• Of Montreal, 'Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?' (Polyvinyl)

    Athens, Georgia's Of Montreal have practically become a one-man psych band, and Kevin Barnes' pleasantly nasal voice -- many, many multitracked versions of it -- harmonizes on nearly every track of his eighth album. Zany as ever, Barnes runs himself ragged composing swirls of synth-heavy disco pop with inexplicable titles: "Faberge Falls for Shuggie" sounds like Scissor Sisters chillin' with Beck, while the glitchy "Suffer for Fashion" sits reasonably well next to the Beatles-ish indietronica groove of "Cato as a Pun." Hissing Fauna might be an album of ego trips, but at least Barnes is on the good stuff. Now Hear This: Of Montreal - "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse" DOWNLOAD MP3 Now Watch This:Of Montreal - "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse" >> Listen to Of Montreal on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, 'So Divided' (Interscope)

    Like teenagers discovering the munchies, My Chemical Romance and the Killers have realized the power of the classic-rock anthem, with its grandiose swagger and bulging chord progressions. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead ascended this stairway to heaven years ago, and they have spent their last two albums fine-tuning a prog-punk mix of melodramatic melody and punishing intensity. Their fifth LP features ten musically triumphant but lyrically bleak anthems. "Stand in Silence" (LISTEN) merges '90s alt rock and a marching band while Conrad Keely muses, "Where's my vision gone?" On "Wasted State of Mind," (LISTEN) a busy tabla sample gives way to a wondrous, Beatles-esque chorus that washes over the track like an acid baptism.

  • Built to Spill, 'You in Reverse' (Warner Bros.)

    Built to Spill have always toked their own brand of jamrock. Since the early '90s, when singer/guitarist Doug Martsch began writing singsongy melodies that searched his boyish voice's upper registers while a tangle of guitars spun sprawling solos beneath him, the Boise, Idaho band has filled the space where flannel meets Birkenstocks. Their jangly head trips placed them somewhere between Sonic Youth and Luna on the indie-rock circuit, but they've also wooed Deadheads to their gigs. But the noodle niche has shifted since the group's last outing, 2001's Ancient Melodies of the Future: It's a Broken Social Scene world now, and Built to Spill are just living in it. Yet, where the members of the Toronto collective take turns wandering through atmospheric pop songs, Martsch's gliding guitar is the focus of Built to Spill's deceptively simple arrangements.

  • Madonna, 'Confessions on a Dance Floor' (Warner Bros.)

    Madonna and George W. Bush may have less in common than Kabbalah strings and W.W.J.D. wristbands, but the pop politician seems to have learned a lesson from the president: When things are bleak on the home front, make waves abroad and appeal to your core constituency. After two remarkable albums of progressive, synth-driven throb rock, Madonna unleashed her flat meditation on the state of the union with 2003's American Life, which received a chilly reception. So for her latest studio album, Madge has generated 12 tracks of pure dance music sure to please the international club community and her most unshakable supporters: gay men. With its surges and dips, Confessions mimics the rising/falling action of, say, a DJ set, a hit of Ecstasy, or Madonna's own career. The killer single "Hung Up" spins a trilly Abba keyboard sample into a four-on-the-floor disco reverie.

  • Sons and Daughters, 'The Repulsion Box' (Domino)

    Sons and Daughters didn't just title their first single "Johnny Cash" -- they somehow channeled Cash's dusty-trailed country folk, despite needing a time machine to examine the world he chronicled. Before their friends Franz Ferdinand broke out by riding a wave of flashy high-hat taps, this Glaswegian quartet dug their claws into classic Americana and added a touch of White Blood Cells on their 2004 EP, Love the Cup. Since then, they've become increasingly taken with the straightforward storytelling tradition of the murder ballad, adopting the dark narrative tone perfected by people like Woody Guthrie and the Man in Black himself. On The Repulsion Box, their full-length debut, Sons and Daughters write simple riffs that, through repetition and Adele Bethel's strongly accented, sneering vocals, become ominously assaulting.

