Gorillaz | Demon Days
Exquisitely relaxed beats power a gentle, multilayered production from DJ Danger Mouse (who got the gig after his Grey Album blew up). Damon Albarn's melancholy vocals circle like a vulture above a youthful soundscape of piano, '80s samples, strings, celebrity cameos, and even a children's choir. The band and album are both genre-defying, way more so then the original self-titled release. Some highlights are "Feel Good Inc." which is sort of like an old school hip hop tune with a lot of bounce and "Dare" which is sort of like the popular scissor sisters track from last summer, except it's way better. - NW/DK

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Stephen Malkmus | Face The Truth
"Done is good, but done well is so much fucking better." - SM
The third solo album from the greatest (at the very least the most obnoxious) songwriter of our generation is, as always, better than you expect it to be.
As his career has progressed, the albums have moved forward with maturity. SM keeps tweaking those knobs, adding layers of sound to classic-sounding SM tunes using electronics, pianos and vocal harmonies. Pru says these are 'smartly-arranged tunes that zigzag through various tempos and bewildering lyrical couplets....He's at the top of his game on tracks like "Mama" and "Baby C'mon," but the real stunner is the eight-minute guitar opus "No More Shoes."' Love the ooziness and violin harmony of "Malediction," we should all be so cursed, SM. - TK

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System of a Down | Mezmerize
System of a Down are a very good band, and Mezmerize is a very good album. I can't believe I just typed this sentence, I had written SOAD off into the 'loud rock without talent' genre. It is not, it is better. The single, "BYOB" confirms insanity, yet also confirms listenability. Mesmerize features waltzes and polkas mixed in with acute arpeggios, layered harmonies as well as yelling in my face...This is not the typical nu-metal schlock that is usually crammed down our throats by major labels. This band really has talent, don't hold it against them that they are part of the machine, perhaps you have to get deep inside it before you can pull out the wires from the inside.
      On "This Cocaine Makes Me Feel Like I'm on This Song," Serj Tankian may sing "There's nothing wrong with me/There's something wrong with you" convincingly, but anyone who's heard System of a Down's frenetic metal-funk and hyper singer knows that there's definitely something wrong with every one of these guys ("choking chicks and sodomy")?? However, I am not opposed at all to their politics, they may be this generations righteous brothers. "Why don't presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor? And we all live in a fascist nation...and where the fuck are you?" Worth listening to the angry generation that didn't agree, this is cultural literacy. - TK

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Eagles of Death Metal | Peace Love Death Metal
This 2004 release of the debut full-length by the Eagles of Death Metal features QOTSA main man Josh Homme (who goes by the alias of Carlo Von Sexron, and handles drums, rather than his usual guitar/vocal duties). Issued via Homme's own Rekords Rekords label, and AntAcidAudio (a sister label of Ipecac Records, run by Mike Patton), this record came about through collaboration with Homme and Jesse Hughes (vocals, guitar), a friend of Homme's from high school. I listened to it a bunch this weekend, it is really catchy, and is not death metal, in case you were wondering. If you are scared of the name and only want to check one track, click here for "Whorehoppin'" and you'll say shit-gaddamn! - TK

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Dr. Dog | Easy Beat
It is incredible that Philly's Dr. Dog is alive today. There's a raw beauty of The Band, Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles and beachy doo-wop 50's to it, but this is more than kitschy retro adult-alternative. There's a dirtier, stripped-down indie-ness to it all, something screaming raw and real to compliment the harmonies from your parents' generation.

This is a definite 2005 ALBUM of the YEAR Nominee by me. Yeah, I'm prone to superlatives, but frankly, this album rules. The mark of a great album is that it is as solid at track 7 (delicious harmonies covering 'every inch of your body' on "Say Something") as it is at the beginning (the Wings-esque "The World May Never Know" is like best of the Basement Tapes) and the fantastic finish of "Today" where guitarist Scott McMicken reminds us that 'the tiniest things are forever' and the anthemic "Wake Up". Relxas, let your mind drift, please listen to this album. "I've been happy for way too long..." - TK

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Stephen Lynch | A Little Bit Special
I saw a funny comedic show the other night in NYC, a live album recording by WAR? artist/comedian Stephen Lynch. He's a comedian that plays songs on his guitar, and he had a full band (sorta) in the Symphony Space with him on Monday. If you want a laugh and aren't afraid to laugh hard at some shameless material, check out his two albums, Superhero and A Little Bit Special. Highlights include tracks "D&D," "Special," and some material from a forthcoming album, including a hilarious song about Craig Christ, the less famous, party machine brother of the lord. Still chuckling about that one. - TK

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Hot Hot Heat | Elevator
The inventive Steve Bays yelps in a faux British accent through 14 tight and spirited tracks in only 37 minutes. Luckily, he's borrowed more from Blur than Damon Albarn's dodgy Steve Harley impression, and Elevator showcases plenty of pop cleverness. A solid step forward for the Vancouver foursome. Bays's lyrical juxtapositions make for catchy, hook-laden indie pop tunes, give it a whirl. - N.West
(if you only have time for one track, check "Running Out Of Time")
"R.O.O.T." wins Track of the Week honors!

