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10 March 2006

Jose Gonzalez, Stay in the Shade EP (Hidden Agenda/Parasol) Rating: 8
Jose Gonzalez grabbed me with "Crosses" and refused to let go. His debut album, Veneer, was all slow-picked wonder and soft beauty -- witness sleeper hit "Heartbeats", The Knife turned all unexpected beauty and loss. On his new EP, Stay In The Shade, Gonzales doesn't tinker too much with the successful formula; though, if anything, veering more towards the classical, on patter-patter ballad "Sensing Owls" and the closing instrumental track. The highlight is Kylie Minogue cover "Hand On Your Heart", worth the asking price alone; forget for a moment it's KM reinvented and focus on the reinvention: Gonzalez' voice sings sorrow with keening immediacy, and the song's sentiment - simply overwhelming. No doubt about it, Gonzalez is on his way up -- "Stay in the Shade" hummed recently over a shot of a teenager beneath crystal water in The O.C.. Even without the marketing push, he's more than worth a listen -- fragile, exquisite constructions of songs softly slide into your heart. — Dan Raper [Insound]
MySpace: [multiple songs]

Sonic Syndicate, Eden Fire (Pivotal) Rating: 6
Swedish sextet Sonic Syndicate might be a bunch of young pups, most of the band not even past their teens, but on their debut album, they're already showing us they have the ability to surpass every American metalcore pretender out there. Drawing heavily from the classic melodic death metal style of Swedish greats Dark Tranquillity and In Flames, the band isn't content to toss off a bland imitation like their stateside counterparts, instead using that template as a starting point for their sound. Like metalcore faves Bleeding Through, keyboards add a refreshing dimension, and while the melodic guitar riffs draw us in, it's the little surprises that hold our interest, be it the black metal atmospherics of "Where the Black Lotus Grows" and "Zion Must Fall", bassist Karin Axelsson's melodic vocal turn on "Enhance My Nightmare", or the pure Soilwork-style muscle of "Jailbreak". The album doesn't misstep as much as it tends to slightly overextend its reach every so often, but for a band barely out of their teens, this is a very encouraging debut, a sign that big things could be in store. The seed has been sown, that's for sure. [Insound]
      — Adrien Begrand
"Jailbreak": [MP3]

Don's Teeth, A Resounding Boo for the Suits (Altstream) Rating: 4
"I cashed out my 401k today/I can't sell my soul for another day" declares singer Jeff Nelson at the outset of Don's Teeth's booing session. That's right, it's the yuppie blues, and Don's Teeth has had enough of corporate life. That opening track, "Pledge Allegiance and Pray," manages to work, due to a lullaby-like melody and its brevity. The subsequent title track also proves effective, with its quietly seething lyrics about the "suits" hiding behind pop songs-"there's a suit behind you, too," Nelson reminds us. Alas, from there things go downhill quickly, as Nelson's acoustic venting grows tiresome and obvious. "It's a hard thing to discover/Ambition doesn't matter within the corporate structure" he sings, and indeed, it is. Of course, most of us make that discovery around the onset of puberty; did Nelson miss, say, Office Space, Wall Street, and every other entry in the massive "corporate life is a shallow, soul-shredding shell game" genre, as well as the Enron, WorldCom, and other scandals of the past few years? He recoils from "all this coke and infidelity" as if he were expecting a grandfatherly CEO to pat him on the back and give him some kind words of wisdom. It's either hopelessly na´ve or self-servingly disingenuous, and either way it makes for stultifying music. There's a girl who broke Nelson's heart in there, too; isn't there always? Maybe on their next album Don's Teeth can uncover some more shocking truths: Republicans are hypocrites! Baseball players use steroids! Bland, overly obvious acoustic rock makes critics use more venom than its mediocrity warrants! — Whitney Strub [Insound]
"Pledge Alligiance and Pray": [MP3]

