400 Boys
(Road Cone)

Offering a far more ambitious scope than their debut, 400 Boys fully realizes Hochenkeit's visionary take on spacerock, krautrock, and ethnic detritus. A pair of tracks even venture into fascinating cosmic funk grooves, while the rest is the more laid-back, exotic meditation-drift the 'Keit are known for. The 14-minute title track, with Arabic flute and washes of percussion, shimmers like a desert mirage, whereas "Please Turn Out the Sun," uses mantra-rock riffs that slowly evolve and devolve. Sonic twists, like the jarring, sample snippet at the end of "Seen" and the strange spoken word at the beginning of "Please Turn out the Sun" enhance the otherworldliness of the music. 400 Boys delves deeper into the other worlds that I Love You, as good as it was, merely hinted at. ROLF SEMPREBON

Ladies, Women and Girls

Three reasons why Bratmobile's records Real Janelle and Pottymouth were definitive in the music and energy of Riot Grrrl: "I would die to hate you/I would die to not care anymore"; Allison Wolfe's shredded, off-key shrieking; the frenzied guitar and drum fits that sounded like they were recorded from the other side of a long hallway. And like Riot Grrrl, Bratmobile retains certain philosophies on Ladies, yet their original purpose has been filtered by time and, let's face it, mainstream acceptance/co-option. The addition of bass and keyboards adds weight to their once-unfettered enthusiasm. It's not bad; it's just that at times, Allison, Erin, and Molly abandon their past's tearing-paper spirit for a fuller, more straightforward rock sound. The old school seeps through occasionally, but I dunno; as studio people say, I think this album's just too compressed. Might sound better on vinyl? JULIANNE SHEPHERD

Ordinary Boy

Good EPs are like making out in middle school; it's great, but due to the presence of your mom cooking dinner just one room away--or the incredible shortness of the CD--there's no way to further enjoy the activity. So you just keep doing the same thing (or, for the purposes of this metaphor, push the repeat button on the CD). Well, as soon as Electric Living put out their first LP, they and I will be going all the way. They're emo-pop, appropriate for a harmless daydream about your old lover, or maybe just the indulgence of a tortured-artist kind of mood. On this two-song single, it's the precious mix of vocals that will really catch you, harmonies so touching, mixed with that simple, needy guitar, that you too will swear your fidelity to their first complete work. KATIA DUNN