APPLES IN STEREO, The Wallpaper Reverie (Spinart)
Urban psychedelia for the post-Afterschool Special age, the Apples in Stereo’s latest is their usual cross of the “Strawberry Fields”- era Beatles (“Strawberryfire” – but then, how many different ways can a person sing the praise of the fraise?) meets Ultra Vivid Scene (“The Shiney Sea”) and the unabashedly poppy sounds of the current lo-fi movement. Intra-song snippets – variations on a theme, a motive recently popularized by fellow Elephant 6-ers Olivia Tremor Control – weave through the 15 tracks and sound like they’re the between-scene set changes as the band switches singers, instruments or funny hats. When drummer Hilarie Sidney takes over vocal duties from Robert Schneider (“Questions and Answers”), the effect is familiar as well as so unbelievably ‘80s that K-Tel should race to Denver immediately. The Wallpaper Reverie doesn’t have quite the same vaudeville hook as “Seems So” from Tone Soul Evolution, but “Ruby” comes close with a fuzzed-out bass and the ba-ba-ba-ba that can’t help but make you smile and “Y2K” should be on any millennium tape for the voice of reason. Fans of esoteric pop and noodling will wonder where this has been their whole life. — L. GREEN

BAM-BAM – s/t (indy release)
Sounding like Peebles all grown up and with her own backing band, singer Sibyl Buck could take that little Rubble, throw him around and make him believe she’s “too good to be true to you.” Raging like Deborah “Skin” Dyer of Skunk Anansie, it proves tha women can do it for themselves as well as other people. – FINCHLEY

BLUR – 13 (Virgin)
Triskaidekaphobia. How does one of the biggest bands of the ‘90s in England follow up something as omnipresent as that infernal “woo-hoo” song? By wrecking everything they had built in the past, breaking rules, relationships and dishes? By taking an entire gospel choir on stage to sing back-up for first single “Tender” in New York? By letting guitarist Graham Coxon finally have his wicked way with a 13-song album after proving his ability on his solo album? By doing away with the producer who could almost guarantee a British number 1? Well, yes and no. To build something stronger occasionally requires dislocation. Sometimes a larger force is needed. When you have the intrinsic power within, use that as well. If you can get Madonna’s producer, well, go for it! 13 is as much of a departure from Blur as Blur was from The Great Escape, and a little growth is never a bad thing. Fear of 13? I think not. — L. GREEN

BONGZILLA, Stash (Relapse)
If we had a band name of the month contest, Bongzilla would win no question. The other cool thing is the music is just what you would hope it would sound like from a band claiming a name like that: an aural choker hit packed for you by the guy in your Abnormal Psych class who listened to Black Sabbath AND Black Flag. Hypno fuzz riffage slamming into some real harshness is the soundtrack for Bongzilla and it’s on a mission to crash through the Tokyo of your ears and mind. Pay attention to the propaganda hidden in the layers of distortion and go out and put your expanded mind to good use. Send a contribution to NORML or something. And change the water. – CRASH

If you’re gonna do funny punk, you had better damn well be funny. Well, Boris the Sprinkler are, actually, and despite being straight-up geeks, rock out pretty mightily. Their pogopoppunk influences are as obvious as the ending of any Gilligan’s Island episode, but what the hell. The Dickies have been ready for the funny punk retirement home for a long time, so there is a void to fill and Boris are the heirs apparent. You can’t help but laugh your ass off at songs like “Jonestown Judy” “My Radio Is Telling Me To Kill(The Guys On My Radio)” so it gets Siskels from me. – CRASH

BOUNCING SOULS, Hopeless Romantic (Epitaph)
This is the Bouncing Souls newest album and it rocks. It is a bit on the slow side compared to their prior releases but it’s still great. The song “Hopeless Romantic” is a great opener. It’s fast and has melody, as do most of the songs on this album. The funniest song is “Wish Me Well (you can go to hell)”. It is such a ‘80s style song and I know they will love me for saying that because it seriously sounds like a scene out of a ‘80s movie with Jon Cusak. Kara Wethington is the other singer on that song. That song will become a classic. The Bouncing Souls are a funny and rockin’ band. Buy this, you moron. — B. LENTINI

BUILT FOR SPEED, A Motorhead Tribute (Victory)
A tribute to one of the most influential heavy rock and roll bands of all time – Motorhead. The CD is worth it for the “Ace of Spades” song by Blood for Blood. That one is great and so is “ Rock and Roll” by Dropkick Murphys and it’s also pretty funny to hear Fahrenheit 451 do “ No Class”. — B. LENTINI

