Push Barman To Open Old Wounds

To be fair, you should probably already own everything on this tremendously functional compilation--finally collecting all of the band's many pre-Rough Trade EPs onto a couple of extremely compact discs--but if not, you officially no longer have an excuse. Though shoddily packaged in a fashion that reeks of a post-Matador label cash-in Push Barman To Open Old Wounds represents in many ways the finest achievements in contemporary pop music to full exploit the potential of the EP format. Beginning with Belle & Sebastian's flawless trio of 1997 EPs and ending with their last truly successful recordings), Barman's chronological track list also unintentionally captures the band at its fatal turning point--2000's kitsch-soaked Legal Man--and its steady spiral. Strangely though, even as their full-lengths began to suffer, the band's EPs have escaped pretty much unscathed--a fact that, for better or worse, makes Barman the last B&S record you'll probably ever have to own. ZAC PENNINGTON

Nightingales EP
(Celestial Gang Records)

Available on the nascent Celestial Gang recording label, the experimental metal of Nightingales screams with arranged art piano and captivating blasts of caged energy. Orchestral magus and former Get Hustle-ian Mark Burden produced this pounding work of leaded metal, which amounts to the sound of a one-man-band speaking to himself. The title track sends howling measures and melodies through the air furiously--finishing with a multi-tempo, throbbing piano solo. The record concludes with violent riffs and glowing bass sounds thrashing into oblivion, Burden's vocals suddenly punching you in the gut. Independent metal rock should always be this perfect. AMY VECCHIONE

Demon Days

Ah, the Gorillaz--the most gimmicky, cheaply post-modern group around. With cartoon members (voiced by Blur's Damon Albarn, amongst a slew of others), their debut four years ago should have been merely a transient gimmick. Except their first album was polished, fast, smart, and only slightly less infectious than Ebola. With production by Danger Mouse, Demon Days is darker and more unpredictable, possessing a surreal, Technicolored persona that's more tangible than most real-life bands'. Sure, it's still glistening pop with cutsey hooks (both musically and conceptually), but show me one other band that can combine cartoons, Salt-n-Pepa samples, De La Soul appearances, and a rambling fable monologued by none other than Dennis Hopper, then thump it up with bass lines that make nearly every track imminently, repeatedly danceable. ERIK HENRIKSEN

**** Injera
*** Nan
** Baguette
* Pumpernickel