Volume – Ringing Eardrums

Nasum

Shift

Relapse Records

Considered by many to be one of the premier death-metal acts of today, Sweden’s Nasum is back with another brutal assault on your senses. Shift is jam-packed with songs that eviscerate, annihilate, and decapitate the listener. With this follow-up to last year’s Helvete album, Nasum hasn’t let up one bit in the heavy department. The band’s definitely one of the fastest, most technical metal bands going right now. With 24 songs to choose from, this album takes a long time to tire of. Go get the new Nasum album for yourself, and hear what the evolution of death metal sounds like.-Aaron Schmidt

Sloe

The Night All Systems Fail

Punt! Records

Sloe, the rock band from San Jose, California, is known for its powerful emo style. The band’s moving into more of a hard-rock pop feel with tight songs and serious production, this time leaving out superfluous instruments and overambitious ideas (but hey, ya gotta try it to see what works.) Rhythmically, the band gets it going song after song. Harmonically, there’re many things happening to keep things interesting. Vocally, it takes some getting used to and may not appeal to everyone, but if it does work in your favor, Sloe may be your go! The best way to find this release is to go to the source: www.sloemusic.com.-Ray Stevens II

Turing Machine

Zwei

French Kiss Records

Turing Machine is to modern rock-based instrumental music what Can and Neu were to 70s-era kraut rock-architects of droning repetition, dazzling excess, and glorious bombast. And like most all avant-garde music, some people love this sort of thing, while others find it boring or worse yet thoroughly alienating. Similar as well to the finest (and just as often the nastiest) jazz, instrumental rock is primarily created for the enjoyment of the musicians involved. Any questions about how the masses will receive the material are usually relegated at best to afterthought. Which is to say, having little interest in following popular musical trends or giving much consideration to album sales, the players are free to let their most challenging, and occasionally most preposterous, ideas flourish.

Turing Machine’s new album, Zwei, is no exception. Apart from perhaps Trans Am, these gentlemen do instrumental rock better than any band still thumping the post-rock genre’s distinctly pungent dead horse. Picking up where their debut, A New Machine For Living, left off, Zwei gives us seven new songs, each a gem long on delay-soaked guitar riffs, mauling percussion, and muscular, bubbly bass lines. The band’s spirited compositions will work equally well as the explosive soundtrack to your next sponsor-me video or as background music to your household chores. Particular standout tracks include “Don’t Mind If I Don’t,” “Synchronicity III,” and “Rock. Paper. Rock.” Highly recommended.-Arlie Carstens

Muddy River Nightmare Band

Who Will Be The Lucky Pierre?

Last Chance Records

This is some rockin’ punk shit for rockin’ punk rockers. It’s the perfect sound for road trips when you need a little rock to whittle away the miles or to get the amped feeling going before you ride your board with the crew. These guys are lighthearted, with songs dedicated to beer, “I Love Lucky Lager,” or the humorously titled, “The Ass You Kiss May Be Your God.” Based out of Portland, Oregon, you can probably find these lurkers sluggin’ suds under the Burnside Bridge or sneaking PBRs into an all-ages show at Davey Jones’ Locker. See what all the fuss is about on their Web site at: www.mrnh.net.-Ray Stevens II

The Arcade Fire

Funeral

Merge Records

More Canadians, eh? Canada is like the new Brooklyn this year or something. I, for one, am glad to see that America Junior is producing its share of talented musicians. It’s kind of like when your kid brother, who’s generally annoying and clingy, actually becomes pretty good at something. You’re like, “Yeah, dude! That’s rad.” And then yosecretly resent him for being better at it than you are. That’s how I secretly feel about Canadians even though just a moment ago I claimed to be fully supportive of their musical efforts. But in reality, I’ve been consistently impressed, awed, and made to feel ashamed of myself by a number of Canadian bands in the past. There’s Rush, first off, who are simply amazing and you just can’t even compete with them. Then there’s S.T.R.E.E.T.S., and now there’s The Arcade Fire.

These are the songs you dream about and then wish you’d written yourself. Funeral is sprawling and symphonic, beautiful and sad; it’s fragile and shocking and also pretentious and a bit overwrought in places. But The Arcade Fire are incredible musicians, and this is the most fully realized and executed debut full-length album I’ve heard in a very long time. These folks write about difficult and involving topics such as growing old, love, forgiveness, cynicism, and depression, and yet for the most part it’s managed without melodramatics and without too much self-involvement. Just listen to the heartbreaking track “Wake Up” and you’ll be hooked for the duration of the album.

The Arcade Fire make music to listen to on rainy days and become inspired by; they make music that shares your depression and shares its own hopefulness. These lovely Canadian folks (also maybe a Texan or two) are at the top of every music critic’s list, and with good reason. I just wish I’d found this album sooner, so I could’ve been the one to tell the whole world about them and get credit for having my finger on the pulse of new music. As it is, though, I’m just some dude who listened to an album and thought it was good, and now, as I’m sitting here writing this, this very same band is getting interviewed on NPR. How lame is that? Getting swooped by NPR. Seriously, that’s so lame. Screw you, Public Radio, go back to doing stories about election reform in the Ukraine and leave music journalism to us professionals.-Andreas Trolf

SK8 Or Die

Not In My Skatepark

Hill Billy Stew Records

This thirteen-song release was recorded/mixed for 100 dollars (And sounds like it, too!)-raw dog no-fi is what you need to prepare yourself for! The songs are mostly funny with titles like “Friends Don’t Let Friends Rollerblade,” “Sometimes I Freak Out,” “Roadkill Rollerblader,” and so on. The cover art shows a bug-eyed skatepunk whacking a neon-glowing fruit booter getting cracked in the head with his board! The funny thing is that the hardcore skater’s board has a tail skid, rails, and a lapper bolted down … whatever! Check out what San Diego skate rock sounds like these days at www.hillbillystew.com.-Ray Stevens II

The Delgados

Universal Audio

Chemikal Underground

What do the bands Mogwai, Bis, and Arab Strap have in common? Apart from being Scottish, they all began their respective musical careers while recording for Chemikal Underground, the esteemed indie label owned by The Delgados. It’s rare that a band can release its own first-rate albums while successfully nurturing the works of its friends and fellow artists. Thus far, that’s exactly what The Delgados have done. While Mogwai has built a triumphant career crafting massively loud instrumentals, and Arab Strap continues to write beautiful, cheeky odes to misery and drunkenness, and Bis just splash around in the kiddy pool, The Delgados, on the other hand, have persistently shied away from establishing a classifiable, distinct shtick.

Overall, you could say they craft clever, literate indie-pop. However, that doesn’t put a fine enough point on it. Within any given Delgados song, touchstones clearly emerge: XTC, The Carpenters, and the Beach Boys (with occasional hints of Massive Attack and Depeche Mode), and yet they sound entirely like themselves. For people who started a band having never played their respective instruments, the three core members are superbly gifted together. The fifth album, Universal Audio, scraps the orchestral leanings of the last several efforts in favor of a return to their most basic creative roots: guitar, bass, and drums. By paring things down, the band’s lyrics and vocal harmonies (by far its greatest assets) are allowed to rise and shine. If you love indie-pop, this will be your thing.-Arlie Carstens

Pavement

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: L.A.’s Desert Origins

Matador Records

Throughout the 90s, if you were big into slacker irony and ramshackle musicianship, Pavement was likely your favorite band. Lucky you-in alarmingly comprehensive form, Matador Records has reissued the extraordinary Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. While the diecut slipcover and three-paneled digi-pack are fancy touches and the companion booklet provides extensive liner notes (painfully illuminating how the band’s second album nearly didn’t come together), the real meat of the project is in the two CDs. Impressively, each disc clocks in at well over an hour and features a combined 49 tracks-including 25 unreleased recordings, eleven unreleased songs, and all the related B-side singles and compilation appearances, as well as album outtakes, one Peel Session, and pre-CRCR recordings with original drummer Gary Young.

