Sparta
Threes
Hollywood
**
First off, I am not a music critic. I am a skateboarder, so I don’t think that my opinion should matter that much to you. I listened to these guys’ CD and the first thing I thought was that I’d heard ‘em before. But that’s not true-it’s just that they sound like every other band.
This music has been done a thousand times over. A bunch of whiney songs about nothing. Sparta sounds like a band your ex-girlfriend would listen to after you two split up. Then the next time you see her, she wants you to listen to this one song because it was “so much like our relationship.”
Just another emo band singing about heartache. But hey, if that’s what you enjoy, then maybe you will like these guys.-Matt Ball

Simon Dawes
Carnivore
Record Collection
*** (3.5 out of 5)
Included in Simon Dawes’ press kit is a copy of an article from Malibu magazine, written by some hack with the unfortunate name of Switters Malloy. The article is pure tripe and Malloy makes himself an overwhelming presence in it-he should be on Record Collection’s payroll, since he spends about three pages implanted firmly up the band’s ass (seriously, Malibu magazine?).
Simon Dawes is pretty okay, though. They’re the exception to my rule of thumb that states that the dumber a band’s fans are, the worse the band is going to be (for example, the Warped Tour). These four dudes write subtle, well-crafted music that’s part classic-rock antecedence and indie profluence without sounding desperate for acceptance or turning into a cloying mess of disparate, so-hot-right-now influences.
You can start liking these guys now, and then in a year when they’re huge, just tell people that you aren’t into them anymore because “they totally used to be about the music, and now it’s just about the groupies and pills.”-Andreas Trolf

DJ Shadow
The Outsider
Universal
**
The arrival of a new DJ Shadow album is a time for excitement and deep terror. The man is a genius with an encyclopedic knowledge of not only hip-hop and rock, but of all the world’s musical forms. Endtroducing (1996) was a masterpiece, as was Preemptive Strike (1998), and the ongoing U.N.K.L.E. project (with Mo Wax’s James Lavelle and a cast of dozens) is one of the most forward-thinking collaborative projects yet undertaken in the realm of electronic music.
But around 2002, things started to get a bit dodgy. By any other DJ’s standards The Private Press would’ve been decent, but this is Shadow-it was sub par. The new joint is, sadly, no better. The Outsider is bad, and not just bad but uncharacteristically so. Through and through, the hip-hop songs are spastic clichà‡s, and the rock and ambient songs are negligible. Track 14 is called “What Have I Done?” Yup.-Arlie Carstens

Lady Sovereign
Public Warning
Island/Def Jam
*****
You know that one girl on the block who beats up chicks and helps you egg houses? The one who backs you up no matter what? Not really the type you want to date, but if any other bird broke your heart, she’d key the hooker’s car for you? Well, that is Lady Sovereign. Her album is a masterpiece in violent beats ranging from Korg Triton to classic Run-DMC Casio. Her lyrics tackle everything from politics (check out “My England”) to self-empowerment-filled mantras that I relate to as in, “You love me? Well, thank you. Oh, you hate me? Well, f-k you.”
Lady Sovereign’s big hits in the U.K. have been “Random” and “Hoodie,” but I think these two tracks are just pure comedy party tracks and don’t hold a candle to “Those Were The Days” or “Tango”-which really show the magnitude and force from this ex-doughnut baker who’s now morphed into a true microphone commander.-Nate Sherwood

Escape The Fate
Dying Is Your Latest Fashion
Epitaph
*
Epitaph, you magnificent bastards! You’ve done it again! Your A&R guys are still out there, ears to the ground, fingers on the pulse of our nation’sisaffected youth -and you continue, year after year, lackluster album after lackluster album, to give them (just like Hot Topic) exactly what they want!
As I sit at my desk, Dying is Your Latest Fashion playing cloyingly on the stereo, I wonder about Escape The Fate. I wonder, “Why? Why has this band been foisted upon the world?” I mean, I’m sure that there are sad, pimply faced kids wearing eyeliner right at this very moment, as thankful for this band as they are for their Prozac and Accutane prescriptions. That doesn’t excuse this abortion of an album, though.
Here’s an actual quote from ETF’s singer, Ronnie, “It’s gonna happen…We’re gonna be the biggest thing. So huge. I know it.” Here’s one from me: “Ronnie, quit taking yourself so seriously. Your band is f-king awful.”-Andreas Trolf

The DFA
The DFA Remixes: Chapter Two
DFA/Astralwerks
***
The Death From Above (a.k.a. DFA) is NYC-based producers, label owners, and Plantain Recording Studio bosses James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy. As if that weren’t enough, Murphy also fronts the none-too-shabby, Pere Ubu-inspired LCD Soundsystem. But what we’re really talkin’ about today is the steady bit of business the duo have going as remixers-for-hire. If you like doin’ the Cahuenga Boogie over in Hollywood, this is probably gonna be your bag.
Over the last several years, they’ve stripped bare and newly envisioned tracks for a broad variety of mainstream and obscure artists alike. But beware, Chapter Two is all minimalist disco/punk claptrap designed for indie kids out dancing at Star Shoes. This isn’t to say its bad, per se; just don’t go mistaking it for great art. File under “something to nod your head to while drinking overpriced mouthwash and makin’ eyes at sled dogs and haircuts.”-Arlie Carstens

Peanut Butter Wolf
Chrome Children
Adult Swim/Stones Throw
****
Do you guys remember that Dangerdoom album I was so stoked on a while back? Well shit howdy, Adult Swim has gone and done it again. Speaking of Adult Swim, have you guys seen that new show they have, Metalocalypse? I was sure I’d hate it, but I totally didn’t. I watched it one night while eating nachos with Angela Boatwright, who is probably the foremost authority on metal that I can think of and who also cringed at the thought of a metal cartoon, and we were completely cracked up despite ourselves.
So all the tracks here by all the varied artists sound coherent enough to make an excellent album by a single artist, but without sacrificing individual flavor. This CD, mixed by Stones Throw’s Peanut Butter Wolf, is like having a black best friend who loves cartoons (that was meant to be funny, jerks).-Andreas Trolf

The Cardigans
Super Extra Gravity
Nettwerk
****
Most people remember The Cardigans because of that song they had on that Romeo And Juliet soundtrack with the chorus that went, “Love me love me say that you love me,” but I prefer to remember The Cardigans for their excellent Black Sabbath covers. Now, no disrespect to Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, and Bill, but until you’ve heard Nina Persson’s sultry (yes, sultry) rendition of “Iron Man,” you haven’t yet heard the song.
Super Extra Gravity sounds like an album title that someone to whom English is a second language might come up with. But dopey title or not, The Cardigans have put forth a startlingly mature, heartfelt, adventurous, and quite lovely album. The production is efficiently Scandinavian, the song writing is polished to a high-intensity shine, much like those fancy halogen headlights that come standard in Saabs, and Persson’s voice is pants-tightening. The only thing missing is a cover of “Hole In The Sky.”-Andreas Trolf

The Mars Volta
Amputechture
GSL/Universal
***
Oh, shush, The Mars Volta. What a pink elephant in the room. Rising from the crash of the fanatically loved but too hyped for their own good At-The-Drive-In, The Mars Volta has grown to become a surprisingly consistent and interesting modern prog-rock band. However, the band is also an exercise in masturbatory fake jazz solos, blasà‡ conceits, and lyrical charlatanism. Sorry, somebody had to say it.
Amputechture once again finds guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala commandeering music that is truly inspired and ass-kicking from time to time, but that on the whole is clichà‡d and obtuse enough to make even ardent fans yawn and turn away. By far, the most enthralling aspects of the new album come from the dazzling interplay between drummer John Theodore and keyboardist Ikey Owens, and for this it is entirely worth the purchase.-Arlie Carstens

UPCOMING RELEASES
MARK YOUR CALENDARS WITH THESE UN-MARK-ASS ALBUMS

October 31 (Halloween!)
Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury
The Deftones, Saturday Night Wrist
The Who, Endless Wire
November 14
Joanna Newsom, Ys
Tenacious D, The Pick Of Destiny (OST)
White Magic, Dat Rosa Mel Apibus
November 21
Mirah, Joyride Remixes
Swan Lake, Beast Moans
Tom Waits, Orphans
December 19
Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
isingly consistent and interesting modern prog-rock band. However, the band is also an exercise in masturbatory fake jazz solos, blasà‡ conceits, and lyrical charlatanism. Sorry, somebody had to say it.
Amputechture once again finds guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala commandeering music that is truly inspired and ass-kicking from time to time, but that on the whole is clichà‡d and obtuse enough to make even ardent fans yawn and turn away. By far, the most enthralling aspects of the new album come from the dazzling interplay between drummer John Theodore and keyboardist Ikey Owens, and for this it is entirely worth the purchase.-Arlie Carstens

UPCOMING RELEASES
MARK YOUR CALENDARS WITH THESE UN-MARK-ASS ALBUMS

October 31 (Halloween!)
Clipse, Hell Hath No Fury
The Deftones, Saturday Night Wrist
The Who, Endless Wire
November 14
Joanna Newsom, Ys
Tenacious D, The Pick Of Destiny (OST)
White Magic, Dat Rosa Mel Apibus
November 21
Mirah, Joyride Remixes
Swan Lake, Beast Moans
Tom Waits, Orphans
December 19
Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank