The End Men Sing

(Lelp Recordings)

Lucas Bernhardt's music is nothing special. One guy, an acoustic guitar, sparse instrumental complements, elementary recording--the usual. If you've ever heard a Smog record, you probably have a fair idea of what's in store. So why spend an ounce of ink on The End Men Sing, the Portland singer's latest bedroom pop record under the Cuspidor namesake? Because Bernhardt has a way of taking "nothing special" and fully exploiting the form for its innately subtle beauty. There's an indefinable charm in watching the quiet kid in class as he stares at the floor and swings his ankle-crossed legs: simple, sweet, predictable--and easy to romanticize. Add some quaint vocals and a little bit of lyrical allegory, and you've got yourself a Cuspidor record: rock-solid bedroom pop, nothing more, nothing less. And though the quality rarely wanes, the only complaint I can muster about The End Men Sing is that, at 22 tracks, it's something of a thick pill to swallow. ZAC PENNINGTON


The Rocknroll EP

Self-released (

If you can get past the title track of this EP, a volley of stone classic pop rock straight from the top of the imaginary hit parade, you're doing better than I did. "Rocknroll" is such a great song that if you have a love of the single--i.e., the kind of song you used to be able to hear on the radio--you may just find yourself skipping back again and again to hear the refrain, "You're good at pushing me out," tower melodically over a stuttering brace of stacked guitars. That the rest of this EP never matches the oughtta-be-a-hit quotient of song one is no criticism; the other five songs show a young band coming to grips with its will for majesty, wrestling its influences (Radiohead, Sunny Day Real Estate), and finding an original voice, most notably on the dialogue with divinity, "Down Toward the Healing." An amazing debut. SEAN NELSON


The Violet Hour


Most new indie rock--possibly the world's least-sexy music--sounds like mere Muzak to me: Attenuated guitars plus whining whiteboy vocals plus anemic rhythm sections equal huge yawns. So why do I love the Clientele? Their music, as represented on their debut album, The Violet Hour, is fragile, so very Caucasian, and destined to inspire not much more than tentative hand-holding among couples. Maybe it's because these reserved Brits recall Galaxie 500's blissfully hazy refraction of the Velvet Underground's third album (everyone says this, but it's true). Maybe it's because the Clientele's dew-dappled guitars remind me of '80s cult band Felt, whose axman Maurice Deebank rejuvenated the jangle. Maybe it's because The Violet Hour captures the unbearable poignancy of Britain's fleeting summer. Maybe it's due to Alasdair MacLean possessing one of the only great falsettos in rock. Maybe it's the Clientele's frosted-lens production and unhurried pace, which make every song seem as if it's emanating from a sacred cave far from the music industry's crass machinery and from accursed civilization in general. Ultimately, there's something irrefutably pure and good about the Clientele's songs; they plow a very narrow path through rock's fields, but that path is soul-stirringly lush. DAVE SEGAL


A Drug Problem That Never Existed

(Ipecac Recordings/Rekords Rekords)

Proof that getting the best people involved doesn't always lead to great results, Mondo Generator takes from the top of the desert-rock crop and drops the ball in a mess of unfocused material.

Generator has been the side project of Queens of the Stone Age bassist/singer Nick Oliveri since 1997, and for the band's second release he reunites with drummer Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Fu Manchu), guitarist Dave Catching (QOTSA, earthlings?), and bassist Molly Maguire (earthlings?, Yellow #5), a topnotch crew that fumbles through a mix of thundering desert rock, psychedelic garage, and testosterone-on-overdrive hard rock. While the disc definitely has its moments (which include the gorgeous "Four Corners," a reminder that the band should use Mark Lanegan's rough-hewn vocals as often as possible--that man makes everything he touches these days sound golden), the caveman bravado of "Like You Want"--with lyrics like "I'm gonna give it to ya baby like ya want, yah"--dumbs things down beneath even the worst AC/DC wannabe garage band. Overall, A Drug Problem That Never Existed sounds like Oliveri and friends fucking around on a bunch of demos, a collection of material that even the most avid QOTSA fan doesn't need to be troubled with. JENNIFER MAERZ

**** super fly *** dragonfly ** Tsetse fly * fly on shit