Hits 15.1

Buckcherry

Timebomb

Dreamworks

I was talking about record reviews with Mikey LeBlanc and mentioned that I actually like this Buckcherry disc. He laid me to waste in no time. “Buckcherry? With all the good bands out there you could write about?”

Mikey's right, there's nothing that special about these guys, but I have to admit I play this CD all the time. Buckcherry's the rock equivalent of Green Day–simple and infectious. Titles like “Whiskey In The Morning” and rock ballads such as “Without You” are textbook 80s rock. If you haven't noticed, being a rocker is cool again. Dust off your Guns N' Roses disc and go buy a '78 Trans Am. Finish off the look with a pair of cop shades, and load up on GN'R, Poison, and Buckcherry's Timebomb. You are wild and crazy, and you rock! –C.D.

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes

Blow In The Wind

Fat Wreck Chords

Recoil in horror as Me First And The Gimme Gimmes butcher the hits of the 60s. This is a great road-trip disc for the whole family. Dad hates your punk rock, and his oldies are as painful as watching 60 Minutes. Tap into the folks' nostalgia as The Gimme Gimmes cover “My Boyfriend's Back,” “Who Put The Bomp,” and arguably the most popular oldie of all-time, “Runaway.”

If you have your own car, buy some real punk rock and get your oldies fix on the radio. Listening to punkers chant the oldies does nothing for me, with the exception of the Gimme's cover of Cat Stevens' “Wild World,” which makes me miss Mom and the bad trip for at least an hour.–C.D.

At The Drive-In

Relationship of Command

Grand Royal Records

A few hours' sleep, no matter how deep, are not enough for an organism of our complexity. It is natural that we cling to its charms. But bad dreams ruin everything. Nightmares. Awake for dark nervous hours, the dim light of the alarm clock, and minutes like forever. Horrible fear and electrified silence.

Absurd swirling madness. In your head, At The Drive-In roars like the ocean. Haunting visions of a “One-Armed Scissor” and a “Mannequin Republic.” Relationship of Command is a bold storm of compression and desperate chording. Tangled in the sheets, trapped and sweating. The zero-calm grasp of “Enfilade” and the venomous “Quarantined” echo behind your eyes. You are almost gone again, on the road and drifting into oncoming traffic.

Insomnia, dementia … a big ashen bird skims silently over the surface of a vast swamp where machines rust in poison water. It floats slowly, menacing, reminding. Whispers and growls hang heavy in the air. In the dark you breathe shallow and “black out the vultures as they wait.”–J.M.

Jurassic 5

Quality Control

Interscope Records

Restraint and a little humility are a hard find these dark days, especially in the realm of entertainment. Fortunately for listeners beyond the draw of pop-hop, there's Jurassic 5. Sad it's so rare, but these guys are doing their own thing rather than following the rest of the radio robots. The strengths of their new record lie in the smooth, honest production and wild lyrical dynamics. Push play, and in the first seconds of the track “How We Get Along,” the Five deliver their philosophy: “Above all there is harmony, because we got to listen to each other. It's all about a feel.” After that, the rhythms deliver sharp grooves and tumbling funk beats.

Quality Control is an apt title for the newest release. Along with top-choice beats and verbal acrobatics, the J5 exhibit an element of control throughout all fifteen tracks. They focus on the meanics of the music and shootin' the gift. Wisely they rise above the money, hos, and clothes crap that is diluting hip-hop. Instead they combine vintage loops and bass-heavy thump like “Great Expectations.” Title track “Quality Control” is another bumping highlight. Jurassic 5 takes its craft seriously, and for the members' efforts, they have an album that listeners will play over and over.–J.M.

Deltron 3030
Deltron 3030
75 Ark Records

Every once in a while, an album breaks out that's light-years ahead of its time. Deltron 3030 is one of those albums. Skilled lyricist Del The Funky Homosapien combines with Automator, one of the world's illest producers, to form Deltron. Fusion between the hip-hop masters results in sick, futuristic grooves sure to innovate the sounds of hip-hop to come. Guests contributing to the Deltron sound include jazzy breakbeat DJ Kid Koala, Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark, Sean Lennon, funky DJ Peanut Butter Wolf, and legendary producer Prince Paul.

Automator uses these all-star musicians to blend a grip of different musical influences and styles. The result is a fresh hip-hop creation that all types of heads can appreciate. The album's concept seems to be set in the Year 3030 and focuses on Del's prophecies of intergalactic rap battles. According to Del's abstract lyrics, Deltron 3030 is “interspectacular space-age hip-hop for the Thirty-First Century.”–Jack Orin Spilberg

Pinhead Circus
The Black Power Of Romance
BYO Records

The Black Power Of Romance conjures images of the angry teen years and whiskey-fueled punk shows in the basement of the University Of Colorado Student Union. For the five years I lived in the Denver area, Pinhead Circus almost single-handedly supported the local punk scene, headlining shows that gave five or six smaller bands a stage to sing about their girlfriends and getting MIPs (minor in possessions). Their shows almost never cost more than five bucks, everyone was underaged, and the kid with the safety pin through his septum was always there.

