band's music comes across as having very high energy which I am sure would be great to see live. Their lyrics and music come together with a sort of attitude about them that draws in listeners. The album is nothing extraordinary, but it is at least worth a listen. I think I would like the songs more after seeing the band live though. (KB)

Jennifer Johns Heavy-electro-magnetic-solar-poetic-junglehop Nayo Movement Music • In the same vein as Eryka Badu, Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott, but with her own style, spoken word artist and soulful singer Jennifer Johns impresses on this release. Overtop a range of electric beats and sonic breaks mainly provided by Spontaneous, atmospheric additions from live instruments and R&B vocals are well produced to create an alternative for the more popular sounds of the Neptunes and the like. Johns comes off easily appealing with provocative production and a sexy delivery of her voice, most notable on standout tracks "Heavy (808-junglalistic afro freak)" and "Fallen." (JC)

Jeromes Dream Completed Alone Records • This is Jeromes Dream complete anthology put onto two lovely compact discs for your listening pleasure. Having such creative song titles as "His life is my denim paradise all day, every day" JD seems to not take themselves to seriously but their music says something entirely different. JD are a band I wish I could heard before this CD came out because they are a radical band. I recommend this CD to anyone who is into angular hardcore or is looking for all those hard to find JD recordings. (RP)

Kerbloki Poisonous Plants Lucid Records • Kerbloki is the definition of popular, white-boy hip-hop. It's rap music for the suburbs with rhyme displays that are all over the place with a cocky attitude, and a style too corny to take serious. The beats have elements of breaks and synth, giving the sound a sonic boost for which these schoolyard flows are delivered. Sounding a lot like the snobbish Kottonmouth Kingz, trying to be taken serious, the juvenile attitude on this release bounces with each catchy beat, and is a nice diversion from the hostility of the hip-hop world. (JC)

Kill Crush Destroy The Weaker We Get... Dark City Records • Jersey Shore hardcore, plain and simple. Plain, not pain, although you may feel some of that, too, if you haul off and put your fist through a wall while listening to this. It could happen. "Adios Amigo" is fantastic. (SH)

Lagwagon Live in a Dive Fat Wreck Chords • This album was recorded live at the House of Blues in Hollywood, California. It contains twenty-two tracks which span over Lagwagon's career and would satisfy any fan. The sound is incredible for a live album. The sleeve that comes with the album has a comic strip in it making fun of the band and how they have not released an album in years. This, plus the teasing of the crowd in between songs on the disc, proves that the guys in Lagwagon have a great sense of humor. If you are into the skate punk kind of music that this band is known for, then you will love this live album. (KB)

Let it Die Stick to Your Guns Spook City U.S.A. • Let it Die feature ex- members of The Black Dahlia Murder which is pretty cool. Although that isn't enough to make this all that great of an album .Let it Die play pretty straight forward tough guy hardcore in the same vein as Hatebreed and Terror. (RP)

Liquid Blue Supernova Deep Blue • This group of three girls and four guys not only sings about the peace and love that could be possible throughout the world, but they travel to each corner of every continent, and incorporate those sounds into their music. Heavy on the pop landscape, the vocals that the girls provide on this release are mostly bubblegum flavored and the music that is created has a synth backbone with steady beats and formulated instrumentation that adds touches of Middle Eastern, Asian and Latin sounds. Sure to be a hit on the "world music" stage, Supernova has a hard time impressing in the states. (JC)

Lordroc E2 to Bass Skygod Entertainment • This album starts with the Queens native giving "another promo for the radio" on the track "Who Is It You Love?" (the answer – "not another white boy thug") that carries an FM-ready beat and female singer on the hook. Regardless of color, the production on this release thumps with a steady bass vibe, but the flows from Lordroc sound like a sci-fi fan that has heard one too many rap clichés, starting with the track "Roc Muzik" which is right around where things begin to go down hill. From there, it's all amateur hour on the microphone. (JC)

Massimo self-titled Skytide Music • Michael Massimo is a rockin' singer-songwriter that delivers sub par vocals with an 80's era sound overtop basic pop-rock riffs. The agony within his voice tells stories about car crashes and getting lost inside himself through five forgettable tracks. Tempo changes occur everywhere, and Massimo uses those to hit highs and lows with his voice, reminiscent of Ronnie James Dio and the like. (JC)

Maximo Park A Certain Trigger Warp Records • Warp Records is known as one of the premier electronica labels around. But every once in a while, they release a band that is completely out of place. What is a rock band doing on this label? Maximo Park hails from Newcastle, and they play rock music with a touch of soul. Think of the recent interest in bands like the Killers, The Strokes, The Mooney Suzuki, and you'll see why a band like this could do well. (AL)

Meander self-titled self-released • If Mazzy Star gave up the harmonica and switched up the instrumentation slightly, we might have something like Meander. They invoke the same kind of rainy day gloominess, the kind all of us need to hear in our music from time to time. Multi-layered guitars underplay intimate female vocals to produce a low-key, lush landscape. (DP)

Middle Class Mile self-titled Two Four Dead Records • Stop what you're doing. If you're not on your computer, go to it. Open the Internet and go to Look to the right. Under "Demo (12/00)," open "Family Guy." Listen to it. Rejoice. These guys are doin', they're doin' goooooood. (SH)

Mind Capsule self-titled self-released • Robert Sadowski played every instrument on this album, which is a collection of medium tempo instrumental pieces. Each track is centered in rock, but drifts into moody territory and flirts with electronica. This music is perfect for a lazy evening driving down a one lane road. (AL)

Mishka One Tree Cornerstone R.A.S. • This soulful cat belts out melodic, reggae pop tunes like a pro. The tunes are mesmerizing, soothing and uplifting, groove-oriented works. Part Marley, part Sublime, the whole thing comes together exceptionally and fans of the pop reggae genre will sway to this. Whether you're coolin' out after work with a fat spliff or tossing beers back on the beach, this is a perfect accompaniment. (CM)

Mobius Band City vs Country EP Ghostly International • Mobius Band makes catchy, beat-friendly pop music with electronic leanings. They evoke the spirit of New Order without sounding like they are imitating. The atmospherics are a nice touch as well, creating a cool vibe. (AL)

Mystechs Silly and Serious Omega Point Records • Sometimes being too funny is just not funny after a while. But don't tell sarcastic electro-punk rockers the Mystechs that, because truthfully they couldn't give a shit about what you find funny. Nick Dye and Emil Hyde release their sixth album of mayhem and smorgasbord of sounds that you will find either unlistenable, or simply amazing, there's just really no in between. With songs like "Rock and Roll Killed the Eskimos" and "The South Dakota Gluebag Connection" the Mystechs would make Frank Zappa and Ween proud. (JC)

