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click to enlarge Dashboard Confessional  - The Shade of Poison Trees  - Vagrant  - Sounds like: Somebody needs therapy and songwriting guidance - Short take: Dashboard spreads its poison - Emo poster boy Chris Carrabba has returned from exile with Dashboard Confessional's latest predictable album, The Shade of Poison Trees. If you can handle whining in small doses, there are a few tracks of note, which in a pop-rock sensibility are keepers. The upbeat, acoustic-guitar driven "Where There's Gold ..." finds the singer with Hollywood good looks taking aim at celebrity, while the U2-lite-inspired "The Rush" could be headed for radio ubiquity. Carrabba's mass appeal stems from his teddy-bear persona and tortured-soul status. The Shade of Poison Trees suffers from serious redundancy issues, though; not only do its songs run together, but you feel as though you're stuck in neutral. It does little to dispel Carrabba's sad, one-track-pony tag.  John Benson
  • Dashboard Confessional

    The Shade of Poison Trees

    Vagrant

    Sounds like: Somebody needs therapy and songwriting guidance

    Short take: Dashboard spreads its poison

    Emo poster boy Chris Carrabba has returned from exile with Dashboard Confessional's latest predictable album, The Shade of Poison Trees. If you can handle whining in small doses, there are a few tracks of note, which in a pop-rock sensibility are keepers. The upbeat, acoustic-guitar driven "Where There's Gold ..." finds the singer with Hollywood good looks taking aim at celebrity, while the U2-lite-inspired "The Rush" could be headed for radio ubiquity. Carrabba's mass appeal stems from his teddy-bear persona and tortured-soul status. The Shade of Poison Trees suffers from serious redundancy issues, though; not only do its songs run together, but you feel as though you're stuck in neutral. It does little to dispel Carrabba's sad, one-track-pony tag. John Benson

click to enlarge The Pipettes  - We are the Pipettes  - Cherry Tree  - Sounds like: Top of the Pops, 1965 - Short take: Girl group pop makes a smashing return - Though the '60s has been mined continuously in the name of revivalism, that revivalism has mostly been rock-oriented, leaving the decade's other era-specific genres largely ignored. The Pipettes, an English trio from Brighton, herald in the all but forgotten girl-group pop of the time, single-handedly reviving and ringing dead the sound of the sock hop. Above and beyond mere novelty, though, the trio is as up on its Aretha Franklin as on its Kate Chopin. The women wax sassy over the giddy strings and everybody-in melodies  only their tongue-in-cheek wit and love of casual sex suggest this album was made post-millennially. Whether they end up bellwethers or curios, their debut is a smart, sugary gem, too happy to hate, too well-researched to ignore.  Matt Martin
  • The Pipettes

    We are the Pipettes

    Cherry Tree

    Sounds like: Top of the Pops, 1965

    Short take: Girl group pop makes a smashing return

    Though the '60s has been mined continuously in the name of revivalism, that revivalism has mostly been rock-oriented, leaving the decade's other era-specific genres largely ignored. The Pipettes, an English trio from Brighton, herald in the all but forgotten girl-group pop of the time, single-handedly reviving and ringing dead the sound of the sock hop. Above and beyond mere novelty, though, the trio is as up on its Aretha Franklin as on its Kate Chopin. The women wax sassy over the giddy strings and everybody-in melodies only their tongue-in-cheek wit and love of casual sex suggest this album was made post-millennially. Whether they end up bellwethers or curios, their debut is a smart, sugary gem, too happy to hate, too well-researched to ignore. Matt Martin

click to enlarge Year Long Disaster  - Year Long Disaster  - Volcom Entertainment  - Sounds like: Brand-new Soundgarden - Short take: Stoner rock for grunge-lovers - With all of the banal post-grunge posturing currently choking the life out of rock radio, it's about time someone re-discovered the hard rock vibe and destructive guitar licks of the punk-influenced Soundgarden. It's been over a decade since the Seattle band called it quits, and while Chris Cornell does his best to destroy his career with crappy alternative rock, Year Long Disaster is stepping up to the plate with its Badmotorfinger-esque self-titled debut. Happily trapped in a "Rusty Cage," the Los Angeles trio shows no shame with the wailing guitar and vocal display of "Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu" and the fuzzy, ZZ Top-sounding "Leda Atomica." Just like Soundgarden, Year Long Disaster can't seem to escape the underlying Led Zeppelin influence, but that's not a bad thing.  John Benson
  • Year Long Disaster

    Year Long Disaster

    Volcom Entertainment

    Sounds like: Brand-new Soundgarden

    Short take: Stoner rock for grunge-lovers

    With all of the banal post-grunge posturing currently choking the life out of rock radio, it's about time someone re-discovered the hard rock vibe and destructive guitar licks of the punk-influenced Soundgarden. It's been over a decade since the Seattle band called it quits, and while Chris Cornell does his best to destroy his career with crappy alternative rock, Year Long Disaster is stepping up to the plate with its Badmotorfinger-esque self-titled debut. Happily trapped in a "Rusty Cage," the Los Angeles trio shows no shame with the wailing guitar and vocal display of "Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu" and the fuzzy, ZZ Top-sounding "Leda Atomica." Just like Soundgarden, Year Long Disaster can't seem to escape the underlying Led Zeppelin influence, but that's not a bad thing. John Benson

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