**** EuroBear Monthly
*** Men In Uniform
** Smooth Buddies
* Latin Inches

Lifted, or the Story is in the Soil, Keep your Ear to the Ground
With over 73 minutes of music, it's safe to say that the cumbersome-titled Lifted... is the most ambitious effort by Conor Oberst and company. Backed by an army of fellow Omaha musicians who add to the indulgent orchestral feel of the record, it's a far cry from the broken-hearted Oberst's early four-track days. Like always, his lyrics are over-the-top in that Prozac-popping, teenage diary-keeper way--but they are saved by Oberst's sincere delivery and use of clever narration. It's also ironic that on a record so lavish and delicate, the most powerful song is the lone stripped-down acoustic number, "Waste of Paint," which borrows heavily from a Basement Tapes-era Bob Dylan and his long-winded, meandering prose. While its heavy-handed lyrical content might not be for everyone; there is no denying that Lifted... is a downright stunning record by a performer who shows endless talent. CARMELO MARTINEZ

All Worked Up
(Ripoff Records)
When was the last time you heard a real punk rock record? I'm talking about fist-in-the-air, punk fucking rock; not the garage blues; not the latest Stones wannabees tarted up like punks. If it's been awhile, might I suggest the Flip-tops? Led by the Mercury's own highly animated (and apparently very pissed off) Joel Jett, they speed through their debut faster than you can trade your white belts in for studded ones. Sounding like the mutant babies of The Briefs and the earlier days of The Stitches, this is the perfect LP for a Saturday night ripe with sweating, bopping, and sneering. Buy it now, or cry later! CHAZZ MADRIGAL

From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots
While New Jersey trio Dälek defiantly claim they're hiphop, most fans of the genre will likely scratch their heads rather than nod 'em to From Filthy Tongue... The follow-up to their excellently eccentric debut, 1998's Negro Necro Nekros, Tongue boasts production more in line with El-P's psychedelic bombast and Techno Animal's abrasive heaviness than with the fussy sterility that marks most 21st-century hiphop.

But how's the rapping? MC Dälek flows with a low-key, seething intensity, waxing spiritual about individuality and keeping hiphop (sur)real, like a subterranean Eric B. Despite being buried in the mix, Dälek's words poke third eyes, while producer Oktopus and DJ Still pile sitars, tablas, agitated scratching, and scathing white noise over lumbering funk beats.

The best hiphop scorns purism. Dälek realize this: Their music contains multitudes of disparate sonic elements. With Tongue, they levitate themselves to the proverbial next level along with hiphop innovators Public Enemy, New Kingdom, and the recently defunct Antipop Consortium. DAVE SEGAL