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CD reviews

59 Times the PainCalling the PublicBurning Heart Records • Originally from Sweden, 59 Times the Pain takes the sound of hardcore punk rock and makes it their own. Their sound is reminiscent of The Clash and Social Distortion, with powerful guitars, shout out choruses and angry, but not screaming vocals.

Agent 51 Just Keep Runnin' Adeline Records • This is a re-release of the album originally available on Suburban Hooligan Records. They added two new tracks to make it more appealing to the fans, for a total of twenty tracks. Their sound can be described as a polished Rancid, with multiple voice choruses and gritty guitars.

Alto Heceta / Speed of Sauce Split CD Synaptic Tactic Records • This split CD sees two of Iowa's most talented bands sharing the spotlight. Alto Heceta plays pop-influenced emo, with two vocalists. Their three songs are full of emotion and energy, yet are mellow at times. Speed of Sauce picks up where AH leaves off, with angular guitar riffs and vocals similar to Radiohead's Thom Yorke.

Apparatus Engine Save Creep Records • If there was a CD that straddled the line between late-90s major-label shite and post-rock bliss, this would be it. However, this band's vocalist sounds like Geddy Lee from Rush. EXACTLY like him (think 'Tom Sawyer'). And I hate Rush. In any event, this CD made me laugh when he first gets on the mic in 'Blackout' but then I listened and found some really good music instrumentation here. If you like indie-rock and Rush (I'm sure there's at least one of you out there), give this a go-round.

Blood Has Been Shed Novella of Uriel • Hey, more of that progressive-ish hardcore here. Progressive-ish meaning this isn't Voivod or Dream Theatre. This is far more intense and fast. It's technically geared hardcore, that's what it is. Maybe I should label it tech-core. I think I just created a new label! Damn I'm good. Oh, and so are they.

Blume Low Glider Bus Rider Artyzal Records • I have to say I am getting tired of the Rap-Metal combination. What am I to listen to? Blume, that's what. They blend Folk music with Hip-Hop beats and scratches, plus some jazz and even country influences for an interesting sound. This is what you would have expected Everlast's albums to sound like after he had his heart attack and got all into acoustic guitar stuff. Plus, the Hip-Hop stuff is kept at a minimum, just showing up as a recurring scratch or a fat bass line. What should this be called? Folk-Jazz-Hop? Hip-Folk-Jazz? Just call it creative. Call it good.

Bottles and Skulls Never Kiss the Wasp Cheetah Records • This is what a nervous breakdown sounds like. Bottles and Skulls play a cross between rock and punk with reckless abandon. There is a slight blues influence in the guitar work. Lead singer Alpha Boozer sounds like a straight edge guy who got sick of sobriety and is experiencing his first drunken stupor.

Broke Americans selt-titled Industrial Strength Records • This is the kind of music you would hear at a party with a local band playing, perhaps after drinking one too many beers. Not that they sound cheesy. In fact, their production is excellent. They just mix alternative rock with slightly heavier than usual guitars, and scratchy vocals that more than once reminded me of Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe or Sebastian Bach of Skid Row.

Burnt By The Sun/Luddite Clone Split CD Ferret Music • Don't turn this way up when you put it in. It will scare the sh*t right out of you, like it did me. I just changed my pants. There are six thrash songs on here. They'll all scare you actually, but the first one begins in such a way that, well, see, oh, listen for yourself. Don't be a sissy. This is mega-intense, mega-heavy, mega-shredded.

Cadillac Blindside The Allegory of Death and Fame EP Fueled by Ramen • This six-song EP appears at first to be something different and deep. It looks (and looks can be deceiving) as though you are in for something moody and dark. I can't say that it totally panned out that way. It is a solid punk disc with six catchy and fast paced songs. Good tunes and catchy riffs make this a fun disc, if not wildly memorable.

Candlewyck Candlewyck Votive Records • Oh hell no. He did NOT give me a country CD to review. SONOFABITCH!!! He's challenging me, that's what he's doing. OK, I won't lie, I didn't listen to the whole thing. I can't. It's country. What I did listen to was all right. For country. The two main dudes seem to be very proficient at guitar and mandolin and the production value is very high. Still, it's country. If you like country, knock yourself out.

Cataract Golem Ferret Music • Hardcore, Switzerland style. This is loud, aggressive, no bullshit hardcore. They have been helping American bands like Grade, Bane and Buried Alive tour Europe so when you hear about these boys coming to the states, throw them a bone, huh? We can do more for international relations than the dickhead in the White House can.

Chicago/Arise From The Ashes Split CD Sinister Label • 18 songs!!! Getcher 18 songs here! This is a huge comp of punk, hardcore and slowcore (is that really a label?) tunes from Chicago bands (I think). You've got Frontside, Authority Abuse, Kung Fu Rick, Division, Supersleuth and John Brown Battery to name a few.

Choking Victim Crack Rock Steady EP / Squatta's Paradise Split CD Tent City Records • I don't know why I liked this album so much. Maybe it was the "One, Two, Fuck You" countdown at the beginning of "Apple Pie + Police State." Or maybe it was the liner notes which encourages you to steal the album by stuffing it in your pants. Most likely it was because the Crack Rock Steady EP has such horrible production values, that it became endearing. It improves so much by the time Squatta's Paradise rolls around, that I thought it was a different band. These guys play Ska-Core without horns, but with plenty of guitar riffs and angry vocals.

Citizen Fish Life Size Honest Don's • Oh, god gimmie more of this snotty English punk. I love it. You can smell the thick black ale and thousand year old pubs. This is how punk should be written, played and listened to. After eight discs, these guys show no signs of slowing down or getting stale. This slick release even comes with a video which I'm sure if my computer were better, would be thrilling to watch.

Colleen Coadic The Opposite Only Better self-released • By the second or third listen, this nice pop-rock record with "electronic flavor" turns into a very deep lyrical journey through a storyteller's soul. Lyrics are full of Coadic's life experiences through heartache and longing for affection. Her vocals sound strong at times but fragile just the same. Like many other female songwriters, Coadic also plays acoustic guitar on her fourth independent release out of Anchorage, Alaska.

Comin Correct In Memory of Triple Crown Records • This album is dedicated to the memory of Comin Correct lead singer Rick Healey's father, who succumbed to cancer in 1999. The anger and sadness felt by Healey is apparent, not only on the title track, but also on the other ten tracks, where he unleashes powerful screams. The result is a hardcore album with a true feeling of reality that is lacking in many other bands.

Contender Scenic Overlook Not Bad Records • Who does this sound like? This sounds like someone I just reviewed last month. Oh yeah! Hot Water Music! And I see here that they cite them as an influence. This is a mixture of melodic and hooky punk. It's aggressive at times but they never get carried away. They play within themselves and it comes through in a really tight, really soulful way. Cool EP.

Coquettish Total Pops Madness EP Asian Man • These four guys from Japan rip out seven tracks of rapid-fire, ska-influenced punk rock. It's really solid stuff and highly addictive. Imagine Op Ivy, then make 'em a hardcore band. Or think Rancid, but way more aggressive. The tempo changes are simply rad, catching you by surprise and then sucking you in. Put on your skankin' shoes and prepare to get crushed by stage divers.

Crispus Attucks Red Black Blood Attack Soda Jerk Records • How are you with your history? Crispus Attucks was the first person to die in which war? These guys are not dead. They are busy throwing some fierce hardcore your way. This sonic wall of ferocity will have you throwing down in the pit right in your own living room. Driving, anthem-like calls to glory punctuate this 15-song disc which incorporates hardcore and old school punk very effectively. (Answer: The Revolutionary War, and, he was black.)

Cursive Burst and Bloom EP Saddle Creek • Burst and Bloom is a five-song follow-up to last year's critically acclaimed Domestica. The first track, "Sink to the Beat," serves as a letter of intent for the band and the EP. There are references to Shudder to Think, Fugazi, and the Chapel Hill scene, all of which hint at, but don't fully describe, Cursive's music. They even describe the EP as a "cheap strategy" and "marketing scheme" to build "awareness for the next LP." As the song slowly builds, you can sense the impending musical explosion; when it arrives, it is much more intense and powerful than you had anticipated. And that's just the first song. The five songs from the latest Cursive marketing scheme leave you wanting more, and soon. So, when's that full length coming out?

Da Beat Minerz Brace 4 Impak Rawkus Entertainment • If you know the label, then you know what to expect. Producers DJ Evil Dee and Mr. Walt bring an underground collection of emcees along for their first headlining effort as Da Beat Minerz. Unfortunately, the help won't make this one a classic, but there are still some gems that shine. Among the contributions are Royce Da 5'9, Jayo Felony, Talib Kweli, Black Moon, The Flipmode Squad and The Cocoa Bravaz with Blackhearted Skavangers featured on the bangin' "Extreme Situation."

Darkest Hour So Sedated, So Secure Victory Records So Sedated, So Secure opens up with "An Epitaph," which is typical hardcore...until the chorus. That's where the Iron Maiden style riffs kicked in. I was intrigued. Lucky for me, this was not a once-in-an-album occurrence. If you think hardcore has nowhere to go musically, check out Darkest Hour for a kick in the nuts that will leave you wanting for more.

David McReynolds Promoting Peace and Justice ­ Interview Socialist Party USA/No-U-Turn Productions • This CD is an interview with 2000 Socialist Party USA presidential candidate David McReynolds. The interview is broken into 15 pieces, one of which is a song by David Rovics. The interview will give you a great overview of what the party stands for. If you're looking for an alternative to the two options we're marketed in our current system, try this CD out and see if the Socialist Party is more along the lines of your belief system.

Dead 50's Standing on the Edge of Forever Smorgasbord Records • With plenty of guitar hooks and catchy melodies, Dead 50's are threatening to take over rock and roll with their particular style of melodic punk / pop punk. The songs are catchy and energetic, sure to get you on your feet.

Dead End Kids Still Dead F.U.G. Records • For over 15 years, DEK has been tearing shit up in Central Florida. They've had dozen of releases and toured a bit. The five-piece plays old-style punk rock along the lines of old Replacements and the Sex Pistols. Their version of the Pistols' "Rock 'n Roll Swindle" isn't recorded well, but sounds great nonetheless, with a snotty, sloppy punk appeal. These eight tracks show that punk really isn't dead.

Dead Moon Trash and Burn Empty Records • I hate walking into a movie after it has started, or trying to join a conversation in progress. That's what I feel like I'm doing here. Dead Moon has been around for a long time (over 10 discs now) and, from what I can gather, they've been putting out the same music since day one. The music is interesting, like an AC/DC light or Bad Company with balls, but Fred Cole's voice is FAR more interesting. You have to give it a listen to understand.

Diabolical Exploits Diabolical Exploits Substandard Records • Hey! Is this a bootleg copy of a young Gene Simmons fronting a punk band?! Really?! That's immediately what I thought of. This is some cool Cali punk. Track nine, "Lies," is tighter than a drum. "Tengo Nada" is also hip, as is most of this disc.

DJ Swamp Never is Now Lakeshore Records • Best known for his DJ gig with Beck, DJ Swamp attacks producing a record like it is his child. Instead of filling up the credit list with guest artists, he does everything himself, from the scratching to the rhyming, which sound like Sir Mix-A-Lot. In both the instrumental and vocal tracks, he demonstrates his abilities at the decks with the dexterity and fluidity that few accomplish.

Dr. Israel and Brooklyn Jungle Sound System Never is Now Lakeshore Records • Get ready for a unique experience. Dr. Israel blends dub, reggae, jungle and hip-hop for a style that could only come from the melting pot that is New York. For years, the English have dominated the Drum 'N Bass scene while American artists struggled to keep up. The jungle tracks on this album should lay to rest the notion that the United States cannot produce good D'NB. In the meantime, settle in for the contact high you will get from listening to Black Rose Liberation.

Drowningman Drowningman Still Loves You EP Equal Vision • I had a hard time with the screaming intensity of previous Drowningman releases. But something has changed. The Vermont five-piece has expanded/matured their sound with thicker melodies and the addition of more vocal creativity. The screaming is present on every track and is used often (and effectively), but it's countered by well-sung aspects and spoken parts, something missing on previous releases. This is still hardcore as hell. Instead, though, of hurting my ears, this helps my blood boil, causes my head to sway to the grinding, pounding beats and forces my body to rock along to a catchiness (not in a pop-sense) that I couldn't previously find with their releases. I'm, frankly, blown away by this five-track aural assault. This is, by far, their best release to date.

Eighteen Visions The Best of Trustkill Records • This CD compiles songs from various releases by Eighteen Visions, an incredible hardcore band that infuses metal into their sound. They re-recorded songs from their No Time For Love 7", Yesterday is Time Killed and Lifeless CDs, plus they included one new track. Their abilities are best witnessed on the opening track "Motionless and White, " where lead singer James Hart switches from hardcore style screaming to singing in a Deftones-chorus style.

Eltro Velodrome Absolutely Kosher Records • Prepare to be hypnotized by Eltro's Velodrome, starting with Diana Prescott's soothing vocals, sometimes electronically manipulated for an added effect. Add Jorge Sandrini's repetitive guitar loops, Ted Johnson's beats and Elmer Clayton's keyboards and you've got a recipe for post-rock psychedelia. The songs are mostly slow numbers that take a while to develop, yet are strangely engaging.

Enemies/Pitch Black split CD Lookout! Records • Yikes! Here is a branch away from the Lookout! Records we have come to know and love. This disc is a 12-song split between two bands which inhabit a slightly darker realm than some of their syrupy pop-punk labelmates. While it looks like you are in for some serious doom and gloom, this disc is fast punk that is oddly catchy. Both bands are stylistically similar, making them a good pair to split this good disc.

F-Minus Suburban Blight Hellcat Records • For their second album, F-Minus decided to make things nice and democratic. Each member wrote songs and sang on the album. Suburban Blight is extremely fast and furious. Whoever might be singing does so with throaty screams, and the music never slows down from an old school punk / hardcore sound. I felt the spirit of Corrosion of Conformity, back when they played hardcore, especially on the track "Capital Murder."

Full Frequency Momentum Gonzo! Records • This CD is packaged like a cheesy home-studio rave CD and the press sheet said they were from the LA-area so I wasn't too hopeful on this one. However this CD rocks like early-90s Wax Trax! material and bands like Sister Machine Gun and Front 242, no doubt! If you're missing a great industrial CD, this is it mainly because the drum sequencing on all these tracks sounds dated as well as the vocals, but in a good way. In a kitschy, Gen-X way, I like the cheesy industrial of 10 years ago; it was an honest expression of form. And so is the music on this disc.

Good Riddance Symptoms Of A Leveling Spirit Fat Wreck • If what you're doing works, why change it? I think that's Good Riddance's theory. I'm not complaining. Their brand of powerful, melodic punk rock is some of the best stuff out there (and it's been that way since 1986). A couple of the Descendents/ALL guys (Stevenson and Egerton) helped engineer this album, maybe assisting in creating the clean, yet still aggressive, sound. As always, the lyrics are dominated by proactive, social/political commentary and criticism. If you're a fan of GR, this album is a must have. Or, if you're looking for something full of aggression, melody and fronted by killer vocals, check this out.

Grounded Grounded self-released • Punk-influenced indie here. Get past the first song. Sorry, I wasn't too keen on that one. The rest of the disc is decent. They even sound a bit Beatle-esque at times. They admit that the production quality isn't great but I bet they sound pretty damned good live. Aside from the Auburn shirt the dude's wearing on the back cover, they're pretty slick.

High Lo Fi Three Sided Single EP Does Everyone Stare? • The vocals are what first grabbed me with this three song EP. He's got great vocals along the lines of The Marshes or even a little like Sugar. The music is powerful pop punk stuff that reminds me of the aforementioned bands as well as Big Drill Car. The recording is very solid and the hooks on this release are hard to resist.

His Name is Alive Someday my Blues will Cover the Earth Beggar's Banquet Records • Musical schizophrenic Warn Defever's recording career has included all sorts of genres, including Rock, Experimental Noise, and Folk. This time around, he delivers a surprising R & B recording. Centered around Lovetta Pippen and her lovely Gospel Choir voice, Defever builds an excellent make-out album.

Hi-Standard Love is a Battlefield Fat Wreck Chords • Hi-Standard is a Japanese melodic punk outfit that has been around for 10 years. Their latest, Love is a Battlefield, is a short but sweet, 4 song EP full of melodies and punchy guitars. Plus you get an excellent cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love."

Holly Golightly Singles Round Up Damaged Goods Records • This release by Holly Golightly (her real name) contains all her eleven single releases and their b-sides. Even though she is from England, you could be fooled into thinking she is from somewhere like California, since her take on garage rock sounds very American. Many songs have bluesy guitars and harmonica, and the whole album has a certain retro feeling, a '60s vibe.

HOME Vol. III Split CD Pavo / Rhythm of Black Lines Post Parlo Records • This was supposed to be released as Vol. II in July of last year, but due to production problems it kept getting pushed back. Now, one year later, it is finally finished. Pavo starts things off with two tracks, both of which are slow and instrumental. Their style consists of mellow guitar picking and some synth effects, plus syncopated drumming that combine to create a dreamy effect. Rhythm of Black Lines picks up the pace a bit, with three tracks, two of which are instrumental. A new version of "Set a Summery Table" features processed beats, while "That's the Fuck You" sounds like something Critters Buggin' might play.

Hoods Time...The Destroyer Victory Records • I'm always nervous when I see the CD's with the really tough looking guys on the back. It can mean a.) they're badass or b.) they suck and are trying to LOOK bad ass. Fortunately, Hoods are the prior. These guys play blistering hardcore and have shared the stage with the likes of Hatebreed and Papa Roach to name but two. I'm sure they'll be in your town to smash your face in real soon.

Hundred Hands Little Eyes Deep Elm Records • Aaron Pillar and Christopher Crisci of the Appleseed Cast make up two thirds of Hundred Hands, with Pillar in charge of the vocal duties and producer Ed Rose behind the drum kit. Their sound is mellow, beautiful and emotional. In one word, melancholic.

lll Niño Revolution...Revolución Roadrunner Records • In the tradition of Puerto Rico's Puya and Brazil's Soulfly, Ill Niño blends elements of Latin music with some pretty heavy music. Lyrics are mostly in English, peppered with Spanish verses. The vocals switch effortlessly from melodic singing to Fear Factory style guttural screams. If you think that Latin music should be nowhere near metal, don't worry. The use of Latin instruments, such as Conga drums and Flamenco guitars, could be considered secondary. There is no doubt Revolution...Revolución is metal.

Inspection 12 In Recovery Honest Don's • Here are 12 tunes that you are gonna love. Poppy punk with smooth vocals and riffs so catchy that you'll need a lobotomy to get them out of your head. This disc starts off with a bang and never lets up through all twelve tunes. They sound like Nerf Herder or a smoothed out Screeching Weasel and I hope to hear more from them soon and often.

James Hunter Kick it Around Ruf Records • Here are 12 tunes that you are gonna love. Poppy punk with smooth vocals and Take a trip back to the 1950's with James Hunter, as he serenades you with his take on the R&B sound of that decade. Even though he's English, you'd never be able to tell from his voice, which could be compared with a young Ray Charles or a Sam Cooke. Tempos are mixed, from slow ballads ("Lover's Prayer"), to catchy up-tempo numbers ("Believe Me Baby").

Jersey Definition EP Fueled by Ramen • These guys have been rockin' out for over four years and were obviously raised on the classic rock sound of Aerosmith and the like. They have managed to combine punk and straight up rock and roll into a delicately balanced mix. This five-song EP is good stuff and I am looking forward to a full-length.

Joe Davis Hope Chest In Music We Trust • Who's this Joe Davis guy you ask? He's the lead singer of the Pinehurst Kids. So, is this some rocking Kids-esque affair, like Superchunk or the Get Up Kids after multiple lattes? No, on this solo effort, Joe's wearing his Elliott Smith, sensitive singer-songwriter hat. Fret not, gentle listener, the results are quite pleasing to the ears. The mellower, sparser arrangements allow his vocal melodies and lyrical content a chance to take center stage. Hope Chest is a nice change of pace for Davis.

Joshua The Teardrop Trio EP Does Everyone Stare? • With a more mellow approach than on previous releases, Joshua offers three tracks (totaling around 15 minutes) of melodic emopop. It's very creative material and you can tell the trio was really prepared for this recording session.

Judah Johnson Judah Johnson Flameshovel Records • Cure and Oasis fans unite! Judah Johnson is here! Their press release says they've been around for two years now. Where have they been?! Or, moreover, where have WE been? Like I said, this is custom-tailored for Cure and Oasis kids. Only six songs but this is all about quality, not quantity.

Karsh Kale Realize Six Degrees Records • Pronounced Kursh Kah-lay, KK is one of the US leaders of the Asian Massive movement and this is his debut release. The music on this disc is truly unique. It takes so many influences from genuine Indian folk music and combines them with Western sounds like trance, drum and bass, and hip-hop while demanding your attention. This really is a CD worth buying. If I was a feisty corporate-rock critic, I'd say Kale carves his own niche in pan-global music. But I'm a broke-ass college student, so I'm saying it's good for chilling out to.

Kayonne Riley The Prophet Said to Boo self-released • Kayonne, formerly of The Implications, is a local Orlando artist who offers sweet, smooth, cool, vibealicious vocals over bass-guitar-heavy, well-mixed electronic accompaniment. It's loopy, groove-driven music that creates a fantastically mellow atmosphere in any setting. Very good stuff.

Kill Your Idols Funeral for a Feeling Side One Dummy Records • It's hard to describe Kill Your Idols. On one hand, you have song structures that belong on anything released by Epitaph. On the other hand, you have hardcore-style, screamed vocals. Add some guitar solos and recurring melodic elements and you have this unique band.

Kolya Kolya Caulfield Records • Boston trio Kolya turns in what is almost a really damn good album. Instrumentally, the songs draw the listener in with a combination of melodic and dissonant guitar playing, and a solid rhythm section. The vocals, though earnest and impassioned, are weak at times. The spoken word passages work well, but the shouting takes away from the overall feel of some of the material. All in all, it's a promising debut.

Lady Bianca Rollin' Rooster Blues Records • "And now for something completely different..." What's that from anyway? Lady Bianca has been playing music for some time now. She has played with Van Morrison, Frank Zappa and John Lee Hooker to name just a few. She has a fantastic blues voice. She has a fantastic voice period. If you want to break away from that punk, ska and hardcore nonsense for an hour or so, check this out. This is stripped down blues with a down home sound.

Lazycame finbegin Hall of Records • For his first solo album, ex-Jesus and Mary Chain William Reid wanted to get things right, which is why it took him so long to get it out there. Well, here it is, and it's worth the wait. The name Lazycame is appropriate, since the songs are lazy, lo-fi songs with Reid singing in his best Bob Dylan/Lou Reid impersonation. He pulls it off, really. Forget traditional song structures, too. He tends to go off in musical tangents at any given time, exploring a note or a riff until he is happy with it. Particularly out of place is "Rokit," which employs a drum machine and other gloomy electronics.

