Ming & FS
Back to One
(Spun Records)
***

Ming & FS, the DJ/producer duo, play music with a cool, mellow, moody vibe that would be well matched with bars like East or Tube. Throw this shit on when friends come over, gain some instant cool points, and then dim the lights, grab a bottle of Monopolova, and shake up a few dirty martinis. Wow. You're a pimp. Nice leather bracelet. Bitchin' Seven jeans. Anyway, you get the picture. Ming & FS's latest album, Back To One, is a great mix of hiphop and ambient beats, voice samples, guest emceeing, and funk--but thankfully, not too much funk. These guys have achieved a balance between so many different genres that it's hard to name them all, but who needs to categorize--their disc is great. Sure, it drags in some places, but nobody's perfect. KATIE SHIMER

Breather Resist
Charmer
(Jade Tree)
****

My new favorite band, Breather Resist, is from Louisville, Kentucky--a lush, mossy land of Derby Week hoopla, good mint juleps, and Civil War ghosts. Their sound is the cramped, confused, and tangled soul of Southern American teenage freaked-out-ness. It's the inner holy-shit-why-am-I-even-alive hormonal turmoil busting the dam and flooding the valley with brutal, passionate hardcore battened down by two-ton speed metal riffs and singer Steve Sindoni closing his eyes, throwing his ratty head back, and losing his mind on the club floor. Songs brood slow and sludgy, shuddering into a grind before speeding up and helter-skeltering away, but then--what's this?--suddenly we're crawling along in a Pink Floyd psyche shuffle, high seagull cries of feedback, and "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" IMAX astronaut journeys. I bet these guys really love playing this music--no matter how heartbreakingly earnest it is. ADAM GNADE

Various Artists
Fork Ends
(Audio Dregs)
****

Painter, musician and record store clerk Eric Mast (AKA E*Rock) always looks like he just woke up, but his label Audio Dregs is totally on the ball. Fork Ends has 16 unreleased tracks from a Portland-heavy (but trés international) crew. It's experimental music made by people equally in love with melody and invention, with highlights provided by Nice Nice, Frz, Lullatone, Honey & Colleen, Greg Davis, and Nudge. Retailing for $6, it's packed with music that, back when I was a speedball freak, I used to spend $80 a day to hear in my head for maybe five minutes before I collapsed underneath a park bench. Skittery post-pop lullabies and lovely dub drones bring to mind that moment in Toy Story when the bad kid's recombinant toys come alive. Didac Lagarriga's "Turu" sounds like a ballad to outmoded robots, while Lineland's "Meriwether" is a funk party thrown by My Little Pony in the year 2525. Huzzah. MIKE MCGONIGAL

**** Mr Mxyzptlk
*** Bizarro Superman
** The Joker
* Titano