Mortal Mirror
(Kill Rock Stars)

This is the second record from Quix*o*tic, which includes Orthrelm's Mick Barr, Mira Billotte, and her sister, D.C.'s Original R.G. Christina Billotte, who used to sing and play guitar in the bands Autoclave and Slant 6. Those bands ruled due to Christina's guitar style (all angles and iron) and vocal style (husky and cryptic, like marbles rolling over her vocal cords). The ideas behind Quix*o*tic are interesting--spare, tough guitar melodies similar to obscure '50s cowboy and surf, plus some Yma Sumac--and, with a dose of the traditional Billotte punk, it seems as mysteriously creepy as sepia photos. (Quix*o*tic have been reading the magazine Cool and Strange Music.) Not the newest sound, but one that's employed very rarely. Maybe it's the scary cover photo, but in context, Mira and Christina's vocals are haunting, and tuff in a burlesque sorta way. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

(The Self-Starter Foundation)

I didn't realize how much I missed Boycrazy, Portland's now-defunct kings and queens of pop, until I really sat down and listened to this disc. GODDAMN! WHYYYYY? At any rate, Palomar fills a little hole in my heart by being one of the tightest indiepop bands ever. These great musicians play super-fast, fun, full riffs, great drumming, and sweet lady/man melodies that are complicated and catchy without being annoying, dusted with an uncontrollable, spastic glee. There are rough points--the Shirley Temple melody overdose of the line, "When you whistle that means you're happy" briefly makes me want to rip out the throat of the singer--but my reactionary anger is calmed by the fact that Palomar can hang with a loud guitar and a hot rhythm. JS

(Converge Records)

Ariane opens with a VERY '80s disco beat, a funky swathe of guitar and a woman singing "New York/L.A./Jamaica!" It's a pretty fresh blend of dancehall vocals/beats and enough sampleable bass hooks to rival an ESG record. In fact, it does sound extremely '80s--like you discovered the record in the thrift bin between Chic and the Tom Tom Club--a great party album to get the hip humpas sweating, assuming you are actually attending a party where people dance. What is somewhat puzzling about this record is the fact that its mysterious creator, Ariane, is also known in some circles as Ari Up, from the motherfucking Slits. From uninhibited punk 14-year-old, to Jamaican dub reggae queen--Ari actually joined the New Age Steppers after the Slits, so it's not that weird, but it's still sorta weird. But it's pretty good dub, with Ari's gritty wail and some old-school sounding raps. It is a little lo-fi--but then, what else would you expect from Ari? JS