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This Issue's Top Picks | Vinyl reviews


20 Minute Loop20 Minute LoopFortune Records • The self-titled debut for this San Francisco quartet is reminiscent of past quirky pop bands such as the Pixies and Throwing Muses. The band describes its sound as "freakpop", and it definitely fits. The dual vocals of keyboardist Kelly Atkins and rhythm guitarist Greg Giles are one of the album's highlights. The duo's energetic harmonizing gives an edge to the band's "freak"-poppy material, particularly "She Hated Dogs", which should win a Grammy or something of equal value. Get your acceptance speeches ready, kids.

A Silver Mt. ZionHe has left us alone but shafts of light sometimes grace the corner of our roomsConstellation Records • If I was making a movie about the day after a nuclear attack, the opening track to this CD would be the soundtrack. Sadness expressed through a piano, a lonely violin chiming in sporadically, and an unintelligible, staticky radio report. The mood doesn't improve either. This CD is perfect for those rainy days when the last thing you want to do is get out of bed.

Abigail GrushThe Phantom BeatBarsuk Records • Grating nails on a chalkboard music. Music to cause yourself pain while listening to. Abigail Grush's voice (easily that of a new Disney heroine) made me want to do terrible things to her, to you, to me, whomever. Once I got beyond that, no easy task, I discovered the lyrics sophomoric and trite. Only redeeming quality: nice instrumentation. It's not easy to find a contemporary band featuring a glock. If you have a burning desire to listen anyway, put away all sharp things. You've been warned.

Alabama Thunder PussyConstellationMan's Ruin Records • Did the name of the band catch your eye?! I wonder why. Their music isn't as outrageous as their name, but these guys rock with a vengeance. This is good old-fashioned kick-ass, rock-n-roll. I don't know why Buckcherry is famous and these guys aren't; they're every bit as good.

Alien Crime SyndicateDust to DirtCollective Fruit • These guys put out a two-song 7"(American Pop Project) I got about a year ago. It was great, but I didn't hear anything else from them, till now. With twelve new, polished pop tunes and hooks galore, these guys are for real about rock. The lead guy, Joe, was the front man from the now-broken up band The Meices. Using pop melodies, loads of hooks and some experimentation with sound effects and loops, ACS delivers songs that will embed themselves in your brain. It's not possible to compare them to other bands because the song styles vary, but they never leave out the essential aspect of "amazingly catchy." Be prepared to sing along, despite the often simple, mindless lyrics.

ArsonWords Written In BloodResurrection AD Records • They're young, they're pissed off and they ain't gonna take it anymore! No, it's not the Twisted Sister comeback tour, it's Arson! These five young lads deliver a ferocious barrage of thrash/hardcore, led primarily by shredding guitar work. If you're into a more guitar-driven sound, like Queensryche on speed, check out this five song EP.

ArthurLoneliness is BlissRock City Records • Arthur is a more mellow, musically smoother side project of Michael "Arthur"Herrera from MxPx with Neil Hundt, Yuri Ruley and Tom Wisniewski. This EP has the makings of a mainstream alternative (I know it's a contradiction in terms) punk album; you know, melodic riffs and meaningful words. It's all here, six tracks that show off the band's versatile sound and talent with some true heartfelt lyrical pain.

Big BubbaAmerican TrendSmart Ass Records • If you grade this on production quality, it's not going to rate very high. But the snotty, speedy, sloppy punk isn't that bad. Don't expect great vocals or soaring guitars and melodic hooks. This is straight-ahead, fast-paced, angst-filled punk with a live feel.

BigfootDark Old DaysDerailleur Records • Gosh, I hate to pan a band because I know what a bitch it is to survive in the music business, but I can't lead our readers astray either. Bigfoot just isn't there. They're unpolished in every way. Well, there, seeŠif you like unpolished college-pop, this is for you.

Billy MahonieThe Big DigBeggars Banquet • I love instrumental rock bands. There's something about a group that cares so much about the music itself that it forgets (or refuses) to record any vocals that might draw attention from the song. Billy Mahonie excels in the music department, combining sweet melodies with raucous guitars to be as rock as possible without actually playing rock music.

Black Cat MusicThis Is The New RomanceCheetah's Records • Emotionally charged, this six-song EP, is rock at its finest. The songs are intense and infectious with powerful vocals and pounding, melodic music driving forward with each new tune. The lyrics are strong, dark stories delivered poetically. These six tracks are only a sip from the dry, delicious glass of wine called Black Cat Music.

BonecrusherWorld of PainDevil Doll Records • Based on their name and the album title, I was expecting to get body-slammed by the first tune. Instead, it sounded like the Misfits (which is a good thing), and then continued with that sound through the rest of the 14 other tracks. The vocals even sound like Danzig. The music is definitely angry and tough, but it's not speed, thrash or heavy metal like I had anticipated. There are plenty of sing-along choruses and guitar solos to accompany the solid, melodic rock and roll sound.

Boom HankIshly Ghost Fly Your E & Y Iota Recordings • This album is like running a marathon. It starts out fast and full of energy, and consistently slows down, until it is completely out of energy. This is not necessarily a putdown, for the CD is enjoyable. There are layers upon layers of noises ranging from bottles and cans to buckets of gravel, all hovering just loud enough to be heard but not very recognizable. Harmonies fly over lush soulful guitars to create beautiful songs.

BraidLucky To Be Alive Glue Factory • You'll never get to see Braid live again, but this is pretty damn close. This 17-song CD is a great recording of their final live show on August 21, 1999 at the Metro in Chicago. Included are great songs such as "The New Nathan Detroits", "Killing A Camera", "A Dozen Roses", "First Day Back"and more. You can hear their live energy ­ the way-ahead-of-their-time emo rock sound - come through on every song. It's sad that they are gone, but it's nice to have this to remember them by.

BraidMoviemusic Vol. 1 & 2 Polyvinyl • Feel free to be saddened by the passing of Braid, but rejoice in this collection of generally hard-to-find tracks. Split up on two separate CDs (not a double CD set), the first disc compiles all of Braid's 7"s and split 7"releases as well as one unreleased track (their last studio song). None of the songs on Volume One have ever appeared in CD format. Volume Two contains compilation tracks, six cover songs and four unreleased tracks, including an awesome remix of "Roses in the Car"done by Travis Morrison (Dismemberment Plan). This is a must-have for any fans of Braid or anyone who wants a taste of what may be the best, most creative emo-rock band yet.

CadallacaOut West Kill Rock Stars • With heavy use of an organ, this garagy, Œ60s-influenced, all-girl band delivers four great new tunes on this EP. The vocals are powerful and pretty while the melody of the music keeps the flow. There is an intense energy in each track and a sincerity that is honest and true.

Cadillac TrampsLiveBYO Records • After a hiatus from touring, the Cadillac Tramps decided to get together once more and go on the road. Their album is the result of one night on that reunion. Live will win over fans of both punk and alternative, with their "swamp boogie punk rock and roll."

Chainsaws And ChildrendacaBig Heavy World • It's hard to believe that two people can create such a racket. This New England duo assaults your eardrums with their "tech-core,"a blend of electronic elements with heavy guitars. They sound a lot like Ministry, with a little White Zombie thrown in for sport.

Chin Ho!GirlBig Heavy World • MTV (on occasion) has great music that gets stacked between idiotic squabble, Noxema ads and "Road Rules". Chin Ho! could be that "great music" - a Vermont-based alternative pop group with a Hootie and the Blowfish sound, minus the smarm. There's a new version of their biggest single to date, "I Wish I Was A Girl"and some new stuff on this seven track CD.

Coldspot 8It's The FeelgoodBeatville Records • Hailing from Orlando, Florida, Coldspot 8 (eight members) play traditional ska at its finest. Loaded with skillful and soulful horns, this 15-track debut is a toe-tapping delight. The vocals accompany the music perfectly, although there are several instrumental tunes, as well. If the consistently good harmonies and tempo of this album don't blow you away, the kick-ass horn section will.

ConsumedHit For SixFat Wreck Chords • Wow, this is very professional, very slick sounding punk. Either these guys have been around for ages or someone's got money to get the good production value. The music itself is very tight. It's rude, brash punk and it's worth a spin. It's a welcome change from those discs that sound like they were recorded at 2 a.m. in somebody's basement.

