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Spring '06 Articles:
Good-Bye from IMPACT
MLK the Revolutionary
So That's It?
The Muddlemarch: 1
The Muddlemarch: 2
War on Dissent Intensifies
Maturity is for the Weak
(music reviews)

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CD Reviews | Vinyl Reviews | DVD Reviews
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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.

Beth Orton Comfort of Strangers Astralwerks • British vocalist Beth Orton is a singer that draws her power from the deepest well of soft, sentimental emotion. She beautifully expresses herself over minimalist, rainy-day piano, guitar, and light percussion. Lyrically, the record is astonishingly well-crafted, and contains honest truths that connect instantly and powerfully. The record is a masterwork of songwriting, and captures Orton's talent to its fullest extent. (DP)

Federation X Rally Day Estrus Records • Ready for this one? This one's going to blow your effing mind. I haven't heard something like this in a long time. Fans of Placebo, Muse and Morphine are going to eat this up! This is a slow brand of churning, distorted blues metal. Oh, and it kicks all sorts of ass. I don't know much about FX but from what I've read they've been doing pretty much this same thing for almost eight years now. They're a Washington state outfit and have been tearing it up across the world – yes, the WORLD – for a while now. Rally Day is a phenomenal CD that will open your eyes to music you probably haven't heard in a while, if ever. If you're sick of the current onslaught of punk and revivalist 80's bands, you need to hear this. (SH)

Let Live Speak Like You Talk At One Records • Let Live simultaneously destroys and blends so many genres that it's hard to know where to begin. Jason Aalon Butler's rapidly alternating vocals at times leave him audibly gasping for breath while the instrumentals repeatedly change style and tempo. No two tracks sound alike, with vocals slowing to a Fishbone-like wail, immediately dropping into high gear with a shrill Mike Patton-like scream, then altogether switching to a melodic croon. While this sounds schizophrenic – and at times, it is – it works because of the band's skill and raw talent. The lyrics are tight and intelligent, the production is excellent. What else is there? (CR)

Mates of State Bring it Back Barsuk • This long-anticipated third album (at least by me) from the married duo is here at last! This one is their best yet, and it's truly astonishing how they manage to come up with such radically different styles on their new records, yet the sound remains so totally and completely Mates of State. Their wonderful blend of keyboard, drums, and voices is something to be beheld both recorded and live. The love between these two flourishes so openly and freely in their music. (DP)

Movies with Heroes Nothing Here is Perfect Ci Records • The first track "Wake Up" begins with a soothing keyboard riff which then explodes into guitar fury. The lead vocalist has a Robert Smith (of The Cure) vibe, with just the right touch of originality added perfectly to the mix. "Ink" is just as catchy with its chiming opening guitar lead floating in the background of the intro. The chorus is straight-up infectious. The overall flow of the record is maintained brilliantly with the fourth track, "Nothing." These guys need to keep at it. I highly recommend checking this band out. (SP)

Pedro self-titled Mush Records • It's hard to call Pedro's music Instrumental Hip Hop, which is what some may try to do. Yes, he uses hip hop beats throughout his compositions, but they are more than that. For example, "Dead Grass" doesn't have any beats whatsoever for the first half of the song. "These Pixels Weave a Person" could have been on Radiohead's Kid A. In fact, the best way to characterize his music is to list the artists that remix his work on the included bonus CD: Prefuse 73, Four Tet, Danger Mouse, Cherrystone, and Home Skillet. (AL)

Richard Cheese The Sunny Side of the Moon: The Best of Richard Cheese Surfdog Records • I can't believe I had never heard of this guy. He takes popular hits and redoes them in a Vegas/lounge/big band style that is hilarious. Imagine what Frank Sinatra or Michael Bublé would sound like singing Nirvana's "Rape Me" (kicking it off by saying, "This one is for the ladies"!) or Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Ying Yang Twins – they all get the treatment. Sometimes the cursing feels kind of harsh, given the musical style, but Cheese is true to every single lyric. The outrageous arrangements (check out the piano solo mimicking Eddie Van Halen's guitar solo in "Hot for Teacher") only make the songs funnier, yet are professionally done. This might be a novelty album, but well worth popping in at a party just to see people's reactions. (AL)

Soul Position Things Go Better With RJ and AL Rhymesayers • The opening track explains what you're about to experience - "This is it, no limits, no gimmicks" – and that's exactly what you get from producer RJD2 and emcee Blueprint on their sophomore full length. After turning heads with the Unlimited EP then on 8 Million Stories, these two take it up another notch and improve on what they've already created up to this point, both together and on their own. Blueprint raps narrative tales about the way pop culture has abused hip hop influences ("Hand-Me-Downs"), having too much to drink on the rare trip to the club ("Blame It On The Jager") and the struggles that a female faces growing up in a world of sex and ("The Cool Thing To Do"). There are even better tracks then the aforementioned as Soul Position sets their newest release up with plenty of substance and a smooth way to deliver it with tight musical sounds. (JC)

The Beatings Holding on to Hand Grenades Midriff • This Boston crew is prime proof that the best music is almost always from an indie band. Headed by the super deep baritone voice of frontman Tom Skalicky, The Beatings play their own brand of razor sharp punk guile cut from the cloth of Hüsker Dü and the Replacements, while adding a touch of skewed and deranged pop ala the Pixies. The Beatings kick ass! (CP)

The City on Film American Diary Redder Records • The City on Film is the solo project of Bob Nanna (Braid, Hey Mercedes). Considering where he is coming from, this new project is sure to please many indie rock and emo fans alike. The songs on the EP vary in tempo but all feature Nanna's distinct and charming voice. On this album he has a full band behind him, including support from members of Minus the Bear. My favorite tracks are the more upbeat "Pony's Last Trick" and "You're Gonna Need That Patience Soon," although the mellower songs are beautiful and endearing as well. (KB)

The Fully Down Don't Get Lost in a Moment Fearless Records • You can blame Canada for this new addiction. With its three-guitar assaults spewing out metal riffs, this band is certainly not lacking in the energy department. But for as technical and solid as the band is with its guitars, it is also insanely catchy where melodies are concerned. The choruses and vocals are infectious enough to hook any listener and reel them in. The Fully Down is definitely a force to be reckoned with. (KB)

The Lawrence Arms Oh! Calcutta! Fat Wreck • I hope these guys never stop making music. They are easily the best punk rock band around. It's rare that a band puts out an album without a single Œbad' song. The Lawrence Arms have accomplished that with every album they've released. Chicago should be proud; there isn't a more consistently good punk band out there. Brendan's gritty vocals are offset by Chris' more sensitive sound. Together, they deliver punchy, aggressive, poignant punk rock tunes that are thick with melody and not a bit short on intensity. A mix of personal and socially-aware lyrics keeps the tone of the album balanced. Fans of Strike Anywhere, Alkaline Trio, Hot Water Music and Green Day are likely to find this to be a better fix than heroin. Current fans of The Lawrence Arms should run to get this, if you haven't already. (CM)

The Negatones self-titled Skylab Recordings • This is by the far the most enigmatic CD I've heard this year, maybe even the past few years. This quartet from NYC boldly goes where few, if any, bands have gone before. "Synth-rock," "synth-pop," "experimental," whatever you want to call it. I call it genius. To go from a song like "The Basement," with its all-out rock lashings, to "Banjo Etudes, Part I," and making you NOT skip the song for fear you'll miss something else brilliant says a lot. Then the very next track, "The Godfather," is a bass-heavy, screeching synth number with horns and spoken words. If you like rock, funk, punk, synth, noise – pretty much anything cool and challenging – you owe it to yourself to check this out. Do it for no other reason than to turn other people onto The Negatones before you're beaten to the punch. (SH)

The Society of Rockets Where the Grass Grows Black Underpop Records • San Francisco's hard-edged psychedelic explosion, calling themselves The Society of Rockets, sends out messages all across the universe that Uncle John's band is cheap thrills. Yes, the band is obviously in love with the S.F. bands of yesteryear: the Dead, Big Brother, Jefferson Airplane, and the love is beautiful. Vaunting from the countryish "Ballroom Kicks" (featuring the lyrics, "when your dancing days are over"), to the pretty melancholia of "Suicide Summer," all the way to the very long closing "Old Glory," Society of Rockets kick out the jams. (DE)

CD Reviews

(the sounds of) kaleidoscope self-titled Hackshop Records • Imagine the trippier side of rock and roll. The spacey, moody opener "Because I am Haunted" is a bit redundant at times, but it definitely provides that spooky feeling with anti-pop chord progressions and plenty of background filler to keep the ears hard at work. The track goes on for way too long and then ultimately leads into "(pt. 2)" which basically is all the stuff you heard floating around in the background of the first track – melody-wise that is. "Oh My Mind" sounds as if there was a collaboration with Jason Martin of Starflyer 59. This track is definitely more appealing than the previous two. (SP)

86Mentality Goin Nowhere Fast Grave Mistake Records • 86Mentality have a cross to bear with just about anyone who has a job, wallet, or marketable skill. Drunken-grunt vocals over annoying, clangy guitars dominate the entire recording while nearly every song features the words "blood," "violence," and "scumbag." To further insult our intelligence, they feel the need to explain what 86'ed means, as well as their pseudo-nihilist "no stance, no agenda no bullshit mentality." Ugh. Someone should have 86'ed this band long before it hit the studio. (CR)

ABCDEFG Dominoes & Dice self-released • This 70+ minute album of instrumental tracks keeps things on the mid to down tempo beat, with smooth hip hop beats , plenty of samples and live instruments. Not strictly a hip hop record, Dominoes & Dice also has elements of IDM and an overall jazzy vibe. (AL)

Action Action An Army Of Shapes Between Wars Victory Records • Continuing to diversify the sound of the Victory Records label, Action Action brings an '80s new-wave rock sound that is equal parts The Faint and The Bravery. There are also hints of The Smiths and The Cure. The album has a very danceable sound and infectious melodies that get under your skin. The vocals are good, but may be of issue to some people as they do come across a bit dramatic. (CM)

Agent Sparks Not So Merry Immortal Records • This EP features five tracks from Agent Sparks and some pretty awesome cover art. Lead vocalists Ben Einziger and Stephanie Eitel are the highlight with their dual male and female vocals. The songs are solid and strong rock with various garage and glam elements. The songs come across with a sort of sly attitude that makes the EP even more fun to listen to. (KB)

Aids Wolf The Lovvers LP LPU Records • Very rarely do I do this but I can't help it: this is not good. This is noise for the sake of noise, as best I can tell. If you're into experimental noise and feedback and distortion with crisscrossing, out-of-sync beats and vocal "sounds," then this is all you. Give it a listen. After about 10 seconds you'll know if you love it or hate it. (SH)

Airport 81 Put Your Squares Together Breathing Room Records • Inspired by old-school video games, Airport 81 combine guitars, drums, and bass with a ton of synthesizers into an instrumental new-wave concoction that sounds like listening to old New Order inside an arcade. (AL)

Airport Cathedral Jetlag Infiltrate Records/ Burning Building Records • Jetlag from a band called Airport Cathedral – doesn't quite make sense, but it's not really a problem. Andy Fitts, James Mendenhall, David Broeker, Rosie Thomas, and Crystal Skulls' Ryan Phillips slur together moody, disparate rock. It's all quite beautiful and even finds an upbeat groove on "The Tease" (featuring a hypnotic piano coda). If jetlag were as wonderful as this record makes it out to be, most of us would never leave the Airport Cathedral. (DE)

