The Avengers - Died for Your Sins
Beastie Boys - The Sounds of Science
Beck - Midnite Vultures
Bill Wolford - Bill Wolford's Head
Bio-tek - Punishment for Decadence
Bulemics / River City Rapists - Full On Hate Fuck
Control Denied - The Fragile Art of Existence
Entombed - Black Juju
Eternal Suffering - Drowning in Tragedy
Heather Duby - Post to Wire
I Mother Earth - Blue Green Orange
Jared Louche and the Aliens - Covergirl
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Xtra-Acme USA
M'lumbo - M'lumbo vs. Kobalt 6: Spinning Tourists in a City of Ghosts
Melvins - Bootlicker
Metalium - Millennium Metal
Metallica - S&M
Mogwai - Mogwai EP
The Pressure - Things Move Fast
ROHT - Rant
Rotten Sound - Drain
Sephiroth - Cathedron
Sodom - Code Red



[ the avengers - died for your sins ]
The Avengers
Died for Your Sins
Lookout Records

Links:
The Avengers

The Avengers, Penelope Houston, the late '70s. Ah, what a time in punk! The brash harsh sound of new music; out with that other shit from that era! Female-fronted punk bands and not many of them. This little disc here is the lost tapes of the rabid collectors who knew what the were doing. Penelope decided to give the bootleggers what they really wanted: pieces of the live intensity of the Avengers. She put the word out on the street that she was looking for live recordings to mix and release and this album consists of those live recordings and other unreleased demos. The Avengers have that classic '70s sound of intense, stripped-down wonderment. Liquor-fueled riffs, tuneful catchy-as-hell beats that never leave, harmonies coming out the back room, vocals screaming how fucked-up things are. Everything put into having uncomplicated fun. Very unpolished, as it should be. The wildness of the live shows. The give-it-your-all. The innocence...

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ beastie boys - the sounds of science ]
Beastie Boys
The Sounds of Science
Grand Royal

Links:
Beastie Boys

Could these guys do anything bad? The elder statesmen of their own universe, and the only three white people on earth that have done hip hop any justice, went for the cash cow this time with a brand new beautiful box set appropriately titled The Sounds of Science.

A collection of material that spans their career as pimpled teen brat punks to the current trio who reinvented "cool" with a string of albums that started with 1989's Paul's Boutique, one has to wonder if The Sounds of Science isn't perhaps a farewell gesture.

With a few exceptions in the way of live and new cuts, this material is very familiar. The Sounds of Science gets high points for including rare and hard-to-get tracks that lived on vinyl-only singles. The best song has got to be the live version of "Benny and the Jets," sung by studio collaborator and goofy sweet guy Biz Markie.

Extra high points are also awarded for the design and packaging of this thing. The eight panel digi-pac comes with a cardstock cover slip, and an 80-page booklet that is worth the purchase price alone. Each song has its own story written by the band and the photographs are priceless. This is a must for any Beastie Boys fan or for anyone who is just discovering them. And here is the clincher: if you are not satisfied with what this has to offer, go to their website and download any dang songs you want. What more could you want?

-Jeff Ashley
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[ beck - midnite vultures ]
Beck
Midnite Vultures
Geffen

Links:
Beck

Zero to tutti frutti, automatic b-zooty. If anybody else had made this record, it would never fly. But Beck Hanson's knack for making the absurd and completely silly work cool pastiche comes up roses once again. Instead of the noise-collage trippy folk-hop, this time Beck slaps your face with his giant funk thing (circa '70s something) until you're tickled pink enough that booty shakin' business becomes involuntary.

Since Prince can't seem to straighten out his libido to any length worth noticing, in true "move over rover and let Jimi take over" fashion, Beck did and moved in. To trump the artist even further, Midnite Vultures gives the notion of partying like it's 1999 the relevance that it obviously deserves.

So with all the evangelical delivery a skinny white boy could muster, Midnite Vultures becomes the first official party album of the new millennium, and a wacky one at that. Beck has been wacky before, but any stops he may have had were pulled out for Midnite Vultures. The way the opening track, "Sexx Laws," bolsters in with '70s game show horn section and its cavalry drums, you'd think you were on Laugh In. "Nicotine & Gravy," arguably the album's best song, gets an A+ for nonsense as Beck spews, "I think we're going crazy / Her left eye is lazy / She looks so Israeli / Nicotine & Gravy," over a slow-funk jam.

"Getting Real Paid" is the album's big surprise. It's a Prince-meets-Kraftwerk dorky little ditty that has Beck wondering if he's pregnant again, because you know "it's Thursday." Before the album heads down trip rock lane, Beck gets in the driver's seat with "Hollywood Freaks," a big beat that would give Dr. Dre a run for his big money. It's all sex, cocaine and flash excess straight on through to the album closer "Debra," which is drenched with falsetto madness as we get aqua-tinted with a Beck that steps to you with a fresh pack of gum, JCPenny, hot-rodded Hyundai's, and a sister he thinks is named Debra.

