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Aug.-Sept. '00 Articles:

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This Issue's Top Picks | Vinyl


98 Mute Slow Motion Riot Epitaph Records • Hermosa Beach has put out Black Flag, The Circle Jerks and Pennywise -- must be something in the water. The latest in a long string of punk bands out of this little suburb of Los Angeles is 98 Mute. After just one album and a stint on the Vans Warped Tour they inked a deal with Epitaph and this is their first release, Slow Motion Riot. Screaming hardcore punk that does not let up and vocals that are by no means melodic but are definitely pissed. Good shit.

Alien Crime Syndicate From the Word Go Will Records • If you have never heard the Alien Crime Syndicate, you're in for a treat. If you already own a copy of Dust to Dirt, allow me to explain something. ACS had been signed to Revolution Records and got the royal ass-fuck when the company shuffled execs. As you can imagine, the record never came out. They then decided to release the album themselves on Collective Fruit and so was released Dust to Dirt. Somewhere along the line they sign to Will Records and remix some of the songs (five of the 13 tracks) and record new ones. If you enjoy power pop with plenty of hooks and melodies, this album is for you.

ALL Problematic Epitath • Never having heard the pop-punk of ALL, I was quite amused by the lyrics on this one. "High School Drop Outs Don't Go To Reunions" is one classic line. But you have to have the bad with the good, hence "She Broke My Dick." Then they redeem themselves with the extremely positive, catchy "Better Than That." There are really great songs here. "What Are You For?" will sure to be an anthem. Fans of ALL should buy this, and if you've never heard ALL, you'll definitely be a fan after listening to these 18 tracks.

As Friends Rust The Fist of Time Doghouse Records • Combining hardcore, rock and emo, As Friends Rust have created an original, infectious and intense sound. The melodies are constant while the pace changes often and the vocals shift between singing, speaking and screaming. Lyrically, the songs are both introspective and observatory. AFR's style of music will absorb and energize you ­ a great driving album. Count on hearing more from this Gainesville, Florida five-piece.

Automatic 7 Beggar's Life Vagrant • This four-piece hails from Los Angeles and delivers solid, melodic punk rock that is honest and rugged. The vocals are gruff and the music pounds forth with a subdued intensity. While the ten tracks on this album are well done, I can't help but notice the similarities they share with Social Distortion, both musically and vocally. Of course, they aren't a carbon copy and Automatic 7 is a creative band, but that likeness must be pointed out.

Avail One Wrench Fat Wreck • Avail is back with their fifth studio album, a 14-track work of intense power-punk, loaded with melodies and tempo changes. Combining an ability to write hook-filled music with a punk rock intensity and a mix of personal and social lyrics, Avail delivers their best album to date. The anthemic sound encourages the listener to sing along with each tune. And what better time to sing along then at a live show. Avail is constantly touring and has one of the best live shows you'll ever see.

Bahamadia BB Queen Atomic Pop/Goodvibe • She's been in the hip-hop game for many years and now she's workin' at really getting respect. Her debut album, Kollage, was released in '96. Now she's back with BB Queen, an EP with seven tracks of funky, jazzed-out hip-hop featuring one of the best vocalists out there. Her rhyme skills are astounding and coupled with the fresh, creative beats and loops the combination is enough to make you bounce to ever verse.

Bangs Sweet Revenge Kill Rock Stars • YES! CHICK PUNK! You just gotta love this high-energy, poppy, early-Go-Go's-reminiscent blend of wimmin playing power chords and yelling into microphones. There's a dude playing drums, but we won't hold that against them, because it's all just so, so good.

Big, Big Furnace self-released Crustacean Records • What you've got here is a six-song EP of emo-pop. As emo-pop goes, it ain't bad. They're definitely a band that likes to have fun and keep it light. With songs like "Phones are for squares" and "Channel 7 has one less viewer in Athens," you get the idea. If you want something light and airy to go with your death metal collection, this should do it.

Bluetip Hot Fast Union Slowdime Records • First of all, let me say this is the coolest CD I've ever seen. I mean literally, the CD itself, in its physical form, is cool. It's mostly clear but not completely and, well, you'll just have to see it. This is a five-song EP of Bluetip's brand of high-energy, melodic punk. It has kind of an old school feel, much more old school than the stuff on top-40 radio, but not quite Minor Threat, you know? They're somewhere in the middle. "Persistence" is a really cool track.

Boiler Room Can't Breathe Roadrunner Records • For some reason I keep thinking of Living Color when I listen to this CD (don't laugh, I know you loved "Cult of Personality"). It's probably Boiler Room vocalist Chris Lino's ability at the microphone. It comes and goes, since he switches from melodic singing to screaming in a split second. The guitars are chunky and hooky, the beats pounding. All in all, Can't Breathe is perfect fare for local radio stations, virtually indistinguishable from Disturbed, or Dope, or any of the other bands that flood the airways these days.

Bonfire Madigan Saddle the Bridge Kill Rock Stars • This three-piece concentrates on the cello as the focus point of the music, accentuated with contrabass, bells, whistles, and percussion. Above it all fly Madigan Shive's vocals, which come across with emotion and confidence, at times sounding like Alanis Morissette and Ani DiFranco.

Bumpy Knuckles Industry Shakedown KJAC Records • Bumpy Knuckles has been around since '89 and even though he hasn't achieved Puffy status, he has recorded with some of the most well-known names in hip-hop. In Industry Shakedown, he collaborates with DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Alchemist and Diamond D, among others. This is the first in a trilogy of records that will examine his 11 years in the recording industry. By the title of this album, you can safely assume that his aggressive rhymes will skewer the executives he has crossed paths with.

Cadillac Blindside Read the Book, Seen the Movie Soda Jerk Records • After putting out two 7" records, Cadillac Blindside was ready to release their debut CD. These guys have the ability to blend emo, punk, indie and a hint of hardcore into a sonic mixture that is going to put you on your ass.

Canned Heat 1967-1976: The Boogie House Tapes Ruf Records • I'll be honest ­ I've never heard of Canned Heat. Hell, I was three years old in 1976. Here's what I know: these recordings have never been released before, being compiled from old reels that were being kept by "Dr. Boogie," Canned Heat's self-appointed number one fan. He got together with the remaining members of the band to release this two CD compilation featuring studio out-takes (hear the bandmates banter!), live tracks and alternate versions of some of their biggest hits. Obviously, the audio quality is not perfect, but it need not be. In fact, it's better that the Blues sound a bit rusty, even aged. I'll be damned if I know any of these songs, but so be it. I'm going to get to know them real soon.

Cobolt Spirit on Parole The First Time Records • This band is comprised of former members of Refused, the mod-inspired punk band. It's nice to see artistic growth, and not the punk-to-metal baby step. Cobolt uses lush arrangements throughout this album, alternated with guitar driven numbers, in a way not unlike the 1980's The Dream Academy. The rough crooning is befitting for the lyrics of love lost and longing. This is a great album to own, as this CD is a collection of songs that create a larger composition. Cobolt have put out a distinct artwork, infused with a diversity of arrangements to enhance their chosen themes, as well as the listener's ear.

Corrupt Citizen Uninvited Sunset Alliance • "I Try" starts off this disc, and immediately I was taken in. It sounds familiar, yet the vocals are distinct and the lyrics are personal and deeply held. Or maybe it's familiar as I've listened to it so much it leaves an imprint. This is cathartic music so worth listening to, rooted in punk rock but still unafraid to leave with two instrumentals at the tail end. The odd thing is track 10, which is 15 minutes of sped up music.

Daddy's Hands Tutankhamun Cargo/Headhunter • Imagine Dead Kennedy's Jello Biafra and B-52's Fred Schneider singing for the Cramps while banging at anything they can find, be it a kitchen sink or anything else that makes noise. If that's not weird enough, get ready to cringe when you listen to tracks like "Incest at Best," "Harem Holiday," and "Baby's Fire," some of which feature what sounds like the lead singer's 6 year old daughter. If you can get past the creepiness of lyrics in French (as in M. Poisson), then you should be right on your way to enjoy Daddy's Hands (I mean the band, not S).

Dan Bryk Lover's Leap Scratchie Records • Dan says one of his biggest fans is Ben Folds. I can see why, since they sound exactly alike. Dan brings that wry sense of humor and more spoken than sung lyrics to his music. If you like BF5 and Ron Sexton, you'll dig this. He's a very talented singer-songwriter who crafts his songs into stories that will entertain and amuse.