AM Syndicate Empire • Sickroom • Pretty interesting (if not eclectic) mix of jingles and jangles from indie heads who sound like they just recorded this album after living on a commune in the Eastern world for about ten years and indulged in a shitload of psychedelic drugs. (CP)

Anna Oxygen This is an Exercise KillRockStars • Anna's music immediately reminded me of this pippy song called "Popcorn" that I had on my Apple computer in the '80s. It's that kind of early synth sensibility that permeates her brand of new-wave techno, over which she sings cautious, minor-keyed and bizarre vocals that have a shadowy quality. It's as though she's looking around a corner to spy on life, and reporting back to us in a geeky, robotic language. This is an acquired taste, but it tastes so cool. (DP)

Armalite self-titled No Idea Records • Ohhh, this is a tasty punk rock treat. Think Lifetime (maybe because ex-Lifetime'r Dan Yemin is in the band) meets Minor Threat meets Sicko. Yeah, I'm not fucking kidding. Short punk rock tunes with gruff vocals, excellent song structure and a bit of quirky pop punk that just adds a nice touch. Also in the band are Atom Goren (ex-Atom and his Package), Mike McKee (from Kill The Man Who Questions) and Jeff Ziga (from True If Destroyed). These 11 tracks are over before you know it, but they're good enough to just start it over again and repeat. (CM)

Azalia Snail Avec Amour True Classical • Azalia made her start in NYC's Greenwich Village, making avant-garde homemade music inspired by surrealists, filmmaker Luis Buñuel, Brian Eno, Henry Miller, et. al. She's been at it for well over fifteen years. Her songs are dreamy, spacey, with a vocal track that doesn't quite make it to the forefront, echoing over fluid, meandering, transcendent pop. (DP)

B. Love Apocalypse Wow! Neat Music • I would put this under the "ambient" listing. Frankly, I don't know if B. Love is one person or a band or what but it's/they're good. I like this. It's mellow, sometimes haunting, sometimes ethereal. There are lots of textures and layers and sounds and it all flows quite nicely. This is a great listen for those dark nights at home with your favorite glass or bottle of adult beverage. (SH)

Belegost/The Sea, Like Lead split CD The Electric Human Project • The Sea, Like Lead are in charge of the first two tracks, nineteen minutes total of instrumental metal that is slow but heavy. The last twenty-two minutes belong to Belegost's single track, which also builds momentum through a wall of sound built by a quintet with no less than three guitarists. This is for fans of Pelican and Knut. (AL)

Between The Buried and Me Alaska Victory Records • These guys are all over the place on Alaska, which is not unusual for this genre-bending band. Are they metal, metalcore, or death metal? No one knows, since they throw it all together, sometimes into the same song. If there is one thing you can say about this album, it's that it is not monotonous. (AL)

Blacklisted ...The Beat Goes On Deathwish Music • Pretty much just straight-up hardcore. Most songs clock in at two minutes, which is just enough time to deliver the goods. The production quality is decent but each song sounds the same: generic coarse hardcore vocals, repetitive song structures, and intermittent cheesy gang vocals. Good for what it is, but not much more. (CR)

Bleeding Through The Truth Trustkill Records • These guys waste no time in getting down to the business of blowing you away. The insane drumming even goes into death metal machine-gun pounding at times, while the occasional melodies lighten up the mood a bit. The keyboards bring a Cradle of Filth vibe to the album, and except for the slower, instrumental closing track, each song will pound you into the ground. (AL)

Blood On The Tracks self-titled EP Em Dash Records • A solid EP of pop-punk here. This is pick-you-up, feel good music here. Very tight, very well-crafted songs here with hooks to spare. BOTT is on a HUGE cross-country tour right now so check them out when they come to your town! (SH)

Bloody Crackdown Fallujah Bar B-Q Valiant Death Records • I'm going to be as fair as I can on this one. Musically, not bad. Basically a Gwar rip-off, but punk-core. I find their CD cover extremely offensive (graphic pictures of death) and their agenda serves zero purpose. But, hey, that's why there's free speech and this is America, right? (SH)

Boy Sets Fire The Misery Index: Notes From The Plague Years Equal Vision • A BSF song with horns?! Yup! Chock that up to a very creative collection of songs for the Newark, Delaware band as they return to an indie label that really seems more like a home, I imagine, than Wind-Up ever could have been. This album has all the elements you would want from BSF: the sensitive indie rock elements, the thrashy hardcore and the intense metal. You also get some unexpected things, like maybe a track or two that is too 'radio-ready,' sounding a bit more like Foo Fighters than I'd prefer. There's also a bit of horns in a track, some piano and even a quick scratch. (CM)

Bracket Requiem Takeover • Bracket's music has always been a nice, little, catchy, melodic, punk rock snack to take on the road with you. But here in their first studio album in five years (mixed and produced by them), they are showing some real maturity and have prepared a fine meal for us. The vocal harmonies on this record are angelic, surpassing anything I've heard from them in the past, and dare I say, Beatles-like? Seriously, you go, Bracket. Take me to church and make me believe. (DP)

Bravo Fucking Bravo 2 Alone Records • A lot can be said in a name and Bravo backs its title with a ferocity unmatched by others. BFB have successfully blended many genres such as thrash, emocore and metal to come up with an album full of brutal urgency. If you're a fan of bands like Glass and Ashes or Burning Episode you will surely love this band. (RP)

Broken Bones Dem Bones SOS Records • OK, I'm seeing a pattern – in light of the recent barrage of boy punk bands, a lot of old school punkers are re-releasing their stuff as if to snub their bloodied, broken noses at these little shits. Broken Bones is no exception. This is a best of CD (25 songs' worth) from 1983-86 and it's every bit as furious, raw and snotty as it was back then. (SH)

Bullet For My Valentine The Poison Trustkill Records • The UK is suddenly exporting a lot of popular post hardcore acts, including Funeral For a Friend, Lost Prophets, and now Bullet For My Valentine. Every now and again you'll hear what sounds like a Zakk Wylde riff, and there is a nice mix of screamo and melodic vocals. Once a shakedown happens and the mediocre bands drop out, I suspect this will be one of the remaining ones. (AL)

Burning Episode Vulgar Pigeon Deep Send • Burning Episode take no prisoners when it comes to completely pummeling the listener. From opening to closing track, BE have put together a full-on assault to the senses. If you enjoy words like thrash, grind, metal or core, check these guys out. (RP)

Burns Out Bright Save Yourself a Lifetime Deep Elm Records • This Deep Elm band offers Recover-style rock with a vengeance on the second track "Optimistic Nihilistic." Strong rhythms driven by out-front gritty vocals lead this four piece. It must be said that most of the track titles are unnecessary – "Michael Keaton Backslash," "My Other Band is a Hardcore Band," and "When Life Feeds You Lemons Choke On Them & Die," just to name a few. "Michael Keaton Backslash" lacks the angst of "Optimistic Nihilistic," as does most of the record. (SP)

Cadence Songs of Vice & Virtue Paper Weight • With enough social commentary to come off concerned, and the positive vibe to back it up, Nashville's Cadence is for the hip-hop fan that likes a slight R&B influence with their rap music. The musical additions in songs like "Falling Apart," where a piano joins orchestrated sounds in the backdrop, to stories about a troubled girl, and his drama with another local artist. But again, it's all laid out in a positive way before bouncing into "Squeaky Clean," a song in the vein of "Ladi Dadi" that gives way to the elaborate and drawn-out "So Alone," which comes in at over seven minutes long. There are guitars, turntables, and vocal additions but this release would have been better served as a whole if it stuck to just a couple different styles. (JC)

Cake on Cake I See No Stars self-released • This is an astonishingly good one-woman band from Sweden. Her name is Helena Sundin, and she plays a couple dozen instruments on this album to make a quirky-yet-classy array of instrumentation. Her most wonderful instrument and centerpiece, however, is her high, breathy voice. When singing in harmony with herself, it illustrates her perfect pitch. This is a rare and tasty confection, the pfeffernüesse of indie music, if you will. (DP)

Calling All Monsters The Traps That Work Best Turn Records • Solid Debut from Bay Area crew who play an interesting and slightly abrasive brand of music which salutes the booming mid-90's music scene. (CP)

Canibus Hip-Hop For Sale Babygrande • Trying to make his rap career relevant once again, Canibus offers up Hip-Hop For Sale on both the Babygrande and Mic Club labels. On the cover of his latest effort, the emcee with the same name as a weed plant is showing off a mean mug with a wad of cash as he sits in a Rolls Royce. The sharp rhyme styles he usually displays are included on this effort, as anyone would expect, but the production (mostly from Nottz and Jeff Wheeler) does nothing to help his style stand up. Highlights are rare, but one track is worth a repeat listen. "Dear Academy" is an industry name-dropper turned into a letter to the establishment, but the rest of what's offered here are uneventful reminders of what should have been. (JC)

Caroline Murmurs Temporary Residence LTD. • Caroline Lufkin seems poised to take Björk's place in music if the Icelandic songstress were to leave the world stage. She is not as experimental, but she has a captivating voice that is backed by sometimes minimalist electronic soundscapes. (AL)

Cars Can Be Blue All The Stuff We Do HHBTM • Lord have mercy on my blackened, shriveled soul, I really liked this disc. The Olan Mills photo of this two member group makes the purchase of this CD worth the bucks. Very lo-fi guitar and drums are all that is needed to make this collection of really stupid songs quite a bit of fun to listen to. Filthy, obscene, foul-mouthed, and very, very funny. Go see them live. Buy their disc. Experience them. (MK)

Cast From Eden The Deafened Art of Bleeding Secrets Automated on Deadlines Catalyst Records • Even though Cast From Eden is heavily influenced by Death and Black metal, it can still be considered a hardcore band. The bloody scenes depicted in the cover art and booklet fit perfectly with their musical style, which is fast and aggressive, with unrelenting screamed/growled vocals. (AL)

Celebrity Murders Time to Kill Space Chainsaw Safety Records • Fast, sludgy, and furious hardcore. It's hard not to be infected by the amount of breakneck-speed rage slammed into nineteen songs (spanning a mere 29 minutes) but it can get tiresome. There's virtually no time for the singer to catch his breath between the machine gun attacks at American victim culture and corporate servitude. This band must put on a hell of a live show. (CR)

Chris Brown Now That You're Fed self-released • The first track "Right on Time" has some of the cheesiest lyrics I think I have ever heard: "I'll meet your boyfriend in the park, I'll be the jet to meet his shark." Way to rhyme, buddy. When has it ever been a cool to reference West Side Story? This is contemporary acoustic music back by a full band with big harmonies in the vein of Michael Penn, only not so good. "All My Rivals" has a Beatle feel in the vocal melody and chorus harmony. "Ordinary Day" sounds like something that came off the Foo's acoustic album last summer, but with a big vocal harmony section. (SP)

Chutzpah Eponymous Diaspora Records • It comes with its own Yiddish-Jewish glossary. For the life of me I can't figure out if this is a joke or not. They come off like a bunch of old school gangsta rappers like Public Enemy or NWA, but then there's thisŠ thisŠ schtick. Like the song "Chanukah's Da'Bomb." Actually, the music isn't half bad, but I could do without the little skits between the songs. "Talkin' bout the funky, funky shtetl." Those are tough lyrics to take seriouslyŠ (MK)

