Tommy Keene In The Late Bright Second Motion Records 
Fire Drills Review: If you don't know who Tommy Keene is than shame on you! In The Late Bright marks Keene's eighth album of guitar power pop that is as infectious now as when he first hit the scene back in 1982. I know many of our readers were not even born then but you might recognize Keene's name from playing guitar with Paul Westerberg, Velvet Crush and he was half of the Keene Brothers with Robert Pollard. He has always been critically acclaimed although it has never led to great commercial success but I guarantee after spinning In The Late Bright you not only will enjoy Tommy Keene but will have a better definitive definition of Power Pop!
The Break Mission The Prospect [EP] Self-Released 
Fire Drills Review: This Brooklyn trio has just released a new EP that contains four tracks of sprawling piano driven mid-tempo numbers that make you sit up and listen to their smooth delivery. Somewhere the band falls in between a Coldplay and Death Cab while still making their own niche with honest songwriting and a desire to make quality music. The Prospect EP is an encouraging collection of tracks for a band that already has two indie full lengths in their resume and shared stages with Kristen Hersh, Apollo Sunshine and Squeeze, so it would not surprise me if we don't here more from this group in 2009!
Fire Drills Reivew: Six years between albums is a longtime in the music world, especially when Iran member Kyp Malone joined TV On The Radio and put out three spectacular records during that time. Clearly this experience now makes Iran the half-brother to TVOTR and also explains why their sound has morphed from a more experimental noise rock group to an indie band with solid song structures. This direction on its own sounds great and Dissolver does not disappoint taken at face value but considering the source, it is hard to not compare the two bands. This comparison hurts Iran a bit and probably is unfair but if there would have been a bit more of their previous self mixed into these pop structures we might be talking about an album of year candidate.
Fire Drills Review: After taking Thursday's fifth album Common Existence for a spin I went back to the post-hardcore pioneers breakout record Full Collapse  to get a baseline. What I realized is that this is a band that is trying to find their initial spunk. Common Existence succeeds on several tracks to recapture that early glory fire plus with Flaming Lips/MGMT producer Dave Fridmann at the helm, Thursday achieve a bigger layered sound that pushes them into a little newer direction, which could be a energizer for future success.
Obits One Cross Apiece 7" Comedy Minus One Records 
Fire Drills Review: You may not know the name Rick Froberg but there is a chance you know his bands Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes. This seven inch is a nice preview to their Sub Pop debut that hits at the end of March and both songs here are exactly the post-punk rockers you would expect. This is a debut record that has slowly climbed onto our radar and this 7" only drives the excitement.
The Appleseed Cast Sagarmatha The Militia Group 
Fire Drills Review: Sagarmatha is the Appleseed Cast's sixth studio album and it represents a new direction for the Lawrence Kansas band as they dive into experimental post-rock. With five of the record's nine tracks crossing over the six minute mark and many of them only containing about 45 seconds of vocals or none at all, Sagarmatha relies heavily on its dense soundscapes to keep it interesting and will challenge longtime fans of the group. Although I can say that the long shoegaze instrumentals are not bad the band still shines when it clicks back into indie mode on the short and vocal driven "The Summer Before".
Fire Drills Review: It is always a nice surprise to discover an unsigned band that makes you take notice when you play their record. Boston's The Hush Now is one of those bands because their self-titled debut is an infectious slice of alt-pop shoegaze that will win you over after just one spin. Each song is somewhat sprawling with layered vocals but mostly keep themselves contained into 4 minute pop structures. This unique packaging gives The Hush Now a balanced sound but gets the listeners out just at the right time completely satisfied and wanting more!
Lily Allen It's Not Me, It's You Capitol Records 
Fire Drills Review: If you remember, Lily Allen was one of the first big discoveries from MySpace back in 2006 and It's Not Me, It's You is her much anticipated follow up to her hit making debut. Being a young artist always lends itself to a much quicker stylistic change, which is the sort of makeover found here with Allen. Vocally she sounds 10 years more mature and musically light years ahead of her debut, which can probably be explained in using producer and artist Greg Kurstin (member of Bird And The Bee) as he dialed down her edginess and morphed her into more pop structure formats. This change may turn off fans from the beginning but for the long haul this style fits Allen and the catchy tracks will carry her forward for sure in the UK and in the US she will still be a wildcard. Regardless of what happens it won't be because of lack of talent because talent is what Lily Allen has.
