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ABE VIGODA & r & & r & Skeleton & r & & r & 3-1/2 STARS & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & ith the 14-track follow-up to last year's breakthrough Kid City, Smell-scenesters Abe Vigoda continue to shine a bright light into the failing, and mostly boring, world of punkish-popish rock. By refusing the simple trappings of brevity and atonal noise simply for their own sake, the band effortlessly forges a balance between a no-frills aesthetic and an embracing, art-rock-type quest.

With only two tracks cracking the three-minute barrier, the listener barely has time to register any complaints. (The consistent, up-tempo beat of each song, however, makes distinguishing individual tracks difficult.) The guitars account for the largest part of any song's identity, as notes bounce and rain upon the lyrics without devolving into noodle-y nonsense.

At their best, the band fuses the drone of Dead Meadow and the frenzy of Titus Andronicus (see below). Those attributes make the less successful elements forgivable.


DOWNLOAD: "Dead City/Waste Wilderness"


The Airing of Grievances


& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & ith their fists-in-the-air anthems and their immediately accessible sense of fun, New Jersey's Titus Andronicus offers a solid alternative to the lame Shakespeare tragedy from which they take their name. Filled with shrieking guitars, thunderous drums and wailing vocals, the 10 songs on their debut album march along at a remarkably up-tempo pace, nearly every song sounding familiar, but in a good way.

Even if some of the song titles suggest a pretentious streak ("Upon Viewing Brueghel's 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'" and "Albert Camus"), the music pokes fun at itself as much as anything else. Armed with lyrical clich & eacute;s of angst-ridden youth, "Titus Andronicus" sums up much. In three minutes, the song hits all the high points of tomfoolery: nihilism, self-loathing and despair. But try not to sing along to the catchy refrain: "Your life is over." Such summer fun.


DOWNLOAD: "Joset of Nazareth's Blues"
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