Modern Skirts, Catalogue of Generous Men (self-released Rating: 7
Adding to the already lengthy list of impressive bands from Athens, Georgia, Modern Skirts write and record the lush type of piano-based music Five for Fighting wish they had invented. Grandiose reverb and Beach Boy harmonies are the standard on this album. The songs are instantly memorable and impeccably structured. Modern Skirts could pass for an adult contemporary band, but that label doesn't do justice to their consistency. Track after track, melody after melody, Modern Skirts produce gorgeous pop music that has no qualms about its majestic style or its often sentimental subject matter. It's refreshingly indulgent, like splurging on the chocolate mousse even though it's loaded with calories and saturated fat. You know Catalogue of Generous Men has its fare share of nutritional horrors, but it's so damn rich and delicious that you can't help but eat the whole thing. [Insound]
      — David Bernard
multiple songs: [MySpace]

The Everlasting Arms, The Everlasting Arms (self-released) Rating: 4
The Everlasting Arms debut album (available on vinyl and CD-R) contains eight tracks of lo-fi post-punk. The group doesn't avoid hooks altogether, but they largely forego melodicism for a steadily-enclosing atmosphere. The band sounds best when it keeps its performances moving (as on the start of the record); some of the tracks bog down in their own pauses, leading them to sound drawn-out instead of slowly-paced. The Everlasting Arms do work that tension well in "Man Down" in which a simple bass groove gives way to a freakout. These guys are still finding themselves, and right now it's unclear if they're on the trail of anything interesting. — Justin Cober-Lake [Insound]

.: posted by Editor 7:23 AM

09 March 2006

Airport 81, Put Your Squares Together (Breathing Room) Rating: 6
Ever wonder why you couldn't get the Super Mario Bros. theme song out of your head? So do a lot of bands. Though they don't hit the same emotional peaks that video-game poppers Tree Wave do, Airport 81 still make a valiant effort on their debut LP, Put Your Squares Together. Aside from a few vocal shout-outs, this is a pure instrumental album, largely structured in pop-rock numbers with a helluva lot of keyboards. The band fortunately never locks up into huge jam-based techno grooves - each song has a shifting and changing dynamic, sometimes bubbling keys slithering along at one moment, sometimes full-on rock bass guitar the next. Highlights like "Go Fly a Kite" and the new wave-y "Hectometre" make you believe this might be a completely valid subgenre of music, while closer "Trouble on the Assembly Line" sort of makes you glad that MIDI is on the downfall. They have yet to make their own catchy Tetris theme song, but damn they're coming close. [Insound]
      — Evan Sawdey
"Bonus Jack": [MP3]
"Go Fly a Kite": [MP3]

Alice in Videoland, Outrageous! (Storming) Rating: 5
On their sophomore album, techno-pop tarts Alice in Videoland use the template they established with their debut, 2003's Maiden Voyage, and, well, record exactly the same record all over again. The formula is fairly simple: Take a high-tempo mix of clubby synth programming, add a smidgeon of live rock instrumentation, and cap it all off with a blonde female vocalist in Toril Lindqvist who marries the "I got attitude" singing styles of Gwen Stefani and Missing Persons' Dale Bozzio. With rare exception, AiV prove themselves to be a purpose-built machine whose sole objective is to get you to move your body, don't drop, never stop, keep it going, feel the burn, dance all night, go, go, go. If this is all you require from an album, then Outrageous! is more than adequate to the task. Nearly every track keeps the energy pumping enough to keep your heart rate at hummingbird level. But, really, this is dumb music. Lindqvist's lyrical sketches of human mating rituals are thin and feel tossed-off. Musically, the band are equally uninventive, albeit highly effective. If electroclash is dead, then so is the wonderful layer of irony associated with that genre. Alice in Videoland will have you burning calories with renewed vigor, but don't go digging for anything deeper. It's not there. — Michael Keefe [Insound]
Outrageous!: [player]