Fire Drills Review: You would never know by listening that Brooklyn's Black Gold is a duo because their debut record Rush is full of big expansive rock and hooks galore. The songs vary from the danceable to the hold the lighter in air ballads, which means there is a little for everyone. With that said, Black Gold have released a debut that may contain many different styles but it maintains consistent transitions that help Rush succeed in offering a solid listen.
The Vox Jaguars The Vox Jaguars [EP] Anodyne Records 
Fire Drills Review: The Vox Jaguars bring a fresh energy to the Garage rock scene straight out of Santa Cruz, California. They have a retro 60's groove to some of their playing but have a sound that is closer to the raw energy of 70's punk while just adding in enough guitar riff and modern keyboards that thrush their music into the present day. At only 4 tracks and 15 minutes long there is not much time to spend with the band but for that 15 minutes you start thinking they are the best band you have heard in awhile and scream out - Bring on the full length!
Fire Drills Review: Don't let this record release from Saddle Creek mislead you into thinking that Omaha's Ladyfinger (ne) fall in line with the labels typical indie offerings. Instead, Ladyfinger (ne) bring a power rock on their sophomore record Dusk, which combines elements from the 70's radio rock of Deep Purple to 90's noise rockers The Jesus Lizard, while putting their own modern stamp on the records ten tracks. What carries Ladyfinger (ne) to another level is the bands musical tightness, which creates a wall of sound attack for each grinding track and is maintained by the calm and cool vocals of Chris Machmuller. These elements all total up for a rock record that will be perfect to roll down the windows and crank on the first Spring day in 2009!
Marykate O'Neil Underground Nettwerk Records 
Fire Drills Review: Not to play too much on the album's title but Marykate is a talented artist from Brooklyn that really has been below the radar and underground with her solid singer/songwriter style until now. Following last yearsintroduction mkULTRA EP ,Underground is O'Neil's fourth record and features contributions from Jill Sobule, Micky Grimm (Over The Rhine) and Ken Maiuri (Pedro The Lion) plus the production help of Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Elvis Costello, Sleater-Kinney) and mixing by Brad Jones (Josh Rouse, Matthew Sweet, David Meade). All of this talented help is reflected in Undergrounds big sound while Marykate's likable voice is made for TV soundtracks and given the right break she could be a household name with her simple but endearing delivery.
Charles Spearin The Happiness Project Arts & Crafts Records 
Fire Drills Review: Spearin is the third member of Broken Social Scene to release a solo record for Arts & Crafts following Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. The Happiness Project is an interesting mix of jazz, indie, folk and spoken word that gets more intriguing with every listen. Basically Spearin invited his neighbors over to the house for a casual interview vaguely centered around the subject of happiness then constructed melodies based on and around the voices. It sounds more complicated than it is but once you take a listen you realize how Spearin has taken the stories to a different level and blurred the lines between speech and music. This alone deserves praise because the outcome is 30 minutes of pure indie art!
The Lonely Island Incredibad Republic Records 
Fire Drills Review: The Lonely Island is the comedic collaborative of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer and Incredibad captures the music and videos from all of their SNL digital shorts and instant YouTube hits. SNL hit its most creative peak in years during the election season but part of the ramp up included these digital shorts that were absolutely hilarious. From "D**k In A Box" with Justin Timberlake, to the Chronicles Of Narnia spoof rap "Lazy Sunday" and the hardcore side of Natalie Portman in "Natalie's Rap" all sound great and are funny every time you watch. This CD/DVD release of course will only appeal to those who have seen the clips or into comedy but with millions of hits on the Internet I would say there is an audience.
Suburban Kids With Biblical Names #4 [EP] Labrador Records 
Fire Drills Review: This little EP finds the Swedish group Suburban Kids With Biblical Names growing in their style of jazzy upbeat pop starting right out with the disco romper "1999". With just four songs and 12 minutes the SKWBN get in and get out with a bouncing male/female vocal and upbeat vibe that is infectious when you give it a repeat listen. This holds well for the group and the EP represents a nice teaser to what their full length may sound like when it hits in April.
Mark Olson & Gary Louris Ready For The Flood New West Records 
Fire Drills Review: Before you get all crazy, Ready For The Flood is not The Jayhawks reunion record but honestly when you get Olson and Louris together it can't turn out bad and who knows - it may be the step in the right direction. This record plays out as billed with back in forth vocals between the two artists and many times it sounds like they are the only ones in the room. Most of the numbers are acoustic driven but there are tracks like "Chamberlain SD" that are foot tapping harmonica fun. This is not the album that longtime fans exactly wanted to hear but in many respects it resembles The Jayhawks breakthrough record Hollywood Town Hall , so trust me and check it out for yourself because their harmonies are worth a listen.