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Jeff Buckley: Grace
By Christina Kim, 17, South Pasadena HS

Jeff Buckley is gone. He died in 1997 in a river in Memphis, Tenn. While he was wading in the water a boat came by, creating waves that most likely pulled him into deeper water. His body wasn’t found for four days. Critics say that he passed without tapping into the great potential he had, but that’s not true. Buckley died an incomparable vocalist and master songwriter with only one full-length album out and barely 31. Screw Kurt Cobain. Buckley’s the real loss.

He is powerful and soft, dramatic and light, sexy and chaste—all at the same time. And yet … he never seems like a contradiction. There’s something so irresistibly wonderful (at the risk of sounding melodramatic) about his voice that it seems impossible for someone like him to have ever existed. You’ll never get enough of him.

In the mesmerizing "Dream Brother" he sings "I love your voice and your dance insane/ I hear your words and I know your pain," lyrics that you’ll easily mistake for your own thoughts. Some other songs of note (as if all of them weren’t brilliant) are "Grace," the exhilarating title track, "Lilac Wine" and "Corpus Christi Carol."

Along with Grace, Jeff Buckley also has a few live albums out as well as an EP, Live at Sin-E.

Interpol: Turn on the Bright Lights
By Andrea Domanick, 16, Harvard-Westlake School

Turn on the Bright Lights is the ultimate rainy-day CD, a soundtrack of haunting gray clouds floating overhead as the frozen air caresses your face, giving comfort and beauty to darkness. In a time of over-produced pop-punk and desperately retro garage bands, New York quartet Interpol’s major label debut arrives as subtle and refreshing as a raindrop in a drought. The deep, droning vocals of lead singer/guitarist Paul Banks are deeply melodic without straying too far from his trademark monotone. The guitar and bass work of Daniel Kessler and Carlos Dengler is a complex orchestration of pulsating rhythms and intricate melodies. Key and rhythm changes are sudden and rapid with the constant threat of dissonance, yet they come together masterfully to form an unpredictable sound. Lyrics often appear random and nonsensical ("It’s in the things that she puts in my hair/Her stories are boring and stuff"), but after hearing the CD in its entirety, one understands even the most far-out verses. Turn on the Bright Lights is a perfect sampling of what Interpol is capable of, with driving singles like "PDA," the pogo-inducing "Roland" or the hauntingly beautiful "NYC." The album’s 11 tracks are a musical experience that leaves you feeling strangely soothed and resolved with a new hope for modern rock.

Gomez: Liquid Skin
By Jon Blumenfeld, 17, Hamilton HS

Gomez is an immensely innovative British band. They cannot be categorized into one genre of music. They move in and out of blues, rock, folk and electronica. Liquid Skin, their second album of five, was released in September 1999 and is their strongest. Liquid Skin is Gomez’s folk-rock album, which is quite different than the latest and more electronic instrument-oriented album, In Our Gun. Liquid Skin’s clean-sounding instruments and the incredible voice of Delta Blues-sounding singer Ben Ottewell make it the band’s best album. This album is definitely recommended if you like warm-sounding, slower rock music and are tired of hearing the same old radio rock. But if you don’t like this one, try one of the band’s other albums because one of them is bound to catch your attention.

Something Corporate: Leaving Through the Window
By Connie Chung, 16, Gabrielino HS

During the summer my friend Rex burned me a CD with artists I had never heard. While listening to the sweet tunes and catchy lyrics of a band singing, "If you wanna spin," it got me hooked. I was dying to find out who this mysterious band was and why I was barely discovering them now. Turns out they are known as Something Corporate and they had been on tour for quite some time.

Something Corporate’s latest album Leaving Through the Window was a huge success. Their music could be described as fun, catchy emo-rock. I guarantee you will be stunned and taken away by the oh-so charming voice of lead singer, Andrew McMahon, who also plays the piano. Their lyrics are easy and hilarious to sing along to, all while dancing to the band’s upbeat rhythm. They definitely bring out the good and memorable times of teenage life. Once you groove to "Spin" and "Konstantine" you’ll know what I’m talking about!