( )
Sigur Ros
MCA Records

Sigur Ros are a band that few will be able to put into a category. They are of such singular talent and style that even their new U.S. label is willing to release their third CD without a CD title, song titles or text on the disc case. It is obvious that for their new album, Sigur Ros would rather let their music do the talking, and MCA follow suit, only allowing a sticker to let you know who's disc you're looking at. For ( ) The Icelandic band veers even farther away from the studio trickery that greatly enhanced their 2000 release Agaetis Byrjun (Good Start). The songs on ( ) focus more on the flow, the glacial beauty of a building intensity that might take four or five minutes to reach any sort of climax, yet when it comes, you will lose your breathe, see colors behind your closed eyes, will find yourself swaying and nodding your head to the majesty of the song. Sigur Ros release this album as the days grow short, when people scramble to get as much done in the few hours of daylight given to them during the winter months. Yet Sigur Ros (Victory Rose) find beauty all around them and they express it in the gentle plunk and vibration of piano wires, in the high, sweet tones of singer/guitarist Jon Thor Birgisson's vocal chords and oft-bowed guitar work. Drummer Orri Pall Dyrason rarely plays at anything other than a sleep-walking pace, but all the better for Kjarsten Sveinnson's piano and keyboards and Georg Holm's oozing bass to fill the atmosphere. You'll also hear strings by Anima in the songs as well, adding yet another element of beauty, making your heart beat faster. Each song is lovely, yet their are a few things that stand out immediately such as the powerful piano-driven melody of Track Three, with subtly struck xylophone and textured strings that envelope the keys in a warm blanket. The piano, bass and strings play faster as the song builds almost to a crescendo then fades away to just the piano in the distance. Also memorable is the keening vocals and thrashing tempo during the second half of Track Eight.
My first experience seeing Sigur Ros live was in a tent at the Coachella Valley Festival this last spring. I felt like I went to church, not to hear anyone preach but to soak in all the luxurious textures and emotions created through singing and playing instruments. The skies opened up and lifted my spirits higher than they'd been in years. Rarely will you hear music that can soothe and heal like the uplifting melodies of Sigur Ros.

Various Artists
Velvet Blue Music
The Scissors and Blue Series is a six-part collaboration with Southern California indie Velvet Blue and Nashville's Cut & Paste Collective, an extended roster of lo-fi rockers and hip-hoppers. Each disc features two acts with three songs each, the only unifying theme is a disregard for mainstream conventions and a zeal for experimentation.
Disc One features Francis on Wax and Lackthereof. Francis is multi-instrumentalist & vocalist Kevin Robinson with guitarist and guest vocalist Anita Robinson. Intro/Apex is gawky yet soulful white-boy hip hop with Robinson staticky rhymes over cool electric piano and upbeat percussion. Think Beck. Francis' Lament III samples the scene in Stripes where uptight bully Francis introduces himself and contains enough soulful vocals, strings and atmosphere to ensure Robinson a place on the Ninja Tune roster. Lackthereof "is really just Danny Seim under a fancy moniker." Seim's three contributions are low-key and loopy, equal parts funky hip-hop and ambient bedroom noodlings with high pitched vocal whisperings, compressed rapping, clunky percussion and acoustic guitars.
Disc Two features Menomena and Societa Anonima and is my favorite of the three CDs. Menomena (doot do de doo doo) is a trio who's take on atmospheric and dynamic rock is most reminiscent of the Verve's A Storm in Heaven with the addition of brillian keyboards, piano, horns and xylophone. The backwards drums are a nice touch as well. All three songs are incredible, the keyboards and guitars played for maximum shimmer and the vocals sang quietly to let the mood become ethereal. Societa Anonima reminds me of the summer when I played Sonic Youth's Goo every day. Societa Anonima have a bass and guitar dynamic of their own, with keyboards adding another emothional layer to their thrilling sound. Thier songs are spry and groovaliscious with just the right amount of grit and noise.
Disc Three Features Viva Voce and Soul-Junk. Viva Voce is Keving and Anita Robinson (Francis on Wax on disc one) doing a retro-cool lounging and rocking sampling thing that I find compelling and off-beat. Soul-Junk is the down side of quirky white-guy hip hop. Where disc one's Lackthereof presented funny rhymes and clunky beats, Soul-Junk give us crazy for crazy's sake "look at us we're different" hip hop. They come off sounding showy and obnoxious, the beats and vocal delivery just grate on the nerves.
The Scissors & Blue Series is a find, made up of people making fresh, innovative and intelligent music, crossing stylistic borders. I can't wait to review the next three in the series to see if they can keep up the quality and talent heard in the first half.

Catalyst Entertainment

Welcome to Buckethead's Bermuda Triangle, his guitars and bass accompanied by Extrakd's turntables and drum programming to make heavy metal, p-funk, themes to horror movies and some rather nice ballads. Don't put on the CD expecting a smooth trip, the sequencing is set up for maximum bumpiness, beginning on a loud note and eventually moving into darker waters with some creepy and atmospheric tracks towards the end.
Buckethead is a present member of Guns'N'Roses and does indeed wear a KFC fried chicken bucket on his head. He also wears a kabuki mask and favors flowing garments and robes. He looks like The Halloween movies' Michael Myers with a cross-dressing fetish whose weapon is a slashing guitar rather than a knife or cleaver. The music on Bermuda Triangle is also flashy yet somewhat chilly, which could be a reflection on Buckethead's personality or it could be in service to the album's theme of travelling through mysterious and dangerous waters. There are a few good ideas hidden within the CD, such as the wah-wah guitar and jazzy touch of Phantom Lights and the buzzing effects on Beestro Fowler, but as a whole the album is an uneven collection of grooves and moods in need of a tune, a melody, something more to hold your attention. Buckethead's music doesn't give us much feeling for the person under the hat, yet he might actually thrive under the direction of Axl Rose, if only G'N'R ever get it together, put out an album and tour. Until then, you'd best pick up Joe Satriani's first two CDs and Steve Vai's albums if you want to hear what a talented guitarist can do when making solo instrumental music.

Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools remind me of a few acts on the now-defunct Planet Dog, past home of Banco De Gaia, Time Shard and Eat Static. That these groups have at least a stylistic association with Ozric Tentacles is what made me think of Planet Dog. Yes, I have to say it, Ship of Fools don't stray too far from the crusty hippy/ electronic raver mentality that the Ozrics helped create and surround themselves with. Upon hearing Let's Get This Mother Outta Here, I find that the main difference between the talented Ozric Tentacles and Ship of Fools is that SoF favor a more cosmic sound with an emphasis on heavenly washes and spoken word and movies dialogue samples. Whereas the Ozrics are all virtuosos in their chosen instruments and all have their chances to shine, SoF are more interested in the trip, the flow of their songs and how they all come together under the theme of taking to the stars. I'm not sure if its poor CD mastering or that I have a promo copy, but the overall mixture of the tracks is flat when it should be bright and tactile in order to better express the feelinings of lift and speed and the emotions felt while moving through the void of outer space. SoF finally grabbed my attention on the fifth track, In the Wake of if only because they loosen up and get their groove on. From Time follows, at over 14 minutes the longest track on the CD, an aural journey of its own. The CD and journey comes to a close with Guidance is Internal, full of string swells, synth burblings guitar soloing and a fast-paced and intense ending. Let's Get This Mother Outta Here is an enjoyable enough diversion, yet Ship of Fools' earnestness is not matched by enough talent and gustoto distinguish themselves from being a pale copy of Ozric Tentacles.

Steve Roach & Jeffrey Fayman

Steve Roach is a many-faceted musician. He is adept at live instumental collaborations and electro-acoustic solo excursions. Trance Spirits is somewhere in between studio manipulation and organci jamming with Roach doing his guitar and synth "soundworlds" as well as percussion, joined by Robert Fripp's guitar techniques on three tracks. But the centerpiece o fthe collection is the tribal percussion of Jeffrey Fayman and Momodou Kah.
Drums may very well be the first instrument created by men, using sticks to bang on objects and later, animal skins spread over frames, and Fayman and Kah bring this primal and physical music into the present. The music heard on Trance Spirits brings your head into the clouds while anchoring your body to the energies of the earth The swirling and swishing guitars and wind instruments mix with synthesized blankets of sound and combine with the pounding, pulsating percussion. You'll become connected with the heartbeat of the earth, the passing of air overhead, the flow of water underground. You will become one with the movements of the universe. Join Roach, Fayman, Momodou and Fripp as they take you on a journey through organic and electronic sound, hearkening back to the primordial and mystical beginnings of music while utilizing the technologies of today.


Projekt Records

by Bret Miller
Kinda kooky, kinda spooky, very funny and somewhat the romantic, Boo Hoo is Voltaire’s answer to the questions brought up at the end of a long relationship, about love and the opposite sex, about how to keep sane in this confused day and age. Of course the whole album is done with a light touch, Voltaire is not without some self-respect and he loves to entertain. The music is made up of Voltaire’s acoustic guitar, his emotive voice, Gregor Kitzis’ violin, Matthew Goeke’s cello, George Grant’s bass and vocals and Stephen Moses’ drums and trombone. You’ll be chuckling to the opener Future Ex Girlfriend(sic) with the lines “She has such beautiful lips/Now, if only they were closed,” and “It took just one week to despise you!” Voltaire bounces towards lovesickness on the strings-heavy Where’s The Girl asking “Where’s the girl I fell in love with? Does she still live behind your eyes?” Tears will well up upon hearing his cover of Bjork’s Bachelor(ette), a perfect fit with the strings and mysterious feel. Things lighten up for the rollicking tune Irresponsible with Voltaire singing about not caring “if the whole world burns.” The Vampire Club follows with Voltaire’s rockabilly take on the cartoonish world of the Gothic underworld where a fight breaks out, “Fangs were flying, capes were torn/Hell hath no fury like a Vampire scorned…Wigs were pulled, top hats were crushed…And Boris at the bar orders a Bud and says/It’s just another night at the Vampire Club.”
On Boo Hoo, Voltaire lets you wallow in his sadness, opening his big old heart to the public and making you laugh along with him as he realizes in song that things could be worse, that life goes on and the best way to heal is to laugh and put on a smile, even if that smile has fangs.

Strung Out
Fat Wreck Chords

by Bret Miller
After ten years in existence So Cal band Strung Out aim for the big time with their fourth album An American Paradox. Another punk band Strung Out is not. And thank the gods for that. Utilizing fast tempos, actual singing by gruff-voiced Jason Cruz and intelligent and tuneful playing by the rest of the band, the music of Strung Out is catchy, powerful and accessible without losing its rough edges. The lyrics are stream-of-consciousness and deal with unhappy relationships and letting everyone know that the kids aren’t alright. Rebellion and making our own way in the world are what Cruz sings about with the band backing up those sentiments. The band uses boxing as a metaphor for fighting the good fight, when the Contender falls and the lights fade everyone realizes he’s just a man. Satellite follows, with Cruz saying he has a letter he’ll never send and a song for his love that he’ll probably never sing, the music and melodies are ultra-catchy and you’ll sing along to the chorus. Dig has some cool flanged guitar and tight and fast melodies sure to have you pogoing in joy. Of all the excellent songs on An American Paradox the most satisfying and powerful is the album closer Cemetery, a scathing and poetic look at Los Angeles, “where no one gets out alive.” Hey, I like it here.
The incredible players in Strung Out are Rob Ramos and Jake Kiley on guitars, Jordan Burns on drums and Chris Aiken on bass. After ten years and half a million records sold on the respectable indie Fat Wreck Chords Strung Out may find that their lucky number is four. Find out for yourself that An American Paradox is a great album.

Keep Safe Records

by Bret Miller
Listening to the Robbers CD reinforces why I love being a music writer. I get to hear out-there artists creating wonderful sounds that I wouldn’t otherwise be aware of as a consumer. A tiny group of bands can be found at your local mall record store, get played on the bigger radio stations and enjoy reasonable success while most musicians make their albums and tour in relative obscurity with small, often regional fan bases, working at day jobs in-between tours. Jeff Mott and David Dunn are two award-winning ex-visual arts students who make music because its fun, not necessarily because they want to get played on the radio or sell millions of CDs.
Orphan is the result of Mott and Dunn fooling around on a stolen reel-to-reel 8-track recorder. The album is a haphazard, sometimes annoying, often silly yet ultimately endearing collection of Stereolab-ish guitar and keyboard patterns, a lo-fi splicing of Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, cool instrumentals and some electronic noodlings. The best way to get your head around Robbers’ music is to just press play and soak it all in. Key tracks on Orphan are What’s we’re ander?, RNC, 9.6 and 4 score and 1 quarter more. Robbers are all over the place, sounding like they’re having a blast and you’ll have fun listening to them.

