Bangarang/Wellwisher, Closet Organ EP

While it’s tough to get a really good impression of a band from only two songs, this split EP does its best to let listeners in on some of North Texas’ best-kept secrets. Bangarang, who contribute “Closet Organ” (sample lyric: “I’ve got this closet organ / When I threw away my monsters”)…

Xiu Xiu, La Forêt

In an interview a few years back with Jamie Stewart, the creative force behind Xiu Xiu, the interviewer pointed out to Stewart that whenever people heard Xiu Xiu’s music, a typical reaction was often “Is this a joke?” Stewart’s response was to chuckle…

Avenged Sevenfold, City of Evil

What the hell? Okay, let’s try to think this through: Huntington Beach rockers Avenged Sevenfold look like a bunch of Goth-punks, sing the most beautiful harmonies you’re likely to hear anytime lately (including on those treasured emo albums you hide from your too-cool friends)…

xbxrx, Sixth in Sixes

xbxrx plays hardcore punk stuff crossed with some no-wave guitars, with lots of hardcore tempos and hyperactivity. The band likes to write lots of odd breaks into their songs, and the vocals range from shouting to screaming (from which they still wring a fair amount of variety)…

Athlete, Tourist

Well, folks, it looks like epic arena rock is back, and thank God for that. I was starting to get worried that Coldplay, who pretty much single-handedly made grand, Floydian, not-too-rough rock cool once again, were a fluke, but thankfully, here comes fellow Brits…

Sean, Singers Ruin Perfectly Good Bands

Sean’s an instrumental duo made up of a keyboardist and a drummer — the keyboardist plays through a guitar amplifier and effects, getting a sound that’s closer to a guitar, or at least not always like a keyboard. They get a decent range of sounds out of the keyboards…

Wolf Parade, Wolf Parade

Don’t fret, people of Canada. I know you’re probably getting kind of nervous about all the attention currently focused on your fair country by your less-well-behaved neighbors to the South, but I’m here to tell you that you really don’t need to worry. I know, I know…

Asva, Futurists Against the Ocean

With a quartet of slow, loud, thick, and very long pieces, Asva sets the listener adrift in a sea of undifferentiated time. And yet, if Isis, in their own opinion, evokes the ocean, with a sense of massive, inexorable, inhuman power…

Brandon Wiard, Painting A Burning Building

Brandon Wiard’s a man who doesn’t know what he wants to be. Sardonic alternativiste? Expansive art-rocker? Evan Dando-esque sensitive pretty boy? Wiard dips his wick into all of them on Painting A Burning Building, but he’s most likely to end up the latter, thanks in part to a voice…

Over Sea, Under Stone, Demonstration

This Houston band’s three-song EP teems with with understated vocals, breakbeats, and airy synths, music that defies genres and comes across as completely original — something almost unheard of these days. The band claims they “deliver lyrics with swaggering literate wit…”

Welsh Rabbit, Forward Motion

I’ve started playing this game where I try to guess whether a band is together because its members all shared some sort of common musical vision or because playing with other people is fun, so why not? System Of A Down, for instance, I’d place in the former category, while Audioslave clearly fits the latter…

Mystechs, Warriors & Warlocks

On the press release for the Mystechs, it says they attempted to create an “opera about an unfortunate teenage soul who can no longer distinguish Dungeons and Dragons from reality” on Warriors & Warlocks. Hmm…

Tabitha Monet, Adventures of Me and Me

The title is really gonna say a lot, here. At first, I thought Tabitha Monet was signed and had a million dollars’ worth of studio time behind this record. And yeah, I was still planning to say that it was recorded very well. Beyond that, the packaging looks…

Wan Santo Condo, Wan Santo Condo

Wan Santo Condo’s self-titled album basically sounds like mainstream, radio-friendly rock. My indie sensibilities push this band to the back of my psyche like an index finger pushing to the back of a bulemic’s mouth. I’m not trying to berate the band…

Mishka, One Tree

It’s pretty refreshing to hear a reggae artists like Mishka, particularly if you, like me, have been bombarded with not much of the genre beyond gun-happy dancehall toasting in recent memory — because let’s face it, most of that’s about as interesting as the glut of gangsta rap spawned…

The Mercury Stars, Demo

Music like this restores my faith in indie-rock — DIY rock with interesting vocals and straight-ahead, simple songs. On songs like “To Be Down,” “BeKind,” and “Options,” New York City’s Mercury Stars mix their New Wave-meets-post-rock stylings…

Rufio, The Comfort of Home

Rufio are yet another punk-rock band from California — that is, they sound more like hard-rock to me, but they probably think of themselves as a punk band. They engage us in the age-old debate revolving around technical ability vs. inspiration. Is a technically gifted voice more important…

The Mentals, Oh Well

Oh, good grief. Where do I start? Okay, well, this is a three-piece outfit from Austin (one demerit there) led by a guy named Steve Tobin (guitarist, singer) along with a thudding (and now departed from the band) rhythm section. The liner notes and material on the band/Tobin’s website…

The Mechanical Boy, The Mechanical Boy

The Mechanical Boy truly threw me for a loop. I had no idea that Richmond, TX, was the musical place to be, but apparently it is. Musically, I totally hear Audioslave and the like in this band. I have mentioned countless times before that, in my book, metal blows chunks…

The Redwalls, De Nova

Okay, I’ll admit that it’s a little weird listening to the Redwalls’ most recent full-length, De Nova. I still can’t entirely get used to bands that do that whole “retro” thing, seemingly aping the past from the tone settings on their amps all the way to the ragged mops…

The Explosion, Black Tape

There’re only a handful of ways a band can go, really, in terms of musical progression. It’s an axiom of the music business that second albums are a bitch and third albums are even worse, and there’s a good reason for that — unless you’re phenomenally lucky…

Epigene, Popular Dissent

Epigene’s latest album, Popular Dissent, is probably the most professionally produced CD I’ve had to review. Everything about this CD reeks of “Major Label” quality — the artwork is tasteful and original, the packaging is adequate, the liner notes are readable…

Endgames, Daybreak To Sunset

It sounds like the members of Endgames have reasonably cool taste in music, but all that means for Daybreak To Sunset is that the songs are interesting, when they manage to be interesting at all, only to the extent that they remind you of songs you like better…

Live: Machine Head/DevilDriver/It Dies Today/Fallen Line

The evening started at approximately 7:30 PM with these local Houston guys’ performance. The music could be classified as the middle ground between hardcore and pop-punk; there were plenty of heavy guitar riffs, and the vocals alternated between unintelligible screams and tenor singing. The singer jerked his body around in time and occasionally swung the microphone around his arm…

Ellery, Make Your Troubles Mine

Once, not that long ago, there was a time when women in the music world could be something other than rumpshakin’ hip-hop queens, utterly bland teen pop stars, or vapid “divas.” There was a time when it was okay for women to really, truly sing…

Kristi Rae, Various Means of Transportation

First off, a tidbit of information that may be useful to the reader: Kristi Rae is indeed female; it isn’t some clever name for an all-male band or anything. So all of you folks out there that are now rolling your eyes and thinking “OMG, not another chick band” to yourselves…

Quiet Life, Quiet Life

Bands that are able to meld their influences into a new sound are the ones that strike me as the most influential. In this case, Quiet Life’s “No Worries” mixes Neil Young-style harmonica and guitar with an almost jam-like beat to create a modern-sounding song that stands out…

Permanent Eclipse, Practice Your Punk

When your album cover is a photocopy play on The Clash’s London Calling, you’ve got nowhere to go but up. Very appropriately titled, the album is more like listening to a friend’s band practice than an actual release, but the DIY production and wide array of styles…

Full Scale, Full Scale

Full Scale’s self-titled debut is decidedly a metal album for the clich├ęd mind. The cover art, for one thing, is jet black with Army helicopters on the back and a CD label meant to represent a bullet hole. Musically, this band reminds me of a cross between Biohazard…

14er, Granite

On Granite, 14er haven’t quite figured things out yet. They sound too much like Hum, and their songs have that quality of formlessness, complication without complexity, that characterizes talented musicians who have little experience with songwriting…

FM Bats, Everybody Out… Shark in the Water

The FM Bats pack in more action into their ten-minute EP, Everybody Out… Shark in the Water, than most bands pack into an entire album. Comprised of vocals, guitar, bass and drums, the FM Bats sound like a boiled-down, spastic Gang of Four…

Fluid Ounces, The Whole Shebang

Fluid Ounces is a Tennessee-based studio project/on-again, off-again live band, the brainchild of sweet-voiced popsmith by the name of Seth Timbs. The Whole Shebang is my first exposure to these folks, and it’s absolutely one of the most pleasant surprises…

Jujitsu, Jujitsu

Three-song EP from a Boston trio that sounds a bit like Queensryche and later King Crimson filtered through grindcore: weird, off-kilter time-signatures mashed in with dreamy little acoustic passages and topped with loutish bellowing that fades in and out of the mix…

The Fire Still Burns, “Good As New”/”My Assault on the World Begins Now”

Surprisingly, I kinda dug both songs on this two-track introduction to The Fire Still Burns. They play a unique blend of melodic punk/metal, with a tad of pop thrown in — it has the speed and style of punk, with occasional bits of metal heaviness stuck in between…

Irene, Constructing Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

I received Irene’s 2004 offering, Constructing Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, wrapped in a letter that said the band was watching me and when I least expected it, they would chop my family members into little pieces, skin my dog alive, then come after me…

Instant Camera, Alive On Departure

Fuzzed-out guitars and subdued vocals make up the majority of the songs on Louisville band Instant Camera’s latest album. And while the band does its best to rehash the underground punk aesthetic of the mid-’80s (bands like Public Image Limited and Pere Ubu come to mind)…

Infernal Bridegroom Productions, In the Under Thunderloo: Original Score

If you’ve ever seen one of the Infernal Bridegroom Productions plays, you know that one one of the things that makes a lot of the plays great is the live music that goes along with them. Instead of having canned music during or between scenes…

Immaculate Machine, Ones and Zeros

It’s hard to describe just what kind of music Immaculate Machine would be categorized under — that’s what makes them stand out from other indie bands out there right now. The sweet and innocent lyrics, along with energetic guitar riffs, are what make Ones and Zeroes

Dexter Danger, Hellafornia

Dexter Danger is a four-piece band from California that plays emo-ish punk rock. The band is tight, executing tempo changes and other obstacles well. Melodically, their specialty seems to be the anthem, but even with that, they get mixed results…

Deerhunter, turn it up faggot

Playing the paranoid superego to the Black Lips’ unbridled id, Atlanta’s Deerhunter combine the bouncy, bass-driven disco-punk of the Liars’ first record with the creepy weirdness of the Residents or, um, the Liars’ second record, throwing in for good measure…


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