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Rookie Round-Up 

Meet some of the top groups heading your way.

No offense: The Sex Crimes should be one of this year's top bands. - WALTER  NOVAK
  • Walter Novak
  • No offense: The Sex Crimes should be one of this year's top bands.

Every now and then, Soundbites likes to do a little community service. It's the least we can do after bombarding you with crappy jokes and highly suspect pontificating all year.

So how do we give back? By sheltering the homeless? Nursing wounded seagulls back to health? Teaching schoolchildren the proper way to roll a doob?

Naaaahhh.

As admirable as those activities are, they're way too much work. Instead, we're gonna save you time, money, and substantial hearing loss by introducing you to your new favorite bands. Don't bother thanking us -- we're planning to write it off on our taxes anyway.

Plasma for Guns
On its Myspace page, Plasma for Guns lists inside jokes, caffeine, and sarcasm among its main influences. Its twitchy, overanxious post-punk reflects as much, with snaking guitar lines, lots of red-faced shouts, and songs about Danny Glover. A coed trio, the members of Plasma for Guns all swap instruments live, with each taking turns on vox, bass, drums, and guitar. The players gradually work themselves into a sweaty fever, and by song's end, they sound ready to implode in a mess of feedback and broken guitar strings. But the group is careful to maintain a gritty tunefulness through it all, and members never seem to remove their tongues from their cheeks on sardonic kiss-offs like "Katie Holmes' Silent Birth" and "We Put the Fidel in Low-Fidelity." This is what all the smartasses will be dancing to in '06.

Ultralord
On their debut LP, Act, the members of Ultralord come out swinging and don't let up until your eyes are as black as their hearts. A mix of bare-knuckle thrash and carcinogenic sludgecore, the band sounds like a cross between Discharge and Eyehategod. Ultralord's tunes often start out fast, with crusty, blasting riffs and vocals so irate you can practically hear the veins bulging in singer Bahb Branca's neck. But then the band wades into a tarpit of slow 'n' grueling doom, cutting the tempo in half like St. Vitus on 'ludes. Boasting current and former members of such regional badasses as Fistula, Rune, Roué, and Madman Mundt, this four-piece is something of an indie metal all-star squad. Even with all the impressive pedigrees, this could be their best band yet.

Gel
Since he recently landed in the top 20 of the Billboard rap-singles sales chart, we doubt we'll be able to include Gel among Cleveland's hottest unsigned rappers for much longer. Gel's breakout single, "Shoulder Work," is a darkly melodic club banger with oscillating synth that features a guest appearance from the hotly tipped Stat Quo, Eminem's latest discovery, whom many predict will become one of hip-hop's new stars in '06. Like a much more rugged-sounding Nelly, Gel is skilled at infusing harmony into his rhymes, lending his songs a tunefulness that separates him from so many of his grizzled thug-rap peers. A producer as well as an MC, Gel (Nigel Allen) has been making the rounds in Cleveland hip-hop circles since he was 12. He's worked with Bizzy Bone, and recently recorded a single with rising R&B vocalist Cheri Dennis, whom P. Diddy has tapped to be Bad Boy's heir apparent to Faith Evans. "It's been a long time coming/And I'm not so happy about that," Gel growls on "Shoulder Work." But we expect his disposition to improve -- along with his fortunes -- in the coming year.

The Sex Crimes
You'll need a shower and a tetanus shot after catching this bawdy Clevo gutter-punk troupe live. The Sex Crimes are intent on preserving the Dead Boys' and the Pagans' gloriously foul tradition of curled lips, bloody knuckles, snotty noses, and songs about gettin' loaded and passing out in inappropriate places. Frontman Fred Gunn sings about dying young in a phlegmy rasp that sounds like Mick Jagger clearing his throat. He's backed by a dual-guitar attack complete with lots of hot-ass leads cribbed from Turbonegro's playbook. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's all been done before. But like guzzling brews and gettin' laid, this stuff never gets old.

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