Fields & Streams 2-CD Comp
(Kill Rock Stars)

The label Kill Rock Stars started with a bitchin' comp called Kill Rock Stars, featuring new underground music by Bratmobile, NOU, Bikini Kill, and my favorite at the time, Infamous Menagerie, that paved the way for the next billion years of great records, not to mention perpetuating KRS' super ethics and explosive music that runs the gamut of genre, but always manages to be a little left of the switchboard. So Fields & Streams is the next entry in the "Slim Moon is wicked awesome" trophy case, jam-packed with nail-gun/lo-fi punk (Erase Errata, Bangs, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Red Monkey), electric party pop (Stereo Total, Tender Trap), cool weirdos (Dada Swing, Deerhoof) and more rad girls in rock bands on one comp than most labels put out... at all, really. Hmm. Unlike a lot of similarly established independent labels, this record shows that KRS keeps up with the freshest and newest, up-to-date/innovative yet quality sounds, while still keeping its identity and not falling into trendy pitfalls. All our hearts should glow right now. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

Deep Blue Hearts and Solid Hands

On Deep Blue Hearts and Solid Hands, sighing guitars and gorgeously depressive female vocals are pushed along by sparse, patient drumming and a secret logic that only careful listening will reveal. Wussom*Pow! plays quietly not because they dislike volume, but because they understand its value when they make us wait for it. On "Days and Nights," the long, slow note and crashing cymbal that end the song make for a dizzying and gratifying moment, if only because it is so unexpected after the twenty or so sleepy minutes that lead up to it. This is a subtle album that requires dedicated listening, but it's worth it. OWEN ASHWORTH

The Truth in a Beautiful Lie
(Secret Decoder Records)

Bella Fayes are really into their particular pop-rock thing; they ooze hyper earnestness, like they're the type of people that would use the "Is your dad a thief?" pick-up line. (I liken their enthusiasm to John Cougar Mellencamp's devotion to being a small-town country boy). The vocals are enunciated and over-the-top serious, almost to the point of seeming ironic--but yeah... they're not. You can picture the singer swinging back and forth, humping the microphone stand, seductively looking out at the crowd, swallowing his mic: "Oh yes ladies, I'm so sincere, I'm singing about my inner stuggle, you want me, oh yes, you do." The music is pretty, sharp, and full, each instrument is distinct and heartfelt, and they do some My Bloody warbly effects that I'm always into. Overall, though, it's just too typical and the vocal cheesefest makes me want to burn a book of bad poetry. KATIE SHIMER