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CD Reviews

  • Alkaline Trio/One Man Army Split-BYO Split Series Volume Five
  • Bad Religion -The Empire Strikes First
  • Franz Ferdinand-Franz Ferdinand
  • French Kicks -The Trial Of The Century
  • The Hong Kong -Rock The Faces
  • INOUK -No Danger
  • The Stills -Logic Will Break Your Heart

  • CD Review Archives

    This issue, we have a review of the new John Frusciante album, Shadows Collide With People .

    Abandon Pools
    Abandon Pools new release is quite a big surprise to many. While flying under the radar of mainstream music recently has been picking up speed with the single “Mercy Kiss.” “The Remedy” is a very mellow track with delectable rhythm and vocals to boot. The song is addictive and after one spin, it will be all that is in your CD player. “Mercy Kiss” brings out the best of Abandon Pools: hard rock, upbeat vocals, and quiet meaningful rock, all rolled up into one. For a change of pace, “Start Over” begins with a quiet instrumental accompanied by a pair of turntables that sounds like Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” While listening to the CD allows you to understand just how diverse Abandon Pools can be: from hard rock to quiet acoustic songs, “Suburban Muse” lets you see the bands happier side. “Sunny Day” picks up on these upbeat emotions and makes for an overall optimistic Very similar to a lighter default or Moviola, Abandon Pools new release is making its own niche in the music scene. One fan at a time.

    Alkaline Trio/One Man Army
    BYO Split Series Volume Five
    Here it is, finally. The BYO records Alkaline Trio split with One Man Army. Fifth in the series, this release is the most powerful to date. From the moment the "play" button is pressed, it is obvious how on top of their game Alkaline Trio is. (By the way, they are on the warped tour this year...shameless promotion). "Fine Without You" delves through a blistering intro with the aid of lead singer Matt Skiba's vocals on the refrain, "Ill be fine without you, We'll I'll sit here to convince myself it's true." The catchy rhythm of "Hating Every Minute" is the perfect concoction of driving energy that makes most Alkaline Trio songs quite memorable. "Sadie" starts off with the same mournful yet melodic tone as "Radio" or "Fuck You Aurora." No one can top Skiba and the Trio in terms of mournful yet damn good punk music, and this split simply reiterates that. One Man Army is buoyed by Jack Dalrymple's Johnny Rotten style vocals throughout their songs. Kicking off OMA's contribution to the split is "The T.V. Song," with a zany vocal run and some quick strummed guitar parts. "All The Way" leads off with a slick guitar solo that delves into OMA's personalized brand of SanFran punk. "The Radio Airwaves Gave Me A Lobotomy" demonstrates the kind of call and response guitar work that Dalrymple is reknowned for. OMA's work on the album is a good representation of the band's overall sound and it's catchy verse rhythms.

    All Mighty Senators
    Music is Big Business
    The All Mighty Senators wild mix of rock, ska, and rap lyrics is something to behold, if not be held. The distorted guitar riffs of "Soul" are mixed well with the synth beats and vocals that make the band well known, however the over the top riff at the end of the song seems to be overkill. The album just gets weirder with "Winner." The nursery rhyme and comedic lyrics in the song don't appear to conflict with the high pitched backing of the band when you aren’t taking them seriously. The vibe on "Wasting Our Time" is only rivaled by the songs lyrical content. The 60's funk style of "Music is Big Business" seems to clash just as every other song on the record does. "Good" sounds of equal parts Irish drinking anthem and early 90's pop song. "Flesh" is definitely the icing on the cake if only for it's wacky content. All in all, the record is interestingly weird.

    Autopilot Off
    Autopilot Off
    After 2000's Looking Up release, Autopilot off began to build a loyal and dedicated fan base through constant touring and a D.I.Y attitude. The band's first release off of major label Island records, self-titled, Autopilot Off, is a refreshing kick in the ass. In a genre where most bands are softening their sound, Autopilot Off is sticking by their harder sound. “We want to bring an aggressiveness back, but in a real way,” says Chris Hughes. “Indebted” is a beat-packed track that reminds listeners of a louder Fenix TX. The songs rhyming vocals match the background riffs creating a sound similar to Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta,” with more plentiful and creative guitar effects. “Exit Signs,” a fast riff-driven track with good bass lines. The treasure of the EP however, is “Wide Awake,” a intriguing and well-tempered and musically impressive track. With a hook of “I’m breaking promises/and breaking you apart,” the listener can get into a track that may not sound like other Autopilot Off songs, but it still grabs attention. All in all, the EP is a nice definition of Autopilot Off’s music. While not incredible or guaranteed to go gold, the CD opens the book for a possible breakthrough CD as Sum 41’s EP did for their success.

    The Ataris
    So Long, Astoria
    “Takeoffs and Landings,” the second track on the new album is the perfect ‘taking off’ point for the new record after 2001's End is Forever. The no-nonsense track displays lead vocalist Kris Roe’s heartfelt lyrics in a straightforward way, but as Roe says, I like to encode a lot of hidden messages in a lot of my lyrics.” Although there may be hidden messages in the lyrics, the album is no surprise. While the band’s fourth album is catching some airplay, the album as a whole is somewhat of a letdown for hardcore Ataris fans. “In This Diary’s” predictably chug-a-chug palm muting and building verses may be decent ear candy, but in terms of the band’s older work, it just will not stand the test of time. Roe’s lyrical messages of growing up and following your heart might be meaningful, but would hit closer to home if the band decided to brave it and work on a musical departure. Throughout every album the band has worked on it’s style to bring about better and more interesting songs, but in this case, it appears the band has taken a step backwards. The ringing harmonics of “My Reply” is one of the bright spots on the album. Lyrics such as “If you just hold on for one more second / just hold on to what you have,” display the emotional energy of the band’s musical content. “The Hero Dies In This One” starts off with a bit of harmonic guitar hidden behind a slow-moving (by atari standards) guitar section. The heart of the song builds around the lyric, “Do you ever feel like crying / Do you ever feel like giving up.” The big disaster of the album is the Ataris cover of “Boys of Summer” and the decision to promote it as a single. While the band has been successful with covers in the past, “Boys of Summer” was definitely not the right choice. In an album full of retrospective lyrics, “Boys of Summer” does not come across as a song that makes sense on the album. The album will come off as the perfect Ataris release to any newfound fan of the band, but for fans since back when Blue Skies, Broken Hearts...Next 12 Exits, came out, so long, astoria will not have nearly as much importance or meaning.

    Avoid One Thing
    Avoid One Thing
    Joe Gittleman of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones side project is a more stripped down version of the Bosstones. With Guitarist Amy Griffin's transitional guitar licks, the band has a more old-school punk look without the screams. Gittleman's vocals have strong connections with Bosstones lead singer Dicky Barrett in their roughness and practiced tone. Griffin's bending riffs create the centerpiece for "Backyard Joey," a creative monster of a song that should be a real crowd pleaser live. The quiet bass tapping of "Lean of Sheena," evolves from a quiet intro to a real ska-rocker that definitely reminds listeners of "All Things Considered" and "So Sad To Say" of the Bosstones repertoire. In one of only two acoustic songs on the album, “Take A Good Look” sounds as if the band is actually trying or create a sound of their own. A quieter song, “Take A Good Look” shows the talents of the band in a smooth acoustic track that definitely stands out, whether good or bad. The helter-skelter bass lines of “Bomb” sound more like a Depeche Mode song than anything similar to ska or punk, yet when the vocals and guitar kick in, it all makes sense. To quickly sum it up: goes great with a Bosstones album.