The John Wilkes Kissing Booth
Velvet Blue Music

by Bret Miller
According to JWKB’s press release the band spent four long days and nights recording A Threat in the Broadcast, playing deep into the night and sleeping on the studio floor. The Long Beach band wanted to put an edge to their performances and the effect is tangible in the instrumental interplay and Derrick Brown’s voice as he sings of a blind person’s dreams on Avalon By Braille and the pain and anger of My Most Hated Love Song. The interplay of guitarists Tony Joe Neal and Jeff Numainville will thrill you as they shred one minute and pluck out angular melodies the next. Paul Smith is the rare bassist whose personality shines through in his playing and David Beeman knows when to lay into his drum kit and when to melt back into the groove of a song. Overall, JWKB’s music is a blast to the cobwebs in my ears, too used to hearing the crap that corporate KROQ is swilling in our face every day. The band creates a thing of beauty in Kiss of the Starving Class, a wistful no-regrets reflection on a college relationship, of “45 good nights” with a girl. On A Threat in the Broadcast the talented young men of The John Wilkes Kissing Booth are on a quiet crusade to prove that they aren’t just a band with a funny name but are an intelligent group with killer musicianship and kick-ass songs. An excellent debut by a thrilling band.

The Hangmen
Acetate Records

by Bret Miller
The opening salvo of this live album is a yelled Intro to one kickass show. Bryan Small has been carrying the torch of no-frills dirty rock’n’roll since moving to L.A. to make his mark in the mid-80’s. After suffering through major-label hell and a decade of honing his craft and blowing away audiences across the country, Small returned with 2000’s Metallic I.O.U. (also on Acetate Records) and now follows with We’ve Got Blood On The Toes Of Our Boots.
Revved up and ready to go, The Hangmen tear through 16 songs in under an hour, full of swagger, spit and confidence. Coal Mine features Supersuckers’ Eddie Spaghetti on co-vocals, but what really catches the ears is the tight guitar riffing. Walking In The Woods reminds me of The Cruiser by The Cars but with a blues feel and louder guitars. I Luv U brings down the volume, Gary Brandin’s pedal steel adds a homey touch, Small sings about a girl with a motorcycle jacket a long way from home. Desperation Town is metallic blues featuring Patrick “Frenchy” French blazing on harmonica, you can almost picture the audience nodding their heads and raising their arms for the chorus. Bent, from Metallic I.O.U., is a slow-burning tale of being lowdown, lazy, locked-down, trailer-park trash, at the bottom dregs of society with the coolly humorous refrain “I know that you want me” leading into a scorching guitar solo. A song about waking up hung-over on someone’s floor, Rotten Sunday follows with a killer guitar melody (more head nodding and fists in the air). Downtown is another fast rocker, with more incredible guitar riffing, sure to have you singing along. We’ve Got Blood On The Toes Of Our Boots isn’t flashy, isn’t too deep, just tales of life in Los Angeles, being down but not out. Not by a long shot. The Hangmen have been toughing it out for more than fifteen years and its great to hear them still full of energy and hope.
The Hangmen are: Angelique Congelton on bass and vocals, Todd Haney on drums, Jimmy James on guitar and vocals and Bryan Small on vocals and guitar.

Fatboy Slim
Ministry of Sound/MCA

by Bret Miller
You know him as the smiley-face behind the videos, you also know him because his obnoxiously bombastic and cheeky songs are all over pop radio and commercials. He’s Fatboy Slim a.k.a. Norman Cook, happy-go-lucky DJ and producer of big, bad and stupid yet catchy electronic jams. But you just have to love a man who’s been adopted by a whole town and has buses and barber shops named after him. That’s right, in Brighton, England you can ride the Norman Cook bus and get your hair done at Fatboy Trims.
Last July on a pleasant summer’s eve, the man played to 40,000 people ready to have the time of their lives dancing on the beach of Brighton. Mixing Underworld’s Born Slippy into his own Right Here, Right Now, weaving “Fatboy Slim is fucking in heaven” through the mix and layering "you’re not from Brighton" on top of Minimal Funk’s The Groovy Thang, Cook laid down some vinyl and created some magic for his fans and city residents. After about twenty minutes of intense dance choons the songs cut out after Basement Jaxx’ Where’s Your Head At? It’s the cops asking everyone to get out of the water due to the incoming tide. After that little announcement Cook proceeded to blow the speakers up with Jark Prongo’s trancey Rocket Base, mixing in what sounds like Salt’n’Pepa. The Black and White Brothers will make you Put Your Hands Up in the air with their heavily percussive sound and you can hear the Brighton audience responding. Later, a trio of Slim tracks follows including his reworking of Raven Maize’s The Real Life that relies heavily on the Simple Minds song Theme For Great Cities and samples the late Freddie Mercury (and it still sounds incredible). To wrap up the whole shebang (or at least to end the CD) Cook mixes together his own (Sunset) Bird of Prey with Leftfield’s Phat Planet letting Jim Morrison’s poetry about “flying high” float through to the end of the disc. Live On Brighton Beach will become the soundtrack to your summer, so if you can’t make it to Brighton this summer for another appearance by Norman Cook, at least you can crank up the volume on your stereo and create your own party.

RCA Victor Group

by Bret Miller
It’s a nice, warm afternoon in the San Fernando Valley. I’m sipping iced tea and reading a magazine. Beneath the Surface is playing on my portable CD player with my in-the-ear headphones piping bass and soothing synth grooves directly into my lobes. The various female vocalists are taking me higher with their breathy, sexy and gorgeous singing, with one-track sounding much like the other. After five songs of lush, rolling Enigma-like electronic music I stop and head the siren call of Beverly Stanton’s voice. Losing my concentration I sink into the warm and creamy-smooth arrangements sighing in delight. The problem is that I’m in public and there’s not much to do when drooling and dreaming of hot monkey love. Luckily not all the tracks on Beneath the Surface are focused on sweat and ecstatic love. Some songs attempt to prod your mind into a higher sense of being yet the programming and samey vocal approaches don’t quite reach the musical heights that producer and songwriter Garett Schwartz aims at. As Balligomingo Schwartz seems like he’s hedging his bets by not sounding too dance oriented or too new age, sinking into a pleasant though none-too-original middle ground of what I term “sleepy-time music.” Add some grit and dance club sweat and funk and then we’ll talk. Beneath the Surface is fine tea-sipping music, to be heard in the background on a warm summer day or while having a dinner with your significant other or hope to be loved one.

