Must Have CD's

by Scott Thill

April showers may bring May flowers, but the month is so far relieving the world of its addled jones for good music as well. Which is a clever way of saying that the tide of crappy releases may finally be turning, as the Spring and Summer of 2005 are about to drop some serious sonics on a public hungry for something better than what they've been getting. Here are a select few of the coolest discs making their way to a store near you. Hopefully, you'll be able to secure them without sacrificing your rent.

Sleater-Kinney, The Woods

What is there left to be said about Sleater-Kinney? Time Magazine called them the most important rock band in the world back in 2001, at least a year before 9/11 and S-K's most politically heavy album, One Beat. Know what's changed since then? Nothing. Except for the fact that S-K jumped labels - from the super-indie Kill Rock Stars to the super-popular SubPop. Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss are still churning out thunderous rawk with a conscience just as ferociously as before. The Woods is much heavier than S-K's crossover success All Hands on the Bad One, but is just as addictive. Anthems like "The Fox," "Rollercoaster" and "What's Mine is Yours" rival the momentum of their earlier works, and with some blazing guitar solos thrown into the mix, The Woods may just be S-K's most lauded album yet. Stay tuned.

Shipping News, Flies the Fields

Weaned equally on the post-rock of their legendary fellow Kentuckians Slint and the avant-chamber music of Rachel's (who counts News-man Jason Noble as a member), Shipping News have been crafting unclassifiable atmospherics since 1996. Their last release, Three-Four, was a potent, diverse mixture of electronica, indie rock and psychedelia, but it was a compilation of the band's recently released EPs, which makes Flies the Fields their first proper album in quite a while. The wait has been well worth it. Whether it's the nervous-system assault of "Axons and Dendrites" or the ethereal danger of "It's Not Too Late," the Shipping News, as its name implies, makes cinematic music that transports you off of this terrorized rock onto terrain that is as disturbing if not more. Strange, beautiful stuff.

Z-Trip, Shifting Gears

DJs have come a long way, baby. While some music fans still eschew the sound of the streets, others look with satisfaction upon its successful foray into alternate musical spheres, whether that is indie rock, dub, classical music and onward. Z-Trip is one of those rare birds who can outdistance restrictive designations, which is a grad-school way of saying that his newest joint is for all ears, not just those who already love slice-and-dice postmodern collage. A sought-after opener for big shots like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews and many more, Z-Trip is a master at getting his listeners involved, something his conscious blend of funk, rock, rap and electronica displays with aplomb on Shifting Gears. Give the guy a shot if you call yourself a cosmopolitan. Narrowcasters need not apply.

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© Melt Magazine 2005