Dancehall Crashers The Live Record Pink & Black Records • Wow! This is a really great release! If you were a fan of DHC, you must give this a spin. If you've never heard the uplifting ska-pop pioneering of DHC, you should pick this up, as it has all their better songs from all their records. Who wouldn't want to hear "He wants me back" over and over again? Though this band got a lot of flack for selling out ska for power pop in 1995, time proves them to be songwriting champs, outlasting the debates and surviving the ska explosion and aftermath. Hey! Get the Dancehall Crashers Tonight!

Dutchland Diesel & Pseudo Heroes Split CD Chumpire Records • This is a really cool split CD of punk music. Though it's not really a "split" (Dutchland has three tunes, Pseudo has 10), it still gives you a good idea of what both bands are about. Both bands are punk but Pseudo Heroes are more old school and aggressive, while Dutchland Diesel is the newer brand of punk ­ tight catchy with some emo in there.

Earth Crisis Slither Victory • Earth Crisis used to play a hardcore and metal fusion infused with a righteous anger powered by animal rights, veganism, and straight edge beliefs. Well, that was five years ago, and now it seems they're pissed for not being more popular with the kids who love all the Nu metal. So what have they done? They've slowed things down, made them lighter, and taken to the rap-metal sound. Karl alternately sings and screams, and he has an amazing screaming voice, but sadly, Earth Crisis never pound one into our heads here. Instead, we're interrupted by all these damn singing choruses that are too much like 311 for my tastes. If you've never heard Earth Crisis, you may like this CD. Otherwise, don't be fooled by their return to Victory. It's not a hardcore album.

Electric Frankenstein The Dawn of Electric Frankenstein Triple X Records • This one is really for the fans of EF. You get the first five songs from their demo, then four tracks from the current line-up's earlier bands Crash Street Kids, The Thing, and Kathedral a piece. I favor The Thing tracks over all else here. A total of 17 tracks of history and evolution that seems suited for the fan or folks who missed these bands first go around. It boasts of an enhanced multimedia presentation that only delivers lots of thunder and no information. Worse yet, it requires an internet connection to view the web page links. Just visit the websites listed on the inside tray.

elliot false cathedrals Revelation • Fans of the rocking out elliot may be disappointed by this release. Fans of their debut 7" will have much to be thrilled over! This is an amazing recording, one that endures repeated listens due to the beauty of whole affair. There are so many textures within the well crafted songs, rife with instrumentation or spare when necessary. Elliot has delivered on their debut recording's promise, giving us a full length of unprecedented beauty. Nothing in the past years has been this powerful. Place this in the canon of music to mark the soundtrack of your maturing life.

Eric Alexandrakis I.V. Catatonia Y&T Music • It is my experience that when a record bears the credit "Conceived by...," then that record will not be a regular collection of individual songs. Indeed, I.V. Catatonia is somewhat of a concept album which Alexandrakis recorded while battling Hodgkin's disease. There are plenty of medical references, as well as unconventional sounds and recording techniques. (In one track, the vocals were recorded through a phone, giving new meaning to the phrase "phoning it in".) Having played all instruments and doing all recording himself, this album is highly personal in nature. With 22 tracks that span different styles and tempos, I.V. Catatonia takes you through an emotional roller coaster that ends with a recorded conversation of what I assume is Alexandrakis talking to several nurses upon his release from the hospital.

Eric Mingus UmSErSUhS Some Records • Immediately you can tell that Eric Mingus has some issues. The first words to come out of his mouth are "Grandpa blew his brains out in the houseSHe didn't have the courtesy to take it outside," layered over a lazy percussion beat and echoing wails of pain. His spoken word is more powerful than singing, and his personality is all the more accentuated by his matter of fact narrative style. All is not anger though. "Romantic Fool" is a mellow song where Mingus professes his love for a lady and asks her to reciprocate. I can just imagine him performing in a smoke filled coffee house, jazz band playing in the background, sour-faced neo-beatniks snapping their fingers in approval.

Eulogy Dawn of Decades self-released • You can reach this band through "Liberation Thru Hearing" but I'm not exactly sure what they're liberating us from. Well, mainstream music, for one. The songs don't sound half-bad but there's a lot of noise in there, seemingly unnecessarily. Their cover of Joy Division's "New Dawn Fades" is all right but, again, the noise tends to muffle the real substance of the song. Sometimes it fits perfectly though, like on track 17 (there are 19 tunes), "Genetic Amputation," which is an all-out, loud noise-fest that's a standout song. Not bad overall. Their next disc could be really good.

File Underwater Fluid Baby Factory • For Fluid, File Underwater wanted to get away from the electro-industrial-goth sound that characterized their sound, opting instead for something a bit more accessible to mainstream audiences. They achieved their goal, producing a radio-friendly mix of tempos and styles. "Sinking" has the energy of a rocking Led Zeppelin song while "Silent" has a chorus that is very close to some of the stuff on Korn's Issues CD. Later they slow down the energy with "For the Love of Mab," with drum loops and acoustic guitars.

Five Eight The Good Nurse Deep Elm Records • Imagine combining the musical potency of Radiohead with the vocals of an embittered poet who evokes Michael Stipe from R.E.M. and Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows. You are now thinking of Five Eight and their release The Good Nurse. The album reflects on the amount of time people spend in hospitals throughout their lives, due to both physical and mental ailments. As you can imagine, the mood is pretty grim, perfect for listening on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Even though the lyrics are downright gloomy, the music behind it is somewhat uplifting, just enough so that you don't fall into a deep depression.

Garage Fuzz Turn The PageSThe Season Is Changing Devil Doll Records • Wow! This is really cool punk rock. It's very tight, has some power pop/emo feel to it and great riffs. I like this a heckuva lot. They sound a bit like Bad Religion, a bit like Blink 182. Go with me on this one. If they could get a song on some pre-pubescent teen show, too, they'll be huge.

Glossary This is All We've Learned About Living *Champ Records • With Glossary originating in Tennessee, I am not surprised to hear some southern influences on This is All We've Learned About Living. Comprised of twelve indie rock tracks with some pretty catchy melodies and hooks. The predominantly male vocals are accentuated with some beautiful female vocals, adding some beauty to this sometimes gritty, but never grimy release.

Gods Reflex scenes from a motel seduction Johanns Face • Johanns Face gave us my favorite Strike record, and now they give us an equally astounding emo-rock record by Gods Reflex. Listen to "Careering" and you won't be able to help yourself singing "Through the Window" and laughing at some of the thoughts expressed. This is emo at it's finest- driving, longing, beautiful. There is a mix of soft and fast songs that are sure to keep you dancing along. It closes with the equally great "Of Self and Promise." Definitely give this a spin!

Government Issue Complete History Volume One Dr. Strange Records • This is a two CD set that covers the seminal DC band in their straight edge hardcore years (1981-1985), before they moved over to Giant Records and released some Husker Du-ish records I really liked. This release is really a treat for all fans. There are a combined total of 80 tracks here, though the second disc features a lot of live recordings of the first disc's tracks. The booklet gives the band line up, history and random fun facts about each 7" or full length represented, and subsequent comps the tracks appeared on, as well. Again, all for the fans! The only thing not included is the lyrics. However, John Stabb's voice was such you could figure out what he was saying. If you like Punk Rock, you'll probably like Government Issue. If you liked Government Issue, you'll love this CD set.

Hanin Elias In Flames (1995-1999) Girlie Action • Initially released on Fatal and distributed by Digital Hardcore, this is a collection of Hanin Elias originated material from the mid to late 90's. The music here is a lot more accessible than Atari Teenage Riot, but it's not beat heavy enough to dance to, and closer to 80's Wax Trax industrial music. The winner here is "You will never get me," with Hanin adopting a Billie Holiday voice atop a bed of white noise. "Nizza" has the aggressive beat structure germane to DHR, with "Outback" being a hip hop break beat instrumental. These tracks far surpass the tedious political sloganeering of the rest of this CD. The fault with all Digital Hardcore, Hanin Elias included, is that they lack skill in writing lyrics. It's not that they can't write, it's just that they are more adept at press statements than political lyrics. If you have an interest in experimental electronic music, I would search this out. Otherwise, this is only good for one listen at best.

Hepcat Push ‘N Shove Hellcat Records • I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed by Push ‘N Shove. Three years after 1997's critically acclaimed Right on Time, Hepcat's latest has more of a stripped-down, straight forward ska sound. Gone are the "Tra-la-la-la-la-la" refrains and bouncy sounds, opting for more traditional rhythms. Still, Hepcat is one of the most accomplished group of musicians, proponents of the traditional ska sound. Even after the third wave of ska came and went, Hepcat stands unruffled, playing the music they enjoy.