The Pacific, The Pacific (Swing House) Rating: 6
You learn something new every day! I didn't know Los Angeles had a river, who knew? Okay, back to this review. The Pacific resembles a pop rock band that will always make fine power pop tracks in the vein of Odds but won't get the respect. "American Crime Song" is a decent, hook-tinged tune led by singer Curt Barlage. "Come On, Come Down" is another okay song that is catchy in a Bash & Pop kind of way but one you won't find yourself replaying over and over. "Keeping Me Around" is the winding kind of rock track that keeps your interest throughout with the brief power chords. Just as pleasing, if not more pleasing, is the slower, Beatles-esque "Don't You Know". It is generally an album of hit, hit and miss, as "Eastern Son" is strong but "Post-Stardom Era" is rather weak and doesn't play to their strengths at all. The highlight might be how well "Drunk Stumbling Suitcase" comes off with its summer driving feel and up-tempo groove. The album's dark horse could be "Mexico to Tokyo" that is rowdy and ragged and all the better as a result. Another poppy nugget that falls just outside the box is "Actors, Photographers & Designers". — Jason MacNeil [Insound]

The Films, The Films EP (Filter US) Rating: 7
Banging out a three-song EP (or maxi-single, as they call it) will never make or break a band, but The Films deliver a trio of tunes that couldn't serve as a better introduction. The Films mix the swagger of a '60s soul-inspired rock band with perfect pop choruses. It's the grit of The Rolling Stones with the polish of The Beatles. Moving from the ragged waltz of "That Kind of Day" to the catchy background vocals of "Come On", this collection has little room for improvement. Of course, the biggest question involves the band's ability to stretch their ideas into a full-length album. There's nowhere to go but straight down. — David Bernard [Insound]

The Sleepers, Birthday (Slug) Rating: 3
Remember that time when Sonic Youth ruled the universe? Well, some argue they still do, and those some might be right (to a degree). They're one of the most influential groups to appear in the past 20 years, but influence and exact-imitation is a tricky line to cross - Denver-bred The Sleepers fail to see the difference. While "C'mon Frank" is a great late-era Breeders knock-off song if there ever was one, the group tends to generally fly between bland Kim Deal guitar ballads ("Milky Way" & "Ely"), and a fairly basic Sonic Youth imitation that doesn't even come close to holding a Daydream Nation candle. Like that kid in a Beginning Acting class who tries to be DeNiro in his first-ever scene (and fails miserably), here is a group that needs to get over their hero worship in order to craft original songs that sound like the Sleepers - not a poor man's art-rock band. [Insound]
      — Evan Sawdey
"Hier Am Main": [MP3]
"Honey": [MP3]

.: posted by Editor 8:40 AM

08 March 2006

The Stairs, On Sleep Lab (Access to Vision) Rating: 8
The Boston music press missed the boat on The Stairs, waiting until the eve of their final show to give them any real notice. That final show for The Stairs was also the release party for their sprawling, 15-track swan song, On Sleep Lab. It's a predictably ambitious album; The Stairs never sounded like a local band and were never ones to let relative obscurity dictate their actions, releasing three full-lengths (including a song by song cover album of the Silver Jews album The Natural Bridge) and the Chime Away EP. They racked up consistently good reviews on the web and were even able to get themselves out of Massachusetts for a two-week string of shows dubbed the "We're So Underground We're Practically in Japan" tour (it's also the title of one of On Sleeps Lab's final songs). And they got better with each album, more adept at layering instruments and harmonies, smarter about arranging their restlessly creative ideas to support their always present reach for hooks. It's no coincidence that this album holds their best song, and probably the best song to come out of Boston last year, the startlingly good "Escape Clause" ("I know the names off 666 stars and the men whose allegiance leaves scars"). They aren't afraid to let some songs sprawl and meander, while others ("All Hands on Hano Street," ""Einstein & His Enemies") gel into little nuggets almost right away. Some, most notably "Fireflies (November 10th)," manage to do both. Their best songs can make you feel like you're hearing their creation on the spot. You get caught up in a giddy excitement that doesn't get carried away, that serves the songs instead of itself. The album's final words, "Once you're dead, you're done... you don't come back," in this case are only partially true; Stairs singer Ryan Walsh has an excellent new band, Hallelujah the Hills, picking up where his fine former band left off. [Insound]
      — Jon Langmead
"Escape Clause": [MP3]
"These Damn Hands": [MP3]
"This Town Let Me Down": [MP3]

