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We're headlong into the holiday season and it's supposed to be all about the kids, but this week showed me that the kids are due for some correcting.

The Beat

WTF is up with the yoots these days? You have worlds of access and information at your whim yet you still choose shit to listen to. Undeveloped taste is reason No. 204,698 why teenagers do not run the world.

Case one in point is Phoenix's Medic Droid (Dec. 4, The Social), whose soul-sucking dance-pop is only good for an eye-roll and a head shake. The only thing worse than stupidity and shallowness is flamboyantly self-absorbed stupidity and shallowness. Then again, you gotta know something's wrong when local skid mark Blood on the Dance Floor is on the bill. Yes, I walked in of my own volition. But, hey, it's my job and I have an open mind (read: a sick-fuck kind of curiosity). The rest of you? Well, you'll have to own that shame yourself. Y'know how all you teens are consumed by the belief that the world is against you? Well, it is and this is why.

Though not nearly as criminal, case two in point deals with the new breed of whiny-ass metalcore bands, specifically Colorado's Fear Before, who used to go by the pointlessly indulgent, near-complete sentence of Fear Before the March of Flames (Dec. 1, The Social). They describe themselves as an "experimental" hardcore and metal band. Sorry, but throwing weird clothes and emo wailing on top of metalcore does not qualify as "experimental" (even though the guitarist's gorilla suit was pretty cool). Someone please explain to me why emo has become such an unshakable woobie? Move on to solid foods already, you babies. With more power, technicality and brutality, opener Heavy Heavy Low Low from San Jose, Ca. was a much clearer realization of what Fear Before thinks they're doing.

Enough jive and onto some metal that's a little more stylistically sure-footed. In Flames is a death metal band from Sweden — which, I know, sounds almost redundant — that rocked a victoriously melodic sound (Dec. 2, Hard Rock Live). I'm pretty much for anything that makes me feel like I'm riding into battle with shining sword held high.

However, opener Gojira completely owned this night. Though they sport that priceless name that phonetically approximates the Japanese pronunciation of a certain big-ass radioactive lizard, they're actually from France.

French metal, eh? I know what you're thinking but, despite their provenance, they're neither haughty nor pussies. They are, in fact, the emphatic opposite of that. Their massive slab of on-a-dime punishment came down like a hail of hammers in a stunning display of technical mastery and bludgeoning power.

I almost returned for the Jason Mraz show the next night but, nah, too easy of a target. Even I'm not that … OK, yes, I am. Alas, I skipped it. But only because I couldn't quite decide if enduring his music just for the sake of a bloodthirsty write-up was better than a belt-sander to the ball sack.

Dec. 6 saw packed houses downtown at album release parties for a couple notable locals, Poverty Branch (Back Booth) and Matt Butcher (The Social). I honestly don't know what's up with the new Poverty Branch sound. While their sparkling pop melodies were dusted with enough texture and folksy character to be charming before, the commercial rock sheen of their new album, All Systems Go!!!, is an unwelcome shift toward the mainstream. Ironically (or not), their new, cleaned-up sound puts them squarely into the murky middle. They've shown songwriting prowess before, so let's call this a temporary exile for now.

The new Matt Butcher album, Me and My Friends, is an entirely different matter. The incredibly considered debut is the essence of country grace and features mature songwriting and fine-spun atmosphere. Though his image-crafting ambition and complete lack of spontaneity can be a bit much, kid's the real Mac and has a genuine chance at hitting the big time, whatever that is these days.

Though his band, the Revolvers, play on the record, it's released under Butcher's name only. I know it's confusing but apparently his individual identity and his band are locked in the same vague waltz that Ryan Adams has been doing with the Cardinals. Whatever, just know it's the same project.

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