Secret Machines

Hardly secret anymore, the New-York-via-Texas trio of drummer Josh Garza and brothers Benjamin (keyboards) and Brandon (guitar) Curtis gained a locustworthy buzz with their major-label debut, Now Here Is Nowhere, a provocative mish-mash of ’70s prog rock and ’90s indie pop. The group’s affection for outdated, let’s-show-‘em-what-we-got pomposity is a real attention-grabber in an age…

Imperial Teen

Faith No More keyboard mainstay Roddy Bottum and Lynn Perko, formerly the drummer in Sister Double Happiness (the disappointing emo-rock band led on and off by singer Gary Floyd and Perko since Texas’ punk-rocking Dicks split in the mid-’80s), are the prominent half of San Francisco’s Imperial Teen, a quartet which sounds nothing like their…

Church

At first, the Church seemed like a promising blend of the Beatles (musically) and early Bowie (vocally and lyrically). Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper explored the guitar territory first mapped out by Harrison and Lennon, but in greater detail and with perhaps a more practiced — if less inspired — hand. Bassist Steve Kilbey chanted/sang…

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

When presented as part of a media-based pop-culture blitz — in this case the scattershot garage scene of the new millennium — a holistically insignificant band can become a necessary, reactionary limb to the metaphorical body of an entire movement. Fans are encouraged to either care too much (resulting in unwarranted praise for middling poster…

Todd Snider

He’s a yee-haw huckster with a poet’s soul, a hard-livin’ headcase with the faith of an altar boy, and a bohemian redneck who frequents Alice’s Restaurant. He plays hippie folk, glossy country, subtle balladry, anything-but-subtle sloganeering and straight-up hard rock, all with equal aplomb. These incongruities may have saved Todd Snider’s tame roots rock from…

Beth Orton

As if being the poster girl for a convoluted sub-genre like folktronica weren’t bad enough, Beth Orton of Norfolk, England has also tried to live down (so far unsuccessfully) a phenomenal debut that was evidently a case of sheer timing — and quite possibly a baldfaced fluke. Her world-weary yet somehow still ingenuous voice —…

Fatboy Slim

As Fatboy Slim, Brighton, England’s Norman Cook became the grand poobah of the electronic faction known as big beat, and the first to emerge from the normally exclusive DJ culture a full-blown rock star. The success of his sample-based house/hip-hop/rock mishmash has been equally applauded as validation for an underappreciated art form and scorned as…

Toadies

Toadies’ post-punk hard rock seemed a natural for radio, but the Dallas/Ft. Worth quartet had to tour with Bush for the better part of a year before Rubberneck‘s virtues were exposed to such a broad audience. Certainly the songs — especially “Possum Kingdom” — are a bouncing good time, and guitarist Todd Lewis has the…

Beck

Once upon a time, every passing season brought another guitar-slinger with aspirations of being knighted the New Dylan, but it’s hard to recall one able to fill the role as well as this smart-alecky bicoastal expectation-tweaker. Like Dylan, Beck (Hansen) has reinvented his personal history countless times — frequently claiming to be a lower-middle-class yutz…

Ima Robot

For all the shit heaped on new wave during its waning years, the Rodney Dangerfield of the post-modern pop world has surprised everyone by having the shelf life — and not just the consistency — of a Twinkie. How else to explain the herky-jerky glam-punk of Ima Robot? On their preliminary four-song EP (which contains…

White Stripes

Ever since kids with guitars first discovered that the family garage had use beyond holding the old man’s sedan, the racket that has so often emanated from them is considered the epitome of primitiveness. Merely deeming a band’s sound “garage rock” effectively chains it to a state of perpetual primordiality, welcome or otherwise. But over…

Raveonettes

With a name inspired by a Buddy Holly tune, a look copped from the Andy Warhol Factory and a squall more than a little reminiscent of the Jesus and Mary Chain, this Danish duo certainly has exceptional taste. Guitarist Sune Rose Wagner and bassist Sharin Foo look good in black, and they know how to…

Jet

Let’s just get it out there: Not a single original idea can be wrung from this Melbourne quartet, or its big fat hit album, Get Born. Not one. The name was lifted from a ’70s British glam band, the album cover consciously apes the Beatles’ Revolver and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” has been looking…

Billy Idol

After Generation X’s demise, Billy Idol packed his bags and moved to New York, got himself a manager (former Kiss svengali Bill Aucoin) and began recording with local players and producer/drummer (and Giorgio Moroder protégé) Keith Forsey. The first results of that union — a four-song EP — had only an awkward but entertaining cover…

Morphine

“She told me things about her life / She never told me she was someone’s wife,” sings Mark Sandman on the first song on Treat Her Right’s first album. The “low guitar”- player’s pulp-fiction narratives, with appropriately sinister and smoky musical accompaniment, would later flourish with Morphine, but in Treat Her Right he had to…

Queens of the Stone Age

By pursuing and refining the tuneful, speed-less speedcore of Kyuss, Josh Homme made the Queens of the Stone Age an archetype for post-modern stoner rock. Since he himself does not partake, the guitarist would have none of it, instead using “robot rock” to describe his band’s blend of down-tuned metal riffage, grunge fuzz and smooth,…

Louis XIV

Lace up the platforms and let the pink boa fly — glam rock is alive and well in San Diego. Having survived hijacking in the ’80s by the new romantics and in the ’90s by goth culture, the strutting, sassy ’70s sound of Bolan, Bowie, Sweet and Glitter has found a safe spot in the…

Robert Downey Jr.

In Hollywood terms, actor Robert Downey Jr.’s The Futurist is no Chaplin. In fact, it’s not much better than The Pick-Up Artist. The troubled thespian has been recording music for years, including pieces for the previously mentioned films and for the television show Ally McBeal. He’s a capable musician, playing piano, keyboards and percussion on…

Ben Harper

Ben Harper grew up in California’s Inland Empire, interested in the acoustic guitar and Dobro rather than the harder-edged sounds that influenced many of his contemporaries. Thus, on his debut, Harper expresses his anger with the world — and his desire for a better one — with a mellow mixture of blues and soul. The…

Music

This young quartet with a moniker both resoundingly presumptuous and downright lazy comes from Leeds, England, one of the few places where jogging suits and rocking out still cohabit. The Music garnered Next Big Thing accolades for about eight seconds (all the time Britons allot these days) with a retroid stew of effects-laden blues guitar…