Songs for an Unborn Sun

(Temporary Residence)


Unless you possess the deadpan grandeur of Mark Kozelek, the stoic gravitas of Michael Gira, or the crafty acting skills and chutzpah of Will Oldham and Vincent Gallo, you will likely fail to pull off the increasingly common bare-bones-troubadour shtick in 2K3. Unfortunately, Lazarus (bedroom auteur Trevor Montgomery with production aid from Marty Anderson) lacks these crucial traits. However, if you like painfully earnest, molasses-slow singer-songwriter minimalism with ghostly wisps of electronics, then Songs for an Unborn Sun will be just your mug of mead. Sure, Montgomery seemingly has crouched many an hour over his notepad and acoustic guitar; Songs is meticulously crafted and sometimes tenderly pretty. But a cloying preciousness hangs over the project, reminding me of enduring too many coffeehouse folkies. Still, better this kind of hushed melodicism than the whiny theatrics of "emocore." DAVE SEGAL


This is Meant to Hurt You

(Jade Tree)


Talk about a band that roars through several rock genres at breakneck speed: over the course of five songs (and in under 20 minutes) Seattle's These Arms Are Snakes careen through math and post hardcore, make brief but energizing pit stops at Boys Life-esque emo and Cure-esque goth--culminating in an astounding finish that makes you want to relive it all over again (especially "Run it Through the Dog"). Featuring former members of Botch and Kill Sadie, the vocals are decidedly less harrowing than might be expected, yet maintain elements of textural surprise. Singer Steve Snere's varied and physically theatrical live style comes through on record loud and clear. Produced by Matt Bayles, This is Meant to Hurt You is also meant to revive you. KATHLEEN WILSON


The Grey Area

(One Drop Recordings)


I have argued elsewhere that hiphop's presentation of black America is not so much CNN as cinema. Tracks like Notorious B.I.G.'s "Somebody's Gotta Die," Anti-Pop Consortium's "9.99," and Onry Ozzborn's "The Altar" (which opens The Grey Area, his latest release) are mini-movies with sonic effects, action scenes, and dramatic tension. Ozzborn's eerie scenarios find their motion-picture doubles in the mood and geography of The X Files, the madness of Kubrick's The Shining, and the erotic gore of Blade. Even the name of Ozzborn's second solo CD, The Grey Area, like that of his first release, Alone, sounds like the title of a horror movie. Indeed, The Grey Area might easily have been called Alone 2, as track after track covers the same psychic terrain with the same freaky success. One day in the future we will walk into a theater with seats facing a big, flat speaker (a wall of sound), and enjoy with our eyes closed and ears wide open the early-21st-century sonic cinema of horror master Onry Ozzborn. CHARLES MUDEDE

**** The Cocteau Twins

*** The Minnesota Twins

** The Thompson Twins

* The Olson Twins