**** Jude Law
*** Toastboday McMuscle
** Jim Huie
* Marcus Archambeaul

Memoirs of the Elephantman
(Afterlife Recordz)

I paid $15 for this CD-R at Bus Driver's show a couple weeks ago (you can get it at independent record stores with a good hip hop selection or www.foolblown.com), and every second is worth it. Bus Driver raps fast, his voice throaty and needle-like, and his lips are flexible as rubber bands. Even when rhyming at light speed, he eases over the words in a melodic din, with witty lyrics that infer a quick-tongued comedian ("I won't dance/With an uncoordinated motherfucker like you"). Much of his backup consists of a drum machine and MIDI keyboards, giving Memoirs this cool feel that's less retro than entirely unlike anything most rappers aspire to. This is the kind of toying with linguistics and humor that's so refreshing about underground hip hop right now, and Bus Driver is extremely talented. JULIANNE SHEPHERD


From Burnt Orange To Midnight Blue
(In Music We Trust)

On this, the inaugural release from In Music We Trust records, Sean Croghan has assembled a who's who of Portland indie musicians. From members of the Cravedog family to The Minders and No. 2, the sleeve notes read like a local fan's dream come true. For the most part, it is. The musicianship is solid, but the very fact that it's Sean and Hired Guns as opposed to a working band prevents the album from living up to its potential. Although the songs are some of the best Croghan has written, this just doesn't have the spark that Crackerbash or Jr. High had on record. Croghan also needs to learn to differentiate between volume and emotion. He's a wailer, always has been, but a constant fortissimo doesn't do these lyrics and arrangements justice. One is left with the disappointment in knowing that this could have been better. Hopefully next time. MURRAY CIZON

Sweep the Desert

I've NOT enuff time or words to holler 'bout how I REALLY feel 'bout the Swell Maps. SO, for some sake of "economy," my suggestion is that y'all punkers and self-declared "in the know" indie drones NEED to find out exactly what this band means to YOU! I know that might seem, well, sappy, BUT... whether or not you know it, your definition of "taste" and what you diggin' now was, in part, designed by SM! Why? SM was playing clever, art-damaged punk, sans pretense, and devoid of too many cumbersome cerebral notions (um... tho' now you'd probably say they was "indie"-soundin'), and they did it all before mosta y'all was born! Right, so you owe it to yer ass to get this... AND SM's other recent collection, International Rescue. Oh, and if you wanna know what an ex-Map (Nikki Sudden) has been up to since 'bout '80, snag The Last Bandit. It's a new "Best of" kinda deal, and much more on the pop rockin' side of things. MIKE NIPPER