Cloak & Dagga Def Con Zero First kut/Head Tramu • Canibus and Phoenix Orion are Cloak and Dagga and this bangin' release is bound to make the significance of a certain emcee who's already gone mainstream a little more relevant. It's a 'going back to the underground' attempt at being respected in the music game once again by Canibus. The collection of songs here are filled with street-level flows with razor sharp styles and rhymes overtop solid beats by a variety of producers. With 19 tracks included, expect some filler. Standout tracks include the infectious "Cloakman," "Livin" and "Rhythmatic Jiu Jitsu." (JC)

Comet Gain City Fallen Leaves KillRockStars • This British band so confidently takes us back to the '70s punk revolution, and then makes it wholly their own with a strange country twang and a spacey mix-in of wild synths. It has those snotty, off-key male and female vocals that work wonderfully in spite of themselves, even on the soft ballads and pop tunes that coexist with the punk rock on this record. It's all over the place stylistically, but always knows exactly where it is. (DP)

Covington Devised Without a Plan Tiberius Records • This three-piece band mixes different rock and punk elements to create this strong album. Each song is well-crafted and powered by the intense drums and catchy guitar riffs. My only issue is that at eight songs, this album falls somewhere between an EP and a full length CD. (KB)

Crush Kill Destroy Metric Midnight No Karma Records • The dissonant and hard to follow "Walter Mondale" lacks melody in every aspect. With the lyrics "If I stop, can you stop?" being muttered repeatedly, it was a wonder why I didn't stop the disc right then and there. The music sounds a little like Fugazi. The pace picks up a bit with the rocking "OffPoint," which showcases some Tool sounding guitar riffs. I would be very interested to hear how these guys would sound with a different singer on the flowing title track (and probably the rest of the album for that matter). (SP)

Damiera self-titled Built on Strength • Dameira play solid indie rock along the same lines as Pretty Girls Make Graves with a hint of Braid. (RP)

Dana Cooper Made of Mud King Easy Records • For all its sweet buttercup production, wrapped around Cooper's high easy tenor, Made of Mud never really lifts off the ground. Dana Cooper, abetted by an able gathering of musicians, romps through a country-rock cum pop record. He opts out of Bush's current holy war (pick the location) in "Sit This One Out," visiting a similar theme in "World of Hurt." For all those fine sentiments, Cooper botches, quite badly, Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd." (DE)

Daniel Striped Tiger Condition Alone • 'What is a Daniel Striped Tiger?' you might ask yourself. Well, I`m here to explain. This is my first time experiencing this volatile and unpredictable beast and I enjoyed every minute of its company. The Tiger has a very unique style much like its relatives Faraquet, Drive Like Jehu, and Fugazi. (RP)

Darkest Hour Undoing Ruin Victory Records • Darkest Hour is back with what might just be their most extreme material yet. John Henry's vocals are tortured, throat-slashing screams, and Kris Norris and Mike Scheibaum's guitars feed off each other's aggression. Their brand of metalcore does not only have some excellent Slayer-like riffing, but it also contains slower passages, giving the album more of a dramatic flair and showing the band's continuing maturity. (AL)

Das Kapital Denying The West Johann's Face Records • Some old school punk here, a la The Replacements. This Chicago outfit is making a bit of a following and will keep gaining momentum when Denying the West hits (currently available, by the way). Don't get left behind! (SH)

David Aaron From Brooklyn David Doobie Aaron Music • Not a bad start from a dude who plays all the instruments on this album. As his own brand of fuzzy and sludgy rock it is at times enticing but, sadly, the album runs low on gas midway through. (CP)

Deadboy and the Elephantmen we are the night sky Fat Possum Records • Utilizing gothic song titles ("Ancient Man," "Blood Music"), a White Stripes personality (male guitarist, female drummer), and a zeal for psychedelia, Deadboy and the Elephantmen whip up a southern-fried acid-test stew. Dax Riggs and Tessie Brunet cook up a delicious blend of punkish rock, flavored by Riggs' hurting vocals, topped off by trippy laments. The band revels in just enough oddity and weirdness to make itself a thrill to hear. The stew the band creates spills over with passion and grooves, yet, happily, never makes a mess. (DE)

deadinfluence self-titled Novent Records • From the frozen tundra of Minneapolis comes deadinfluence. This is straight-ahead metal, complete with chunky riffs, big drums and heavy bass. This is textbook metal. Fans of Seemless, Alice in Chains and Adema will leave this in their CD player for a long time. (SH)

Deadline Getting Serious SOS Records • Definitely my favorite disc for this issue. Great melodic punk with a great female singer. I get a kind of Bouncing Souls sort of vibe from this. The tunes are fun and bouncy and very catchy. This is a disc that gets stuck in your CD player because you just have to listen to it one more time. (MK)

Dear Whoever Sound the Trumpet Broken Line Records • Dear Whoever comes through on this EP with many intricate parts to their songs. The band mixes hardcore elements and screaming with melodic and sometimes soft vocals. This mix proves to be just the right one. The lyrics are delivered with intensity and emotion, whether sung or screamed. Musically, the songs are well-crafted and powerful. (KB)

Debmaster Monster Zoo Hip Notik Records • Debmaster's Monster Zoo is a hip hop record. No wait, it is a synth pop record. Actually, it is an electronica record. Ok, it's all of these. Every other track has a guest rapper doing vocals, and these are the more hip hop-leaning tracks, though they are also heavy on the electronics. The instrumental tracks are the experimental ones, like a blend between Autechre and The Faint. (AL)

Denizen Kane Tree City Legends Vol. II Galapagos4 • This emcee and open mic poet offers up 10 tracks on the second version of Tree City Legends. Formerly of Typical Cats, Denizen comes through on this offering as he provides a fresh sound and a handful of his views with an arrangement of tight beats and instrumentation. He gets political on "Patriot Act" and introspective on the storytelling standout "Junie's Song." The only drawback is that for just 10 tracks you'd expect that each one would be equally as good, but there are some off moments that seem to make everything just bleed together. (JC)

Destroyer Destroyer's Rubies Merge Records • I wanted to destroy this album for having to listen to it. The vocals are God-awful and barely keep time with the music. A prime example is on the second track "Your Blood"; the singer has this delayed Dylan thing going that definitely does not work in any way. The music is not half bad, like on the third track "European Oils," which is a cross between a solo Sting track and the softer side of The Smashing Pumpkins. The lead singer sounds like Madeline Kahn's character in Blazing Saddles when she sings at the saloon. And she was just acting to sing that badly. (SP)

Dezeray's Hammer The Past That Decorates Me Rock Ridge Music • Fans of Maroon 5, Hootie, All-American RejectsŠ pretty much any WB or Top 40 rock band will eat this with a tablespoon. Every song has more hooks than the next and they're all catchy as hell. This band could be huge if their CD gets in the right hands. (SH)

Divorcee Music for Cleanup Men, Breakdown, and Inbetweens Princess Records • A record with many mood swings that sounds like it was recorded in the early 90's as this bands mix of ultra nonthreatening pop seems to be rather limp. (CP)

DJ Cam Revisited By Inflamable • DJ Cam has been making and experimenting with hip-hop and jazzy music since he was a teenager. He has also become popular as a remixer, reinterpreting works by Nas, Michael Jackson, and Macy Gray. Now it is his turn to receive the remix treatment, with contributions from Thievery Corporation, Kid Loco, DJ Premier, DJ Vadim, and others. (AL)

DJ Markitos Unreachable Destiny Magnatune Records • I don't think I stopped nodding my head the entire time I listened to this album. Either that or tapped my hands on my desk, my feet on the floorŠ the point is that I was moving the whole time. That is what you are likely to do as well with this infectious trance album by DJ Markitos. Let's face it, there is only so much you can do with a trance song, but Markitos seems to be able to keep you engaged. (AL)

Downtown Singapore Don't Let Your Guard Down DCide Records • The album starts out in the vein of Thursday. "The Charm beneath Tradition" could in fact be a Thursday song from any of their previous efforts. This band however does not scream and I believe that is a good thing for this sound these days. This radio-friendly hard rock sound continues with the edgy "Choir Boy." The old-school rock transitions into verses are tough and stand out, but are few and far between in the overall format of the song. "Teresa Rizal" reflects the falsetto used so often in the Florida band Copeland. A bit bland at times, but overall not a bad record. (SP)

Early Empire Resolutions and a Gun EP self-released • This five-song rock album is loaded with passion and aggression, fusing the two into a rock and roll masterpiece. The vocals are gruff and intense, while the music dances between hard rock energy and indie rock creativity. There are elements of such bands as Seaweed, Fugazi and Hot Water Music. This is rock that is accessible enough to be mainstream, but too creative for the masses. (CM)

Eastern Youth 365 Step Blues Five One • Japan's indie punk superstars are getting more and more U.S. exposure and a release of this caliber is sure to only help. They've been referred to as the "Fugazi" of Japan. While I don't think that's incredibly fitting, they certainly have comparable skills. They do have jazzy, smart orchestrations, but they are also apt to freak out into some spastic punk rock stuff. Some people may not be into the Japanese vocals, but I think it's pretty fucking great. (CM)

Elekibass Welcome Wonderful World Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records • Tripping through an entire record of 60's sunshine pop, Elekibass grate the nerves without reservation. This Japanese quartet finds more inspiration from the Banana Splits than the Beatles. Hell, they even sigh (throughout the song no less) like Teletubbies on "Joy of a Toy and Music." As stereotyped as William Hung was, these guys sing in clipped English as well as engendering every bad example of Japanese rock conceivable. Hello Kitty, goodbye brain cells. (DE)

Ellipsis Weight of the Sun Penguin Recordings • Ellipsis reminds me of Incubus in the way they can start a song in one direction and then whip you around in a direction you weren't at all expecting. Musically, however, they're not a lot like Incubus, but not totally dissimilar. They also remind me a lot of And You Will Know Us ByŠ and At the Drive-In. If you like any of those bands you'll get into Ellipsis. These Bostonians released "Weight" in the summer of last year and have been picking up momentum since. Keep an ear out. (SH)

Filthy Thieving Bastards My Pappy Was A Pistol BYO Records • I was so excited to see this disc. I have a previous one of these guys and I love it. This one is good, but they seem to have lost some of that gritty, dirty sound that I so enjoyed about the last one. They still have that great beer drinking anthem sort of feel to them, but the sound seems cleaned up and less sincere than on their past disc. Still, all in all, it is a good disc and certainly worth a listen. (MK)

Fleas and Lice Early Years Rodent Popsicle Records • It can be hard to get a feel for a band when the first thing you hear from them sounds like it was recorded in an alley, but I couldn't dismiss this collection from Holland's Fleas and Lice. The music is fast and gritty punk with occasional hardcore elements. The conscious lyricism covers a huge range, from the killing of animals for sport and food to Chirac's unacknowledged crimes to the American dream spreading its infection across Europe. A huge volume of music well worth the listen. (CR)

Flu Amalgamation Sling Slang Records • This is the second full length album for this three piece band. The album features thirteen tracks of mostly fast-paced, rock and punk-influenced songs. The dueling vocals are one of my favorite parts. The songs are catchy in their own way and the lyrics are well thought out and full of emotion. The third track, "Emerald Love" is one of my favorites. (KB)

Free Diamonds There Should Be more Dancing Deep Elm Records • "International Gathering of Champions" and "The List of Everyone" open up the album with spastic rock in all its glory. The insane vocals remind me of early Prince (pre Purple Rain) era. There is no line this singer will not dare to cross artistically. However, this does not mean it works. It would be safe to say that half the time the music saves his lack of focus towards melody. (SP)