    Bad Religion
    The Empire Strikes First
    "The Empire Strikes First" is Bad Religion's sixth studio album. The "Overture" that hooks listeners into the first track "Sinister Rouge," is a punk rock dig on classical music. With the past several albums, the band has been drifting from more radio friendly catchy riff rock to reestablish the concept of an album. While there may not be the equivalent of "American Jesus" on this album, it is equally good if not better than anything the band has created in the past. Powerful and questioning lyrics about such things as religion and the current state of American policy in the world. Each song is a gem of it's own. Instead of having a single or two, Bad Religion has created an album full of songs that each stand up on their own. Full of the same type of melodies and vocals that fans have come to expect from vocalist Greg Graffin, the powerfully questioning content of the album on songs such as "Atheist Peace," or "Social Suicide" forces listeners to think about the problems being mentioned. "To Another Abyss" is definitely a standout track on an album which makes finding one very difficult. The many vocals that appear to be piled on top of one another create a forceful if not interesting piece. Graffin's harmonies have proved time and again that he is quite an accomplished vocalist (who also holds a Ph.D in Biology). On "The Empire Strikes First," the beat stays imprinted in your mind as the rocking guitar tracks roll through the song. The bass laden riff that cuts in half way through the song only serves to accentuate the caliber of talent. The stripped down approach to "Boot Stamping ON A Human Face Forever" cuts through all the distortion for a time to bring a lighter side of Bad Religion, complete with a ska-patterned, yet ghostly riff. The album is definitely one to check. If you are not going buy it simply because it is Bad Religion's newest album, buy it because it is one of the band's better releases.

    Billy Talent
    Billy Talent
    The band’s new album comes as no surprise after the success of their first single “Try Honesty.” After a busy summer of gigs with The Buzzcocks, Sum 41, The Warped Tour and Lollapalooza, the band has finally got together a full album. Basically, the record can be considered somewhat of a“trial and error” approach. While highly infectious songs like “Living In the Shadows,” “Try Honesty,” “Line & Sinker” and “Prisoners of Today” cover the album, songs such as the opener, “This is How It Goes” and “River Below” come off a bit weak. The album spans the spectrum from bad to mediocre to really good. The band’s hard sound never comes off too loud, just too interesting. For most of the album, listeners are kept waiting for the next track, except for a few exceptions. The powerful and fast-paced guitar sounds of the album never stop for a moment. Between dropped-d riffs, creative tones and interesting progressions, the band will be one to watch in the future. On “Line & Sinker” the incredibly vocals and lyrics of Benjamin Kowalewicz draw listeners and oozes talent. With the lyrics “What you see is what you get! / Fishing for the answers with a line and sinker” and accompanying guitar work, on “Line & Sinker” the repeat button can easily be hit several times. Overall, it’s a pretty decent album.

    Red Head
    This is a very addictive record. For any fan of Stabbing Westward, Remy Zero, or similar bands will find an instant attraction to the music of Bleu. A one-man band of sorts, Bleu is attracting growing numbers of fans from assorted tours, the use of his music on several hit shows, and a single on Spiderman movie soundtrack. Kicking off the new release with "Won't Go to Hollywood," the riff driven song is carried by a Springsteen-like drumbeat as well as the talented singer's incredible voice. The ascending guitar riff and mounting vocals of the song make it an instant favorite for all. On "Somebody Else,", Bleu's vocals range from gentle voiced humming to strained high notes. "We'll Do It All Again," one of the acoustic lead numbers, is a uplifting number backed by part what appears to be part of an orchestra and several well-placed guitar segments and swells to a finish with some stinging vocals. "Searchin' for the Satellites" is based around two parts, a gentle vocal section and a string bending riff that play off of each other to create a great song. "Somethin's Gotta Give" stretches out with the lyric "On and on, and on, we still hold on" with Bleu's unmistakable vocals. "Sayonara" has a constant beat that keeps reverting from a slightly distorted guitar section to lighter reverb driven chords. Bleu's music is somewhat similar to Harvey Dangerfield without the upfront sarcasm present in their songs. "Ursala Major, Ursala Minor" is very similar to Stone Temple Pilots lighter songs without any screaming distortion or wild vocals. The song has a downbeat riff that is very infectious in a good way - as is the entire record.

    The Blood Brothers
    Burn Piano Island, Burn
    As preparation to Turbonegro's new album Scandinavian Leather, this is one of the back catalogue re-issues by Burning Heart Records. This is excellent rock 'n' roll with punk spirit, in the tradition of the first four Alice Cooper albums. The explosive energy that eventually ripped the band apart in 1998 is sublimated into exquisite rock in the tradition of Zodiac Mindwarp, early Mötley Crüe and Spinal Tap. (Yes, this band of would-be sociopaths has a sense of humor.) Much is made of the over-the-top self-destructive Turbonegro story, but do not let that distract from the fact that no matter how schizoid the group was outside of the studio, within it they created great rock albums in the hard rock and glam traditions of the '70s and '80s with elements of '60s psychedelic rock. (4) (Courtesy outsight@usa.net)

    The Chemical Brothers
    Come With Us
    The much-anticipated new release from the Chemical Brothers is here! The first track begins with a synthesizer beat that rapidly morphs into a series of fast paced effects and beats. The new CD provides for a chance to hear a few more quality Chemical Brothers songs that are much more multi-layered and complicated than their last attempt. “Galaxy Bounce” uses an interesting mix of backbeats and vocals to get a new and exciting sound that has a powerful beat. The most mind-blowing track off the new CD however, is “Star Guitar.” It increases the tempo off of a intro relaxing beat that turns to some interesting vocals and the two eventually mix to provide an amazing and very down-to-earth vibe. “My Elastic Eye” provides the most diverse collection of effects, vocals and sounds on the CD with an assortment of beats and drums. “The State We’re In” is a rack completely different from all the rest. The track is reminiscent of something Alanis Morisette or Natalie Imbruglia would sing, yet it keeps with the beats that the Chemical Brothers are familiar with. The CD gives an exciting new version of the Chemical Brothers music that shows that the brothers still have plenty of music left in them.

    Death On Wednesday
    Songs To ____ To
    The vocals of Nathan Lawler might remind listeners of The Smoking Popes or any number of other bands, but one thing is for sure. From the 1-2 beat of "Simple Life" Lawler croons " I want that simple life so bad you know." The stomping beat of Jeffrey Saenz's guitar work works well in the song. The blazing riffs of "Born To Bleed" evolve into a hard rocking track that anyone can get behind. At times the song sounds like a mix between The Ataris and Smoking Popes, one unusual combination. The mellow intro to “Falling” jumps right into the distorted guitar work that makes the song catchy. Look for an upcoming full-length album from this quartet that will put all of your fears to rest of a band that will bring about a new yet strangely familiar sound.

    Making The Grade
    Diffuser’s new album is good. That much is pure fact. However, there is definitely a question of whether the band’s new style will end up being better than that of their last album, Injury Loves Melody. On Making the Grade, the band, with two new members, leans heavily toward pop rock instead of the great sound they mastered on Injury Loves Melody. On “New High” the band delves into the new sound with a vigor that could only come through the struggles the band has going through in creating the new album. “New High” features several slick riffs and the extremely hook-filled vocals of Tomas Costanza. “Get It On” is an extremely radio worthy song full of power guitar riffs and ascending drumbeats. Costanza’s vocals are probably more at home on this track than any other on the album. “Why” seems strangely out of place on the album. The song is built around light-hearted vocals and dampened instrumental bits, but then evolves into an extremely rock-oriented song. “I Wonder” sticks out from the rest of the songs as pure Diffuser. The track is a back to basics harmonics and distortion number of lost relationships. “Here’s To You” is a quick passed foot-thumping song about someone’s emotions after their relationship dissipated. The new album is a step in a new direction for the band. While it is debatable whether that is a step forward or backward, the band is still creating quality tracks. Unfortunately, they are not delving on the harmonic screeches and heavy effects that made Injury Loves Melody great. Songs such as “Long Way From Home” and “Breakaway” represent the new direction of the band and radio-friendly songs such as “Get It On,” “New High” and “Why” will secure a place for the band in the future.