The newest record from this Golden, Colorado-bred band is punk rock with character, and most importantly, post-adolescent teen angst. The disc arrived at the office with a really clever media bio describing how Pinhead Circus' music has progressed and matured “without noodling off into self-absorbed, 'check me out,' art-rock crap.” Couldn't have said it better myself. I guess there's just something refreshing about the blue-collar simplicity of punk rock, even when you're not a teenager anymore.–J.S.

Stephen Malkmus
Self-Titled
Matador

Disaffected sarcasm is Stephen Malkmus' trade. Lucky for the mobs of indie kids grief-stricken over the sudden death of their favorite anti-pop band, this solo debut from the ex-Pavement frontman is steeped in irony. Although critics widely disliked Pavement's last record, and even Malkmus told Magnet Magazine he wasn't proud of the band's efforts on it, I actually liked Pavement's Terror Twighlight a lot. (More proof of something I've always suspected–I have bad taste.) But this record is definitely fresher. It's filled with playful rock tunes reminiscent of an earlier Pavement that wasn't afraid to write entire songs about new haircuts.

Highlights of the record include lyrics on “Jenny And The Es Dog” (“Jennifer digs the man in the 60s cover band”), Malkmus' trembling guitar parts and silvery voice throughout, and the “this is a solo album” cover art–a sensitive head shot of the artist formerly known as Pavement. But this isn't Pavement, and you can feel it in the absence of ex-band member and noisemaker Spiral Stairs' patent background screaming. Overall, though, Self-Titled shows Malkmus capitalizing on Pavement's virtues and wiping his brow after narrowly escaping the clutches of a band that's maybe just been around for too long.–J.S.

Guided By Voices
Isolation Drills
TVT Records

Whether it's out of rock and roll frenzy, energy from the crowd, or sheer glee and love of performing, GBV lead-singer Robert Pollard does elf kicks while on stage. Anyone who's seen Guided By Voices live can attest to that. Elf kicks and cute little elfin dance-moves from a small-statured man–it's part of what makes the band so great.

The songs on Isolation Drills, however, feel like they'd have a pretty low elf-kick factor. In fact, some feel downright melancholy. Pollard, the master of low-fidelity psuedo-70s garage rock, is getting personal with this latest record. Relationship problems seep out in saddened lyrics and downtrodden melodies. All good art is inspired by adversity, though, and this record definitely excels in its medium–hooky polished-ness.

The lo-fi sounds of GBV's masterpieces Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, sounds that gave hope to every kid with a four track and a basement, have been ditched in favor of a shiny, carefully produced type of rock and roll. This is nothing new, though–the band's past couple records had a clean-cut gloss to them.

Don't expect to be bowled over by Isolation Drills. There's nothing that comes close to Bee Thousand's “Hot Freaks,” a song that leaves you begging for more and wondering why the band won't play a song longer than two minutes. But do expect to rock out and sympathize with Pollard's inner turmoil; we've all been there.–J.S.

Dropkick Murphys
Sing Loud, Sing Proud!
Hellcat Records

This is the Murphys' third full album, and it's obvious they're slowing things down a bit. With the introduction of tin whistles, mandolins, and a larger seven-piece band, the Irish bar-group sound has grown stronger yet. By including more sing-along ballads, traditional songs, and guest vocals by The Pogues' Shane MacGowan, it's clear the Dropkicks have evolved. “Ramble And Roll” is more along the lines of their previous work–Boston punk rock with skinhead undertones. The Murphys is pump-your-fist, chant-along punk rock at its finest. If you've followed the band, you'll appreciate Sing Loud, Sing Proud! If you're unfamiliar with its sound, pick up Dropkick Murphys' first album, Do Or Die, today.–C.D.

Mogwaii
Rock Action
Matador Records

What can be said of Mogwai that hasn't already been written in a dozen other gushing reviews? This group of mysterious, hilarious young men from Lanarkshire, Scotland write some of the most affecting, challenging songs currently floating about the musical universe. If you're a fan of previous albums Young Team and Come On Die Young, then you won't be disappointed with Rock Action, the band's third and most refined full-length. It kicks all the ass!

I first heard Mogwai a few years ago on community radio, played over and over only in the dead of night. I was floored. “What's this–songs that make rock sound 'new' and 'innovative' again?” Everything my ears wanted from music loomed and blasted from this band. And now, with Rock Action on deck? Absolutely.

