Spirit in Stone

(Quannum Projects)

Portland's finest contributions to the hip-hop world lay down the kind of awe-inspiring debut that few acts can ever achieve in a career behind the mic. While it might be easy to write them off since this town/scene/paper keeps hyping them up to no end, the Lifesavas waste little time in delivering mind-boggingly intelligent rhymes, infectious beats, and an overall creativity that will keep an ear-to-ear smile on both the badest b-boy and the most timid indie rocker. Keep this up Lifesavas, and you'll be riding down Burnside in your very own ticker-tape parade. CM

mondo generator

A Drug Problem That Never Existed

(Ipecac Recordings/Rekords Rekords)


Proof that getting the best people involved doesn't always lead to great results, Mondo Generator take from the top of the desert-rock crop and drops the ball in a mess of unfocused material.

Generator has been the side project of Queens of the Stone Age bassist/singer Nick Oliveri since 1997, and for the band's second release he reunites with drummer Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Fu Manchu), guitarist Dave Catching (QOTSA, earthlings?), and bassist Molly Maguire (earthlings?, Yellow #5), a topnotch crew that fumbles through a mix of thundering desert rock, psychedelic garage, and testosterone-on-overdrive hard rock. While the disc definitely has its moments (which include the gorgeous "Four Corners," a reminder that the band should use Mark Lanegan's rough-hewn vocals as often as possible), the caveman bravado of "Like You Want"--with lyrics like "I'm gonna give it to ya baby like ya want, yah"--dumbs things down beneath even the worst AC/DC wannabe garage band. Overall, A Drug Problem That Never Existed sounds like Oliveri and friends fucking around on a bunch of demos, a collection of material that even the most avid QOTSA fan doesn't need to be troubled with. JENNIFER MAERZ


The End Men Sing

(Lelp Recordings)


Lucas Bernhardt's music is nothing special. One guy, an acoustic guitar, sparse instrumental complements, elementary recording--the usual. So why spend an ounce of ink on The End Men Sing, the Portland singer's latest bedroom pop record under the Cuspidor namesake? Because Bernhardt has a way of taking "nothing special" and fully exploiting the form for its innately subtle beauty. There's an indefinable charm in watching the quiet kid in class as he stares at the floor and swings his ankle-crossed legs: simple, sweet, predictable--and easy to romanticize. Add some quaint vocals and a little bit of lyrical allegory, and you've got yourself a Cuspidor record: rock-solid bedroom pop, nothing more, nothing less. And though the quality rarely wanes, the only complaint I can muster about The End Men Sing is that, at 22 tracks, it's something of a thick pill to swallow. ZAC PENNINGTON

**** Daniel Baldwin

*** Alec Baldwin

** William Baldwin

* Stephen Baldwin