• Favourite Sons, 'Down Beside Your Beauty' (Vice)

    Mixing despair with hesitant optimism on their visceral debut, Favourite Sons maintain the shoegazer vibe of frontman Ken Griffin's previous band, Rollerskate Skinny, but combine it with the uplifting psych pop of the other four Sons' now-defunct Aspera. Griffin's bracing plaints -- "Dead bodies piling up like garbage in the sun / It makes me feel so strong" -- get a jolt from a resounding rhythm section and droning dual guitars, especially on the dark and dancey "No One Ever Dies Young" and the turbulent ode to the beauty of loneliness "Hang on Girl." Now Hear This: Favourite Sons - "Hang on Girl" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to Favourite Sons on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Deftones, 'Saturday Night Wrist' (Maverick)

    Deftones' fifth studio album continues their dark, visceral journey -- haunting soundscapes full of ominously chiming guitars, crashing percussion, and frontman Chino Moreno's alternately melodic and guttural singing. But the band also takes some risks -- emphasizing artiness over thundering hardness (unlike 2003's often-deadening self-titled effort). They shake the nu-metal shackles with help from System of a Down's Serj Tankian, whose baritone offsets Moreno's breathy vocals on "Mein," and Giant Drag's Annie Hardy, who delivers an explicit monologue about engaging in truck-stop trysts and believing in "the one true power" on "Pink Cellphone." It's a sideways step in the right direction. Now Hear This: Deftones - "Hole In The Earth" WINDOWS MEDIA HIGH | LOW BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Sparta, 'Threes' (Hollywood)

    Ever since their 2002 debut, these El Paso rockers have been a reliably cathartic and emotionally charged presence. Those old traits remain, but Sparta have evolved, with a melodic approach and a postdepression, fist-pumping attitude. On the single "Taking Back Control," singer/guitarist Jim Ward doesn't simply lament the world's ills, but issues an anti-Bush call to arms. Still, the band is not healed just yet -- a short film included on a special-edition DVD addresses drummer Tony Hajjar's flight with his family from the Lebanese civil war, as well as his mother's death. Now Hear This: Sparta - "Taking Back Control" Download MP3 What's this? BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Kasabian, 'Empire' (RCA)

    England's Kasabian call upon producer Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Paul Oakenfold) to send the druggy club sounds of their debut album to boot camp, backing nearly every track here with militant marching beats. Where the band confidently sashayed through Stone Roses guitar pop -- the addictive 2004 single "Club Foot" was the soundtrack of a ubiquitous Pontiac ad -- Empire constantly changes its focus, from the synth-heavy theatrics of the title track through punk-infused vocalizing, jack-hammer percussion, and mellow, acoustic balladry. Now Watch This: Kasabian - "Shoot the Runner" WINDOWS MEDIA | REAL PLAYER | QUICKTIME Now Hear This: Kasabian - "Empire" WINDOWS MEDIA | REAL PLAYER On SPIN.com:Hot Beef: Kasabian vs. Kaiser ChiefsFans Plead 'Turn it Up!' as V Fest Kicks Off BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • The Vines Conquer Insanity

    Fame has not been particularly kind to Aussie rock outfit the Vines. In the four years since the band helped usher out the boy bands and forge a path for indie rockers to easily scoop up label deals, the Vines have witnessed the near self-destruction of lead singer Craig Nicholls (which they later discovered was due to the neurological disorder, Aspergers), alienated fans, the media, and each other, lost their longtime bassist, and somehow, put themselves back together again. In April, the band released Vision Valley, an album of tight rock tracks, pumped up punk songs, and a few melancholy ballads.

  • Margot & the Nuclear So & So's, 'The Dust of Retreat'

    On their debut album, Margot & the Nuclear So & So's present the kind of idealistic vision of New York City's Greenwich Village that can only be imagined in earnest by someone living in the Midwest. Far removed from the boutiques and falafel joints that currently inhabit the neighborhood, the Indiana-bred band presents a vision of what the area might have felt, sounded, and looked like in the 1960s. In this case, the majority of the population was apparently well read, and either devastatingly melancholy/drug-addled or alarmingly optimistic. To create a sound that broad in its spectrum, Margot founders Richard Edwards and Andy Fry recruited six other musicians: Jesse Lee (cello), Emily Watkins (piano), Hubert Glover (trumpet), Chris Fry (drums), Casey Tennis (drums, assorted other banged-on objects), and Tyler Watkis (electric bass).

  • MC Lars, 'The Graduate' (Nettwerk)

    In the gospel according to 23-year-old MC Lars, Hot Topic is not punk rock, Internet dating is totally weird, "music was a product, now it is a service," and emo and crunk are frustratingly formulaic. MC Lars -- educated in the school of Ivy knocks, Stanford and Oxford -- is the Ad Rock of his generation, spitting rhymes and cultural observations that are both absurdly comical and strangely astute. In its 14 songs, The Graduate features more pop culture references than a Best Week Ever marathon. The opening track, "Download this Song" (featuring Jared Reddick of Bowling for Soup) is a biting deconstruction of the music industry, with the derisive chorus "Hey, Mr. Record Man, the joke's on you / Running your label like it was 1982 / Hey, Mr.

  • Killers Served with $16M Suit by Ex-Manager

    By: Alyssa Rashbaum As the Killers prepare to record a follow-up to 2004's Hot Fuss, a former member of their team is making a heated protest of his own. The Killers' former manager, Braden Merrick, has filed a lawsuit against the band for breach of contract. The suit, filed on Tuesday (Feb. 21) in U.S.

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