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Drywall, Barbeque Babylon (Redfly). Wicked sophisticated political satire is Stan Ridgway's latest vehicle, and when he sings "The AARP Is After Me," the former Wall of Voodoo frontman is just as hilariously surly as he was on his signature '80s hit "Mexican Radio." This genre-blurring pageant of pop styles is another fine example of Ridgway's genius for studio wizardry and biting black comedy. -- William Michael Smith

Irving, Death on the Garden, Blood on the Flowers (Eenie Meenie). Irving has been kicking around the fringes of semi-notoriety for a few years now. And with releases like this, the band will be stuck in purgatory forever -- one can only hope. Imagine five bloodless, soulless wusses wallowing in every bland riff and indie-rock cliche imaginable. Then imagine a train hitting them. Ah, that's better. -- Heller

OM, Conference of the Birds (Holy Mountain). Everyone talks as if Matt Pike (now of High on Fire) was the acid-fried brains behind doom progenitors Sleep. But the other guys from Sleep -- bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius -- have reignited their bong-passing talents to show that Pike ain't got nothing when it comes to super-slow, ultra-heavy, loud-as-fuck drone metal. Two songs in 33.3 minutes, and not a second wasted. -- Nguyen


Mini reviews

Part Chimp, I Am Come (Rock Action). Supposedly, London's Part Chimp tunes its guitars to the resonant frequency (Wikipedia it, dork) of the room so that its live show is the loudest and gnarliest it can humanly be. It's a marvel for physics geeks to ponder, but really, there's only one vital fact to remember: Part Chimp is a noise-rock band that will shake your face off, and you'll love it. -- Nguyen

Placebo, Meds (Astralwerks). These particular Meds shouldn't be used to treat depression, since Placebo frontman Brian Molko's lyrics are about as upbeat as the current news out of Iraq. Fortunately, his latest is also dosed with astringent vocals, severe guitars and dramatic arrangements like the one prescribed to the junkie farewell "Song to Say Goodbye." Use as directed. -- Roberts

T.I. , King (Grand Hotel/Atlantic). You've already heard every word here, and pretty much in the same order. That means King lives and dies on production acumen, of which there is plenty; guest stars,who are present in abundance; and T.I.'s audacious charisma. Given modest expectations and a fondness for the road most traveled, that might be enough. Emphasis on "might." -- Roberts

Various Artists, Release the Bats (Three.One.G). Three.One.G's homage to Queen, Dynamite With a Laser Beam, is the greatest tribute album of all time. Its followup, Release the Bats, bows before the Birthday Party, whose music gets reinterpreted by such post-punk notables as Some Girls, Melt Banana and Year Future. As inspired and deliciously grating as the disc gets, though, it doesn't quite live up to the genius of Laser Beam -- but then again, Nick Cave is no Freddie Mercury. -- Heller


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