Horace Pinker Pop Culture Failure Jump Up! • It has been a while since HP's last full-length release. The wait was worthwhile as Pop Culture Failure is a solid, melodic power-punk release for this Chicago-based four-some. They've gone through many lineup changes but their sound has remained the same: fast-paced, catchy, tempo-changing punk rock with passionate vocals. They recently added Chris (ex-Jawbreaker) to the lineup (although he doesn't play on this album). Over nine years of playing out has turned HP into one of the better punk bands that, unfortunately, not enough people know about.

Ida Will You Find Me Tiger Style Records • Beautiful music from this Brooklyn quartet. Slow, enchanting vocals are shared by Daniel Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell. There are quite a few different instruments played on this record, but they all achieve the somewhat sad mood that characterizes Will You Find Me. Perhaps the fact that they were signed and later dropped by Capitol (before the album came out!) had something to do with it. I thought I detected a bit of a country feel, one that is gone as quickly as it comes. Nonetheless, Will You Find Me is definitely worth listening to while relaxing on a lazy afternoon.

In Aeternum The Pestilent Plague Necropolis Records • Since 1992, this Swedish trio has been cranking out some mighty fine death metal. It's hard to imagine so much aggression coming from three people. The guitars are menacing, the drums are incredibly tight, and the vocals surprisingly intelligible, considering the genre.

J Church One Mississippi Honest Don's • It has been a long time since the last full-length J Church album (1996) and the boys have been saving up the material. This release has 26 new songs. And although the band features two out of three new members (Lance is still the frontman), the sound is the same catchy, poppy, melodic rock J Church has played forever (with intellectual, poetic lyrics). While there are no musical breakthroughs on this release, it is a solid display of why J Church has survived for so long and is so well respected.

J. Majesty J. Majesty Some Records • J. Majesty has only been together for some seven months but they sound incredibly tight. They remind me at times of Travis and Son Volt, the latter on track four, "West Side Highway" especially. Then they follow that up with some almost Jane's Addiction-sounding stuff, then throw in some funk-experimental sounds to back that up. Suffice it to say these guys aren't easy to classify. The only consistents are that they keep the twangy guitars present most of the time and there's almost always a heavy beat. They manage to pull it all off though. This one will grow on you.

Jai Agnish Automata Blue Bunny Records • I suspect this is what The Aphex Twin would sound like if he were to play folk music. I know it sounds strange, but I think you would agree, were you to listen to Automata. Mellow acoustic guitars with pop overtones are surrounded by bleeps and chimes from toy instruments, blending electronica with acoustic music, oddly complementing each other. Sometimes he sings, and when he does not, the tracks take on a bit of an ambient tone.

Jeremy Gloff Spin Girl Spin self-released • Another Florida boy makes good! Jeremy Gloff is a talented singer-songwriter whose acoustic offerings are deep, meaningful tunes. He reminds me at times of Jeremy Toback or My Friend Steve, while track number eight ("Icecream Headache") sounds Cure'ish. Overall, he's a bit more quiet than those aforementioned bands though he does know how to kick it up a notch, as he does on "Tornado." This is a solid offering from the Tampa resident.

Jimmy Eat World Singles Big Wheel Recreation • After getting dropped from Capitol (despite solid record sales), JEW decided to release a collection of seven-inch and compilation tracks. This 12-song release features hard-to-find tunes that capture JEW's melodic style of powerful, heartfelt rock music. Stand out tracks include: "Opener," "Spangle," "H Model" and "Christmas Card." This release is as good as any JEW release and captures more intensity than their past albums have.

Josh Freese The Notorious One Man Orgy Kung Fu Records • This is a funny pop punk record by the Vandal's drummer, who is quite the accomplished musician. The production is amazing, and most of the songs are hook filled sarcasm coated pop gems. Who can't rock out to "Rock N' Roll Chicken?" The CD also features answer machine messages from some pretty funny folks. This sounds more infectious with every listen. Get this! You'll be surprised by how much joy it brings you!

Lazycain July to October Doghouse Records • Lazycain are an amazing band with intricate compositions and constantly changing melodies and tempos. Sounding like The Cure meets Braid, Lazycain also has elements of the DC-sound (they're actually from Richmond) that made Fugazi so popular. Production on this album was done by J. Robbins (Burning Airlines). His skill shows through in the recording quality and overall sound of this seven-song release.

Les Savy Fav Rome (Written Upside Down) Southern Records • Les Savy Fav is back with another offering, a five-song EP this time. Their first release, "3/5", got them some notice, and their having met at the same school that gave us the Talking Heads, hasn't hurt either. They say they cite the Heads as their mentors, they'll never be confused for them. Both bands share that same sense of freedom with experimentation but Les Savy Fav is grounded in punk and rock, not pop. This is a short and sweet little disc, an appetizer, if you will. They're next full release should be lethal.

Lorenzo's Music Schematic Crustacean Records • This is a delightfully different disc. It absolutely defies description, but I will try. The music is tight and fun, though certainly out of the mainstream enough that sadly, they will probably never get too much radio airplay. This disc is fantastic and everybody should get a copy of it. Yes, I mean you.

Mad Caddies The Holiday Has Been Cancelled EP Fat Wreck Chords • Talk about diversity- each of the five songs here has a different style, all very sharp and well produced. They have an amazing horn section, used in pop and their faster punk songs, done in a fun style that is distinctly their own. The only song that tired me is their Less Than Jake-ish "Destro". They redeem themselves with a cover of ABBA's "SOS." I really recommend this to folks who have are interested in punk/ska with broader instrumentation. Did I mention the musicianship and vocals are amazing?

Mad Parade God Bless America Dr. Strange Records • Punk Rock and Roll that's so damn catchy you'll instantly be singing the choruses first time through. The lyrics are strong, and Billy Ledges vocals have a range, differing from track to track. There are a number of poetic lines about working class entrapment here: "Escape, I'll cry myself a river/into the night I'll row and row and row." Everyone should give this a listen. It's nice to hear Punk Rock and Roll that doesn't cite beer or drunkeness, instead focusing their lyrical power on the personal and political in a way that is nothing short of smart.

Mad Trucker Gone Mad The Black Album Crustacean Records • Hopefully, you are not in a mellow mood when you pop this 35 minute romp on your stereo. Mad Trucker Gone Mad is not known for the subtlety in their music. In fact, it's their in-your-face sound that got them many fans with their debut self-titled CD. Don't be tempted to label them a Psychobilly band, since their songs don't really fall into one specific category (except perhaps "Hi-Energy"). They do borrow from Rockabilly, Blues, Punk and Garage to create their sound.

Man or Astroman? A Spectrum of Infinite Scale Touch and Go Records • One of the hardest working bands around is back, this time with A Spectrum of Infinite Scale. Man or Astroman? seems to be shifting away from their previous surf rock offerings (even though there is still plenty of reverb) and adopting a more post-rock, experimental sound. Completely instrumental, unless you count the computer generated vocals on "Within One Universe There Are Millions." To add a bit of experimentation, "A Simple Text File," consists of rhythms made completely with a dot matrix printer. This release should appeal to new listeners as well as long time fans of Man or Astroman?

Mancake We Will Destroy You Art Monk Construction • Another EP ­ five songs on this one. This is loud, old school punk, almost hardcore. Mancake says: "Violence always attracts attention. Whether it is the news, a fight, or war, violence always incites interest." Perhaps that's why their songs tend to be so in-your-face and angry. They're looking to drum up all kinds of attention and, if their theory is right, they're going to get a lot of it.

Matt And The Astronaughts Matt And The Astronaughts self-released • This is a five-song EP full of frolicking fun! Matt and the boys play a swell blend of rockabilly meets surfpop meets punk. The twang is there but the rest of the music is more subtle, even funky at times, like on track three, "Get along." It's too bad there are only five songs on here. I'd like to hear more of this.

Mister Underhill EP self-released • The worst thing about this CD is that there are only three songs. It's a real shame because this band has a lot of talent. Their admitted influences of 311, Pearl Jam and The Red Hot Chili Peppers are very apparent, though I think they have some Rage Against The Machine, Korn and Limp Bizkit influence as well. No matter who they've been influenced by the most, their blend of rock/rap/metal is sweet and I'm hopeful that someone will notice them and throw them some cash to put out a longer disc next time.

Moods For Moderns Two Tracks Left Doghouse Records • I am so disappointed that this is only a three-song EP. Moods For Moderns have a fantastic pop sound that is reminiscent of 60's rock combined with 70's pop. This is simply fun, melodic, energy-filled music for shakin' your hips to.

