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click to enlarge Travis  - The Boy with No Name  -  -  - Epic  -  - Sounds like: Uninspiring music for the - depressed -  - Short take: Travis continues downward spiral - into banality -  - Dear Travis: It's not your fault, it's ours. We'll never - forget the way your songs, melancholic tales of rain and - driftwood disguised as uplifting, foot-tapping melodies, - made our heads sway. But lately (we're talking 2003's - 12 Memories and new album The Boy with - No Name) , we've felt like you've been, well, a bit of - a wet blanket. Sure, new track "Selfish Jean" is upbeat - and bouncy, but overall it feels forced, like you're - recklessly trying to turn the clock back. Also, the ripoff - of the sublime percussive beat from Iggy Pop's "Lust for - Life" is gratuitous and shameful. We get it, you need to - grow  but sad lyrics on top of sad songs are bumming - out the already bummed-out Prozac nation.  - John Benson
  • Travis

    The Boy with No Name

    Epic

    Sounds like: Uninspiring music for the depressed

    Short take: Travis continues downward spiral into banality

    Dear Travis: It's not your fault, it's ours. We'll never forget the way your songs, melancholic tales of rain and driftwood disguised as uplifting, foot-tapping melodies, made our heads sway. But lately (we're talking 2003's 12 Memories and new album The Boy with No Name) , we've felt like you've been, well, a bit of a wet blanket. Sure, new track "Selfish Jean" is upbeat and bouncy, but overall it feels forced, like you're recklessly trying to turn the clock back. Also, the ripoff of the sublime percussive beat from Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" is gratuitous and shameful. We get it, you need to grow but sad lyrics on top of sad songs are bumming out the already bummed-out Prozac nation. John Benson

click to enlarge The Nightwatchman  - One Man Revolution  -  -  - Epic  -  - Sounds like: Early Boss meets Cohen, Cash and - Dylan ... almost -  - Short take: Great message, good strumming, - unmemorable voice -  - Let's be honest: 90 percent of this album's sales will be - to Rage Against the Machine (and maybe Audioslave) - fans who'll buy it on faith, songs unheard, because The - Nightwatchman is legendary guitarist Tom Morello. But - Morello hasn't just created a solo album and learned to - sing, he's launched an acoustic persona, politically - charged and aimed at rallying support. We're talkin' fire - and pitchforks at the White House. The Harvard political - science graduate has essentially constructed an angry - folk album for those who like fight songs. Some of the - delivery is borderline cheesy, and only a few songs really - pop, but the freshman effort is not entirely without - merits. Besides, who doesn't like a little harmonica? -  Matthew Schniper
  • The Nightwatchman

    One Man Revolution

    Epic

    Sounds like: Early Boss meets Cohen, Cash and Dylan ... almost

    Short take: Great message, good strumming, unmemorable voice

    Let's be honest: 90 percent of this album's sales will be to Rage Against the Machine (and maybe Audioslave) fans who'll buy it on faith, songs unheard, because The Nightwatchman is legendary guitarist Tom Morello. But Morello hasn't just created a solo album and learned to sing, he's launched an acoustic persona, politically charged and aimed at rallying support. We're talkin' fire and pitchforks at the White House. The Harvard political science graduate has essentially constructed an angry folk album for those who like fight songs. Some of the delivery is borderline cheesy, and only a few songs really pop, but the freshman effort is not entirely without merits. Besides, who doesn't like a little harmonica? Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Brakes  - The Beatific Visions  -  -  - Rough Trade  -  - Sounds like: A countrified, goofy Hold Steady -  - Short take: Barroom rock for any barroom, - anywhere -  - Brakes' sophomore album Beatific Visions plays - like a jukebox set to random. "Porcupine or Pineapple" - would be welcome at any underground punk party; "If I - Should Die Tonight" could kickstart a line-dance - hootenanny; and "Cease and Desist" is close enough to - pop to soundtrack a pizza joint's dinner rush. Elsewhere, - "Spring Chicken" is a howling '50s-diner twist-off, "Hold - Me in the River" is a perfect pre-set dive-bar quick jam, - and "Mobile Communication" has the gentle sway of last - call at any pub. As in first effort Give Blood, lead - singer Eamon Hamilton's whooping caterwaul is still the - center-stage highlight, this time more snide and - decidedly political, but always having a grand time of it. -  Matt Martin
  • Brakes

    The Beatific Visions

    Rough Trade

    Sounds like: A countrified, goofy Hold Steady

    Short take: Barroom rock for any barroom, anywhere

    Brakes' sophomore album Beatific Visions plays like a jukebox set to random. "Porcupine or Pineapple" would be welcome at any underground punk party; "If I Should Die Tonight" could kickstart a line-dance hootenanny; and "Cease and Desist" is close enough to pop to soundtrack a pizza joint's dinner rush. Elsewhere, "Spring Chicken" is a howling '50s-diner twist-off, "Hold Me in the River" is a perfect pre-set dive-bar quick jam, and "Mobile Communication" has the gentle sway of last call at any pub. As in first effort Give Blood, lead singer Eamon Hamilton's whooping caterwaul is still the center-stage highlight, this time more snide and decidedly political, but always having a grand time of it. Matt Martin

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