If there’s anything new to be gleaned from the gold mine of supplemental material, it’s this-where Pavement’s lyrics are concerned, front man Steven Malkmus is either the most overly celebrated (albeit erudite) hack in rock or a semi-brilliant pioneer of free association. In particular, disc two reveals that the majority of his most memorable lines came about while jamming on guitar, talking mad shit, and cracking up his band mates. No less fun, we’re given earfuls of the boys’ most cringeworthy moments, all of which (as we already know), were to be later embraced, refined, or abandoned during the final recording sessions. Above all, this rerelease definitively proves that an awful lot of conflict, self-doubt, and difficult work (and not merely happenstance, vintage amps, and colossal doses of smug posturing) went into the making of this modern classic.-Arlie Carstens

Metric

Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?

Everloving Records

The first time I heard Metric was on my homey’s sponsor-me DVD-kind of a strange place to hear a new band, I suppose. It was the song “Dead Disco,” and the singer’s sassy seduction over new-wave drum staccato and minimal guitar strums had me. My friend told me they were called The Metric, and I quickly set out to find out more about this catchy sound and the woman behind that voice. Turns out they’re just called Metric-they’re an L.A. band, but originally from Toronto, and their debut album came out in early 2004. How did this band stay under the radar for so long? The jam “Combat Baby” gets love on Little Radio-go to littleradio.com and download that brilliant little streaming music box onto your computer if you haven’t already. As for front woman Emily Haines, she’s sexy, smart, cool, and liberal. Perfect.-Blair Alley

Roni Size

Return To V

Thrive Records

There was a time not too many years ago when major labels and glossy music rags joyously blubbered predictions that DJs pumping out anonymous beat-based music would soon dictate the future of music. Furthermore, DJs were going to wipe out rock ‘n’ roll, and more importantly, kill those cultural dinosaurs-“rock stars.” Alongside gold-fronted rabble-rousers Goldie and Tricky, the British drum ‘n’ bass DJ Roni Size was one such heralded artist. Specializing in whip smart, blindingly fast beats, his then-progressive dance-floor jams made X-eating, zombie club kids on both sides of the Atlantic piss their furry pink pants. With average music listeners, however, it failed completely.

Size is back with Return To V. On track one, as a slew of standard video-game samples prattle in the background, an unconvincing guest rapper named Sweat Pea chants, “There’s a method to this madness that you can’t resist/ It’s party tim the orchestral leanings of the last several efforts in favor of a return to their most basic creative roots: guitar, bass, and drums. By paring things down, the band’s lyrics and vocal harmonies (by far its greatest assets) are allowed to rise and shine. If you love indie-pop, this will be your thing.-Arlie Carstens

Pavement

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: L.A.’s Desert Origins

Matador Records

Throughout the 90s, if you were big into slacker irony and ramshackle musicianship, Pavement was likely your favorite band. Lucky you-in alarmingly comprehensive form, Matador Records has reissued the extraordinary Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. While the diecut slipcover and three-paneled digi-pack are fancy touches and the companion booklet provides extensive liner notes (painfully illuminating how the band’s second album nearly didn’t come together), the real meat of the project is in the two CDs. Impressively, each disc clocks in at well over an hour and features a combined 49 tracks-including 25 unreleased recordings, eleven unreleased songs, and all the related B-side singles and compilation appearances, as well as album outtakes, one Peel Session, and pre-CRCR recordings with original drummer Gary Young.

If there’s anything new to be gleaned from the gold mine of supplemental material, it’s this-where Pavement’s lyrics are concerned, front man Steven Malkmus is either the most overly celebrated (albeit erudite) hack in rock or a semi-brilliant pioneer of free association. In particular, disc two reveals that the majority of his most memorable lines came about while jamming on guitar, talking mad shit, and cracking up his band mates. No less fun, we’re given earfuls of the boys’ most cringeworthy moments, all of which (as we already know), were to be later embraced, refined, or abandoned during the final recording sessions. Above all, this rerelease definitively proves that an awful lot of conflict, self-doubt, and difficult work (and not merely happenstance, vintage amps, and colossal doses of smug posturing) went into the making of this modern classic.-Arlie Carstens

Metric

Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?

