Jason Buhrmester

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    The Oral History of Epitaph Records

    The original Los Angeles punk rock scene lived fast, died young, and left behind hair metal. Meanwhile, Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz started Epitaph Records in a closet in the back of his recording studio, eventually sending punk up the pop charts and everyone from the majors to Madonna scurrying for a piece. But keeping the scene -- and himself -- together during the chaos proved nearly impossible. For the first time ever, the people behind the explosion -- and implosion -- celebrate 30 years of dragging punk kicking and screaming into the mainstream.

  • The Busy Signals, 'The Busy Signals' (Dirtnap)

    Halfway through "Plastic Girl," the opening track on the Busy Signals' debut, a Buzzcocks riff gives way to a hot and sweaty X-style harmony between throaty singer Ana McGorty and bassist Jeremy Thompson. The jittery guitars and get-in-get-out solos that follow on "Stereo" and "So Pointless" are also dazzling, but it's McGorty's voice that may rocket this band out of the seven-inch singles set, fluctuating between a fragile pout and seen-it-all boredom. Sneering, "You aren't worth my time / You aren't worth my nickel and dime" on album closer "Ring Ring Ring," she sounds like a girl you'd lick a sticky bar floor to get back. Now Hear This: The Busy Signals - "Plastic Girl" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • The Cult, 'Born Into This' (Roadrunner)

    The good news for Cult fans who fretted when Ian Astbury split to front the re-formed Doors is that the singer hasn't gone completely Lizard King. On the U.K. band's first new album since 2001's Beyond Good and Evil, they return to what made them one of the '80s most reliable, riff-heavy outfits: Guitarist Billy Duffy supplies relentless, fist-pumping power chords (on "Sound of Destruction" and "I Assassin"), while Astbury knows when to hold back and when to unleash his killer wail. Nothing here kicks as hard as Cult classics like "She Sells Sanctuary" and "Love Removal Machine," but "Dirty Little Rockstar" slithers surprisingly close. Now Hear This: The Cult - "Dirty Little Rock Star" WINDOWS MEDIA BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Ministry, 'The Last Sucker' (13th Planet/ Megaforce)

    After 12 albums, Al Jourgensen is yanking the plug on the act that led the way for every Reznor, Manson, and Zombie to follow. His farewell is also the last album in a trilogy vilifying President Bush, and while there's nothing here as dense and biting as the Ministry slams of Bush Sr. in the '90s, Jourgensen can still pile on the jackhammer beats and clever samples. "Death and Destruction" crowbars Dubya clips between chugging riffs; the anti-Big Brother blast "Watch Yourself" is paranoid metal madness; and the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" gets a power-thrash makeover. Now Hear This: Ministry - "Let's Go" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Bad Religion, 'New Maps of Hell' (Epitaph)

    What happens when one of the best SoCal punk bands to protest the God-fearing, warmongering Reagan '80s sticks around long enough to write about an even bigger mess? Bad Religion spend their 14th album dissecting just what got us here -- from the death of rebellion ("Requiem for Dissent") to the rise of religious dogma ("New Dark Ages," in which PhD'd frontman Greg Graffin sings: "A pall on truth and reason / It feels like hunting season"). The songs are more frantic and noisy than the band's recent work, with opening blast "52 Seconds" lasting just that. But the targets haven't changed much, and Bad Religion still hit them hard. Now Hear This: Bad Religion - "Heroes & Martyrs" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Municipal Waste, 'The Art of Partying' (Earache)

    With everyone and their Wolfmother shredding retro-metal riffs, it wasn't long before a gang of headbangers revived '80s crossover thrash. Municipal Waste do it so well that any track from their third album could squeeze comfortably between D.R.I. and Gang Green on a mix tape. Like their sozzled ancestors, they focus first on getting blitzed ("Beer Pressure," "The Inebriator"), but the Waste pack a lot into these two-minute furies -- deft riffs, killer drumming, and Tony Foresta's motormouth vocals. If there's any irony here, it's been moshed into oblivion. Now Hear This: Municipal Waste - "Headbanger Face Rip" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • The Tossers, 'Agony' (Victory)

    Most punks who try to pick up where the Pogues keeled over get the drunken madness right, but not the romance. Not so with the Tossers, a seven-piece band from Chicago's Irish Southside who once backed up Pogue Spider Stacy. Singer/mandolin player Tony Duggins writes gorgeous whiskey weepers filled with fiddle, banjo, and tin whistle, while his slurry croon recalls Shane MacGowan's more intelligible days. That's not to say the Tossers can't throw a mad party. Kickoff track "Never Enough" bemoans a lack of alcohol and drugs, and "Traps and Ultimatums" finds Duggins dressing down a lover for asking him not to go out boozing. A pair of political tunes seem out of place, but it's nothing that another shot of Jameson won't fix. Now Hear This: The Tossers - "Siobhan" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunes

  • Alkaline Trio, 'Remains' (Vagrant)

    Alkaline Trio began combining goth and punk back when My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way could barely see over the comic-book counter. Remains gathers tracks from various compilations, split releases, and soundtracks, and the diversity on display proves there has always been a daring band under the eyeliner. With Matt Skiba's Moz-like black humor setting the tone, the group references both sides of their influences, from speedy fist-pumpers to moody new wave, even turning Berlin's "The Metro" into a punk rager. And "Jaked on Green Beers" is the most fun you'll have with a broken heart since "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)." Now Hear This: Alkaline Trio - "Hell Yes" STREAMING MP3 Now Watch This: Alkaline Trio - "Warbrain" Alkaline Trio - Remains Trailer QUICKTIME >> Listen to Alkaline Trio on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

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