    What It Is To Burn
    With monstrous vocals, and passion, Nate Barcalow delivers an emotional series of vocals from start to finish. Barcalow’s diverse talents are easily spotted with hardcore explosions on “New Beginnings” and quiet speaking on “Letters To You.” While the wild screams of “Grey Matter” and “Project Mayhem” come across as undistinguishable blathering, bland vocals are definitely not what the album will be remembered for. On the other end of the spectrum, songs such as “What It Is To Burn,” “Letter’s to You” and “Post Script” come across as intelligent and well-thought and lively songs. While a portion of the release’s songs begin with an intelligent intro, they usually end in hardcore screams and yelps. What can be said though, is Barcalow’s vocal similarity to Alien Ant Farm singer Dryden Mitchell in their vocal pauses. The songs that Finch actually deliver as emotional escapades, make for quality listening that has kept the band around. If the band is able to shift from hardcore to a lighter form, the songs would be much-improved and deliver a sting that fans would be reluctant to back away from.

    Flogging Molly
    Drunken Lullabies
    The new release starts off with a hook typical of any FM song. While all Flogging Molly music has a regular energy and talent to it, certain songs are above all honest and hard hitting. Don't expect Flogging Molly to distort or tell it any other way. While songs of Guinness or barroom brawls may be tiring (try the Dropkick Murphys), on the new disk, the band shows it's lasting staying power with well-conceived and memorable songs. FM is the "new-wave" of Irish rock and roll. "Drunken Lullabies" starts the CD off with a great rhythm and a few decent rock riffs accompanied by the ever-present and famous fiddle play of Bridget Regan. The CD moves on to quieter and more relaxed "If I Ever Leave This World Alive." The song is an eclectic combination of acoustic chords and assorted beats and rhythms. “The Kilburn High Road” gives a happier festive fast-paced Irish ballad that Flogging Molly is ever-popular for. “Swagger” provides a guitar improved song that reminds listeners of an old Western film or an old version of 50’s rock and roll. “Another Bag of Bricks” puts a new twist on the sound of Flogging Molly. The beats and vocals make for very fun and interesting listening.

    Franz Ferdinand
    Franz Ferdinand
    "Jacqueline" begins like any troubador-love song should, with quiet vocals and rhythmic lyrics. With the aid of a pumping beat, kicks off into the song. Then with the same type of riff the band uses in several of their songs, the band's high amp'd sound get the blood flowing. The first single off the record, "Take me out," is by far the best track on the record in terms of good 'ole rock. The 8th notes that build into the hook quarter note riff play out before another quick-paced riff that serves as the icing on the cake. The slick beat matched with the lyrics "I say don't you know / you say you don't know / I say take me out" grabs fans out of their seat puts them on the dance floor. A song more in the key of Interpol, "Auf acshe" is a song about an untouchable girl. Again, killer lyrics make for 90% of a damn good song. The synth-keyboard notes that make up the shell of "auf acshe" begin to grown on listeners as the beat picks up. "This fire" ignites with a vigor worthy of the Hives Pelle Almqvist. With the band's trademark riff-work, the androgynous "Michael" plays out. With the same sexuality that Mick Jagger might have used in the late '60's, lead singer Alex Kapranos connects with listeners and the band's growing fan base with great ease. The quirky "40'" stumbles along with drifting lead guitar work and vocals that accentuate the mood of the song. In a tangle of keyboards and cymbal clashes the record cuts out. The album is a great rock record with a tinge of the British fever that American music fans find as fascinating today as they did 40 years ago. Franz Ferdinand is the real thing and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

    Frenck Kicks
    The Trial Of The Century
    I like to use the word lush. Lush this, lush that. I guess I have to find a new word now the French Kicks have come around. The beautiful rhythms that Nick Stumpf and Matt Stinchcomb "kick" up on the keyboard and drums respectively on "One More Time" leave fans blown away, not in a literal sense of Who-style volume, but of absolute melodic music with a beat. It is almost beyond description - somewhere near the vocals of Walkmen vocalist Hamilton Leithauser and the cool rhythm of The Strokes percussion section. "Don't Thank Me" kicks off with a guitar tone in the key of Rooney that is joined by keyboards and a 1-2 drumbeat. The upbeat song seems to alternate from one riff to another in a timely manner. "The Falls," the fifth track on the album starts off similarly to "Don't Thank Me" with a beat and guitar riff that give way to Stumpf's vocals. "Was It A Crime" is by far the most eclectic track on the album. With the quarter note beat of the keyboards that counts off, the song sounds more akin to a parade march than a rock song. An extremely good usage of the piano can be found in "Falling Waves," a very mellow track in which the guitar work is simply backing the piano. The song's happy go lucky vibes make for good listening and instant therapy. The reckless abandon of "Yes, I Guess," reminds listeners of the similar tactic used by The Velvet Underground in "Sweet Jane." "Better Time" goes from a funky drum and bass beat into an 8th note-ringing guitar whose job is slowly replaced by a piano. The vocals that Stumpf contributes to the song seem painfully labored. The album is stylistically a very good one. Unfortunately, I have seen too many bands recently who come out of New York City/East Coast with a similar sound. While my favorite is still Ambulance LTD, I it is not hard to accept that the French Kicks are a damn good band that will/do appeal to many in the music world with their mellow sheen of life.

    Everything Is Beautiful When You Don't Look Down
    The new album from Victory Records artists Glasseater basically leaves off where “Miles Ahead of Where We Left Off” ended. The band brings a louder sound with the same melodic attraction that was a driving factor at the band’s inception. Tracks such as “Greetings...Goodbye” display the band’s talent at seamlessly drifting from pure melodic rock into hardcore and back without even batting an eyelid. “Art of Communication” delves into a hardcore anthem from its initial beginings with a light guitar riff and shuffled drums. Julio Marin’s vocals are completely at home on “Communication” and blend the track into a powerful rock song that keeps fans hooked. The strong guitar tones of the song throughly add to the mix with a less is more philosophy at exactly the right moments of the song. “Falling Apart” is a bit of a letdown as the song loosely translates into the “softer song of the album.” Between predictable screams and vocals that change key in a predictable manner, the song is somewhat mediocre and does not display the band’s talent very well. “Everything is Beautiful When You Don’t Look Down,” the title track of the album perfectly matches riffs and drumbeats that evolve into a stepping stone for Marin’s vocals. The chugging guitar of “From Cradle To Grave” adds a predictable format to the song which is saved by the drum undertones. Overall, the album is a decent depiction of the band, but it has it’s weak spots that draw interest away from the talent that appears on several songs.

    Open Your Eyes
    "Open Your Eyes" begins with several intertwining riffs that strike a chord with fans of Goldfinger songs such as "San Simeon." The upbeat punk sound of Goldfinger has taken a turn for the mainstream with their new effort. While Goldfinger's unmistakable sound is still there, alterations in the band, have taken their toll. Just recently, guitarist Charlie quit the band and was replaced by Brian Arthur of Unloco. With the loss of Charlie, the harder sound of Goldfinger left as well. With John Feldman's powerful vocals, the band still delivers just as well as it has been doing for the last several years, just in an altered way. Tracks such as "Open Your Eyes" and "January" are what drives the album. The energy of guitar thumping action and meaningful lyrics of the song are an eye-opener to Goldfinger's new sound. "Tell Me" and "January" are more in tune with "Margaret Ann" than a pop-punk sound. "January's" slow yet fun and meaningful lyrics make the album a good-listen on its own, but with Goldfinger's ever present comedy routine - this time a hardcore spin on the "Woodchuck" rhyme and the ever present "Fuck Ted Nuget" song. The album represents the entire spectrum of Goldfinger's music. While "It's Your Life" might have been better placed on "Stomping Ground," songs such as "Decision" demonstrate the band's new sound and direction.