Everloving Records

The first time I heard Metric was on my homey’s sponsor-me DVD-kind of a strange place to hear a new band, I suppose. It was the song “Dead Disco,” and the singer’s sassy seduction over new-wave drum staccato and minimal guitar strums had me. My friend told me they were called The Metric, and I quickly set out to find out more about this catchy sound and the woman behind that voice. Turns out they’re just called Metric-they’re an L.A. band, but originally from Toronto, and their debut album came out in early 2004. How did this band stay under the radar for so long? The jam “Combat Baby” gets love on Little Radio-go to littleradio.com and download that brilliant little streaming music box onto your computer if you haven’t already. As for front woman Emily Haines, she’s sexy, smart, cool, and liberal. Perfect.-Blair Alley

Roni Size

Return To V

Thrive Records

There was a time not too many years ago when major labels and glossy music rags joyously blubbered predictions that DJs pumping out anonymous beat-based music would soon dictate the future of music. Furthermore, DJs were going to wipe out rock ‘n’ roll, and more importantly, kill those cultural dinosaurs-“rock stars.” Alongside gold-fronted rabble-rousers Goldie and Tricky, the British drum ‘n’ bass DJ Roni Size was one such heralded artist. Specializing in whip smart, blindingly fast beats, his then-progressive dance-floor jams made X-eating, zombie club kids on both sides of the Atlantic piss their furry pink pants. With average music listeners, however, it failed completely.

Size is back with Return To V. On track one, as a slew of standard video-game samples prattle in the background, an unconvincing guest rapper named Sweat Pea chants, “There’s a method to this madness that you can’t resist/ It’s party time and we gon’ get nasty/ We gon’ get dirty” Sadly, it only gets more generic from there. Track two merely barks, “This is for the Djs,” while half-assed drill beats do battle with four-note synth flourishes for two-and-a-half minutes. Honestly, aside from an appearance by Rahzel, there’s very little new here. In the past, even if you weren’t a fan of drum ‘n’ bass, you had to give it up for Roni, because at least he was trying to push things forward. For the faithful only.-Arlie Carstens

Death From Above 1979

You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine

Vice Records

You know that magazine Vice? It’s one of those “lifestyle” mags. Where I live, everyone reads it because it’s free and there’s generally something for everyone and they sometimes have photos of tits. They feature stuff like the hilarious “Dos and Don’ts” column where they make fun of people’s clothes, hard-hitting journalism about doing tons of drugs and anti-Semitism, very excellent comic strips, cutting-edge photography by attractive and/or cool people, and unimpeachable taste in music and graphic design. Vice loves to make fun of really famous celebrities like Britney Spears and Dave Navarro, while giving plenty of press to celebrities they love-you know, cool ones who deejay and throw fashion parties. (Note to Chloe Sevigny: Put me on the guest list, girlfriend!)

Anyhoo, Vice is branching out, and they now have its own record label. One of its recent releases is the Canadian duo Death From Above 1979’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. All in all, this is a pretty excellent album that’s part metal, part bare-bones rock and roll, and part artful irony. DFA1979’s nearest antecedent would maybe be The Datsuns. Of course, The Datsuns rely more heavily on guitar hooks and choruses, while DFA1979 pushes percussion to the front of a lot of the songs (understandable, because there’s only two dudes). But all that aside, You’re A Woman is tough to figure out. It’s a damn fine album, but it kind of leaves a too-cool-for-school taste in your mouth, which might be the aftertaste of some of that irony (for substantiation of this, check out clichà‡-riddled lyrics like these from the track “Sexy Results”: “Sexy girl call me on the phone/ Woman friend take me to your bedroom/ Let me show how I am full grown”). Death From Above 1979 is alternately hilarious and awesome, usually both.

A word on the cover art, though. Vice always has the best and worst album art of the month featured in each issue’s music section. I’m not sure which category this would fit into. The dominant colors featured on the album cover are pink and black, which was all fine and dandy last year when pink and black was the hot color combo of choice for graphic designers. So let’s just hope that if DFA1979 puts out an album in 2005 the Vice design team lets them know that this year’s color combo is brown and canary yellow (or baby blue). No time for slippin’.-Andreas Trolf

DJ Klever

Atlanta Sound Citizens

Years ago there was this kid we used to skate with. He was always known as “Winky” to us. Our group continued to skate for years to come, but Winky fell out of the scene and started doing music instead-deejaying to be exact. He progressed to the point where he was spinning nights at clubs and parties. He later got into turntablism. He won DMC twice and released a CD called Atlanta Sound Citizens.

