By W.P. Malandra
Spanish for 100 Metric (SPF)
Here's a band who loves straight-ahead rock tunes as much as their effects pedals. Spaced out music and melodies float around the standard rock progression to create a pleasant and easily digestable sound. Think Cave-In doing a bunch of Wilco covers. The last track was recorded live at the Crocodile in Seattle, and it shows Spanish for 100's music translates a lot better live than in the studio. "Metric" is a decent attempt, but they could benefit enormously from a bigger studio budget and a better producer.
Straylight Run Straylight Run (Victory Records)
Does anyone else remember when Victory Records only put out albums that had to do mostly with kicking your ass and respecting the scene? Apparently, they have been moving in a new, pacific direction, as demonstrated by Straylight Run. This piano-driven quartet straddles some melancholy emo-pop-rock fence with grace and heart. The more traditional, visceral, Victory-style "things and stuff" lyrics have been replaced with unabashed openness about unrequited love and struggling with these modern times (this could be what Seth Cohen will be pouting to on the next "O.C."). Straylight Run's musical and lyrical quality raises the bar for the genre. Oh, and sometimes, there's even a glockspiel.
Thee Heavenly Music Association Shaping the Invisible (Rehash)
That extra "e" up there is no typo, folks; we're talking about Thee Heavenly Music Association. Alternating the velvety and concrete, this duo plays dreamy, layered tunes that allow the melody and feedback to intermingle freely. Unfortunately, the album is also a convoluted, self-indulgent mess, as the name and band photos suggest. The only time I could imagine listening to this is when I mow the lawn; the juxtaposition of cut grass, sweat and gasoline smells against their manic-depressive shriek may make this tolerable. But I probably couldn't hear it over the mower anyway. Listen to My Bloody Valentines' "Loveless" to hear this done right.
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-