Napalm Death The Code is Red...Long Live the Code Century Media • It's hard to believe that Napalm Death has been going on strong since 1981. They essentially created the grindcore genre, and left hundreds of bands in their wake with their aggressive, insanely fast sound. This album continues in that tradition, destroying all that lies in its path. And with guests like Jello Biafra, Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) and Jeff Walker (Carcass), how can you go wrong? (AL)

Narcoleptic Youth Chronological Disorder Last Minute • With Dead-Kennedys-style punk rock sensibilities, these guys throw a nonstop, powerful, and delightfully snotty assault at you. It's the sound that truly defines rebellion, and they blow up everything in sight with their ultrafast, hypersonic smart bombs. They have been around forever and opened for the timeless greats. Can't go wrong if you like your punk to give you the middle finger at blazing speeds. (DP)

New Mexican Disaster Squad/Western Addiction Split CD No Idea • Great split! From Orlando and San Fran, respectively, these two extremely high-energy speedpunk bands tear the shit UP. Socially conscious and incisive, this CD thrashes about madly and expertly as it expounds on things people should already know, but just don't get... like unity. So it grabs you by the balls and drills it into your head with surgical precision. Even has a Bad Brains cover! (DP)

Nightbreed Immortality Through Ashes Tragic End Records • This is an impressive six-song offering of emo-core tracks. This trio plays like a trio, meaning they play their strengths – dark, churning songs with heavy lyrics and no ridiculous overdubbing. Good, tight songs, great hooks and clean harmonies. (SH)

One.Be.Lo S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. Fat Beats • Formerly known as One Man Army as part of the Binary Star duo, One.Be.Lo has created a solid album of beats and rhyme displays with enough substance to show his growth as an emcee. S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. (Sounds of Nashid Originate Good Rhymes and Music) takes this Pontiac, Michigan native down a road of life's experiences using captivating storytelling delivered with confidence, and a precise style that goes hand in hand with the thumping production provided by himself and Decompoze. This release floats through different moods, as evident in tracks like "True Love" and "Evil of Self," and does so in a way that doesn't sacrifice what he came to do. (JC)

Oneida The Wedding Jagjaguwar •Diverse would be one good word to describe this album. Indie pop melodies layered with some electro moments creates a dance driven album, but then you hit tracks like "Did I Die" that have a guitar rock feel with some 80s hair band vocals. Phil Manley of Trans Am contributes guitar to "The Beginning is Nigh." Adam Davison of Company (who also appeared on Oneida's recent EP Nice/Splittin' Peaches), Brad Truax of Home, and avant-garde piano wizard Emily Manzo all appear on the album as well. (MP)

Open Hand You And Me Trustkill Records • I would bet money that these guys are going places. They deftly blend indie rock, metal, and stoner rock, and float melodic vocals over the mix. The stoner influences come from the fuzzed out guitars, but they play faster than most stoner bands, keeping the tempo fast enough to allow a nice groove to develop. They have a bit of a Queens of the Stone Age thing going for them. (AL)

Over It Silverstrand Lobster Records • This four-piece Orange Country band, by way of Virginia, have journeyed far and long to get to where they are. Forming in 1998, the members of Over It have had plenty of time to work together and create their melodic pop punk sound in all its infectious glory. But do not get me wrong, the band definitely has substance to its music. The songs are well thought out and leave any listener wanting to sing and dance along. (KB)

Paranoid / [a]pendics.shuffle Unclassified Computer Funk Orac Records • This Split CD joins Paranoid and [a]pendics.shuffle, each of which provides two songs. Paranoid dabbles in techno/house, using plenty of effects and quirky sounds. [a]pendics.shuffle incorporates processed vocals into his futuristic and convoluted technique. (AL)

Parchman Farm self-titled EP Jackpine Social Club • There's a new revival going on, kids. If you haven't noticed, you will soon. The "The" bands are on the way out and this 70's southern-funk thing is catching fire like a cricket's legs in a fiddlin' contest. Bands like the Kings of Leon have already fired their shots across the bow and now comes Parchman Farm and their five-song EP. If you've heard the Kings you know. If not, think Cream. Who's Cream?!?!??! Damn, you kids are young. OK, imagine if the Black Crowes got a little funkier and more psychedelic. There you have it. P.S. Allyson is wicked-hot. (SH)

Phame Chapter: Four Verse: 15 Noble Casa Records • Bolivian rapper Phame injects Latin influences into his beats, especially for the songs that he raps in Spanish, creating a sound similar to Cuba's Orishas or Argentina's Sindicato Argentino Del Hip Hop . His voice is a bit somewhat breathy and scratchy, with a bit of a smooth delivery. (AL)

Piers Whyte self-titled Ache Records • This album is as experimental as they come. It consists of nine tracks of electronically made noises, glitches, clicks and atmospheres. It dives into ambient in a couple of places, then comes right back with the sonic assault. (AL)

Pilot Scott Tracy Any City Alternative Tentacles Records • Scott and Tracy Cox-Stanton used to be in the Causey Way, a group that masqueraded as a religious sect ready to convert all to their brand of new wave/punk music. Now, they are pretending to be the in-flight band for PST airlines. Whatever their current story is, their sound is immediately recognizable. Fuzzy guitars coexist with cheesy synth lines and old keyboards and vocals with plenty of attitude. (AL)

Pitch Black This is the Modern Sound Revelation Records • Pitch Black formed in 1999 after leaving various other bands behind. This album is the follow up to their 2003 self-titled debut. The songs recorded for this disc sound as if they were heavily influenced by earlier punk bands. The instruments fit together tightly and the album itself has an overall well put together sound. (KB)

Plain White T's All We Ever Needed Fearless Records • This is another one of those rare occasions where I listen to an album and like it right away. The Plain White T's have managed to successfully create a catchy, but unique group of songs for All We Ever Needed. This band has seen line up changes, as so many others have, but the current one works and that is what matters. Their songs are crisp and refreshing pop-rock. The songs are full of infectious hooks and will stick in any listener's head for days to come. (KB)

Pony Up! self-titled Dim Mak/Ten Fingers • These chicks is out there. With an into track, "Shut Up and Kiss Me," this 5-female (count Œem, 5) band from Burlington is definitely something fresh. It is a crazy offshoot of girl rock, infusing deliberate and hilarious immaturity with Doors-style organs and Go-Go's rock and roll. There's a wonderful departure between where you think the music is going to take you and where you actually end up. But it doesn't jerk you around, it's just fun, cute, and smart. (DP)

Quite Nyce Power Moves Abstrak Recordings • Though Quite Nyce has a slick rhyme style and a knack for storytelling, this release lacks anything that helps it stand out from other offerings within the underground. Whether pleading his case to hip hop heads on the opener "Who's This" or creating a tale about being broke on "4Gotten," Nyce comes off as just another average emcee. Too many producers had their hands in this album, providing classic sounds that come off as unoriginal (inspired by the DJ Premiers of the world), or simply messing with the albums flow by including tracks like the subpar "Love You." Appearances include Breez Evahflowin, Jana Sadler and Cadence. (JC)