Mogwai is known for writing songs that begin with barely whispering guitars and subtle percussive figures, then S … L … O … W … L … Y … build into massive, frenetic soundscapes filled with huge drum rolls, melodic bass lines, and sweepin' patent background screaming. Overall, though, Self-Titled shows Malkmus capitalizing on Pavement's virtues and wiping his brow after narrowly escaping the clutches of a band that's maybe just been around for too long.–J.S.

Guided By Voices
Isolation Drills
TVT Records

Whether it's out of rock and roll frenzy, energy from the crowd, or sheer glee and love of performing, GBV lead-singer Robert Pollard does elf kicks while on stage. Anyone who's seen Guided By Voices live can attest to that. Elf kicks and cute little elfin dance-moves from a small-statured man–it's part of what makes the band so great.

The songs on Isolation Drills, however, feel like they'd have a pretty low elf-kick factor. In fact, some feel downright melancholy. Pollard, the master of low-fidelity psuedo-70s garage rock, is getting personal with this latest record. Relationship problems seep out in saddened lyrics and downtrodden melodies. All good art is inspired by adversity, though, and this record definitely excels in its medium–hooky polished-ness.

The lo-fi sounds of GBV's masterpieces Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, sounds that gave hope to every kid with a four track and a basement, have been ditched in favor of a shiny, carefully produced type of rock and roll. This is nothing new, though–the band's past couple records had a clean-cut gloss to them.

Don't expect to be bowled over by Isolation Drills. There's nothing that comes close to Bee Thousand's “Hot Freaks,” a song that leaves you begging for more and wondering why the band won't play a song longer than two minutes. But do expect to rock out and sympathize with Pollard's inner turmoil; we've all been there.–J.S.

Dropkick Murphys
Sing Loud, Sing Proud!
Hellcat Records

This is the Murphys' third full album, and it's obvious they're slowing things down a bit. With the introduction of tin whistles, mandolins, and a larger seven-piece band, the Irish bar-group sound has grown stronger yet. By including more sing-along ballads, traditional songs, and guest vocals by The Pogues' Shane MacGowan, it's clear the Dropkicks have evolved. “Ramble And Roll” is more along the lines of their previous work–Boston punk rock with skinhead undertones. The Murphys is pump-your-fist, chant-along punk rock at its finest. If you've followed the band, you'll appreciate Sing Loud, Sing Proud! If you're unfamiliar with its sound, pick up Dropkick Murphys' first album, Do Or Die, today.–C.D.

Mogwaii
Rock Action
Matador Records

What can be said of Mogwai that hasn't already been written in a dozen other gushing reviews? This group of mysterious, hilarious young men from Lanarkshire, Scotland write some of the most affecting, challenging songs currently floating about the musical universe. If you're a fan of previous albums Young Team and Come On Die Young, then you won't be disappointed with Rock Action, the band's third and most refined full-length. It kicks all the ass!

I first heard Mogwai a few years ago on community radio, played over and over only in the dead of night. I was floored. “What's this–songs that make rock sound 'new' and 'innovative' again?” Everything my ears wanted from music loomed and blasted from this band. And now, with Rock Action on deck? Absolutely.

Mogwai is known for writing songs that begin with barely whispering guitars and subtle percussive figures, then S … L … O … W … L … Y … build into massive, frenetic soundscapes filled with huge drum rolls, melodic bass lines, and sweeping guitars, guitars, guitars! But this time around the group has broadened its sound with a few hushed vocal performances (as on the songs “Take Me Somewhere Nice” and “Secret Pint”) and worked in a few more electronic blips and bloops; violin, piano, and trumpet; and a banjo flourish or two. Near perfect in every way.–Arlie John Carstens

The Todd Richards' Collection

All-time favorites, in no particular order:

  • Jawbreaker, Unfun
  • Pitchfork, Self-Titled
  • Quicksand, Slip
  • Built To Spill, There's Nothing Wrong With Love
  • Samiam, Billy

In his CD player now:

  • At The Drive In, (all CDs)
  • Hot Snakes,, Automatic Midnight
  • No Knife, Drunk On The Moon
  • Capn Jazz, Alphabetic Theology
  • Hot Water Music, Never Ender

eping guitars, guitars, guitars! But this time around the group has broadened its sound with a few hushed vocal performances (as on the songs “Take Me Somewhere Nice” and “Secret Pint”) and worked in a few more electronic blips and bloops; violin, piano, and trumpet; and a banjo flourish or two. Near perfect in every way.–Arlie John Carstens

The Todd Richards' Collection

All-time favorites, in no particular order:

  • Jawbreaker, Unfun
  • Pitchfork, Self-Titled
  • Quicksand, Slip
  • Built To Spill, There's Nothing Wrong With Love
  • Samiam, Billy

In his CD player now:

  • At The Drive In, (all CDs)
  • Hot Snakes,, Automatic Midnight
  • No Knife, Drunk On The Moon
  • Capn Jazz, Alphabetic Theology
  • Hot Water Music, Never Ender