CD Review 

CEX

Maryland Mansions

**

(Jade Tree)

Ooops. A note to anyone else semi-talented and stuck in the suburbs: should you find yourself nicking playfully from Trent Reznor's book of loath, make sure the album it appears on doesn't also include a tongue-in-cheek reference to his paler-than-thou former pal. Of course, when you're it-kid Rjyan Kidwell, you can probably get away with just about anything, even if that includes making fun of your influences while borrowing just as heavily from them. This may explain why the convincing industrial pop of "Take Pills" stands on the lawns of these Mansions head and shoulders above the rest of the record's glitch 'n' kitsch bullshitting, like the perfect drug in the midst of a rather predictable party. But there are seven other songs here, all of which find Kidwell playing with himself as much as his hard drive. If this guy is supposed to be laptop-pop's rebel prince, why does he sound so utterly bored? TREVOR KELLEY

THE SEMS

Drift

(Audraglint)

**

Back when the first Bush president was finishing out his undistinguished term, tons of bands showed their love for My Bloody Valentine's 1991 classic, Loveless, by trying to replicate it. Most of them are long forgotten (Drop Nineteens? Smashing Orange?) or are exploring much different territory (Lilys, Swirlies). These Kevin Shields disciples tried mightily to make their guitars sound like they were emanating from seashells the size of the Liberty Bell, while whispering post-coitally through gauzy curtains about unattainable love. The Sems follow in the slipstream of MBV's followers, which makes their music akin to a Xerox of a Xerox. While this sort of third-generation, blurry reproduction of a seminal sound isn't without its charm, it doesn't exactly demand your attention. DAVE SEGAL

CRACK: WE ARE ROCK

Cosmic Mind Flight

(Tigerbeat6)

***

Fed up with punky '80s-style electro-pop yet? Well, let one more band into your brittle heart: Crack: We Are Rock. Sure, C:WAR vocalists L'erin and Le Kim sing in unison with emotionless hauteur, like dominatrixes in mid-sized cities. But the sounds churned out by bandmates King Riff and Obscuratron deviate into much more anti-social, mad-scientist temperaments. After starting with a sub-zero funereal dirge and a skewed homage to Flying Lizards' cover of "Money," C:WAR get down to the serious task of jangling your nerves like an iller-tempered Suicide or Devo. While buoyant, 110-bpm tracks like "The Skull" will win the hearts of party-centric DJs, it's the band's more outre excursions that'll keep me returning to Cosmic Mind Flight. The title track's analog-synth cauldron gurgles with lysergic potency, while "Colonial" and "Country Cat" tap into infernal frequencies that would bring approving cackles from Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. DS

**** Nebraska Tenderlion

*** Black Hills Sirloin Tips

** Mexican Flank Steak

* Yakima Brain n' Beef Stew

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