Rat Cat Hogan We're Bicoastal Skrocki Records We're Bicoastal is the latest full-length for Rat Cat Hogan. This Seattle duo doesn't shy away from the major issues facing our nation today, with songs about picking out a cat at the ASPCA and thinking you recognize somebody you haven't seen in a zillion years on the subway. It's hard-hitting stuff juxtaposed (yeah, I bet somebody a beer that I could use "juxtapose" in a review this issue and it won't be some cheap ass Anheuser-Busch crap) with Herbert Bergel's laconic vocals to create some cool indie pop. (CL)

Restraining Order Five On Green self-released • Sticking to the Five On idea, Restraining Order is back with another short set of quirky pop songs about the ladies, or the lack there of. Armed with a saxophone, this five member band pushes out some serious pop songs that range from begging a girl to "be with me" to a song about a girl who just refuses to recycle. "Earthly Liquids" sounds like a Sublime offspring, but the finale "Trees" is the standout, with a steady acoustic guitar sound and addition of the sax at the right moments, we could be getting a glimpse of the future of Restraining Order, as they've progressed once again with this offering. (JC)

Reza Ray of the Wine Stonemountain Entertainment • Traditional Middle Eastern music and vocals meets contemporary blues and funk. I can't say that I know too much about this kind of music, and it is definitely an interesting combination. Sitar layering over funk driven bass lines creates something entirely unique to my ears. The title track takes a slower approach, with a jazzy piano backdrop, topped with Middle Eastern melodies. This is a nice mesh of western influence and mid-eastern traditions. (MP)

Richard Shindell Vuelta Koch Records • The second track "Waist Deep In The Big Muddy" reminds me of Michael Penn as far as the vocals go with a Sting-like melody floating around in the background. Shindell's narrative takes you for a ride with his folk style guitar to seal the deal. While his vocals are soothing and sincere, they lack range and intensity at times where there should be a change of form of some sort. However, this works most of the time with his storytelling lyrical delivery. "So Says the Whipporwill" is a key track that could capture anyone's attention that has a weakness for the likes of James Taylor and others affiliated with heartfelt acoustic music. (SP)

Rockethouse Weapons of Mass Distortion Kanine Records • Rockethouse brings a whole lotta distortion to the party with their debut album. They play some seriously fuzzed-out new wave-influenced rock like the brothers Reid from the Jesus & Mary Chain, with a touch of the more beat-oriented Primal Scream. Who cares if we can't find anything in Iraq when we can party with the Rockethouse? (CL)

Roger Miret and the Disasters 1984 Hellcat Records • This album is the sophomore release from Roger Miret and the Disasters. Miret, best known as the singer for Agnostic Front, is a known name for anyone familiar with the Œ80s punk and hardcore scene. His newest project draws on his earlier experiences and influences. His help in reviving the New York City scene a couple decades ago is reflected in some of the songs. The music and overall feel of the album is best described as just straight up street punk. (KB)

Ruins Vrresto Skin Graft Records • Japan's Ruins is a duo with a serious musical case of ADHD. Their music features constant time and signature changes, is extremely fast and technical, and makes a hell of a lot of noise with just bass and drums. It would be impossible to think that Fantômas could ever have existed were it not for these guys. Are the vocals in Japanese, or are they just gibberish? It's hard to tell, but it hardly matters anyway. This album was previously available overseas, but has been remixed and remastered for US release. (AL)

Run.Away.From.The.Humans. We Exist self-released • This band has to be into The Postal Service. I can hear the Ben Gibbard influence throughout the second track "We Are". That's not to say the songs are no good. The first track "Wake Up, Wake Up" in particular grabbed my attention from the get-go. What seems to be missing from the mix is originality. I'm almost positive if this group stays together, they will find it in no time. The catchy "Lost My Way" will have you bobbing your head right to the very end. This is eighties music with electro beats backed efficiently with beautiful guitars throughout the mix. (SP)

Scouts Honor Roots in Gasoline Thinker Thought Records • I had to listen to this album a few times through to decide if I even liked it or not. It is definitely different from a lot of the music out there now. The band is made up of Atomic Satterfield and Jared Grabb. The sound coming from this duo is a mix of rock and roll, hardcore, garage, and even some country twang coming from the guitar in a couple of songs. Satterfield and Grabb sing about everything from family and friends to the Midwest. Though there is more energy in the harder parts of this album, I would have to say that I am more a fan of the slower paced songs such as the title track. (KB)

Screeching Weasel Boogadaboogadaboogada! Asian Man Records • This is a pop-punk classic from 1988, remastered and rereleased for your listening pleasure. Hailing from Chicago, SW was at the forefront of a pop punk assault that included other bands such as Green Day and Chrimshrine. With loads of influence from punk greats The Ramones, SW added a bit of extra snottiness, speed, and punk rock attitude to create a slightly harder sound, but still thick with poppy goodness. With Ben Weasel always at the helm, the band retained their style throughout. This album is a raw, but solid, collection of 26 highly catchy, irresistible punk rock tunes that helped to define the pop punk genre. (CM)

Seemless self-titled Equal Vision Records • Seemless's self-titled album starts off with a bang and doesn't stop. They channel the best sludge rock has to offer and blend it with a little metal. Their pedigree is impeccable, with members that previously did time in Shadows Fall, Overcast, and Killswitch Engage. I was reminded of High on Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, and somehow, A Perfect Circle. (AL)

Self-Scientific Gods and Gangsters Nature Sounds • The tight production from DJ Khalil, the steady flows from Self-Scientific, and the guest list on this collection of Gods and Gangsters makes for a solid offering of West Coast hip hop for the mind. Beginning with the posse cut "Seven," featuring E-Rule, Big Reece, GT and Bad Azz, and the opener "Change PT. 1," the tone is set for what's to come. Slamming beats provide an energy that allows the emcees on this album room to slay the microphone with their own unique precision. Whether rhyming about city life, untimely deaths or run-ins with hoodlums, this release mirrors its title. Appearances by Talib Kweli, Phil Tha Agony, Planet Asia and more, make this one worth checking out alone. (JC)

Settlefish The Plural Of The Choir Deep Elm • Few bands can craft emotional rock tunes without sounding a bit sappy, but Settlefish has done it for a full album. This is a passionate 15-track indie rock release that is melodic and hard rocking, using fluid song structure to suck you in, easing you along while dosing out plenty of intensity. They don't create that energy with metal riffs or soaring guitars; instead, they are precise, thought-out tunes that capitalize on superb musicianship, emotionally-charged vocals and constant forward momentum, never letting a song die off without smacking you around. Okay, maybe there is a track or two that is a bit softer on the ears, but they make up for any perceived lack of energy by with heartfelt honesty, which is way better than forcing unnecessary aggression. (CM)

