**** "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler
*** Chuck "The Bayonne Bleeder" Wepner
** Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns
* Bobby "No Dice" Chacon

THE PUPILS
S/T
(Dischord)
**1/2

From the alarmingly crappy El Guapo, to the inexcusably tired sounds of The Capitol City Dusters, to the barely above mediocre The Pupils, the long-respected DC label Dischord seems to be experiencing a bit of a quality crisis these days. Perhaps releasing friends' albums is to blame. But as it becomes easier for any old band to put out a CD and further pollute the already troubled waters of new music, it's not okay for a landmark label with a fantastic track record for great underground rock music like Discord to vomit out such garbage. To be fair, that's more in regards to the aforementioned bands than the Pupils, consisting of Daniel (vocalist) and Asa (guitarist) of Lungfish, and who will likely get the "diehard fans of Lungfish... "commentary. Similarly repetitious, hypnotizing guitar lines, along with the trademark tone-motor Lungfish vocals set in a "Lo-fi-side project" environment to a cheap drum machine leaves you guessing: Was that good? Barely. Was that vanity? Most likely. JOE FAUSTIN KELLY

THE BLACK KEYS
The Big Come Up

(Alive)
***

I hate the White Stripes. For real. When they were first hyped, I was promised "hella negro," but all I got was honky college... "indie" shit and hateful glances when I called 'em out as such. Well, this band, the Black Keys, is closer to the ideal I expected from the WS hype. Right, the BKs are a two-piece who swing the "no-fi/garage," but don't slurrve it up with saccharine "indie" nods. Rather, they're straightforward white kids in a lazy groovin' "blue" mood... much like Kimbrough/Burnside's thumpin'. Tho' their take on the Beatles' "She Said She Said" is a bit outta place. Anyway, their chops are solid enough they don't bother getting' riffy or frantic as other contemporary blues/garage bands, which, for me, is a nice change from the typical stomp. And the guy don't scream, he actually sings... soulfully, like, he's got husk in his huckle buck... and I thought the good 'uns were gone. MIKE NIPPER

SCIENZ OF LIFE
Project Overground: The Scienz Experimental
(Sub Verse)
***

Scienz Of Life's Project Overground contains some of the best hiphop I've heard this year. Based in New York and Atlanta, the band's themes are not original--they complain about rap/R&B sellouts, emphasize b-boy values, and are positively Afrocentric. The level of song arrangement is where Scienz of Life stand out, though. Tracks like "Yikes!!!" (which features the melancholy M.F. Doom) and "Play No More" are constructed with a luxurious sense of spacing that recalls late Miles Davis (Footprints, Bitches Brew). Several songs are built around pensive piano loops, others have basslines that suddenly enter and then leave for several measures. Nothing on the CD is rushed, everything is slowly and patiently considered. Scienz of Life have made a scienz of hiphop. CHARLES MUDEDE