Pine Hill Haints

Bury Your Hate In A Shallow Grave

Lelp Recordings

****

While the "Black Heart Procession of country" tag might hold some weight for the Pine Hill Haints, Bury Your Hate In A Shallow Grave carves deep the concept that this band is on the cusp of something truly wonderful. Producer Calvin Johnson keeps things true to the band's haunted jug band sound, making the music of Bury Your Hate In A Shallow Grave sound as if it's being broadcast from the open boxcar door of a train leaving town forever. Chock it up to their deep Southern roots (Tennessee & Alabama both operate as the band's home) or the fact that they are bold enough to make punk music from a makeshift assembly of washtub bass, mandolin, musical saw, and washboard, but whatever the case, this release is a snapshot of a band on the verge of greatness. EZRA ACE CARAEFF

7 YEAR RABBIT CYCLE

Wind Machines

(Free Porcupine Society)

****

At its best, punk rock music is a willfully indefinable genre. 7 Year Rabbit Cycle contains all of the elements that would allow your average CEO or lunch lady to define them as "punk" (petulant and/or terrifying vocals, zealously dissonant guitars, sometimes explicitly political lyrics), but these traits come incidental to a deeper, overriding artistic intent. Unlike some of their more lumber-headed poli-punk predecessors, (NOFX, say) 7YRC are as aggressively democratic in form as they are in theory. Nearly every member of the band sings at various times, and many of the songs are constructed in a skeletal way that demands the tiny, fragmentary compositional forces of every player to achieve full realization. Amongst the animalistic punk workouts (including a pretty straight cover of Black Flag's "Gimme Gimme Gimme") there are some utterly harrowing and out moments. Most of the lyrics deal with either our current landscape of utter political terror or the more uncontrollable and untamed forces of the natural world. Wind Machines seems to be a sort of calling down of these forces to wash away our crippling, slow tyranny; winds of change, winds of death, whatever. SAM MICKENS

SPECS ONE

Return of The Artist

(Abductions)

****

Open the sleeve of Specs One's new CD, Return of the Artist, and you'll find an image of the towers that dominate the east side of downtown Seattle. This is the realm of Specs One--an urban reality determined by corporate institutions. Return of the Artist, however, isn't political or didactic; it doesn't directly challenge capitalism and the exploitative practices that limit opportunities for black men like Specs One. Simply, this is the city in which he must (or is condemned to) make his art: hiphop. Nothing but beauty streams out of Spec's beat machine, and his raps addresses the listener intimately, as if he were rapping to you alone. CHARLES MUDEDE

**** The Dali

*** The Musketeer

** The Handlebar

* The Hitler