Mrs. Fun The Best of Mrs. Fun Daemon Records • My first impression of Mrs. Fun was that they sound a lot like Luscious Jackson. The vocals follow that same I'm-putting-no-effort-into-my ­singing style, at times spoken word. Then Connie Grauer shuts up and the magic begins. Mrs. Fun is very good when it comes to funky jazz. It sounded like they were improvising the tracks, somewhat like the free form tracks from the Beastie Boys's Check Your Head sessions. This album features 12 tracks compiled from their four albums to date, and is really worth checking out.

Nerve Agents Days of the White Owl Revelation • This is a marked improvement over their last release. The vocals and playing are a lot more aggressive, and hence, better. They are finally a hardcore band that's come into their own. The only downside to the Nerve Agents is that they display a Youth of Today influence in some of the vocal delivery. I can't stand affected british pronunciation, all the less in cali hardcore. This said, hardcore fans should give this a listen. This truly is a marked improvement!

Next To Nothing Soft Spoken self-released • Like they say in their press release, "Sif it doesn't rock, what good is it?" Exactly. And rock these guys do. They'll punk rock your faces right off if you stand too close. This is fast, loud punk rock, with some great hooks and riffs. "School Days" is a great tune, as is "Nowhere Drive" (love the Animal House intro). This is a great example of today's punk sound.

Nobody Cares & Chachi On Acid Split CD Napalm Ape Records • This is a 20-song split CD from two brash, loud, aggressive punk bands. Neither of these bands hold back anything, which is nice to hear, rather than some new bands trying to copy Green Day again. Just plug-in and rock out!

One King Down Gravity Wins Again Equal Vision Records • Gravity Wins Again features 7 tracks - 3 new ones and 4 originally released on their first CD, "Absolve." They blur the line between metal and hardcore, with guitars from the former and vocals from the latter. You can feel the energy from their intense live performances filter through on this record.

Orangetree self-titled Jump Up! Records • What stuck out about this disc first, before I even listened to it, was the fact that the name of the band is spelled wrong in big letters inside the cover. Fortunately, the music is better than the editing. This is a fun SKA disk in the MU330 vain. Fast, catchy and easy to listen to, this is a disc you want to own.

Pedro the lion progress Suicide Squeeze Records • This is a four song EP of slow, moving music dealing with the failings of human progress that features amazing lyrics sung in a deep voice. "June 18, 1976" is a perfect song, with a steady build and words about the birth and death cycles. "April 6, 2039" projects the listener to a antiseptic future with extreme cleanliness, yet humanity is still riddled with its personal messes. Sure, you may say you've heard this before, but have you in the context of soothing sounds? "Letter from a concerned Follower" continues with the questioning of progress in a comforting acoustic realm. Though track 3 is passable, this is an CD to listen and relax to.

Quasimoto The Unseen Stones Throw • The magician behind the amazing Lootpack is back. Madlib is no slack, in fact he's the vocalist delivering high-pitched, nasal-tongued rhymes. At times it sounds like Q-Tip, with slick delivery tweaked during production giving the chipmunk-ish vocal sound. The beats surround with smoothed-out styles, jazzy samples and background loops. Ample tunes, 23 total cuts, boom out some of the freshest sounds around, confounding the listener with agile rhyme styles. Many of the compositions are experimental and abstract, but always keep your head bobbin' to the track.

Redfield Born To Rock Sunset Alliance • If you can ignore the silly album title, you'll be able to experience some kick ass rock music. Combining elements of punk and hardcore, but sticking more along the lines of powerful, uptempo, emotional rock ‘n' roll, Redfield capitalizes on thick melodies, intense, driving tempo changes and solid vocals (ala Errortype:11). Keep your eye on this record label. This is only their third release and they've put out some amazing music.

Right Direction Bury The Hatchet Victory Records • This is a tricky record. It starts off with two blistering hardcore tracks. These tracks alone are worth picking up this album. Strangely enough, the sound totally changes throughout the rest of the record. The third song features a horn and rapid delivery, and is great on it's own merits. Then the music slowly moves into a metal-inspired melee. Mind you, all this is sharp sounding, on the level of 80's metal. It's interesting to hear Ozzy sounding vocals pop up here and there on the later tracks. All in all I like this, so give the later tracks a listen and a chance.

Rock-n-Roll Au Go-Go Compilation Devil Doll Records • This is an eight-song disc featuring four bands: Rocket City Riot, Three Years Down, Candysnatchers, and Pizzle. Rocket City Riot is a no-frills rock band with great hooks. Three Years Down keep the rock going but have more of a Ramones meets Black Flag thing going on. Candysnatchers is another punk band with a fresher sound. By the way, if you get the chance to see them live, I highly suggest it. Finally, Pizzle ends this disc with their variety of kick-ass rock-n-roll, and they're soon-to-be famous song "What's Wrong With My Foot?" They're probably the most intense-sounding band on here. At one point I thought Lemmy from Motorhead was a guest vocalist.

Rotten Sound Still Psycho Necropolis Records • This Mini-CD features five brand new songs plus a cover of Carcass's "Reek of Putrefaction," which stands out for its atmospherics, as well as for its more metal sound, rather than the Grind/Death Metal which usually describes the Rotten Sound. Just a short musical nugget to hold you over until the next full length release.

Run Devil Run Sinking Deeper Victory Records • Powerful posi-core influenced by animal rights and Krishna. The voice here is great, making it perfect to sing along with. The lyrics are fortunately printed in the booklet, and worth reading through on their own merit. I haven't heard youth crew hardcore this consistently great since Good Clean Fun. Heck, if you even remotely liked any Better than a Thousand release, GET THIS.

Samiam Astray Hopeless • After over ten years and a storied history (major label success and screwing), Samiam finds themselves on Hopeless Records, ready to explode with a Astray. This new album is a fine Samiam album, but definitely not their best (I still think that is Billy). What this album lacks is creativity. While it is melodic as hell, it lacks energy and fails to take Samiam "to the next level." With all the band has been through in the last several years, I was expecting something better from them.

Sean Na Na Dance ‘til Your Baby is a Man Troubleman Unlimited • Sean Tillman (AKA Sean Na Na) blends folksy guitars with laid back keys and an emo vocal style. The songs are full of "pop" sensibilities, yet the lyrics are deep and personal. It is these contradictions that make this album work so well.

Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto El Baile Alemán Emperor Norton Records • After being involved in the German electronic music scene for a few years, Uwe Schmidt decided he needed a musical change. He then moved to Chile and embraced the Latin rhythms that were all the rage in the States back in the 1950's. Cha-Cha-Cha, Cumbia and Merengue are the styles he employs in this highly danceable, kitschy release. Señor Coconut (as Schmidt is now known) hasn't abandoned his electronic background, with computer constructed snippets surfacing in a few tracks. There is a fine line between homage and satire, and Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto balance right on top of it, with lyrics like, "We're standing here/exposing ourselves/we are Showroom Dummies," casually sung over expertly crafted Cha-Cha-Cha beats.

Sergio Vega The Ray Martin Sessions grape OS • Apparently Sergio Vega has played with Quicksand and Deftones. This five-song solo release has a radically different approach, embracing 60's pop and trying to make it his own. It's almost a guilty pleasure, as it strives so hard to be pop in it's hey day that it attains supreme catchiness with silly, at times cheesy, lyrics. There is a nice diversity of sounds here, but alas, it's all based in the 60's, which is hard for anyone present day to attempt to emulate.

Silkworm Lifestyle Touch and Go • This restores my faith in new styles of music in America. The first track is titled "Contempt." The song pares down the conflicts featured in Jean Luc Godard's film of the same name. Intelligent without the condescending attitude of indy rock's irony, Silkworm is an amazing band who play really catchy songs. They even do a wonderful cover of "Ooh La La," which is the end song on the film "Rushmore." There's so much to rave about here, that I urge you to listen to it yourself.

Silo the Huskie s/t Cargo/Headhunter • Named for a dog nearly killed by the band on its way to a rehearsal, this band has a "Midwest Americana all-rock noise" that does a superb job of capturing emotion and containing it within. These guys are real and honest, and there is a lot of thought in what they offer.

Sit n' Spin Enjoy The Ride Headhunter/Cargo Music • Chick Rooooccckkkkk!!! This five-piece all-girl band from New York is just as fun as The Donnas and The Eyeliners but they're not quite as over-the-top. I'd put them between the Go-Go's and The Donnas. That's not to say they're not good and that they don't kick ass. They kick all kinds of ass and the CD is fun as hell to listen to. Which, by the way, I highly suggest you do.

