Beneath the shade of a mesh hat he tells his tale: one of suburban sadness played by broken robots with broken lives. Grandaddy's Jason Lytle is indeed a storyteller, and as he's spent years moping around his gloomy house on the wrong end of the cul-de-sac, yarning fables as fantastic as 2000's The Sophtware Slump, it's never felt like time wasted. But damn if nothing stings like time apart. Never as poetic or poignant as his last longplayer, the three-years-in-the-making Sumday often finds Lytle stumbling around in the shed out back, searching for an underground anthem of his own. The porch light is on and the El Caminos are bumping his jams, but out in central California (where the little things are everything and the big things are bore) Lytle has no idea where the fuck he belongs. This is the soundtrack to your summer. Too bad: it could've been the story of your life. TREVOR KELLEY


Hanging With The Balls

(The Balls)

* * 1/2

If you've never seen Storm & The Balls do their weekly gig at Dante's, you should definitely do so before purchasing Hanging With The Balls. Storm Large's singing is as flawless live as on any recording, but the hamming she does plays heavily into the show. It's too bad there aren't snippets of onstage bantering spliced between the songs to capture some of the same effect. On its own, the CD's a little strange. Clearly, Storm's incredibly talented--moving, even. And the lounge style suits her well. The fact that it's all covers is bewildering--and not just covers, but sometimes medleys of covers. There are a few heart-stoppers, especially "I Want You To Die," and "I Want You To Want Me," but why the commitment to karaoke? MARJORIE SKINNER



(Drag City)


Punk officially divorced itself from ska years ago, but the smiley-faced, suit-wearing spawn of this annoying yet ultimately harmless union still roam the earth, playing their perky tunes to the 100-or-so people at each tour stop who still care. When metal merged with rap, empty aggression and creative bankruptcy earned promotions while raw power and street-savvy soul got pink-slipped. Now, with smooth jazz meeting experimental punk, hybrid mania has officially gone too far. Azita hails from eccentric outfits such as Scissor Girls and Bride of No No, but it's difficult to trace a path between the outlandish noisemaking of her past and the painfully pleasant piano productions of her present. The connection could be her Yoko-esque vocal outbursts. At its catchiest, Enantiodromia recalls Ben Folds--until Azita starts singing, at which point it conjures images of Folds unceremoniously dumping his hefty instrument on some wild animal, then pounding away on the keys, oblivious to its tortured, tone-deaf cries. ANDREW MILLER

**** 4

*** 3

** 2

* 1