Shadowyze & Big Lo Guerrillas in the Mixx Vol. 1 Backbone/So-Lo • Much of this mix presented by Shadowyze and Big Lo features beats that bounce with a mixed up southwestern sound, and shout-outs to Native American and Spanish styles. Alongside revolutionary rhymes, only a hand full of tracks standout, even the Public Enemy offering "Psycho Of Greed" fails to impress with its Beatles sample and political agenda. Songs worth checking out include the infectious "Just Us" by Rasheed, the bangin' "Pork and Beef" by The Coup and the thought-provoking "Bang Bang" by Ohene of Element Law. (JC)

Skintones Never Get Better Crustacean Records • These guys don't let up for the entire album, jamming out guitar-heavy rock and roll that takes influence from punk and classic rock. The music is so good, so packed with energy and loaded with melodies that the lyrics don't matter. But if you take the time to listen, you'll realize these guys have a perfect balance between socio-political commentary and total silliness. Take, for instance, this verse from "Rocka Locka Mooka Locka:" "The Skintones are riding their camels/ Riding across the desert/ Hijacking herds of camels/ Crashing into the sand dunes/ Terror-ism/ Clean-livin'/ Jihad-pimpin'/ Suicide-mission." Okay, maybe they're light on poignant commentary, but they at least make a few points here and there. (CM)

Smoke Or Fire Above The City Fat Wreck • Four guys come together on this album to craft exquisitely tight power punk loaded with aggression and emotion. For 12 tracks, this quartet tears through song after song, thick with melodies, tempo changes and intricate song structure. There are hooks galore on this release, but the band sure isn't short on intensity. Fans of Strike Anywhere, Good Riddance, Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio will find plenty about this release to revel in. (CM)

Snitches Get Stitches I Liked You Better When You Were a Corpse Empty Records • SGS play ferocious eclectic punk rock music, if that makes any sense at all. SGS are a bi-polar punk rock hell ride and I loved every minute of it. Imagine if you can Trail of the Dead meets The Pixies at a Drive Like Jehu jam session and there you have a pretty accurate description of the madness and perfection that is called Snitches Get Snitches. (RP)

Snow Machine self-titled Daemon • Lighthearted and brooding, this record is an elegant, feathery trip through emotional turmoil. With dreamy, harmonic female vocals, it has wonderful piano and organ lines and energetic background rhythms. I could fall asleep to this music – it's not boring, it's soothing... it quiets the beast inside with its sweet temperament. Mmmm. (DP)

Strikeforce Diablo The Albatross and the Architect No Idea Records • From the opening track, Strikeforce Diablo bust out with proper rock and roll. The vocals are on the raw side, but in the choruses they get melodic at times. The songs are well written and the guitars are both hooky and aggressive at once. (AL)

Summer at Shatter Creek All The Answers Badman Recording Co • So here's another guy and a guitar, but this time it is done superbly. Simplistic guitar melodies that repeat into your head, while layers of beautifully crafted vocals choose just the right notes and the amount of vocals needed. The harmonies layer with piano to create a sometimes dark mood, beautifully clashing with more pop beats. Craig Gurwich is really the man behind this band, and Coner Oberst and Bob Dylan seem like they had an influence on this songwriter. With all the copycat singer/songwriters out there, it is refreshing to hear something done well. (MP)

Summers End self-titled Hand of Hope • Summer End play unrelenting metal and they do it very well. From opening track to the finish there wasn't a disappointing moment on the whole CD. I can only imagine how much these guys would rule live. Think Three Inches Blood meets Iron Maiden, this album truly ruled. (RP)

Sunshine Moonshower and Razorblades Custard Records • These guys formed in a suburb outside the 15th century republic town of Tabor in 1994 and have since created an intense and straightforward form of rock and roll capturing elements of the early material of U2 with an electronic pop appeal to accompany. "Victimisanothernameforlover" is a prime example of this force, while the third track "Lower Than Low" shows a somewhat softer side. The album takes a turn towards the dance spectrum with the club hopping "Never's Always Never". Either way you can count on hearing the Edge's guitar influence throughout in this band. (SP)

Taz Taylor Caffeine Racer No Hair Records • Taz Taylor plays all instruments on this album except for the drums, and his talent is quite evident. The album plays like one giant guitar solo, with steady melodies and driving beats. This music would be perfect for use on TV to soundtrack TV shows that want to sound edgy without turning anyone off for being too extreme. (AL)

Tears From The Sky Power Symbol Revelation Records • These guys from Quebec play mean metalcore with plenty of energy. They dip into their classic metal influences at times – at one point I thought I was listening to an Iron Maiden album. The vocals are both guttural screams and melodic choruses, and the energy level never drops. (AL)

Thanksgiving The Ghost and the Eyes with Trees in the Ground Outside the Window States Rights Records • Hey, it's another melancholy guy with an acoustic guitar, a pretentious album title ("The Ghost and the Eyes with Trees in the Ground Outside the Window"), and tiresome lo-fi production. There are also the off-key moans completely devoid of anything resembling a melody. The CD release of this "song cycle" is mercifully limited to 700 copies. Enjoy! (CL)

The 101 Green Street Limekiln Records • Good emo-pop here. Simple, easy to listen to indie pop songs. If your hardcore collection is wearing you out, try this. Track 7, "Generals" is catchy. (SH)

The Adicts Made in England SOS Records • The Adicts are to punk rock what Black Sabbath is to metal. The Adicts have been around for over 25 years and, get ready, the original members never left! This CD celebrates their favorite songs. You need to hear this, if for no other reason than to know where today's bands learned their lessons. (SH)

The Adicts Rise and Shine SOS Records • Many of the bands I come across have only been together a few years and have already seen many line-up changes. The Adicts are not one of these bands. The original line-up, formed in 1975, is still together and recording. The songs on this album are fast, fun, and to be honest, a little off center but that is what makes The Adicts so great. The songs they record are meant to carry a message of just having fun. I think some of the songs would be an awesome soundtrack to a really weird carnival. After all those years, these guys can still produce good music. (KB)

The Arts and Sciences Hopeful Monsters Daemon Records • The Arts and Sciences is the creation of solo artist Paul Melancon and his band. It was recorded in just two weeks, but you would not know it. The songs have an indie pop sound to them with well written lyrics. There is a female backing vocalist on the tracks which helps add harmonies to the album's dynamic. The goal behind this album was to create something more immediate and personal than their previous works. I feel they accomplished this and more. (KB)

The Black Maria Lead Us to Reason Victory Records • Before you label The Black Maria as just another Victory band, please actually give them a chance. The lyrics are heartfelt and honest while the music is well played. This band has obviously found its sound and knows how to write great songs. The catchy tracks and darker tracks balance each other out and contain enough energy to stir any crowd. This band is passionate and that definitely comes across on this album. (KB)