  • Q&A - Michael Stipe

    For the past 24 years, Michael Stipe, 44, has been the lead singer of a little rock band called R.E.M. On Around the Sun, the group's 13th album and the follow-up to last year's best-of collection, his stirring, iconic voice skates across lulling meditations on love, loss, and high-speed trains. Stipe and Spin rode the rails together from Philadelphia to New York, discussing everything from drummer Bill Berry's early departure to cranky rock critics to knowing when it's time to call it a day. The last time we did a proper interview with you it was 1995, and there were four guys in the band. To me it feels like 50 years, honestly. How hard was it to watch Bill Berry, who suffered a brain aneurysm on the Monster tour, walk away in 1997? Bill said that if he was going to be the guy who made R.E.M. break up he would stay and be miserable, but it was clear that wasn't what he wanted.

  • Bands to Watch - Sons and Daughters

    Who: Co-ed country-blues quartet from Glasgow who pal around with arty dance kings Franz Ferdinand but profess true love for classic American folkies. "The band's name came to me in a dream where a young Bob Dylan was singing, 'Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,'" says singer/guitarist Adele Bethel, who played in Arab Strap with drummer David Gow. Sound like: The cast of Trainspotting fronting a tight roadhouse punk band. On their debut, Love the Cup, Bethel and singer/guitarist Scott Paterson trade love-and-death lyrics (think X's Exene Cervenka and John Doe) over spare blues riffs, while multi-instrumentalist Ailidh Lennon lightens the harsh drone with her mandolin. American history XXX: While touring the States, the group learned about U.S. culture by checking out truck stops.

  • Intimate Portrait: Billie Joe Armstrong

    Since 1991, NoCal trio Green Day has released six albums of raucous,irreverent pop punk that's just tart enough to make you smirk. After afour-year absence, singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, 32, has leddrummer Tre Cool, 31, and bassist Mike Dirnt, 32, into unchartedterritory. Prepare yourself for Green Day's punk-rock opera, American Idiot. So the next logical step for Green Day was a rock opera?It started out as a joke. Mike was alone in the studio and called meand said, "What am I going to do here?" I said, "Why don't you write a30-second song?" So he did, and it was really good. I connected another30-second song, then Tre did, and all of a sudden it started taking onthe characteristics of a rock opera. You have to keep your sense ofhumor when you do something like this, because you don't want it tosound pretentious. I like [the Who's] Tommy, but it's so literal.

  • WedROCK

    CrobarNew York City Thissold-out event (a benefit to combat the anti-gay-marriage amendment tothe Constitution) was billed as a rock show, anchored by such legendsas Lou Reed and Bob Mould. But as the $9 drinks began to flow, therewas an increasing focus on acts either outrageous (potty-mouthed dragqueen Lady Bunny) or outrageously hilarious (Margaret Cho). SandraBernhard freestyled personal stories and belted out a few songs, Mouldstrummed an acoustic guitar to little fanfare, and a solemn,glasses-wearing Reed incanted the lyrics to some of his old songs. Inshort, the evening didn't feel much like revolution, at least untilelectro-punk trio Le Tigre took the stage.

  • The Secret Machines

    Whenthe Secret Machines relocated from Dallas to New York, the experimentaltrio of '70s-rock aficionados lived together in a one-room Brooklynapartment that doubled as their rehearsal space. But nobody gripedabout bunking Brady Bunch-style. "We were our own bestfriends," says guitarist Benjamin Curtis. "Just sitting on our beds,out of our minds on mushrooms together." On their shape-shifting debut, Now Here Is Nowhere,the band harness Benjamin's psychedelic noise to Josh Garza'sbone-crushing drumming. Like the group's live sets (all rock, no talk),the album is a mind-bending odyssey, where lengthy, spacey tracks flowinto propulsive, riff-heavy mini-anthems. Each song is marked with a truly one-of-a-kind sonicimprint--the group hired producer Jeff Blenkinsopp (a former engineerfor Pink Floyd), who rewired their gear to achieve otherworldlyeffects.

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