The Futureheads

Full disclosure: The first record I bought was an XTC 7-inch of “Helicopter,” with the B-side “Ten Feet Tall.” That’s back in the day when radio was really, really cool. I heard “Helicopter” on Mighty Six Ninety, an early AM alternative station out of San Diego. Bought the record the next day at Music Market, and played it over and over again on my parent’s hi-fi that was as big as a coffin. There should be no wonder then as to why I’ve taken a fancy to The Futureheads…

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The Je Ne Sais Quoi

Every so often a band’s name alone grabs your attention, and even less often it actually makes good on its promise. One of those rare cases is The Je Ne Sais Quoi who, as it turns out, have that certain je ne sais quoi. If you were listening from another room, you might write them off as another vapid electro-clash happening. However, in more intimate settings, their tense, funky sound digs its fingernails into you and won’t let go. That said, “We Make Beginnings” wouldn’t be my first — or second, or third — choice for the single from their strong full-length debut. But no one asked me… (And if they had it would have been in Swedish, so I wouldn’t have understood anyway.)

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Hot Snakes

If per chance Drive Like Jehu changed your life at one point but you let yourself slip back into a rut, a coma, and you’ve been living under a rock (mortgage, marriage, career), snap out of it! Let the Snakes heal you. Or be damned. For the rest of you, start with these and work backwards. There may still be hope for you yet…

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Pilot to Gunner

Seaweed + Fugazi + Quicksand + Superchunk = Pilot to Gunner. Hey, this ain’t mathematics; no equation is perfect, but I’ll be damned if PtG aren’t channelling shards of four of my absolute favorite bands from the ’90s.

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Unfortunate for us Yanks, this gem hasn’t dropped on our side of the pond. Post-punk on its second time around. It’s not necessarily evident from these tracks, but this band’s politics are as sharp as their grooves. Gang of Four float your boat? Start downloading…

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The Briefs

Meet The Briefs, the punk rock band that kept me sane (and awake) during a recent 36-hour work marathon. Catchy as heck and dripping with snotty wit (promise me you’ll listen to “Silver Bullet”), The Briefs wear their influences — The Dickies, Undertones, Devo — like, well, tighty-whites pulled over their pants for all to enjoy. So, enjoy…

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Against Me!

Opening with the same explosive chord as the Pixies’ Bossanova, riffing right into a Killing Joke-like hook, and finally settling into Billy Bragg at 78 rpm, this brand of punk rock revolution is, regrettably, rare.

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