Slum Village Fantastic Vol. 2 Good Vibe Recordings • Several months ago came the end of the legendary A Tribe Called Quest, leaving a gap in a hip-hop world filled with playaz and bank account references. In comes Slum Village, ready to take their place as the kings of soul-filled, laid back hip-hop. Q-Tip himself passes the torch to the Village in "Hold Tight" ("This is the last time you hear meSI'mma leave it in the hands of the Slum now"). Also lending their support are Kurupt, Busta Rhymes, D'Angelo, Pete Rock and Jazzy Jeff. The rhymes flow flawlessly over slow beats drenched in a summer kinda feeling.

Sparechange00 Sat first sight Cargo • Strongly reminiscent of Blink 182, with more pissed off vocal delivery, comes the emo pop punk of Sparechange00. The playing is really good, and the kids may relate to the coming of age angst Sparechange00 sing about. The vocals and playing are really the strong point here. Take a listen to "Dearest Friend" and see if the driving guitar doesn't sweep you in.

Stereotyperider Fair Weather Fan Sunset Alliance • I had never heard of this band before and I'm happy I now have. Stereotyperider are an amazing four-piece band from Phoenix, Arizona. Their sound relies heavily on super melodies and awesome tempo changes ­ a mix of powerful rock and punk energy. The vocals are great, the recording quality is excellent and the music is even better. Using creative guitar parts, pounding drums that are all over the place, and deep bass lines, I was hooked the first time I listened to this seven-song release.

Strung Out The Element of Sonic Defiance Fat Wreck • This isn't just melodic punk rock, this is big, melodic punk rock. Strung Out has an ability to create heartfelt tunes with an intense power that is hard to grasp (fusing elements of metal and alt rock). Using unexpected tempo changes, booming vocals and kick-ass guitar parts, Strung Out has compiled an eight-track album that is their best yet.

The Arrivals Goodbye New World Thick Records • Driving rock with a punk influence best characterizes The Arrivals. My favorite songs are "Last Lullaby," a bittersweet tune fit for drunken sing-a-longs, and "Chinese New Year," another great sing-a-long for the broken hearted that features killer vocal/guitar progressions. The strength of this record is that you can feel the heart and conviction they place into the music and lyrics. Granted, some of the 15 tracks are more tongue in cheek than heart on sleeve, but that doesn't negate the power of their most heartfelt songs.

The Black Heart Procession Three Touch and Go Records • Someone please get these guys some antidepressants!!! The layers of guitars, pianos and several organs are pretty depressing ­ and that's before Pall A Jenkins starts singing. After that, you actually feel like calling them up to make sure they haven't committed suicide yet.

The Broadways Broken Van Asian Man Records • This was one of the best punk bands around, but they are no longer. This is the final album from The Broadways and it captures every bit of their powerful, melodic punk rock energy. With gruff vocals akin to Jeff Ott (Crimpshrine, Fifteen), quick moving music (a la Propagandhi, old Jawbreaker), and socio-political lyrics, The Broadways always get under my skin. This release features six unreleased songs, tracks from their first 7" and the "Big City" EP.

The Condors Tales Of Drunkenness & Cruelty Vital Gesture Records • Old school punk, with some surf rock thrown in. "Listen To Me, Now" almost sounds like it has some 60's pop in there, too. The vocals could be a little tighter but the music is a lot of fun.

The Daggers Lock Up Your Daughters Unity Squad Records • This is old school punk. Fast and angry and with the minimum of talent. It's not a bad disc, but it probably is not one that you will want to wait in line three hours for. It is fairly standard-issue punk.

The Enkindels Can't Stop the Enkindels Initial Records • I always hated high school angst flicks, but I liked the soundtracks that had a little anger and some hurt love songs. The Enkindels skipped the bad John Hughes celluloid and went straight for the music. "Eva Luna" (track #4) is heartbroken and the trite title of "Nothing But a Good Time" (track#5) is a damn good stab at a punk anthem. Beware of the occasional leans toward AC/DC-esque guitar riffs and you'll really dig the new Enkindels release.

The Forty Fives Get it Together Ng Records • If you're curious to find out what The Forty Fives sound like, think the Delta 72 without the distorted vocals. Raunchy guitars over powerful drum beats, drenched in B-3 Hammond Organ melodies. A bit rock, a bit blues, all attitude. I can tell by the sound of this debut album that good things will come from the Forty Fives in the future.

The Jazz June The Medicine Initial Records • Back with their second full-length on Initial, The Jazz June's The Medicine blasts from my speakers. This complex, melodic, energized form of rock is infectious. Combining elements of bands like Braid and Promise Ring while incorporating jazz, R&B and hip-hop rhythms, The Jazz June deliver 11 tracks of supreme musical enjoyment.

The Lothars Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas Wobbly Music • The Lothars have created a milestone recording in the development of theremins as an emotive instrument. They continue with their theremin instrumentals, focusing on compositions and building the tracks layer by layer through time. There's more of an effort at artistry and exploring the bass end of the theremin in relation to traditional instruments rather than misusing it as a gimmick for space-age sound effects. This record is quite relaxing due to the build and repetition within each song. Severely recommended and quite an improvement over their first release.

The Luxury Liners Sound As EverS Echo Music • My wife and I visited Nashville last year and were surprised at the number of non-country bands there. Us, stereotyping? Nah. Anyway, The Luxury Liners are out of Nashville (originally from Texas) and play that non-country music I love so well. This trio plays a very catchy, very tight brand of pop, like the Beatles for 2000. You can listen to this and get a clear image of these guys playing a club where the first five rows are fans that know all the words, and sing as loud as they can. I don't typically like this new pop stuff too much; I can only sit through one or two songs but I've listened to seven songs in a row now, all the way through, and if there weren't more CD's to review I'd keep going. I'll leave this one in the player regardless.

The Monty McClanahan Project The Road Less Traveled self-released • This is a Bluegrass CD. Still with me? For those of you that are, this is good bluegrass music. I know, I know, how in the HELL does anyone know about bluegrass music? Well, oddly enough, I used to be a DJ at a country/bluegrass station in the rural north Georgia mountains. The station switched to adult contemporary about two months later, but that's another story. If you like bluegrass, this is good music. You don't hear much of it these days, what with Garth and the Dixie Chicks and all that other country crossover garbage. If you want real country, take The Road Less Traveled.

The National Acrobat The National Acrobat, For All Practical Purposes, Is Dead Arise Records • In this month of a million and one punk discs, it was nice to hear The National Acrobat and their blend of hardcore. There is some really tight, riff-heavy hardcore on here that will interest even the slightest metal/hardcore fan. They do dabble a bit in straight ahead metal ("Apter Into") but almost always go over the top. Bang your head and break your neck!

The New Rising Sons Thieves and Angels GrapeOS • As a "nod to their punk roots," The New Rising Sons released this 4-song EP, the first record ever to be released on the new GrapeOS label. It's very structured, smooth, and gentle rock, and is obviously the work of matured artists.

The Nextmen Amongst the Madness Scenario Records • Having conquered the UK hip-hop scene, The Nextmen's next mission is to take over the scene here in the States. A staggering 17 tracks with an amazing flow, and not an English accent to be found anywhere. Their use of jazz beats and keys brings a nice change for those tired of playaz, bitches and Benzes.

The Posers Anti-Christian Animosity Cargo Music • YIKES!! This is angry, fast, cool shit. It will give your grandma total systemic failure. This is old school punk that is mixed up with a definite hard-core sound: Biohazard meets the Germs. You get the idea. Lots of screaming and anger. This is a good disc.

The Prescriptions Why We Don't Rent to Women Johanns Face Records • The Prescriptions sound like what the Go-Go's would if they played indie rock with a touch of punk. Other bands come to mind, such as Me First and Bikini Kill. There is nothing particularly exciting here, just your average hooks and melodies to take up about a half hour's worth of your time.

The Queers Beyond The Valley Of The Ass-Fuckers Hopeless Records • Wow, ol' Joe Queer has come back hard!! The last disc of theirs that I heard was good (of course) but it was definitely sugary pop-punk. This is in that immutable Queers style, but it is fierce, like the old stuff. Songs like "Stupid Fucking Vegan" and "My Cunt's a Cunt" are certainly not Beach Boys covers. This, as expected, rocks your ass.

The Trans Megetti Soon Be Seeing You Later Art Monk Construction • This is punk but not really. What I mean is that it's fast and loud but it's too erratic and shifting to be straight punk. You really have to hear it to get it. It's very stripped-down rock but, at the same time, there are a lot of layers to it. This is, unfortunately, only a four-song EP but it's a great way to see if you can dig what they're selling. "We Dig the Demons" is a great tune.