Left My Disease Medea Records • Whoa. The inside cover of this CD is freaking spooky. Some dude looking like a zombie or something. I guess it's somewhat indicative of the sound ­ a grindcore disc through and through. There are a couple of faster, almost hardcore tunes but it's mostly slower and more deliberate. Tight music.

M. Ward End of Amnesia Cool Basement • Mmmm. This is some outstandingly dreamy acoustic guitar that's rooted deeply in the American folk tradition. It has a sound reminiscent of the timeless classics of Bob Dylan, but with a much more abstract purpose. There are unusual sounds playing along with the music that give it an otherworldly feel.

Malefaction Crush the Dream G7 Welcoming Committee • How do you fit 23 tracks into just over 25 minutes? By playing the fastest, nastiest kind of grindcore you can. Malefaction, by the way, is more than qualified, as is evidenced by Crush the Dream. It is very likely that this amazingly intense music will make your ears explode. Thankfully, the lyrics are printed for the listener's enjoyment.

Mariel Fragments of a Dream Aerial Sounds • Toss this into the Adult Contemporary pile along with artists such as Annie Lennox or Phil Collins. It's a solid recording and she has a great voice. The music is poppy with some nice, REM-ish guitar-work.

Martyr AD The Human Condition In Twelve Fractions Ferret Music • Take Pantera and put them about five years into the future. That's Martyr AD. The music is fast with huge hooks and breakdowns, the vocals are painfully gruff, but the sound has an almost progressive feel to it. I'm not talking Queensryche here, no way. It's just much more intricate than your standard thrashcore disc. Very tight and technical.

Matt Marque Get There Truckstop Records • For his debut album, Matt Marque enlisted the help of Glenn Kotche (Wilco, Lofty Pillars), Steve Dorocke (Central Falls) and Matt Scheider (TOE). Get There is a lo-fi affair, where Marque showcases his skill at writing pop songs. His voice is quite unique and somewhat high pitched, as if he's two days away from hitting puberty.

Melochrome Stay A Little Longer Loose Thread Recordings • Melochrome took a considerable longer amount of time to record this record than to record their debut album (8 months vs. 14 days!). They also changed their music a bit, lessening the effects and concentrating more on the instruments. Stay A Little Longer is a mellow record, even melancholic, with waves of keyboards, layered guitars and vocals by a guy and a girl (whom I didn't care for). Perfect for a rainy day.

Merrick An Album for Raymond Deafinit Records • The times they are a-changin', even if lame rock journalistic cliches aren't. Pop punk is now embraced by mainstream America, MTV, and millions of record buyers. Who'da thunk it? So, what's this gotta do with Merrick, you ask? Well, they are reminiscent of some of the pop punkers that've conquered the charts, like Green Day and Lit. But there's also a touch of early Jawbreaker that renders their tunes too thoughtful and evocative, virtually destroying any chance of mega-superstardom. Don't worry guys, there's still M2. (It's a complament, dammit!)

Mico Standing Inside A Shadow Does Everyone Stare? • This is a very guitar driven, straightforward rock album from an Indie band out of Calgary. These 11-tracks are packaged well but the vocals keep the disc from being strong. On "Hallyon Day" the band asks, "what is it from that everyone is trying to escape?" Tough question. The diverse influences of this band include The Smiths, Swervedriver and Dag Nasty.

Milemarker Anaesthetic Jade Tree • Originating out of Chapel Hill, N.C., this band mixes punk and hardcore with a new wave sound. Their fourth album is intense as they produce hardcore songs "without the typical hardcore instruments," mostly using keyboards, drum, bass and samplers. Three of the four members take turns with vocal duties; most distinctive is the "haunting" voice of Roby Newton. Her voice creeps up often through this 7-track trip, which has been labeled the "first evil-sounding, non-ironic new wave album you can dance to." This album starts chaotic and has a great groove to it. "Ant Architect" begins with a heavy bass line and vocal changes and only adds to the mystery of this disc.

Ming + FS The Human Condition Om Records • For their second full length release, DJ/producer duo Ming + FS blend plenty of electronica styles to energize just about anyone. Hip-Hop, electro, house, drum 'n' bass, two step and garage all share the spotlight. The one thing that characterizes every track is intensity. Plenty of artists appear as guest performers: Ada Dyer (vocals), Omri (beatbox), Macy Gray trumpeter Todd Simon (trumpet) and Hero Ric (vocals).

Mínus Jesus Christ Bobby Victory Records • From Iceland, the land that brought you Björk, comes Mínus, an extremely heavy hardcore band. Lead singer Krummi yells in a high pitched, distorted scream, which would not be out of place in a Dimmu Borgir album. Guitar riffs fly about with furious intensity as drum breaks pound you into submission.

Moviola Rumors of the Faithful Spirit of Orr Records • This unique pop-rock release is full of sincerity and emotion. The fifth album by this Ohio band is described as their "most realized, focused effort." Each member took turns writing the songs and they also traded instruments with one another during the recording sessions. Throughout this disc stories are told of real-life situations and real-life people. Vocal duties are also distributed throughout the band, and it works well. This disc is for times of relaxation and reflection.

Mumia Abu-Jamal 175 Progress Drive Alternative Tentacles Records • This is a 27-track compilation featuring an award winning journalist and respected radio reporter out of Philadelphia. Mumia was shot and arrested in 1981 and sentenced to the Pennsylvania Death Row for allegedly murdering a police officer. This disc consists of previously unreleased radio essays compiled by Prison Radio, poems and statements recited by Assata Shakur, Rubin Hurricane Carter and others. You'll also get discussions with young men and women who have faced harassment, have had friends murdered by police, interviews with school board officials and public housing residents. Also included are interviews by Mumia with the likes of Bob Marley and Jimmy Carter. Mumia's voice is firm; you can feel the cell walls breathing with each word he speaks. Three songs are included. Most notable is the "Mumia 911 (Rocks the World Mix)" which features a lengthy lineup which includes Pharoahe Monch, Zack de la Rocha, Dead Prez, Chuck D and Black Thought, to name a few.

Murphy's Law The Party's Over Artemis Records • I don't claim to know a lot about punk but even I have heard of Murphy's Law. They've been around forever, making a name for themselves in the early 80's hardcore punk scene. There are a couple of MAYBE radio-playable songs on here but it's mostly too punk and energetic to make it on the radio. Unfortunately. You're going to have to buy it to hear it. And you should.

Mushroomhead XX Eclipse Records • So I just got the new record from Slipknot...I mean, Mushroomhead. Sorry for the confusion, but these two bands share the whole "we're pissed off at the world and to show it, we're going to wear masks" thing. Actually, the comparison is hardly fair. If anything, they can be accused of bad timing, since they have been terrorizing Cleveland(!) since the early 90's. To be fair, Mushroomhead is far superior to Slipknot. They use two competent vocalists, and blend their intensely heavy sound with a little bit of techno and, unfortunately, rap. "The Wrist" may as well be a Faith No More track, perhaps a sequel to "Epic." Add keyboard riffs and Industrial references and you've got yourself a pretty talented group.

MxPx The Renaissance EP Fat Wreck Chords • The Renaissance EP is a gift from MxPx to its longtime fans. These nine songs are a throwback to their punk rock is even being released on Fat Wreck Chords, the undisputed kings of punk. Mike Herrera's voice is melodic on catchy numbers like "Lonesome Town" and angry in others like "Time Will Tell."

Nerf Herder My EP My Records • This short EP is full of melodic punk songs with funny lyrics. I can just see myself singing "I've got a Boner for Christmas" at the family reunion this holiday season. Or perhaps celebrating my favorite drinking hole with "The Sportsman Bar." "Bridge Under Troubled Water" and "Hotel California" play on the classic tunes without being cover songs.

No Innocent Victim Tipping The Scales Victory Records • I'm sure that the dudes from NIV will be appalled to see that a godless heathen has reviewed their most recent hardcore-for-Jesus release. I will admit that while the lyrics are a bit preachy, if you can get over that, this is some rockin' ass-whompin' music, a grinding assault of sonic dissonance that starts with the first power chord and does not let up until your eardrums are begging for mercy. This is good music.

OffYourself self-titled Fudge Sickill • Emotional intensity is a pervasive quality to this power-pop/punk band. They definitely have an unpolished sound, but for the kind of dirty, raw emotion they display, it's perfect. You can feel the energy that went into making it. The music has great melodic flow and a real honesty to it. This is a true voice of youth, independent music, and life.

Osker Idle Will Kill Epitaph Records • It's pretty amazing to know that Osker is composed of just two guys who mix punk with some power pop to create an energetic, engaging sound. They have apparently grown up a bit, leaving behind their ability to piss off everyone around them, as well as the thrashiness of their debut album.

Outline A Boy Can Dream Triple Crown Records • If you're not loving this within 10 seconds of the first song, you're a lost cause. The big guitars, the awesome melodies, tempo changes and powerful vocals all combine to make Outline a force to be reckoned with. They haven't created a new genre, but they are ready to show they're one of the best melodic hardcore/punk bands around, delivering a sound similar to Good Riddance, Grade, My Hotel Year and NOFX. These guys are undoubtedly an amazing live band and I can't wait to see them rock these tunes out live on stage.

Owls self-titled Jade Tree • Ah, the Kinsellas and company return in their latest musical incarnation, Owls. You may remember them from such bands as Cap'n Jazz and Joan of Arc. (The previous sentence is in honor of the late Troy McClure.) Fortunately, the pretension factor with Owls is considerably lower than the vast majority of the Joan of Arc catalog. The experimental tangents are more reigned in, the songs more coherent. The subdued set is almost country-ish at times, with Tim Kinsella's ragged vocals leading the way.

Pinehurst Kids Bleed It Dry Barbaric Records • Rock is alive and well. The Pinehurst Kids will make sure of it. Joe Davis is one of the best singer/songwriters out there. His vocals are awesome, lyrics are solid and the music is irresistible. With hints of bands like Crumb, Knapsack, Sunny Day Real Estate and Jimmy Eat World, the Pinehurst Kids could easily be called emo. But that's not the case. This is rock and roll. Sure, Joe belts out some emotional tunes, but the music pushes aside the emo drama and replaces it with rock attitude. This album is the band's third full length, definitely their best. This will hook you quicker than crack.

Pistol Grip The Shots From The Kalico Rose BYO Records • Here's more old-school punk for you. Influenced by The Clash, The Ramones and Bad Religion, this Los Angeles outfit is more in the street punk vibe. They touch on political and religious issues for all you uninformed kids out there.

Planes Mistaken For Stars Fuck With Fire No Idea • This band packs enough energy to clear a forest. Hopefully these Colorado rockers care too much about the environment to do such a thing. But the power is there, and that's what counts. Using mostly screamed vocals to push the music forward, PMFS really grabs the listener, hands around the throat, shaking rapidly. Yes, this stuff is intense enough to break your neck. "Rhythm Dies" (track seven) could take your head clean off. Duck and cover.

Pseudo Heroes Betraying Angry Thoughts Theologian Records • With his slightly smoky, just-got-over-the-flu-but-not-quite vocals, Sam Williams leads this trio through 13 melodic punk tunes, including a cover of Motorhead's "Iron Fist." The songs are full of energy and average at about two and a half minutes each, for a dose of get-to-the-point punk.

Qualm Preventing Explosion EP Not Bad Records • Hey, truth in labeling. It is, in fact, not bad. The first band that pops to mind when you hear Qualm is definitely Lagwagon. This is a tight band of four kids who play well and are obviously enjoying what they're doing. The pop-punk melodic influences of other bands are evident, but they are not just carbon copies. It would make me much happier if there were more than six songs on this really boss disc. But the songs that are there will make you glad you have ears.

