The Hookers

(Cold Crush Records)

Before there were the Murder City Devils, there were the Hookers, composed of Derek Fudesco, Dann Gallucci, Spencer Moody, and Andrea Zollo. The Hookers is stripped-down, great shit that reminds me of basement shows. Recorded in 1994, this self-titled disc contains some songs that were fleshed out on the Devils' 1997 debut--but listening to this now, and knowing every inch of what came after, I just want to hit a big rewind button and go back to when the Devils first started to play out, before I knew them personally and was scared as shit of Gallucci spitting all over the crowd and rolling his eyes skyward. I remember seeing them at the Colourbox, which was a perfect backdrop for my introduction to the band: dark, black, and cavelike. I also remember some of the band members jumping down from the stage into the crowd, about to clobber someone. That night was so them to me, the them I'd forgotten about until listening to the Hookers. Moody's vocals are clear and full of strut, but Fudesco's bass is the main component, fuzzy and heavy and menacing. Gallucci's guitar is minimal but forceful, and Ms. Zollo was an apt drummer, but it was a crime that we'd have to wait so long to hear her sing again in Pretty Girls Make Graves. If you were ever a MCD fan pre-Farfisa organ, you need this CD. KATHLEEN WILSON


Wonderful Rainbow

(Load Records)

Yes, two people can make this much noise, but most of them aim to have half the skills of Lightning Bolt. With Brian Gibson on bass and Brian Chippendale on drums, Lightning Bolt is metal done by Providence, RI punk geeks too smart for their own instruments. Playing through a 2,000-watt modified bass, Gibson lays down distorted riffs that sound like they're coming at you through giant helicopter blades, while Chippendale fills every half-second of space with an overflow of drum beats, like one of those kids who talk so fast you keep waiting to see when they'll take a breath. Chippendale's breath doesn't come until the end of the record. Adding to the commotion is a microphone rigged to fabric around Chippendale's mouth--a junky piece of electronics (made from a telephone mouthpiece) that makes his occasional vocal outbursts sound like he's been swallowed by a giant electronic trash compactor. Together, Gibson and Chippendale make a prog-metal-noise blend that's best experienced live (or on their recent DVD, Power of Salad & Milkshakes), but comes off just as mind-blowing on Wonderful Rainbow. JENNIFER MAERZ


Selling Live Water


Slug, MC for Minneapolis hiphop duo Atmosphere, was probably the first rapper to bear the cross of "emo-hop," a tag he despises so much he refuses to even utter the word "emotional" in interviews. But there's no denying that the next year belongs to the emotionally bare rapper, thanks in large part to the anticon crew, of which sole is a key figure. So, where does Selling Live Water register on the emo scale? All I'm gonna say is that the record comes complete with lyrics typed in personal-zine-style manual typewriter font. Sole is a fine rapper on a no-bullshit vibe, and he's not afraid to voice anything about himself (including the fact that he cried for two days straight after a breakup) or to reference Watership Down (rapping, "Run Rabbit, when they catch you, they'll kill you," on the quick-tongued, contemplative "Tokyo"). Production--by fellow deep anticonians Alias, Odd Nosdam, Jel, and Telephone Jim Jesus--is turned inward as much as the lyrics are, with faraway beats and fluid, blue-sounding melodies lending an air of even deeper introspection. Oh... and his flow? This dude doesn't stutter once. JULIANNE SHEPHERD


Moving Units EP


The best thing about New York's modern punk acts getting all the hype is that indie kids finally have current dance music that blends smart, guitar-driven songs with music that inspires physical movement. Although they're not from Manhattan, L.A.'s Moving Units are another sibling in the new dance-rock family--hatched under the parentage of Gang of Four and Wire--that includes acts like the Rapture and Radio 4. Yes, the Moving Units strike the G spot as far as past and current references go, but the truth is, this eponymous EP is really good. Grimy disco basslines thump out strut 'n' grind rhythms under jazzlike drum patterns, to which Blake Miller's post-punk guitar parts and sultry vocal style provide the perfect complement. Their calls to "surrender to the disco melodrama" are both a stab at manufactured dance music and a contribution to a new, more interesting form of club culture. Check these guys out when they hit the Vera Project with the Locust on March 2. JENNIFER MAERZ

**** yoga *** stretching ** hugging * rimming