Bryan Ferry
Virgin Records America
by Bret Miller
Some singers lose the elasticity of their vocal chords or lose some of the power of their lungs as they grow older. Some even lose their energy and looks. Not so with Bryan Ferry. He became famous as the singer and front man for the glamorous and defiantly sexy Roxy Music in the early 70’s, putting out many solo albums in between, with Roxy Music reaching their greatest peak with their last album Avalon released at the birth of the 80’s. Ferry continued to put out progressively more ambient and ethereal solo albums through the last two decades and enters a new millennium with Frantic, his most bright-eyed and focused album in many years.
Ferry sounds rejuvenated after last year’s Roxy Music reunion tour and several musicians from that tour appear on Frantic including Chris Spedding and while Brian Eno didn’t join the reunion he contributes keyboards and background vocals to several songs. Goddess of Love dances along spry electronic touches and Paul Thompson and Andy Newmark’s spunky drums. Co-written by Dave Stewart, the song references Marilyn Monroe. Bob Dylan’s It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue gets spruced up with strings, a harmonica and guitar solo and Bob Clearmountain’s ultra-crisp mixing. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Dave Stewart, guitar hero Robin Trower and Brian Eno guest on the fantastic Hiroshima… as Ferry sings of “Blade runners in the night” and the “neon wind.” The mysterious San Simeon will have you dreaming of “coffee table culture” and “Roses in blossom” where you “Drink at my fountain forget all your troubles.”
Whether putting a new spin on an old favorite, recollecting past experiences or singing of youthful love, Bryan Ferry’s new album Frantic is the sound of a reinvigorated songwriter, singer and musician. The upbeat and satisfying songs on this album give the impression that Bryan Ferry has defied the march of time and turned back the clock, giving at least another decade to the career of this priceless and individual artist.

DJ Spooky
Thirsty Ear Recordings

by Bret Miller
Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid is a musical philosopher, a culturalist of sound, a writer, producer, musician and turntablist. But mainly he is tasteful crusader of music and is fearless in his desire to blend different styles together. Always adventurous and up for a challenge, on Optometry DJ Spooky gets together with the Blue Series Continuum of pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist William Parker, percussionist Guillermo E. Brown and tenor sax and trumpeter Joe McPhee. Optometry is Spooky’s mixing and production of these musicians and his own scratches, sampling, kalimba and bass. Jazz meets vinyl manipulation, piano tinkering and horns weave in the mix and spoken word meets experimental studio trickery. For those who like the riddim, Spooky and friends put the boogie in your butt on the bopping intro Ibid, desmatches, Ibid, scratches and Parker’s upright bass bolster the poetry of Carl Hancock Rux on Asphalt (Tome II), and the title track puts head-nodding drums and piano in the midst of squelching funk and coffee-colored smog. Parachutes features Napoleon of IsWhat rapping over a gritty bass and drum loop while Daniel Carter’s flute flitters in the air above like a flock of pigeons. DJ Spooky gets out there on the other half of Optometry, using studio effects, samples and the musician’s superb playing to open little-used areas of your grey matter. On Optometry DJ Spooky and the Blue Room players will make you see music with eyes wide open. Now can you dig that?


Virgin Records America, Inc.
by Bret Miller
In Search Of… is the first album by N.E.R.D., a.k.a. the producing duo Neptunes. Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are joined by singer Shay and the booty-shaking band Spymob. Together their album is a mish-mash of metal, Earth Wind & Fire soul-rock, lusty songs of sex and love and a few songs that defy categorization with hip hop beats, heavy rock guitars, rap and singing and the Neptunes’ “kitchen sink” style of production. Some of it works, too. Spymob make In Search Of… a more organic listening experience with their funky, rubbery rhythms and dynamic interplay. Shay trades vocals with Williams and Hugo as well as Kelis and Pusha T (Truth Or Dare), Lee Harvey and Vita (Lapdance) and rapper Malice (Am I High). Lapdance throws together funk, heavy metal riffs and percussion with blaxsploitation bass, rap and Vita chanting “Ooh baby, you want me?” Things Are Getting Better has fuzzed out bass, jangly guitars, a sweet chorus and cocky raps, delivered with the confidence that only money will give you. What does drag down In Search Of… is the misogynist subject matter, overpowering the supposed good vibe that Williams and Hugo say N.E.R.D. represents. According to the Neptunes, no one ever really dies: as in energy doesn’t disappear after someone passes away but instead recirculates back into the world in the form of animals, plants and reincarnation, as well as the memories that people retain of those passed on. What the hell, at least realize that nothing of import is being expressed in the vocals and just get down and sweaty to the dirty funk of Brain, the tense instrumentation and breathy vocals of the boys leading to Kelis’ teasing and wailing singing and an orgasmic break complete with heavy petting on Truth Or Dare. Am I High references 70’s funk via late 80’s gangsta rap. Rock Star is a too-dumb attack on weak-ass wigger rockers, bragging that N.E.R.D are the real thing. They even sing a passable imitation of that short guy from Limp Bizkit. In Search Of… will leave you still searching for a more mature and focused sound coming from the Neptunes yet N.E.R.D. is a fair representation of the disparate styles and bands that Williams and Hugo have enjoyed in their short lives. They may be rich producers but they still have a ways to go before the Neptunes “sound” congeals into a cohesive whole allowing them to be seen as serious musicians and vocalists. They also need to write some intelligent lyrics in order to surpass the teenage audience that In Search… of seems to want to reach.