Frog Holler Haywire ZoBird • Four full-length albums and an EP later the five members of Frog Holler sound like their having a good time with their melodic and easy going roots-rock. At times there is an edgy classic pop rock feel in the vein of Tom Petty that turns into a new millennium version of where country music has gone today. But something about this feels more than just a country rock record with a pop overtone. The instrumentation is apparently a priority with this band as each track is littered with enough details to add a smooth transition between songs. At times too complacent and other times right on target, the sincerity is hard to overlook. The song "On Winter Blues" is an example of the intimate nature involved in each lyric and story that's played out on Haywire. (JC)

Get Hustle Rollin in the Ruins Three One G • Classified as reggae. I don't buy it. This is a lo-fi wall of noise occasionally interrupted by a melody or a beat. I really gave it a chance, but this is really noisy and hard to listen to. Distorted female leads are at times very nice and at times toe-curlingly screechy. (MK)

Ghostigital In Cod We Trust Ipecac Records • When it comes to being weird Ghostigital have perfected the art. Consisting of bleeps, blurps, raps, and weird samples, Ghostigital have put together an album that will surely flip your wig. (RP)

Gregor Samsa 55:12 The Kora Records • It was difficult not to stop everything I was doing and simply let myself be carried by Gregor Samsa into oblivion. This quartet plays slow music that is hushed, beautiful and relaxing. They sometimes flirt with the ambient genre, and are like Godspeed You Black Emperor but with some singing. (AL)

Harry Manx Mantras for Madmen Dog My Cat Records • Harry Manx brings sweet countryish blues, tempering them with Indian instrumentation. On "Your Sweet Name," Manx's lap slide, mohan veena, coupled with John Reischman's mandolin and Neil Golden's tabla breathe a sigh of beauty. Manx's well-worn voice plays well with his mix of tamboura, banjo, slide guitar, and the aforementioned mohan veena (a mix between a sitar and guitar). Unfortunately, many of the songs drag along, but overall Manx offers a unique musical palate. (DE)

Hawthorne Heights If Only You Were Lonely Victory Records • Hawthorne Heights is riding the popularity wave since their debut The Silence In Black and White and show no signs of stopping. Their brand of post-hardcore catchy punk is all the rage these days, and they have a solid single with "Saying Sorry." JT Woodruff varies his vocal range from soft and melodic to screamo in a heartbeat. I can't say that I am not overly impressed with this record, but fans of this genre will be all over it. (AL)

Hello Blue What it Takes to Wake Up Afternoon Records • Beautifully textured indie rock is one way of describing Hello Blue. At times sounding like a mix of Sunny Day Real Estate meets Hum. If you're a fan of sweeping vocal melodies and powerfully overdriven guitars, this is a highly recommended album to check out. (RP)

House on a Hill Ladyslipper Buttermilk Records • House On a Hill is a very talented trio of musicians who have mastered the art of beauty in their music. Each song is masterfully thought out and crafted. The songs are a tight collection of solid indie rock with strong male and female vocals. Some of the songs rely heavily on just being instrumental, while others have well-delivered lyrics. The result is a very soothing album that has just enough energy to keep it entertaining, but not take away from its charm. (KB)

Human Television self-titled Gigantic Music • Recorded throughout 2003 and 2004, I am wondering why these guys waited this long to get reviewed. There is absolutely no chorus to "Saw You Walking By" and the title is repeated so many times throughout the song that it inevitably becomes annoying. The second track "Tell Me What You Want" is a lot easier on the ears, but again there is no chorus. They sound like anything from the 80's (early Cure for example). They need to take a songwriting course for sure. Maybe that's what they've been doing for the last two years. (SP)

I Farm So My Kids Won't Have To Creep Records • This band has been around long enough to develop a disdain for hippies and punks alike. Songs range from 12-second thrash-punk anthems about brushing your teeth ("Chairman Me") to frenetic and incisive social commentary (Spoil Your Dinner"). Seventeen out of eighteen songs run less than two minutes, just long enough to get you swinging some fists. Worth the purchase just for the Soviet-themed album design. Great stuff. (CR)

If All Else Fails Do Not Forget to Be Angry self-released • This band just tries too hard to combine elements of emo, funk, post-punk, hardcore and screamo and it all fails. It's as if their name is prediction for the album. (CP)

In Praise of Folly Means/Ends Lujo • There is a subdued, sad undercurrent running through all of the songs on this record, but it positively revels in its innovation with rhythms. Most of the record rocks really hard (at very surprising times), lurching you forward into a thrill ride. Then they'll surprise you again by taking you down to a classical music level with strings and harps. This album says so much in so many different ways, with heaps of pure passion. (DP)

Irving Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers Eenie Meenie Records • Irving is a five-piece band based out of Los Angeles, California. This album is a combination of well thought out lyrics and music. The songs are pop and rock influenced indie. The singer's voice delivers his words flawlessly over the music. Each instrument fits into every song to give the album a wonderful sense of intricate perfection. The background vocals add to the melodies and harmonies already presented by the keyboard and guitars. "She's Not Shy" is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The appeal of this record for me is that the band has a sound that could be compared to groups from the 1960's, as well as more modern bands. (KB)

Jack Endino Permanent Fatal Error Cargo Records • Jack Endino plays pretty straightforward punk rock and roll with a slight grunge feel. All the songs on this album are really solid and the production is great. (RP)

Jens Lekman Oh You're So Silent Jens Secretly Canadian • A wonderfully assorted collection of nominally opulent pop gems from the boy wonder singer/songwriter of Sweden. (CP)

Johnny Sonic Coop Resident self-released • He is what his names implies, a sonic trip with big band sounds and a funky vibe that incorporates a Frank Zappa quality. Only here Johnny rummages through hip-hop, rock and pop, and ends up this side of anywhere, except for where we are right now. Over-exuberant moments are used as calculated efforts at accentuating the barrage of horns, beats and stray sounds coming at you from all angles. It's like a coked-up version of the misunderstanding parts of your life trapped inside one of those carnival rides that causes you to loose focus of where you are at the moment. (JC)

Jonathan Kane February Table of Elements • The opening track on this album is 12 minutes of uninspired blues guitar loop. Now one might say this is a jam and I'm not feeling it – well they are exactly right. Blues has never been my music of choice due to the fact that it is so formulaic and every down-on-his-luck-40-something white dude has decided to beat this genre to death. Let's leave instrumental blues alone for a while and experience the next level music has to offer, like bands such as Don Caballero, Hella and Behold the Arctopus – bands that are not afraid to push the envelope. (RP)

Kind of Like Spitting The Thrill of the Hunt Redder Records • The first track "Thrill of the Hunt" sounds like Matt Pryor from The Get Up Kids on lead vocals. These raw, amateur recordings fall flat of seriousness due to lack of proper production in both the mixing and vocal performances. While a song like "Holding Patterns" would be considered musically earnest, the vocal delivery murders the song where it stands. (SP)

Kudzu Wish Enroute EP Ernest Jenning • Despite only being five songs long, this release packs a good bit of energy into short EP. The music is a mix of punky/hardcore rock and mathy song structure. Blended together, the energy and edginess is made that much more interesting by the technical, sharpness of the music. (CM)

Lagwagon Resolve Fat Wreck Chords • This is the ninth full length album from Lagwagon. They have been creating music together since 1988. All these years have given them plenty of time to perfect their own brand of punk. This new album was written after the passing of former Lagwagon drummer, Derrick Plourde. The songs on Resolve sound more like the band on earlier albums in that they have a skate-punk influence. The songs also have a very melodic quality to them. If you let the last track keep playing after the song is finished, there is an extra special surprise that shows a whole different dimension to the band. (KB)

Lanterna Desert Ocean Jemez Mountain • As time goes by, Lanterna keeps perfecting their hypnotic, driving-down-a-deserted-road-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-the-top-down music. The fact that it is instrumental makes it even better, achieving a peaceful mood without ever saying one word. Every guitar has some kind of reverb on it, and waves of sound wash upon your ears. (AL)

Last Charge of the Light Horse Getaway Car Curlock and Jalaiso Records • This three piece band has a very unique quality to their music. The indie rock making up Getaway Car is at times catchy and up beat, but throughout the album, the lyrical content is pretty consistent. Lead singer, Jean-Paul Vest, croons out lyrics that are downbeat in content. But his voice carries them well with the music and it makes for a very solid album. (KB)

Last Target One Shot, One Kill BYO Records • You've got a Japanese punk trio here. No, it's not your everyday stereotypical punk act, but don't let that fool you. And don't let the fact that the lead singer/guitarist is a tiny chick get you bent. She can kick your ass without missing a note! Last Target sounds like they've been playing street punk since the 70's. They're tight, pissed off and they've got incredible hooks and harmonies. Check it. (SH)

Liquid Carousel In a Moment of Clarity Ear to the Ground Records • It is refreshing to see a band that has been around for a long time. Liquid Carousel has twelve years under their belt and they are still going strong. Their album features thirteen catchy, pop influenced tracks. The subject matter in the lyrics is often reflective of present day issues in society, but is never politically charged. The vocal harmonies and strong guitar riffs make the songs come together to form a passionate and unyielding album. (KB)

Lucky Dragons Norteñas States Rights Records • At first glance, this sounded like a great idea. Mexican Norteña music blended with electronica. However, the result is an unlistenable mess. This is more like an experimental "work of art" rather than a music record. Sure, there are song snippets, but they are buried in electronic skips and glitches. If the concept sounded interesting to you too, go check out the Nortec Collective instead. (AL)

Malcolm Palmer Between the womb and the tomb Orange Van • Malcolm Palmer plays really smooth laid back jams inspired by everything from the streets to his own insecurities. Although I have never been a fan of beatnik rap, this album has slowly grown on me. If I was to describe MP, I would have to say he sounds like a cross between Rusted Root and Spearhead or maybe even G. Love. (RP)

Mancino Dear International self-released • Endlessly fascinating and cooler than a bear in a pool, Mancino is a trio that plays vibealicious, innovatively structured rock/jazz. There's a little bit of Ben Folds, a little bit of Oingo Boingo, and a whole lot of themselves, which could never be classified. There is just this infectious, spacey edge to their music that I have never heard anywhere else on this earth. You have to love it for the freshness alone. (DP)

Maroon Antagonist X Catalyst Records • You've got some serious thrash metal/hardcore here. To be specific: "militant vegan straight-edge!" Yeah, you heard me. Musically, this is just brutal. Fans of Avenged Sevenfold and Atreyu will like this eventually, after they get the shit scared out of them first. (SH)

Matthew Shaw Convenience EP Burning Building Recordings • I can't wait to hear what Shaw can do with a full-length release. These five songs are a tease of sorts. The first track had me hooked. His sincere, passionate vocals are hard to resist and the electro indie pop that he flows over is even more infectious. The music is at times upbeat, other times a bit more reserved, with great tempo changes and cool use of a variety of electronic beats, keyboards and sounds. This will absorb fans of Bright Eyes, Death Cab, The Postal Service and The Firebird Band. (CM)

Measles Mumps Rubella Fantastic Success Doubling Cube • Now there's an eye-catching name! With a name as wild as that, you gotta deliver on the music. And they do – with an assault on any sense of convention. At first, they reminded me of Devo, and then they ascended to this whole other dimension of sonic existence, a realm where power and frantic energy reign supreme. They fill every end of the equalizer with experimental sound, and your brain can sort it however it likes. This should be experienced with many kinds of drugs. Not at the same time, though. (DP)

Meth and Goats Attack from Meth & Goats Mountain EHP Records • I think they're from Illinois, possibly Wisconsin or Indiana. Hell, I don't know where. Somewhere in the Midwest. None of that really matters. What matters is that they play interesting, challenging punk rock in the vein of At The Drive-In. You've got 12 songs on here that go from all-out punk-noise fury, to more groove heavy punk like "Rat Tail Revolution." Really solid effort here. (SH)

