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Soundbite

Our critics' picks in new releases

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Liked Fu Manchu's last CD? You should love King of the Road, because it sounds almost exactly like The Action is Go, down to, in some cases, recycling that last CD's riffs. Is this good or bad? You know, I don't really know. I love Fu Manchu, and I love their fuzzed-out, THC-laden hot-rod metal. But I'd also love to hear something a little different every now and then. Especially since there are now a whole slew of stoner-rock bands, some of which--like Fireball Ministry--are more interesting. The most distinctive song on King of the Road is a treatment of the old Devo chestnut "Freedom of Choice," which is cool as hell, but not really worth the price of a whole CD.

Perhaps the secret is to keep in mind the NME blurb printed on a sticker on the cover: "This is a damn near-perfect record from what must be damn near the most conceptually perfect rock band since The Ramones." If concept is what they're going for, then, like The Ramones, they have mastered it. But even the best concept can use a little tweaking every once in a while.

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