    Keep It Together
    Guster’s long awaited follow up to Lost and Gone Forever is here at last. After several years of diligent waiting, Guster fans will be extremely happy with the results. “Careful” has the same style of lyrics as Lost and Gone Forever’s “Fa Fa” but with a very mellow building intro and 1-2 drumbeat. Following the lyric “careful or you’ll hurt yourself” with a light reverb guitar bit constantly repeated the song is quite catchy. “Amsterdam,” the first single for the album is full of electric guitar parts that flow seamlessly together to make a riff that is somewhat uncharacteristic of the band but shows how far they have come. “I’m gonna write you a letter / I’m gonna write you a book / I want to see your reaction / I want to see how it looks,” the interesting lyrics of the song about the opposite sex have mad the single a tv and radio mainstay. “Ramona,” a very slow and mellow number drifts along on the power of a light percussion section and a sliding guitar riff that constantly builds. “Backyard” flows almost effortlessly with help from the band’s two guitarists/vocalists. A light harmonica drifts in towards the end of the song that creates the perfect ending. “Keep It Together” moves along with the same vibe as “ramona” without the sliding electric guitar. The song creates a very happy atmosphere with an upbeat acoustic guitar and vocals. “Red Oyster Cult” speeds along at a Strokes pace until blending with a reverb-filled guitar track into a garage rock song -complete with precision speed drumming. “Long Way Down” begins with a thumping beat and alternating riffs and evolves into a strange synth-organ part that accentuates the light acoustic stylings. The album is definitely worth your time, and probably your money too. With songs like “Ramona,” “Amsterdam” and “Red Oyster Cult,” the album is an example of how far Guster has come since Parachutes.

    The Hong Kong
    Rock The Faces
    The Hong Kong's debut ep, "Rock The Faces" is out now. Within five seconds play of the first song, ""mazerati," images of Blondie and Television are invoked by lead vocalist Catherine Culpepper's cascading melody of a voice. The Ramones-esque beat that breaths some life into the song gives one the sense of deja vu throughout the song. The "12:51" strokes-style guitar tone throughout the EP doesn't liven up the music, but instead seems to "muddy the water." About the time in "Galaxies" when the listener is getting very bored, the guitar solo kicks in and redeems the song. The slow tempo of "Birds" is a change of pace for an album full of 8th note strumming rhythms. The delayed cord changes of the organ set the foundation for a song that has the same feel as My Bloody Valentine's "Sometimes." The very relaxed and mellow vibe of "Super Collider" is a completely different pace for the EP and further serves the idea that the band is quite versatile The album has it's catchy moments and the talent is fairly easy to spot. However, are we ready to swallow another overdose of 80's synth-rock/pop after the numerous other bands have been trying to do the same for years? While the debut is a credible one, it leaves listeners (and certainly myself) thinking, "Haven't we heard this before?"

    No Danger
    Inouk's music is full of references. With in the second song of the album, one can label them as Radiohead-sound alikes, neu-blues, something off of the Garden State soundtrack, and something out of the 60's Southern California mellow-rock scene. the hip "No Danger" moves along with a great riff and rhythm that stick out for their originality. The soldier-marchish guitar palm muting of the song backs off for light guitar riffs that accompany lead singer Damon McMahon's vocals. Just as with the music itself, McMahon's sound can best be described by naming off a list of at least a dozen different sounds and bands. "Elected," the third song on the album, has some direct southern-rock influences and keeps the band interesting. The strange bumbling of "Search for the Bees" just seems like a mish-mash of ecclectic sounds that eventually doesn't end up working. "Island" sounds like something off of the new Polyphonic Spree album. Songs like "Cherry Orchard" with it's country sound get listeners to finally realize that INOUK can not be labeled or set in any certain sound or genre. While may would consider this quality a good thing, in the end, Inouk's "sound" is SO diverse, that it ends up missing with the audience.

    John Frusciante
    Shadows Collide With People
    Frusciante has always been gifted with the ability to do in 4 notes what others would in 20. With his relaxed playing and consistent hooks, John Frusciate makes good music. It works when he plays with the Red Hot Chile Peppers just as it works when he goes solo. With his new album, Frusciante plays many roles. None of them include “that guy who plays guitar in the Chili Peppers.” With Shadows Collide With People, Frusciante is able to explore his abilities far more than his last two releases; To Record Only Water For Ten Days explored his vocal abilities. With Niandra LaDes & Usually Just a T-Shirt, the depths of his musical talent were confirmed. Now Frusciante presents all that he has learned to give Shadows Collide With People an individual personality that is uniquely different from most of the music that is on the market today. With “Omission” Frusciante creates an early 90’s Brit-rock feel with some light drum work and an acoustic guitar that slowly evolve into a more modern clean-toned rock song. The song sounds too much like good Oasis to pass up. “Omission” could easily pass for the first single off the album. Even if this album may be flying below the radar, there is no reason not to check it out. Don’t expect to find a bunch of songs that were kept off the By the Way album either. This solo album is entirely a work of its own, unique in its style and sound. “Second Walk” kicks off with a Stevie Ray Vaughan style fury and bounces between a Hendrix jam and a Santana solo. This brief outburst that takes up less than two minutes of the album is definitely one of the high points of the album and is a must-listen for any musician. The ska-tinged “This Cold” bounces around to a rumbling drumbeat and is vocally one of the album’s more unique songs. The floating bass rhythm that lurks in the background takes the helm for one minute, and is hiding the next. The meandering synth-sounds of “Failure 33 Object” would be a more obvious choice on a Kraftwerk album than on this record. “Song To Sing When I’m Lonely” seems to start right where “Failure 33 Object” left off before Frusciante kicks in with an acoustic guitar. This upbeat number doesn’t have any remarkable riff or solo, but instead sticks to a simple acoustic formula. As is the norm with many songs on this album, “Water” delves into a 2001: A Space Odyssey-like intro before jumping right into a song that is perfectly suited for Rooney’s new album. Frusciante’s high-pitched vocals would lead listeners to believe the song was being performed by anyone else except when the incredibly high-energy solo kicks things up a notch. The album is an overall decent piece of work. The solos that John Frusciante peppers throughout make for very interesting listening. Although Frusciante’s solo sound might not be platinum, it is definitely solid material.

    Leftover Crack
    Mediocre Generica
    Choking Victim sure left us with some fine leftover crack to toy with. For those who have been in a cave for the last ten years, or otherwise managed to avoid the punk/ska scene for an unexplainable amount of time, when the popular group of NYC squatting drunx, Choking Victim broke up, Leftover Crack rose from the ruins. Stz and Ezra, the vocalist and guitarist of CV, went on search for a new rhythm section soon after, to record a few new songs for the Rock the 40 oz. EP. Taking Choking V's Sascha and Skwert's places, Alec and Ara signed up, and Leftover Crack was born. It has been two years since then, and judging by their latest release, Mediocre Generica, those years have only been for the better. From the second the album starts with Homeo-apathy, it's evident that the good LoC has evolved into a beast very different than what was Choking Victim. This album has so much diversity it is mind-boggling. Not a large fan of hardcore myself, I couldn't help tunes like Burning in Water and NC from growing on me. There's even a song extremely reminiscent of the Dead Kennedys, appropriately titled The Good, the bad, and the Leftover Crack. As for the good ol' CV style songs, there's a cover of the old No Commercial Value song Nazi White Trash, Gay Rude Boys Unite, Crack City Rockers, and a re-recorded version of the infamous Choking V. song Born to Die, which I must say blows away the original. This is an album which should appeal to fans of punk, ska, or hardcore. Mediocre Generica is a masterpiece, riddled with variety and I recommend you purchase immediately. You won't be disappointed.

