The Drugstore Cowboys, Chapter 3006 of Dance Moves for the Apocalypse: If the Octamaiden Was a Diabetic Joykill Addict (Lujo Records). Washington, D.C.'s Drugstore Cowboys get surprisingly tasty results by unceremoniously stuffing grindcore, industrial, indie rock and hip-hop into a filthy Cuisinart with a rusty blade. The duo's mad-scientist electronic rock may induce nausea and whiplash, but undeniably solid songwriting, passion and a spoonful of humor make the medicine go down. -- Eyl
The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads (Vagrant). In reviving the Lemonheads -- though with a slightly harder edge compliments of ex-Black Flag drummer Bill Stevenson and Descendents bassist Karl Alvarez -- alt-rock poster boy Evan Dando leaves his solo introspective wandering behind for classic two-minute-thirty-second romps of off-kilter lyrics squeezed over jagged guitar work and twisting hooks. -- Glenn BurnSilver
John Mayer, Continuum (Aware/Columbia). In "Waiting on the World to Change," Mayer McCheese mentions problems plaguing society but doesn't suggest doing anything to solve them. The rest of this CD is equally passive. The music is vaguely bluesy and fairly inoffensive, but instead of trying to take things to the next level, Mayer stays in place. Continuum is, literally, more of the same. -- Roberts
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Portastatic, Be Still Please (Merge). Even modern rockers grow older -- and rather than fight the process, Superchunk's Mac McCaughan is going with the flow. On Please, the latest release by Portastatic, McCaughan's thirteen-year-old side project, his power-pop proclivities are tempered by acoustic passages, arrangements that often leave strings attached, and singing that's experienced but not stodgy. It's his version of modern maturity. -- Roberts
Radiators, Dreaming Out Loud (Sci-Fidelity). Since forming during a kitchen jam session in the early '80s, the Radiators have been steadily cooking up their unique brand of gumbo -- a blend of New Orleans funk, Southern boogie and tempered soul. Nothing new to report on Dreaming Out Loud, but with the Rads, that just means you're in for another heaping helping of party music. -- BurnSilver
These Arms Are Snakes, Easter (Jade Tree). Seattle's masters of mean guitar loops and abstractly angry poetry return with a sophomore full-length that still doesn't match their terrifying debut EP. Easter builds on the quartet's signature brutal algebra, but Steve Snere's ever-gloomier lyrics and Chris Common's gorilla drumming sacrifice subtlety for bone-grinding heaviness. -- Eyl
Various Artists, Why the Hell NotThe Songs of Kinky Friedman (Sustain). Irreverent Texas gubernatorial candidate and songwriter Kinky Friedman is aptly honored by fellow independent-minded country acts such as Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett on Why the Hell NotThe Songs of Kinky Friedman. Todd Snider's rousing, tongue-in-cheek version of "They Don't Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore" highlights the proceedings. -- Tracy M. Rogers