Model One self-titled self-released • This is a four EP released by the Chicago, Illinois based band. While the songs are mostly pop and indie- sounding, there is a strong eighties influence felt during some parts. The songs are very likable and vary perfectly in tempo. The whole disc has a fun and endearing quality to it. I will definitely be looking forward to hearing more from Model One. (KB)

Modern Skirts Catalogue of Generous Men self-released • This album is amazing. It offers up eleven tracks that vary in influence and sound from one to another. From the first couple of songs, there is a heavy piano based sound, very reminiscent of Billy Joel. Then there are a few songs that stay more within the indie genre. "Tonight, Before You Were Sleeping" has some great vocal harmonies and violins. There are more instruments used on this one album then I have seen on any other. The singer's voice goes perfectly with the background harmonies and music he is accompanying. Modern Skirts has a lot of offer listeners with this album. (KB)

Modill Midnight Green EV Productions • Constructed like a hip-hop collage of ever-changing samples and pin-sticking drum kicks, the group of Modill spits unrestrained styles over each rhythm with a true connection to the underground hip-hop environment. K-Kruz and Racecar make up this Chicago duo that have enlisted Dave from De La Soul, Diverse, Truth E.N.O.L.A., Thaione Davis, Longshot and Verb T. for an album that echoes from the past, yet progresses with a futuristic attitude through an obscure style and feeling. Listening to this release is like finding a lost classic you overlooked while listening to the overload of hip-hop in the 1990's. (JC)

Mono You Are There Temporary Residence LTD. • Mono follow in the tradition of bands such as Godspeed You Black Emperor and Physics, where they take their sweet time building up suspense until reaching a musical climax of sorts. For example, the opening track, "The flames beyond the cold mountain," takes spends the first four minutes in an ambient fog, then finally starts to resemble somewhat of a song. The remaining tracks follow a similar build-up-then-release theme. (AL)

Morgan ...and the moon was hungry... Obscura Records • Evanescence may have found an opening act for its next tour. Morgan Grace combines Tori Amos and Loreena McKinnet, pushing it all through a mix of cellos, piano, violins, and programmed beats. Her gothic paeans to spirits unknown (or known) make for a record we've heard before, but haven't quite lost the taste from the first bite. (DE)

Mr. Skurge Skyline Domination • Subtitled A Detailed Story of a Man Without Wings, Mr. Skurge breaks away from appearing on releases by I.T., Cadence and O.U.O. to lay out his own hip-hop version, and view, of the life he deals with around him. It's mostly about picking apart his shortcomings, as he sheds light on a bit during the track "Joe Fetter." The musically abnormal sounds that appear throughout adds depth to the actual meanings behind his introspective verses. The song list is made up of off-key backdrops featuring interesting appearances from Slug on "Windy" and Unorthodox Poets on "Infinito Stopped By." This is a good change of pace for underground hip-hop fans. (JC)

North to Emerson Anywhere But Here self-released • It took me a while to realize who these guys remind me of. Lagwagon. This is high-energy rock with catchy riffs and a really good sound. This self-released CD is well-produced and sounds great. If more radio bands sounded like this, the radio wouldn't suck. I like this. (MK)

Nothing Left To Lose The Last Battle Hymn Zero Youth Records • Rockin' for Jesus. Whoopie. These songs seem like long introductions to songs. They never really pick up and go anywhere. There isn't much on this disc that you couldn't hear on a thousand other hard-core discs. (MK)

Okay Paddy The Cactus has a Point Prison Jazz Records • The Weezerish "Your Bar's on Fire" opens up the record with a line from The Beatles' "Get Back" towards the end of the song. "You Never Worry" has the feel of the softer side of Foo Fighters. The bass floats around beautifully throughout this track. The seventh track "Where's the Taste" again shows off the Weezer influence, but not enough to take away from originality. Theses guys are not bad at all. A key track to check out is "You Never Worry." (SP)

Omni Ballyhoo Ariel Records • Whether on tour with Murs and Brother Ali or holding it down for his L.A. heritage, Omni offers up another side of the west coast on his sophomore release with funky beats and rock solid baselines that make for an entertaining ride. Starts off strong on the opening tracks "Back At It" and "Trade Mark" then looses steam with songs like "Feel How I Feel" and "City 2 City," but they hardly serve as fillers on a disc that contains consistent rhythms, bumping beats and straightforward rhymes displays. Ballyhoo is something you could unleash on the speakers in your trunk just as it's something you could hear through headphones. For an idea about the true nature of what's included here check out "Coca Cola" and "Keep It Cool," which takes a detour with the vocals of Jefferson DeJesus. A long list of over 10 underground emcees and beat makers are included. (JC)

Parkway Wretch Homesick Formula 13 • This reminds of a more hardcore Chrimpshrine. The melodies are sick good and the passion is oozing from each track. The vocals are gruff and snotty at the same time, exuding a punk rock angst that is only amplified by the more hardcore musical moments. There are numerous great sing-along moments and a caffeinated energy that only makes it easier to become addicted to. (CM)

Paulson All At Once One Day Savior Records • Paulson go chasing the spirit, but fail to catch it. Dispassionate vocals, guitars mimicking U2's Edge, and songs without pulses all make for a sorry record. This batch of mundane tunes offers no sparkle, no blood, and no heart. (DE)

People in Planes As Far As the Eye Can See... Wind-up Records • This is the debut full-length record from the Cardiff, Wales-based band. It features twelve tracks of the band's cutting-edge sound. Their music is a sort of indie rock with a strong presence about it. The singer's voice is powerful and melodic throughout the different songs. The stand out song on the record for me is "If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode)" because of its catchiness and overall appeal. (KB)

People in Planes self-titled Wind-up Records • This EP features four songs from People in Planes. All four of the songs can be found on their debut full length as well. The songs chosen for the EP showcase the band's unique and edgy indie rock sound. This EP perfectly shows the range of People in Planes, musically and vocally. The songs are beautifully crafted and leave listeners in suspense for the full length. (KB)

Plow United Narcolepsy Creep Records • This is a bittersweet review. About five songs into this 20-song disc (most songs are about two minutes long) I read that Plow United is no more. It's a shame. This was a good punk outfit with a heavy feel and not too much nonsensical screaming. It's still a solid disc even if it was their swan song. (SH)

Pointed Sticks Perfect Youth Sudden Death • What a delight that this album has been re-released for a new generation of punk to experience! Originally released in 1980, this is Pointed Sticks' one studio release before their subsequent 1981 demise and it showcases their awesome pop-punk style that was way ahead of its time. With snotty vocals and just fuckloads of sheer bubblegummy fun, these guys totally deserve immortality and sound fresh as the day they were born. (DP)

Purple City Paris to Purple City Babygrande • Blinged-out hoodlums in France will probably like this Purple City release, which includes a guest emcee on each track spitting verses in French over amped-up beats bound to shakes asses from one side of the ocean to the other. Whether serving as sidekicks to The Diplomats or tirelessly peddling their own wax samples of music goods, Shiest Bub, Unkasa and Don Bishop Agallah don't appear tire of the standard rap topics of the BET and rap-radio generation. (JC)

Qwel and Jackson Jones Dark Day Galapagos4 • Chicago emcee Qwel returns to wax, after joining Maker on The Harvest, and takes another step further into the industrialized fusion of underground hip-hop on Dark Day by joining forces with Jackson Jones. This is an album geared towards the Walkman heads that will enjoy dissecting the lyrical offerings within and get enwrapped in the detailed stories being told throughout. Being praised for raising his writing skills on this offering, expect to be mesmerized the way the album title implies. Standout tracks include "1221" and "Fallout." (JC)

Randy The Band Randy The Band Fat Wreck Chords • Get out your leather jacket and your spiked gloves. Oh yeah. Here's a band to make you want to go kick people for no reason. A colossal mix of punk and wailing 80's guitar solos makes for a powerful sound not to be missed. This enhanced disc even comes with a few videos conveniently saved in a variety of formats for your viewing pleasure. (MK)

Reatards Not Fucked Enough Empty Records • Remember when your brother had a band and they practiced in the garage at all hours of the night? Well, if you took your tape recorder OUTSIDE and held it up to the closed garage door, behind which your brother's punk band was practicing, this is what you'd get. And I'm NOT disparaging them! This is how REAL punk is supposed to sound. It's not supposed to sound glossy and overproduced. So much so that when you hear a band live you wonder if the band you're seeing actually played the songs (READ: Fall Out Boy). (SH)

Receptor Sight Cycles and Connections Joyful Noise Recordings • You could call this a combination of prog rock and psychedelic rock. There's a bit of an experimental edge as well. These soundscapes were put together by two guys who used no computers or synthesizers whatsoever, but instead played all the instruments themselves. While their musicianship is good, the album felt a bit flat. (AL)

Remembering Never God Save Us Ferret Music • These South Florida guys play unstoppable hardcore. Mean Pete is appropriately named, and with every syllable sounding like a dry heave, as he spews out his anger toward those in power. Stylistically, the songs are all pretty similar, but I have heard worse. (AL)

Rusty Like Pirouette Breathing Room Records • Opening with the instrumental "City Summer Rain," Pirouette shimmers brightly. Lead vocalist/songwriter Denis Samoree writes in a folk-rock vein. The band builds melodic castles around Samoree's tunes, never becoming bogged down in production. Guitarist Josh McCurdy floats out chiming notes, over Chris Johnson's solid bass. Rusty Like has created a simply beautiful record. (DE)

Saboteur self-titled EP End Sounds • This EP from this Texas trio is tight and heavy. They wander musically between punk-pop and flat-out rock. They sound like what would happen if Third Eye Blind (are they even around anymore?) decided to kick ass like they never have and quit with the cutesy "doo-doo-doo" lyrics. They have that punkish edge TEB had, but they rock out a lot more than TEB ever did. A LOT more. (SH)

Set To Explode self-titled Grave Mistake Records • As their site says, "Šwe don't care if you like us, we're not cool." That's about as accurate a description as I can give this hardcore punk outfit from DC. This six-song EP screams "we don't care" from start to finish. Not musically, of course, but their attitude. And, after all, attitude is everything. (SH)

Shattered Realm From the Dead End Blocks Where Life Means Nothing Eulogy Recordings • Shattered Realm brings on the thunderous, Hatebreed-style pain with Cookie-monster gargling and chugga-chugga galore. Super tough-guy mosh pit violence will ensue when the band busts out "Eat Shit," whose lyrics consist of the five words, "Eat shit, go to hell." The thank-you section was far more interesting to read with should-outs to Fat Pat, Fat Bitches at the Grease Trucks, and Every Diner in NJ. (CR)

Shoplifting Body Stories Kill Rock Star Records • This mathy dissonant collection of songs strives to stand out more with each track, but just doesn't seem to get there. Songs like "Talk of the Town" and "Male Gynecology" are lost into a bliss of muzak. Shoplifting's album offers no pop appeal whatsoever. This leaves the listener to seek adventure in the musical performance, which there really isn't much to talk about. If I heard this band in a club, I would do my best to block them out. (SP)

Slab Society as a Friendly Pusher Onset • These L.A. kids go way back. With ten years of rocking under their belt, they have shared the stage with the new school greats. They certainly have a good handle on their profession, serving up a badass brand of aggressive yet melodic skate punk. It thrashes, it yells, it fires you up and lets you to face your day. (DP)

