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+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
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+ Cex - Actual Fucking
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+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
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+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
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Federation X
X Patriot

Dropping at a time when self-righteous bombs fall murderously and purposelessly — when patriotism is at an absurd all-time high and somber record low — the latest album from Federation X, X Patriot, opts not to protest or rally. Instead it reflects simply on a world the band can't quite relate to. Federation X because they're affiliated with no one. Why X Patriot? Because their "patriotism" is not former but like none other. They're neither right-wing nor left-wing, pro-America nor anti-America. They're not Republicans, Democrats, communists, fascists, rednecks, liberals, conservatives or hippies. They've built their own loose confederacy that's at once like nothing and encompassing everything — their perspectives come from being uninvolved, on the outside and through the looking glass.

Lead singer Bill Badgley best explained this in an interview a couple years back when he said he and his bandmates feel like "non-citizens, standing in one spot as America is spinning around. You don't pay taxes, you don't work. You walk into the mini-mart in the morning to wash your hair and there's the newspaper laying there about what your society is doing: 'Oh yeah, I forgot about that.'"

Which is not to say they go untouched by current events. Their ominous, thrashing, dirty blues- and metal-inspired punk tunes simply look at the world from an alternate angle that embraces the whole — past, present and future. Produced by the legendary Steve Albini, X Patriot touches on such universal issues as love and sex, struggle and control, change and hope.

X Patriot opens with "Apeshit," Badgley singing, strained and threatening: "I'm in the middle of a nervous breakdown/ I'm a time bomb/ How do you like me now?" The lead track summons a sort of treacherous, fragile state, pressing in gravely, foreboding with ominous, rumbling bass and creepy riffs before begging in advance: "Please forgive me."

Infused with carefree, breathy whistling, sneering croons, minimal, heavy rhythms and slapping beats, "Real American Kids With Real American Ids" speaks like The Police's "Roxanne" of prostitution in empathetic fashion. "Now they're dancing in the streets," Badgley sings. "In pairs of worn-out shoes/ Far past the five and dime/ All the liquor signs ...I was the lucky one /Hey, hey / Free at last.

Driven by eerie, mad riffs, "Good as Gold" feels the darkest, punishing and vengeful, while the attitude-drenched closer "Stone Soup" is fed by the most danceable, swaggering beat and optimism. "And it can't go on/ If we send it on/ If we want it to," croons Badgley, sounding like a mix of Jagger and Ozzy. "We will carry on/ Like we always do/ And if the sky don't rain/ And the dam don't break/ I'll be going there with you/ We can carry on/ Make something new."

Indeed the band has made something new. They've also built something fused by imagination, intelligence, passion and sincerity. But most of all they've built something their own without needing to subscribe to someone else's club. They are X Patriots — they are Federation X.

by Jenny Tatone

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