Malkovich Music, Skeletons (self-released) Rating: 6
Gershwin BLX member Crag Malkovich steps out on his own with a debut solo album as Malkovich Music, Skeletons. Lines like "I walk through life with my heart on my sleeve" doom him to be perpetually labeled "emo rap", but we're smarter than that, right? And while Malkovich isn't exactly a contender for top MC in the game, he flows with an unhurried facility and ease that suits the downtempo production well. His choice of content matter ranges from the aforementioned emo to near abstraction, but he manages to hold interest even as he introspects through his charismatic delivery and a knack for imagery. The production draws your real attention here: the beats are dark and spare, stripped-back soundscapes built from sluggish drums and dim, twilight samples. "Innerview" explodes in an eerie twinkle of broken glass, hell and shimmery strings; "Skeletons (Malkovich Theme)" is like a Nintendo soundtrack drifting slowly through a spacey nightmare. The real highlight here, "Old Soul", combines a dense, thickening-thinning build-shrink beat with some of Malkovich's best lyrics and ends up with something transcendent. In the end, Skeletons is sitting at home, alone on that late night, and thinking about life. The good times, the bad times, alone; to dismiss this with merely a label would be unfair. — Michael Frauenhofer [Insound]
Skeletons: [player]

Various Artists, The Best of the Taste of Chaos (Warcon) Rating: 3
The Taste of Chaos Tour is positioning itself as the harder twin of the Warped Tour, and on the basis of this double-disc collection of affiliated acts, it succeeds: it, too, can jam-pack multiple stages with vapid, mediocre, cookie-cutter drivel. Anyone who can tell Bleed the Dream, Bleeding Through, and the Bled apart (all are represented here, as are Bloodsimple and Most Precious Blood) deserves free tickets and a remedial course in music history. Not only are these bands same-sounding, but it's a terrible sound: fence-sitting between metal and punk, most of the bands bust out frail aggro on the verses but then retreat to tired pop-punk melodies for the choruses (or vice versa), in a cynical display of knowledge as to what pays the bills. To be fair, there are bright moments; Billy Talent's "Red Flag" is a great burst of fist-pumping old-school punk, while the Dillinger Escape Plan's "Unretrofied" remains as ridiculously catchy as it was when its new-wave inflected metalcore inspired outrage on extreme-music discussion boards two years ago. For each such pleasant tidbit, though, there are six generic doses of Story of the Year, Dark New Day, etc. Worst of all is Matchbook Romance, who apparently missed the memo about faux-metal replacing acoustic whining as the standard-bearer of the semi-hipster teen market; they trot out an unbearable five minute sedative that sounds like Dashboard Confessional covering Peter Frampton, complete with lyrics such as, "Baby, if you want me to/I'd do anything for you". It almost makes one appreciate the mindless screaming plastering this collection, but not quite. — Whitney Strub [Insound]

Rachael Cantu, Run All Night EP (Q Division) Rating: 5
The oaky, haunted voice of California-via-Boston singer-songwriter Rachael Cantu is, wisely, the showpiece of her sophomore EP Run All Night. It's a mature fit for the eight stark, shadowy mood pieces within, as evocative as the tasty instrumental embellishments that provide stylistic compliment. The tension-building "My First War", dimly shimmering "Sweat & Bones", and deliberately haggard title track all hang their naked folky bones on the strength of her croon. Cantu's exceptional voice can't exactly mask her unexceptional songs, however, nor does it forgive her prosaic lyrics ("You say that you love me / And you say that you need me" is one of the not-so-profound semi-refrains indicative of the lyrical content in general). If Run All Night can boast anything, it's that it has a voice made for regretful late nights, a voice you would tireless long for if it were only given something interesting to say. — Zeth Lundy [Insound]

The States, Multiply Not Divide (self-released) Rating: 6
Big old fat disclosure: went to college with these guys; but the good news w/r/t objectivity is, I never saw them or heard any material till now. Expecting MOR rock (the press material describes the band's sound as "U2 mixed with Led Zeppelin"), though, you'll be pleasantly surprised: The States combine exceedingly familiar components into a refreshing, melodic brand of geek-rock. Sure, the 5-3-5-3 oscillation on "Diplomats" is ripped straight from the Strokes ("12:51"), but made up for by the gorgeous "don't walk away" chorus. Other songs, like "Inquisition" and "x not ¸" update classic U2 sound all lugubrious-Franz-Ferdipants-dance-pop-rock. But as the album's title suggests, mathematics is the key: a girl doesn't walk over, she "asymptotically approaches". The sound quality's entirely demo-level, unfortunately; these songs could use a slick makeover -- then, it's no far stretch to imagine them blasting over MTV2 or mainstream radio. — Dan Raper [Insound]

.: posted by Editor 7:46 AM

07 March 2006

Christian Kiefer & Sharron Kraus, The Black Dove (Tompkins Square) Rating: 8
This dark, twisted song cycle has the minor-key mournfulness of a lost Appalachian field recording, spiked with stately rhythms of banjo and sweetened with violin and piano. But however authentic the songs may sound -- from the pennywhistle lament of "Prelude" to the archaic sparseness of all-banjo "Heaven and Hell" -- no one should confuse Christian Kiefer and Sharron Kraus with barefoot rustics. Kiefer is working on a Ph.D. in American literature at UC Davis, while British-born Kraus has, at times, tutored Oxford students in philosophy and ethics. Both hover in the shadowy corners of experimental folk, paring minor chord melodies to their purest, most elemental forms. Of the two, Kraus has the more transparently old-time-y voice, hitting stark, simple notes with the slightest flourish of vibrato, as on the luminous "On the Chase". Kiefer's voice, heard on "Cold Blue Room", is more of a contemporary murmur, winding up through the piano notes like blue smoke cooling and curling toward the ceiling. Highlight cuts combine the pair's love of tradition with a hint of modern dissonance, as in the ravaging violin tones of "White Shroud." Here high, tonally varied drums keep a ritual tempo, as strings scrape and abrade in funereal agony. The cut is followed by The Black Doves's most accessible moment, "Dearest", where banjos flicker in the corners of a triumphant pop melody, along the lines of Shearwater or Okkervil River. [Insound]
      — Jennifer Kelly
"On the Chase": [MP3]
"White Shroud": [MP3]
"Dearest": [MP3]

Various Artists, To: Elliott From: Portland (Expunged) Rating: 4
The late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith's adopted hometown pays tribute to him on this collection of infrequently inspired covers. Most of the performances (including the Decemberists' painfully slow prairie hymn reading of "Clementine", the Helio Sequence's faithful but lifeless interpretation of "Satellite", and Crosstide's wayward Postal Service mangling of Smith's arguably greatest composition "Angeles") render Smith's songs as deathly, bloodless dirges, perhaps some subconscious perpetuation of the depressive romantic myth. Smith's genius is rarely hinted at by the somber traipses through his back catalog; instead, it sounds like the performers all want to put it to rest. Only Eric Matthews and Sean Croghan, on "Needle in the Hay" and the previously unreleased "High Times", respectively, offer convincing studies of the source material. Matthews plots out intricate arrangements while Croghan bottles up and explodes -- two disparate yet fitting ways to bid another fond farewell. — Zeth Lundy [Insound]

Kill Cheerleader, All Hail (Spinerazor) Rating: 6
Doing the whole retro-hair-metal thing these days is like fishing in a bucket, but Kill Cheerleader at least took the time to sharpen their hooks. And they bring the bait: "Your sister's not a virgin anymore," begins their press sheet; "She hangs out with boys in Kill Cheerleader." The Darkness may plunder the Def Leppard vaults, but Kill Cheerleader aims distinctly lower: think the bottom-feeder 80s metal bands from The Decline of Western Civilization II. It's a glorious trashiness, though; opening track "Sell Your Soul" is packed tight with bright leads, arena-ready riffs, and a killer "na na" chorus, and the album maintains its aural thrusts with consistency. Tracks like "Lady of the Night" and "Want Action" convey the band's coked-up splendor, and only rarely do they misstep into the realm of the overly obvious ("Don't Call Me 'Baby,' Baby" sounds like something the Donnas wrote in tenth grade, while "No Lullabies" sounds like something Guns 'n' Roses wrote in the late 1980s-"Patience," to be precise). On "Go Away" the band achieves power-ballad bliss, and on their album cover they look like the sleaziest bundle of vomit stains, track marks, and VD since, oh, Pretty Boy Floyd or Faster Pussycat. Is it all a joke? Quite possibly, but it seriously rocks. — Whitney Strub [Insound]
All Hail: [multiple songs]

