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20050329

Beck | Guero
Beck reunites with the Dust Brothers, revisiting Odelay's Zippy the Pinhead "junk=art/art=junk" pop thrift shop. The Dust Brothers help the return to funked-up fun, though many strong tracks -- "Missing," "Broken Drum" and "Scarecrow" -- suggest that there remains a spark of humanity behind that famously vacant thousand mile stare. - Nick D.

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20050327

The Bravery | The Bravery
Pulsating synths, flashy and distraught vocals, and stomping choruses secure the Bravery a winning spot in the '80s revival pop sweepstakes. They walk close to camp on their debut but pull through thanks to their understanding of the epic pop song. "Give In" exemplifies the wide scope of their talents. - Jon P.

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20050325

Drums and Tuba | Live
More goodness from Kufala Recordings, who has put new live records in Rhapsody from The Slip, Club D'elf, Critters Buggin, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and now a Live album from the trio of drums, guitar and tuba from Austin by way of Buffalo routed through New Orleans. Get into the groove when it's "Eight Degrees in Buffalo" and then let the spacefuturerock implode your skull like it just did mine. These guys get so much sound out of their pedals and tuba phonics, it's mindblowing. - TK

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20050314

Koufax | Social Life
Here's some more indie rock for you, this one called Koufax from Lawrence, KS. Some really catchy songs, specifically the title track "Social Life" and "So Put On." Yet another band that fuses elements of '70s rock, '80s new wave, and '90s emo pop, with some Pets Sounds-era Beach Boys thrown in, yet somehow retains a distinct sound through good vocal delivery. Koufax (obviously named after the greatest Jewish pitcher of all time) is one band I had never heard of before 20 minutes ago. Definitely worth a listen, better yet, let's check 'em out on Saturday together! - TK
(@ SXSW, Saturday, March 19, midnight, Sake on Sixth, 621 E 6th St.)

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20050313

Brazilian Girls | Brazilian Girls
Five languages, 12 songs, four members (none of them Brazilian, one a girl)...The Brazilian Girls are working some kind of special math where the equation always adds up to seduction. This is the sultriest music since Barry White; let yourself be ravished by "Lazy Lover," "Sirenes de la Fete" and the aptly named "Pussy." So catchy. - Sarah B.
(@SXSW, Saturday the 19th, 1am, Eternal, 418 E 6th St.)

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20050312

Dogs Die In Hot Cars | Please Describe Yourself
The Scottish group sounds so much like XTC, you may wonder if this is another Andy Partridge alias a la the Dukes of Stratosphere. But D.D.I.H.C. are for real. Like their New Wave mentors, the band plays music that's quirky, catchy and brimming with personality, as such songs as "Celebrity Sanctum" and "Godhopping" attest. If you want one track to hook you in, click "Apples and Oranges" - Linda R.
(@SXSW, Friday the 18th, midnight, Buffalo Billiards, 201 E. 6th St)

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20050311

ratatat | ratatat
What happens when you combine red hot power chords and choppy drum loops? Who knows! Ratatat's album is a mixture of blustery, squawking guitar that sounds like it was lifted from the worst metal song ever recorded and then placed on top of skewed, chunky beats. The result is oddly entrancing. If you are only going to listen to one track, make it "Cherry." - Jon P.
(@SXSW, Thursday the 17th, Elysium, 705 Red River St., Austin)

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20050310

Ben Lee | Awake is the New Sleep
Australian wunderkind Ben Lee grew into his pop songwriting skills and stretches his philosophical wings on his message-laden sixth release. "Gamble Everything For Love" and "Get Gotten" throb with urgency, while tracks like "We're All In This Together" and "Whatever It Is" exhort his fans to loosen up and seize the moment. "Catch My Disease" is the catchiest song of the year. - Sarah B.
(@ SXSW, Saturday, 3/19, 10pm, Eternal, 418 E 6th St, Austin)

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20050309

Wilco | 5 Track Tour Edition EP
The Tour Companion CD to A Ghost Is Born, this CD was made to sell on the Wilco Tour. Five songs that are either new or live songs, this EP isn't only available at shows, now that we've got it kickin on the Rhap. Live tracks include "At Least That's What You Said", "The Late Greats", and "Handshake Drugs." As for the other two, "Panthers" is a somber standout, and "Kicking Television" cashes in on that hip new post post-punk sound. - ES/TK

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20050304

Bill Cosby & Quincy Jones | The Original Jam Sessions
Bill Cosby was not always a sweater-wearing patriarchal figure accused of being a deviant. Here he is at the peak of his hipness, jamming with Quincy Jones. This is seriously dirty, funky soul-jazz (recorded for The Bill Cosby Show) with legends like Eddie Harris, Les McCann and Milt Jackson helping out. Cosby's vocal on "Hikky-Burr" is unbelievable. - Jon P.

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20050302

Well, Progressive Rock is back with a vengeance and more relevant than the grandiose wizards of the 1970's could ever have imagined thanks to The Mars Volta. Frances The Mute is a Homeric epic of an album that is like a cinematic rock opera, 5 tracks clocking in around 77 minutes. The Volta have managed to fuse prog with the very thing that killed it.... Punk. That is the brainy precision, odd meters, long technical explorations of guitar rock married with the speed, breakneck changes and ferocity of punk rock. Sprinkle in heavy doses of psychedelic salsa freak out, jazz interludes and electronic washes of sound and wait for your mind to melt. My early fave for best album of '05. Enjoy..... - MY

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