American Jetset- Blak29- And More

American Jetset - Love Kills

This Baltimore-based hard rock foursome has a winner with this four-song EP, an effort with hints of Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses and even, in lead singer Ian Kaine MacGregor, a bit of Graham Parker-style sneer. And while different ears will hear varied influences, one thing they'll all agree on is that these guys rock with passion and a full understanding of what makes songs radio-ready. "Black Hearts & Bloody Bruises" for example begins with a scream before screaming guitars kick in and it's just a minute before a catchy chorus grabs the listener. Chock full of killer guitar work, its a perfect tune for hard rock radio that sounds great roaring out of car speakers. "Kill Thrill City" sounds not unlike classic Def Leppard of the sort that tops the charts, "Final Girls" rocks hard as it tells a story of trying to avoid a breakup, with lots of searing guitar from lead ax man Skinz Skinsacos. The effort ends with the slow and soulful "Long Road to Nowhere" where piano and sax accompany the guitars and MacGregor's pained vocals. It's fitting that love is at the core of every song here because the music on Love Kills is easily adored.

Blak29 - The Waiting

Blak29 is a duo consisting of Steve Zing of Danzig fame on vocals and drums with Dan Tracey on guitar and bass. Some of the songs here sound quite a bit like the Cult, including opening cut "Blackout," "Bleeding Love" and "Waiting for the Sun to Go Down." The similarities come not only through the fact that Zing's voice could easily be mistaken for that of the Cult's lead singer Ian Astbury but also because Blak29's music is structured like the best efforts from the Cult. Don't imagine that Blak29 are clones though; they rock their own way on the rave up "Go Go Little One," the dark and eerie "End of Days" and the urgent "Of Love Of Hate Of Pain." In a well-chosen cover the guys play a killer version of the Kink's 1981 track "Destroyer," Ray Davies' somewhat amusing and extremely catchy song about paranoia. Also covered is the Hollies track "Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)." Special guests on The Waiting include Tommy Victor, Johnny Kelly and Jyrki 69.

Ape Shifter - Monkey Business

This German trio may call their new album Monkey Business but trust us, they're not monkeying around! The band, consisting of "head ape" Jeff Aug on guitars, bass man Florian Walter and drummer Kurty Munch rock through a dozen heavy cuts here, all of which are instrumentals. "Stampede" careens along to a speedy rhythm quite apt for a song with such a title while Aug reels off hot guitar riffs; the non-singing band even issues a quick "whoo" amid the mania. "Ahab" shows a bit of love for Black Sabbath while "Purple" is a real thumper where Aug plays in the Satriani-esque style that he often demonstrates throughout the record. "Gucci, Baby!" is a 15-second rave-up that leads into the driving "Mind of You;" the effort ends with "Lying in Wait," a seven minute cut that begins with spacey effects played on guitar before dramatically coming back to earth; here Aug displays some of his best work on the entire album.

F8TLSTK - Come and Get It

This former Boston-based punk rocker (real name J. D. "Joe" Jackson) has been living in California for quite a while now and the location seems to suit his creative urges; the prolific artist releases themed albums on a regular basis. And that creativity is kept strictly in house; he plays synth and guitar and does all the singing and he puts them all together nicely on lush opening cut "Waterfall," the most commercial of the album's 10 cuts. There is synth on "Behind Closed Doors" too but it lurks in the background while Jackson plays acoustic guitar and sings in a melancholy mood. Subject matter here concerns the dark side of life and relationships; on "Tomorrow" Jackson hopes for something better than today and the self-explanatory "Suicide" represents the ultimate in darkness. The title cut, seemingly about heroin addiction, is filled with fuzzed out guitar that mimics the working of a mind addled by drugs. The album closes with "Subway Train" where F8TLSTK remembers a lost love. Jackson is a master of quirkiness and that is a quality that is very endearing here.

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