Stellar Sonic Solutions
Trance Syndicate

FOR EVERY BRILLIANT power trio gulp (Bob Mould's Sugar) there are hundreds of gassy emissions (all those one-syllable bands). Luckily, Austin's Starfish tilt toward the former, with mixed but mostly positive results; kudos for Mould's hot-wired production. While some of the material is rote circular flailing (could all you bass players out there just shut the hell up, midsong, once in awhile?), a lot of it connects because the combo jamming quotient is high and inventive. Visceral fuzzbomb explosions and sustained-tension dynamics keep an instrumental-like "Kliffordave" thrusting forward. "Burnt Out" is good ol' anthemic punk rock with Buzzcock power chords and the kind of sleek, slacker vocal from the lady bassist that Breeders/Amps' Kim Deal would love to muster.

--Fred Mills


The Light Will Stay On
Virgin Records Europe

CRIMINALLY IGNORED STATESIDE but accorded full diplomatic treatment in Europe, The Walkabouts play some of the most soulful rock 'n' roll anywhere. Here: a Dream Syndicate-esque tale of intrigue ("Devil's Road"), a spectral '50s-styled ballad ("Winded") and a snippet of eerie soundtrack music ("Incognito").

But the title cut will coax tears from granite statues. Amid heartbeat bass, hushed percussion and a string quartet's lush cocoon of melody comes Carla Torgerson's breathless eulogy for a deeply missed friend. Cast as a bedtime prayer/vow, it's oddly reassuring and wholly cathartic. If emotion qualifies as epiphany, then this song contains the powers of alchemy.

--Fred Mills

Indigo Girls

1200 Curfews

IF MOROSE MAKES you happy, don't buy this album. The energy, poetry, harmonies--how can one not be in awe of the Indigo Girls' power even if their acoustic/rock style doesn't appeal? 1200 Curfews is a double-CD mix of live concert recordings, wit and witticisms from interview out-takes, and a studio recording or two. Selections include favorites such as "Galileo," "Language or the Kiss," and the song that brought them into mainstream awareness, "Closer to Fine." Included are some interesting covers of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Buffy Sainte-Marie tunes, all done without apology and with that eternal Indigo enthusiasm.

--Molly Who

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