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05 May 2006

Office, Q & A (self-released) Rating: 8
Scott Masson got sick of his dead end cubicle jobs. As a matter of fact, he feared them. So, when fiddling around with experimental pop ditties in his garage, he thought of forming a band and even named it after his biggest fear. With Q & A, he'll never have to worry about TPS reports again. Office delivers punchy, in-your-face guitar pop with no apologies. The dry production leaves no frills aside from the occasional keyboard trill and vaguely techno-styled drumming. The lyrics, unsurprisingly, deal with office-related issues, but not in the conventional sense. On the piano pop of "Dominos," he counteracts untrue gossip by simply crooning "so you think you can talk shit about me when I'm not around / Honey this city's just a little town when the fact's don't make sense". Office can get a letter from the Postal Service ("Not Her Style"), employees can get guitar-fueled road rage on the way to work ("Had a Visit"), but the year-end report looks good: they're going to be in the black for a long time to come. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Evan Sawdey
"Possibilities": [MP3]
"Bar Yellow": [MP3]
"Busy with Other Things": [MP3]
"Wound Up": [MP3]
multiple songs: [player]

The Field Register, Tire & Caster (Ships at Night) Rating: 7
The opening guitar figure of "Sounding Out" is an instantly captivating hello from Montreal's The Field Register. Intricate and melodic, it sets the table for the rest of Tire & Caster, where Jeannot Boudreau's calm, understated vocals swim in seas of gorgeous intervals and shifting rhythms. The instrumental "Seven Four" exudes a Stereolab-ish cool as different keyboard and guitar textures take turns cartwheeling around Gilles Castilloux's metronome-precise drumming. "Fair Grounds" shakes things up nicely with some prickly guitar ambience, but the noise never overwhelms the song's steadfast charm. The songs are also exquisitely arranged. "Fort Knocks" recalls Mates of State ancestors Vosotros, with male/female call-and-response vocals fit snugly on an urgent backbeat. Each piece of the instrumental puzzle falls confidently in place, yet still manages to avoid feeling studied or stale. Few rock bands possess such a keen ear to balance abrasion with beauty with these kinds of results. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Michael Metivier
"Ceramic": [MP3]
"Lines": [MP3]
multiple songs: [MySpace]

Disposable Thumbs, We Watched the Sun Go Supernova (Freeze Tag Music) Rating: 6
Disposable Thumbs are the pet project of Zach Lewis, he claims to be the only permanent member. This EP release is a cocktail of six short (under three minutes for the most part) and punchy tunes that sound like a 22nd Century Ric Ocasek experimenting with that retro 1980s Cars sound. Pretty, throwaway pop tunes that successfully employ electronica to guitar pop. "I've got a damaged frontal lobe/I wonder if I'm dumber" warbles Lewis in his best Elvis Costello vibrato. Make no mistake, this is Nerd Rock but the kinetic energy contained within all of the tracks is not marred by the wordy lyrics. In fact they add to the entertainment value, they are eminently quotable. This is one for fans of The Cars, Devo and Robert Pollard. It is kind of derivative but I happen to like the things that it is derived from. I'd be interested to hear what Lewis will do with his up and coming full-length album. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Marc A. Price
"Soap Lady": [MP3]
"Girl on Fire": [MP3]
multiple songs: [MySpace]

Fellow Project, Where's the Wire? 10" (Make or Break) Rating: 6
Plenty of bands claim to blend punk and folk, but Fellow Project manage to actually sort of do it, as if they had been listening to the Minutemen around a campfire. As you might expect from a group that would release a 10", this record is a lo-fi do-it-yourself use-a-hyphen disc, which, for once, sounds like an aesthetic enhancement instead of just a financial limitation or an authenticity pose. The band's not clueless, though, acknowledging, "If it's bad enough it might be big". They don't seem to care if it's big, even if they have passion (directed at not knowing where to direct it). [Amazon | Insound]
      — Justin Cober-Lake
dozens of songs: [MP3]

.: posted by Editor 7:54 AM

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In bold are PopMatters Picks, the best in new music.
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be your own PET
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Ise Lyfe
Jefferson Airplane
Lord Jamar
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The Procussions
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Diana Ross
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Alice Smith
Snow Patrol
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Sound Team
Regina Spektor
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Matthew Sweet
Rhonda Vincent
Thom Yorke

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The Coup + T-Kash
Mike Doughty Band
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Fiery Furnaces + Man Man
The Futureheads
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Bettye Lavette
Love Parade
Nine Inch Nails + Bauhaus
Sonic Youth
Splendour in the Grass 2006
The Streets
Sunset Rubdown

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