Osmani Stepper

Systemwide is back, and frankly, three years between discs is too long. While the BSI boys have been fighting to make Portland a safe haven for progressive dub by bulking up their label's roster, they seem to forget that it was their band that got this party started. Thankfully, the vacation's finally over. Osmani Stepper sees Systemwide returning in a big way, delivering six stellar grooves of nasty sound. "Vitori" is built with tantalizing, twisted noise, while the title track is a dance transmission from beyond the brain. UK artists Alpha & Omega and Rootsman weigh in with heavy remixes--the former bringing a traditional vibe with chants and Jamaican-style bass, the latter getting beat-intensive on "Contrapositive." The purest fruit comes in "Ripe Up," a moody, outer world import by mad scientists Sound Secretion, whose skills on a sequencer are always guaranteed to flip lids. The only complaint: it's too short. We need a new full-length, boys. Get to steppin'! JAMIE S. RICH

Hot Pinball Rock Vol. 1
(Extra Ball Records)

It's amazing there are enough songs about pinball to fill a whole CD (much less one that does not include multiple remakes of "Pinball Wizard"). Those cats at multiball zine and Extra Ball Records have some serious drive when it comes to "the game." Their new compilation CD is not half-bad, with a slew of dance-worthy rock songs (i.e., The Dirtbombs' "Cedar Point '76") and a few random tracks, like the folky "Ballyhoo Blues" (Dickel Brothers) and Steve Mackay's horn-based "Punk Machine." In all honesty, I had very low expectations for this disc (check out the drunkards on the cover and you'll know why), but Hot Pinball Rock Vol. 1 managed to impress me and remind me of a valuable lesson: Never underestimate the powers of world-class ballers. KATIE SHIMER

(Red 76)

This EP, PDX art collective Red 76's first release, is tinged with somber whiskey and smutty tumbleweeds. Corrina Repp, a swampy-twanged whisperer, wisely plays her guitar just enough to fill in the spots when she's not singing. Her lyrics are stream-of-conscious scribblings, like a bitter woman's diary; their honesty can be to her advantage, but in some places sound like she wasn't quite sure what to write or where to sing. Big Spider Tribe offers the hot end of the CD, the part reminiscent of moonshine, sweaty fistfights, and sexy yearning. "Bison Epic," and "Dance!" offer a workhorse, blue grit sound that'll tease you into thinking you smell cedar and smoke. JULIANNE SHEPHERD