The Vandals Look What I Almost Stepped InS Nitro Records • Boy! What a treat! "Behind the Music" is a funny pop track about putting out a record that has the best lyrics. The Vandals are best at a fast pace, and most of the tracks have a quick wit to match. This whole album is filled with stand out songs, including "The New You," a funny break up song. They even reach back to 80's new wave with "Kick It." The vocals really stand out on this album, as well. If you want to start off the school year with a fun record, get this NOW! The longer you wait, the harder you'll kick yourself for not acting sooner.

The Weakerthans Left and Leaving Sub City/Hopeless • This Canadian three-piece, with roots in political punk band Propaghandi, is back with their second full-length release. Left and Leaving combines melodic punk with a country sentimentality. The songs are intricate and moving, with heartfelt and shy vocals that are perfectly delivered. While some tunes are more energized than other acoustic-leaning tracks, each song is creatively original and undeniably The Weakerthans.

Thrones Sperm Whale Kill Rock Stars • You could say that Sperm Whale is more a collection of sometimes melodic, very heavy sounds, as opposed to a collection of songs. Perhaps I'm being too harsh. They're songs, alright (especially the beautifully out of place "Django," sung in what I can only guess is Portuguese). It's the second of two parts, with White Rabbit being part one (it's also included in the CD version, but unfortunately, the documentation doesn't say where one ends and the other begins). The lineup consists of Joe Preston (bassist for the Melvins) pretty much playing everything, including a double neck guitar/bass combo. Preston relies heavily on the atmospherics, utilizing all sorts of electronics to alter the sound of his voice, sometimes with great results.

Throwaway Generation Tomorrow's Too Late Cyclone Records • You want polished, slick sounding punk with none of that grit and noise that old school punk had? Whoops, this ain't for you. This is the old school punk real punk fans crave. These guitars are loaded with distortion and the singer's voice has more grit than sandpaper. It's downright infectious is what it is. No fuss, no muss punk at its best.

Toe Variant Truckstop Records • This latest release from Toe (formerly Toe 2000) is a musical realization of band leader David Pavkovic's vision of music and tone's importance over everything else, including lyrics. That is not to say that Japanese singer Yoko Noge's vocals don't make a wonderful instrument, with her sultry baritone style. Take for example, "Vacation," whose lyrics were composed from postcards Pavkovic sent to others while on vacation. Musically, Variant is experimental, with plenty of interesting sounds and loops that will either engage or repulse the listener.

Tristan Psionic Mind The Gap Sonic Unyon Records • These guys are pulling double time as a rock band by night and the owners of Sonic Unyon by day. It must be the advantage of hearing all of the different bands on their label that has helped them create the sound they have. It sounds at times like Oasis, at times like Sunny Day Real Estate and at times like New Bomb Turks. What I'm trying to say is that their sound is varied. Think of Oasis with more harmonies, a punkier vibe and crunchier guitars, and you've got Tristan Psionic. I don't think there are brothers in this band either, so they've got a huge lead over Oasis on that count alone.

Turning Point 1988-1991 Jade Tree • Bands like Lifetime, The Get Up Kids, and Promise Ring can thank Turning Point for inspiration. With their roots as a straight-edge hardcore band, Turning Point took that sound to the next level. They added more complex instrumentation to an already melodic and hard-driving style. Coupled with the emotional aspects of their music, Turning Point had created what became, and still is, a very popular genre in the punk scene. This album includes every song they recorded, released and unreleased ­ 38 amazing tracks worth.

Under the Gun One NationS Fastmusic • This is a fun pop punk album that is a hark back to posi-core days. "Welcome to My Hell" is an optimistic song about summer punk band touring, and "Steadfast" is a staying true song that is not cliché. Though the optimism and accompanying clean production are things that makes this so bright and fun, my patience for pure pop punk is relatively low. Nonetheless, this should appeal to fans of poppy punk. There is a great hidden track (a Richard Hell cover?) that's a lot rougher than anything on this CD. Make sure to listen for that song.

Various Artists Equal Vision Records Label Sampler Equal Vision Records • If you only buy one hardcore record this summer, THIS SHOULD BE IT! I own some of the recordings from which the tracks are pulled, and though I can't stand the full-lengths, they sound so great on this comp! Even the metal-core crap sounds great! This starts off with a fun track by Saves the Day, continues with One King Down, and great stuff by the Stryder, Snapcase, Bane, Converge, Project Kate, Serpico, Refused, Trial, and more. Again, all of these are pulled from full-lengths ­ nothing is unreleased. Still, short of making your own mixtape, this sampler gives a total of 24 fun hardcore tracks to keep your head bopping, finger pointing, arm windmilling, and body rocking.

Various Artists Exposed III - Hot-Doggin' Tha Great Midwest Sin Klub Entertainment • From Toledo, Ohio, the famed epicenter of modern American music, comes this mammoth 3 disc set featuring 59 bands. The music ranges from cool blues to sad death rock with all genres in between accounted for. Most of the songs (surprisingly, considering the sheer number) are pretty good. Most of the bands are unsigned, but several are the property of Sin Klub. Some of these bands may soon have contracts and some should just go wash dishes at Taco Hell. The set is definitely worth a listen.

Various Artists Jade Tree: First Five Years Jade Tree • This double CD showcases all the 7" releases from Jade Tree during the period of 1990-1995. The bands featured on here are (number of tracks in parenthesis): Gravel (6), Jones Very (6), Railhed (3), Pitchblende (4), Eggs (5), Leslie (2), Universal Order of Armageddon (2), Walleye (4), Damnation (1), and Edsel (2). These bands represent a group of musicians that were constantly pushing the limits of their sound, creatively changing the face of punk/indie music.

Various Artists King Diamond Tribute Necropolis Records • Eleven artists cover as many tracks from Diamond's extensive library. Artists include Dark Funeral ("The Trial"), Exhumed (playing the slightly funny "No Presents for Christmas, featuring melodic vocals!"), Destiny's End ("Dressed in White") and Aggressor ("Welcome Home"). The good thing about this comp is that the artists do not play the songs exactly like the original versions, but instead adapt them to their own personal style, giving the album a variety of sounds and styles.

Various Artists Live at the Blue Room Yanstar Records • The Blue Room is a small theater in Chico, California that, since 1998, has been recording many of the performances there. These live performances (22 tracks) have never been previously released. Included on this release are songs by The Dismemberment Plan ("What Do You Want Me To Say" and "The City"), Braid ("First Day Back" and "Never Will Come For Us"), Edith Frost ("Calling Over Time") and The Farewell Bend ("Rumors About Lightening"). The recordings sound great and with such awesome bands featured, it's a damn good compilation.

Various Artists Plea For Peace Asian Man Records • This is a must own record. Why? Well, suggested retail is $3.99. Plea for Peace is dedicated towards anti-racism and anti-sexism. The introduction is a recorded speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There are 30 tracks here, with a great ska/rocksteady track by Chris Murray, psycho ska by Blue Meanies, strange stuff by Polysics, and tracks by Smoking Popes, Alkaline Trio, Lawrence Arms, plus more bands and a spoken word performance by Fishbone's Angelo Moore. All this for so little means you should pick it up and support the cause.

Various Artists Punk Goes Metal Fearless Records • This comp rocks! I had forgotten about half of these songs, including the fact that I liked them (even though they are mostly by ‘80s hair bands). Some of my favorites include Jughead's Revenge ("Talk Dirty to Me"), A New Found Glory ("Heaven Isn't So Far Away"), Divit ("Breakin' the Law"), Diesel Boy ("Looks that Kill") and my favorite by far, Link 80 ("Harvester of Sorrow"). These bands take the original songs and try to leave the important parts intact, while adding a touch of punk to spice up the tracks. This CD works as more than a novelty act, since the songs are given the attention and respect (or disrespect) needed to make the track interesting. If you enjoy punk and used to listen to metal in the ‘80s, you owe it to yourself to check this comp out.

Various Artists Punk-o-rama #5 Epitaph Records • It's the whole damn stable of Epitaph punk artists on one CD for your sampling pleasure. Rancid kicks ass with a preview of their new album with the track "Poison" and NOFX is featured with three tracks. And the bad with the good, ALL's track is a poor choice. Don't worry, though, this is worth its sticker price for the variety of current punk.

