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Monster-0, Entertainment System (Omega Point)
Beware of albums bearing cover shots of Ninja Gaiden on the front and a Nintendo controller on the back. Given those images, one would think the sound of the band would be equitable to a video game. Monster-0 certainly doesn't land far from that idea. The "band" is a Daemon Hatfield, who's doing it all himself here. It's a bit too retro-'80s overall. Once the listener gets past the kitsch quality here, this album is nothing more than a second-rate novelty. The covers of "Love Is on the Way" and "The Politics of Dancing" are as weak as you might assume. Hatfield does manage to turn out one good song, though. "Jesus Christ (I'm Having a Good Time)" is as enjoyable as any of the one-hit wonders that Monster-0 is trying to emulate.
Run Run Run, Drizzle EP (TFT)
A nice, dark-sounding piece of work that has that perfect element of hooj to it. Singer/guitarist Xander Smith manages to coax out a little My Bloody Valentine from his instrument without paying over-the-top homage to Kevin Shields. The title track is a mini-masterpiece in itself, all gloomy melodies, swirling guitars, and hypnotic beats. "Song and Dance" threatens to tip the whole thing over in an ecstatic wash of despair, but snatches the show away from the precipice at just the right moment. High drama at its finest. Run Run Run have already been tapped by The Osbournes, so it would seem the big time has been clutched already. The five-song EP includes a bonus disc housing the video for the song "Skyscraper". An excellent release for those blue-gray days.
Tryst, Kids of Big Stars (MH)
Tryst are a nice little band making nice little songs and sounds. Tim Cohan and Ellen Highstone's voices blend perfectly and add an extra layer of dreaminess to the already floaty songs. There seems to be something a bit sinister going on underneath the grooves on songs like "Spin My Wheels", but the French horn and tasty guitars tell another tale. "Jayne Wright" and "Dirty Trick" should turn anyone into an instant fan if they aren't after the first two songs. Kids of Big Stars is a quiet masterpiece that borrows elements from '70s pop and blends them ecstatically with the best indie pop flavors around. A sneak attack in the best way imaginable, Tryst and Kids of Big Stars should go a long way in satisfying anyone with a taste for wonderful pop rock.