The OffspringThe kings of self-effacing punk rock, The Offspring, have a new Greatest Hits collection out on Columbia Records, featuring a new track, "Can't Repeat." It leads off a string of hard-rockin' doses of humorous punk power, including their first "loser" hit, "Self Esteem," and the infectious (and equally humorous) "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)." Also included are "Gotta Get Away," "Why Don't You Get a Job" and last year's "Hit That." The band will play Tinley Park's Tweeter Center July 23 as part of the Warped Tour.

The soundtrack to the new Lindsay Lohan vehicle Herbie: Fully Loaded is out on Hollywood Records. It opens with a guitar-pop leadoff track from Lohan, ("First"), before diving into a series of remakes culled from the radio waves of The Love Bug's heyday in the ''70s, as well as the '80s. Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath handles a retread of the Beach Boys' "Getcha Back," while Caleigh Peters (from Disney's "Ice Princess") turns the Beach Boys' "Fun Fun Fun" into even sweeter bubblegum. HerbieJosh Gracin reprises Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend" and The Donnas crank up the AM sound for a run-through of BTO's "Roll on Down the Highway." The Mooney Suzuki do an authentic sounding cover of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" and Ingram Hill handles Boston's "More Than a Feeling." The original versions of 1975 hit "Magic" and Lionel Richie's "Hello" are included, among other tracks.

The soundtrack for the new movie of Bewitched offers oldies as well, mainly by the original artists. Included on the Columbia/Sony CD are Talking Heads' "And She Was," Frank Sinatra's "Witchcraft," Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," Steve Lawrence's "Bewitched," Ella Fitzgerald's "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead," R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts," the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" and Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong's "I Love You Samantha." Also included is the quirky psychedelic Euro-lounge rock "City of Love" from San Francisco's Persephone's Bees and "Bewitched" star Kristin Chenoweth's revamp of The Eagles' hit "Witchy Woman."

 

Robbie Fulks Robbie Fulks
Georgia Hard
(Yep Roc)
½


Chicago folk singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks has made a name for himself as the leader of the alternative country movement. Fulks certainly knows how to write a pickin' tune with a wry sense of humor and an undeniable foot-tapping beat.

Fulks has been doling out his unflinching vocal commentaries on life without stooping to PC shellacking for almost 10 years now. If you missed his CD release party in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, don't miss his CD.

Don't look for typical stories of trucks and cheating here. Fulks' music is about a whipsmart turn of a phrase, like this quiet "I've had enough of her" wordplay dig in "It's Always Raining Somewhere":

"Some people seem to blossom under pressure
some say a real hard woman's good to find
some people never get their fill of fighting
well I've had mine."

While the latter song is Hank Williams twangy, the next track feels like a rescued gem from country radio circa 1974, opening with a smooth piano and even smoother croon (with background strings) as Fulks sings a beautiful melody about screwing up a great romance in "Leave It to a Loser."

Fulks shows off his Roger Miller-esque sense of humor (and command of character voices) in "I'm Gonna Take You Home (And Make You Like Me)" wherein he tries to pick up a woman in a barů but is too drunk to realize she's his wife. His own wife guests on the duet vocal.

He offers a spooky Eagles-esque bit of mood in "Coldwater, Tennessee," and a slippery slide of fiddles in the honky tonk thumper "All You Can Cheat."

From twisted moralizing ("Doin' Right For All the Wrong Reasons)" to wry electric guitar riff re-thinking of his favorite genre ("Countrier Than Thou"), Georgia Hard offers 15 solid songs that anyone who's ever tilted an ear at a countrified tune should hear. Alt nothing. This is country and folk and just plain Americana music done right.

 

The Pierces The Pierces
Light of the Moon
(Universal)


Five years ago, two sisters from Alabama scored a record deal and released their self-titled harmony-drenched folky pop debut called simply The Pierces. It was a great little record with some strong pop tracks on it, but nothing much happened on the radio airwaves or in the record store CD sales department, and the sisters subsequently disappeared for awhile.

Fast forward to early this year, and the still-gorgeous but wiser sister act decided to try again, albeit on a new label. The result is a disc of earthy, luscious pop songs with the kind of harmonic tension that only sisters can achieve.

I haven't heard the Pierces' new CD on the radio lately, and probably neither have you. Which is a shame, because Light of the Moon is one of the friendliest, best-sounding folk-rock CDs you're likely to hear this year.

With a sweetly building bit of bittersweet breakup harmony on "Louisa," a stunning, strumming pop gem in the yearning "Space Song" and an oscillating guitar line teasing the pleading, lush vocals of "Tonight," this is an amazing sophomore release.

"Tonight" should be sweeping up the charts with its haunting, whispery verses and pounding chorus demand that everyone can relate to:

"I need desire
to feel alive
I want a fire
to burn me up inside
so I'm calling angels
help me tonight."

Likewise, the twangier "A Way to Us" has some bending guitar lines before the girls chime in together on a powerful declaration of "love me or leave me."

Don't miss the richly layered aural treats of this one; for samples, check the Pierces' Web site at www.thepiercesmusic.com.