    East Meets West
    The new madcap record has something for both new and older fans. "Bright Lights, Big City" starts off with a jingly guitar riff that then breaks into the refrain of “bright lights, big city” with plenty of reverb and coarse vocals. The guitars for the album sound better than ever for the band. “Hometown” is just one of several songs that show this. With a style of music similar to the DKM’s, the band carries their music well and shows they work very well together. The song builds off the drums and continues with the rhythmic guitars and vocals. “New Age” shows the band’s creativity and originality with echoing lyrics and matching guitar chords that all move to the beat of a different sort of drumbeat. The sustaining beat of “Streets of Belief” rings through the guitar and drum solo’s. “Midnight Thoughts” opens with a solo better-off found in an old Green Day record then proceeds to an upbeat ringing riff somewhat similar to original So-Cal surf music that is accompanied by a four beat drum segment. “Desolate Town” is a typical example of the band’s work. It’s repeating riffs and “Drunken Lullaby” sort of lyrics go with the great guitar bits found in several of the new songs. The new songs sound good and on certain aspects of the record, the band has produced a real gem-like qualities.

    Destination Unknow
    Ok, so you want to know what the new Mest album, “Destination Unknown” (produced by John Feldmann, lead singer of Goldfinger), sounds like. Imagine this, you are making a Mest salad and you need the ingredients for it. Take 5 ounces of Sublime; add some Green Day and a little Good Charlotte. You then proceed to put in some hip-hop and reggae seasonings to make it special, cause you are a bit experimental. Now you take all of that and multiply your expectations by 20, and you have Mest. One might think that just because Mest tours and travels with many a punk band, that this is all they are. Well, think again. Mest isn’t your average punk band, or band for that matter. Sure, they have the punk rock attitude and angst behind their songs, but there is more than that to it. The first song on the album, “Opinions”, gets you ready for a slower mellow song, as drummer Nick Gigler counts off a slow click, when all of a sudden you realize this is no ballad. It bursts the unsuspecting listener into a fast and thrashy love song, about how nothing lead singer Tony Lovato does can satisfy the girl he is singing about. “Yesterday”, the second song on the album, talks of being on tour and being a procrastinator. Then we come to the first single off “Destination Unknown”, “Cadillac” (which features Young MC on the turn tables.) This seemingly fun summer song talks of driving around in a car with your friends in a, you guessed it, Cadillac. A bit later on in the album, we come to an unexpected song, “Reasons.” This song features lead singer of Save Ferris, Monique Powell, and again legendary DJ, Young MC. Now get this, this is the first time I’ve personally heard a punk rock band sample from another song. The song includes samplings from “Will You Still Love Me, Tomorrow?” It’s very different and very original, and I can’t imagine many expecting a song such as that being on the album. If any of you own Mest’s first album, you’ll recognize song 12, “Drawing Board”. A song about trying to get a girl, messing up, and starting over again. However, why is this song on both albums? To start off, the song does have a few very minor changes to it as far as mixing and voice effects. But, Mest says that it’s many of their fans’ favorite song and they are thinking of releasing it as a single. One might say that they are trying to pull a New Found Glory-Fenix TX, as those bands did the same thing. Yet, “Drawing Board” could very well be the best song on the album.Overall, “Destination Unknown” holds its own, a few times over. If you are looking for a good, solid, punk album, with a twist, go for this one, you won’t be disappointed. Nick Gigler (drummer) says this of the album, “It’s too good to own only one copy…you should have at least three”.Stand out tracks include: “Opinions”, “Yesterday”, “Cadillac”, “Fuct Up Kid”, “Reasons”, and “Drawing Board”.

    The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
    A Jackknife To A Swan
    The newest release from a band that needs no introduction wins once again. The band’s new release permanently seals the ‘tones status as a great band. Whether you consider them punk or ska or rock, the opening title track has something for everyone, great well-organized horns, steady punk riffs and some great vocals. The backing vocals in “Jacknife” provide almost as prominent a presence as Dicky Barrett’s leading rhythms. “Mr. Moran” tells a clever and sarcastic story of the mob with a horn section familiar to listeners of 2000’s “Letting Go.” “You Gotta Go” has a catchy melody and fluid lyrics: “It’s time for you to go / somewhere else!” It is easy to mistake “A Jackknife To A Swan” for a past release of the band, as the tracks are very similar to the bosstone sound and seem to come right out of the late 90’s. The Bosstones have yet to change their music and let’s hope they never do. Why not stick with a successful sound? “Everybody‘s Better“ and “I Want My City Back” are sure to be crowd pleasers. Both tracks have the raw energy that makes the Mighty Mighty Bosstones such a success. The incredible blend of horns, drums, and vocals on “I Want My City Back” makes the track an immensely catchy number. However the success of the album of slowed by the more ska themed tracks such as “Your Chasing the Sun Away.” In general, though, the CD’s guitar heavy tracks shows the genius behind the band and their musical talent.

    Home From Home
    Millencolin's new release has finally arrived! After their successful release of "Pennybridge Pioneers" several years back, the band laid low, only playing a few assorted shows and rereleasing a collection of their early songs. The opening track, "Man or Mouse," has the kind of driving force I have seen in only a select few records. The tracks combination of hard-driving punk riffs with interrupted yet equally powerful vocals hooks the listener. "Fingers Crossed" has Millencolin's trademark sound with a melancholic matching of guitar and vocals that hints at Blink-182 like distortion with actual talent and a Swedish accent to back it up. However, the driving attraction of the release is "Black Eye" a guitar riff-blazing downbeat song with mind-blowing vocals that has the listener chanting "I know you can see it in my eyes" along to the song. "Montego" displays a very striking riff that matches step-in-step with emotions in the song. The first single of the record, "Kemp" is a full-blown "new-era" punk song. It has the angst driven sound of The Offspring’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright” with a stronger drum backing and more prominent vocals courtesy of Nikola. The CD also has a few odds and ends. “Happiness For Dogs,” a song about man’s best friend and “Battery Check” a song about driving. The CD ends off with “Afghan,” a politically poised song about Afganistan and America, and the title track, “Home From Home,” a faster song about touring. The album is different from past albums in that it is more of a rock and roll album than a punk album. This does not soften the 1-2 punch Millencolin packs, but alters its direction.

    Jesus Christ Bobby
    The extremely hardcore act Minus brings you "Jesus Christ Bobby". Their new release is as hardcore as you can get. The screaming vocals of the band are rock at its greatest. But i just don't understand their music. Who would imagine a harcore rock band from Iceland? I sure can't.

    Rumors of the Faithful
    Moviola is what I think of when I picture the perfect emo band. Amazing, yet peaceful guitar chords with vocals that wouldn't be out of place in Semisonic. "Rumors of the Faithful" brings emo to the masses disguised as a laid-back album that surpirses many and attracts even more. "Covers & Pages" is the first track. It opens with a guitar intro that is so moving and relaxing that it makes you want to stop whatever you are doing and just listen. However, I think the main song of the CD is either "Exit Pearl" or the title track. Both give the listener something few emo bands have in a long time, true raw emotion. Moviola is the holy grail of emo. The infectious "hawaiian" guitar riff of "Exit Pearl" turns the listener into a hardcore junkie. A hardcore Moviola junkie. Moviola has arrived after big emo bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate have quit. Moviola starts where they left off.