Mammoth Records
by Bret Miller
Schatzi was started a few years back by singer/guitarists Monte Williams and Chris Kyle, two self-styled “dorks from Oklahoma.” Fifty Reasons to Explode is their full-length follow up to 98’s Joanie Loves Schatzi and contains thirteen pure pop songs with loud guitars and a joyous spirit. Schatzi know who sucked out the feeling of fun rock and roll and they put it back into their songs by adding xylophones, keyboards , and plenty of vocal harmonies and chord changes. Not since I last heard Superdrag have I felt those chills up the back of my neck from hearing the perfect pop that Schatzi plays so well. Songs such as Death of the Alphabet jump into your speakers with caffeinated glee, say what needs to be said and fade not much after two minutes. The cool guitar rhythms on Undergrowth will have you dancing hysterically while the power chords on Bionic Waves drive Williams and Kyle’s singing and will have you singing along too. The piano and retro keyboards on Gladys add a freaky vibe to this otherwise romantic ditty and Flush will have you bouncing around while you “flush reality down the drain” and “feel hysterical today.” There are only 13 reasons to explode on Schatzi’s latest album leaving me to wait breathlessly for the other 37. See them live on tour this Spring for more high-spirited antics from these guys. Schatzi’s Fifty Reasons To Explode will put a smile on your face and a goose in your pants.

DJ Nicolas Mater
DJ Cor Fijneman
IRT/Razor & Tie

by Bret Miller
Tropicalism and Mesmer1 mark the beginning of the new dance label IRT, introducing DJ Nicolas Mater and DJ Cor Fijneman’s selections and mixing skills to American ears. Tropicalism is the more esoteric mix of the two, opening with Peace In The Middle East by One World featuring Miri Ben-Ari who plays violin and sings. Calm by Nova Fronteira adds acoustic guitar and a treated trumpet to their soulful groove. The horns, live guitar and bass on Holiday (DJ Deep Mix) by Donny will move your body with the loose beat as Donny’s vocals lift your spirits. The vocals of Baby Bird are the focus on Precious Thing by Llorca and Baby Bird, my personal favorite on the album.
DJ Cor Fijneman’s selections and mixing are made for the dancefloor yet there are still some tracks that can be enjoyed at home or blasting out of your car speakers. What sets these tracks apart from the rest of the faceless trance out there is the producer’s ear for melody and dynamics. Where Am I by Serial Smokers opens Mesmer1 with thumping and chugging synths, layering on bells and percussion and changing up the beats, segueing into Impact by Kemisty which reminds me of the days of Eye-Q and their ambient Germanic techno. The fades are usually so subtle that you won’t even realize you just heard two or three separate tracks. Such is the case with Dawnseeker’s dense and thrilling Protuberance and the hands-in-the-air vibe of Mohave by Threesome (with Fijneman). Some funk is mixed in with The Groove by DJ Vincenzo, and things really heat up when the bass-heavy Factory by Salez hits your speakers.
If you want to burn up the dancefloor, then Mesmer1 by DJ Cor Fijneman will surely please but if you would prefer a more upscale and sophisticated listening experience then DJ Nicolas Mater’s Tropicalism will turn you on.

The Secession Movement
Keep Safe Records

by Bret Miller
A few years back a group of young men from New Jersey made a record, toured like crazy and eventually re-released their album on Keep Safe Records. Now you can experience the joy and chaos (not to mention pure NOISE) that is The Secession Movement. Academic showcases the two sides of the group, some instrumentals with dramatic tension and powerful guitars, but mainly rocking songs with vocals by David Downham who says of the group’s sound “the music has pop song dynamics and dramatics with a much harder, more experiment-laden mentality.” They call it “Pop Damage” and it shows on such tracks as Gone On A Notion with Downham’s whisper-to-a-scream vocals, his and Timothy Day’s thrashing guitars and the tense rhythm section of David Dworanczyk’s thundering drums and Nicholas Kessler’s rumbling bass. Tension and melody fight it out all over Academic, just when you start to move your body to the funky bass of Doctor Please, the guitars rev up and up, then the whole thing slows down and then builds again, pushing and pulling you around until the abrupt end leaves you breathless. One of my favorites is The “A” Parade, which will have you pogoing away with Downham’s scatting vocals, scratchy guitars and so much compression in the mix that your speakers may start to rattle. After so much tension and noise, the song closes with a peaceful instrumental reprisal, with a Police style reggae feel. Academic ends with a pleasant yet powerful number called Since You’ve Been Impressed. The Secession Movement are an exciting rock group because they are audacious, uncaring of current trends and know how to compose heartrenching as well as thrashing songs with equal parts spit and muscle.

Virgin Records America, Inc.

by Bret Miller
Gorillaz is the cartoon group thought up by Damon Albarn of Blur and Jamie Hewlett, the creator of Tank Girl. Joined by Miho Hatori of Cibo Mato, Del The Funky Homosapien and Dan “The Automator” Nakemura, these cool cats made characters for themselves and became Gorillaz. G-Sides is a collection of remixes, singles b-sides and other hard to find songs. You’ll hear a couple of mixes of 19-2000, one redone by Soulchild and one done by Touche of the Wiseguys. The Wiseguys House of Wisdom Re-Mix works off of a bassy house groove and sprinkles some tweeked vocals over the mix while the Soulchild version is much more faithful to the original. Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contigo) is a noirish number with a high-pitched trumpet playing over a shuffling piano and drum riff, and you’ll jerk your booty to the dirty, bluesy, funky Ghost Train. The Phi Life Cypher Version of Clint Eastwood slows down the tempo, boosts the keyboards up and features their hard-ass rapping, disposing of Albarn’s vocals and adding a cool synth solo. On G-Sides you get a little hip-hop, a little rock and a little I don’t know what to call it. But the Gorillaz prove that whatever it is they’re doing, they do it well. Not bad for a bunch of two-dimensional characters.

Metropolis Records

by Bret Miller
If you thought you’d heard the last of KMFDM after their failed name change and subsequent dropping from Universal records, think again, because Sascha Konietzko and company are back. ATTAK is the sound of a revitalized, harder than ever KMFD. What hasn’t changed is the artwork by Brute!, the five letter album titles and KMFDM’s trademark cyberpunk sound. Since their early days at Wax Trax, KMFDM's Sascha Konietzko has brought together his friends in brutality to genetically splice heavy guitar riffage to house dance grooves, diva singing and his own distorted, angry vocals and electronic production. For ATTAK Sascha is joined by Raymond Watts, Bill Rieflin (Ministry, Pigface), guitarist Joolz Hodgeson and guitarist/vocalist/programmer Tim Skold. Lucia Cifarelli and Dorona Alberta lend their sassy and soulful voice to the album as well. ATTAK is the group’s most sonically divers and satisfying album yet, proving that Sascha and friends still have plenty of scud missiles and napalm in reserve. You’ll hear Skold singing on the progressive rocker Save Me, some dub on the quietly menacing Yohono, bouncy drum-n-bass on Superhero, Watts vocals on the dark and deadly Preach/Pervert and Sascha and Tim trading distorted chants on the Nitzer Ebb-ish Risen. You’ll also find plenty of hard-as-nails industrial/techno/rock hybrids throughout ATTAK including the title track, Sturm & Drang and the metallic Skurk. Do not play this music if you have epilepsy or a weak heart. Though if you have a pacemaker, KMFDM can make you stronger. Also available is the BOOTS single. Their versions of the Lee Hazelwood song made famous by Nancy Sinatra sucks, but buy it for the excellent original Back in the U.S.S.A. “KMFDM is back, bow to the warriors.”