This album is so infectious, so laden with pop hooks, you'll be sick of it by the end of the day. But before you know it, it's back in the deck and you're singing along driving like a freak yourself. I'm just waiting for the street signs that read: Don't Listen to Beck and Drive.

-Jeff Ashley
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[ bill wolford - bill wolford's head ]
Bill Wolford
Bill Wolford's Head
Innova Records

Links:
Bill Wolford

Not too many folks would put what's in their head out on the streets, so to speak. Local musician Bill Wolford has done just that with his release, aptly titled Bill Wolford's Head. This is undoubtedly an interesting collection of collaborations. Some of it is really quirky rootsy stuff and then it morphs into film music Elfman-style ("Easter Egg Hunt" and "Drink-n-Drugs"). This fourteen-track disc takes you on an eclectic, wild musical ride. The first track, "Right On Brother," is crazy and chaotic, ranging from this space-age funky jazz fusion to monks chanting. Then segueing into the next song in which you feel you have landed in the planet of "Hometown Boots" where beer swillin' and bluesy, drunken sing-a-longs with your closest buddies would surely transpire. "Prelude" has the feel of its definition with its soft, delicate keys and instrumentation.

Tongue-in-cheek while still displaying serious musicianship, moments of subversion and then, at times, sublime, the entire CD is like a crazy adventure and stranger than any Candidian voyage. Head makes you think twice on the meaning of free range chickens. Check out local events calendars for Wolford's various incarnations (including The Sound Rangers) for some crazy hootin' and hollerin'. It's bound to be a fine shindig indeed.

-Hope Lopez
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[ bio-tek - punishment for decadence ]
Bio-tek
Punishment for Decadence
Doppler Effect Records

Links:
Bio-tek

Bio-tek's Punishment for Decadence is another project from Britain's Jonathan Sharp. Sharp is a very productive artist having many prior projects and releases, for example, under the Zoth Ommog label. In fact, if you are into Zoth Ommog bands, you'll revel in this CD. It is a well-composed and polished technical gothic industrial composition. At first listen, I sort of blew off this release, thinking it was typical. However, on a second and closer listen I discovered that it got to me. What was it? I didn't feel like slitting my wrists, blaming the world, wringing my hands in pleading misery, wallowing, or getting hateful and angry. This music seemed more personally directed. Really, I felt like donning my lace stockings and garters, slipping into some black leather and lace and heading out for some B&D on the town. Or at the very least, submerging myself in a fetish dance club. Although Doppler's bio is very accurate for this CD, it does say this release is hard-hitting and aggressive. In my opinion, I would not agree with this characterization unless it meant that it is aggressive because the music appeals to the industrial fetish/S&M crowd. True, this release is about punishment, pleasure and pain, but it is very orchestral and refreshing rather than oppressive. Some of the highlights: "Steel and Skin," a very catchy cool tune that lures you in with the lyrics: "I'm going to make you shave your body. I'm going to see to it personally." Lyrically, "Shield" is an interesting twist on a broken heart, and "Affirmation" is a totally cool song that is atmospheric, bleak, religious and transcending. Am I telling the truth? You'll have to hear for yourself. If your mind is open enough to think kink and you like leather, check it out.

-Jennifer Johnson
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[ bulemics/river city rapists - full on hate fuck ]
Bulemics / River City Rapists
Full On Hate Fuck split CD
Man's Ruin Records

Links:
Bulemics
River City Rapists

The Bulemics and the River City Rapists have come out with some Southern spicy-hot hospitality for your listening pleasure. Both bands come out of Austin and do their damndest to keep rock as evil as sin, spewing out gutter-punk encrusted hatred. In Austin, people come out to picket the Rapists shows because of their name. They keep the shock value on "high" and look for trouble at every corner. For me, it is a toss up which band sounds better. Each one seems to come from their own part of the puss-filled, anal infection, festering on the under side of Austin.

The Bulemics, if you can say it, are a little cleaner of the two, kicking out the energy in hyper-driven mayhem and washing down each guitar chord with a couple of six packs each. All of the Bulemics' songs are very good, but "Vampire Teabag" really brings out the air guitar in full strut! Pounding, chopping drums back up the smooth thumping of the bass and the catchy guitar chords.

The River City Rapists have this dirtier, sludgy, goo-seeping-out-of-their-pores sound. Thick stingy bass lines keeping the thump-o-meter bottoming out. Gruff vocal and cool as shit guitar work are kicking out their vile Texas-style. The River City Rapists don't pretend to be helping out the EPA. Oh no, they're on the EPA's lists of toxic waste spots to clean up. If you're looking for some punk-as-fuck stuff to keep by your bedside, then go to Man's Ruin and buy this one.