CHEAZY- CR a.k.a. THE WHITE MYSTERY (Chirp Records)
“I only swear when I need syllables.” “A lot of people say ‘just as many guys are having sex,’ but I ain’t havin’ sex with the guys so I don’t care if they’re clean; I’m worried about the hos.” “If you can get the message, that’s cool. If you can’t, then you’re prob’ly too old to be listening to Cheazy-E.” And other bon rap mots from 5’3″ assassin/19 y.o. skater/studio pimp Eric’s trunk. Syncopated raps with what is apparently the evil Michael Jackson are the basis of “Dumb Bitch”. Assorted samples and beats make up the mattress on which Cheazy-E jerks off. And just think! There are 15 tracks of this! Right. Actually, Cheazy-E’s a better wry comedian with the samples and the interviews (a particularly long keyboard solo prompts “enough with the fuckin’ Casio”) than with the raps. Destined to be a “one-track” album (the kind where only one song really gets played over and over – vote for “Studio Pimp”, which goes from lounge to Gibby Haynes over ’80s disco/electronica, back and forth), CRa.k.a. The White Mystery is actually a funny spewing of the low-budget, gangsta Eminem. – L. GREEN

DIESEL BOY, Sofa King Cook (Honest Don’s)
You can’t miss the cover: Tellytubby servitude by degenerate Tinky-Winky and LaaLaa. Whatever can it all mean? Well, if you go by the lyrics, it’s anything from high school crushes/love to “my life as a rock star” to voyeurism to the dead Beatle and other lost loves. If you go by the music, it’s alternately the Descendents, the Dead Milkmen on speed or other pop-punk beginning with D. Hell, even the cover of “Punk Rock Girl” fits in – although original “From the Used Bin” is funnier and has better rhymes. Instrumental “Scheherazade” is less than a minute of ambiance to prepare thyself for the next onslaught of angst. Heaven knows what Po and Dipsy were doing…

GORDON, s/t (Fifty-Seven)
The band logo looks like something on a surf or skate sticker. From the opening bass riff and guitar groove, you can tell this is gonna be the sort of thing that will get played at parties. Classic pop-rock guitars and melodies add background to an alt-rock voice that could pummel the Shawn Mullinses currently on-air into hamburger. Opener “Fortified Grapes” sounds familiar in that bizarre way that good pop should; that “haven’t I heard this before?” which prefaces “this sounds like, you know, that band that did that song, whatsitcalled”. “Better Daze” gives the same impression. Actually, with the current vogue for 1-, 2- and 3-hit wonders, it’s possible we know exactly who these guys are (actually, singer Chris Dye is the former front of Dashboard Prophets) but they hadn’t made it big enough to be household words. Producer Brendan O’Brien (RATM, Stone Temple Pilots) could help to change this. Maybe they will be on stickers yet. — L. GREEN

THE HIPPOS – Forget the World (Vagrant / Fueled by Ramen)
Maybe because “99 Red Balloons” was on the radio before this CD kicked in; maybe because the horns and assorted percussion thingies recall oh-so-many pop songs of days of yore. This ska-pop fest is a speedy trip through a land of porkpie hats and burritos. They will be forgiven for having a song with the same name as a horrible country band: Asleep at the Wheel. Being called The Hippos seems to underscore the slightly cartoony music (think Animaniacs’ Flavio). Heavy. – FINCHLEY

HONEYGLAZED – The Trouble With Girls (Wonderdrug Records)
One part Jon Spencer, two parts Luscious Jackson, a touch of sugared glam, bake in a hot oven called Boston and you have the recipe. Singer David Kulund even looks like a member of many current British bands (re: 3 Colours Red, Groop Dogdrill, etc.). Krispy Kreme, indeed. – FINCHLEY

JONES CRUSHER – s/t (Coldfront) From beneath the streets of New York… These guys have the streetrock thing down tight, the good three chord and snarly bad attitude type that seems to flourish here in NYC. Jones Crusher step up and do justice to the whole genre and blast away from the first note to the last, ten songs in 24 minutes so you know it’s right on. Punk rock that isn’t limited to the lock step confines of scene politics, plus I bet they rock out live. Be sure to check em out. – CRASH

THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS, This is My Truth Tell Me Yours (Sony)
Released late in 1998 in Britain, the Manic’s latest continues their move away from the angry young men of “Motorcycle Emptiness” and MIA guitarist Richie James’ “4-real” arm-carving episode. They’ve matured like a fine wine, even if James Dean Bradfield’s voice is still as passionate, cranky and Welsh as ever. It’s distinctive, managing to circumvent the strings circling the lyrics of “The Everlasting” and cut through some rather basic creative writing exercises (“My Little Empire”), as well as showing the concept of onemonopia in “Tsunami.” Even what starts as a love song turns into the accusation that someone stole the sun from their hearts, but they love us all the same. Gee, it’s right back there with their self-assured anthem of a few years back “You Love Us.” Well, maybe we do, maybe we don’t, but with quietly aggressive and brooding songs like these, it doesn’t really matter. — L. GREEN

ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES, Are a Drag (Fat Wreck Chords)
Their bio tells me “Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s are supposed to suck,” but one listen to this second full-length release of show tune and all-time favorite cover songs will tell you they were supposed to rock. Each of the members playing in another Fat Wreck Chord band might have had something to do with this surprising lack of suck – hell, any band who can get your foot tapping to “Over the Rainbow” must have been doing something right. NOFX, No Use For a Name, Swingin’ Utters and Lagwagon join forces to bring you such hits as “Rainbow Connection”, “My Favorite Things”, and “Prom Night” from the movie/play Grease. This band has nothing to prove and are out for the pure fun of it – so enjoy them. — E. KELLER

MOKE – s/t (Ultimatum)
Once upon a time in England there was an apocalyptic, sample-friendly /”industrial rock”/crustie band called Senser. Senser begat Lodestar. Lodestar didn’t quite begat Moke, but there is some strange connection – tenuous as it may now be – between Senser and Moke, be it Senser singer Kerstin guesting, Senser dj Haggis producing or whatever have you. Like step-cousins thrice-removed, they’re linked. Senser did well opening for Moby on tour a few years ago, and Moke seems likely to follow in their footsteps with the opening slot on the recent Black Crowes tour and first U.S. single “Down”. Their sound is still a strange combination: shades of those prog-Earth-rock bands of yore, with occasional meanderings into Aerosmith territory mean that they’ve been called “Blues Against the Machine” – an odd metaphor. Singer John Hogg even brings back Senser’s “Sarf Lahnden” rap – familiar to anyone who’s heard “Eject” – on “Power Cut”. At the rate they’re going, it’ll be our great-grandchildren that can safely say “The End”. – L. GREEN

MUSTARD PLUG, Pray for Mojo (Hopeless)
Alright – ska that doesn’t suck! Releasing their third album and growing like a cancer in the ska-punk scene, Mustard Plug is catchy as fuck. Part of the 1998 Ska Against Racism tour, the Snow Jam in Canada, and a sold-out Japanese tour, as well as high- priced compilations including “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “Skankin’ in the Pit,” Mustard Plug has been quite busy since their debut release on Moon Records in 1993. “Every day, Money Flows, Status Quo, Cities Die, While they thrive, Zero Sum, Just the way it goes, Now’s the Time.” Twelve poppy songs and a helluva lot of horns and melody. — E. KELLER

NINE MINUTE SNOOZE, Everloving Spark (Plastique)
Debut album from Raleigh NC’s 9MS means that the AV Club has come out of the television or audio studio, all mole-like eyes and carefully-honed songs that will win the girls with their earnest pop and Dad’s Beach Boys albums. Their press cites “suave drumming,” whatever that is. Think Weezer’s younger brothers . . . The geek shall inherit the earth. — L. GREEN

SUNDAY PUNCHER, For Your Everchanging World (Turnbuckle)
Mixed with the frenzy of bands like Six Finger Satellite and June of ‘44, Sunday Puncher release their least linear/ most spatial cd to date. Their songs are mature and inquisitive yet built with the frenzy of a toddler who has found his way into the medicine cabinet. In the tradition of Bailter Space, Sunday Puncher make you wonder what’s coming next. They fake you out every time and then jet off in a new direction. You’ll find yourself awestruck at the very least. — SOCKBOY

THULSA DOOM, Desensitized EP (Doomed)
Political crust in the Aus Rotten and (of course) Doom vein. Really rocks, especially for a buncha fifteen-year-old kids. They’re probably candidates for the Sassy cute band alert. For some reason, my copy has dried blood on the record sleeve; it might be mine, but I can’t remember. — J. FILTHE

