I know school's out, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep up on your summer reading. So to keep your young brains in their prime condition, I have a homework assignment for you. Don't mess this up. If you do, you'll flunk and I'll make fun of you in front of the entire class.

So, your assignment: Read George Orwell's Animal Farm. Why? Because you're gonna want to read that book before you hear Gatsby's American Dream's new record, Ribbons & Sugar (which is being released on July 1).

"[Ribbons & Sugar] uses Animal Farm as a litmus test for our lives," says the band in its press statement, "questioning the motivation behind our ideological, political, and musical rebellion, ultimately coming to the conclusion that the revolution has to happen at a personal level before it can effect a change in the real world."

I suppose I could say more (since I've already heard the record--neener neener), but nuh-uh. YOU read the book, listen to the record, and then draw your own conclusions. I ain't doin' the dirty work for you.

After you've finished your homework, you can go to Gatsby's big CD-release party featuring Gatsby's American Dream (duh), Time to Fly, Suffering and the Hideous Thieves, and Dead in Hollywood. It's at Studio Seven, and it starts at 8 pm on Saturday, June 28. Since Gatsby's new record is being released by RocketStar Recordings, the party will be in true RocketStar fashion, meaning it'll be free and packed wall-to-wall, so you'll want to get there plenty early.

But not only will you want to arrive in time to ensure a good spot, you'll also not want to miss Dead in Hollywood! Who's Dead in Hollywood? Well, here's a way to earn some extra credit. Go to www.headindollywood.com, where you can download the band's seven-track demo for free (that's right, FREE). If you're a fan of straight-ahead, ferocious hardcore, chances are you'll be a fan of this post-Hardesty project. I know I am.

And speaking of school and classes and books and other smart things, on Thursday, June 26, the Showbox is hosting a benefit show for Rock School, a nonprofit that gives kids the opportunity to learn everything they need to know to make a successful career out of playing the guitar (or bass or drums or keyboards or harmonica...). The show's only $8, and the always-fun Alien Crime Syndicate is one of the headliners. If you want more information about Rock School, you can visit www.rock-school.org.

Class dismissed. MEGAN SELING

megan@thestranger.com

Need more? You can hear my personal picks for the week on 107.7 The End every Monday and Friday at 5:30 pm during DJ No Name's Afternoon Experiment.

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