Slacks Terrestrial Translation Lost • The opening track entitled "Shoot `em Up" has a definite alt country feel about it, which has a way of slowly lulling the listener closer and closer to its rock roots. The album in its entirety has a real down-to-earth feel and is paced with the listener in mind. Slacks fall some where between Neil Young and My Morning Jacket. (RP)

Sleeping Girl Drowning Respectfully yours in sickness Built on Strength • Nothing too ground breaking here, just your typical emo along the same lines as Time Spent Driving with a hint of Thursday. (RP)

Slick Elements of the Game First Kut • The ghetto tales included here starts off with the track "Creased Up," where Slick rhymes about staying original and vowing not to get so much as a crease in his pants with his bundle of braggadocios raps. Elements of the Game is a collection of what you'd expect from someone born in the Midwest, then raised in the west and eventually matured in the south, as bouncing beats, gangland verses and a sense of self-revelation shows through. But overall this offering is an average attempt that makes Slick sound as if he's trying too hard to validate his 'hood heritage and inner-crunk being. There are just too many adolescent songs about the same old rap clichés on this release. (JC)

Slowride C/S Deep Elm Records • Dallas' own Slowride returns with a vengeance on their third full-length release. Equal parts Foo Fighters, Screaming Trees and Helmet, Slowride cranks out loud, grungy guitars and a pounding rhythm section. It all provides a furious foundation for D. Howard Phillips' methodical vocals, all under the watchful eye of Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Jets to Brazil). (SH)

Smoking Popes At Metro CD/DVD Victory Records • Recorded in November 2005 at the Metro in the Popes hometown of Chicago, this reunion show is documented both in audio and visual (DVD) format. The sound is amazing. Fans of the Popes will just melt when they hear Josh's vocals kick in on "Off My Mind." There is not a soul out there that sounds quite like him. This is, all around, a great treat, especially for fans who thought they'd heard the last of the Popes years ago. The 19 tracks (23 on the DVD) capsulate the band's career, from "Gotta Know Right Now" to "Rubella" to "Megan" to "You Spoke To Me" to "I Know You Love Me." Just about every song you would have wanted to hear is blissfully recorded in live rocking sound. (CM)

Some By Sea on fire! (igloo) SideCho • Some By Sea is a quintet that brings a real fullness to their melancholy emotional rock, employing a cellist to add strains of sadness that underlie each piece. They sing of unrequited love and love lost, and the album is bittersweet, almost a revenge album. But it's a damned good one, with lovely ringing guitar lines and male/female counterpointing vocal arrangements. (DP)

Some Girls Heaven's Pregnant Teens Epitaph Records • This unrelenting aural assault comes to you from Some Girls, which features members of The Locust, Unbroken, The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, and Give Up The Ghost. The result is a brutal hardcore/punk/noisecore mixture that is sure to floor you. (AL)

Some Monastery Machete Wounds Some Monastery Records • Brad Walker is the sole member of Some Monastery. Self-indulgent to an extreme, Walker sings crestfallen dirges revolving around hospitalization, surgery, death and misery. "In the Infirmary" sets off this moping sick-cat of a record, full of distorted vocals and industrialized sludge production. Machete Wounds is an apt title, as this record is one long bloody cut of a downer. (DE)

Sonic Syndicate Eden Fire Pivotal Rockcordings • These guys are between 17 and 22 years old, but they rock like they've been doing this for a while. The closest comparison I can make is with In Flames, except that there are less melodic choruses. However, the music is hard and aggressive. (AL)

Southeast Engine Coming to Terms with Gravity Bettawreckonize Media Coming to Terms with Gravity starts very slowly. The songs seem to be a mix of folk and rock music with soft vocals laced over the top. The real beauty in this band is the lyrics. The sad melodies are the perfect catalyst to convey the well thought out and phrased lyrics. This is the perfect record if you are in the mood for something mellow. (KB)

S.J. TuckerTanglesYoung Ave. Records • First and foremost, buy this disc. I mean it. Stop what you are doing and go buy this. The 11 tracks on here are well written and well played by S.J. What really makes this disc stand out is her beautiful voice. It dances and slips in and out, at times powerful and gorgeous and at other times airy and ethereal. The opening track, "The Pixie Can't Sleep," is a wonderful blend of syncopated rhythms and swirling vocals. This is a terrific disc. (MK)

Stare Into The Sun Nocturnal self-released • Another in the long line of 80's revivalist punk bands, SITS manages to keep it fresh enough to work. They're able to mix things up a bit and keep you guessing, rather than anticipating the next track. This disc is over a year old and the band is currently working on their sophomore release so look for big things from this trio. "We Were Here First" is flat-out balls-to-the-wall fun. (SH)

Struckdown Revolution Indianola Records • Although at times surprisingly listenable for Christiancore, the adolescent and not-so-subtle preaching makes this a difficult album to embrace. The vocals are quite agile – perhaps the saving grace of the entire endeavor – but the lame guitar too often rides the forefront and the gang vocals are so off key they're unlistenable. Odd touches like harmonica behind chugga-chugga breakdowns help but don't save Revolution. (CR)

Swims Ride of the Blueberry Winter Prison Jazz Records • This is catchy, spacey, spastic rock – and basically all in that order. "C'moff It" grabs the listener right from the get-go with hypnotizing keys and rhythm guitar. "We Need...Lava" reminds me of an early Frank Black solo song and almost just as catchy. The mellow "Yub:Yub" is a nice transition into "Knitting and Knitting." But let's face it: the album title needs some rethinking. We all have heard of geek rock like Weezer, but with a cheesy album title like this one they may have created their own new music category: dork rock. (SP)

T. Duggins Undone Thick Records • T. Duggins usually fronts the Tossers, which throw together Irish music and rock. Even though this is supposed to be a solo album, it is not quite so, since the Tossers back him up on most tracks. However, the songs are played in a more subdued and even somber manner. Many are covers, including songs by Bob Dylan and multiple traditional songs. (AL)

Temple of Echoes Union 2 Rock Star Records • With a lead singer who sings like Scott Stapp of Creed as he is trying squeeze a giant turd out of his constipated ass, Temple of Echos is just an overindulgent band that would one can find playing at a frat boy-infested sports bar. (CP)

Test Icicles For Screening Purposes Only Domino • One of the year's greatest releases comes in the form of three fresh out of high school British lads whose amazing debut merges raw punk sensibilities and piercing electro. And they've got a cool name too. (CP)

The (Gothic) and the Gospel i Partisan ! Reason Y Records • "Screaming Man" has a Cursive feel to it in both the mathy guitars and dissonant vocal hooks. An intimate monologue into the life of a sixteen year old is revealed in the fourth rack "Georgia Goddamn." The fifth track, "Intersections," is the hardest-hitting track with its pulsating bass line and earnest lyrical content. Again, there is ultimately a very strong Cursive presence particularly in the vocal department, but not enough to disappoint. (SP)

The Accident That Led Me To the World self-titled Nobodys Favorite • Getting down to the bare essentials of the Americana and alt-country vibe, which strikes an authentic cord, is the inner workings of Mark Mandeville, Raianne Richards and Zack Ciras. The intimate touches of loneliness, sorrow and internal questions are wrapped up and delivered through bare minimalist instrumentation that is stripped down to acoustics that accentuate the banjo, guitar and stings being played out. "Long Nights, Long Days" is a standout filled with internal questions as is "All My Ghosts." (JC)

The Apparitions As This Is Futuristic Machine Records • Indie pop from a Kentucky band with an added touch of the down-home vibe. (CP)

The Appleseed Cast Peregrine The Militia Group • While The Appleseed Cast can make some of the most atmospheric, hypnotizing music, this is no shoegazer band. They also show intensity in emotionally charged songs. Personally, I prefer their hypnotic side, but I enjoyed the album nonetheless. (AL)

The Boils From The Bleachers TKO Records • The Boils have been terrorizing the Philly area for a decade now. They unleash another disc of brutal hardcore and punk here – 25 tracks to be exact. This is one of those rare bands that's unable to unleash flat-out sonic fury but not sound like they're being loud just to be loud. They're tight as a drum, have some great hooks and even harmonize a bit. It's a solid disc with more songs than you'll know what to do with. (SH)

The Bosch Buy One Get One self-released • The good work ethic of energetic Stooges-eque garage rock, with a boogie twist. But it can grow tiresome due to the half-assed third-wave ska aura that hovers above the music. (CP)

The Class of 98 Touch This and Die! The Militia Group • The tracks were not listed on this advanced promotional copy. The first track comes across sounding as any of these pop-rock bands on the radio. These songs were constructed specifically for the radio, judging by the pop chord progressions dominantly ruling the first two tracks. This band could possibly be a more radio friendly version of Copeland. They definitely rock more than Copeland, but the melodies are undeniable, especially on the beginning of the record. The Class of 98 may have a future, but they will have a hard time standing out as being labeled original in any way. (SP)

The Czars Goodbye self-released • Listening to the Czars is like being sad and drunk alone, and I mean that in the nicest way. Try to imagine the color gray looking more beautiful than you've ever seen it before. You almost cannot describe them without using the word melancholy, but you can pepper that description with praise for the tear-jerking gorgeousness and sweetness with which they wield that word. Incisive and wonderful. (DP)

The Days End self-titled One Cell • I will start by saying this album is killer all the way around. Borrowing styles from bands like June of 44, Form of Rocket and Hoover, Days End managed to make an instant classic. If you're a fan of no-nonsense rock, check 'em out. You will not be disappointed. (RP)

The DFA The DFA Remixes: Chapter One Astralwerks • Death From Above have become a well-sought out duo for their production techniques and remixing talent. In this CD, they show off those talents with nine tracks remixing the likes of Le Tigre, Gorillaz, Fischerspooner, Hot Chip, and others. (AL)

The Drinks Grr! Pure Greed • The Drinks play quirky stripped down danceable indie rock with a hint of electronic sounds. (RP)

The Exit Home For An Island Wind Up Records • Leave it to a label like the one that launched the careers of bands like Creed and Seether to release a steaming heap of crap. It may get you laid if you're with a really naïve girl, though. (CP)

The Expectorated Sequence Hairbomb New Romance for Kids • Spazzy, out-of-control thrash along the same lines as Daughters, The Locust, Pipebombmanhunt and Combat Wounded Veteran. Good stuff but not for the faint of heart. (RP)

The FallWater Project Bridge the Gap self-released • Upon hearing The FallWater Project, I was pleased to have something different to listen to. The band's sound is laced with many different influences of jazz, soul, and blues, just to name a few. Besides the drums, guitar, and bass, some of the songs feature a sax, trumpet, trombone, viola, cello, and violins. The music is perfectly crafted and the album is well produced. This is another one of those eight song, somewhere between an EP and full length, but the music is unique and the songs are long enough that I will let it slide. (KB)

The Flakes Back to School Dollar Record Records • Say what you will, but the Flakes play with a brand of hook-laden garage rock that is as rousing as it is frenzy inducing. (CP)

The Front Page Let It Go Patriot Recordings • This New Jersey based band has put forth an album full of energy. The band's passion seems to come through in the music and lyrics. The songs are all emo and pop punk-based, without being too whiny. The last track, "A Letter to Your Hospital Bed," is a song written for a friend with cancer. It is a little mellower than the other songs but shines through because of its hopeful lyrics and personal subject matter. (KB)

The Goons of Doom Bikey Zomby EP Volcom Entertainment • You got a six-song EP here from the Goons of Doom. They play raucous punk in the garage vein. It's loud, crunchy and rude, just like it should be. (SH)

