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JUCIFER War Bird ****

This six-song EP steers away from Jucifer’s psychotic-dance elements and concentrates more on technical metal maneuverings while still retaining a solid wall of tortured guitar sludge. “Haute Couture” is the “peppiest,” complete with chunky drums, spacey keyboard feedback, French lyrics and broken baby-doll backups. The slow funeral march of “The Shape of Texas” is vicious, and “My Stars,” a folksy acoustic (with banjo!) song about America, is chilling. But will you recognize any of these songs at their max-volume live show? Statistics say no. (Velocette)

THE VON BONDIES Pawn Shoppe Heart****

The Von Bondies might have been a big yawner at SXSW, but their label debut is scalding hot. Think of a less cocksure Mooney Suzuki, with female backups and more angsty, outta-control passion. Every track kills, but one would swear “Tell Me What You See” issued straight from the basement of a ’50s subdivision, and “Mairead,” with its slow, swanky blues groove, pours down with all the gentleness of acid rain. (Sire)

LOCAL H Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles? ****

Local H certainly borrow their fat, satisfying rock riffs, meaty drums and Kurt-like Seattle-yowl from Nirvana, but they put their own hearty-party twist on it while playing pool in the corner with Foo Fighters and Hole (not too much of a stretch), cheating every step of the way. Ragers include the anthemic “Everyone Alive,” the suspenseful creeper “California Songs” and grunge gem “How’s the Weather Down There?” (Studio E)

VARIOUS Bring You to Your Knees: A Tribute to Guns N’ Roses **

In theory, having a horde of hot, young metalcore scene darlings cover 14 GNR classics seems like a pretty Rad N’ Profitable idea, until you remember that the Roses’ beauty laid in their highs and lows—screaming guitar solos, deep bass, shrilling cymbals, Axl’s soaring, distinctive whine. This album is like forcing an intricate iron sculpture through a trash compactor and ending up with a dense, 1 x 1 cube of scrap metal. (Suburban Home)


Reviewers are supposed to respond to Mutated thusly: “Say, these cats sure are fresh! Hey, I said fresh! I am down with the lingo, brother!” because Dynamite Jive are trying to be “positive” and un-self-conscious (self-consciously). But who cares if someone is making positive hip-hop if said hip-hop sucks worse than a ’79 Hoover? Some of the beats and samples actually work, but are ruined by endless reams of embarrassingly sophomoric lyrics. (

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Rebecca Vernon

More by Rebecca Vernon

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