By Simon McCormack
The M's Future Women (Polyvinyl)
The debut release from Chicago's The M's is glam rock that doesn't have to rely on pure parody for its pop charisma. The well-dressed quartet comes dangerously close to Jet-esque style-over-substance hooks, but those are quickly reeled in by substantive verses that are often more like The Arcade Fire than retro-rock. There are some soft spots like the overly chaotic "Mansion" but, for the most part, The M's have created a substantive, danceable and catchy (without being overly so) record that shows as much promise as it does maturity.
NOFX Never Trust a Hippie (Fat Wreck Chords)
There are certainly no surprises on the new NOFX EP Never Trust a Hippie. The album, which includes two songs from their upcoming April release, Wolves in Wolves' Clothing, shows that NOFX refuses to depart (for better or for worse) from the skate-punk sound that has made them enormously influential legends. The only question worth pondering is whether or not it's worth your time and/or money to obtain a CD that sounds pretty much the same as the band's other 10 LPs and half-a-dozen EPs.
Matchbook Romance Voices (Epitaph)
"Reinvention" is the best term to describe former screamo-punk nuisances Matchbook Romance. MR started as a pubescent pop-punk band á la New Found Glory called The Getaway. They then changed their name and their style to more of a My Chemical Romance whine-driven mess. Then, along comes Voices, the result of some obvious soul searching and apparent coming-of-age. Gone are the power chords and sentimental choruses, replaced by edgy and intricate guitar riffs and understated vocals. The new LP may rub some of MR's fans the wrong way, but their daring reconstruction should garner them support from audiences that would never touch their previous releases.
Cowgirl Karaoke hosted by Michele Leidig at The Cowgirl BBQ
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