Pheava, "Motorcycle" [12-inch single] (Universal) Rating: 4
Damn, son, why is Wikipedia your only spot on the web? Newbie rapper Pheava (pronounced, "Feva'") rolls up with his debut single, but a suspect amount of backing -- no surprise that his boosters include Blackground Entertainment, an organization that has been laden with difficulties since the passing of its starlet Aaliyah. Nevertheless, "Motorcycle" is a decent, if occasionally lazy, stab at club burn. The production courtesy of Vudu (who helmed Ludacris' "Georgia") may not catch on quick with the pop audience, but buzzes with enough bass to make for a danceable 16 at a party. Cruising in at a "Grillz" tempo, the bass-heavy cut then makes for a worthy thematic transition from thumping machismo to nasty bedroom etiquette. Too bad the Cassidy-lite rapper can't stay on topic long enough to explore this extended metaphor. In all fairness though, how many ways can you explain how to really ride it? — Dan Nishimoto [Insound]

.: posted by Editor 7:34 AM

06 March 2006

Shooting at Unarmed Men, There Will Be... Shooting at Unarmed Men (Too Pure) Rating: 4
Formed from the ashes of now defunct and under-appreciated (isn't that always the case?) McLusky, bassist Jon Chapple is the first of the former trio to appear with a new disc. The debut EP (running at a full-length worthy 30 minutes) by Shooting At Unarmed Men on the surface bears some of the same trademarks of Chapple's previous band. With witty song titles ("There's A Reason It's Called The Easy Way Out", "This Much Is a Lot", "When Potent Mean Don't"), a scruffy workingman aesthetic and continuing the minimalist approach of a trio, the disc offers hope that it will pick up where McLusky left off. Sadly, Chapple's new gig takes a tremendous step backward. The wiry, taut and ferocious sound of Mclusky is left behind for something far more conventional. Loose and shambling, There Will Be... is a not very impressive barroom punk skronk. Nothing here comes close to the immediacy of Mclusky's finest work, with songs never being more than functional at best. They amble along, with their simplicity worn as a badge of honor. The disc is charming in its shaggy dog way with the raw vocals and unprocessed instruments bringing a palpable grit to the whole affair. But like any night with too many beers and half-finished conversations, by the next morning you probably don't remember much (and it probably wasn't worth remembering anyway). — Kevin Jagernauth [Insound]
MP3s from Soon There Will Be...
"When Potent Means Don't": [MP3]
"The Pink Ink": [MP3]

Small Arms Dealer, A Single Unifying Theory (Deep Elm) Rating: 5
Headlining acts couldn't headline without opening acts, and as long as that fact is kept in mind, Small Arms Dealer's debut LP isn't without its minor virtues. This is pretty much standard-issue contemporary punk: melodic guitar lines that go a bit beyond the traditional three chords, and lyrics that oscillate between a facile death obsession and inspirational pap like "life's not fair and it's a bumpy ride," all flavored with a healthy smattering of obscenities. Generic as it is, the album has its moments; the hoarse traded vocals on "Tonight... On a Very Special Episode" carry a ragged charm, and the nice acoustic interlude "My Headlocks Are (Crazy)" benefits from female backing vocals. Otherwise, titles like "What Would Bruce Campbell Do?" indicate the general dynamic here. Any physicists who thought Small Arms Dealer had finally tied together weak, strong, electromagnetic and gravitational interactions on this album will be very, very disappointed; the rest of us will find it a pleasant enough way to pass a half-hour, if not a terribly memorable experience. — Whitney Strub [Insound]
A Single Unifying Theory: [player]

