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illuminati hotties :: Let Me Do One More

While pop punk takes the energy and intensity of hardcore music and strips away all the negativity and rough edges, this is punk pop, like pouring maple syrup over a big coil of barbed wire.

Goodbye Honolulu :: Goodbye Honolulu

I am convinced that today’s Canada is much better at this jangly indie pop thing than the US ever was at the height of alternative music. This Toronto outfit will pull you out of your deep American misery faster than any prescription medication.

Audiobooks :: Astro Tough

“Charmingly abrasive” sounds like an oxymoron, but it is certainly something that describes music like this, angular sounds and a distraught female voice rambling on about blue tits, and I don’t think she means birds.

The Shivas :: Feels So Good / Feels So Bad

Exquisite rock and roll, filled with bombastic drenches of reverb and enough monster riffs to fill a stadium, powering through sounds psychedelic, surf-like, and power-chording, but with enough dynamics to keep it from becoming exhausting.

I’ll Be Your Mirror :: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground

There’s good reason the Velvet Underground is one of the most popular topics for tribute recordings, their songs being very open to interpretation. This selection does not shy away from the more uncomfortable VU topics, which makes it a standout.

Erin McKeown :: Kiss Off Kiss

She once wrote a song over text message with Rachel Maddow, a micro-story that actually provides deep insight into this adventurous Canadian with an effortlessly capable voice and a finely honed instinct for finding the beating heart of a song.

Tom Tom Club :: The Good The Bad and the Funky

This is a reissue of a 20-year-old album, yet the pan-global disco stew that comes from this band could live anywhere in their decades-long career continuum, past, present, or future. This is dance music for getting subtly amped up.

Lindsey Buckingham :: Lindsey Buckingham

Over forty years ago, Fleetwood Mac was giving the Eagles a run for their money as Most Ubiquitous Band in America, and a big part of that was Buckingham’s uniquely sophisticated songwriting and unrecognized guitar prowess, both on display here.