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ control denied - the fragile art of existence ]
Control Denied
The Fragile Art of Existence
Nuclear Blast

Links:
Control Denied

Boy, what a statement from Mr. Schuldiner at a crossroads where he is fighting for his life. If this disc doesn't impact you emotionally, you are dead. This is smooth, technical metal that transcends genres. The Fragile Art of Existence is a multi-textured artwork that compiles jazz, metal and a lot of melody in conjunction with a truckload of tricky time change combinations into one big blockbuster disc. The vocals are higher-pitched, but not annoyingly; they also get lower on occasion. "Consumed" and "Expect the Unexpected" blow my doors off. I admit I just hate ballads so "When the Link Becomes Missing" isn't going to hold much appeal for a headbanger, but it's alright for a slower song. I have heard Death and admired them for a long time, but this is a departure for Chuck. Sometimes when band members grow up and change you get crap like reunion tours for broke band members who blew their earnings up their nose, or worse yet, soft ballads designed to get girls for their aging, flaccid parts; at least when Chuck grew up, he became a man. He can still play the blazing fast songs, he can still play the heavy stuff and yeah he's got that introspective side, but he's not wimply, woosy or crappy. The Fragile Art of Existence is a reminder that growing can be a good thing too.

-Sabrina Wade-Haines
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[ entombed - black juju ]
Entombed
Black Juju
Man's Ruin

Links:
Entombed

Entombed's Black Juju builds on their four-song 10" release of covers. The Man's Ruin release (MR099), has added four new covers. Steering away from their Dark and Heavy thunder hooves that are Entombed's trademark, these guys have opted to put the pedal to the punk metal. They cover Twisted Sister's "Tear It Loose" with ultimate punk metal abandon and slash n' burn napalm torching, ā la Motörhead, which makes the TS tune sound good. Taking Jerry's Kids' "Lost" and putting it into a bulldozer's granny gear, they rip the shreds out of it: slow and ugly like dental surgery. With Bob Dylan, Entombed Motörheadize "Ballad of Hollis Brown," which is capped off with Lemmy-style vocals. Ah, the way Bob Dylan should have always sounded. "Lay Lady Lay" did not lay on this one. Last up of the new tunes is The Dwarves' "Satan." Friends of the band, their 67 seconds is a blitzkrieg; a burning of the black cross, metalized for your ear pleasure. The original 10" covered "Mezmerization Eclipse" by Captain Beyond, a fun-lovin' rock ditty mixed in the Entombed sludge grinder. The Proxy's "Vices" is like trying to warm a sledge hammer with your head. Next, Entombed tries to put some sensibility into Alice Cooper's "Black Juju." Topping off this first release is "Sentimental Funeral," with no credits given. The tune sounds familiar, but I can't place it.

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ eternal suffering - drowing in tragedy ]
Eternal Suffering
Drowning in Tragedy
Extremities Productions
Throw some grind, a little death metal, a drop or two of black metal and lots of evil, dried demon nuts, a crusty bit off an old angel wing and two newts into a blender. Dry it into a disc form and toss into the player. Does it howl? Does it kick ass? Could it hurt you? Oh hell, yes! This is the shit. Literally, this could be the bomb. I have no idea where Extremities found these boys, but they should have all their shots before coming into contact with the band. This is undiluted, raw, steeped, angry evil. And it wants your soul to like it probably just so it would take it to a new place to demolish. Really.

I don't even know where to start with this release. It even has elements of doom and gothic. I've listened to it for a week solid and I'm still hearing different things. This is powerful. I could imagine Satyricon really enjoying this band because they are similar, but not the same. They both utilize any style of music that appeals to them and tosses it in with their base music (Satyricon's case: black metal; Eternal Suffering: grind/death) and they are both incredibly intelligent. Eternal Suffering is younger and driving more on testoserone than on brains (so far). This is a mish-mosh of styles eloquently pushed together for extra heaviness and power. Allow such cuts as "My Once Shadowed Desire," "The Warmth in Her Torment," "Buried Under Blackened Tears," "Trail of Blood to the Altar," and my personal favorite, "Love Can Never Conquer Hate," to destroy your nice, quiet living area with their power and darkness. This is a band to be worshiped and feared. I also like their sense of humor kicking it off with a dorky skit from Saturday Night Live. Humor, darkness and brutality...and brains. Rare, indeed.

