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Homestead Records

GUITARIST/BASSIST ELLIOT Sharp has released, oh, maybe 9,000 albums of experimental music with the likes of Zeena Parkins, Eugene Chadbourne and a slew of other exceptionally interesting inbreeders. Here, for the second time (the first was Terraplane), he steps outside the Twilight Zone to present a disc of blues-influenced music. Esther is associated with the Black Rock Coalition, a fine organization of jazzers and rockers dedicated to better marrying both musical styles. She sounds far more like sleek jazz singer Cassandra Wilson than any blues shouter, which is certainly no criticism. Sharp's dirty blues on "Junky Heaven" is a deserved slap in the face of everyone believing those who play noise can play nothing else. Pretty cool to be able to sign your name E#.

--Dave McElfresh


Flat Tracker
Scooch Pooch

THE HEAVY-DUTY scorch of Zeke is as dangerous and thrilling a spectacle as when Evel Knievel jumped his super-charged motorcycle over a dozen school buses at the Houston Astrodome back in the '70s. Zeke even pays tribute to the flashy daredevil on "Chiva Knievel," a rip-snortin' blast of reckless punk rock adulation. Imagine the notorious porno-chic energy of the Dwarves mixed with the snotty lyrical ability of the New Bomb Turks--a lethal combination that'll flatten yer ass. Ugly bell bottoms, loud silk shirts and plenty of gnarly street attitude are Zeke's calling cards. This ain't no redneck hillbilly crud. Frankly, Zeke plays music aimed entirely at gearheads. Those grease monkeys who get off on the roar of engines, the smell of nitro burnin' and the lip-smacking anticipation of a crash 'n' burn showdown at the demolition derby should take notice of "Flat Track," "Daytona" and "Eliminator" for a taste of the drag racing-inspired paint peelers featured on this Seattle band's second full-length platter. Gentlemen, start your engines!

--Ron Bally



THIS YOUNG BAND has toured doggedly (including a strong SXSW showing) and it's evident in the tightness and depth of the grooves on Bionic. With sinuous vocals, jangley guitars and revved up rhythms, Sandbox plays loud and crunchy on " Curious" and "Collide," then turns out moody, melodic passages on the lyrical "For You." "Decisions" rocks between poles with its vulnerable probing and a hyped-up bridge. The finger-picked delicacy of "Three Balloons and A Trap Door" gives way to the pulse and drive of "Flux" and the haunting, dreamy "Weatherman." As varied as the songs are, with generous imagination infused in the arrangements and coloration, Sandbox creates a sense of continuity with its distinct sound. A talented band with places to go.

-- Jessie Piper

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