Quasi The Sword of God Touch and Go Records • Pardon the oxymoron, but this is the most depressingly upbeat music I have ever heard. Let me explain. A casual listen will reveal nicely crafted pop songs, with hints of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Sam Coomes sings while playing his Roxichord (a variation of the Harpsichord) and Janet Weiss keeps the beat on the drums. Between the two of them they play almost all the instruments. However, a more careful listen to the lyrics unearths the anger held by Coomes toward many a topic, from the entertainment industry ("Fuck Hollywood") to Biotechnology ("Genetic Science"). This obvious juxtaposition of opposites is what makes The Sword of God, and Quasi in general, so interesting to listen to.

Red Martian Deny Authority self-released • This Seattle three-piece pops out tune after tune of socio/political punk rock. The music progression isn't astounding, but it's solid, melodic and full of angst. The lyrics are strong, using political commentary and social observation to guide the direction of each song. Musically I'd compare them to bands like the Angry Samoans or Dead Milkmen's punk stuff. The guitar parts are strong, the drumming is effective and the basslines are really thick and not lost in the mix.

Reducers SF Crappy Clubs and Smelly Pubs TKO Records • Some refer to this kind of blue collar punk as Pub-Punk, or Street Rock and Roll. Both terms are accurate, since these songs are gritty and aggressive, yet have a party attitude. Think of bands like Social Distortion, where the vocals are a little higher pitched.

Restraining Order Last Time You Took Me Back • This couldn't have come at a better time. I'm on review number 10 jillion and I need something fresh and simple -- kind of like drinking hot Sake to clear the palate. Enter Restraining Order. They're a rocking pop band, as they'll tell you, and they even dabble in some acoustic and ska stuff. They'd do well opening for Weezer.

Richie Hawtin DE9 | closer to the edit Novamute Records • Richie Hawtin (AKA Plastikman) is always pushing the envelope when it comes to his music, incorporating Roland 909 beats and other technologies into his live DJ sets. For DE9 | closer to the edit, he spliced and reassembled 31 tracks into 53 minutes of minimalist techno influenced by the Detroit sound. Using some of his own tracks, as well as tracks by Carl Craig, Theorem, Basic Channel, Sutekh and others, he creates the techno record. Only the essentials are there: a pounding beat, a groovy bass line, and a few effects.

Rilo Kiley Take Offs and Landings Barsuk Records • If you enjoy non-threatening, pop-influenced indie rock, Rilo Kiley is for you. Fronted by Jenny Lewis's beautiful voice, Rilo Kiley are not afraid to throw in country references into the tracks, like in "August," which also features a catchy, sing-along chorus.

Rival Schools United By Onelinedrawing split EP Some Records • This indie rock EP is a treat for fans as it features ex-Quicksand frontman Walter Schreifels and ex-Far frontman Jonah Matranga. This group is comprised of the bands Rival Schools and Onelinedrawing, and is a project strictly driven by the comradery between these musicians. A couple songs stand out here. "Be Real" is a floaty track with good riffs and the basement jam, "Take One For The Team" is what it's all about.

Robweoza Get Confident Stupid! self-released • I can't pronounce it either. Big deal. It's a funny name for a funny band. The music? Punk. The band? Fun. I keep seeing pop punk in their reviews but this is more like garage to me. Just raucous, loud and fun. No heavy topics here. Other than "Rage against the latrine" and "I am ugly," of course.

Rovo Imago Incidental Music • Originally released in Japan by Sony Japan, Rovo's debut album Imago turned a few heads with their blending of Rock, Trance and Techno. In fact, their motto is "Man-Driven Trance." Two drummers handle the explosive beats, while core members Yamamoto Seiichi and Katsui Yuji provide guitar and violin to the concoction. A revolving group of musicians handle the other instruments, ranging from synthesizers to wind instruments. The songs slowly put you in a trance, building you up, then bringing you back down. As they intended, Rovo are blurring the line between the analog and the digital, focusing just on the music.

Sanford Arms Too Loud for the Snowman Pattern 25 Records • Ben London (ex-Alcohol Funnycar) and friends spent about three years putting together this album. The slow process of recording is reflected by the slow tempo of these tracks. Mellow acoustic guitars and some strings accompany the keyboard effects and London's underemphasized voice.

Saves The Day Stay What You Are Vagrant Records • I've always thought that Saves the Day sounds a bit like Weezer. Now that Weezer is back in vogue, more people will know what I mean. They can be emo at times, and punk at others. They have matured a bit since their last album, Through Being Cool, so their fans may have to listen to Stay What You Are a few times for it to catch on. But don't worry, it will.

Scared Of Chaka Crossing With Switchblades Hopeless Records • This Albuquerque punk outfit has seven albums under their belt, all full of aggressive guitar assaults and gritty vocals. Their seventh, Crossing With Switchblades, is no exception. There is a garage quality sound, maybe a 1960's influence. There's even a cover of The Zombies' "It's Alright With Me." Forget Blink 182 and listen to some real punk, courtesy of Scared of Chaka.

Scott Tuma Hard Again Truckstop Records • Don't be fooled into thinking that you are listening to a drunken fool who has just picked up the guitar for his first time. True, that is the first impression of Hard Again. Dig a bit deeper and you will find a well-defined structure of layered instrumentation, at times augmented by Jim White's (Dirty Three) percussion work. His drumming is not unlike Storm and Stress' erratic free-form patterns. Overall, this is a mellow album, one to be listened and enjoyed with headphones.

Sean Croghan From Burnt Orange to Midnight Blue In Music We Trust • Croghan plays tunes that have a self-described "oft-desolate approach to angst and fear." They range from catchy pop to soul to combustible rock, and the lyrics are relatable to anyone that's ever lived with self-doubt, confusion, or pain.

Shady View Terrace/The Lawrence Arms split CD Asian Man • This was released a year ago on Castaway Records and quickly went out of print. Now it's back on Asian Man Records, and thankfully so. SVT delivers six tracks of their brand of hardcore, using sometimes-screaming-sometimes-singing vocals. They have a powerful, thick, energized, tempo-changing sound that is amped-up even more by the use of screaming vocals. The Lawrence Arms serves a wicked quintet of tunes that are sure to leave you awestruck. The vocals are gruff with one singer, somewhat Fifteen-like, and awkward with the other, somewhat Smoking Popes-like, while the music oozes melody and energy. You'll choke on their thick basslines and feel your blood pump harder with each drum pound. They're one of those bands you will fall in love with on the first listen, both musically and lyrically.

Shannon Wright Dyed in the Wool Quarterstick Records • On her previous two albums, Shannon Wright had played all instruments herself. This time around, she got herself a band, so she could concentrate more on the overall feeling of the record. Dyed in the Wool reminded me of both PJ Harvey and Fiona Apple. There is beauty in these songs, as well as an unsettling feeling brought on by the sometimes morbid lyrics.

Si*Sé self-titled Luaka Bop Records • Hailing from New York, Si*Sé is a collective of musicians who mix musical styles like a painter mixes colors to come up with a new shade. Centered on the vocals of sultry Carol C, who sounds like a cross between Sade and Dido, the songs blend downtempo electronica with Latin jazz, merengue, drum 'n bass, flamenco, reggae and rumba, just to name a few. This is a perfect album for the summer months, like a ray of sunshine that can be heard.

Sick Sense Out Of Sight Out Of Mind El Pocho Loco Records • Here's some basic punk. This is stripped-down but not old-school. It's like Green Day without the corporate production. They're a bit faster than the so-called punk of today as well. They have that piece of old-school in them. They kind of remind me of punk Suicidal Tendencies at times.

Sin In Space Asteroid Band self-released • This band's first release is full of basic, catchy rock songs with a touch of grunge guitar work. The lyrics are cool and the vocals sound like Weezer at first listen. This four piece from Santa Cruz, California, really turns it up throughout the disc, high and low tempo changes with a popish feel. "Hell Fire" starts mellow with the echoes of guitar strings and teases with anticipation before reaching its climax. "Goner" begins with a driving bass line and "Fly By Night" stands out as well.

Skycamefalling 10.21 Ferret Music • Do NOT let the opening track fool you. And don't go from #1 to #5 to #10 (I don't know why you would) or you'll miss the whole point. I thought this was going to be some art house "musiscape" crap after I heard the first cut, but this is intense hardcore. There's nothing new age about this. Not by a long shot. Skycamefalling has shared the stage with Sick of It All, Juliana Theory and Dillenger Escape Plan to name but a few. Really meaty hooks on this one.

Snuff Blue Gravy: Phase 9 Fat Wreck Chords • Snuff is the only Punk band that I have ever heard that can have horns and keyboards and doesn't sound like a ska band, because they don't overuse those instruments. Their music is indisputably just has a little Blues tinge to it. This EP includes new versions of "Ichola Buddha" and "Night of the Li's," and well as two live tracks, "Caught in Session" and "Ecstasy."

Soulfarm Scream of the Crop Desert Rock Records • After smartly changing their name from the boy-band-sounding Inasense, Soulfarm focused their musical style away from the jam band mentality. It would be hard to pigeonhole them into one genre, though their sound leans heavily toward folk-rock. Country, pop, flamenco and Middle Eastern styles are all part of their repertoire.

Sparechange00 Fifty thousand Moments Cargo Music • Combining elements of power pop, emo and punk into their sound, Sparechange00 create a catchy-as-hell sound, particularly the choruses, where the melodies soar. Unfortunately, it clocks in at just over 18 minutes, which left me wanting more.

Spyglass Strategies for the Stranded Pattern 25 Records • Barbara Trentalange's sexy and sultry vocals are backed up by a densely layered sound consisting mostly of reverbed guitars, steady drums, flowing bass lines and the occasional trumpet and organ. The opening track "This Heaven" has a Calexico feel to it, minus the southwestern vibe. This feeling comes and goes throughout the album.

Squarepusher My Red Hot Car Warp Records • At the same time that Squarepusher's long awaited Go Plastic hits the streets, the first single from that album, My Red Hot Car, will also be released. This Two-Step Garage tune is quite catchy, with a bouncy beat and Drum 'N Bass snare rush snipets. Is that mellow, unthreatening computer altered voice saying "I'm going to fuck you with my red hot car?" The remix is a bit more of the Squarepusher you have come to know and love, more schizophrenic in the beat department and low on the vocals. Two other songs finish off the album (plus one hidden track). "Hardcore Obelisk" is more of an atmosphere than a song, with layers of sound washing over you to a relaxing effect. "I Wish You Obelisk" is the most erratic track on the EP, with what sound like incomprehensible vocal manipulations and waves of gentle noise in the background.

Super Chickan Shoot that Thang Rooster Blues Records • Apparently, Super Chickan's name comes from his preoccupation with chickens as a youngster, growing up in Darling Mississippi. I suspect it is also responsible for his poor spelling. He has been playing the Blues forever, but only recently dedicated himself to music full time. Though he writes solid Blues songs, he flirts with other styles, including Country and Boogie Woogie. Fortunately, not all his songs are about pain and suffering, but instead can be quite entertaining.

Tara Jane O'Neil In The Sun Lines Quarterstick Records • Tara Jane O'Neil's past gigs included stints with Rodan, the Sonora Pine and Retsin. As a solo artist, her songs take a more personal feeling. Even though they were recorded in a ballroom, In The Sun Lines sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom, not lo-fi, just more intimate. The slow tempo lends itself to the melancholic tone of the album, where drums are scarcely present.

Tension Wire Explicits Seymour Records • Tension Wire's debut features ten songs of uncompromising melodic punk rock. The guitars have a bit more low end than other bands, and the singer, although melodic, sounds like he might explode into screams at any time. Both qualities give this trio an edge that sets it apart from the rest.

The Beach Machine Companion self-released • These are guys that obviously love to experiment, and to a startlingly great degree. They are sonic wizards, and create moods in their music that at times remind me of Pink Floyd. Every piece is unique and has a character all its own. Wonderfully inventive.

The Beautys Thing of Beauty Cheetah Records • The Beautys combine elements from styles such as rockabilly, surf, ska, punk and rock and roll, wrapped in a 60's sound. Kathleen fronts the band, sounding a bit like Blondie's Debby Harrie. The songs are short, with 13 tracks in 23 minutes.

The Bicycle Thief You Come and Go Like a Pop Song Artemis Recordings • Bob Forrest formed the Bicycle Thief eight years after leaving post-punk legends Thelonious Monster. His music often deals with drug abuse, as he battles addiction himself and tries to remain sober. He sounds similar to Elvis Costello at times, as acoustic guitars back his emotional singing. He can follow a ballad with a foot-stompin' rocker without awkwardness or breaking continuity. You Come and Go Like a Pop Song is worth checking out.

The Business No Mercy For You Burning Heart Records • Since 1983, The Business have been attacking the system with powerful punk, hardcore and Oi for the working class. Songs like "Guinness Boys" sound like they were meant to be sung out loud at a bar with a beer in one hand. Others, like "Steal this Record," are clearly meant to upset those in positions of authority.

The Clean Getaway Merge Records • This is a pop-rock, feel-good album. Trippy instrument sounds come from all angles and provide an emotional backdrop throughout the disc. This band from New Zealand at times sounds like Beck, the Velvet Underground and early Smashing Pumpkins. Vocal duties are split up among the three members and sound very smooth and loose. Getaway was conceived by numerous jam sessions and rehearsals. The band members had no new material or ideas for the album, the music just found a life of its own. Instrumental tracks are included here alongside notables such as the intro track "Stars" and "Reprise 1,2,3,&4."

The Color Guard self-titled EP Suziblade Music • Beautiful tunes with just enough energy to make them have a rock-edge pour forth on this five-song, debut release. Each track varies, showcasing the quartet's various creative pop rock abilities. The melodies are constant, using at-times-jangly guitar parts. There are many sounds you could compare them to, from Heavenly to Throwing Muses to The Breeders.

The Dirtmitts self-titled Sonic Unyon Records • I love bands fronted by females that can sing. Too many bands out there have crappy lead singers with annoying voices. Fortunately, Natasha Thirsk's vocals were given the attention they deserve during the recording process, because she sounds amazing. Her voice is perfect for Power Pop, and even more suited for The Dirtmitts. Lesser singers would be overshadowed by the wall of sound provided by guitarist Dallas Kruszelnicki, bassist Jen Dean and drummer Jason Lajeneuse. If you like songs with melodic vocals and choruses, but like your guitars full of power, check out the Dirtmitts.

The Droo Church In a Pasture Built For Lovers Hall of Records • Combining elements of punk, classic rock and country, The Droo Church offers up 10 tracks of high octane rock and roll. The jangly aspects are really nice, often giving way to a bigger punch of rock intensity. The album was produced by Kurt Bloch (Nashville Pussy, Zeke, Kent 3). Put on your seat belt 'cause you're in for one hell of a ride.

The Dropscience Experimenting with Contrast Happy Couples Never Last Records • The subtitle of this debut by San Diego based The Dropscience is "an audio interpretation of color, light & space." Their music is a bit on the experimental side, but not unlistenably so. Fans of Fugazi and Jawbox should feel right at home listening to Experimenting with Contrast. The swirling layers of guitars and raw vocals made me feel like I was on the edge of a cliff...and I'm loving every minute of it.

The East Bay Chasers selt-titled Industrial Strength Records • Fans of 1980's street punk will definitely enjoy this record. Aggressive guitars and even more aggressive vocals are standard on his self titled release by The East Bay Chasers. They have thrown a bit of rock and roll into the songs for an added edge.

The Elevator Division Movement Department Records • A little emo never hurt anyone, right? Maybe that's why The Elevator Division incorporates characteristics of emo into their sound. Some songs tend to build and build momentum until reaching a climax in the chorus. Others are slow, mellow numbers with emotional lyrics.

The Facet Adult Comedy Not Bad Records • This Denver crew has been punk-rocking out for over six years. Their experience shows on their latest full-length release. They have a beer-influenced snottiness that really energizes the album. There are great sing-a-long choruses, effectively used horn parts and awesome tempo changes to get your attention, as well. There are some hardcore elements woven throughout, adding even more of a powerful punch.

The Foamers Six Pints None The Wiser Tent City Records • Yep. Just as the title would lead you to believe ­ this is loose-lipped, old-school punk. They start off with the rousing "Shithole" and move onto songs like "You Stink" and "I Want Beer." Oi! Buy this and drink some beers! Oi!

The Hissyfits Letters From Frank Top Quality Rock and Roll • This all female trio specialize in pop-punk songs with distorted guitars, somewhat similar to Me First. They all take turns at the microphone, and fill their music with harmonies. The songs are well crafted and will keep your head bobbing up and down for about 45 minutes.

The Impossibles Brick Bomb EP Fueled by Ramen • Can there be such a thing as mellow, easy-listening punk? I thing that these guys have invented a new genre. While I would not expect to hear it in the lobby of the dentist's office, this is a good disc that slows punk down a bit and adds a different feel to the music. There are only four songs on this EP, and track two seems to fall into the straight punk category while the other 3 tracks are well done and offer something new and interesting to list to.

The Ivory Coast Clouds Polyvinyl Records • The indie rock on this release is great. A 10-track jam session brought to disc after the band's latest Northeast U.S. tour came to an end. With high and low tempo changes, synthesizer, and clawing guitar work, this Boston based group has put together a complete collection of songs. A good example is "Sixty-Five Percent," with nice melodies, lyrics and anticipation. "Traveler" and the nearly fifteen minute "There Will Be Clouds" also stand out. This disc has some of the energy you would find at a live show and the drum work balances the up and down sound of the band.

The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up It's Winter Here Absolutely Kosher Records • The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up knows how to express sadness. The eight songs on It's Winter Here are full of it. Whether Paul Gozenbach sings or not, you can sense the depressed attitude that must have permeated the studio while the recording took place. Most songs are slow, with beautiful guitar work and a slow, steady beat. When Gozenbach does sing, your hairs will stand on end.

The Ladderback Introductions To Departure Bifocal Media • Emocore here. It takes a bit to build but it's not bad once they get going. They're a bit more experimental than a lot of the stuff out there right now. Like there are any emocore bands "out there." Sorry, I forgot that radio sucks for just a second. Anyway, this is interesting. It will grow on you.

The Nerve Agents The Butterfly Collection Hellcat Records • Formed from the remnants of Bay Area hardcore bands Bay 87, Model American, Rely and Fury 66, The Nerve Agents combine their past to create an aggressive, potent brand of punk rock, not unlike Minor Threat or Black Flag. Check out their cover of Cat Steven's "But I Might Die Tonight."

The Standard The Standard Barbaric Records • The Standard serves as a reference to guitar-based "alternative" rock of the past 20 years. Elements of the Pixies, Nirvana, Built to Spill, and others appear throughout this record. To top it all off, the vocals bear an uncanny resemblance to Geddy Lee of Rush fame. I know, it sounds unnerving, but it really isn't. There is a very immediate and familiar feel to these songs. It's like a good album that just disappeared and you haven't listened to in a while. You should quit loaning CD's to your friends; they never return 'em in a timely fashion.

The Swords Project self-titled Absolutely Kosher Records • The Swords Project's CD is so melodic and atmospheric, that it is hard to believe they have seven members. However, they create their lush, mostly instrumental beauty with many guitars, bass, two drummers, piano, violin, clarinet, melodica and electronics. Think of Tristeza, the Letter E, or Godspeed You Black Emperor. The songs feel like they bleed into one another, quickly sending you into a trance.

The Tank Demonstrating Potential EP Does Everyone Stare? • Doggonit, I really like this disc. This is catchy pop that has sweet harmonies and a really good sound. They are somewhat reminiscent of Sloppy Seconds, but more polished and not as hard. This is music that you would definitely hear on the radio. Not shitty radio; good radio. It will be interesting to see if they can keep up this good song writing to fill an entire album. This EP is a good beginning.

The Trans Megetti Fading Left to Completely On Gern Blandsten Records • Drive Like Jehu, the Stooges, The Lapse. These groups come to mind when listening to The Trans Megetti. Fading Left to Completely On is uncompromising post hardcore that totally rocks out. I dare you to listen to this without throwing your fists in the air!

The Unseen The Anger and the Truth BYO Records • Here are 12 old school hard-hitting punk songs that come from Boston. These guys play it fast and hard and goddammit, this is what punk rock is all about. I'll tell you one more thing, you ain't never seen cool-ass hair like you seen on these guys. Buy it for the hair - keep it for the music.

The Wanna-Bes self-titled Lookout Records • So many bands say that they are not clones of other bands. I say bullshit. Be a clone, but at least imitate a good band. These guys did. They have that super-cool Lookout! Records sound shared by the Queers, Screeching Weasel and other superior bands. The Wanna-Bes definitely don't take themselves too seriously with funny tunes like "Dropped on My Head" and "This Party Sucks," you will be hard pressed to find anything that you don't like about this CD.

Thrall Hung Like God Reptilian Records • These guys are definitely going to hell. Led by The God Bullies' Mike Hard on vocals, they desecrate all that is holy. The cover art alone should get a century or two of torment in Purgatory! Hard's vocals lie somewhere between Peter Steele of Type O Negative and Fuckemos's R'SS'LL, a low growl sounds hurt, like what you imagine a pedophile would sound like. Don't think this is some kind of Death Metal though. The music is strangely slow, acting more as background for Hard's diatribes than anything else.

Three Summers Gone Time Well Spent Substandard Records •Frankly, I'm just not an emo guy, but I'll try anything once. This CD has great cover art by the way, which really does give it a sincere feel upon first impression. The lyrics are mostly indistinguishable, which makes the listener concentrate more on the original song structure. If you like Samiam, Jawbreaker or The Descendents, give this a whirl. I appreciate this band's approach to punk and you might too.

Thumb "3" Victory Records • Forget that weak radio crap offered by such mediocre groups as Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and Papa Roach. Thumb embraces a similar genre, combining metal/hardcore elements with a hip-hop aspect. But Thumb is good at it. Hell, Thumb is great at it and has been doing it for nearly a decade, one of the most popular bands of its kind in Germany. It features ex-pro skater Claus Grabke on vocals. (Yes, that's Grabke who competed for 22 years, from the late '70s to late '90s.) His vocals are perfect, angry enough but also well-sung and heartfelt. The music is heavy, using really huge guitar riffs with noisier parts and fantastic basslines. The drumbeats are equally potent, pounding forward with great time and tempo changes, interacting well with the sporadic, but effective, use of turntables. This album will pierce your soul and drain you.

Thunderball Scorpio Rising Eighteenth Street Lounge Music • Thunderball members Sid Barcelona and Steve Raskin are obsessed with the '60s and '70s. Their love for all things from those decades was quite apparent in their 1999 release, Ambassadors of Style. Not ones to fix that which is not broken, they stick to the recipe with their latest, Scorpio Rising. Adeptly mixing drum 'n bass, bossa nova, dub and a hint of jazz, they create what could be described as a futuristic soundtrack to a '70s film.

Tight Bro's From Way Back When Lend You A Hand Kill Rock Stars • Now this is what I call rock and roll. Three bands leapt to my mind while listening to Lend You A Hand: AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Delta 72. Lead singer Jared sounds a lot like AC/DC's Bon Scott, while the double guitar attack from Dave and Quitty give them an oomph found in Led Zeppelin. Finally, they have plenty of "whoo's" and "yeah's" at high pitch that reminds of the Delta 72's best overmodulated moments.