Tommy Lee
MCA Records

by Bret Miller
Yes you read that correctly, so put down the bong and drumsticks and get your ass out of that funk you’ve been in since Justin and Britney “broke up.” Fuck them anyway. Tommy Lee is back and solo on Never A Dull Moment, his most listenable and catchy album since his heyday in Motley Crue. You’ll hear Lee’s many favorite styles of music on the album such as the hip-hop, hard rock, and melodic singing on Afterglow, Crystal Method-inspired beats and synthed-out guitars on Body Architect and power balladry on Ashamed (featuring the Deftones’ Chino). Hear the softer side of Tommy as he goes philosophical on your ass on Why Is It, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and peppy drums and sings one for the ladies on the sappy love song Blue. That’s his son yelling “lets rock” at the beginning of People So Strange, Lee’s take on celebrity. Somehow Lee pulls it all off: melodic hard rock with catchy guitar riffs and his limited yet likable vocals. And that’s it, Tommy Lee throws various styles of music into and blender and Never A Dull Moment is the enjoyable result. Dude!

Funky Green Dogs

by Bret Miller
Apparently the duo of DJ/Producers Oscar Geatan and Ralph Falcon don’t know that the date is 2002. As Funky Green Dogs and MURK, Gaetan and Falcon have been making excellent deep house grooves featuring diva vocals since the early 1990s. I haven’t heard these two since then and was pleasantly surprised to receive their latest release all these years later. What also surprised me was that after more than ten years they are using such a limited sonic palette and are still creating this stuck-in-a-time-warp style of dance music. I can picture myself dancing up on the top floor of the Variety Arts Center to this music, and while the Dogs do it well, they probably should start listening to what has come out since the early days of techno and house. What they do is deep house with the addition of vocalist Tamara Wallace, whom the duo worked their tunes around from the beginning of the production on Super California. Maybe next time around they’ll loosen up and include a more experimental sound. One can only stand a plain 4/4 beat for so long. Super California recalls the heady days of early electronic dance music, sweaty bodies undulating under colored lights and vibrating walls but after more than ten years of the likes of 808 State, Goldie, LTJ Bukem, even Moby, you might expect more from Gaetan And Falcon. I sure did.

Loud Records

by Bret Miller
In 1983 Dave Mustaine went to New York to meet the other members of Metallica to record their first album. Upon touchdown, he found himself fired with a bus ticket and not much else. Returning to California, Mustaine made it his mission to torture the world by creating one of the loudest, fastest and angriest rock bands ever to tear up a stage. Mustaine joined neighboring bassist David Ellefson, Gar Samuelson on drums and guitarist Chris Poland to create Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good, an angry attack to the senses of an unwitting public. Melding jazz time signatures and classical guitar flourishes with punk energy and metal riffage, Thrash/Speed Metal was born, kicking and screaming at the world.
In 1985 Megadeth’s first album was done on the cheap and rushed out before the band even OK’d the artwork. Seventeen years later you can see and hear Killing Is My Business… with its intended artwork, lyrics, liner notes and introductions by Mustaine and Ellefson, as well as Anthrax’s Scott Ian’s recognition of this genre defining album.
The opening piano piece Last Rites opens the album, lulling you into a pleasant mood but then segues into the searing guitar patterns of Loved You To Deth. Samuelson’s punishing drums propel Mustaine’s slurred screams and Poland’s guitar fills while Ellefson holds the carnage together with his bass rhythms. The title track is a head-banging boogie inspired by comic book vigilante The Punisher while The Skull Beneath The Skull contains neck snapping progressive guitar riffs and lyrics of ritualistic sacrifice. Rattlehead (as in Vic Rattlehead, Megadeth’s long-suffering mascot) is archetypal speed meal, all flashy guitar solos and swinging chorus breaks. Before you can catch your breath Chosen Ones follows, adding a punk swagger to Mustaine and Ellefson’s solos. You wouldn’t know it from the violent lyrics, but the song was inspired by the killer rabbit from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. The melodic and menacing Looking Down The Cross expresses Mustaine’s vision of what Christ might have thought as he died on the cross, though Mustaine’s words are all too evil and metal for the supposed savior. You can hear Mustaine’s input into Metallica’s sound in his original Mechanix, which also contains a superior guitar solo. Killing Is My Business… closes with an unfortunately edited version of These Boots Are Made For Walking, minus some apparently disrespectful words that writer Lee Hazelwood didn’t like. You and I won’t give a shit as we thrash around and hurt ourselves slamming to their bruising cover. As an added bonus Megadeth added some dirty demos for Loved To Deth, Mechanix and The Skull Beneath The Skin. Even without record company financed production these songs rip.
After seventeen years, several member changes, some serious detox and many platinum albums Megadeth’s first album still sounds as fresh and lively as it did at the beginning. The re-release of Killing Is My Business… is a fitting end to Megadeth as Dave Mustaine has called an end to his band due to a serious injury to his arm that might prohibit him from playing guitar. As Mustaine focuses on healing and being with his wife and kids don’t shed a tear for the end of the band but crank up the volume and play all of Megadeth’s albums, rattling the foundations of the world. Then Megadeth will never truly end. Go to to read Mustaine’s thanks to his fans over the years.


by Bret Miller
After almost four years the duo of Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia have returned to kick your ass into gear and melt your speakers. Gift is Curve’s fourth full length album, not counting Pubic Fruit, a collection of their first three EPs, and is their best sounding release to date thanks in part to Ben Grosse’s production and Flood’s “bleeps and analogs.” Their sound is still dense yet contains less elements. The effect is more of a focus on Halliday’s gorgeous, enticing vocals. For this album Garcia said “this time we concentrated more on song writing and not making it so over-the-top fierce and aggressive. I think the mood is calmer.” But not too calm.
Gift opens with the crunch and thump of Hell Above Water, an industrial-strength number that you can hear on the new Spiderman TV commercial. After two minutes of hammering your ears into a pulp the bottom drops out of the song, leaving you in mid heartbeat for a few seconds before crashing back with even more guitar fury. The title track follows with a bass heavy dance groove and Halliday crooning “It’s a gift that you’re getting/I want to show it to you.” You’ll want to show her your love after hearing an album’s worth of Halliday purring her sweet nothings. The elusive and illustrious Kevin Shields adds his beautifully queasy guitars to the loose and lush Want More Need Less, as well as Perish. Possibly one of Curve’s best songs, Perish combines articulate guitars, percussive bombast and subtle electronic tinklings to help tell a story of pain and regret. Fly With The High is a breezy song, with pumping techno beats that switches to a cool rock song two-thirds of the way in with added guitars, while the slow and slinky Polaroid pushes Halliday’s vocals to the foreground. Bleeding Heart closes Gift with subdued bass and angry percussion that reels you in until the song ends with overamped guitars and Halliday chanting “Shoulda seen it coming.” On Gift Curve’s Dean Garcia deftly mixes his loud bass, guests’ guitars and Monti’s added drums with Toni Halliday’s enthralling voice to further evolve their sound. I just hope that their next record doesn’t take another four years to hear what they do next.

Harlowland Records
by Bret Miller
Harlowland is an imaginary place, much like the Sunset Strip, where young women smoke clove cigarettes and talk about fashion, makeup, Bowie and Bauhaus. At least it’s a fun visual. Harlow made some noise last year as the only women in VH1’s Bands on the Run. They didn’t win but there are some that think they should have. They are also the second ones to put out an album, after the winners released theirs to mediocre reviews some months back. Harlow want to prove to the world why they should have won as the hardest working band on the VH1 show and Harlowland is their chance. As produced by Pat Smear (Germs/Nirvana/Foo Fighters) the rhythm section are the best thing about this band as he mixes Chimele Gonzalez’ bass and Rebecca Gibb’s drums right up front. Rayshele Teige and Amanda Roote play their guitars as fuzzy fills and bright counterpoint to Roote’s silky and sassy vocals. The music in Harlowland is all leather and lace, an organic mix of goth and glam, where Stevie Nicks, T. Rex, Tones On Tail, Ziggy and his Spiders hang at the Rainbow. To quote from Rock Queens, “We’re walking slowly, we’re in control.” Harlow prove they’re a band to watch and Harlowland is a testament to what talented, hardworking women can do when they set their minds to the task.

Ophelia Rising

by Bret Miller
Ophelia Rising is yet another example of women taking control of their lives and making their voices heard over the chest thumping of the men in rock and roll. Vocalist Lexa Vonn has already battled censorship defending White Zombie’s album art, worked as a music publicist, toured as a go-go dancer for the Mentors and written an autobiographical book titled Girl’s Guide to Hitchhiking. Step 1 is a short but powerful sample of these women’s work, documenting drug addiction and the struggle to make it in a man’s world. They’re version of the Leslie Gore classic You Don’t Own me is a perfect song to adapt as it succinctly defines the women in Ophelia Rising. Geza X (Dead Kennedys/Black Flag) produces the three originals on Step 1, giving maximum crunch to Tania Estrada’s lead guitar and mixes Vonn’s strong vocals up front. The Frank Zappa spoken word samples and sounds of breaking glass and static add a sense of fun to the band’s serious arrangements. Only after you acknowledge you are part of the system can you begin to think about changing it. This four song CD by Ophelia Rising is the sound of the walls coming down.

Flogging Molly
Side One Dummy Records

by Bret Miller
On the surface Flogging Molly is good-hearted sling a Guinness, dance a jig bar band music. For years the band played the Irish Pub Molly Malones and took their name from the numerous shows where they beat the patrons into happy drunken submission with their Celtic Punk music. Lyricist and vocalist Dave King sings songs of joy and pain, of the strife in the land of his childhood, but mostly he sings to life. The band includes many of the elements of traditional Irish music. King’s stories, Bridget Regan’s tin whistle, Bob Schmidt’s mandolin and banjo, Matt Hensley’s accordion as well as Dennis Casey’s electric guitar, Nathan Maxwell’s bass and George Schwindt’s drums banging out a fast beat. On Drunken Lullabies Flogging Molly bring traditional Irish music to a younger audience, people raised on Green Day and the “punk” bands of the 90’s.

Elektrik Mistress
Independent Release

By Bret Miller
Elektrik Mistress is a Canadian hard rock trio who owes a large debt to that other multi-platinum Canadian trio Rush. Their self-titled album was produced by Terry Brown (Jimi Hendrix/Rush) and follows the heavy style of Queens of the Stone Age and Fu Manchu. On Rock Star the trio pound out an insistent sludgy groove with a spacey guitar solo, Vertigo follows with more psychedelic guitar riffage punctuated by a harder guitar rhythm. Blakk Room features frontman Kurt Kuthe’s soaring vocals on the acoustic guitar tinged power ballad. Malaka Dabba is stoned space rock with analog electronic discharges that spark around the primal guitars and Kuthe’s subdued yet powerful vocals. The instrumental On The One lets bassist Paul Tetsul shine with his distinctive fingered playing. The album closes with the progressive Maya where Elektrik Mistress loosen up and let some space into their sound with nice soloing and drummer Chris Henry’s light touch. After hearing the relaxed Maya I wished that the album contained more songs like it. Those sizzlingly loud guitars heard throughout Elektrik Mistress kind of got on my nerves after the first three songs. Overall, not a bad album from the country above our own.


CELLBLOCK 5/White Trash Debutantes
Orange Peal Records
What’s It All About? Is a split CD of two talented groups. Cellblock 5 is a loud and fast punk group with background melodies and crunchy, catchy chord changes. David Dalton spits his lyrics with a “fuck you” attitude while you can sing along to John Fortin’s vocals. Great punk with a pop appeal, Cellblock 5 will have you slamming and skanking away to their songs. White Trash Debutantes are fronted by a blue-wigged she-male named Ginger Coyote and they play tight rockabilly and punk rock. Lucky for us Ms.(?) Coyote’s voice is buried beneath Jake Lush’s slinging guitar action and sassy background chants by Rhiannon Pollock and Tonia Bodley whose lead vocals are each splendid. Behind their particular front-person The White Trash Debutantes are a fun and thrashing band who are sure to go places once they get rid of some unnecessary haggage. Coyote’s lyrics are pretty funny but (s)he’s not much of a vocalist. Go to for info on ordering What’s It All About and the other excellent artists on the label.

