Electric Circus
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Electric Circus nobly tries to push hiphop boundaries, only to be destined for the psychedelic rock bargain bin. The story: Common and a talented crew of producers record at Electric Lady studios and pay homage to Hendrix. Result: If this is psychedelic hiphop, I need more drugs. The low end is thin, and attempts at new grooves sound like Casio polkas. Common's delivery and content, while always decent, also fails to progress enough to fill an album. Fortunately, there are some entertaining moments: Jil Scott on a Dixieland two-stepping shuffle, a phone sex joint featuring keyboard- and guitar-doinking from Prince, and the aptly titled "New Wave," featuring a beautiful chorus from Stereolab's Laetitia Sadler. Thanks much for trying, Common, but go back to the lab and come back when you're not faking the psych. AARON MILES

Rockpoolin' EP
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Like many electronic acts, Minotaur Shock is the work of one man, David Edwards. Unlike many electronic acts, Minotaur Shock's music is anything but cold and unfamiliar; instead, it's an ensemble of human feeling through serene electronic beats, keyboards, acoustic guitars, and sources yet unknown to the layman. The four instrumental songs on this EP remind me of the urgency to survive everyday worries and mishaps, and to rather ingest all that is benevolent in life. The music is smart without being hacker-ish, and spine tingling, yet devoid of sappiness. Whereas much IDM swerves off track into a realm of pretense, MS comes off with the honesty of a four-track folkie, while still freshly delivering the modern music maker's treatise. It's a follow up to last year's album, Chiff-Chaffs and Willow Warblers, and another citation of the reign of UK electronic music. KEVIN O'CONNOR

How to Start a Fire
(Tooth & Nail)
Further Seems Forever, the former rock outfit that once featured the emo Jason Presley, a.k.a. that creepy Dashboard Confessional dude, returns with some Floridian emo-core--which, for all intents and purposes, is about as moving as watching a video by Incubus (sans the hot singer who never wears a shirt). Completely devoid of anything legitimately emotional or sincere, How To Start A Fire is an exercise in indie labels aiming high with big-money production, and missing their desired target (Independent music? A good record?) by a lengthy country mile. To make things worse, these kids wave the Jesus Flag, thus nominating this for the coveted prize of worst fucking album, ever. The only benefit of really learning "how to start a fire," would be to gleefully light this terrible band aflame and torch them from existence. I cannot stress to you how embarrassing this record really is. CARMELO MARTINEZ

* * * * Hamburglar
* * * Birdie
* * The Fry Kids
* Grimace