Christie Front Drive
Christie Front Drive

There are an oodle of pop-core bands slugging it out in the indie underworld right now, but nary a one gets to the euphoric heart of the punk-pop aesthetic quite like Denver's Christie Front Drive. On this, their debut album, guitarist Eric Richter and his fellow Drivers--guitarist Jason Beegin, bassist Kerry McDonald and drummer Ron Marshall--deliver hypnotic, high-voltage gusts of melodic power pop that easily rival anything in the alternative big leagues. On "Away," the record's closing track, Drive's lofty riffing and mastery of guttural howls and gargantuan feedback call to mind Samiam or a less bellicose Fugazi. Other cuts explore more esoteric directions--"Turn," "Now I Do" and "4010" find Richter and Beegin weaving dreamy, aural tapestries in the pensive, psychedelic tradition of Ride and Catherine Wheel. Add Richter's vocals, which fight for prominence with the band's effervescent guitar attack, and these life-affirming anthems wind up sounding more promising than anything found in Bush's repertoire. Whether these four will find their mugs on the covers of all the trendy rock pubs remains to be seen. But that's where they deserve to be.--Brad Jones

DJ Duke
Journeys by DJ: DJ Duke
(Moonshine Music)

Techno-haters will never accept that the bulk of rave technicians are unable to provide the emotional lowest common denominator possessed by even R. Kelly, Peter Murphy or Yanni. Many of the technicians can't accept it, either: Even though grooves and sound effects should be enough for them, they keep listing between the vague new agey-ness of Opus III and the S&M meat work of the Lords of Acid. So until Moby and the Utah Saints prove the exceptions to these rules once and for all, the Journeys by DJ series is among the best places to find techno in its purest form. Here, DJ Duke's nonstop mix is as steady, as empty and as powerful as a 75-mph wind. If a sax solo or a stray virtual vocal flits by, don't try to hang on to it--just go along for the ride.--John Young

Pure Phase

The psychedelia in which Mazzy Star engages is trippy, yes, but it's also acessible to just about everyone: Hope Sandoval's Lolita-on-'ludes croon is a magnetic force that attracts and seduces whether or not a listener has a personal familiarity with lysergic acid diethylamide. By contrast, the music of Spiritualized, created in large part by the high-flying J. Spaceman, is less drug-induced than the drug itself. The aptly titled "Medication," which kicks off the act's latest collection, hips you to the more aggressive side of the band's recipe: It's a seven-minute-plus opus in which guitar solos swirl and twist into a dizzying, hypnotic confection. But for every example of sonic overload, there's a moment of pure beauty--the coda of "Let It Flow," for instance--that gains much of its power through simple juxtaposition. Good reviews for this type of music are rare, mainly because it works almost entirely on a subjective, subconscious level that many literalists prefer not to access. But for those of you in a receptive mental state, Pure Phase is like windowpane you can use while you're driving.--Michael Roberts

Lida Husik

Husik uses pretty much the same tools that most singer-songwriters have at their disposal: Her tunes are structured in a traditional way, and her instrumentation doesn't get any more exotic than an E-bow. What separates her from the avalanche of generic Sarah McLachlans now descending upon us, then, is an appreciation for subtlety and an intangible vibe that gives her music an airy, ambiguous quality that this sentence cannot adequately describe. On the printed page, Husik's words can seem commonplace, even dull--"Nature is doing its number/Making my yard beautiful" (from "Persinthia Lawdro and John") may be the most tepid couplet here, but it's hardly the only one that comes up short in the revelations department. Still, her ringing guitar, full-bodied bass and haunting, double-tracked harmonies transform observations like this into surrealism in miniature. The title track, "Star," "Mickey Minnie" and other cuts blend together into a Velvety blur that's equal parts sensuality and quirkiness--and while it may take a few listens to synch up with Husik's wavelength, it'll pay off in spades. Hop on board.--Roberts


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