Time Spent Driving Walls Between Us EP Sessions Records • Time Spent Driving jumped out at me almost immediately, perhaps because I do much of my best thinking behind the wheel of a car. There's something very natural about driving around, listening to music really loud, and pondering life's little mysteries. This EP is the soundtrack to that drive. Their emo/indie rock style is conducive to speeding down narrow, winding back roads with stunning scenery and making important decisions about your future. Fans of the Deep Elm and Jade Tree families of artists will be fighting one another in the streets for this record.

Tribal Lust and the Horny Natives 56 Times in 81 Seconds El Pocho Loco Records • I was pleasantly surprised with this CD. It has tons of energy, and plenty of genres are blended. Lead singer Anthony Sancho sounds like an 80 year old Blues singer, growling through Funk, Ska, Swing, Punk, Rock, Country, even Norteña, a Mexican musical style, all in 16 tracks. Some of these songs sound like very old Chili Peppers, back when they still put socks on their dicks. There's also a Fishbone influence, as they have horns in songs that are nowhere near Ska. While Ice-T ultimately took "Cop Killer" off of his Body Count record, Tribal Lust rescues it from oblivion and gives it a Metal workover.

Tricky Woo Les Sables Magiques Tee Pee Records • A very aggressive rock album with doses of blues and funk. Sounding at times like Led Zeppelin and the Black Crowes with a touch of Lenny Kravitz, this three-piece band pushes their instruments to the edge. This disc flows from beginning to end and includes two instrumentals that give you a chance to catch your breath. Raw guitar licks and steady percussion help drive this album and bring back the old rock-n-roll feel.

Truth Universal Plantation Graffiti ­ The Naked Truth Dressed to Kill self-released • The thing that first caught my attention with this New Orleans hip-hop release was the excellent DJ skills. The scratching is fantastic and well-used, dancing cuts across the tracks and keeping the listener bouncing to the funktified beats. Once you absorb the dope wax-work, you'll notice that the rhyming skills are on point as well. The lyrics are intelligent, with amazing flows of enlightment that dance from the CD to the speakers to your brain. This is an impressive indie hip-hop release.

TSOL Disappear Nitro Records • This CD would be more appropriately titled Reappear. After being MIA for a few years, TSOL, the real TSOL, is back. After original singer Jack Grisham departed the band, TSOL started playing regular Rock music. Then they faded into oblivion. Now he's back, and they are playing punk music again. His voice is like an angry Joey Ramone crossed with Johnny Rotten. These songs are pure Punk, thanks to Ron Emory's guitar work and Mike Roche's beefy bass lines. Newcomer Jay O'Brien rounds out the sound with precise drumming. Their sound remains a bit raw, unlike the current crop of Polished Punk that has taken over.

Twleve Hour Turn Twelve Hour Turn No Idea Records • You've got four emocore songs on here. The first and third cuts are a little more aggressive while the second and last are slower and more experimental. The last one is anyway. They're pretty good but it's hard to get a good feel from four tunes, you know? A nice little taste though.

Unitas Porch Life No Idea Records • These guys from Gainesville, featuring current members of Hot Water Music & X-Discount, play punk rock with a southern rock feeling. The eleven songs that make up Porch Life aren't all fast, but the ones that are kick some serious ass.

Ursula Rucker Supa Sista !K7 Records • What makes music beautiful is the interplay of the instruments and the human voice. Nowhere is that more true than on Ursula Rucker's Supa Sista. Her inspired spoken word passages mix well with jazz, hip-hop, blues and drum 'n' bass, resulting in a smooth album with a Philly sound.

Useless ID Bad Story, Happy Ending Kung Fu Records • These dudes hail from Israel. Who knew that those wacky Israelis could do an almost perfect cover of Green Day. This is a pretty good disc, though I am hard pressed to find anything that makes it stand out of the crowd of CDs that fill my mailbox eagerly awaiting reviewing. It has 15 tasty pop-punk songs that will certainly make you happy.

Utah! Zoo Sounds and Destructovision Arborvitae Records • There is a growing number of bands who specialize in beautifully arranged, somewhat experimental post-indie rock with plenty of guitar-string plucking and changing time structures. Such bands like The Mercury Program, Volta do Mar and Dianogah now have Utah! for company. I was not a big fan of the vocalist's sometime off-key singing, but the music more than compensates for this.

Various Artists Alpha Motherfuckers: A Tribute to Turbonegro Hopeless Records • It would be impossible to measure the influence that Turbonegro has had on the musical landscape. However, it is known that they had a direct influence on the 26 bands featured on this tribute album. Bands like Nashville Pussy, Satyricon, Scared of Chaka, Queens of the Stone Age, Hot Water Music, Ratos De Porao and the Dwarves, just to name a few. All tracks on the CD have never been released and the booklet has comments from each band as well as an essay from Hank Herzog van Helvete, a dedication of sorts to the bands that participated in the record.

Various Artists Bits & Pieces Theologian Records • If you are a hardcore Pennywise fan, you definitely want to get this compilation, since their track "Tomorrow" is featured here. That song has only appeared in another comp called "Soul Arch," and only 5000 copies were printed. Aside from Pennywise, 15 other punk bands contribute tracks, like Pseudo Heroes, Homemade, Dead Tree, Sugar Britches, Fishsticks and Out of Order. 98 Mute, the Deviates, The Shutdowns and Cigar are some of the bands that contribute unreleased tracks.

Various Artists Brazilified Quango / Palm Pictures • This is really the perfect time for Brazilified. Growing interest in Brazilian music, as well as electronica makes a combination of the two genres inevitable and welcome. Featured are the smooth sounds of Jazzanova, Da Lata, Swell Session, Nova Frontera, Trüby Trio and Arsenal, just to name a few. All the tracks are decidedly Brazilian, with the electronica characteristics tempered down.

Various Artists Jah Warrior Showcase Vol. 2 Patate Records • Steve Mosco (Jah Warrior) has been involved in the Reggae and Dub scene since the mid 80's. His well received Jah Warrior Showcase Vol. 1 prompted a second offering, this time with six Jamaican vocalists, including Prince Alla, Earl Sixteen, Anthony Johnson and Prezident Brown, each performing original songs. Each track is present in its original version, as well as in a Dub remix.

Various Artists Living Tomorrow Today: A Benefit for Ty Cambra Asian Man • Coming out on one of the most proactive labels around, this compilation's proceeds are all going to benefit a young boy with the yet incurable disease "Lorezno's Oil Disease." So, regardless of content or quality, this is a commendable release. But let's not disregard this awesome collection of bands. The 21-track CD features mostly unreleased/rare tracks by such greats as Sig Transit Gloria, The Blue Meanies, Alkaline Trio, Hot Water Music, Face To Face, Tuesday and many more. The song selection is superb and Julie (the girl who put it together) deserves a zillion pats on the back for the effort and the cause. Get this, even if you hate all the bands on it. (But that's highly unlikely!)

Various Artists Mystic Groove Quango • Those of you not hip to the Asian Massive scene should really check this disc out. Ten tracks from the last six years by the likes of Thievery Corporation, dZihan & Kamien and Radar, plus a Talvin Singh remix. In a nutshell, this sounds like UK trip-hop with Arabic/Eastern samples thrown on top of it but really, this CD kicks it pretty laid-back, fo' real d'oh. Not for nothing, if you see this comp in a store, give it a listen ­ it's worth your time.

Various Artists Roots of Dub Funk Tanty Records • 12 tracks of speaker-busting Dub. An international cast of producers, including Technician (Australia), Messian Dread (Netherlands), Alpha and Omega (England) and Dubware (Italy), many of whom have recorded with the Dub Funk Association, which has four tracks featured here. Some tracks are brand new, some are reworkings of older tunes, all feature heavy bass lines. Two tracks stand out: Dub Funk Association's "Natty Dread Kung Fu" and "The Return of Sleng" by the Interruptor. "...Kung Fu" is a mid-tempo Breakbeat number with tons of kung fu audio snippets, while "...Sleng" is a jumpy Jungle beat rework of the classic '80s SLENG TENG riddim. Even though they don't fit in with the usually laid back Dub style, it shows that these musicians are not afraid to experiment with different styles.

Various Artists Sound Spirit Fury Fire Sampler No. 3 Deep Elm Records • Indie rock label Deep Elm started in 1996, and from the beginning, they knew they had something special. Now, with nearly sixty releases in their catalog, they still do things their way, free from music industry pressure. Thanks to that independent spirit, they have managed to release albums by some of the best punk/hardcore/emo bands out there. They celebrate this fact with this compilation, where bands like The Appleseed Cast, Camber, Planes Mistaken for Stars and Five Eight can showcase their talent and songs, which are always full of emotion.

Various Artists Sundays Vol. 1 Nude Recordings • After a long night of partying, you probably want to slow down and relax with some downtempo tunes. Sundays Vol. 1 is the perfect CD for doing so. 12 tracks of soothingly slow beats by four artists from the Nude Recordings roster: E.D. Swankz, Gavin Froome, Telefuzz and the Verbrilli Sound. Metalhedz members Hidden Agenda and Nude's own Jaffa also contribute remixes to this compilation.

Various Artists Sweet Emotion: Songs of Aerosmith Heavy Hip Mama Music Company • The folks over at Heavy Hip Mama would like to recognize the influence that the Blues have had on Rock and Roll, and in this case Aerosmith. For that reason, 13 tracks from Aerosmith's 21 album history were re-recorded with a heavy Blues sound. Old tunes like "Train Kept a Rollin'" as well as newer ones like "Cryin'" are here, plus classics like "Walk this Way" and "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)." I'm no Aerosmith fan, but I found myself enjoying this album a lot, if only because the songs sound almost nothing like the originals, but rather as bona fide Blues songs.

Various Artists The Anticon Giga Single Anticon • This compilation takes hip-hop to another place. Beats sound low budget, gritty and dark, using treble, horns and anything that makes a sound. The lyrics are included inside the sleeve and supply plenty of issues for the mind. The styles from each artist vary from mellow and smooth to an aggressive kind of delivery. With 17 tracks, written words and freestyles, it's hard to pick out the solid tracks, because more than a few stand out. "Pen Thief" by Buck 65, "Silence (Poor Me Part 7)" by Sole and "Inherited Scars" by Sage Francis are a handful early on. "Watching Water" by Alias and "ADD" by Sole and Dose continue the list, the latter uses an electric cello that chisels its way inside of you. This experiment is unlike anything I've ever heard.

Various Artists The Silence In My Heart ­ The Emo Diaries Chapter VI Deep Elm • With the sixth installment of The Emo Diaries, Deep Elm releases some of the best, lesser-known emo bands in the world. The compilation is successful in offering up 12 tracks (one by each band) of emo, but the styles vary greatly. And the bands' roots vary greatly, with acts hailing from the U.S., Sweden, Italy, Canada, Japan and England. Some of my favorites are Southpaw's melodic, emorock, opening track "Hub"; Benton Falls' "Tell Him", a beautiful pop song of emotional weight with sentimental lyrics; Italy's Hangin' On A Thread's "Flavour," an intense track with creative use of electronic tweaking and heavy guitar work. While some tracks aren't groundbreaking, for the most part this is an exemplary release.

Various Artists Warped Tour 2001 Compilation Side One Dummy • Unless you live under a rock, you know that the Warped tour has become quite a popular tour. Punk bands from all over grace the stage and ignite the crowd. Those that couldn't go this year, and even those who did, should run out and score this baby. It's 26 tracks are all either previously unreleased or hard to find tracks from Rancid, AFI, H2O, The Vandals, Buck-O-Nine, Sum 41, Flogging Molly, Swingin' Utters, New Found Glory and Anti-Flag, just to name a few.

