Let it be known that my 'entourage' and I had the distinct privilege of being the guests of Science Records' Beat Union, who are killin' Vans' attendees at every stop promoting what I have no compunction writing is surely one of the best CDs of 2008. At the risk of jinxing it, I'll fall back on my standard "it's too good for radio" sobriquet. It's goddamn Pop perfect is what it is! And, *assuming* most of you attend the Vans' Warped Tour when it comes to your berg, I'll spare you the blow-by-blow of my experience and just tell you that there were some standouts for me this year, the least of which was a band relegated to playing under their own canopy, rain notwithstanding! I'm talking about neo-Metal monsters Allura. Now, most of you know from reading my bits that I'm not really a Hardcore or Metal zombie. But, that doesn't mean that I never owned a Sepultura, Iron Maiden or Pantera record back in the day! And, as much as I try to avoid the cliché of comparing artists' work to other artists, well, sometimes it helps to make a point. The real standouts here are the brothers Bartholomew, AJ on guitar and Chris on drums and guitarist Taylor Killam. But, that is not to say that bassist Jon Thomson does not do himself a great honor simply by manning up the bottom end for the three instrumentalists mentioned above. He's (hard)rock solid in the pocket. And, I can't tell you the last time I heard a drummer flat out assail a double kick like Chris Bartholomew. It's fucking amazing to hear that kind of controlled intensity in someone so young. And, if you've longed for the double-lead mayhem once wrought by the likes of the aforementioned Iron Maiden, well then, you would do yourself a solid by picking up a copy of Allura's "The Organization of Sound and Silence" (see my 'Pick' below). It's a study in furious melodies and manic guitar harmonies driven by an out and out marvel of a skins slammer. -Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Weekly E-zine from U.N.C.L.E.