Anthony Stewart Head & George Sarah

Los Angeles based artist George Sarah has teamed up with Anthony Stewart Head (“Giles” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to produce a mature, heartfelt collection of electronic rock songs sure to please fans of Sarah’s as well as showcase Head’s abilities as a singer, songwriter and musician. To my knowledge this is the first time Sarah’s music has featured male vocals and Music for Elevators gives the listener a taste of his abilities on guitars as well. Sarah and Head really combined their talents to create a true synthesis with Head playing piano, synths and guitar on most tracks and Sarah arranging the strings, programming the percussion and playing synths and keyboards. Head’s lyrics deal with love of his family, guilt, emotional distance and life away from home. He sends lessons of wisdom in the songs All the Fun of the Fair and Change, and even sings in French on Qu’est Ce Que J’ai Fait. The lyrics and vocals blend well with Sarah’s reflective beats and strings, but sometimes the album gets a little too somber, perhaps reflecting the feelings of the album title. The bright bells and upbeat percussion of Qu’est-ce Que J’ai Fait along with Head’s emotional delivery brighten the album’s mood while the dour lyrics of This Town in the Rain are backed up by live drums and standup bass creating the atmosphere of a dark bar during a beat poet performance. Talk to You is a simple song about connection with your love on the phone, accompanied by Michael Archuleta on acoustic guitar and strings by Kirsten Autry and Dave Mergen. Buffy creator Joss Whedon even lends his songwriting talents in the form of Last Time, with Amber Benson (Buffy’s “Tara”) on background vocals. One of the best songs on the album comes towards the end of Music for Elevators. One Man’s Rain relates the care and balance that we must keep when dealing with the world. The gospel background vocals, bluesy piano, sweeping violins and heavy beat drive the point home with passion. Staring at the Sun contains the most beautiful piano and strings on the album and will likely leave you with a smile on your lips and a tear on your cheek. This album should appeal to fans of George Sarah’s style of strings and electronica as well as make fans of those who thought Anthony Stewart Head was just the old British guy on Buffy. Music for Elevators is a soulful outlet for two men of many talents.


Imaginary landscapes, dreamscapes and stories made with tones and repetition. Electronic pulses, microwave antenna hums, the whine of cathode ray tubes, the buzz and ring of a telephone, the blips and beeps of video games and home computers; all this is part of our daily lives. Yet we are barely aware of it, taking technology for granted. There are those in the last century or so who have harnessed the everyday, have coaxed beauty and light out of tones, out of the machines we take for granted. The sounds heard on Lume are equal parts soothing and startling. Taking his cue from all things Warp, Oeseph’s music is designed to open up parts of your mind, provoking thoughts, sparking creativity and action. Subtle Start mixes tentative minor tones with recordings of burbling water, followed by Clear Shift, which starts out hesitantly then jumps into scattershot percussion and syrupy bass. Glaseum recalls the lucid dreams heard on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 2 with the dense swirling miasma of a fever dream. Worm Pad’s subliminal keyboards build almost imperceptibly causing you to lean closer to the speakers and consciously listen to the interplay of tones and sighs. On A Clear Day's whimsical keyboards play with angular noises, chopped up voices and the sounds of a train on tracks, suggesting a hazy daydream of TV and playing with toys. The nostalgic Swanage follows with a bell-like keyboard pattern, fighter-planes diving overhead and persistent violins coming together and in the end crashing into a digital nightmare. The music on Lume suggests memories old and imagined, of daydreams and happy thoughts, of what ifs and maybes. If you are interested in the music of Oesoph, contact Preston Thomas at

Robert Rich
Release Records

Robert Rich is an unconventional musician. He uses old analog synthesizers, samplers, steel guitar and much processing to create what can be loosely termed music. His tracks rarely have any basis in familiarity as far as what we know music should sound like yet Rich continues to challenge our ears and our minds after more than 15 years. The tracks on Bestiary have a theme in that they are sound sculptures that mirror the idea of an exotic collection of animals much like the private zoos of old. Bestiaries were collections of plants and animals that rich people collected from around the world and the term evolved to mean a collection of the fantastic and bizarre. This all makes much sense when listening to the first part of Nesting on Cliffsides which combines chugging percussive elements, vocal wails and many wispy synthesizer strains to evoke dreams of far-of lands. The visually titled Tarapace Hides the Delicacy is a too-short piece that is also my favorite track on Bestiary. Burbling synths and percussion play with Andrew McGowan’s bass, swirling and sinking into your inner eye, opening you mind to the possibilities of sound. The “music” of Bestiary is sometimes soothing, sometimes frightening but always enthralling, suitable for both passive background ambiance and intent listening, especially on headphones. Enjoy your visit to Robert Rich’s Bestiary, just remember to not pet or feed the animals. Also be sure to get Rich’s seven-hour audio DVD document of his time-honored Sleep Concerts. Visit Robert Rich at for more on this unique artist.

Xploding Plastix
Beatservice Records

With an album title like that I figured that this group weren’t from around here. I was right: Xploding Plastix are the Norwegian duo of Hallvard Wennersberg Hagen and Jens Petter Nilsen. That last sentence alone sent my spellcheck into a frenzy. Their music sounds like it is an outright blast when heard live, and this is because their sound is so lively. Real drums and real bass are cut and pasted together into a brilliant collage of noirish jazz beats and smoky atmosphere. Hagen and Nilsen want their tunes to be the soundtrack to your next night on the town or big hip soiree. The Plastix show reverence to the jazz greats of the past while bringing their swinging beats to a new generation. If you are a fan of early Photek, Amon Tobin, Clifford Gilberto, Fantastic Plastic Machine and the artists on Ninja Tune and Shadow then you are certain to enjoy the rocking be-bop and swinging jazzbo beats of Xploding Plastix. Find out more about these crazy Norsemen on the Beatservice website at

get this gear!