Die Monitr Batsss/Les Georges Leningrad, "Clean Up" b/w "Monster Klaw" [7-inch single] (5RC) Rating: 6
Both of these bands have been digging the disco-punk that's finished with its flash, but neither seems concerned with the crisp funk or sharp production that has marked that genre's surge. And you have to respect that. Die Monitr Batsss keep a dirty grind and angry bass riding underneath their track's carriage, leaving ominous smoke to build up around this song of a bitter relationship before finally melting down into a freakout. Les Georges Leningrad go back to the dance club for their inspiration, but make a sharp turn to No Wave -- probably something to do with their DNA -- and wind up with some akin to a subway train dragging a chain of beer cans, but in the good sense. — Justin Cober-Lake [Insound]

The Never Enders, Air Raid Romance (Indianola) Rating: 4
Singer Michael Sonbert is also the author of a new book that, oddly enough, is the same title as his band. Perhaps he could stick to writing a bit more, as the leadoff "Broken" sounds rather damaged -- too slick, too formulaic and too blah. Meanwhile, when The Never Enders try to get radio-friendly, as they do with "Today's the Day" it seems to miss the mark. The more forceful, punchier "Push" is the first ray of light that the album could be salvageable, but the "emo" screams push it into the ground as one of the lyrics reads. The momentum-shifting "California Against New York" again starts off well but is diminished due to the blood curdling wails that commence the homestretch. There is some great and tight guitar work and arrangements here, especially on the pleasing "Love the Way It Hurts" and some moments during "Top of the World". The group comes off like the blend of Billy Talent, Godsmack and The Calling for some strange reason. One quasi-highlight is "Fall Down". The Never Enders aren't unique and seem caught in that clot of "emo" hardcore/rock bands that are hard to differentiate. But not all is lost, for their drummer's name is Chachi! — Jason MacNeil [Insound]
Myspace: [multiple tracks]

Crazy Frog, "Axel F" b/w "Whoomp! There It Is" [12-inch single] (Universal) Rating: 0
We could talk about the internet and viral phenomenon and their effects on the dissemination of creative endeavors. We could talk about the ever-increasing presence of marketing concerns in the arena of art. We could talk about image branding and its use as product placement within music. We could talk about the inevitability of sampling to mine '80s and '90s nostalgia with no sustainable outlook or noticeable recourse for artists of those eras. We could talk about the place of mediocre entertainment within civil society, namely weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, coming-of-age socials and coming-out disclosures. We could talk about the so-bad-it's-gotta-be-good theory, also known as the "guilty pleasure." But this is none of them because this shit sucks. And it can stay across the pond. If there was ever a time to stand up as an American, then please join me in saying, "Fuck this shit." — Dan Nishimoto

.: posted by Editor 7:38 AM


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Cut Chemist
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Dinosaur Jr.
Dr. Octagon
Alejandro Escovedo
Fatboy Slim
Four Tet
The Handsome Family
Matthew Herbert
Ise Lyfe
Jefferson Airplane
Lord Jamar
Mission of Burma
Mr. Lif
Mojave 3
Allison Moorer
Paul Oakenfold
Grant-Lee Phillips
The Procussions
Corinne Bailey Rae
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Julie Roberts
Diana Ross
7L & Esoteric
Alice Smith
Snow Patrol
Sonic Youth
Soul Asylum
Sound Team
Regina Spektor
Sufjan Stevens
Matthew Sweet
Rhonda Vincent
Thom Yorke

Baby Dayliner
The BellRays
Cat Power
The Clientele + Great Lakes
The Coup + T-Kash
Mike Doughty Band
Download Festival 2006
Fiery Furnaces + Man Man
The Futureheads
The Handsome Family
High Sierra Music Festival
Billy Idol
Bettye Lavette
Love Parade
Nine Inch Nails + Bauhaus
Sonic Youth
Splendour in the Grass 2006
The Streets
Sunset Rubdown

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