The Blue Van The Art of Rolling TVT Records • Some bands are just formed in the wrong decade. The Blue Van is one of those bands. Hailing from Denmark, these guys channel the 60's into their Rhythm & Blues inspired rock. Most of the album consists of punchy tracks enhanced by Hammond organs and the blasts of drums, though there are a couple of slower tracks as well. (AL)

The Books Lost and Safe Tomlab • This release is an entertaining and conceptual piece of art with eclectic sounds that becomes entrancing the longer it plays on. The soundscape is like a backdrop to a movie, complete with sound bite samples that provide narration track by track. The music on this release is a mostly orchestrated sound that takes a back seat to the full circle story about life's confusion outside the moments your nose is stuck inside a book. Lost and Safe is a well-arranged journey that pulls the listener in without the help of catchy songs or gimmicks, just an unusual collection that goes right along with a rainy day. (JC)

The Braves Love & Mercy Johanns Face • This is an emotionally driving outfit reminiscent of Better than Ezra, with their insistent, quick rock and roll rhythms and powerful vocals. Not quite as sunny, it has the cry of a broken heart underneath it all, and invokes a consistent mood of uncertainty and sadness. But – beauty and hope are always the goal. (DP)

The Evens self titled Dischord Records • Male and female vocals blend beautifully. Ian MacKaye (Fugazi, Minor Threat) contributes vocals and guitar, while Amy Farina (The Warmers) completes this two-piece on drums and vocals. The loud, rawness of MacKaye's previous bands does not come through this music, but the emotion of this songwriter can't be ignored. There is more focus on the vocals with this album, where they layer over simplistic guitar and drum melodies. Different from other MacKaye's projects, this is still worth giving a listen to if you are open to the tame side of this post punk rocker. (MP)

The Exploited Horror Epics SOS Records • SOS Records decided to re-release this album which was originally out in 1985. The Exploited are known as a classic punk rock band with a political edge. The original eleven tracks are very aggressive and hostile. Some of them even tie in metal influences, producing a darker sound. The two bonus tracks that have been added to the re-release are a lot less dark and keep in tradition with their hardcore punk sound. I think fans of The Exploited or any other true punk bands, owe it to themselves to hear this album. (KB)

The Fux I'm on TV Valiant Death Records • This is NOT pop-punk, do you hear me? If' you've just watched the latest puss video from Good Charlotte, and you think, "Hey, I'll buy The Fux because they're punk and so is Good Charlotte..." DON'T! However, if you want REAL punk, punk that will spike your hair, put eyeliner on your face and tattoos on your ass, buy this. And when you get it, go directly to track 17 "Bitch (You Bitch, You Fucking Bitch)." (SH)

The Glimmers DJ Kicks !K7 • Formerly known as The Glimmer Twins, they dropped the last part of their name to avoid getting sued by the Rolling Stones, since Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were known by that name. What they have put together for their first DJ Kicks album is a collection of 18 tracks which revolve around disco, without sounding like a Rhino Records compilation. They span decades as well, with tracks from the 70s (Hamilton Bohannon and Chicago, back before top 40 radio ruined them) all the way through today (Two Lone Swordsmen, Peaches). It's hard to keep from feeling something while listening to this album. (AL)

The Goodwill Insult, Injury, Etc. Abacus Recordings • This Long Island based five piece has come a long way since its debut recording. The band's sound has matured and ventured away from it's original pop punk roots. Enough to where the songs are more mature and solid, but not to the point of losing the catchiness that hooks listeners in. This band fits right into the current popular music trends, but with its own appeal. (KB)

The Great Kat Wagner's War self-released • See elsewhere in this section for a review of The Great Kat's DVD, Extreme Guitar Shred. She is an extremely prolific player, who can thrash her way through original speedmetal screamfests as easily as she can play Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries," playing not just guitar, but also violin at a breakneck speed. Needless to say, the longest track on this CD is just over two minutes. (AL)

The Holy Ghost Welcome to Ignore Us Clearly Records • While you're waiting for The Killers to come to your town, or you're pining for that new Hives disc, pick this up. Very tight, very brash and rude indie punk pop. (SH)

The Holy Mountain Blood Stains Across Your Face in Decline No Idea • This release is nothing short of full on out of control old school raging. THM play grimy old school thrash at times sounding like D.R.I. and other times sounding like newer bands like From Ashes Rise and Born Against. Another solid release from the boys at No Idea Records. How do they do it?(RP)

The Interiors A Crooked Line self-released • ALMOST like a "The" band but bluesier, i.e. BETTER. They've got the swagger and attitude of The Stooges but not the total reckless abandon. Rather, they keep it reeled in with some tight blues hooks and a steady rhythm sections. (SH)

The Living Legends Classic Legendary Music • As entertaining as The Living Legends are, this offering of Classic material is jam packed with nothing more than acceptable beats and flows that lack any real punch to be remembered by. In the classic sense of the word, by "taking it back," you risk sounding outdated instead of coming off in a more "classic" way. That's pretty much what happens here. After kicking things off in grand fashion with the opener "Blast Your Radio," the disc veers off course with wary production and raps about boosting the crew and girl trouble. "Never Falling Apart," "Tears and Pain" and "Down For Nothin'" are a few tracks that standout. (JC)

The Loved Ones self-titled Jade Tree • This debut EP from The Loved Ones is just a sample of what is to come from them. The band has lots of previous experience in that it contains members from The Curse, Kid Dynamite, and Trial By Fire. On this project however, the three piece decided to pull from different influences and create a whole new sound. All the songs, no matter the tempo, are full of rock riffs and the raspy vocals that make The Loved Ones stand out. (KB)

The Low Budgets Aim Low, Get High Schuylkill Records • The Low Budget's have a sense of humor that actually comes across in their music. They also have a style very unique to a lot of the music out there today. Their punk rock sound is different and humor based which is also a plus. The songs on the album seem as if they have an 80's influence to them. Either way, the album is fast and fun. This band is definitely one that I would want to see live. (KB)

The Mattoid Eternifinity Cleft Music • The Mattoid is back, thick Scandinavian accent, squishy guitar, weird humor and all. The last album, Hello, was a cool combination of Velvet Undergroud sensibility and some kind of unidentifiable goofiness. The high points were excellent, the low points were banal but forgiveable, and this album is no exception to this rule. I really dig the track "Little Surfer" in particular, it is nice to hear a song with obvious Beach Boys influence that doesn't slavishly copy or mock that sound. The Mattoid definitely has his own sound, and possibly his own little world, and I doubt you will find anyone who sings quite like him. Good luck to you, The Mattoid. (SJM)