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Weezer | Make Believe
As you might expect, big, big chords and sing-song rhymes characterize the bulk of Make Believe. The wiry, Cars-esque sound of "This Is Such a Pity" provides a slight deviation from the norm, but for the most part this album's about Rivers Cuomo's increasingly revealing pop songs and the riffs therein. - Jon P.

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Built to Spill | Keep It Like A Secret
Built to Spill
rocked at Irving last night, during this string of kickoff gigs. Does hearing "Carry the Zero" ever get old? Answer is no. "The Plan" and "Else" too? I cannot believe this album is six years old. KILAS may stand the test of time, being way ahead of the indie rock curve, spawning many imitators, but few can match Doug's voice. You've become a fraction of the sum...now it's comin back, hasn't it come too far...I was tryin to help, but I guess I pushed too haaarrrd... - TK

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INXS | Kick: It's been almost 20 years since INXS Kick came out. It was probably my favorite album when I attended Woodland Junior High School. It still effin' rocks and with the new wave of seemingly 80's retro scenes happening right now, Kick could be released brand new today and people would think it was the hot new band out of Des Moines or somewhere called The Excess or something and Michael Hutchence would be the new guy dating someone like Drew Barrymore (if she wasn't with Fab from The Strokes) and INXS would get a spot playing on The OC. Anyway, it's worth another listen if you haven't given it a spin in over a decade. - SuperD

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The Umph Is Coming.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, expect the Umph to pack a punch as they hang for a weekend in San Francisco. If it's anything like the GloryDivisionsGlory of the last GAMH show, we are in for a hot weekend. Here's a playlist to get you in gear, featuring tracks like: In The Kitchen, Hot for Teacher > Jazz Odyssey, Front Porch, Resolution->Front Porch->Resolution, Wife Soup, 2x2, Hey 19 > Divisions, Glory > All In Time, Prowler, > Push the Pig, Nemo, Blue Echo > Nothing 2 Fancy and YYZ. Get there! - TK

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Kaiser Cheifs | Employment
Kaiser Chiefs sculpt finely-chiseled, New Wave-inspired pop that will stick in your head for days. Their debut is rife with anthemic choruses and angular pop songs, including such quirky gems as "I Predict a Riot", "Na Na Na," the stuttering "Modern Way" and the psychedelic-tinged lament "Oh My God." - Linda R.

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Porcupine Tree |Deadwing
Long live rock 'n' roll! Leave it to the Brits to bring me the rockingest new rock I've heard at least all year. This album has a little of everything for the rock lover: heavy proggy guitar monster jams, soft acoustic tender ballads, and some stuff in between that puts them in the 21st century. Great stuff. It even causes my head to bang. Highly recommended... - SuperD

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Heartless Bastards | Stairs and Elevators
Yes, the lo-fi guitar, bass, and drum trio has been done before. A thousand times. I'm not saying this group is revolutionary, but lead singer Erika Wennerstrom brings a different vocal than the usual male rock trio. When she sings, "My new resolution is to be, someone who does not care what anyone thinks of me, cause I don't even like myself half the time. And what's the use of worrying what's on other people's minds..." I just want to scream yeah, Yeah, YEAH!
If you humor me and listen to one track on this new Fat Possum title, please listen to "Runnin" (currently holding the lead for track of the week- and i know it's only Monday, but this song kicks significant levels of ass). -TK

Brett McCallon wrote of the Heartless Bastards, "Sure, it's simple, three-piece rock, and sure, you've heard all of these licks, themes and tones before, but you haven't heard this band. You haven't heard these three musicians try to prove that rock and roll is still a going concern."

Heartless Bastards also appear on a pretty interesting Fat Possum compilation, a group of diverse artists taking a shot at the songs of Junior Kimbrough. Also appearing on the album Sunday Nights - The Songs Of Junior Kimbrough are Spiritualized, Black Keys, Fiery Furnaces, and Iggy and the Stooges.

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