-Sabrina Wade-Haines
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[ heather duby - post to wire ]
Heather Duby
Post to Wire
Sub Pop
It's late December and Seattle is doing its variation of winter: ground-hugging clouds and rain that pelts you like a wet sheet of heavy gauze. It's a good day to stay indoors, and an even better day to listen to Heather Duby's debut album, Post to Wire. Though her voice is filled with a cold weather ache, the music has a glimmering--no, a full-on beam--of hope and exultation. Working with that Mad Hatter producer Steve Fisk, Duby has found the pure essence of these songs and salvaged them from being dreary alt-depression pop. Instead, these ten tracks escape their fin de millennial world-weariness and resonate at a higher frequency. It's raining still, but once you put this album on you'll notice that the heater in the corner of your drafty apartment has kicked on; you can wrap a blanket around your legs and lean against the warm grate as this music fills the room. The rains will go. You can wait them out.

-Mark Teppo
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[ i mother earth - blue green orange ]
I Mother Earth
Blue Green Orange
Mercury Records/Universal Canada

Links:
I Mother Earth

The third release from this four-piece band from Toronto, I Mother Earth has that earnest sound that we heard in the band's first release Dig. Undoubtedly, it's the addition of new vocalist Brian Byrne whose vocal style fits well with the band's brand of original alternative rock that takes their characteristic sound to a different level. His vocals range from sweet murmuring (the beginning of "All Awake" recalls a Bono-esque tone) to a raspy wail ("Summertime in a Void"). His voice adds more heart than former singer Edwin could ever. No, this won't be "rag on the old singer" spiel but let's just say you can tell the new kid blends in well.

With his ability to evoke meaning, Byrne's vocals seem to make sense of drummer Chris Tanna's oft-cryptic Beat lyrics with her references to jazz in "All Awake:" "When the money's in your hand, when smaller men feel broken, when Chet is singing 'Let's Get Lost' it's time to shut your mouth." And to art/religion in "Love Your Starfish:" "It's so Hieronymous, I know no one here needs your kind of redemption." "Good For Sule" has guest bassist Geddy Lee joining forces with the band's Bruce Gordon to create a dreamy meandering feel.

What makes I Mother Earth unique despite the exterior alternative image that yours truly detests, is the band's substantive musical foundation. What, they're more than three-chord babies?! Yes, you read correctly. These guys can really play their instruments and jam. Plus, as stated earlier, Chris Tanna's lyrics are thought-provoking poetry, if you will. For the soundbite masses, some kids may grow bored during Jagori Tanna's spiraling Hendrix/Santana-influenced guitar during tight jams, and thus write it off as disjointed (but the Canadian kids up north are diggin' it, so maybe there is hope for the MTV/MuchMusic generation). "Cloud Pump," with its polyrhythms, Eastern and Latin influences and textured guitars yields a clean futurist-feeling sound overall. Though the band's choice of staying north of the border has helped their career to flourish in their homeland, let's wish for a Stateside tour by these guys soon.

-Hope Lopez
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[ jared louche and the aliens - covergirl ]
Jared Louche and the Aliens
Covergirl
Invisible Records
Invisible Records is taking names and kicking ass right now. In October, Meg Lee Chin lined them up and knocked 'em over with Piece and Love [click here to read jeff's review of piece and love. --ed.], and this month Jared Louche comes off as if Covergirl was a "to be continued." To be quite honest, I had no idea what to expect from the former Chemlab member. Chemlab was good, but not consistent. After Burnout at the Hydrogen Bar, I lost interest. So let's say that Covergirl was on my "CDs to be leery of" list.

Well, preconceptions be damned! Covergirl is nuts and Mr. Louche sounds charged with the spirit of something otherworldly; perhaps a woman. The most astounding thing about this record is that it consists mainly of other people's music, and unexpected covers at that. Here is the lineup: Roxy Music, Iggy Pop, Air, Leonard Cohen, Chemlab, PiL, Love, and none other than Frank Sinatra. Don't be fooled here, this album is gonna put a knife in your side and twist like there is no tomorrow.

Normally I would dismiss anyone that would try to cover Iggy. But Jared gives "Sister Midnight" and the venerable "Search and Destroy" a life they never new. (I can't believe I'm saying that.) And wait till you hear Air's "Sexy Boy." Jared blows his own horn by doing Chemlab's "Suicide Jag" like it was a Frank Sinatra number...in a David Lynch movie....with Daniel Ash singing. But where Jared really makes a suprising turn is with Roxy Music's "In Every Dreamhome a Heartache." He has made a literal monster from this song replete with machine gun breakdown.

You'd be a fool not to check this album out. With his razor wit and clear voice, Jared has never sounded more fresh. And with his pick of songs you know he's making some sort of social commentary. Rumor has is it Jared is getting Chemlab back together. It would be great to see them doing "Search and Destroy" together.

-Jeff Ashley
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