The Nein Wrath Of Circuits Sonic Unyon Recording Company • The Nein makes a glorious noise with angular guitars, lo-fi atmospherics, and passionate vocals. Many of the songs are excellent, and the album as a whole hints at something great in the making. Mostly on the heavy side on the rock'n scale, this is essentially indie rock with electronic accoutrements on the order of Enon, with a lot of '60s rock influence in the hook construction. Occasionally intentionally sloppy, sometimes a little psychotic, often inpiring toe-tapping, this is some great stuff. (SJM)

The One AM Radio On the Shore of the Wide World Level Plane Records • Hrishikesh Hirway is The One AM Radio, and his music fuses a bit of folk music with some of the glitchiness of electronica. This record features six remixes from his last album, A Name Writ In Water, with tracks by alias, Daedelus, John Tejada, Caural, and The Wind-Up Bird. (AL)

The Peels The Peels Dim Mak Records• I love the vocals. This is a strong band with a great sound. The female vocals are strongly reminiscent of the smoky baritone of the leads from 4 Non-Blondes (remember them?). This is a great rock and roll disc. Noise, catchy riffs, and a powerful sound. You'll love it. (MK)

The Pindrops self-titled self-released • By the time it got to the second track "Showtime", I was ready to take out the CD and throw it away. These guys sound like they're having fun, but lack of substance is the problem here. The songs lack choruses and the initial hooks to suck in the listener. If you can hang in long enough to make it to the fourth track "Shallow Heights", you will by then be ready to chuck the cd for sure which I am about to do at the end of this sentence. (SP)

The Rocket Summer Hello, Good Friend The Militia Group • The Rocket Summer is the amazingly talented Bryce Avery in all his songwriting glory. His first album was incredible and he has done it again. The songs on this album are heartfelt and catchy. There are piano driven ballads as well as power pop, hook filled masterpieces. Avery's voice compliments the songs beautifully and helps to complete Hello, Good Friend. (KB)

The Sharp Ease Going Modern olFactory • Edgy and retro simultaneously, the Sharp Ease is probably the best all-female band I've heard in several years. The real centerpiece is the vocals, rendered by one Paloma Parfrey, who has such dynamic range both in pitch and in attitude. She sings exhaustively and desperately, and can snap like a rubber band from sweetness to bombastic force. She truly makes this garagey, power-pop foursome stand worlds apart. (DP)

The Static Age Neon Nights Electric Lives Tarantulas Records • It's nice to see the '80s making a comeback. Well, at least certain aspects of the '80s anyway, with bands like Interpol, the Killers, and Clear Static (not to be confused with the Static Age) harkening back to Reagan-era "modern rock" or whatever we were calling it back then. The Static Age sound as if they've been digging through their older siblings Cure albums with some excellent results. Good stuff. (CL)

The Televangelist and the Architect The Mass Exodus from California Undetected Plagiarism • After years of clamoring by eager fans, the Televangelist and the Architect have put aside their artistic and personal differences and decided to work together. Former Grand Unified Theorist Jerry Chen, the T & the A have a more straight-ahead indie-folk style that is reminiscent of both a more restrained Bright Eyes and early Yo La Tengo. (CL)

The Wheel Works How to Fly a Washing Machine India Records • Not even the slight influence of The Doors can save this album from falling into meaningless background filler. "Crawling" is a perfect example of this problem. The tracks bleed into one another without any purpose or real impact to leave on the listener as the vocals are as unnecessary as most of the music. It's almost impossible to make out the lyrics to any of the tracks especially on the Richard Ashcroft driven vocal style of "Free the July Nine". I couldn't even imagine trying to get this whole CD in one listen. I would just as soon rather learn how to fly a washing machine, whatever that means anyways. (SP)

The Winter Pageant Waning/Waxing self-released • This dreamy emo three piece brings the goods with the catchy and easy listening opener "Waxing Incomplete". This is a must for all you Appleseed Cast fans out there. In fact this band sounds as if they could be a side project of Appleseed. The fifth track "Take Desire" screams U2 with its magnetic Adam Clayton like bass line. The build up to the rather lack of chorus is intense with whispering vocals and inspiring guitar leads throughout. Although the EP drags sometimes, when it does hit home you feel it. (SP)

They Walk in Line Medical Necessities Rock Ridge Music • This is very basic, stripped-down and unassuming modern pop. They remind me of the Smiths and mellow Sonic Youth. If you're looking for simple, well-crafted pop songs, check this out. Great for relaxing in the evening and mellowing out on the ride home. (SH)

Thievery Corporation The Cosmic Game ESL Music • People often use the term "electronica" to categorize Thievery Corporation's chilled-out sound. However, their use of computers to create their sound is augmented by plenty of live instrumentation, a technique that adds warmth to their sound. Theirs is a truly international blend of musical flavors, drawing inspiration from the Middle East, Jamaican dub, Brazilian bossa nova, or American Jazz. Thievery Corporation is the future of lounge music. (AL)

Things Fall Apart self-titled Crustacean Records • A few words come to mind while listening to this and they are as follows intense, honest and passionate. This band sounds as if they are putting every bit of themselves into their music and it really shows. TFA sounds like a cross between Hot Water Music and Avail only with more interesting drums and a little bit of metal to their guitar playing. All around this was a really solid release and I highly recommend it. (RP)

Ticonderoga self-titled 54° 40' or Fight! • In addition to being my favorite brand of No. 2 pencil (and let the record show that they are not, nor have they ever been, an advertiser in this fine publication), Ticonderoga happens to be a three-piece band from that magical musical triangle area of North Carolina.  Originally from one of the five or six cities in Iowa, the Ticonderogers play some cool post-rock that's more Pinback than Tortoise. They use a wide variety of different instruments augmenting the traditional guitar-bass-drums lineup of most indie bands. Try it, you'll like it. (CL)

Todd Purity Pledge Southern Records • No, no one in the band is named Todd. And they don't all have the last name Todd. Why? Who cares. Just turn this on and get the snot knocked clean out of ya. This is intense, heavy metal/hardcore/industrial/whatever else. I hear comparisons to Tad and heavy Jesus Lizard often, but I also hear some Sabbath roots and it would be very easy to mistake "Little Dipper to Squirrel" as a Ministry track. Check it. (SH)

Total Chaos Freedom Kills SOS Records • Ooohhh, yeah, baby. Gel up your Mohawk and lace up your Docs. This is serious old school punk for the political leftist extremist in you. If you have ever voted Republican, this disc probably will not make it into your top 100 list, but these guys manage to actually carve out a good sound. They don't rely exclusively on their message, though it couldn't be much more strongly stated. (MK)

Uber Cool Kung Fu 3 Omega Point Records • This is the debut album from the Minneapolis based band, Uber Cool Kung Fu. The Omega Point Records release is described as a blend of old school synth rock with a mixture of pop punk energy and nu-metal angst. That pretty much sums it up in my opinion. The album is unlike anything else I have listened to recently, but at the same time, I feel it would be more appropriate in the hands of a DJ who could appreciate it more. (KB)