Crispus AttucksDestroy the TeacherSoda Jerk Records • Holding dear the skate-punk-core sounds of the mid-80's, Crispus Attucks delivers a verbal and aural assault that is characterized by speed and angst. But this isn't a crappy attempt to duplicate old-school DRI or Uniform Choice. Loaded with political overtones and highly intelligent lyrics, this 15-track CD is an intense trip. Pounding forward with each track, vocals screaming along while the music in the background bobs-and-weaves, tempos changing, guitars soaring and screeching ­ this DC five-piece is intense.

Cry Baby Cryself-titledself-released • For only being together for about six months, the four-piece named Cry Baby Cry sound pretty good. The vocals are shared by Kathy Cashel (ex-Norman Mayer Group) and James Brady (ex-Trusty), and range from subdued singing to outright screaming. Tempos vary as well, from the ballad "Chemical Castration,"to the all-out aggression of "Fast-Assed Sumbitchie." Give them time, they can only get better.

Deep Lustself-titledKill Rock Stars • A new twist on the riot-girl sound that the Kill Rock Stars label is known for, Deep Lust manages to successfully combine thrashing, catchy punk with a 60's girl group feel ­ think Shangri-La's meet Babes in Toyland. Energetic, fun, and unfrilly, it's sure to please.

DiggerMonte CarloHopeless • Digger has always been a good punk band, but if you don't offer something better/different with each new release, fans get bored. These four guys give the fans something that is worth waiting for ­ their most mature, energized, tightest release to date. Still exemplifying all the characteristics you've come to expect from Digger ­ hooks galore, killer vocals, toe-tappin' melodies, tempo changes that pop up left and right ­ this release shows that the band has learned how to perform it flawlessly and with more heart than ever. This is one of those records that will be hard to beat next time around, so chew on this punk rock treat for a while.

DJ Cheb i SabbahMaha MayaSix Degrees Records • Six different artists join dj Cheb i Sabbah himself in Maha Maya, to remix tracks from his Shri Durga CD. State of Bengal, TJ Rehmi and Transglobal Underground are some of the remixers that blend traditional Indian instrumentation with modern dance beats. DJ Cheb i Sabbah even remixes two of his own tracks, "Radhe Krishna"and "Samarpanam."

DJ Me DJ YouRainbows and RobotsEmperor Norton Records • This chock-full-of-samples CD is the second release from DJ Me DJ You. Everything from video games, to robotic bleeps, to b-movies are "borrowed,"combined with live instrumentation, including vintage keyboards and sitars, to give Rainbows and Robots its rounded out, eclectic feel.

Do Make Say ThinkGoodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is DeadConstellation Records • Do Make Say Think play moody, sometimes ethereal, instrumental music of the post-rock type. The mood is accentuated with piano, keyboards and strings, and tempos that rise and fall. I really enjoyed listening to this CD while driving at night.

EncoreSelf Preservation75 Ark • "Let me lay it down for you,"Encore states closing out the opening track of his solo debut album. And he's prepared to do just that. With bad ass vocal skills influenced by Q-Tip and Guru, Shaya Bekele (AKA, Encore the Essence) brings knowledge to the forefront. Despite hailing from Cali (East Bay), Encore embraces a more East Coast flavor with a jazzed-out style. Special guests on this 13-track disc include Kedar, Pep Love, and Grand the Visitor. This isn't your run-of-the-mill, radio-ready hip-hop. This is the real deal with fresh beats, scratching that hits at the right time and a flow that will make you say, "Oh shit!"

FishsticksDiskoTheologian Records • There are 31 songs on this one CD. That should tip you off right there. Not a lot of deep rock opuses or anything, these are quick punk numbers. They're OK, but I like my songs longer than 10 seconds.

Fractureself-titledNo Idea • Several years ago I came across a 7"titled Double Distelfink #2 Double Luck by this band. It was (still is) great. I remember getting totally hooked on the song "Babbling." When I heard that No Idea was releasing everything Fracture recorded on one CD, I was so happy. Twenty-songs later, I knew that one 7"I had was not a fluke. Fracture played pop punk that always sounded like the band was having fun ­ it had a real live sound. And, although the band broke up in 1996, these songs are still damn good. Maybe they were ahead of their time, or maybe this will always be great music. (Note: their guitarist was Atom from Atom and His Package.)

Frampton BrothersFile Under F (for Failure) Cacophone • Sometimes punky, sometimes downright pessimistic, the Brothers just rock. A band with ten years of experience and three tours under their belt, these indie rock veterans punch out this sarcastic, hilarious exercise in pure pop-rock bliss that will kick your lame ass.

Fury of FiveThis Time It's PersonalVictory Records • Although the music on here is really solid hardcore-metal, it's hard to take them seriously. I wanna say, "Relax guys. Just go get another tattoo and walk it off. There's no need to fight." They are so angry and tough (and tattooed), the testosterone was actually dripping out of my CD player. These guys pride themselves on being "real"and state that they aren't like the others who only claim to be "real". Misgivings about male-aggression aside, this is a fierce 12-song release with tons of tempo changes, break downs, hip-hop influences, and screamed vocals.

Gameface/Errortype:11What's Up BroRevelation Records • I don't know if there are two bands I'd rather see together on a release. This six song EP (three each) is absolutely brilliant. Gameface rocks their emotional, power-punk, country-tinged style of music with awesome lyrics and vocals that are perfect. Errortype:11 delivers their style of big-time, melodic rock that never lets up, even once the song is over. Each band does one cover song (Gameface does Tom Petty's "Change of Heart"and Errortype:11 does Split Enz's "I Got You") and two new tunes. Yo, Bro, this is possibly the best EP ever released.

Giant SandChore of EnchantmentThrill Jockey Records • After being unceremoniously dropped by their previous label for sounding "too indie,"Giant Sand finally found a home in Chicago-based Thrill Jockey Records. Chore of Enchantment, the trio's first studio recording, is characterized by a blend of country, folk and electro-acoustic guitars, slow tempo percussion and whispered, almost spoken vocals. Guest musicians abound, some well known, some not so well known.

GreyareaFanbelt AlgebraVictory Records • Greyarea is one of the few hardcore bands that hasn't crossed over to the metal scene. These guys combine the powerful, hook-filled melodies that seem to have vanished from hardcore with the knock-you-out power hardcore requires. Greyarea makes great use of harmonies and hard-hitting vocals while keeping the music creative. The pace is rapid at times, making you wish that skateboard was still under your feet. But, they can also slow it down and suck you in, toes-tapping, head-bobbing, singing along. Featuring ex-members of Token Entry, Warzone and Black Train Jack, these guys must know this is their best band yet.

GunFlowerThis album is only being soldŠ Ribonucleic Records • Don't even try to count all the samples used on this release from Gainesville's GunFlower. Everything from TV, answering machine messages, movies, interviews, CDs, and the internet (anyone else receive the F-word wav file?) are cut, pasted and copied, all inside a Macintosh 6100/60 computer. These samples are arranged in a humorous way, over electronic beats, some slow, some fast.

Half PintRecollection Cornerstone RAS • The majority of my knowledge of reggae music involves heavy beer drinking on the back decks of beachside seafood restaurants. Recollection is so good it didn't need beer and balmy ambiance. Half Pint has a great voice, even on tracks where I could understand only a minimum of the actual lyrics. The synth musical accompaniment got a little tedious occasionally, but overall, this is a great CD. I think I'll try it with beer.

High On FireThe Art Of Self Defense Man's Ruin Records • Another hit for Man's Ruin Records' growing list of heavy rocking groups like Unida, Acid King and Men Of Porn. The guitars are heavy and distorted, and songs tend to go on forever, which is fine by me.

Husking BeeThe Sun and the Moon EP Doghouse Records • Already huge in Japan, this three-piece is ready to make bigger waves in the U.S. (their last album did sell nearly 25,000 copies here). Husking Bee plays intense, heartfelt rock with great vocals and amazingly creative instrumentation making it hard to believe there's only three members. The sincerity of the four songs on this release (three in English, one in Japanese) is astounding and awesome. Hold your breath, a new album should be out in July.

Idle HandsTreaty EP Trustkill • Opening with a super melodic track characterized by powerful female vocals and not quitting for the next three tracks, I was left craving more. This four-track EP is a driving power-punk release with as much emotion as energy. Meaghan has vocals that soar while the music uses creative tempo changes and addictive rhythms to suck you in.