Dj Klever’s Atlanta Sound Citizens is a compilation of rock ‘n’ roll hits from the 70s and 80s. Klever compiled a CD that brings you back to the early days of adolescence-depending on how young (or old) you are. You don’t have to be a DJ to appreciate the music on this CD, because I’m certain everyone’s heard of the artists on it. Good examples would be Steve Miller Band, The Police, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Heart, and even a couple of commercial jingles. These songs remind me of the early days of skating with Winky and all my other friends in Piedmont Park on a lovely Sunday afternoon. It brings back goood memories from the place I know so well, the ol’ ATL.-Dwayne Carter

nd we gon’ get nasty/ We gon’ get dirty” Sadly, it only gets more generic from there. Track two merely barks, “This is for the Djs,” while half-assed drill beats do battle with four-note synth flourishes for two-and-a-half minutes. Honestly, aside from an appearance by Rahzel, there’s very little new here. In the past, even if you weren’t a fan of drum ‘n’ bass, you had to give it up for Roni, because at least he was trying to push things forward. For the faithful only.-Arlie Carstens

Death From Above 1979

You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine

Vice Records

You know that magazine Vice? It’s one of those “lifestyle” mags. Where I live, everyone reads it because it’s free and there’s generally something for everyone and they sometimes have photos of tits. They feature stuff like the hilarious “Dos and Don’ts” column where they make fun of people’s clothes, hard-hitting journalism about doing tons of drugs and anti-Semitism, very excellent comic strips, cutting-edge photography by attractive and/or cool people, and unimpeachable taste in music and graphic design. Vice loves to make fun of really famous celebrities like Britney Spears and Dave Navarro, while giving plenty of press to celebrities they love-you know, cool ones who deejay and throw fashion parties. (Note to Chloe Sevigny: Put me on the guest list, girlfriend!)

Anyhoo, Vice is branching out, and they now have its own record label. One of its recent releases is the Canadian duo Death From Above 1979’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. All in all, this is a pretty excellent album that’s part metal, part bare-bones rock and roll, and part artful irony. DFA1979’s nearest antecedent would maybe be The Datsuns. Of course, The Datsuns rely more heavily on guitar hooks and choruses, while DFA1979 pushes percussion to the front of a lot of the songs (understandable, because there’s only two dudes). But all that aside, You’re A Woman is tough to figure out. It’s a damn fine album, but it kind of leaves a too-cool-for-school taste in your mouth, which might be the aftertaste of some of that irony (for substantiation of this, check out clichà‡-riddled lyrics like these from the track “Sexy Results”: “Sexy girl call me on the phone/ Woman friend take me to your bedroom/ Let me show how I am full grown”). Death From Above 1979 is alternately hilarious and awesome, usually both.

A word on the cover art, though. Vice always has the best and worst album art of the month featured in each issue’s music section. I’m not sure which category this would fit into. The dominant colors featured on the album cover are pink and black, which was all fine and dandy last year when pink and black was the hot color combo of choice for graphic designers. So let’s just hope that if DFA1979 puts out an album in 2005 the Vice design team lets them know that this year’s color combo is brown and canary yellow (or baby blue). No time for slippin’.-Andreas Trolf

DJ Klever

Atlanta Sound Citizens

Years ago there was this kid we used to skate with. He was always known as “Winky” to us. Our group continued to skate for years to come, but Winky fell out of the scene and started doing music instead-deejaying to be exact. He progressed to the point where he was spinning nights at clubs and parties. He later got into turntablism. He won DMC twice and released a CD called Atlanta Sound Citizens.

Dj Klever’s Atlanta Sound Citizens is a compilation of rock ‘n’ roll hits from the 70s and 80s. Klever compiled a CD that brings you back to the early days of adolescence-depending on how young (or old) you are. You don’t have to be a DJ to appreciate the music on this CD, because I’m certain everyone’s heard of the artists on it. Good examples would be Steve Miller Band, The Police, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Heart, and even a couple of commercial jingles. These songs remind me of the early days of skating with Winky and all my other friends in Piedmont Park on a lovely Sunday afternoon. It brings back good memories from the place I know so well, the ol’ ATL.-Dwayne Carter

back good memories from the place I know so well, the ol’ ATL.-Dwayne Carter