Undersea Explosion self-titled LSD 25 Records • USX is a trio that makes for a solid unit of hard rockin' energy and mystic. They create songs that build with heavy anticipation and max out before making unexpected diversions with it's sound. Songs are sagas based loosely around a gangster dieing, visiting Coney Island fantasy camp and a drill that gets used to enlighten, all sang with a deep voice and 1970's New York swagger. With a unique style, and additions of instruments that range from a baritone to a saxophone, these six tracks are a solid collection that takes Rock n Roll back to its roots. (JC)

Van Johnson self-titled Exotic Fever Records • Finally, some hardcore I don't have to find other adjectives for. This is hardcore, plain and simple. If you've been watered down by radio/MTV "hardcore" and you forgot what it's REALLY supposed to sound like, Van Johnson is here to remind you. (SH)

Various Artists Amoeba Music Compilation Vol. 1 Hip Hop Slam Records• These two CDs pack 39 tracks and eight videos in all kinds of genres, including punk, hip hop/rap, reggae, rock, and electronica. They were compiled by the California music store that uses the same name. For some good turntablism, check out the video by the Beat Junkies.

Various Artists Cactus Compilation Vol.2 Nasty Cactus Music • This is a compilation of New Mexico's best bar bands with styles ranging from Rush to Creed to ska. Although most of the tracks on this CD are poorly recorded there are a few stand out tracks. If your into a wide variety of different bar bands this is the compilation for you . (RP)

Various Artists Impeach The Precedent Kajmere Sound • This is the sequel to 1999's The Funky Precedent, which features hip hop, soul, and funk artists getting together to raise money for the music departments of public schools. This time around, the formula is the same, but the proceeds go to Rainforest Action Network. Some of the artists include Jazzanova, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Damon Aaron, People Under The Stairs, Breakestra, Poets of Rhythm, and The Rebirth. (AL)

Various Artists Interesting Flavours Chocolate Fireguard Music • This compilation from Chocolate Fireguard Music showcases the label as a forward-looking label with an ear for diversity, both musically and culturally. There's hip hop, funk-flavored beats, downtempo, and retro sounding tracks. Artists include Kava Kava, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Freddy Fresh, Aeriated, and The Bluefoot Project. (AL)

Various Artists Vancouver Compilation Sudden Death Records • The late 1970s were, apparently, an amazing time for Vancouver. This 26-track compilation features a slew of incredible punk rock bands, some bordering on new wave. I had no idea Vancouver was such a hotbed of punk rock action so long ago. The impressive roster of artists featured here includes the Subhumans and DOA, along with some lesser-known bands such as Private School, Rude Norton and U-J3RKS. Vancouver belongs to be listed next to Southern California, New York and London as one of the best venues for early punk rock. (CM)

Venomous Voices Dyrect Noise Abstrakt Konfusion • Representing Santa Maria, California, Venomous Voices provides only a few bright spots on this offering of basement beats and old-school styles. There's got to be a reason that this release sounds so dated and simplistic, until we know what it is for sure, one can only assume that it's because it was put together rather quickly, without enough preparation. The standout song "Ancient Artifacts" contains a catchy beat and slick rhymes, and is the first track to show promise alongside the mostly juvenile techniques displayed throughout. (JC)

Waterproof Blonde The Morning After The Night Before Self Released •Glam influenced rock with female vocals with attitude. Tracks like "Are you ready" give the vocal effects a PJ Harvey edge, while the more rocking tracks tread on Veruca Salt ground. Other moments are radio-ready, more to the tune of Evanescence. It's not a bad album; it's just not terribly original. (MP)

Watershed The Fifth of July Idol Records • The Columbus, Ohio quartet Watershed return with their latest effort, The Fifth of July. The rock and roll veterans, once signed to a major-label during the mid-90's, have picked up a number of tricks along the way. With a sound that indebted to both Cheap Trick and the Kinks, Watershed plays some catchy power pop with big guitars and big hooks. Somebody get these guys on the radio. (CL)

We Should Run No Metaphor self-released • This is the second EP released from the Cornell University trio. Their sound is hard to pin down. The songs on this album have some melodic rock elements as well as what they call "fusion punk." The EP has only three songs on it though so it is hard to get a full feel for We Should Run. I think they should have added at least one song similar to their instrumental tracks that have gotten the band so much praise in the past. (KB)

Weather Calling Up My Bad Side Cake Records • Weather could very well end up the next radio pop top 40 band. They write catchy and simplistic tunes that stay in your head for days, making you think about that long lost love or some shit like that. Piano driven songs venture into the Coldplay realm with U2ish vocals. The tracks with a more rock pop feel seem like it would catch the ear of a Matchbox 20 fan. This album is "nice," meaning it's not something to write home about, but maybe buy a copy for mom for mother's day. (MP)

William Elliott Whitmore Ashes to Dust Southern Records • William Elliott Whitemore evokes the ghosts of the original down-on-your-luck Country music with a well-worn, raw and rugged voice that sounds like it could use another shot of whisky. While strumming a guitar or picking apart a banjo, Whitmore is at comfort with his sorrows, and comes off like a fiddlin' old-timer singing stories to younger generations somewhere in the mountains about hobos, loneliness and his dieing days. Ashes to Dust is an Americana folk collection of songs by a young guy that was born past his time, and judging by the finale "Porchlight," someone that wouldn't mind something to smile about every once and a while. (JC)

Zs Karate Bump Planaria Recordings • Their lineup consists of two drummers, two guitarists, and two saxophone players. These six musicians make some pretty experimental sounds that go from drone to prog rock. There is a lot of repetition in this album, which can get on your nerves, but you should like this if you like experimental instrumental music. (AL)

DVD Reviews

Against Me! We¹re Never Going Home Fat Wreck Chords • This Against Me! documentary follows the band on their tour with Planes Mistaken for Stars and No Choice from April 1st to May 2nd of 2004. The band is shown performing at different venues and joking around with each other and other bands. If you are looking for a great quality film, this documentary, shot mostly on personal camcorders, is not for you. But if you are looking for a fun account of life on the road, complete with band and fan commentary, than this DVD will definitely keep you entertained. The extra features include a drinking game, photo gallery, and deleted scenes. (KB)

Circle Jerks Live at the House of Blues Kung Fu Records • Kung Fu Records is back with another installment of my favorite concert DVD series. This time, Circle Jerks were chosen for the sixteenth episode. The band was filmed with eight different cameras at the House of Blues at which they performed. The entire concert is shown on the DVD. This punk band has been around for years, so it is awesome that Kung Fu Records chosen them for the concert series. In addition to the full concert, there are many bonus features on the DVD. These extras include everything from multi camera angles and band commentary to extra footage of the band. I have said it before and I will say it again, these Live at the House of Blues DVDs are awesome. (KB)