Index for Potential SuicideThe Newest Youth Rebellion OHEV • Death metal from South Carolina! From South Carolina! Their death metal is not like Tampa, Florida's death metal, nor is it like Norway's black metal. Nope, these S.C. cats infuse their death rock with synthesizers, great lyrics and amusing song titles. My favorites are the most experimental - "Arriving at Suicide"and "Escape, unsuccessful."Severely recommended for those who appreciate difficult music.

JazzholeBlackburst Beave Music • Jazzhole offers up smooth, cool jazz while tackling serious issues such as love, jealousy, sex, and child prostitution. If you can overlook the latter, this is definitely "getting' it on"music. Listeners of good jazz (I honestly don't know what constitutes good jazz) will want to add this to their collection. The song "Black Heaven,"featuring Michella Deville, makes this a must have for the serious fan.

Jerry MundoHard Money McC Music • Allow me to tell you a story; it won't take long. As I sorted through the bag of CD's Mazer (Craig, that is) left for me to review, I see this CD and my exact statement was, "Sonofabitch!" My wife, who was in the car with me, asked what the problem was. I said, "Mazer gave me this ^%$#@$ CD to review. This guy sucks, you can just tell." My wife tried to reason with me: "You can never tell. Sometimes the ones that look the worst are the best." I replied, "No, I can tell. This would be like if your dad tried to make a CD." I had seen this CD a few weeks earlier at Craig's place and turned it down, so seeing it in the bag was like pouring salt in an open wound. OK, that's the end of my story. I guess you had to be there. Oh, and I was rightŠ

John Q. PublicThe Neverending Why Middle Man Records • Hard, fast, brash punk with hardcore overtones. That's about as simple as I can say it. They have some decent riffs in there but I wouldn't shell out the cash for some riffs.

Kathy AckerRedoing Childhood Kill Rock Stars • Kathy Acker passed away before her time in 1997 (at age 53) while receiving experimental treatment for cancer in Mexico. A legend of sorts in literary circles - often compared to Burroughs - her experimental writing style painted vivid pictures, story-telling glimpses of her world - powerful, aggressive and sometimes offensive. Redoing Childhood is a solid documentation of her words. Her style does not appeal to everyone, but that's how it goes in the world of literature. The music accompaniment, though, doesn't do much to enhance her words; personally, I feel it takes away from it.

KevlarLet Me Worry Some More The First Time Records • With three years under their belt, Kelvar displays the maturity and skills of a solid indie-rock band. Hailing from Umea, Sweden, maybe this is what you can expect from excessive cold temperatures. Loaded with pop sensibility, but backed up with an energy that keeps it far from being wimpy, this four-piece keeps driving forward with each song. The vocals are great, with an obvious accent leading them to sound much like their mates Starmarket (from the same city). If you're looking for kick-ass melodies, creative instrumentation and intricate rock, stop here and take a listen.

Kid KoalaCarpal Tunnel Syndrome Ninja Tune Records • Kid Koala is not your typical turntablist. He is not content with just scratching his ass off over some repetitive beats. He makes the songs with his scratching, throwing more samples than you can shake a stick at. It would be a cool drinking game to try and guess each sample, and make someone else drink if you guess it right. Here are a couple to get you started: "Scarface,""Airplane,""Revenge of the Nerds." Throw in a sharp sense of humor, blend it with some jazz, tribal percussion, skilled scratches and, of course, hip-hop to end up with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. There's even a cute arcade game on the CD that is a variation of the classic "Asteroids,"where you have to shoot down giant records.

Lois Maffeo & Brendan Canty The Union Themes Kill Rock Stars • A great collaboration between Fugazi drummer Canty and songwriter Maffeo, this is a sad, wistful exploration of romance and spans many different genres of music from pop to soul to folk. Ten tracks of inspired treasures, each detailing characters that find and lose one another. Over two years in the making, this album has true insight and passion.

m.i.jThe Radio Goodnight Caulfield Records • m.i.j.'s The Radio Goodnight is one of the best post-punk / indie rock releases I've heard in a while. Jeff Hanson's falsetto vocals could easily be confused with a female's voice. The precise drumming and hooky guitars will pump you up, starting with the first track and going all the way to the last one.

Mary Lou Lord/Sean Na Nasplit CD Kill Rock Stars • Comparable to Juliana Hatfield, Mary Lou Lord provides incredible acoustic songwriting and singing in this six-song EP. Her songs are painfully pleasing and honest, and I loved every second of this CD. Sean Na Na (Sean Tillmann) is an equally great pop provider with loads of catchy hooks. This is some of the best independent music ever!

Milk CultProject M-13 Zero to One Records • After the college radio success of Burn or Bury, Milk Cult holed themselves up in a mansion in Marseilles in the Spring of 1997 to collaborate with over 30 musicians, to create Project M-13, a hodgepodge of styles and sounds they describe as tech-rock-noise-hop. Instead of working with indie rock artists (like on Burn or Bury), Milk Cult shared the studio with traditional Corsican singers, Buddhist chanters, Algerian folk improvisers, French folkies, industrial noisicians, jazzbos, hip-hop artists and a 30 piece African orchestra, among others.

Monkey Paw Hating You is So Easy Four Alarm Records • While I'm not convinced of their respect for women or, well, anyone, really, Monkey Paw is a great deal of fun. A funky, punky Violent Femmes similarity came to mind. The classily-titled "Fuck Your Mother"was my personal favorite. Truly great. However, my white girl heart quails at the more ominous "White Man is the Devil"track. The rest of this CD is so good, I'm going to overlook a little misogyny and hey, the white man needs a little settling down.

MycomplexIf We Keep Moving Headhunter/Cargo • This is cool hardcore. It's fast and intense with some great, tight riffs. These guys are really talented. They have tons of time changes in their songs and the singer is strangely good. What I mean by that is, he's not the best singer I've ever heard but his voice is very original and matches well with the music.

Nerf HerderHow To Meet Girls Honest Don's • OK, I'll admit it. I love this disc. There comes a time in every reviewer's lonely life when he realizes that all the music is starting to sound the same. This snapped me out of my stupor and gave me a reason to live! Very pop-oriented punk (The Queers are in here somewhere, big time) this is a funny, catchy CD that you will love.

Nip DriversDestroy Whitey/Oh Blessed Freak Show Taang! Records • Offensive and outrageous, the Nip Drivers play garagy, drunken punk that is, for the most part, wonderfully out of control. Some tunes are really melodic while others flail around. These guys first started playing in the early Œ80s. They are no longer together (although I hear they have been known to get back together to play a show) and their material is hard to find. This 28-song CD features two of their albums plus an extra track.

Nobodys/The Beautiessplit CD Sub City • This is a partial benefit for the Diana Price Fish Foundation, which helps folks with cancer. While these may seem like strange bands to put on a benefit CD, who are we to complain? Nobodys, after all, are one of the coolest punk bands out there. This disc does not disappoint. 5 songs from each band deliver a lot of kick-ass music and it's for a good cause.

OskerTreatment 5 Epitaph • The East Bay is back. Reminiscent of the Lookout! days of Crimpshrine, old Green Day and Rancid, Osker is a three-piece of super melodic proportions. The 18-tracks capture a punk rock attitude loaded with intensity and energy. While Osker doesn't create a new style, they have originality that melds great with the power punk sound.

ParasitesCompost Go-Kart Records • Out of the 18-tracks on here, six are Parasites originals. The remaining tracks are covers of The Avengers "No Martyr", Descendents' "Pep Talk", The Queers' "Daydreaming", and, obviously, many more. All the tracks capture the poppy punk sound that makes the Parasites who they've been for almost ten years. Fans will enjoy this and lovers of super melodic pop-punk will have found a new favorite band.

Plan A ProjectSpirit of a Soldier Go-Kart Records • They sound like they're from London, but they're actually from Jersey. Combining the punk-rock sounds of The Clash with the early attitude and aggression of Rancid (before they sucked), this is an impressive 15-song release. At times, the music is in your face with a melodic, uptempo bounce while other times it's more like a punch in the face. Either way, this is an album not to miss.

Poison The WellThe Opposite of December Trustkill Records • How much ass can one band kick? Here is your answer. Poison The Well is an intense, in-your-face band that plays hardcore/metal like it should be played. What I really like about this disc is the breakdowns and the detail they put into every tune. Very seldom do young hardcore bands take the time to craft whole songs, rather they just thrash about like fish out of water. These guys play every song like it's their only song and they should be applauded for that. By applauded I mean, of course, buy the freaking disc!

Poster ChildrenDDD spinART Records • After 13 years and 7 records, the Poster Children are still going strong. Their style is "Poster Rock,"a cross between pop and rock, with a bit of punk and a few electronic effects thrown in for fun. Some songs have a very slight "Ramones"feel to them.

Pretty Mighty MightyFamous Past LivesDerailleur Records • I am surprised and disappointed that I have not heard this band on the radio. They would fit perfectly on the "alternative"radio station of your choice, with their melodic singing style and medium to hard guitar work. I expect to hear more about Pretty Mighty Mighty very soon.

RadonŠAw, Geez!No Idea • Back in the early Œ90s (they broke up in 1993), Radon was king of the Gainesville, Florida music scene ­ and for good reason. With a rough, rock energy, thick melodies and respect for good lyrics, this three-piece left behind an amazing collection of tunes. It will only take one listen for these songs to etch themselves in your brain.

Rob McGregorValantineGoldentone Records • This is good rockin' new-school punk. Sixteen tracks including "Jesus Was A Loner"and "Lonesome Town"are enough to make you want to hear more.

Satanic SurfersGoing Nowhere Fast Burning Heart Records • The Satanic Surfers have actually gone far since 1989. Their new release, Going Nowhere Fast, was picked up by the legendary punk label, Epitaph. In ten years, they have not slowed down one bit, playing their brand of melodic punk that is fast, fierce and political.

Shannonwright Maps of Tacit Quarterstick • With a southern charm and a voice to go with it, shannonwright's songs are sincere, heartfelt gems characterized by creative composition and a subtle intensity. On this album, she plays nearly all the instruments, from piano to drums to keyboards to guitar. Often depressing and dark, her songs work their way into your skin, crawling through you, touching your weaker points and drawing you in. The melodies are deep and enhanced by her vocals (sometimes soothing, sometimes wavering) while the tempo slides along through a thick ocean of sound.

ShutdownSomething To Prove EP Victory Records • Shutdown gives us four songs of extremely danceable hardcore. This NYC group continues addressing issues that revolve around growing up, but they cast it in a "you"vs. "we"position, with the lyricist being the one more in the right. Preaching to the converted has been a mainstay in the hardcore scene for decades now, and I've been sick of it for just as long. These lyrics are odd because their last album focused on the individual holding true to beliefs regardless of external factors. Musically, this is the best thing Shutdown has ever released."No Compromise"is the top song, so point your fingers to this track first.

Sinclaireself-titled Sonic Unyon • The biggest disappointment of this CD-EP is that it's not long enough. Sinclair started in the Ontario hardcore scene but, while still having the hardcore intensity, is more of an emo band now. Comparable to such bands as Texas Is The Reason, Jimmy Eat World and Get Up Kids, Sinclaire has an original flair that is dependent upon creative instrumentation and power vocals. I anxiously await a full-length album.

SinkholeRetrospectacles Dr. Strange Records • Sinkhole was around for five years (Œ92-Œ97). During that time they released three albums, and numerous 7"s and compilation tracks. Their brand of poppy punk rock is infectious. This album features seven unreleased tracks and twelve tracks from previous releases. This nineteen-song compilation (of sorts) is a great audio documentary of the musical triumphs of Sinkhole. Characterized by great melodies, energized guitar-work and solid vocals that don't overpower the music, this band is truly missed.

Slow ForeOil espo Records • If you like emo with a little extra punch, you will dig Slow Fore. Some songs follow the recipe of starting out slow, then kicking it in with the heavy guitars. The singing could use a bit of polishing, but overall, Oil is a pretty enjoyable experience.

Slydogself-titled McC Music • Try to imagine the worst Warrant tunes with the vocal yelps of Motley Crue. Just don't. No, really, don't.

SneaksterPseudo-Nouveau/Fifty-Fifty Shadow Records • Is this electronica, trip-hop, or R&B? Throw in a bit of each and you've got Pseudo-Nouveau, a moody, sensual recording by Britain's Sneakster. You've heard this story before: the electronica genius meets the sultry female singer and they make sweet music together. It's a story worth repeating. Sophie Hinkley quietly sings her way above minimalist beats, courtesy of Mark Clifford (Seefeel). The result is beautiful. The U.S. release also features Fifty-Fifty, composed of three Sneakster tracks remixed by Robin Guthrie.

SnuffNumb Nuts Fat Wreck Chords • I'll confess that this is the first time I've heard Snuff. They've been around for over 10 years and I wish I had known. I mean, how many times do you run across a punk band that includes a Hammond organ?! Really now! This disc is full of tasty punk morsels, yet they stray from the punk style a little and go almost full-blown rock-n-roll on some tunes. Call it punk with a twist. Call it whatever you like, but buy it first.

Sonny VincentParallax In Wonderland Devil Doll Records • Sonny's been doing his thang for nearly 25 years. He brings his brand of raucous rock/punk to us again in 2000 and he's cranking it out strong still. He kind of sounds like Paul Stanley at times which isn't bad at all. This is a good, no-frills rock disc. Don't expect anything new, but if you're sick of the new stuff, get back to Sonny.

Spread The DiseaseThe Sheer Force of Inertia Eulogy Records • I remember this high school band I used to dig back in the day. Musically they were cool but the singer sucked. I don't know what ever happened to them, but probably not much with that singer. Spread The Disease could be that band. However, they've skirted the problem with the singer by not allowing him to sing so much as growl and yell. This is thrash metal with some weird-ass techno interludes. Like I said, good music, singer, er, growler, sucks.

Stanley DavisNiceŠNice McC Music • Stanley Davis would be lost without his keyboard. NiceŠNice sounds like it was composed entirely on one, except for some guitar and saxophone work, and of course, vocals. Going for more of a "World"sound, he employs the world class singer Theano, whose sensual voice whispers in an unrecognizable language, above Latin percussion and other instruments. This New Age jazz CD should brighten your day, and make you feel like you're on a cruise in the Caribbean.

Staring BackMany Will Play Lobster Records • These are a few young guys (all under 20, save one) who really can play well ­ this does not sound like the typical just out of high-school wannabe stuff that we hear a lot of. The songs are well constructed and the disc is produced well. It's all very catchy pop-punk that I like.

Stormshadow/FanshenSplit CD 9 Volt Records • Stormshadow isn't bad hardcore but Fanshen is, well, different. Can there be spoken word hardcore? But it's not really understandable spoken word. It's not really singing but it's too fast to be understood. I have no idea either. Anyway, there are 28 songs total so it's a good deal for your money but I can't highly recommend this.

Stratford MercenariesSense of Solitude Southern Records • OK. The bondage photos on the album don't really portray the Oi band inside this CD case. Out of London, but not too far out, Stratford Mercenaries are a curious blend of hard rock riffs and the vocals of a British pub band. On "Where Is love?"(track #2) the electronic vocal effects are way out of place on the untrained voice of Steve Ignorant. It has all the convincing soul of karaoke night. Don't bother.

SubmachineFresh Out of Give-A-Fucks Radical Records • As you probably guessed by this disc's title, these guys don't care much. They're into doing things their way, writing what they want and saying what they want. You have to respect that. I won't say the vehicle they've chosen is as honorable as their ideals, however. This is fast, aggressive punk that you've heard a million times before. Give it a listen but don't expect any surprises.

SuperthriveSeven Songs for Sinners self-released • Heavy, thundering riffs and screaming vocals fill this 25 minute release from New Jersey's Superthrive. Their inspiration for the songs lies within the seven deadly sins as described in the Bible: Gluttony, Pride, Lust, Envy, Wrath, Sloth and Greed. They sound a bit like 80's metal, with some 90's rock thrown in. Superthrive's songs get to the point quickly, making Seven Songs for Sinners short, but sweet.

Supreme Beings of Leisureself-titled Palm Pictures • With a swanky jazzy sound, this four-piece is ready to slide you into their sound. The seductive female vocals, with a subtle edge, flow over the varying beats, instrumentation and sounds. Whether taking from hip-hop, jazz, funk, blues or rock, SBL finds a way to meld it together with their original songwriting style (but don't expect particularly good lyrics). Emotionally powerful while being sensually delivered, the finished product is deep, soul-filled music.

TempletonTrash To Treasure Derailleur Records • Noise-pop quartet from Columbus, OH. Nothing terribly original here. The singing sounds a bit strained at times. I wouldn't go out of my way to get this one.