The Harpeth Trace Man and the Cousin self-released • Both spooky and delicate at times, while offering a fulfilling sense of a journey seen through its entirety on just four tracks. Man and the Cousin is like uncovering old wounds or a matter that's remained unspoken. Josh Kasselman handles vocals, guitar, piano and melodica, Rune Freeman is on bass and Ron Poynter accentuates with drums and percussion. While the music stays the course, Kasselman lets his vocals drift about, causing an eccentric feeling that grabs your attention due to the E.P.'s relaxing and mysterious vibes. (JC)

The High Strung Moxie Bravo Future Farmer Records • Josh Malerman, vocalist for this Detroit trio, warbles in a voice near Rush's Geddy Lee. Glossy, fuzz-edged guitars, along with Malerman's crystalline vocals, power pop their way through this smattering of bright songs. But like a stick of Juicy Fruit gum, the sweet flavor wears out over the course of the entire record. (DE)

The Inoculators Dropped Their Brains self-released • Holy awesome. I knew that when I saw the hilarious mock-Starbucks logo on their cover I was in for some quality. They had me at that, but I then discovered that these guys play some really, really tight melodic pop punk with some goddamned, balls-out awesome lyrics. It's just three dudes, but they play with the power of TWELVE ‹ the energy is on from the start and stays on throughout. Please, for gods sake, check them out. (DP)

The Killing Moon A Message Through Your Teeth Fearless • Someone had to be the "first" to add horns to melodi-core; it's only fitting. I never would have imagined it, though. While The Killing Moon probably isn't the first to do it, they're the first I've heard and I'm damn impressed. Not over used, the horns just punctuate already intense rock and roll that borrows elements of melodic rock and hardcore, balanced between the catchiness and the intensity. This is your screamo-core; this hardcore is closer to A Wilhelm Scream than Mercury Switch. There are moments in some songs, though, where their radio-ability comes through. I still think they're a bit too aggressive for mainstream radio, though. Structurally, these are creative songs with enough tempo changes to keep it fresh. (CM)

The Lifted A Reason to Live Rudy Records • The Lifted reminds me of Saliva and Puddle of Mudd. It's no-frills, riff-driven heavy metal with a hint of hardcore. If you like the first tune you'll let it play over and over. (SH)

The Little Small Town Rock-n-Roll Built on Strength Records • The Little is comprised of three brothers Nigel, Gavin, and Ian Little, and their friend John Spisiak. Located in Melbourne, Florida, the guys had been in various other bands before coming together to form The Little. The band's EP features five songs full of catchy, punk rock hooks. The lyrics are simple and carried well over the music. This is the kind of band that would be a lot of fun to see live. (KB)

The Maybellines A La Carte self-released • What a nice little sandwich of adorableness! With lots of organ in the back, the Maybellines serve up 6 delicious songs on this EP of mellow, well-polished cute pop. The high, child-like vocals make it very difficult to be depressed while enjoying this record. It just does a body good. The album art is equally cute, and that alone is worth checking out. (DP)

The Modernettes Get it Straight Zulu Records • While it seems like mostly Canadian bands have getting all of the buzz for the past year, it's nice to see a compilation come along from the short-lived and criminally overlooked early 80's snide punkers (via Vancouver) the Modernettes. Ya hosers. (CP)

The Moment Showdown At The Discotheque self-released • I'm shocked these guys aren't on a label. With a sound akin to a more raw, aggressive, punk rock version of The Faint, The Moment will get toes tapping and the dance floor moving. There are also some more hardcore parts that truly counter the oft new-wave electro rock sound throughout. Expect plenty of great keyboards, infectious melodies, a rapid pace and a beat that you can both mosh and dance to. (CM)

The Monorail/People Chasing People Visit Pellmell Milquetoast • This is a split release but you could hardly tell the difference because both of these bands sound quite a lot alike. And there is a good reason why they both sound alike it's because they share members. Both bands play jangley indie shoe gazer pop along the same lines as La Guardia or Bedhead. (RP)

The Muckrakers Front of the Parade Toucan Cove Entertainment • This Louisville band has been around since 1997. They have their own refreshing sound of jangly pop rock. The guitars twang in all the right places and the lyrics are well written and poetic at times. Each song has its own special uniqueness about it. "When the Morning Comes," for example, has a rap part midway through the song. The overall sound is very heartfelt and honest. (KB)

The Nadas Listen Through Static Authentic Records • Yuk! That's about the only way to sum up this awful attempt at sappy Heartland pop. However, it may be a cool gift for all those rich college kids who wear Abercrombie and Fitch clothing and hang out at O.A.R shows and it's way adult contemporary, making it apt for your middle aged parents who watch VH1. (CP)

The Original Three Been Dealt a Losing Hand Empty Records • Opening with "Been There," a rockabilly shuffle underneath raw vocals, The Original Three, drag Been Dealt a Losing Hand out of the garage. It should have remained there. Bottomless pit punk rock, snotty vocals, single string skittery guitar solos all make this a losing hand indeed. (DE)

The Orphan Project self-titled Double Dos Recordings • While the album art is eerily derivative of Sparta's Wiretap Scars, that's about all they have in common. The warbly vocals remind me of (the now-defunct) Marathon and definitely dominate the recording. This band is trying really hard and you can tell. If the lead singer's voice annoys you, you're going to have a hard time listening to this album. Overall it's decent post-hardcore/rock-heavy alternative album with a couple of stand out tracks, but not quite ready for the big time. (CR)

The Paper Champions End Transmission Reason Y • The Paper Champions play mid tempo emo music sounding some where between mid- nineties emo and today's newer, more aggressive pop. (RP)

The Positions Bliss! Lazyline Records • The Positions are another band that realizes the more the merrier is certainly true. Their songs feature many different instruments such as a trumpet, trombone, violin, cello, viola, and even a banjo thrown in on one track. The band is fronted by female vocalist, Nicole Stoops. Her beautiful voice cascading over the captivating music is enough to make any set of ears happy. Add in the fact that their songs are catchy and fun to the point where you will be dancing around all day with them in your head, and you have got a great new band to hold dear to your heart. (KB)

The Psychic Paramount Live 2002 The Franco Italian Tour Public Guilt Records • This CD was recorded during the tour the band went on five days after meeting for the first time. They are an experimental rock group, and most of the songs don't really follow a particular structure. In fact, they feel like a whole bunch of song middles, mostly improvisational sonic collages of rock instruments, mixed poorly, making the whole thing sound overmodulated. I actually thought my speakers were going to break at any moment. (AL)

The Rakes Capture/Release V2 • If you haven't already heard about this London four-piece, it probably won't be much longer until you do. They have a sound that is very popular right now, ala The Strokes, White Stripes, The Bravery, etc. But I find that The Rakes have a more edge energy, a bit of Brit punk/'80s new-wave that keeps the garagey, catchy, danceable rock more alive. Most of all, there's a confidence throughout this album that turns a good song into a great song. (CM)

The Seldon Plan Making Circles OTP • I'm a sucker for bands that will give me dreamy guitars ringing a solid melody throughout a song. These guys hit just the right chords to generate those melancholy emotional stirrings, and they mix up their rhythms so expertly. I just love all of the choices they make – their rock has such a calculated complexity to it, polished to a shine. Great musicians. (DP)

The Specs Declaration of Independence self-released • Straight outta Jersey, the hard-working Specs are a six-piece, driving rock band with a few horns thrown in for good measure. These guys are a flamethrower of rock energy, with awesome harmonic vocals and hooky, punkish power chords. It is truly inspiring rock music of the highest caliber. I swear, I just wanna throw up the devil horns right now, it's almost compulsory. (DP)

The Strongest Proof One Percent Phratry Records • Using killer guitar parts and an agro-rock intensity, these band delivers eight hard-rocking tunes. This is no frills and rock and roll, equally intense and melodic. I'd say they compare to such bands as Seaweed, Errortype:11 and Sunny Day Real Estate. Solid rock that's just too good for radio; an all-around excellent release. (CM)

The Towels American Beaus Platehead Records • This is weird stuff, but good. Very good. Hard to classify, which always speaks well for a disc, this is a great collection of eclectic rock. Lots of great sounds and catchy songs that will get stuck in your head and make you happy. (MK)

The Toy Dolls Our Last Album? SOS Records • This is punk music to drink and party to. It's Oi! punk with tight, clean, brash songs and brilliant harmonies. If you don't dance around your house and throw shit while listening to this, you're not set-up right. I dare you not to love this. (SH)

The Vandals Shingo Japanese Remix Album Kung Fu • The Vandals, solid veterans of punk, can have my children. That being said, this album is fucking wild. Shingo Asari, half of Panda, No Panda, has remixed a whole mess o' Vandals music into bubblegummy Asian electronica. You gotta have some serious love for Vandals music to pull off something like this, and he does brilliantly. At the very least, one can certainly expect the kind of thrashing, nerd-tastic humor that one associates with the holy Vandals, and you will crack your ass up at what's been done to them. (DP)

The Vibrators Buzzin' SOS Records • Wow. This is truly bad music. Fifteen lifeless, old-school punk tracks recorded in 1999 by this British trio. Vocals are more spoken than sung and it gets old immediately. The only song to stray from the formula is a blatant Lou Reed imitation, "Rabbit Skin," while the rest have lines like, "Hey Hey I'm politically correct, Oi bitch is my dinner ready yet!" (CR)

The Vultures eponymous Big Muddy Records • A slapped-together mash of every bad cow punk record you've ever heard. The Vultures skim the surface of surf, white boy blues, rockabilly, and punk. They cover the Misfits ("Attitude") as if that would give them legitimacy. Bassist Ashley screams and is overly fond of her fuzz bass, while drummer Joey bashes the snare to death, though guitarist Ryan shows some skill; but it's certainly not enough to make this band even remotely interesting. (DE)

The Weather Machines The Sound of Pseudoscience Tigers Against Crime Records • Over the course of twelve songs, The Weather Machines knock out aggressive power pop. The band comes off as a harder-edged Big Star. Jason Ward's vocals carry passion, while his fellow band mates hit the mark every time. A sumptuous platter of delectable morsels, The Sound of Pseudoscience, could be proof of intelligent design, or at least a really cool musical chef in the spirit world. (DE)

The Wildlife Sweet Plastic Agent Records • It took me a little while to get into Sweet Plastic. The record starts off slow and very serene. I started to appreciate the CD more around the third track, "Electric Slide (Part 2)," which brought in the danceable element to The Wildlife's music. The lead vocalist has a very unique voice, which when matched with his lyrical styling, makes for a very entertaining sound. I also love the addition of female vocals on a couple of the songs. This band surpasses being easily labeled and has delivered a CD that, once given the chance, can definitely be a necessary new addition to your record collection. (KB)

Tokyo Electron self-titled Empty Records • From the desert of Arizona hails Tokyo Electron. This is trashy street punk, heavy on the distortion. I think the drums may even be distorted. Whatever the case, it works. Rev. Horton Heat fans will dig. I bet this band kicks every ass live. (SH)

Tommy and The Terrors Unleash the Fury TKO Records • They're back! I think I reviewed TATT the last time around. If I didn't, I heard their disc and dug it. This is old school 70's punk, street punk as they say on the, well, streets. This is good ol' in your face brash punk rock. No frills, no spills, just punch you in the throat punk. (SH)

Toxic Narcotic Live In Boston Rodent Popsicle Recordings • Wow. My band used to practice in the room next to these guys at the Music Complex in Boston. We sucked. They didn't. Now, 15 years later, they still don't. This is a very well produced DVD with great video and audio. It fully captures the excitement of that night at Axis. A live concert that starts strong and only gets stronger as the show goes on. This is aggressive hard-core punk that will have you moshing across your living room in no time. (MK)

