Must Have CD's

by Scott Thill

The summer is beginning to creep across our embattled country, bringing with it a gripload of releases you should be cranking up to 11 in order to sweat the days and nights away. Which is not to say that there aren't some hushed efforts worth your time in June, but who has time for that kind of sentimentalism when the sun is shining so damn bright? For some reason, summers are almost specifically designed for pop, rock and reggae, or their various permutations, so if you're looking for someone to trumpet the new acoustic Springsteen offering, you've come to the wrong place, my friends. Let's shred some eardrums -- and share one desert-island disc while we're at it:

Garbage, Bleed Like Me

What started out as an impromptu jam between three producers -- one of which, Butch Vig, helmed Nirvana's mega-hit 'Nevermind' – quickly became a dance-rock colossus, making a star out of the seductive and stylish Shirley Manson in the process. In fact, since Garbage emerged in the mid-'90s, Manson has gone from a singer in the obscure band Angelfish to Garbage's popular front-woman to cosmetics model without a hitch. But after shredding eardrums and charming mall-rats worldwide with tough tracks like 'Stupid Girl," Only Happy When It Rains' and 'Queer,' Garbage's subsequent efforts 'Version 2.0' and 'Beautiful Garbage' found the band moving closer to techno and farther from its distortion-drenched debut. But their new effort 'Bleed Like Me' is a return to the six-string noise of the band's pinnacle. Manson has always dealt in matters of the heart, so it's a no-brainer that 'Bleed Like Me' would be packed with hot-button jams like 'Sex is Not the Enemy,' 'Run Baby Run' and 'Why Do You Love Me.' Featuring some of Garbage's most muscular work yet, 'Bleed Like Me' is a refreshing break from the electro addiction most bands develop when they need to change their sound.

System of a Down, Mezmerize

You will be hard-pressed to find a more incendiary, committed envelope-stretcher in the world of metal than System of a Down. The Los Angeles-based band that traffics in wondrously riff-soaked rawk has released one of two new efforts aimed at shattering nervous systems worldwide. You read that right. Interested in forgoing industry convention altogether, System is churning out a separated double-album of sorts in 2005, releasing its new discs, 'Mezmerize' and 'Hypnotize' months apart. But you can bet that both efforts will feature the band's patented East-meets-West sonic density found at length on their politically-minded self-titled 1998 debut and its 2001 follow-up 'Toxicity.' Judging from a recent 'SNL' appearance and a ferocious new single called 'B.Y.O.B.' System of a Down's newest moves will no doubt cement their status, along with fellow Angelinos The Mars Volta, as metal's saving grace.

Os Mutantes, Everything is Possible

Although this is one of the finest desert-island discs ever released, it is still somewhat of a secret to mainstream America. Why? Simple: Os Mutantes were a Brazilian band from the 1960s. A double-whammy of sorts, since Americans don't get too international when it comes to music, especially if the band they're trying to get into turned down an offer to reunite in 1993 by none other than Kurt Cobain. But thanks to the Talking Heads' David Byrne and his world music label Luaka Bop, history-starved music headz can listen up on one of the most underrated bands of all time. Because Os Mutantes could do it all. Whether it is their irresistibly danceable highbrow lit experiments like 'Bat Macumba' the Bowie-esque psych-rock of 'Desculpe, Babe (I'm Sorry, Baby),' the freakout tropicalia of 'Panis Et Circenses ('Bread and Circuses),' these Mutants were a nonpareil talent. Except they never exploded in America, which means that they are still that rarest of musical gifts: An under-the-radar find, the envy of all eardrums.

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© Melt Magazine 2005