Title:Stranger's Almanac
Band:Whiskeytown (USA)
Label:Outpost Records
Highlights:Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart
Everything I Do
Waiting To Derail
Not Home Anymore

Austin, Texas's Whiskeytown are hailed as the next big thing in the so-called alternative country scene and judging by their second album, Strangers Almanac, it is easy to see why. Memorable songs are backed up by equally adept playing. Along with the straight ahead country sounds of Excuse Me While I Break My Heart and Dancing With The Women At The Bar, songs range from the soul tinged Everything I Do to the beautiful yet lonely Losering while Waiting To Derail sounds reminiscent of the Replacements. As with most good albums, Strangers Almanac gets better the further you listen and the albums best track, the urgent Not Home Anymore, is left to the very end.

One gets the impression that in the hands of a lesser band, many of these songs would fall into the MOR - FM Radio category thanks to the slick production of Jim Scott. Therefore credit must be given to main songwriter David Ryan Adams and the other members of Whiskeytown for making Strangers Almanac such an impressive album. Anyway, when people like Chris Stamey and Jody Stephens are thanked in the credits, you know there is a better than good chance that the album is going to be impressive.

Title:Kids In Satanic Service
Band:Wonderfools (Norway)
Label:One Way Street Records
Highlights:Teenage Fartbomb
Night Of The Dateless Axeman
Story Of Mr Brainache
Mad Mutherfuckers Back In Town
Looking Out For Number One

Apparently Triple J called young Norwegian punk rockers the Wonderfools terrible. However, after listening to their debut album, Kids In Satanic Service, I can only surmise that they either had cotton wool in their ears or were running scared that the Wonderfools were going to show up all the shithouse punk bands that they have had on high rotation the last couple of years. Kids In Satanic Service is a non-stop adrenalin rush that starts off at 100mph and never takes its foot off the accelerator. Sounding strongly influenced by such bands as The Stooges, Radio Birdman, The Ramones, The Hard Ons and Turbonegro, the Wonderfools not only rock out to the max but at the same time have a good sense of melody. The guitar playing throughout is very impressive and notably mixed very loud. It is impossible to pick out any standout tracks because they're all excellent but the opening track, Teenage Fartbomb is my personal favourite due to the humorous lyrics. The Wonderfools are probably the best new melodic punk band in the world today and no doubt once they gain some momentum they're going to huge.