Various Artists Scene Report Triple Crown Records • This compilation starts off with pissed off mosh-core from bands like Death Threat and Disciple. It moves to hardcore territory with Voice of Reason (who do a good job of mixing it up with emo-ish lyrics) and Downlow (play by numbers core complete with bass solo). This comp continues with more pissed off metal-core, then some good rap-core by Son of Skam and Cipher, then back to hardcore thanks to Desperate Measures, Comin' Correct, and more metal mixed stuff. The standout band on this comp is One 4 One, who blew me away with an awesome track with distorto vocals. Overall, this falls in the pissed off NYHC/NJ realm of hardcore. If you're up for (or down with) that scene, check this out.

Various Artists The Five Fingers of Dr. X Triple X Records • Here is a pretty decent sampler disc. Five bands (Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, Tricky-Woo, ADZ, Gaza Strippers, Black Halos) and 21 songs. This is fast, rocking melodic punk that is balls of fun to listen to.

Various Artists The Orange Spot Sessions, Volume 2 Orange Peal • This eclectic collection of many independent music styles is one of the best I've ever heard. Orange Peal is assembling indie bands from all around the globe and pressing a compilation CD every month, and they're just starting out. After hearing the great talent on this one, I'm definitely looking forward to more!

Various Artists Triple Crown Records Sampler Triple Crown Records • This sampler has something for everyone, provided that everyone likes punk and metal. This is a good sampler with over 20 bands on it. It is well produced and most of the bands are pretty good. There are a few great tunes and a few clinkers, but there always are.

Various Artists World Warped III Live Side One Dummy Records • Ahhh, this is a reviewer's dream CD. All I have to tell you is that this is a compilation of this year's Warped Tour, made up of all live and/or unreleased tracks. You get, among others: Less Than Jake, 7 Seconds, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Pennywise, Supersuckers, Papa Roach, Blink 182Sand the list goes on. You know it's awesome. Just go get it and start enjoying.

Walter Trout and the Free Radicals Live Trout Ruf Records • There's something about live performances that can't be captured on a record. The energy, the ambiance, the give-and-take relationship between the audience and the artist that can't be duplicated. Live recordings come close, but too often rely on multiple dates from which to cull material, resulting in those annoying fades to black during the applause. If there is ever a close-to-the-real-thing live recording, it's Live Trout, this double CD recorded during last March's Tampa Bay Blues Fest. Walter Trout plays the Blues like a man possessed, having had no sleep and no food during the last 24 hours before the show. The only break in the action occurs when you are forced to change CDs, reminding you that you're not actually there. Fortunately, you own this piece of Blues magic, which will surely bring many hours of listening pleasure.


A-Set Blue Room 7" Southern Records • While the unique vinyl concept (two different grooves on each side that present separate songs -- four total), clear blue color, and kick-ass packaging make for a great record, do not to overlook the music. Albert Menduno is a one-man-band kicking out acoustic pop gems. The sound is melodic and simple, yet creative. Putting the icing on each track are the well-delivered and delightful vocals (except on the one acoustic tune, of course).

Five Day Messiah Best of '84-'89 Volume Two 10" Paco Garden Records • This 11-track release complies all their punk rock attitude of years past. This 10-inch shows that FDM was ahead of their time. While most tunes are quick-paced and full of teen-angst, some tracks really standout as being highly creative and original, especially for their time.

I Hate Myself two songs 7" No Idea • As the band calls it quits, they leave us with these two final songs (on cool, clear brownish vinyl). The first song starts slowly, building to a furious explosion of energy and screamed vocals, then repeat. The flip-side features a driving, mid-tempo tune of intense, dark emotion.

NOFX Pods and Gods 7" Fat Wreck • Here are two mediocre NOFX tunes on orange vinyl, limited to 12,000 (not too limited). One is from their new album "Pump Up The Valuum" and the other is unreleased. While NOFX remains a punk rock standard, their songs have become too formulated. They broke that mold with their great EP "The Decline," but this 7" doesn't do a thing for me.

pedro the lion a guitar for janie/progress storybook 7" Suicide Squeeze Records • This is a neat children's storybook titled a guitar for janie that features two songs by pedro the lion. The music is amazing, as this 7" consists of "june 18, 1976" and "april 6, 2039," both of which are on the four song progress CD-EP (see CD review). The record sleeve is attached to the booklet, which is about a girl named Janie and her misadventures on the way to securing her first guitar. The illustrations are nice, and the overall concept is really cool.

Rumbleseat Trestles 7" No Idea • Featuring Chuck and Chris from Hot Water Music and Samantha Ragan from Bitchin', the three team up to punch out two acoustic tunes on green vinyl. Each track is melodic and well-done, lead by strong male vocals (and one song includes some great harmonica work). This was originally recorded in the Summer of '98.

Selby Tigers self-titled 7" Hopeless Records • Blasting forth with a punk attitude and a new wave feel, the Selby Tigers create a unique sound loaded with catchy hooks, quirky tempo changes, and great vocals (lead and back-up). You will soon be dancing around your room, knocking things off shelves trying to keep up with this whirlwind of good tunes.

The Messy Hairs Skulls and Skateboards 7" Paco Garden Records • This three-piece plays rapid-fire punk rock with an old school (a la D.R.I. before turning metal) kind of sound. Their music is tight and full of aggressive, punk attitude. Plus, they printed "Go Vegetarian" on their liner notes -- and I can't help but support that.

Various Artists Quarters, Vol. One 7" Atarms Mechanics • The first offering from Atarms (new label run by Mike from Small Brown Bike and his pal Dale) is a four-way split featuring Small Brown Bike, Lovesick, Keleton DMD and Quixote. The Small Brown Bike track (a re-mix of "Mine of You") is an amazing song -- well-crafted, melodic hardcore. Lovesick follows that song with a powerful, creative and somewhat chaotic tune featuring haphazard, screamed vocals. Keleton DMD are noisy, hardcore outfit with creative instrumentation and techniques. Quixote offers an emo-indie inspired work of energized proportions.

Various Artists Read Army Faction 7" No Idea/AK Press Audio • Working as a benefit for revolutionary book company AK Press, Hot Water Music, Avail, Discount and The Weakerthans join forces. Each band delivers one tune. Discount drops a speedy, melodic punk number with trademark, kick-ass female vocals. The Weatherthans perform a folk-ified melodic song with a punk rock coolness. Hot Water Music rock out a powerful punk tune with gruff vocals and hooks galore. Avail follows with a sound similar to Hot Water Music -- gruff vocals and a melodic, catchy, aggressive style performing a cover of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds."

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

Cross My Heart Temporary Contemporary Deep Elm • The music on this album is passionate, sincere and emotionally-driven -- nine wonderful tracks worth. The tempo shifts with seamless musicianship, going from a soothing, heartfelt flow to an intense, powerful pace -- always holding the emotional aspect of the music in clear view. The vocals are profound, absorbing and buoyant, floating to the front of each song but not dominating it. Cross Your Heart plays complex music that captures melody and emotional meaning with each new track.

Dillinger Four Versus God Hopeless Records • Dillinger Four is the slap in the face you really needed. It's a wake-up call for all punk rock and it comes with a case of beer. Versus God is the soundtrack to a movie about giving the middle finger to the status quo. Loaded with energy, bad-ass vocals, tempo changes that will simply blow your mind, pounding rhythms, non-stop melody and socially-aware lyrics, Dillinger Four are, by far, the best, and most creative punk band around today.

Her Space Holiday Home is Where You Hang Yourself Tiger Style • As a new disciple of loop-based electronic music, I have to stand back in awe of the amazing dreaminess contained on this fantastic double-album. Her Space Holiday is simply one man, one Marc Bianchi, who has played in numerous hardcore bands. Here he creates an album-length story about lovers losing and finding each other.

Jet Black Crayon Low Frequency Speaker Test Function 8 • Those who grew up skateboarding in the 1980's will surely remember Tommy Guerrero, member of Powell Peralta's Bones Brigade. What you might not remember is that he's been involved with music since he was about thirteen, mostly as a bass player. This Enhanced CD is just the latest in his musical career, where he teamed up with fellow bass player Monte Vallier, DJ Gadget and Drummer Tim DeGaugh to assemble Jet Black Crayon, a VERY funked up group. There are no vocals here, just the interplay between the two bass guitars, laid over the groovy foundation of drums and sound effects and samples. Included in the Enhanced portion of the CD is the video for "Pescado Frito," a previously unreleased song.

Joseph Manning Jr. & Brian Reitzell Logan's Sanctuary Emperor Norton Records • Imagine it's 1978. You just finished watching Logan's Run, and loved it. More specifically, you loved the soundtrack. Even though a sequel was never made, this would have been its soundtrack. Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish, Moog Cookbook) teamed up with Brian Reitzell (Redd Kross) to come up with the score to this non-existent film. Going as far as writing scenes for the songs to go over, as well as using original vintage instruments to create the actual sounds from the era, Manning and Reitzell created a groovy, spacey score that perfectly achieves that late 1970's sound.