TensionWar Cry Cargo Music • With songs like "Never Trust A Hippie", "Who Farted?", and "Nation of Hate", and featuring ex-Exploited members, you know that you're in for anything but pussy-ass new school pop-punk. This is the angry shit that makes you want to punch a hippie's ugly face in. Loud and fierce, this is still melodic ­ these guys don't lose themselves in the speed and anger that so frequently dominates this genre. This is a good disc.

The 1985Obscured by Pink Clouds Carbon Records • This is divided into two parts: one composed of hard rocking prog-rock, and the other with mostly instrumental techno songs. "What?!?"you say? Oddly enough, it works. The first part is full of attitude, with a "Blur meets the Delta 72 meets Sonic Youth meets Public Image Ltd."sound. Part 2 is mostly electronic, with some electric guitars thrown in at times, accentuated with a vocal or two.

The BookedFeel The Pride Radical Records • Dammit! If I haven't said it before, let me say it now: Orlando radio stations SUCK! Why do we never hear about good concerts coming to Orlando? In reading the press on The Booked I see they played here two nights ago. I needed to see some new, good punk and The Booked fit the bill. These guys take a lot of pride in their music and themselves and it shows. This is a solid disc and I wish Orlando radio didn't suck so badly. Did I say that already?

The China WhiteThe Gun Of The Enemy Eulogy Records • There's a certain level of pain behind the lead singer, who tries desperately to sound like Thom Yorke from Radiohead. And at times, he comes pretty close. And at other times, he sounds a lot like an 80's hair band singer. Overall, The Gun Of The Enemy is a solid rock album worth listening to.

The Delta 72000 Touch And Go Records • It's usually cause for concern when a good band says it has updated their sound. You would tend to think they ruined a perfectly good sound for no particular reason. Fortunately, such feelings will be nowhere near your mind as you listen to 000. Sure, the sound is a bit different than on Soul Of A New Machine. The vocals are more intelligible, and the pace slows down some, but their tendency to jam and the groovy sounds emanating from the farsifa have been left untouched. Fear not, for this is a musical gem.

The For Carnationself-titled Touch and Go Records • I hope you are not in a hurry, because this music is SLOW. The good news, however, is that it's a cool ride. Brian McMahan and company force the listener to pay attention, or else drift away in a wave of ambience. Five vocals and one instrumental provide 45 minutes of reverb-heavy guitars and vocals that you have to strain to hear well.

The GamitsEndorsed By You Suburban Home • If the first song doesn't absolutely hook you, then you're deaf. These guys play big time rock with a ton of punk attitude and influence (from Screeching Weasel to Green Day to Lagwagon). The comparisons to Weezer are well-intended, but doesn't give The Gamits enough credit for their own breed of infectious, melodic, hook-filled rock. It's hard to believe they're only a three-piece because these guys sound like a five-piece, with enough energy to power a city and lyrics to make the listener go "Hmmm." This is smart music with a solid, stand-back-and-be-blown-away sound.

The Hillary Step The Second Time Means Nothing Urinine Records • The Hillary Step continue to put out their slick trippy pop sound on The Second Time Means Nothing. Though short on lyrics, Brad's (he doesn't appear to have a last name) guitar work is original and the rest of the trio keep up. The driving angry beat of "You and Me and This"(track #1) is the best piece on the album.

The HollowsDescend EP Low Watt Entertainment • These guitar pop-sters play it too safe for my tastes. The Hollows have a clean sound recording, clever word play, a singer with great pipes, and catchy song structures. Alas, it seems to conjure a tried and dated formula for success from around 1995 as it's reminiscent of the college rock of that time, and not enough time has passed for me to miss it. That said, if you can allow for a guilty pleasure, by all means give in - they do this extremely well.

The JimmiesLet The Fat Men Plunder Panic Button Records • The question always comes up: "Šyeah, but what do they SOUND like?" OK, picture this: You know that band from the movie "That Thing You Do?" Now imagine if that same movie was made in 2000 and the band played punk. Got it? That's where The Jimmies come in. I'm not saying the guys LOOK like that, I'm saying they have that kind of bounce to their music. Yet, at the same time, they have some really grungy guitar punk in there, too. Definitely a keeper.

The Kingsbury Manx self-titled Overcoat Recordings • This album is beautiful. Floating along with a late Œ60s acoustic guitar sound, akin to Simon and Garfunkel, The Moody Blues or even Palace, the music flows like a daydream. Hailing from North Carolina, the country air has relaxed this group of musicians, capturing the simplicity and grandeur of their surroundings in sweet, sincere tunes with creative instrumentation and harmonious vocals.

The LapseHeaven Ain't Happenin' Southern Records • Besides a great album title, Chris Leo and Toko Yasuda have a created great collection of songs. Toko and Chris are both ex-Van Pelt members, still delivering intellectual, experimental, indie rock. On seven of the ten songs, Chris and Toko have a guest drummer. Otherwise, these two run the show. Besides their musical prowess, the two share vocal duties. Chris delivers a spoken-word vocal style while Toko, singing more than on their last album, has a beautiful, sincere voice. While the music is superb, the lyrics are a work of art on their own ­ poetic pieces of social commentary and abstracts ideas.

The Letter Eself-titled EP Tigerstyle Records • Not a word is uttered and it's kinda nice. This EP is an instrumental piece of soft mellow grooves with an almost seamless sound. It's nothing that will get you all wired up for a night on the town, but it makes for some fantastic background music. Plus, it's recorded at the Brooklyn Illharmonic, the coolest name I've seen for a recording studio. It's worth owning, just don't rush.

The Low End Theoryself-titled Eulogy Recordings • It's strange to say, but some bands are really incredible with a singer that can't sing. This is one of themŠ and their fast, melodic style is homage to how crappy and great the singing is. It's highly emotional, energetic rock, but it ain't Streisand.

The MilwaukeesMissle Command Childlike/Forest Records • Hailing from New Jersey, this three-piece deserves much respect. After listening to their first album, I was shocked to find they weren't on a label. Well, that has changed and the guys are ready to rock till your ears bleed. Combining big time rock and roll sound with indie-rock influences, Missile Command is an 11-song aural assault. The vocals are powerful and up-front while the music is a pounding force that never quits. Lyrically, Dylan Clark (guitar/vocals) is more than just a singer ­ his songs tell serious stories about heartfelt subjects. The Milwaukees have the potential to be big-time radio rockers, but they're so good I doubt the radio big-wigs can appreciate it.

The ShutdownsT-75 Theologian Records • A classic California punk band sound. Good driving music if you have a lot of open road and a couple curves to haul ass around. The bass line on "Ready"(track #5) is funky and the whole album keeps up. The two guitarists, Rick and Mo, should decide who is lead and who is rhythm, but that's a minor bitch.

The SimpsonsGo Simpsonic WithŠ Rhino Records • If you don't love the show, you don't have a pulse. The Simpsons are one of the few things that make television worth watching. Part of their success are the hilarious musical bits and pieces. This release features 53 tracks of pure silliness, from "Gonna Paint Our Wagon"to "We Put The Spring in Springfield"to "Rappin' Ronnie Reagan." If you love the show, get this. And, if you don't love the show, now's time to start loving it.

The SmugglersRosie Lookout • These guys are rock. This album captures the essence of the fun that unclassified, pure rock and roll precipitates. Slightly snotty, always ass-kickin'. My head was bobbin' to "Death at Disneyland,"a brilliant homage to our favorite kiddie rides. Get this album and rock until your spleen hurts.

The Step KingsLet's Get It On! Roadrunner Records • Although they are just a three-piece, The Step Kings play with enough energy to make you think there's at least five of them. Balancing on the edge of radio-friendly, Let's Get It On! is full of distorted guitars and melodic, layered vocals. Unfortunately, their lack of confidence in their musical abilities forced them to record "Questions?,"a metal/rap hybrid that is SO popular right now. Skip this track, and the mediocre cover of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall"and you've got a solid album.

The SwarmParasitic Skies No Idea • Noisy and harsh with a lot to say, the Swarm play everything extremely fast and scream in that style that'll never be confused with singing (they give short explanations for each song in the liner notes). Their fast speed is fine, but it was "Upside Your Head,"- the slowest song on the CD- that allowed the most power to come through. This CD is comprised of the 10", 2 songs from a 7", and four additional tracks that are awesome, particularly the spoken word. Though The Swarm are more harsh and noisier than I care for, the messages are so strong I really recommend it for those who enjoy death metal.

The TantrumsMotels EP Cheetah's Records • This female-fronted four-piece plays a mix of country, rockabilly and rock. Motels is a six-song taste of what they have to offer. The female vocals are powerful and fit the music perfectly. Loaded with melodies and swingin' dance-floor tempos, this is toe-tappin' fun.

The TIMBRE projectFree SouvenirsIce Cream Headache • These are smart, interesting tunes. The intelligence of this band shines forth even before the music begins as they decorate their CD cover with convention-defying witticisms. Then they give you bluesy, countryish (but don't let that scare you away) ballads about the people in your neighborhood, and make you nod in agreement with the truth of their lyrics.

The VelveteensMarvelineDerailleur • Hailing from the local Columbus, OH club scene, the Velveteens are for those who appreciate haunting, minor-key, harmony vocals. The songs are extremely unusual, incorporating a mellow, coffeehouseish sound ‹ but to say that the band should only play in coffeehouses is to demean their obvious, amazing talent. Definitely the perfect record for kickin' it herbal.

The Victoria PrincipleMis En ScensRuido Union Records • Get ready to be blasted right out of your seat by the Victoria Principle. Powerful guitars howl during this half-instrumental, half-vocal record. It reminded me a bit of Don Caballero, and also of Blonde Redhead. Since this album was recorded, the Victoria Principle have added another guitar player to their group, so I can only imagine what they must sound like now.

The Warren CommissionRendezvous With Youespo Records • First things first, this is the most creative packaging I have seen in a long while. The CD comes enclosed in a small spiral notebook filled with pictures, lyrics and drawings that will keep you occupied while you listen to this 19-minute EP. Now on to the music. Male and female vocal tag-team sing over pretty but powerful melodies that cross between power pop and emo, but without the whining.

The World/Inferno Friendship SocietyEast Coast Super Sounds Punk of Today Gern Blandsten Records • This CD collects The World/Inferno Friendship Society's four vinyl EPs for your listening pleasure. The music is very theatric, and combines elements from the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Dead Kennedys and the Billy Nayer Show. These thirteen musicians come from very different musical backgrounds, with members from King Chango, Eve's Plum, Blues Traveler, Serpico, the Atlanta Falcons Halftime Marching Band, Black 47 and even Dexy's Midnight Runners. But don't let the title of the CD fool you, for there is nothing here that even remotely sounds punk (ok, one track).

The ZiggensLive: Tickets Still Available Cornerstone RAS • If you have never experienced the Ziggens, here's your chance to hear them live. Recorded at the Blue Café and the Foothill in Long Beach, CA, Live: Tickets Still Available displays their musical abilities while injecting lots of humor into the crowd. Their songs range from surf rock ("Goin' Richter") to metal cover songs ("Breakin' the Law") and Doors references ("Waitress"/ "Outside"). There's even a little bit of country twang ("Strange Way to Live"). Not only do you get some cool live music, but also the enhanced portion of the CD features an interactive area with pictures, movies, interviews, trivia, and a riddle you have to solve.

Toilet CreaturesWhat Are You Staring At? Smart Ass Records • This three-piece plays sloppy, silly punk that is a ton o' fun. This sounds a lot like old DRI or Angry Samoans. The speed is rapid, the sound is rough and the songs are short. But with 18-tracks for only $7, how can you fight the urge to grab your skateboard and thrash to this?

Torn ApartTen Songs For The Bleeding Hearts Ferret Music • This is quite an enigma. You look at the cover of this CD and you think metal or hardcore or punk, something along those lines. Then you open it up and look at the jacket and see the freaking Backstreet Boys! So what sounds would come out of my player? Ah, yessssŠHARDCORE!!! Despite their looks, these guys kick all kinds of ass and would scare the living hell right out of those five Tiger Beat wankers. This is the best hardcore I've heard in a long, long time. This is really great stuff. "Hardluck"is a badass tune.

Twelve Hour TurnThe Victory of Flight No Idea • This is now a rarity - a release that doesn't hold allegiance to one style of music. There are emo songs and a greater number of odd tempo aggressive numbers. It's exciting to hear music that doesn't fall into the patterns we define as certain genres/scenes. If you wind up not liking the music, the cover art for this release makes this worth owning. Buy the LP, as you get more cover for your dollar than the CD.

Uncle Carlself-titled Sha-Shu Records • Uncle Carl offers cool jazz the likes of Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles. A bit more lounge-y though. Not to my personal taste, it is good jazz and they get big points for working masturbation frequently into a song while retaining one's respect for their music.

Under the Sunself-titled Magna Carta • Clearly, Under the Sun is a few years late when it comes to their music. Their sound should be described as a combination between Yes, Dream Theater and Rush. Had they put out this album in the mid-70's (and from the band photo I can assure you that they were already adults back then), they might have made it big. Sadly, this is the 90's and that sound is mostly dead. Too bad, because their musicianship is top-notch, building their songs with multiple layers of guitars, keyboards and other sound effects. How does that saying go? "If I knew thenŠ"

Various ArtistsAsian Travels Six Degrees Records • When Talvin Singh established the Anokha club in London, he opened up a scene that wasn't known to many. It was dubbed "Asian Underground,"where artists blended traditional Indian and Pakistani instrumentation layered over breakbeat, drum n' bass and techno. Asian Travels explores this side of dance music, with tracks by Fun Da Mental, dj Cheb i Sabbah, Kingsuk Biswas, Banco de Gaia and others.

Various ArtistsBrassic Beats USASkint Records • England's Skint label, home of big beat purveyors Fatboy Slim and the Lo Fidelity AllStars, has just released Brassic Beats USA, another in the Brassic Beats series. This time around, the beats are provided by Skint residents Space Raiders, Super_Collider, Req, Indian Ropeman and Cut La Roc, as well as the aforementioned Fatboy Slim, who is featured on two tracks. Of particular interest is Electralane's "Film Music;"the band uses guitars and a real drummer, and they don't even know how to use samplers! Somehow, they fit in with their electronically inclined labelmates (Electralane is an all girl band). This compilation will give you a pretty good idea of how much quality music there is on the other side of the world.

Various ArtistsCheck This Out IIIDevil Doll/Onefoot Records • If you're seeking a solid collection of punk tunes, look no further ­ or as it's titled, Check This Out! For the most part, the bands on here play power-punk tunes loaded with melodies and killer hooks. The best bands included on this 27-track CD are The Tie That Binds, At The Drive In, Field Day, Nooner, Kid With Man Head, and Gameover. This features 14 bands total (13 play two songs, while Horace Pinker closes out the disc with their only song).

Various ArtistsFortune CookiesFortune Records • This Fortune Records compilation features many of the finest from the Fortune roster. While much of the material is quirky, off-beat pop, there is a little something for everybody here. There's some rap, emo, country rock, and for Mac users, John Vanderslice's standout tune "Bill Gates Must Die". Other highlights include the Gun & Doll Show, 20 Minute Loop, and Sixkiller.

Various ArtistsGive ŒEm The Boot IIHellcat Records • Give ŒEm The Boot I was an inspired release - a sign of great things to come from a then startup label focusing on Ska, Oi!, and Punk genres. A lot of the bands on that compilation have taken off, and more oft than not we are treated to nearly the same line up with previously released tracks, which is, frankly, a disappointment. Nevertheless, there are good contributions by Choking Victim, Vanity 5, and the Gadgits. The standouts this time around are Nocturnal and Buccaneer. Both feature the booming baritones of Ragga Toasters over a fusion of dancehall and a driving backup by members of Rancid.

Various ArtistsJustice For The Enslaved Vol 1Sure Hand Records • For once, I have a sense that hardcore can change something. This UK comp won't make millions, but it will raise awareness to a number of issues, so pick it up! This starts off with great hardcore by Clouded (from Belgium), and continues with groups from across Europe playing metal-inspired vegan hardcore. And though I normally dislike such music from the US, the double bass drums of Withdrawn (UK) and the rhythm of Shorebreak (Spain) and Dehumanize (Italy) beat me into total submission. Every band contributes two tracks, for a total of 14 songs. This is definitely worth owning, as their arguments are the first that convinced me to care about veganism.

Various ArtistsMagnetic Curses: A Chicago Punk Rock CompilationThick Records • Chicago's finest punk acts get together in this fine compilation from Thick Records. Twenty six tracks by the likes of Alkaline Trio, Blue Meanies, Pegboy, Apocalypse Hoboken, Mekons, Gaza Strippers, Hot Stove Jimmy, Allister, Tom Daily and Lustre King, among others. If you are thinking about getting out of your town, this CD gives you 26 good reasons to move to Chicago.

Various ArtistsOkara/Kamizole Benefit CD Freebcaster Records • The CD says 13 countries, 33 bands, 44 songs. That's about all I can say, too. Some of the songs are great, but more often they suck. I don't know what they're benefiting but I hope there are other resources available.

Various ArtistsPlaying 4 Square Drive Thru • Here is a sampler from 4 cool record labels: Drive Thru, Suburban Home, Negative Progression and My Records. They are not the biggest punk labels out there, but they boast a super array of bands: The Fairlanes, Lagwagon, Nobodys, Allister, Gob, just to name a few. There are 28 songs on this little number so you really get your money's worth. They claim it's a cheap sampler (I don't know how much), but I'm sure that it's worth it.

Various ArtistsThe Way It Should Be Sessions Records • I guess we know how Sessions Records feels about the music world. To demonstrate their point, they released The Way It Should Be, a compilation of punk and metal bands they enjoy listening to. It features unreleased tracks by Fury 66, Post Toasties, The Nerve Agents, Downset, The Distillers and Death By Stereo, as well as songs taken from 7"releases by Fu Manchu, Gwar, Swervedriver, The Supersuckers and A.F.I. - 20 tracks in all.

Various ArtistsTonic Two: Core Breach Burlington Big Heavy World • When thinking about Burlington, Vermont, the last thing that comes to mind is hard rock. However, there seems to be quite a music scene over there. From the "White Zombie­meets-Ministry"sound of Chainsaws and Children, to the power pop tunes by Zola Turn and Chin HO!. Other bands include The Implants, Touching Zoe, Spilt and Barbacoa. There is also an enhanced portion on the CD, with an extra MP3 track, as well as music players and the Opera web browser. Mac users get a cool arcade game.

Various ArtistsVictory Style IV Victory Records • The new sampler from Victory Records includes tracks from the likes of Earth Crisis, Shelter, Buried Alive, Warzone, River City Rebels, Reach the Sky and Boy Sets Fire. There are 23 tracks, all by a different band. This is a great overview of the music Victory has to offer. The standout tracks include Greyarea's melodic, hardcore piece "Reminder", Grade's tough emo tune, "A Year in the Past", Snapcase's hypercreative rock song "Typecase Modulator", and Catch 22's pop/ska/punk song "Leaving".

Various ArtistsWWPV's Burlington and Beyond Vol. 1 Big Heavy World • Apparently, Vermont has quite the unheralded music scene. There are 11 tracks here, at least 10 of which I would highly recommend. Invisible JetŒs "Transparent"does Peter Gabriel so well that even he might be confused. Rik Palieri reminds us all to notice the lost in his folky "Ghost on the Highway", and Chainsaws and Children give a passing nod to White Zombie in their dark, distorted "Species X". The other tracks fit somewhere in between these three. It's nice to know Vermont has something to offer outside of skiing.

Walls of JerichoThe Bound Feed The Gagged Trustkill Records • Hardcore/metal quartet from Detroit. Not much new going on here other than their lead singer is a chick, which always adds interest in a hardcore band. Musically they're decent but I think they need some more experience under their belt.

ZakasShunk Daddy Grind McC Music • Here is a musician who is into many types of music. While the music can be categorized as metal, other styles abound. There's a bit of Latin percussion, a little rap, some piano, a sultry female singer, and even some spoken word stuff, all combined to create a somber mood. However, it all goes flying apart for the last track, where the band goes into an F-Jackie routine from Howard Stern.

Vinyl reviews

Deadzibel! Four Song Environment 7" Conspiracy Records • This was recorded in Austria, though I'm not sure of the band is from there or Belgium. Nonetheless, the second side of this 7" is a lot more experimental than US hardcore has been. There's a lot of tempo shifts, breaks, and changes in sonic and vocal approach. Side 1 has a familiar hardcore structure, with singing- yes- singing and then screaming amidst a wall of sound.

Elliott Will You 7" Revelation Records • "Calvary Song"is so amazing! The orchestration and voice carry this song to incredible places. If you've been craving great, moving music, pick this up. Though vinyl is at times a passable format, Elliot make this record an object to cherish and play repeatedly. The B-side is a cover of a Chameleons song, which does not compare to the A-side, so you don't even have to flip the record over! Just play, play! Play!!!

Hopeless Dregs of Humanity Buildin' Da Muthaphuckin' Revolution! 7" Ever Reviled Records • This release is an example of how the Do It Yourself ethic can be used effectively. With a genuine punk attitude, the Dregs rattle off four awesome, politically-powerful tunes. Each song is fast-paced, melodic, aggressive, agnst-filled while avoiding being pigeon-holed in a punk genre by using creative musical styles. As a bonus, the material that comes with the 7"is loaded with socio-political information and resources.

Poison Idea Learning To Scream 7" Taang! Records • The first song (side one) comes at you like shotgun, rocking with a sloppy, melodic aggression. The second and third songs (side two) are equally as forward-driving as the first. All the tunes have a garage feel while also embracing a punk rock attitude and throaty, spit-out vocals.

Rational Solution Big Brother Is Always Raping Your Wallet In The Disguise Of Ronald McDonald 7" Ever Reviled Records • The anger (and information) behind this six-song 7"will probably lead you to commit murder. Although, the band would probably prefer that it drives you to become an anti-government activist (and who can blame them!). So, join the fight with this ferocious punk onslaught of pounding rhythms, mostly-screamed vocals and intensely poignant lyrics.

Starfish Pool Rituals for the Dying 10" Conspiracy Records • This two song 10" vinyl release features experimental electronic music made of beats, environmental sounds and layers of reverb and feedback. As the track grows to be more chaotic yet the steady beat carries you through. I really liked the B sides manipulation of static and the contrasting rhythm of a grandfather clock ticking against a drum machine. Starfish Pool prove to be originals, creating new music theat within itself. I only wish the music lived up to the promise of emotion captured by the liner note's printed words.

The Worthless I'm Still Having Fun 7" Taang! Records • This is just a taste of the beer-infused punk attitude of The Worthless. These are working class punk rock numbers with anthem-like choruses. They remind me of Sloppy Seconds, but less full-bodied and more garage-influenced.

Upset/Rubbish Heap Split 7" Conspiracy Records • European Hardcore Rocks! Rubbish Heap contributes to this split 7" with two fast and brutal hardcore tracks. Upset gets my vote on this record. "Abyss of Despair"is their sole song here, but it's so damn great it's worth seeking out. It starts tough, then gets extremely emotional, strips itself down to the most vulnerable setting and then back to tough for a brutal finish!

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

Alkaline Trio Maybe I'll Catch Fire Asian Man Records • Their last album was great, so it's hard to believe that this one is actually better, blows it away, even! The opening track has a beat that forces you forward, intensely, emotionally and melodically. From there, the energy builds, spewing forth song after song. For some, a three-piece is just a four-piece waiting to happen. But not with these guys ­ no additives are needed. Lyrically, the songs are heartfelt works written as more than just words to accompany music. This is anything but typical pop punk ­ Alkaline Trio has a sound that is distinctly their own, a sound to be proud of, blown away by, absorbed in and left craving more.

DJ Food Kaleidoscope Ninja Tune Records • Do not fall into the trap of thinking that DJ Food is one person. In fact, it stands for "Food for DJs", and it is comprised of various people, namely Patrick Carpenter (PC) and Strictly Kev as the bandleaders. They are joined by Bundy K. Brown, Ken Nordine and J. Swinsoe. The vibe on Kaleidoscope is jazzy, with samples thrown in as well as some scratches and breakbeats. Some songs are quite abstract, with voices that cut in and out, almost carrying a conversation with the background music. Squarepusher could sneak in one of his jazzier tracks and you would never know it. Prepare to feast on a big helping of DJ Food.

Hindu Cowboys Untitled Self-released • I really didn't think this was actual country music, but I've never been more wrong. This is old style country and I can't consider myself any sort of judge, but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. Twangy guitar and all, this is actually a pretty damn good piece. The vocalist, Joseph Martens, sounds like Johnny Cash before he became scary and baggy and the slide guitar is not obnoxious. If you have even the slightest affection for country music this would be worth the cost.

