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Kinski, Hard-Fi, Keyshia Cole, Keith Hillebrandt, Junior Varsity

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KINSKI Alpine Static ****

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If Rush worshipped Kyuss, they’d sound like Kinski. All instrumental, Kinski’s raw, furry riffs straddle the gap between Fu Manchu and the snooty progginess, avant-garde timing and mad movements of techheads. Kinski, who have toured with Mission of Burma and Comets on Fire, does truly rock when not delving into atmospheric experimentalism; however, you can’t imagine someone saying, “Man, turn that s't to track five! That’s my favorite Kinski song!” Kinski is a band to appreciate, not to get under your skin. They’re stoner-rock for music-theory sophisticates. (Sub Pop)

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HARD-FI Cash Machine ****

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Tapping into the oft-overrated Bloc Party/Her Secret Revenge/The Killers Brit-centric post-dance new-wave craze, Hard-Fi brings in accordion sounds and Kenna off-kilter rhythms, thick, present vocals, irresistible dark pop structure and some old-fashioned Red Beat reggae overtones to create a more successful go at the latest fad. Piano adds an air of waltzy baroque during the breakdowns, and they manage to pull off a White Stripes cover without embarrassing themselves. (Vice)

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KEYSHIA COLE The Way It Is ***

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Some of The Way It Is is trite, the beats sallow and unengaging, the lyrics ripped straight out of a Hallmark card. But then Keyshia will bust out with an insta-hit like “Love, I Thought You Had My Back,” with its euphoric ’50s/’60s Motown R&B feel, violin pizzicato, sizzling cymbal work and horns. Then the dull beats of “Guess What?” with its invisible melody line comes into play. Consistency would be nice. (A&M)

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KEITH HILLEBRANDT Blue **.5

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Keith’s music is sooper-produced, elegant electronica for New-Agers. It’s safe, but pretty. It’s yawn-inducing most of the time, but it’s smooth and mesmerizing'the hypnotherapist’s perfect little aid. Blue is kind of like Kinski’s Alpine Static in their echoes of prog approach and pure instrumentalism. Keith ain’t going to change the world, but he can at least help you conquer your insomnia. Plus: Nine Inch Nails drummer Jerome Dillon plays on three tracks. (Sesac)

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THE JUNIOR VARSITY Wide Eyed **

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The Junior Varsity are not enlarging the emo-punk palette; but they’re not annoying, which is an unlikely mark in their favor. “Pull up your shirt/ Show some baby fat to the world” are extremely stupid lyrics, but hey, some bands have to dig deep for inspiration. TJV are like a cross between Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Jimmy Eat World. Song titles include “I’m Home, Hooray!” and “When We Meet Aliens.” Wait. They are annoying. (Victory)

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About The Author

Rebecca Vernon

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