Level Level Death 101 Records • Hold on, is Pantera moonlighting as Level? Their pictures aren't the same but how hard is it to put someone else's picture in your CD, huh? OK, by now you get the idea. This is heavy f'ing metal with crunchy guitars, machine gun drums, fat bass lines, and a lot of growling and generally pissed off lyrics. Hold on, let me say I'm not making fun of these dudes at all. It's quite the opposite. This is a bad ass CD and they're heavier and harder than most of the chicken shit "metal" music out there right now (I'm talking to YOU, Metallica). These guys deserve a slot on Ozzfest and pronto, and not on the little second stage either. Musically they're really tight and even experiment a little (check out "D.O.A."). If you like your tunes hard and heavy, this is a must. This is the best metal band you've never heard.

Lolita Storm G-F-S-U Digital Hardcore • Most, if not all of the artists on Alec Empire's Digital Hardcore label rely heavily on distortion, starting with Empire's own Atari Teenage Riot. Lolita Storm is no exception. G-F-S-U (Girls Fucking Shit Up) is an explosive listen, with drum and bass loops and churning guitars that sound like they were recorded while playing on an old paper cone speaker. Topping it off are the vocals, competing with the music for the listener's ears. To add to the unusual quality of the record, most of the lyrics are delivered in a half-cheerleader, half-nursery rhyme manner (perhaps to add to the "Lolita" part of their name -- by sounding like angry 13-year-olds). Their goal is to lower the tone of pop music, and they accomplish it, ironically, by raising up the volume.

Mock Orange The Record Play Lobster Records • Combining the creative quirk of Braid and the intense emo abilities of The Get Up Kids, Mock Orange is back with their second full-length. The Record Play is a great follow-up album to nines & sixes. If you're into quick tempo changes and shifts, this quartet will blow your mind. They skip from rhythm to rhythm seamlessly, keeping your dancing feet thinking. Every aspect of Mock Orange, from vocals to guitar to bass to drums, is doing its own thing yet nver fails to create a sound that comes together as one.

Strike Anywhere Chorus of One No Idea • The "Top Picks" review section was already done when I listened to this slab of pure punk rock heaven. It is too damn good to leave out, so room has been made for it. Stored on clear, dark red vinyl, this six-song 12" is hyper melodic, loaded with hooks and hardcore all the while. Every song on here is highly infectious, using a driving energy that truly absorbs you. The band has perfectly combined elements of skaterock with aspects of hardcore and emo -- it's lovely.

In alphabetical order. Please write them.

Arise Records, PO Box 45, Shelbyville, KY 40066
Art Monk Construction, PO Box 6332, Falls Church, VA 22040
Asian Man Records, PO Box 35585, Monte Sereno, CA 95030-5585
Atarms Mechanics, PO Box 27, Marshall, MI 49068
Atomic Pop, PO Box 7639, Santa Monica, CA 90406
Baby Factory, 1217 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Big Wheel Recreation, 325 Huntington Ave. #24, Boston, MA 02115
Blue Bunny Records, 43 Morris Ave., West Milford, NJ 07480
Cargo/ Headhunter, 4901-906 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117
Champ Records, PO Box 10674, Murfreesboro, TN,37129-0014
Chumpire Records, PO Box 680 Conneaut Lake, PA 16316-0680
Crustacean Records, PO Box 370156, Milwaukee, WI 53237
Cyclone Records, 24 Pheasant Run, Merrimack, NH 03054
Daemon Records, PO Box 1207, Decatur, GA 30031
Death 101 Records,
Deep Elm, PO Box 36939, Charlotte, NC 28236
Devil Doll Records, PO Box30727, Long Beach, CA 90853
Digital Hardcore, 225 Lafayette St. #608, New York, NY 10012
Doghouse Records, PO Box 8946, Toledo, OH 43623
Dr. Strange Records, PO Box 7000-117, Alta Loma CA 91701
Echo Music, 1017 16th Ave. South, 2nd Floor, Nashville, TN 37212
Emperor Norton Records, 102 Robinson Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Epitaph Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Equal Vision Records, PO Box 14, Hudson, NY 12534
Eulogy, 218 Buckingham Pl., Philadelphia, PA 19104
Fast Music, 401 Broadway #2011 New York NY 10013
Fat Wreck Chords, PO Box 193690, San Fran, CA 94119-3690
Fearless Records, 13772 Goldenwest St. #545, Westminster CA 92683
Function 8, PO Box 411195, San Francisco, CA 94141
Girlie Action, 270 Lafayette Street, Suite 1302, NY NY 10012
Good Vide Recordings, PO Box 2332, Beverly Hills, CA 90213
GrapeOS, 332 Bleecker Street, PMB K42, NY, NY 10014
Hellcat Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
Honest Don's, PO Box 192027, San Francisco, CA 94119
Hopeless Records, PO Box 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91408-7495
Initial Records, PO Box 17131, Louisville, KY 40217
Jade Tree, 2310 Kennwynn Rd., Wilmington, DE 19810
Jeremy Gloff, PO Box 291593, Tampa, FL 33687
Johann's Face, PO Box 479164, Chicago IL 60647
Jump Up! Records, PO Box 13189, Chicago, IL 60613
Kill Rock Stars, PMB 418, 120 State St. NE, Olympia, WA 98501
KJAC, PO Box 247, Horseshoe Hill Rd, Pound Ridge, NY 10576
Kung Fu Records, 92 N. Citrus Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038
Lobster Records, PO Box 1473, Santa Barbara, CA 93102
Matt & The Astronaughts, 513 N. Walnut St., Columbia City, IN 46725
Mr. Underhill, PO Box 4290, Rockville, MD 20849
Napalm Ape Records, PO Box 2510, Pt. Charlotte, FL 33949
Necropolis Records, PO Box 14815, Fremont, CA 94539-4815
Next To Nothing, 26030 Leafywood, Spring, TX 77386
Ng Records, 130 5th Ave. 7th Floor, New York, NY 10011
Nitro Recs, 7071 Warner Ave. F-736, Huntington Beach, CA 92647
No Idea, PO Box 14636, Gainesville, FL 32604-4636
Orange Peal Records, PO Box 15207, Fremont, CA 94539
Pink & Black Records, PO Box 190516, SF CA 94119
Revelation Records, PO Box 5232, Huntington Beach, CA 92615-5232
Roadrunner Records, 902 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
Ruf Records, GmbH Kirchstr.24, 37318 Lindewarra, Germany
Scenario Records, PO Box 6971, London W10 5EH
Scratchie Records, 61 E. 8th Street, #276, New York, NY 10003
Side 1 Dummy, 6201 Sunset Blvd., Suite 211, Hollywood, CA 90028
Sin Klub Entertainment, Box 2507, Toledo, OH 43606
Slowdime Records, PO Box 414, Arlington, VA 22210
Soda Jerk Records, PO Box 4056, Boulder, CO 80306
Some Records, 122 West 29th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001
Sonic Unyon, PO Box 57347, Jackson Stat., Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4X2
Southern Records, PO Box 577375, Chicago, IL 60657
Stones Throw Records, 530 Divisadero #208, San Fran, CA 94117
Suicide Squeeze Recs, Box 434 4505 Univ. Way NE, Seattle WA 98105
Sunset Alliance, PO Box 31596, Phoenix, AZ 85046
The First Time Recs, PO Box 8052, Ann Arbor Michigan 48107-8052
The Monty McClanahan Project, Fairview Blvd., Fairview, TN 37062
Thick Records, 409 N. Wolcott, Chicago, IL 60622
Tiger Style, 149 Wooster St, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10012
Touch and Go Records, PO Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625
Triple Crown Records, 331 W. 57th Street, NY, NY 10019
Triple X Records, Box 862529, LA, CA 90086
Troubleman Unlimited, 16 Willow Street Bayone, NJ, 07002
Truckstop Records, 2255 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60616
Unity Squad Records, 354 W 100 N, Logan, UT 84321
Vagrant Records, 2118 Wilshire Blvd. #361, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Victory Records, PO Box 146546, Chicago, IL 60614
Vital Gesture Records, PO Box 46100, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Wobbly Music, 9 Charnwood Road, Somerville, MA 02144
Y & T Music, 9745 Sunset Drive, Suite 220, Miami, FL 33173
Yanstar, 10 W. 65th Street #4D, NY, NY 10023

Music reviews from past issues: