Fugazi - End Hits (Dischord)
Currently inside my head Fugazi are having a fist fight with Mudhoney for the title of my personal all time favourite band. Mudhoney have an obvious weight advantage but Fugazi are meaner and leaner. And Fugazi are more significant in 1998. Depending on how you look at it, this is either Fugazi's 5th, 6th or 7th album. Attempts to compare this to any of the previous will be a waste. That said the most recognisable tracks as Fugazi are the storming Five Corporations (Fuck Corporations?) and Caustic Acrostic. The initial three tracks grab your attention tight. Opener, Break blasts off with psychotic drum patterns and hyperdirect guitars, Guy's voice comes in, sounding a tad funny, signing off with "on and on" ala Karate then Ian roars and Fugazi have opened their stall. Place Position continues the trend, starting like a nitro Pretty Vacant for the nineties. Mackaye bellows "yawn yawn yawn" as Guy states "I can't stifle my boredom" and questions "so why not act your age". Recap Modotti carries the record, as Joe adds another vocal style, thats more tender than the previous. The song itself is tender, running a constant threat to rocket but remaining subtle all the way through to the climaxing diversions and Fugazi experimentations. A harsh change of direction, which is to be expected from Fugazi now and again. My interpretation of Closed Caption is of finding alienation and dissention in scenes where everyone supposedly gets on. It seems scenes cannot co-exist due to nature and individualism. Maybe its a song about sharing a secret, a critical call of our music or maybe I'm missing the point. There's a lengthy drum part at the close which isn't always there. Following is the mesmerising, almost narcotic, Floating Boy. The song floats through, screaming guitars grab the centre portion which then break into a hardcore band seemingly replicating the sound of waves crashing into the coast line, full stopping with incendiary guitar. Foreman's Dog flows smoother seemingly concerned with dissatisfaction, crap vocation and weak distraction. Arpeggiator is fully blown math rock as performed by..... This isn't a well rounded record, its blunt as fuck, as all the best ones are. If you're not a Fugazi fan now this album is unlikely to make you one but if you are you'll be content with this corruption. Definition as punk is an insult. Fuck, that was a bit fanboy.

Shellac - Terraform (Touch And Go)
A wait is always worth for a new Shellac record but sadly when they do surface they do a great injustice to the world of alternative rock showing almost everything being lauded up and wiping the floor with their carcasses. Listening to this record is like listening to a person being pushed to far which in turn reflects onto the listener. Restrained and intense, it often gets so infuriating when things get pushed beyond the edge. The lead track gave me RSI. Thank you fuck you Steve Albini. I'll add by stating this is easily better than Action Park. This is the band that is most tight. Bob Weston drags each song along as Albini prepares to deal a blow, his voice sounding like a desperate wildman, a much more sinister Iggy crossed with Steven Jesse Bernstein. Once opener Didn't We Deserve A Look At You The Way You Really (seemingly included just as a sheer sign of defiance) is out the way it kicks it heals in hard. House Full Of Garbage climaxes well with me thanks to its sinister tones and harsh observation/narration. The closer sounds like an enormous Joy Division song. And you just know the thought of people listening to this and scratching their heads is putting a big sloppy grin on Steve Albini's snarling face.

The Jesus Lizard - Blue (Crapitol)
A major in one sense I guess. Yow still has a cow and the band still batter rock but there is just something wrongly big deal about this record, taming it more than it ought to be tamed. There was always a hard, sharp, minimal edge to previous outings which has now softened with the addition of atmospherics and unwanted guitar parts. Gripe over, I Can Learn gets the album started correctly with what we all like. Play it loud and break something in your room once more. Yow sadly now sounds more goofy than psychotic, more Gibby than Iggy. Needles For Teeth sounds almost industrial. At times it plods, at times it rocks. There is better, there is worse. The pants pictures inside rule.

Arab Strap - Philophobia (Chemikal Underground)
Nice cover pervy, I got the piss took out of me for buying this. And I guess I deserved it. My initial response is that this is not as magic as The Week Never Starts by a long chalk but then again what else have I bought in the past which sounded so right immediately. They've laboured on this one I think, the access to additional resources being overly evident. Their silence was once so loud. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll think about SEX because that's an Arab Strap sitting on your todger. Naturally the first favourites are the familiar (Soaps, Here We Go, One Day...). New Birds stands out and Afterwards sees some nice duet action. Its still early days so it still needs time to grow. You know what to expect. Only now its longer. If Arab Strap was a weather forecast it would be pissing down.

Bardo Pond - Lapsed (Matador)
The case says space rock. Who knew. I'm into this from the start, the most bleary but hardest guitar sound in history lifts it off. It has blown my stereo speakers (FACT!). Its absolutely a noise thing, who wants to listen to harmonies, hooks or even vocals all the time. Of course you find yourself drifting away, in one direction or another but here we're not dealing with one specific fodder. The best is left to the finale with the epic Aldrin that builds into a cauldron of the hottest sonic soup.

Three Second Kiss - Everyday Everyman (Wide Records via Southern)
This sounds like math and emo to me. From Italy. The name originates from a censorship code in American movies from the 40's, whereby on screen kisses could last no longer than.... I love bands like this, that make everything, every aspect, sound difficult and integral. Stark in both the English and the German sense of the word, this is a controlled record

Tortoise - TNT (City Slang)
I've kind of avoided Tortoise and most things post rock. This sounds obviously like Aerial M to me and others, except with much more going on. It sadly also fails to touch as many nerves with me but whatever I'm lost in music I've heard described as Tesco music. The opening has a jazzy feel and the second track Ten Day Interval proves to be the highlight as it trundles along deliciously just before the fattest, most levelling hook anywhere on this record. Machine drums appear towards the end giving it an almost dance flavour at that point and making it the most interesting portion of the album, worthy of the title TNT.

Ricky Spontane - Spontane Time (Old Eagle Recordings)
Here is a funny proposition, I could swear at times it was Dawn Of The Replicants and then it switches to a different genre. This is flappy (read energetic) rock n roll with a 90's twist like Soulbossa with early Fall influenced tuneage. There's some surf, some fuzz but surprisingly zero pseudo punk. Imagine a Top 40 Blues Explosion on downers, for starters, that isn't terrible. There's fun to be had here.

Various - Where You're Going..... (Grand Royal)
This is the Grand Royal sampler and its essential. And that's no exaggeration at only 3.99. B-Boys x 2 mix with, surprisingly, amazing tracks from Buffalo Daughter, Luscious Jackson, Kostars, Butter 08 and the Josephine Wiggs Experience. Gimp boy Ben Lee worries as his songs (both solo and Noise Addict) I find both catchy. Burp. The exclusion of GR signees Bis and Atari Teenage Riot sucks but nevermind. See you soon.

Various - The Virus That Wouldn't Die (Alternative Tentacles)
One of the best labels in history release a brand new sampler that includes Wesley Willis performing the Chicken Cow and The Dicks doing Hate The Police in addition to the anti-career/vocation song by Dead Kennedys, Life Sentence. Other compilations lack anything nearing this. Elsewhere Mumba Abu-Jamal's A Bright Shining Hell is horrific and amazing. Such artists make AT more than just another punk label and illustrate where Biafra's heads still at.

Various - Snakebite City Seven (Bluefire)
Nearly every band here is new wave. Bad. Travis Cut do the best track here.

Various - Abuse Your Friends (Abuse)
By buying them this CD.