The Aggrolites, The Aggrolites (Epitaph). The SoCal-based Aggrolites may specialize in reggae by way of punk, but they ain't Sublime. The quintet is rootsier than most graduates from the scene, giving unexpected prominence to Roger Rivas's wonderfully rinky-dink organ. The results are secondhand, but the infectious group vocals and jumpin' tempos transform the disc into a party on plastic. Maybe they're sublime after all. -- Roberts
Dub Trio, New Heavy (Roir). Three sidemen from the backing bands of 50 Cent, the Fugees and Common release their latest disc as Dub Trio -- and the act's sound is as blandly obvious as its name. Trading dub's majesty and depth for digitized sanitation and a disposable Mike Patton guest vocal, New Heavy is totally lightweight. If you think the Police played reggae, this CD is for you. -- Heller
Faun Fables, The Transit Rider (Drag City). Essentially a protracted tone poem about riding on a train, Faun Fables' newest is yet another warped, neo-classical romp through goth opera and quasi-thespian folk. Although ably augmented by longtime collaborator Nils Frykdahl of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, the formula degenerates into a dull drone halfway through the disc. Uh, I think my stop's coming up. -- Heller
Hell Is for Heroes, Transmit Disrupt (Burning Heart/Epitaph). The name of the band is Hell Is for Heroes. A more apt moniker would be Hell Is for Those Unfortunate Enough to Have to Sit Through This Crap. May there also be a special place in hell for the companies that put this music out for public consumption. We don't need another band with whiny verses and screaming choruses. Enough, already. -- Dave Garner
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Various Artists, Journey Into Paradise...The Larry Levan Story (Rhino). The late Levan, a DJ at NYC's Paradise Garage during the '70s and '80s, helped create the template for disco. This two-CD set pulls together many of his signature faves, most of which never became crossover hits. The result is a surprisingly fresh look at the genre before it devolved into cliche. Welcome to Paradise. -- Roberts
The Rogers Sisters, The Invisible Deck (Too Pure Records). If you're still interested in shouty NYC dance rock, then you might as well get it from people who know what they're doing. The Rogers Sisters' Invisible Deck breaks up the snide vocals and Ginsu guitar with seam-bursting flare-ups of Sonic Youth noise. If not terribly original, the Sisters still land at the top of an increasingly bloated genre. -- Sawyer
Rocky Votolato, Makers (Second Nature). Rocky Votolato is like Ben Nichols -- only without balls. In fact, most of the songs on Makers wouldn't sound out of place on a Lucero album. But lyrically, Votolato still has a ways to go. Once he tightens up the words, though, who knows? He might actually produce a great album. -- Garner