Make Up Save Yourself K Records • Nine new songs from my favorite R&B band that's now exploring other roots music beyond their previous excursions in Gospel and Soul music. Their previous use of Prince-inspired falsettos and screams are exchanged for a 70's sex vibe that's a few notches above sleazy. All the vocals stay in a lower range, combining with slow, deep bass lines and wailing guitars to create a great soundtrack for sex. Fans of funk should appreciate "White Belts,"which has the greatest bass and organ lines laid down in more than a decade.

Mouse on Mars Nium Niggung Thrill Jockey Records • Niun Niggung starts out with a nice, playful acoustic guitar melody. Those that have never heard Mouse on Mars might think this is some sort of folk group. But pay close attention, and you hear sounds that seem out of place. A blip here, a beep there. Slowly, they start to creep forward, until they take over. That's the last you hear of the guitar. What comes next is experimental music to be enjoyed only by the most intrepid of listeners, those into Aphex Twin or Autechre, but with a more humorous vibe. "Yippie"even blends electronica with ska, creating quite a weird sound, while the special edition of "Distroia"is definitely a drum Œn bass track, but one not entirely there. There's even a bit of disco samples thrown in on the track "Diskdusk."

The Eyeliners Here Comes Trouble Panic Button Records • Man, I don't feel good doing this but I'm going to have to say I have a new favorite all-girl punk band. I feel like I'm cheating on The Donnas, but I can't help it! The Eyeliners are a kick-ass, all girl (sisters) trio that makes my heart, and my CD player, flutter. They're all sexy as hell and play a wicked brand of pop punk. They have great hooks and talent to spare. The Eyeliners now wear the crown.

In alphabetical order. Please write them.

75 Ark, 77 Chambers St, 4th Floor, NYC, NY 10007
9 Volt Records, PO Box 169, Edison, NJ 08818
Asian Man Records, PO Box 35585, Monte Soreno, CA 95030
Barsuk Records, PO Box 31016, Seattle, WA 98103
Beatville Records, PO Box 42462, Washington DC, 20015
Beave Music, 332 Bleecker Street PMB H-88, NY, NY 10014-6492
Beggars Banquet, 580 Broadway, Suite 1004, NY, NY 10012-3223
Big Heavy World, PO Box 428, Burlington, VT 05402-0428
Burning Heart Records, PO Box 441, 701 48 Örebro, Sweden
BYO Records, PO Box 67A64, Los Angeles, CA 90067
Cacophone Records, PO Box 6058, Albany, NY 12206
Carbon Records, PO Box 10718, Rochester, NY 14610
Cargo Music 4901 906 Morena Blvd. San Diego, CA 92117
Caulfield Records, PO Box 84323, Lincoln, NE 68510
Cheetah's Records, PO Box 4442, Berkeley, CA 94704
Childlike Records, 409 Washington St., PMB 461, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Collective Fruit, PO Box 4415, Seattle, WA 98104-0415
Conspiracy Records, Box 269, 2000 Antwerpen 1 Belgium
Constellation Records, PO Box 42002, Montreal, Canada H2W 2T3
Cornerstone RAS, 16572 Burke Lane, Huntington Bch, CA 92647-4538
Cry Baby Cry, 1239 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Derailleur, PO Box 10276, Columbus, OH 43201
Devil Doll, PO Box 30727, Long Beach, CA 90853
Doghouse Records, PO Box 8946, Toledo, OH 43623
Dr. Strange Records, PO Box 7000-117, Alta Loma, CA 91701
Drive Thru, PO Box 55234, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413
Emperor Norton, 102 Robinson Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Epitaph, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
espo records, PO Box 63, Alliston, MA 02134
Eulogy Recordings, PO Box 590833, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33359
Ever Reviled Records, PO Box 6072, Edison, NJ 08818-6072
Fat Wreck, PO Box 193690, San Fran, CA 94119-3690
Ferret Records, 341 Monmouth Street #101D, Jersey City, 07302
Fortune Records, P.O. Box 11302, Berkeley CA 94712
Four Alarm Records, 660 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL 60661
Freebcaster Records, 47, Avenue Gilbert, Roux 03300 Cusset, France
Gern Blandsten Records, PO Box 356, River Edge, NJ 07661
Glue Factory, PO Box 404-BL, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Go Kart, PO Box 20, Prince Street Station, NY, NY 10012
Goldentone Records Box 12694 Gainesville, FL 32604
Headhunter, 4901-906 Marena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92117-3432
Hellcat Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd, LA CA 90026
Hindu Cowboys, PO Box 3493, Orlando, FL 32802
Honest Don's Box 192072 San Fran, CA 94119
Hopeless, PO Box 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91409
Ice Cream Headache Records, PO Box 426006, Cambridge, MA 02142
Iota Recordings, PO Box 558191, Chicago, IL 60655-8191
K Records, Box 7154, Olympia WA 98507
Kill Rock Stars, PMB 418, 120 State St. NE, Olympia, WA 98501
Lobster Records Box 1473 Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Lookout! Records, PO Box 11374, Berkeley, CA, 94712
Low Watt Ent., 11025 Lockwood Dr., Silver Spring, MD 20901
Magna Carta, PMB 1820, 208 E. 51st St., New York, NY 10022-6500
Man's Ruin Records, 610 22nd Street #302, San Francisco, CA 94107
Market Participant, 11041 Santa Monica Blvd, PMB 302, LA CA 90025
McC Music, 3830 E. Flamingo Rd. C-1 PMB #173, Las Vegas, NV 89121
Middle Man Records, PO Box 4606, Lafayette, TN 47903
Ninja Tune Records, PO Box 4296, London, SE11 4XX, UK
No Idea, PO Box 14636, Gainesville, FL 32604-4636
OHEV, Box 772121, Coral Springs, FL 33077
Overcoat Recordings, 3831 N. Christiana, Chicago, IL 60618
Palm Pictures, 4 Columbus Circle, 5th Floor, NY, NY 10019
Panic Button, PO Box 148010, Chicago, 60614-8010
Polyvinyl, PO Box 1885, Danville, IL 61834-1885
Quarterstick, PO Box 25342, Chicago, IL 60625
Radical Records, 77 Bleecker Street, #C2-21, NY, NY 10012
Resurrection AD Records, PO Box 763, Red Bank, NJ 07701
Revelation Records, PO Box 5232, Huntington Beach, CA 92615-5232
Rhino, 10635 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025-4900
Ribonucleic Records, 4149 SW 17th Place, Gainesville, FL 32607
Roadrunner Records, 536 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
Rock City Records, PO Box 2813, Silverdale, WA 98383
Ruido Union Records, PO Box 7141, Richmond, VA 23221
Sessions Records, 15 Janis Way, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
Shadow Records, 26 West 17th Street #502, New York, NY 10011
Sha-Shu Records, PO Box 310071, Brooklyn, NY 11231-0071
Six Degrees Records, PO Box 411347, San Francisco, CA 94141-1347
Skint Records, PO Box 174, Brighton, England, BN1 4BA
Smart Ass Records, PO Box 71, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
Soda Jerk, PO Box 4056, Boulder, CO 80306
Sonic Unyon, PO Box 57347 Jackson Station, Hamilton, ON L8P 4X2
Southern Records, PO Box 577375, Chicago, IL 60657
spinART Records, 580 Broadway #1105, New York, NY 10012
Sub City, Box 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91409
Suburban Home, PO Box 40757, Denver, CO 80204
Superthrive, 42 Graham St., Jersey City, NJ 07307
Sure Hand Records, POB 1251, Sheffield, S11 7XG, England
Taang! Records, 706 Pismo Ct., San Diego, CA 92109
The First Time Records, PO Box 8052, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8052
Theologian, PO Box 1070, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
Thick Records, 409 N. Wolcott Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Thrill Jockey Records, PO Box 476794, Chicago, IL 60647
Tigerstyle, 149 Wooster St., 4th Floor, NY, NY 10012
Touch and Go Records, PO Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625
Trustkill, 23 Farm Edge Lane, Tinton Falls, NJ 07724
Urinine Records, 6808 Madison Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46227
Victory Records, PO Box 146546, Chicago, IL 60614

Music reviews from past issues:

599.html> April-May 1999

  • Feb.-March 1999
  • Dec. '98/Jan. '99
  • Oct.--Nov. 1998
  • Aug.--Sept. 1998
  • June--July 1998
  • April--May 1998
  • Reviews from Feb.--March 1998 through Feb.--March 1997