I have mixed feelings about Kittie. The album has a strong start, but it's incredibly repetitive. If you are a true metal fan, that's a bonus, but the ballads will disappoint even the staunchest of heshers. The band is made up entirely of girls 17 and under. Oh, to live in a world where all-girl bands are no longer a novelty! (Teenage girls playing thrash metal has got to be a good sign, though.) As Kittie drummer Mercedes Lander explains in the Artemis press release, "'Spit,' is my favorite song in the world. People expect us to suck and then we get on stage and blow them away. One minute they're just standing there, then their mouths drop open and their dicks feel small." I for one witnessed this phenomenon -- and very enjoyably I should add -- while playing Kittie's CD aloud to a male colleague. "These are girls?" he asked dumbfounded. Now, I can't say for certain what his dick was doing, but by the look on his face for the next 15 minutes, I can come up with a fairly educated guess. TANYA RICHARDSON

Vintage Volts
(Caipirinha Music)
Hats off to the folks who brought us Early Modulations' contemporary documentation of the DJ phenomenon, for remembering the pioneers who helped establish the eventual artistic validity of electronic sound. Vintage Volts condenses 60 years of electronic aural experimentation into nine tracks, many created by curious sound technicians rather than actual composers. Extensive liner notes help round out the picture.

Such pieces as Max Matthews' 1961 plink-plonk interpretation of that old favorite "Bicycle Built for Two," or the pre-ambient noodlings of John Cage and Vittorio Gelmetti, may sound boorish and inarticulate compared to today's super turbo-charged, digital-DNA-sequenced dance floor blacktop; But lest we forget, the first telephone was a far cry from the personal pocket pleasure pal Jamie Lee Curtis totes around in her Prada handbag. It's important to remember that we are a myopic and expedient generation with barely a sense of history. We should be humble and remember our cultural beginnings, if we're really doomed to repeat them as Jim Jones predicted. It's already repeating itself at an alarmingly accelerated rate as it is. Who knows, maybe the future includes a place for the revival of Mother Goose nursery rhymes at 185 bpm. ERNIE REIDEL

Tigertown Pictures
(Kill Rock Stars)
People rarely make albums like this any more. Certainly not in England. Albums that are unafraid to stand TALL and fail laughing, that sound like they've been recorded directly onto scratched vinyl. Albums which are full of heartfelt diatribes and soulful Hammond organ breaks, infused with a deep love for London. Albums that redefine the meaning of the description "garage." Songs like the anarchic "Radar" and self-evident "Record Collection" brim over with ideas and passion. In places, Tigertown Pictures, the new album from Comet Gain II (most of the former incarnation split to form the more ordinary Velocette), recalls St. Etienne's more winsome moments, and the insurrectionary fervor of Dexy's Midnight Runners and Ian Svenonious' Make Up. Other times, it's like the spirit of early Creation Records (Jasmine Minks, Biff Bang Pow!) reborn, even more abrasive and angry with the modern world. An inspirational offering. EVERETT TRUE

(Ace Fu Records)
Listening to Pinback's self-titled album is like taking a carnival excursion after a giant bong hit of really good weed: Everything is mesmerizing and surreal, a tad bit menacing, a little slower than it seems like it should be, but somehow still strangely warm and cuddly. That funhouse vibe is magnified by the organ flourishes found throughout the album, most notably on tracks like "Shag," a catchy little ditty that kicks off with the line, "It rained because I took the dust of your bones crushed and seeded all the clouds," and whose chorus consists of the refrain, "Push the little baby down the spiral stairs." In fact, although there's a buoyantly hypnotic element to the music, none of the songs here are particularly upbeat, leading the overall effect to resemble a pleasure cruise through the dark recesses of someone else's soul. BARBARA MITCHELL

(ill Will Records/Sony Music)
With his anxiously hyped latest release, Nas -- all sullen glares and knowing rhymes -- has done something unintentionally wonderful. He has brilliantly, albeit inadvertently, created some truly great background music! Having people over for a little get-together and you need some party hiphop that's not too deep? Pop in Nastradamus. Facing a dreaded day of laundry, vacuuming, and dishes, and you just want a little noise on the stereo? Even better. A continuous, 15-track string of banal, harmless rap music with consistent rhythms and catchy themes that flow unrecognizably from one track to the next, this CD is perfect for that distracted, offhand listening. MIN LIAO