Viza-Noir self-titled Flameshovel Records • With songs that develop from one or two repeating guitar chords, Viza-Noir shred through 6 songs in about 23 minutes. "The Pelt Room," the only instrumental track on the disc, leans toward math rock, while "Pool of Flame" reminds of Landspeedrecord's off-kilter playing.

Walter Trout & the Radicals Go the Distance Ruf Records • After incessant touring and the release of the live recording double CD Live Trout, Walter Trout & the Radicals come back swinging with Go the Distance. Trout is an accomplished guitar player, having been involved in the Blues scene for decades. His talent is evident on these 13 tracks, from the fun, party destined "Outta Control," to the somber homage to a fallen Vietnam buddy, "Bugle Billie."

Water Rat Experiment self-titled EP self-released • While the recording on this self-released, four-song EP isn't very good, it doesn't prevent the solid punkcore tunes from really rocking out. If this were on vinyl, it would be perfect. But CDs are so damn cheap to produce, I can't blame the band. The tunes are fast paced, have a really strong energy and a political bent to the lyrics. For a debut, the packaging is really creative, with the CD in a fabric, hand-screened sleeve and a booklet inside. The future looks bright...

Welt Brand New Dream BYO Records • Please don't screw it up, please don't screw it up...PHEW! I'm referring to the name Welt. What a great name for a band. Bravo! I was afraid the name would be better than the music but it ain't. This is straight-ahead punk. Not the radio stuff of today. Though they've shared the stage with Blink, Less Than Jake, MXPX and NOFX, they're making a name for themselves in the Orange County, CA scene and deserve to be heard on this coast as well. Really tight, really listenable punk.

Windfall Loud with the Windows Open so the Neighbors can Hear Smorgasbord Records • It's been a couple of years since Windfall released their six song EP Awaken, and I'm happy they're back. Lead singer Jennifer sounds amazing, capable of singing like No Doubt's Gwen Stefani one minute, and like Kittie's Morgan Lander the next. The songs are energetic, with buzzing guitars and pounding drums.

Yesterday's Kids Everything Used To Be Better EP Lookout!/Panic Button • Here is an all too short 8-song EP from a band which will make you want to hear more. This starts off sounding like a smooth sweet pop-punk disc, which it is, but it evolves slowly and gets a little crunchier as it progresses, until all too soon it is over.

Zeni Geva 10,000 Light Years Neurot Recordings • 10,000 Light Years is Zeni Geva's twelfth album, and it seems that time has not mellowed them a bit. This mostly instrumental recording is full of repetitive metallic crunches and anxious riffs, sparsely including death metal style vocals. Similarities to Turing Machine and the Victoria Principle are evident in the hyperactive guitar work.


Ace Lover 12" Marcion Records • Ace Lover drops three tracks on this 12" with clean vocals and instrumental versions. He has guests in each track: Uncle Paulie, Flaco Navaja and the Writer's Guild. "Weed Spots" is yet another story about pot. "The Way It Is" has a cool Caribbean rhythm and vocals that sound like Puerto Rican rapper Vico-C. "Classic Character" has a mellow beat and a cool guitar sample.

Grand Agent Every Five Minutes 12" Groove Attack • This two-track 12" opens with a quickness, delivering a bumpin' hip-hop tune using a great loop and a non-stop rhyme flow. It's got a really jazzy feel to it that I totally love. Kut Masta Kurt gets big props for his work on the track. So how do you best KMK's work? You get the legendary Lord Finesse to work the flip side cut "Know the Legend." Lord Finesse uses a more simplified sound, with a solid beat and awesome samples that pop in and out, enhancing every moment.

INDK In Decay 7" Tent City Records • Chomp down on this slab of hyperactive punk rock. It's loaded with aggression and attitude, two must-have aspects to a truly slammin' piece of punk vinyl. Factor in the socio/political lyrics, amazing melodies that really grab your attention and the bargain price of $1/track ($4 for this four-song 7") and you've got a fantastic release.

Psychotic Reaction Red Alert 7" PsychoBubblegum Records • For four years, PR has been tearing shit up with their early '80 influenced punk sound. Each song is a rapid fire assault with similarities to such bands as Black Flag and The Angry Samoans. There are four tracks on this release, including a cover of the UK Subs' "Warhead." It¹'s not a new sound or a spectacular release, but it's a solid display of the band's punk abilities.

Red Martian Little Hopes 7" self-released • "Little Hopes" is a mostly-electronic track that I can't really figure out. It sounds like someone hoped onto a Mac and went about creating an uninspiring, moody tune. I'm not a big fan of this kind of stuff and had expected this to be more punk rock, given the band's previous material I've heard. The B-side song, "Observer," is a little more interesting, making us of arcade game-like sounds and a more creative sound. As a side note, this is the thickest/heaviest 7" I've ever seen.

Sakinah Nabi Projects to Pyramids 12" Marcion Records • Wow, this is a surprise. I wasn't expecting much from this 12". No particular reason, I just wasn't. But "Projects to Pyramids" is a fantastic hip-hop track with creative, original and dope-as-hell music fronted by female MC Sakinah Nabi who rips shit up with a vocal attack that backs down for no one. The cut bounces along infectiously, with an amazing bassline. "Hush" on the B-side gets another big "wow" as it is equally impressive, a little spooky and funked up at the same time. The thing that stands out most on this record is how damn good the music is accompanying Sakinah's very solid rhyme skills. Don't sleep on this.

The Black Heart Procession Between the Machines b/w After the Ladder 7" Suicide Squeeze Records • A depressing piano line starts off "Between the Machines," followed by Pall Jenkins's stark vocals. The tone of the song remains somber, as is often the case with the Black Heart Procession. "After the Ladder" is a little more upbeat, but still they manage to make it sound melancholic.

Three Years Down Sneakin' In/Live Wire 7" 702 Records • 'Sneakin' In" is a track about sneaking into a Kiss concert while the flip side is an AC/DC cover. Both of those bands suit the style of TYD. They play hard rock and roll free of frills or punk rock attitude. It's simply big guitars, a driving beat and vocals that are neither heartfelt nor emo. If you like a lot of rock with your roll, look no further. (Bonus trivia: Includes former members of Filth, the Wynona Riders, the Tantrums and more. These guys have been around.)

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

Aviso'hara Our Lady of the Highway Vital Cog Records • Described as "noise with a pop element," this indie rock album contains 11 tracks layered with distorted tempo changes, well-balanced vocals and great instrumentation. Each song and instrument stands on its own and the album really flows well. The opening track begins "in full two-minute sonic boom form" and drops into "Bradley, Wake Up," about playing in a band and paying your dues the hard way. The rest of this disc touches on failure, fragile egos and co-dependency. The album is named after a roadside attraction off of I-95 in Maryland and is solid from beginning to end. self-titled Medea Records • "Daddy," the first track on this album, starts off with a sped up Trance beat, and Melissa Emily's sweet vocals above. Perhaps this track is intended to scare off those who disapprove of heavy rock and electronica's recent marriage. They turn down the electronics a bit from there and bring in the guitars, sounding like a cross between Garbage and Jack Off Jill. It's hard to pigeonhole this band, since their music could almost be considered Pop, if not heavy Pop. Case in pointŠtheir cover of Madonna's "Lucky Star" has pretty heavy guitars, but it still is a pop song, with some vocoder altered vocals. There's even a guitar solo for crissakes. "All I Want" has a keyboard riff right out of A Flock of Seagulls's "I Ran." "Deathgirl (nppc mix)" starts off as a ballad, but evolves into a Drum ŒN Bass influenced dance song. Pop, Rock or Electronica, does it all, and does it well.

Melissa Lefton self-titled Jive Records • Jive Records is the label that currently brings you the trifecta of prepubescent pop, the Backstreet Boys, *Nsync and Britney Spears. So it was no surprise when I popped Melissa Lefton's CD in my stereo and the sugary pop sounds started coming out of my speakers. What did surprise me was the sarcastic lyrics that Lefton was singing. "My Hit Song" basically reveals Pop groups as manufactured commodities, with lyrics like "This is my image / these are my dancers / come on promote me / come on adore me." Other songs, like "Sugar Daddy," left me rolling on the floor, actually enjoying this album. Like one-hit-wonder anarchists Chumbawumba, who said that the best way to get their message out there was to make the same crap music that radio stations play, Lefton should be able to sneak into teenage slumber parties across the nation in no time. The revolution against the current boy band and "Look at me, I'm so sexy...but I'm a virgin" girl singers craze is coming from within the same organization that employs such non-artists! Genius!

Pilot to Gunner Games At High Speeds Gern Blandsten • If the awesome basslines don't get you, the energized guitars will. Or, if not, the vocals are sure to impress. Still not satisfied? The drumming on Games At High Speeds is incredible, a pounding force to be reckoned with. So, what I'm saying is this is a complete album, a solid work of exceptional proportions. At times their sound is reminiscent of Jawbox, but never long enough to really say that's what they sound like. You'll also find, at times, sounds akin to Modest Mouse, Braid and numerous others. In the end, you're left with a wholly original album full of energy, melody and rock attitude. It's the new wave of punk rock, where there's a greater focus on the rock and less focus on "trying" to be punk. It's the kind of record that only takes one or two listens to really hook you. I never want to get unhooked.

Spacehog The Hogyssey Artemis Records • I hate to do this, I really do. I know IMPACT is all about the lesser-known indie bands and, believe me, I love Œem. Even the bad ones. But this is Spacehog. Spacehog is one of the very few bands that makes it to radio and actually deserves their success. This is no corporate gig. This band has been able to take their slightly askew rock sound and win the critics over. You remember Spacehog from their hit "In The Meantime" a few years ago. They're back with their third disc, The Hogyssey, and they're even better. "I Want To Live" has been getting some radio play but not nearly enough. And, barring some miracle, we probably won't hear another cut from this CD, so you're going to have to buy it. You really don't need a reason like that to buy it anyway. It's a fantastic disc, maybe more straight-ahead rock than the past two, but every bit as good. If you haven't heard them, first, I'm sorry. Second, think Collective Soul mixed with Cake mixed with Soul Coughing. Take a trip on The Hogyssey!

Squarepusher Go Plastic Warp Records • If there is one word to describe the music of Tom Jenkinson (Squarepusher), it is weird. From his early recordings on Spymania, he has been turning heads and impressing listeners everywhere. This year's Go Plastic is no exception. It seems to build on his previous works, taking the Drum N' Bass hyperactivity of Big Loada and adding a touch of the Jazz Fusion he developed for Music is Rotted One Note. It feels like a sequel to Selection Sixteen, but with added schizophrenia. The perfect track to illustrate this is "Go! Spastic, " with an impossibly high bpm rate, classic snare rushes and just a hint of jazziness. "The Exploding Psychology" features a keyboard line that seems lifted from Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" album. "My Fucking Sound" seems more like a protest than a song, without much structure. The final track, "Plaistow Flex Out," is one of the few mellow moments on the CD, with a beat that would make Missy Elliot proud. Squarepusher continues to evolve as a musician, continually developing new sounds and combining them with the best elements from his vast catalog.

Strike Anywhere Change Is A Sound Jade Tree • "I refuse to run and I will die before I kneel." With a fist held high in the air, these political punk warriors blast a double-chamber's worth of musical artillery out on the masses. I'm not sure what is more powerful, the music or the lyrics. Socio-political punches are thrown on nearly every track with a rapid musical delivery kicking at the shins. This intense, melodic, hardcore punk rock will bruise your body and your brain with a quickness. You've been warned.

Ted Leo/Pharmacists The Tyranny of Distance Lookout • This album possesses incredible power. It has brilliant composition, sound combinations I've never heard before, and incredible driving guitar and beats which provide a perfect vehicle for the philosophical feast of lyrics. It is a gentle, pleasant assault on the independent music lover's ears. Not your ordinary Lookout offering, it's hard rock that's been kneaded to soft, doughy perfection.