Duke Ellington In Hollywood Idem Home Video • Among the many musicians featured in the Swing Era series of DVD's, comes this collection of movie shorts that feature the late writer and composer Duke Ellington and his orchestra of jazz legends. The antique footage has been preserved in black and white, and Ellington directs the accompanying music in superb fashion throughout scenes and clips from "Black and Tan" and "Symphony In Black," as well as others. For sixty-minutes, some solid jazz is performed alongside acting appearances by Billie Holiday, Me Anderson and Mae West. (JC)

Labtekwon The Ghetto Dai Lai Llama TV EP - DVD Morphius Records • Six videos accompany this DVD from Labtekwon, as well as over 29 minutes of the emcee sharing his thoughts. Cutting to the chase – the videos, and songs, are not worth the money. Low-budget videos include half-naked girls that are not overly attractive while Labtekwon spits his rubbish effortlessly over sub-par beats and sounds. All the videos are shot the same way, cheesy cut-ins and cutouts that come off very dated. Not that the world needs another mini-movie video, but too many music DVD's fail to impress nowadays. (JC)

Pepper Live Volcom Entertainment • Pepper plays laid-back, reggae inspired rock music with a Southern California flavor. It's hard not to think of Sublime when listening to Pepper, although they have a harder edge at times. This DVD features about 90 minutes of live footage recorded last September, plus a couple of music videos and other goodies. (AL)

Stereotypes Don¹t Just Disappear Into Thin Air the movie Bill Zebub Productions • Expect the unexpected in this movie that throws around racial slurs towards every ethnic group on the map. A sarcastic disclaimer begins things by warning all viewers to not be offended by the use of words like nigger, spic, Jew-bag, gook, chink and fag. This low-budget offering features B-rated actors and props, with enough twisted humor to actually keep you tuned in. The main character is a heavy metal dude, who¹s buddy is Jewish, and after coming face to face with an assortment of supporting characters of different race, irony prevails in the end. Although there were just a handful of truly worthwhile scenes, prepare to be surprised at the balls it took for someone to put this together. (JC)

The Great Kat Extreme Guitar Shred self-released • The Great Kat has two things going for her...she is extremely talented at playing ultra fast guitars and violins, and she looks pretty good in a bikini top (which she is apparently always wearing). She not only plays original tunes, which unfortunately contain all kinds of screaming, but she also covers classical music, which is where she excels. The videos for her original material feature tons of blood (one song is called "Castration") and other unsettling imagery. The only downside to her super-fast playing is that I finished watching the DVD, including the bonus features, in about 20 minutes. (AL)

Vinyl Reviews

Gogglesphere/The Nancy SchoolSplit 7"Joyful Noise • This split 7" showcases two heavy sounding bands from Indianapolis. Gogglephere's "You Need Something To Die For" is rough and noisy, bordering on psychotic rock. Prodigious use of interesting and well-placed samples adds a welcome complexity to the mix. The vocals are pretty much standard screamfest, but are not overly grating, which I would count as a bit of a backhanded compliment. "Midshindeep" by The Nancy School comes out of the gate strong with an extended note that sounds like a bagpipe feeding back. After a sludgy rock intro a la The Melvins, the song gives way to a bassline reminiscent of Mick Karn from the band Japan, which is both strange and wonderful. The sound here couldn't be less typical for the genre, which is refreshing. The actual singing is much more appealing than the rock-rap crap that comes later like a gassy wind from hell. All in all, a pretty interesting song that could probably stand to be abridged. (SJM)

Record Label Addresses
In alphabetical order. Please write them.
!K7 Records,
54° 40' or Fight!,
Abacus Recordings,
Abstrak Recordings,
Abstrakt Konfusion,
Ache Records,
A-F Records,
Alone Records,
Alternative Tent.,
Angie Screams,
Ani Minasian,
Asian Man Records,
Backbone Records,
Bill Zebub Productions,
Black Tie Dynasty,
Blake Brown,
Blue Rose Liar,
Cake Records,
Catvalley Records,
Century Media,
Chicks On Speed,
Chocolate Fireguard,
Clearly Records,
Cleft Music,
Cornerstone R.A.S.,
Crustacean Recs,
Daemon Records,
Dark City Records,
Deadly Weapon,
Debauchery Records,
Deep Blue,
Deep Elm Records,
Definitive Jux,
Dim Mak Records,
Dischord Records,
Domination Records,
Doubling Cube Records, Eleven Minutes Away,
Empty Records,
Equal Vision Records,
ESL Music,
Estrus Records,
Ever Reviled Recs,
Fat Beats Records,
Fat Wreck Chords,
Fearless Records,
Fistolo Records,
Frank Grimaldi,
Ghostly International,
Hand of Hope,
Hellcat Records,
Hex Records,
Hip Hop Slam Records,
Hopeless Records,
I¹ve Come For Your Children,
Idem Home Videos, no address
Idol Records,
Ipecac Recordings,
Jackpine Social Club,
Jade Tree,
Johann's Face Records,
Joyful Noise,
Kajmere Sound,
Kanine Records,
Kemado Records,
Kung Fu Records,
Last Minute Records,
Legendary Records,
Level Plane Records,
Limekiln Records,
Lobster Records,
Look Records,
LSD 25 Records,
Lucid Records,
Memphis Industries,
Merry Mole Music,
Mind Capsule,
Morphius Records,
Mush Records,
Nasty Cactus,
Nature Sound,
Nayo Movement Music,
Newest Industry,
Ninja Tune Records,
No Idea Records,
NorthernBlues Music,
olFactory Records,
Omega Point Recs,
Orac Records,
Orange Peal Records,
Planaria Recordings,
Pluto Records,
Restraining Order,
Revelation Records,
Richard Shindell,
Rock Ridge Music,
Sardonic Sounds,
Schuylkill Records,
Sick Room Records,
Skin Graft Records,
Skrocki Records,
Skygod Entertainment,
Skytide Music,
Sling Slang Records,
So-Lo Productionz,
Sonic Unyon Recording,
SOS Records,
Southern Records,
Spook City Records,
States Rights Recs,
Stonemountain Ent.,
Succession Recs,
Sudden Death Records,
Suicide Squeeze Recs,
Sunny Smedley,
Tarantulas Records,
Taz Taylor,
The Birdman Rec. Group,
The Great Kat,
The Interiors,
The Leaf Label,
The Merediths,
The Militia Group,
The Nancy School,
The Pindrops,
The Wheel Works,
The Winter Pageant,
Thick Records,
Thinker Thought,
Trustkill Records,
TVT Records,
Two Four Dead,
Undetected Plagiarism,
Valiant Death,
Van Johnson,
Victory Records,
Volcom Entertainment,
Warp Records,
Waterproof Blonde,
We Should Run,
ZoBird Records,

Music reviews from past issues: