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Joydrop: Metasexual
By Karen Pinto, 16, California Academy of Math and Science

"’Cause I’m not beautiful like you, I’m beautiful like me," are the words of Joydrop‘s song, "Beautiful." This album is definitely a different kind of alternative. It’s alternative with techno, pop (to some degree), ballads, and hard rock. This kind of music is driven by Tara Slone’s pure and innocent vocals turned into a shockingly, hard, opera-influenced voice. Joydrop is not only about the vocals; try Tony Rabalao’s self-taught drumming in this album. It’s a mixture of different genres like R&B, jazz, and rock combined into one, his own. Thomas Payne is a creative incomparable guitar player that helps make what Metasexual is. Tom McKay’s catchy bass riffs in songs like "All Too Well" and "Spider" will have your foot tapping on the floor. Just by listening to the album you’ll hear Joydrop’s irreplaceable beauty.

Nickel Creek: S/T
By Hanah Zahner-Isenberg, 17, California Academy of Math and Science

As far as music stores are concerned, Nickel Creek falls into the category of bluegrass, but don’t let the banjo discourage you. This album, produced by Alison Krauss, who performed on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, has a distinct and sophisticated sound. Band members Chris Thile or Sean Watkins wrote most of the songs. The third of the trio, Sean’s sister, Sara, contributes a haunting voice. The album is a mix of plucky instrumentals and thoughtful, often tragic, ballads. "Ode to a Butterfly" is music for spinning while "Lighthouse’s Tale," a story of lovers’ deaths, is music for crying. My favorite song on this album, and the one that got me interested in the first place, is "Fox," a decidedly silly folk song that the trio modernizes beautifully. So, to all you guitar loyalists out there, I say give the banjo a chance!

Nirvana: Nirvana
By Suzanne Berkovitz, 17, Beverly Hill HS

Have you ever heard a song and felt that the artist was a musical genius? Well, listening to Nirvana’s self-titled greatest hits collection will surely affect you in a way that no other music can. I was not a fan of grunge before I stumbled upon Nirvana, but this CD gave me a new appreciation for the band’s music. The CD is a perfect tribute to rock’s lost mastermind, Kurt Cobain, whose lyrics ring as true and powerful in 2003 as they did in 1993. This CD connects you to the band in a very personal way, like when Cobain sings about the pain that led to his suicide in the controversial "You Know You’re Right." The music also gives you an outlet to vent. If you are angry, or frustrated, no one is better to express your angst than Nirvana. I promise, Nirvana is different from most of the bands out there. This band’s amazing talent can be heard in its ability to do slow, soulful songs like "Heart-shaped Box" and fast-paced scream-fests such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Nirvana’s CD is a culmination of the trials and tribulations of a brilliant band.