By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Photo by Jeanne RiceThis will seem more enjoyable if you read it while listening to the Speed Racer theme:
> John Easdale, Bright Side on Eggbert Records ("Out of Brea, no less!"). "This CD never leaves my changer—except to move from the car to the quadraphonic hi-fi at home. It's soooooo good. I was never a Dramarama fan before, but I am now."
> Dwight Yoakam, all of his work. "He can do no wrong, the King of California Honky-Tonk and White-Trash rock. If you like country music, you like Dwight. If you think you like country but don't like him, you're likely listening to warmed-over cheese on one of the two poor excuses for country radio in OC/LA."
> Kelly Willis. "All of her work as well (although River of Love seems the best, just because it's impossible to find—God bless eBay). Quite possibly the most underrated female singer in country music today. She rarely comes to Southern California, so if she's playing anywhere within 150 miles, it's worth the drive to see her."
> Joy Electric, Robot Rock. "Two guys, some electric doodads and some damn catchy songs. In a truly just world, the first track, 'Sugar Rush,' would've been a smash single."
> Atom and His Package, A Society of People Named Elihu. "Just one guy doing things with a sequencer/drum machine (his Package) that were never supposed to be done, singing songs about how if he weighed 1,500 pounds, he'd be the world's greatest hockey goalie. A truly great performer and a truly great CD."
> The Skatalites, Foundation Ska. "While it doesn't have my favorite song ('Phoenix City'), it does have a lot of great songs (32!) from the band that defined a sound and whose influence is still felt today."
> The Jesus & Mary Chain, Stoned & Dethroned. "It has my favorite duet of all time, 'Sometimes Always,' with Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star."
> Darlington, Girltroversy. "With songs about Jodie Foster, a bitch named Alison and Judy Jetson, it's hard not to like this three-piece band from Texas. Plug: they're playing Chain Reaction in February, and I think Linda's Doll Hut as well. Do yourself a favor and go see this band."
> Junior Brown, 12 Shades of Brown. "I like all of his CDs, but this one has two of my favorite songs: 'Too Many Nights in a Roadhouse' and 'Broke Down South of Dallas.' His guitar playing can inspire, but it can also make you want to throw your guitar in the closet and never pick it up again. That playin'—that's some hot shit right there!"
> The Mavericks, What a Crying Shame. "The title song is my favorite track off this amazing album."
> Lyle Lovett. "Anything he does is worth listening to. A true singer/
songwriter with great songs. In closing, I'll use the words to his tune 'Family Reserve': 'There are more I remember and more I could mention than words I could write in this song.'"