    Off By One
    Off By One
    "Cinderella" starts off with a bouncy mounting riff that leads to vocals that have a similarity to New Found Glory. The chorus of the song has the vague familiarity of a song you heard in the past with something new. The song is carried along on quieter parts by the drumbeats of Trevor Easter and vocals of Mark Gould. The forceful energy of "Been Alone" is carried by the lyrics, "The demon inside my head is you." "Been Alone" has the potential for a quality single with catching riffs and vocals that stream together. "On My Way" is synonymous with the very typical style that the group has. The fast-paced riffs and upbeat vocals that Off By One bring may not be completely original or something that will change the music industry, but they are perfect for the fan who needs to hear a quick tempo punk song about a past girlfriend. The vocals of “Change” will be very familiar to Alkaline Trio fans who favor the trio’s “Private Eye.” The song’s flexing distorted riffs and rhythmic drumbeats flow very well and end on a very good note. “Need” kicks off with a girlfriend theme about a lonely guy that is backed by an interesting guitar riff at the end. “Mr. Universe” kicks off with a horror film like riff that shows the band’s real talent and doesn’t just discuss girls. The band’s cover of Natalie Imbrugila’s “Torn” seems to fit with the band’s repertoire and sounds very good.

    Sleeping with Ghosts
    "Bulletproof Cupid," the opening track off the new Placebo album begins with a much-expected mellow bass-like riff reminiscent of the intro to "Passive Aggressive," yet delves into rock rhythms before the first 10 seconds of the song are up. The harder rock sound in fact is far more apparent on the new album than on anything Placebo has done in the past. The in-your-face drum beat of "English Summer Rain" charges into a phasing electronica beat flawlessly, yet when it comes time for Brian Molko to contribute his vocal presence to the track, the only saving factor is the synth drive backing. "Sleeping With Ghosts" represents a bold new direction for the band that has been most successful with lighter guitar riffs and unique chord progressions. The title track brings something quite different to the table in the intro melody altered guitar solo. Brian Molko's trademark vocals are the same as always on the new record, bringing about the thought that bigger and louder is not necessarily as good as original and quieter. “Sleeping With Ghosts” is the album’s winning point. The song goes back to the bands roots and sounds very much like the Placebo everyone loves from their past two albums, “Black Market Music” and “Without You I’m Nothing.“ While in contrast, the very next track appears to be representative of the “new” placebo. More clashing guitar work and streamline voiced lyrics accompanied by sustained riffs make Placebo appear somewhat refreshed, but not quite as good as in the past. The peculiar “Something Rotten” seems as if it would be better placed as one of Placebo’s ‘hidden tracks’ than as an actual song. “Special Needs” sounds as if it was taking right our of the “Black Market Music” sessions for this album. It has the familiar melodies and light piano work that all Placebo fans are familiar with. Overall the album is quite good, if weak in several areas. The new direction Placebo is attempting might not please all of their fans, but as always, the band finds a way to intrigue all who listen. The second half of “Sleeping with Ghosts” is completely reminiscent of past Placebo work. .

    Hail To The Thief
    Even with the very first sounds on the album, the band creates a story. The amp you hear being turned on at the very beginning of the album is the very first recorded sounds for "Hail To the Thief." Radiohead delve into their latest art of the mind with "2 + 2=5" with Thom Yorke's peaceful voice singing of a world where "two and two always makes up five." The glowing "Sit down. Stand up" is definitely the high point of the album. As Yorke mourns the vocals, "sit down. stand up" over and over again, the surreal effect of Johnny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien's guitar work takes a magical hold on the listener along with the simple effect of a chime pattern. The song evolves from something similar to "Optimistic" into a hyped up drumbeat with droning vocals. "Sail to the Moon" starts up with a melodic guitar vibe that is accompanied by a plethora of effects and altered sounds. "Go to Sleep" seems to be a unique departure for a band that is known for such things. The acoustic guitar riff that sets the mood for the song drones on through Thom Yorke's vocals and some excellent bass work to end up practically right where it began. "There There," the album's first single is carried by intertwined guitar riffs with volume swells and a percussion beat that would be more at home with maracas. The album is something of a departure for the band, yet, at the same time, is a back to basics approach to finding the sound they discovered with ‘Kid A.’ The talented group has cranked out yet another success.

    The Raveonettes
    Chain Gang of Love
    Regardless of whether you have heard the buzz about The Raveonettes new album, Chain Gang of Love or not, you will find it to be one of the best indie-rock albums of the year. The Danish duo’s Columbia records debut is full of conceptual garage rock sounds, but with a twist. Since the band’s conception, both Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have worked within the parameters of a fairly simple formula for all of their songs: all songs must only contain three chords, must be less than three minutes in length and in the key of B flat minor. The band’s simplistic formula evokes images of early garage and punk acts but without the “Anti-establishment” attitude. The ever present tape hiss on the CD speaks volumes of the band as well. The Raveonettes are not trying to create the perfect glossed-over rock album but to create an album using older techniques and newer talent that clearly represents the talent involved. In this case, the old cliché is true; the whole is better than the sum of the parts. “That Great Love Sound,” the band’s first single off of the new album is garnering plenty of attention and airplay with it’s interesting guitar parts and complex use of simple chord combinations. With the synchronized chant of “so I walk right up to you / and you walk all over me / and I ask you what you need / and you tell me what I need,” the catchy riff of the song builds over time, slowly pulling listeners in before they realize it. The muffed barrage of distortion that can be heard all over “That Great Love Sound” compliment’s the main guitar parts by acting as a background for them. The band’s unique sound comes at a time when a whole slew of new band’s are trying to take advantage of the rising popularity of “garage rock.” The Raveonettes should not be placed in this group. Their sound is something that is familiar and strangely unique all at once. From the key of all Raveonette songs, to their interesting harmonies stretched over addictive guitar parts, the band is truly proving to all that they are a powerful and musically tight group that has the talent to back up anything they do. Clapping beats lead into “Noisy Summer” with vocals reminiscent of the 1950's evolves into a sustained deep-bass riff that accentuates the vocal sounds of the song. The ever alternating tone of the song creates a beat of it’s own that unfortunately interferes with the song instead of adding to it. Reverb laden solos such as those of “Dirty Eyes (sex don’t sell)”smacks of late ‘60's influences, but without coming off as a bad imitation of one of the great rock bands of the era. Unfortunately, the backing guitar parts for the song sound very similar to the catchy riffs of “That Great Love Sound” only in a different key. Part of the song’s solo parallels that of the main guitar part for “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction),” but it is a unique song in it’s own. “Heartbreak Stroll” is of the same vein as “Dirty Eyes,” but jumps in with a very powerful drumbeat and rhythm section. Jangling riffs and sound effects lead listeners into the opening of “Love Can Destroy Everything;” the beat seems to float along on the minimal slide guitar style riff that carries on throughout the song. “Chain Gang Of Love” definitely reminds listeners of late 40's early 50's electric solo’s that are drowned in reverb and delay effects. Sharin Foo’s vocals add a upbeat sound to the mix that gives the impression of a early 60's blues and rock feel. “The Truth About Johnny” features an attacking drumbeat combined with a guitar bit that sounds like it is straight out of Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk.” The bass lines that cover the bottom of the song are shrouded in a fuzzed effect that makes it barely recognizable. The Raveonettes unlike most of their peers in the record business, concentrate on simplicity and bare-bones talent. The band may not be featured on a “20 hippest artists” list or on the cover of Rolling Stone anytime soon, but the band’s approach to making an album and the talent Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo possess should be more than enough reason to go buy the album. If you need another reason to check out Chain Gang of Love aside from the fact that it is a good rock album, lets say, because every member of the opposite sex really, really likes it.