Hip hop’s answer to the Manson Family, the Wu Tang Clan are far reaching and it’s a big organization. They also chuck out more records than anyone can keep up with, so unless you have a lot of disposable income to follow the Wu’s considerable output, check this. Chronicles brings you the cream, kid and all the usual suspects rollin’ up on ya’. The Wu has got more personalities than Sybil and headz will check the guestlist here: Cocoa Brovas, Rass Kass, B.I.G. and Heltah Skeltah. This is the Wu Mix you want. – CRASH

1. PENNYWISE Straight Ahead (Epitaph)
2. LOOTPACK Soundpieces : Da Antidote (Stones Throw))
3. V/A NWA Legacy (Priority)
4. DAVE HILLYARD & THE ROCK STEADY SEVEN Playtime (Hellcat/Epitaph)
5. TreeRadio Bootleg for the Restless Masses (Wonderdrug)
6. DEADBOLT Zulu Death Mask (Headhunter)
7. NAS I Am (Columbia)
8. THE ROOTS Things Fall Apart (MCA)
9. Staind Dysfunction (Elektra)
10. JIMMY EAT WORLD Clarity (Capitol)


A bartender’s guide to your CD player.

AFI – Black Sails In the Sunset (Nitro)
East Bay S.E. HC repesenting here on their 4th record. Hard-hitting and going for the throat. Have they got an agenda for you. Drink: Yeah, right.

THE BOWLING GREEN, One Pound Note (Nothing)
Raunchy ‘70s disco roll lands – hard – on a breakbeat of current instrumental fetishism. Easy to see why the one-man-London-band was plucked from the studio to score films. Drink: chartreuse & club soda

CHLORINE, Primer (Time Bomb)
Chlorine would sanitise a petri dish of Ian Astbury, Peter Hook, Ian MacKaye and Rob Halford. That’s a good thing. Drink: bleach blonde yellow rattler

THE CREATURES, Anima Animus (Instinct)
The Nth album from Siouxie and Budgie is goth-majick-punk from the old school. Drink: blood & sand cocktail

DDT, Urban Observer (The Music Company)
PunkRapRockSampleSka stuff that sounds like the Offspring meets Metallica meets KMFDM. There’s a reason for this. Drink: Moscow mule

THE ERNIES, Meson Ray (Mojo)
Fishing for a new Primus? Jimmie’s Chicken Shack closed? Weird rhythms that rock and throwing some turntable action in for good measure They’re settin’ ya up for the catch of the day or the Pollo Loco. Drink: backyard party keg

THE FRANKENSTEIN DRAG QUEENS FROM PLANET 13, Transvestite Creatures of Evil (Uncle God Damn Records)
Influenced by some of NYC’s messiest drag queens, TFDQFP13 are visual beacons of lipstick and sweat reigning theatrically above the bloodiest of testosterone-addled mosh pits. Drink: piss & vinegar, with a cherry

GOOD RIDDANCE, Operation Phoenix (Fat Wreck Chords)
Basis of the term Skinned Head, the cover is. Speed-thrash-core from Santa Cruz. (The back makes a strong point for vegetarianism. . . or pacifism.) Drink: t.n.t. #2

Juicy and dripping . . . NUFAM, SOIA, Strung Out, Avail, NOFX, Lagwagon, The Ataris. . . Not for light weights. Drink: kamikaze

Pulls music from ‘70 (Dusty Springfield) through ‘98 (Evil Superstars), adds dialogue from the film and stirs with a Remington. Drink: whiskey shotgun

NOTCH, Leaking . . . (Notchermusic)
Gargled with battery acid, over a wall of solid guitars and drums, does he ever take a breath in the dirge of aria and chant? Drink: bloody Caesar shooter

N.U. DEEP, “Livin’ Double Standards”
If Carter was still in office, Brother Billy would’ve made this CD about his illustrious sibling. Since we have Bubba in the White House, Roger hasn’t said or sung a word. N.U. Deep do it for him. Drink: a lovin’ spoonful stirred with a cigar. ahem.

Sweat drips as the bad boys at Victory rip together an abomination of sound and fury. Angst knows no fury like Victory uprising: All Out War, Indecision, Six Going on Seven
Drink: firewalker

V/A – Ruff Ryders – Ryde or Die Vol. 1 (Interscope)
DMX and the Ruff Ryders roll up on you. Featuring Juvenile, Ma$e and Jay-Z Drink: 40 with a Hennessy shot

TEEN IDOLS- Pucker Up (Honest Don’s)
Juvenile delinquent punk. They probably spent a bunch of time in detention and wrote these songs. Rock’n’Roll high school is obviously in session. Drink: whatever is in your parents liquor cabinet


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