The Coup Party Music 75 Ark • The Coup is one of the hardest hitting hip-hop groups around. Every album is a forward movement from the previous release. Every track is a bit of fresh-flowing enlightenment. Why can't more hip-hop crews recognize that lyrics are as important as beats? It's easy to rhyme, but it's hard to actually say something. The Coup (Boots on the mic, Pam the Funktress on the turntables) takes the hard route and arrives on time. The beats are the kind that will set a party off, get your ass shakin' and your head bouncin'. The funk is in effect on every track, but it's the creative shit that will really blow your mind. The fresh ass guitar and soulful vocals on track three are a perfect example or the ultra funky keys on track four. The Dead Prez guest on track five and the truth in that track will bring politicians to their knees. "Nowalaters", track eight, is one of the most honest and touching rhymes about sex and teenage pregnancy I've ever heard. I could go on, but you should realize by now that if you aren't bumpin' to this you already lost the game. (Too bad you gotta wait till Sept. 4th to get it.)

The Lawrence Arms/The Chinkees Present Day Memories Asian Man • The Lawrence Arms are one of the best punk bands around. They have an effect on me that few bands (Jawbreaker, Gameface, Alkaline Trio) are able to produce. It's a combination of lyrical brilliance, vocal perfection and infectious music. Lyrically, they offer up a combination of socio/political and personal/emotional tunes. They're mature, honest and powerful. The vocals are shared between Brendan and Chris, throaty and sensitive respectively. That allows the band to emote on several levels and is the reason their different song themes are even more effective. Musically, The Lawrence Arms deliver aggressive punk rock with solid melodies, thick-ass basslines and working-class grittiness that is about as honest as can be and shockingly delivered by only three guys. I could go on, but The Chinkees deserve respect too. Fronted by Mike Park (Asian Man kingpin), they're a five-piece of insanely skilled Asian cats rockin' out organ-driven, ska-influenced pop punk. Put on your dancing shoes, because it has been two years since The Chinkees released new material and it was worth the wait. Four out of the five tracks are upbeat while the last track features Mike Park alone on the guitar offering up a personal and poignant tune.

Various Artists Universal Indicator: Innovation in the Dynamics of Acid Rephlex Records • After much public demand, Rephlex has decided to re-release the Universal Indicator series. All four color-coded records are compiled into one CD, continuously mixed by the Kosmik Kommando. I'd love to tell you some history about it, but the folks at Rephlex refuse to divulge it. They even left out artist and track names. No matter. If you are a fan of acid house music, then you need to get this CD.

In alphabetical order. Please write them.

702 Records, PO Box 204, Reno, NV 89504
75 Ark, 77 Chambers Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10007
Absolutely Kosher Records, 417 Frederick Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Adeline Records, 5337 College Ave. #318, Oakland, CA 94618
Aerial Sounds, PO Box 4634, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Alternative Tentacles, PO Box 419092, San Francisco, CA, 94141-9092
Arborvitae Records, PO Box 857, Champaign, IL 61824
Artemis Records, 130 Fifth Avenue, Seventh Floor, New York, NY 10011
Artyzal Records, 974 Island Lake Ave., St. Paul, MN 55126
Asian Man Records, PO Box 35585, Monte Sereno, CA 95030
Baraka Foundation, PO Box 12933, Berkeley CA 94712
Barbaric Records, 1809 7th Ave., Suite 411, Seattle, WA 98101
Barsuk Records, PO Box 22546, Seattle, WA 98122
Beggar¹s Banquet Records, 580 Broadway, Suite 1004, NY, NY 10012
Bifocal Media, PO Box 50106, Raleigh, NC 27650
Burning Heart Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
BYO Records, PO Box 67a64, Los Angeles, CA 90067
Cargo Music, 4901-906 Morena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92117-3432
Caulfied Records, PO Box 84323, Lincoln, NE 68501
Cheetah Records, PO Box 4442, Berkley, CA 94704
Colleen Coadic, PO Box 190516, Anchorage, AK 99519
Creep Records, PMB 220, 252 E. Market St., Westchester, PA 19382
Damaged Goods Records, PO Box 671, London, E17 9GH, UK
Deafinit Records, PO Box 205, Rocklin, CA 95677
Deep Elm Records, PO Box 36939, Charlotte, NC 28236
Desert Rock Records, 3 Sansberry Lane, Wesley Hills, NY 10977
Does Everyone Stare?, 9825-103 St. #910, Edmonton, Canada, T5K 2M3
Eclipse Records, PO Box 215, Butler, NJ 07405-0215
Eighteenth St. Lounge, 1210 18th St. NW, Ste. 200B, Wash., DC 20036
El Pocho Loco Records, Suite C, 3838 Jackson, Riverside, CA 92503
Empty Records, PO Box 12034, Seattle, WA 98102
Epitaph Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
EPL Records, 3838 Jackson Avenue, Suite C, Riverside, CA 92506
Equal Vision, PO Box 14, Hudson, NY 12534
F.U.G. Records, PO Box 11157, Pensacola, FL 32524
Fat Wreck Chords, PO Box 193690, San Francisco, CA 94119-3690
Ferret Music, 47 Wayne St. #3, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Flameshovel Records, 1658 N. Milwaukee #276, Chicago, IL 60647
Fudge Sickill Records, 444 S. Illinois, Villa Park, IL 60181
Fueled By Ramen, PO Box 12563, Gainesville, FL 32604
G7, PO Box 27006, 360 Main St. Concourse, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 4T3, Canada
Gern Blandsten Records, PO Box 356, River Edge, NJ 07661
Gonzo! Records, PO Box 3688, San Dimas, CA 91773
Groove Attack, Schanzenstrasse 36 / Gebäude 31, 51063 Cologne, Germany
Grounded, c/o Andrew Mann, 2107 Cherry Laurel Dr., Newberry, SC 29108
Hall of Records, PO Box 69281, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Happy Couples Never Last, PO Box 36997, Indianapolis, IN 46236-0997
Heavy Hip Mama Music Company, 673 Robinwood Ct., Wheaton, IL 60187
Hellcat Records, 2798 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
Honest Don¹s, PO Box 192027, San Francisco, CA 94119
Hopeless Records, PO Box 7495, Van Nuys, CA 91409-7495
In Music We Trust, 15213 SE Bevington Avenue, Portland, OR 97267-3355
Incidental Music, 3440 25th Street, Suite #501, San Francisco, CA 94110
Industrial Strength Records, 3824 Regatta Blvd., Richmond, CA 94804
Jade Tree, 2310 Kennwynn Road, Wilmington, DE 19810
Jive Records, 137 - 139 West 25th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001
!K7 Studio Records, Pier 29 1/2 at Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
Kayonne Riley, PO Box 162199, Orlando, FL 32816
Kill Rock Stars, 120 NE State Ave., PMB 418, Olympia, WA 98501
Kung Fu Records, PO Box 38009, Hollywood, CA 90038
Lakeshore Records, 5555 Melrose Ave., Swanson Bldg. #209, LA, CA 90038
Lookout! Records, PO Box 11374, Berkeley, CA 94712-2374
Loose Thread Recordings, PO Box 220180, Chicago, IL 60622
Luaka Bop, PO Box 652, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276
Marcion Records, 325 West 37th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Medea Records, PO Box 99055, Troy, MI 48099-9055
Merge Records, PO Box 1235, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
My Records, PO Box 41730, Santa Barbara, CA 93140
Neurot Recordings, PO Box 410209, San Francisco, CA 94141
Nitro Records, 7071 Warner Ave. F-736 Huntington Beach, CA 92647
No Idea Records, PO Box 14636, Gainesville, FL 32604
Not Bad Records, PO Box 2014, Arvada, CO 80001
Novamute Records, 140 West 22nd Street, Suite 10A, New York, NY 10011
Nude Recs, 3575 St. Laurent Blvd. Ste. 129, Montreal, Canada H2K 2T7
Om Records, 245 S. Van Ness #303, San Francisco, CA 94103
Palm Pictures, 4 Columbus Ave., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10019
Patate Records, 57 Rue de Charonne, 75011, Paris
Pattern 25 Records, 610 20th Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98112
Polyvinyl Records, PO Box 1885, Danville, IL 61834
Post Parlo Records, PMB 49121, Austin, TX 78765
PsychoBubblegun Records, PO Box 321, West Haven, CT 06516
Quango, 601 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001
Quarterstick Records, PO Box 25342, Chicago, IL 60625
Rapster Records, Ditmar-Koel-Strasse 26, 20459 Hamburg, Germany
Rawkus Entertainment, 676 Broadway, 4th Floor, NY, NY 10012
Red Martian, PO Box 61187, Seattle, WA 98121
Rephlex Records, PO Box 2676, London, N11 1AZ, England
Reptilian Records, 403 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231
Restraining Order, PO Box 2720, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
Roadrunner Records, 902 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
Robweoza, PO Box 1036, Staten Island, NY 10306
Rooster Blues Records, 255 Mill Street, Greenwich, CT 06830
Ruf Records, Ludwig-Wagner Str. 31A, D-37318 Lindewerra, Germany
Saddle Creek, PO Box 8554, Omaha, NE 68108-0554
Sessions Records, 15 Janis Way, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
Seymour Records, PO Box 56738, Chicago, IL 60656-0738
Side One Dummy, 6201 Sunset Blvd., Suite 211, Hollywood, CA 90028
Sin In Space, 214 Plymouth St., Santa Cruz, Cal. 95060
Sinister Label, PO Box 1178, La Grange Park, IL 60526
Six Degrees Records, PO Box 411347, San Francisco, CA 94141
Smorgasbord Records, PO Box 5392, Milford, CT 06460
Socialist Party USA, 339 Lafayette Street, #303, NY, NY 10012
Soda Jerk, PO Box 4056, Boulder, CO 80306
Some Records, 122 W. 29 St., 4th Floor, NY, NY, 10001
Sonic Unyon, PO Box 57347, Jackson Stn., Hamilton, ON Canada L8P 4X2
Spirit of Orr Records, 19B Willow St., Natick, MA, 01760
Substandard Records, PO Box 310, Berkeley, CA 94704
Suicide Squeeze Records, PO Box 80511, Seattle, WA 98108
Suziblade Music, PO Box 66, Radio City Station, NY, NY 10101
Tanty Records, PO Box 557, Harrow, Middlesex, HA2 8QE, UK
Tee Pee Records, PO Box 20307, NY, NY 10009-9991
Tent City Records, 101 23rd. St. Box 2341, New York, NY 10011
The Beach Machine, 13224 SW 46 Terra, Miami, FL 33175
Theologian Records, PO Box 1070, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
TKO Records, 4104 24th St. #103, San Francisco, CA 94114
Top Quality Rock and Roll, PO Box 1110, Southgate, MI 48195
Touch and Go Records, PO Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625
Triple Crown Records, 331 West 57th St. PMB 472, New York, NY 10019
Truckstop Records, 2255 S. Michigan, Suite 4W, Chicago, IL 60616
Trustkill Records, 23 Farm Edge Lane, Tinton Falls, NJ 07724
Truth Universal, PO Box 820396, New Orleans, LA 70812-0396
Vagrant Records, 2118 Wilshire Blvd. #361, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Victory Records, PO Box 146546, Chicago, IL 60614
Vital Cog Records, PO Box 7846, Princeton, NJ, 08543
Votive Records, PO Box 319, 10612-D Providence Road, Charlotte, NC 28277
Warp Records, 503 8th Avenue 4th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Water Rat Experiment, 4901 Devon Cir., Naples, FL 34114

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