    The Reunion Show
    Kill Your Television
    Picture a punk band. Now picture a punk band with synthesized keyboards, guitars, and a very upbeat sound. It could only be The Reunion Show out of Long Island was founded out of the ashes of Edna's Goldfish. After Edna's Goldfish, Brian Diaz met up with fellow band mates: Mark Thomas, Derrick Sherman, and Skully to form The Reunion Show. From the very first sounds of “Television,” a fast paced 1-2 punch to “Dedication,” the release is a tight example of talent from New York. “I don’t want, you need it, come on baby, lets come see it.” With this lyric, “Television” gets its energy and becomes song a favorite of the band. “Stuck On You” has a bouncy rhythm that is pushed along by the song’s “ooohh’s.” The band has a sound similar to what would happen if today’s punk-rock met early Blondie. The Reunion Show is a refreshing bout of talent that is outside of the norm. “Alligator Love Trap” has the sustained fingerings of a song that seems all too familiar yet unrecognizable. The song’s main intro section works off of various lyric sections that cause mounting tension that ends in a finely tuned riff. The crescendos of "Oh..Is It A Full Moon (Again?)" create the borderlines for an excellent track.

    River City High
    River City High Won't Let you Down
    Ever since their inception, River City High has not wasted a second in their pursuit of the almighty chord. Similar to The Ataris sans the punk guitar, RCH brings to the table a new-lighter form of punk rock that is punk sensibility mixed with rock standards. RCH plays with rhythmic guitar licks and honest lyrics. More than the guitar and the vocals though, River City High brings to the table the new chic recipe for good music. They mix very decent guitar chords evenly with vocals that neither scream or whisper. River City High brings a normal sound to punk music. One that is not boring, but interesting. Their sobering sound intrigues and catches interested listeners in just the right way.

    The Rocket Summer
    Calendar Days
    The opening chords of "Cross my Heart" give listeners an inkling of the talent on the Rocket Summer's emo-esque debut. The catchy drumbeats of "Skies so Blue" seems to accompany the riffs of the song perfectly. Not bad - for someone barely out of high school who plays all of the instruments on the release. The slow tempo of "That's So You" features both the highs and lows of Bryce Avery's vocal talent. For a musician who sings very well in a mellow low-key style, trying to stretch his vocal cords to their limit doesn't necessarily make a song better. However the song is definitely saved by the more mellow points and bare bones acoustic backing. "Mean Thoughts and Cheap Shots," is one of the best songs in the release. The upbeat song features a catchy rhythm to Avary's drums and vocals. The best way to describe "Movie Stars and Super Models" is that it contains a quiet garage rock style intro with plenty of pop and meaningful lyrics. The bouncy acoustic riff of "What We Hate We Make," is very interesting with a mix of lyrics and vocals that cover the span of Bryce Avery's talent. This is quite an impressive release across the board.

    Roger Miret & The Disasters
    When I put this record on the first time, I was surprised to note that it was by Roger Miret. Honestly I was a little disappointed. Songs such as "Run Johnny Run" and "Radio, Radio" contain typical punk elements, but essentially bring nothing new to the table. "Punch The Clock" pulls the listener in with a fresh intro and beat. Aside from several technical riffs in such songs as "Boys Will Be Boys" and "Smash It Up" and an interesting lead bass in "Give 'Em the Boot," the record is somewhat mediocre and middle of the road.

    "Blueside" is a very powerful song to kick-start the bands new album. The song reeks of Beach Boys influences and the band's own more updated form of surf rock. The band's light sound is carried by the vocal and guitar combination of Robert Carmine and Taylor Locke through light riffs and solos that truly feature the bands sound. 'Stay Away's reverb drive rock bumps along to a quick up-tempo drum beat and the swooning vocals of Carmine. In "popstars." the keyboards, both guitars and the drums all play off of each other to create a great "riff" that keeps listeners following the band. "popstars" definitely captures the talent involved with the band when they try to be themselves, and don't lean too heavily on 60's era influences. "sorry sorry" tells the story of apologizing for making a girls life "a living hell" in a humorous mood that is carried by Louie Stephens' keyboards and an impressive guitar solo. The opening riff of "That girl has love" seems to be little more than a stretched out version to the opening of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" with more of a mellow vibe. The record shows the band's talent in several very original and good songs, yet, there are also several songs that seem too heavily influenced by the Beach Boys vibe to even consider listening to.

    The Smashing Pumpkins
    Judas O / Rotten Apples
    Shortly after the Pumpkins breakup, plans were made for a greatest hits CD. The rare-tracks second CD was created later. Flowing through early hits such as "Siva", "Cherub Rock", and "1979" to more recent hits like "Perfect", "The Everlasting Gaze" and their most recent single, "Untitled." The CD briefly highlights the band's definitive history from "Siamese Dream" through "Machina." The CD does an adequate job -but not dignified enough for a band containing 3 (or 4 depending on your point of view) of rock's greatest musicians. "Untitled", however leaves the listener hanging on as the song is a new style for the band and shows what a new album would have sounded like. "Judas o" the second CD contains 16 of the Pumpkins rare B-sides that are very hard to find. The CD makes for interesting as several of the tracks sound of Corgan's early attempts at a goth-metal band. Others such as "Aeroplane Flies High" bring a whole new -artsy- taste to the listeners with spoken word vocals and slow moving bass lines. More familiar tracks such as "Slow Dawn" and "Here's To The Atom Bomb" hit home with delectable rhythms and meaningful vocals. Other tracks such as "Saturnine" and "Soot and Stars" bring out a techno-ish quality in the Pumpkins music. The release brings out the best of the Smashing Punpkins, without giving anything but the best tracks.

    The Smoking Popes
    The Party's Over
    Finally, "New" material from the Smoking Popes is available. The record title seems a bit ironic since this is the last record the band officially released. "Seven Lonely Days" features the band's trademark sound accompanied by the lovesick lyrics that made the group a favorite of all. "Valentine" evolves from a quiet love song into a rocking lighthearted emo hit. "The Party's Over" opens with alternating distorted guitar chords playing off of the song's vocals. The catchy tempo and upbeat rhythm of the song immediately make it true ear candy. Ending on a harmonic riff, the song immediately gets the listener to unconsciously press repeat. The perfect spacing of up and down stroked chords on “Stormy Weather” combined with the sustained vocals of Josh Carterer makes the song an excellent nominee for “best song of the record.” The reverb of “Wake Up Crying” creates an interesting tune that shows the talent The Smoking Popes possessed.

    Wiretap Scars
    Just three months after At the Drive-In went on hiatus, Sparta was born. With the same energy and screaming vocals that ATDI made famous, Sparta develop the style into a more effective and interesting blend of melodic distortion and twisting drumbeats with more pronunciation and an ever increasing fan base. Sparta's debut album "Wiretap Scars" is a collection of experimental rock tracks that are ATDI, -- with a big twist. The loud shouts of Jim Ward in "Cut Your Ribbon" are a wild mix of screams and whispers that are musically sound and echo of the band's El Paso past. From the feedback in "Cut Your Ribbon" to the swelling vocals of "Mye," the CD is a very tight composition of musical twists and turns that is Sparta. The best track of the lot, it must be said, is hidden at the end of the CD. "RX Coup's" freakishly weird distortion and helter skelter bass lines are lifted up by Ward's incredible vocals and then left to crash back down again, only to mellow out into some of Ward's lighter vocals for a completely mind blowing song. Then right when you think you have heard the best this band can offer, the intro to "Glasshouse Tarot" begins. This song is a barely explainable quieter number with a guitar led incubus-like vibe. This band will be hailed as the new At the Drive In - both literally and figuratively - and with due cause.

    The Stills
    Logic Will Break Your Heart
    From the very first moments of "lola stars and stripes," fans get a view of the melancholic sound of the band and why they are attracting such a following in wake of their current tour. The melodic guitar tones of lead guitarist Greg Paquee are used to create a somber mood without the aid of distortion. Tim Fletcher's down to earth vocals do not attempt to stress a high falsetto voice or waves of screaming craziness, but rather are more quiet and compliment the band well. On "gender bombs," the bass filled slow-moving riff that makes up the bass of the song is joined first but strummed guitar chords and then a faint solo riff while the drumming of Dave Hamelin slowly picks up the tempo. Halfway through the song, the notion that you have heard this sound before kicks in. I am reminded very much of The Doves' "The Last Broadcast." While there are definite differences and the two groups are easy to distinguish, there are also definite similarities. "Love and death" kicks off with a quick tempo drum roll before diving right into the guitars and verse section while the song keeps building until the tapered off ending. The treble-filled sound of "ready for it" is built on a more upbeat mood and both Fletcher's vocals and the instruments themselves seem to state this. "Allison Krausse" begins as though someone is turning up the song on a radio and that is the effect is apparent throughout the song. The intense, yet low volume of the solo riff that accompanies the song is equally matched by the Fletcher's guitar work as the song continues. The jazzy breaks that end the song allow the listener to see the song in one of several ways. "Fevered's" cascading effect that is created by both guitars almost playing off of each other -note for note. Right when the song appears as if it will end, a fuzz-filled guitar interlude kicks the energy up a notch before the mood is then brought back to one of sadness. The melody and lullaby that is "yesterday never tomorrows" finally gets underway after a strange effect intro. The plucked notes of Hamelin's keyboard work are backed by a wall of sound created by Fletcher and Paquee's guitar work. The wonderful aura of chords that signify the end of the record are beauty themselves and are very symbolic of the type of record The Stills have made. The album's beautiful songs and nice melodies are a perfect effort, even if the band's sound may strongly reflect that of other bands.

    The Suicide Machines
    Steal This Record
    The Suicide Machines new album, “Steal This Record,” kicks off with a very powerful and well thought through song, “The Killing Blow.” Apart from blistering lyrics matched with interesting guitar riffs, the song comes through as a well delivered kick in the face. Off of a highly successful self titled record, the band has returned to its harder more fan-oriented hardcore mix of light and fast punk with heavy distortion. This is shown no better than on the second track, “Steal this Record.” To the shouts of, “Riot! Rebellion for sale,” the CD gets underway with its hardcore hooks and immense vocals. The Suicide Machines own brand of comedy can be found in the power beat-driven “Honor Among Thieves.” However the highlight, whether bad or good, is the Machines’ cover of REM’s “It’s the End of the World As we Know It.” Hearing a punk band cover REM without worrying about nailing every part, but rather with conveying a message inspires all who listen. However the most important, and this critic’s favorite song on the new release is not an REM cover or a title song, but “The Air We Breathe.” A powerful and politically charged anthem for a better tomorrow and a better future. The American way.

    Tenacious D
    Tenacious D
    The D is back! For any comedy lovers (that should be everyone), the powerful combination of Jack Black and Kyle Gass makes up one of the most hilarious and honest musician/comedy duos of the age. Besides the good musical content of songs such as "Tribute", "One Note Song" and "Wonderboy", the lyrical content of the songs makes for good comic value. In this day and age, how many talented comic/musician duos do you know that are not good, but great? Just one, Tenacious D! Tenacious D brings British rock without the British. They bring inspiring and interesting new music fit for the masses.

    Apocalypse Dudes
    They are calling this new generation of aggro "screamo" and The Blood Brothers is riding that wave for all it is worth. Already prolific, the group in 2003 has a five-title discography starting with the attention-getting 2001 release March on Electric Children. It is obvious from this output and the explosive, frenetic tracks of this album that the guys in this band are fill of energy. Two dedicated vocalists screaming and carrying on unfettered by even so much as maracas is the main weapon in the arsenal of The Blood Brothers. Old school fans of post-punk aggro will see this noisy group, which features a lot of swing in their clamorous grooves, as a cross between Laughing Hyenas and Alice Donut. This is a sophisticated, intelligent take on hardcore that should not go unnoticed. (4). (Courtesy outsight@usa.net)

    Turin Brakes
    The Optomist LP
    Another talented trio of the English/Welsh revelution of acoustic songs and meaningful pauses are the Turin Brakes. Comparable to the Stereophonics, The Turin Brakes brings a soothing and mellow sound to the scene. The idea of Brit rock is drying up very quick with bands like Turin Brakes and Matthew Jay going out on a last hurrah. They seem to be all that's left of the decent but dying genre. The vocals of Turin Brakes at times go from pleasant to annying. The unexperienced chops of Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian seem to solely be held up by the backing instruments and their amazing talent with the acoustic guitar. "The Door" and "Emergency 72" seem to deliver the most with the true spirit of what all Turin Brakes songs should be. Simple yet completely complex. Cheers to Turin Brakes.

    Unwritten Law
    The bands second major label release, Elva, shows the band’s new turn in music. From their previous album, the band uses more hard-driving anthems rather than ballads. There is a little something for everyone on the album. UL’s ever-present and very fun lighter emo-punk ballads are well represented as are harder punk-rock songs such as “Sound Siren” and “Blame It On Me,” a fast-paced rock lesson in depression. and more down to earth lighter songs such as and “Geronimo” and “How You Feel.” However, as in past releases, the band’s success comes from their ability to combine the two to form their own unique brand of punk that has already made them mainstay’s in underground charts where they have stayed and will stay thanks to the success of this album. The trademark UL sound from their self-titled release off of tracks such as: “Teenage Suicide” and “Harmonic” is present in “Geronimo,” the ever memorable “Actress, Model...,” and “Up All Night.” This powerful combination should prove the legacy and talent of Unwritten Law once and for all.

    Weezer - A Tribute
    This tribute while having a lot of great bands, falls quite short of what a successful weezer tribute should be. While Affinity delves into “My Name is Jonas” with a precision intro, the idea of a hardcore band butchering a Weezer song is not appealing to me. Piebald, however, provides a very accurate and upbeat version of “No One Else,” while many other Weezer covers are barely distinguishable from the original. A great amount of credit however, goes to Dashboard Confessional for their intriguing and clever new adaptation of “Jamie.” With backing female vocals, the track comes across even more beautiful than the original. Besides these highlights, the CD is rather unimpressive with several weak acoustic covers and a few over attempted singles.

    Ocean Avenue
    The new release of Ocean Avenue is finally here. "Way Away" kicks off with a powerful riff and the larnyx-twisting vocals of Ryan Key. The keyboard like guitar riff that cuts into a rocking verse gives way to a drum interlude and some interesting vocals. interesting solos cover a great part of "Breathing" as Ryan Key oozes out, "Can you feel it beating / my heart sinking like a weight." The height of the song is when Key continues, "And I can feel you breathing / and it's keepinng me awake." The light lead guitar tone of "Empty Apartment" accentuate the light drum-like tapping of the band's overall sound. The tone turns into a solo full of light distortion and crunch and the light strumming sound of acoustic guitars. The song ends on the light plunking of a guitar and some light jazz-like drum work. The upbeat sound of "Life of a Salesman," is definitely brought to new highs by the interesting guitar sound of the song. Guitarist Benjamin Harper attempts to build too much with the song and the result is a weak guitar solo and some decent verse sections. "View From Heaven" starts out with a Goo Goo Dolls like atmosphere and then rockets from a bluegrass part into an All-American Rejects like crooning sentimental verse. The album is basically a light representation of The All-American Rejects with a few talented tunes. Although a wide variety of instruments was brought into the studio to reach for a new sound, the album comes off a bit weak with a band that attempts to follow the talent of vocalist Ryan Key.