Tuff McGruff Sling the State self-released • Hardcore, hardcore, hardcore. This is the hardest hardcore of hardcore. If you think you like hardcore, you ain't heard shit. Buy this and let Tuff McGruff redefine hardcore for you. These four dudes from Florida lay waste to your ears on this 8-track release. Be afraid. (SH)

TV for Dogs Roller Wampus Records • Three guys bashing out middling emo rock. TV For Dogs spread churning guitars over listless songs. Singer-guitarist Neil Lucket whines endlessly, never owning up to any other emotion. Roller plods along, never sensing the alarm bells going off, warning of boredom overdrive. (DE)

Twin Wrecks The Memory Royal Drug Lodge self-released • I've got another Chicago band for you to check out. If you like your rock raw and guitar-driven but NOT like those "The" bands, check this out. TWTM is better than that. They have a raw, loose edge but they sound tight as a drum. It SORT of has a grunge feel to it, but not Alice In Chains grunge, not grunge-metal. If you're at all intrigued, you won't be disappointed. (SH)

Tyler Speaks for Me & Avelena Falls split Suicide Casanova Records • This split is put out by two Lancaster, Pennsylvania bands, Tyler Speaks for Me and Avelena Falls. Each band contributes three songs for the split. Up first is Tyler Speaks for Me. The first three songs are hard hitting and definitely start the EP out with a lot of energy. Their sound is a sort of hardcore indie rock. Avelena Falls follows with the closing three songs. Their sound is more in line with that of other bands such as From First to Last. The vocals and guitar riffs used in their songs help to end this EP with as much power as it started out with. (KB)

Various Artists Soul Sides Volume One Zealous Records • This 14-track album is a collection of rare and hard to find soul songs compiled by the folks at the blog. Many of these songs were out of print until now, including tracks by Erma Franklin (Aretha Franklin's sister), Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Weldon Irvine, Clarence Reid and Donny Hathaway, just to name a few. (AL)

Various Artists The Best of Taste of Chaos WARCON Enterprises • This double album is released just in time for the Taste of Chaos tour and includes some of the best post-hardcore bands out there. Among the bands are The Deftones, The Used, Thrice, Avenged Sevenfold, Shadows Fall, and the Dillinger Escape Plan. These 36 tracks include unreleased tracks and demos. (AL)

Various Artists The Ugly Truth About Blackpool, Volume 1 JSNTGM Records • Blackpool has been dubbed "Britain's undisputed capital of entertainment." There has long been a punk underground scene in Blackpool and this huge, expansive CD gathers some of the greatest from Blackpool. There are 27 – count them, 27 – bands on here, from Tunnel Vision to Antisocial to the Genocides, The Fits, The Membranes, Uncle Fester and Sick56. You really can't get a better deal than this if you like your punk REAL punk. (SH)

Venice is Sinking self-titled One Percent Press • Venice is Sinking has a floaty, ethereal sound to their music. The full length CD is just song after song of beautiful music, put together by a guitar, drums, viola, flute, bass, organ, and piano. The dual male and female vocals make the record even more enjoyable. With their mellow sound and sincere lyrics, this is a version of indie rock I can definitely get used to. (KB)

Venice is Sinking/What We Do is Secret split One Percent Press • This EP is the first record release from One Percent Press, a company that is better known for 'zine and comic releases. Based on the quality of this release, I think this is just the first of many. The split features two bands, both of whom possess the undeniable ability to create thought provoking and captivating songs. Venice is Sinking seems a little more upbeat in the first three songs of the EP. Their dual male and female vocals are my favorite part of this band. What We Do is Secret ends the disc with two tracks that seem a bit more on the darker and mysterious side. Vocalist Chelsea Johnson has a wavering quality to her voice which fits perfectly in with the steady and melodic music. (KB)

Vervein The Weather Inside self-released • This band is four ladies who produce a gorgeous brand of haunting, powerful atmospheric rock. Their high, breathy, harmonic vocals are a perfect match for the uneasy, disquieted sounds they generate, and there are long periods of instrument-only work. They full-on jam out, not afraid to throw their considerable prowess with their weapons of choice on the table for all to hear. Highly enjoyable on many different levels. (DP)

Waterdown All Riot Victory Records • Following the formula, Waterdown plays hardcore with emo/punk elements and a mix of screaming and singing. Fortunately, Waterdown's aggression seems genuine, not forced. The melodies are super catchy, but are balanced by an intense mix of metal and hardcore. The song structure isn't cookie-cutter, either. So, don't expect this to be Thrice or Thursday. There are the expected breakdowns and moments of seemingly poppy melodies, but they always find a way to quickly return to their creative song-structures and thrashy nature. The guitar parts are truly excellent, constantly moving, dancing over the pounding rhythms and adding a good balance to the varied vocal stylings. Hardcore and punk fans will find things about this to both like and dislike. If you settle somewhere in between, this is perfect for you. (CM)

Wes McDonald 1:50 In the Furnace Skybucket • The tightly wound indie rock of the opening track "I Would Never" is a catchy and absorbing start to a release that you'd expect a little more from with such a setup. The following songs change the pace a little bit here and there and have their bright spots such as on "Chinese Rug," "Brethren" and "Trap." But when the band leans towards the safer havens of the crispy pop spectrum, that's when the authenticity rubs off. This foursome, led by Wes McDonald, who is out of Birmingham, embraces their southern roots and delivers their music like a well-oiled machine with minor rust setting in at almost unnoticeable spots. (JC)

Western Addiction Cognicide Fat Wreck Chords • Cognicide sounds like it was made decades ago. Blend hardcore and punk with socially aware rage and you have one tight and sweaty package. "Church of Black Flag" is both an endearing homage to their roots and a stab at those who'd make music out of something other than the love of it. Fuzzy guitars and urgent, shouted vocals earnestly revive a passion lost in the gamut of modern punk and post-hardcore. (CR)

Wheatus Too Soon Monsoon Montauk Mantis Records • I was so excited to see another Wheatus album. "Teenage Dirtbag" is still one of my favorite songs to this day. On the opening track of Too Soon Monsoon, "Something Good," the vocals show that it is indeed the same Wheatus from years earlier. This album is fun and catchy. The music is a fusion of pop and rock with a goofy sort of feel to it. The vocals just bring it over the top. It is impossible to listen to this record without smiling. (KB)

White Rainbow Zome States Rights Records • White Rainbow is Adam Forkner, who also has recorded as [[[[VVRSSNN]]]] and as a member of a ton of groups. For Zome he enlisted the help of some of the members of Landing, which should clue you to the fact that this is pretty hypnotic stuff. The guitars are flowing, with strings plucked here and there to create a wave of reverb that envelops you. The 20-minute last track is particularly entrancing, with nary a beat and plenty of repeating loops. Do not drive a car while listening to this. Rather, put on your favorite pair of headphones and get washed away. (AL)

Young Canadians No Escape Sudden Death Records • This is like a compilation or best of disc from Young Canadians. There's stuff on here from previous EP's as well as live, unreleased stuff. Most of it is mellow punk, like Elvis Costello stuff, but they also kick it up a notch and get a little Romantics on us. Check it out. There are 22 tracks so you can't go wrong if you dig it. (SH)

DVD Reviews

Four Tet Everything Ecstatic DVD & CD Domino Recording Co. • If you enjoyed Four Tet's Everything Ecstatic in audio format, then you will appreciate the DVD version of the album, with 10 films commissioned specifically for the release. The films are somewhat abstract, using techniques ranging from animation to live action. The included CD contains about 35 minutes of brand new music, which are considered Part 2 of the album, including extended and remixed versions of some songs from part one. (AL)

Vinyl Reviews

Shook OnesSlaughter Of The Insole 7"Revelation • I thought for sure this had to be ex-Lifetime lead singer Ari Katz. I'm wrong. This three-song 7" from Shook Ones, though, captures all the punk-rock goodness that made Lifetime so great. There's also a bit of Hot Water Music coursing through the music. Great, melodic, punchy punk rock with raw, gruff vocals that add a good bit of intensity to the already energized music. (CM)

Record Label Addresses
In alphabetical order. Please write them.

Afternoon Records,
Agent Records,
Alone Records,
Ariel Records,
At One Records,
Babygrande Records,
Barsuk Records,
Bettawreckonize Media,
Big Muddy Records,
Breathing Room Records,
Broken Line Records,
Built on Strength Records,
Burning Building,
Buttermilk Records,
Cake on Cake,
Catalyst Records,
Chainsaw Safety Records,
Chris Brown,
Cire Records,
Creep Records,
Curlock and Jalaiso Records,
David Aaron,
Dead Influence,
Deathwish Music,
Deep Elm,
Deep Send,
Dog My Cat Records,
Dollar Record Records,
Domination Recordings,
Domino Recording Co.,
Doubling Cube Records,
Ear to the Ground Records,
Early Empire,
Eenie Meenie Records,
Em Dash Music,
Empty Records,
Epitaph Records,
Ernest Jenning,
Eulogy Recordings,
EV Productions,
Fat Possum Records,
Fat Wreck Chords,
Fearless Records,
Ferret Music,
First Kut Organization,
Five One,
Future Farmer Records,
Gigantic Music,
Grave Mistake Records,
Grave Mistakes,
Hackshop Records,
Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records,
Head Trauma Records,
Hip Notik Records,
Immortal Records,
Indianola Records,
Jemez Mountain,
Johanns Face,
Johhny Sonic,
Joyful Noise,
Kill Rock Stars,
King Easy Records,
Kung Fu Records,
Lazyline Records,
Love Pump United,
Lujo Records,
Machine Records,
Magnatune Records,
Meth And Goats,
Mic Club Music,
Midriff Records,
Milquetoast Records,
Model One,
Modern Skirts,
Montauk Mantis Records,
Mush Records,
Neat Music,
New Romance For Kids,
No Idea,
No Karma,
Nobodys Favorite Records,
Obscura Records/Morgan,
One Cell Records,
One Day Savior Records,
One Percent Press,
Onset Records,
Orange Van,
OTP Records,
Paper Weight Records,
Patriot Recordings,
Phratry Records,
Pivotal Rockcordings,
Princess Records,
Prison Jazz,
Public Guilt Records,
Pure Greed,
Reason Y,
Record Collection Music,
Redder Records,
Rhymesayers Entertainment,
Rock Star Records,
Rockridge Music,
Rodent Popsicle Records,
Rudy Records,
Secretly Canadian,
Sick Room,
SideCho Records,
Skybucket Records,
Sling Slang Records,
SOS Records,
S.J. Tucker,
Stare Into The Sun,
States Rights Records,
Sudden Death Records,
Table of the Elements,
Takeover Records,
Temporary Residence LTD.,
The Czars,
The Electric Human Project,
The FallWater Project,
The Harpeth Trace,
The Inoculators,
The Kora Records,
The Maybellines,
The Militia Group,
The Moment,
The Specs,
Thick Records,
Tiberius Records,
Tigers Against Crime Records,
Toucan Cove Entertainment,
Translation Loss,
True Classical,
Trustkill Records,
Tuff McGruff,
Turn Records,
Twin Wrecks The Memory,
Underpop Records,
Valiant Death,
Victory Records,
Wampus Records,
WARCON Enterprises,
Wind-Up Records,
Zealous Records,
ZoBird Records,
Zulu Records,

Music reviews from past issues: