Headstones Nickels For Your Nightmares

Piano codas! Children's choirs! Breezy harmonica! More acoustic guitar than ever before! Sure-fire signs of artistic maturity from Canada's loveable lug rockers, but I'll be damned if it doesn't suit them well. Just to make sure you don't get the wrong impression, the album opens with two scorchers that sound considerably more convincing than the dull crunch found on most of the band's last three albums. By the time they knock off three tunes in a row that extrapolate on the vibe of their excellent 1998 single, "Cubically Contained," Nickels For Your Nightmares achieves the seemingly impossible task of rescuing the Headstones from turning into a parody of themselves. Even old school Ramones knockoffs like "Congratulations" and "#%$@ You" sound inspired. There are some truly bizarre moments: the pseudo-reggae title track is best ignored, but "Above Ground Swimming Pools," an ode to clean living rock stars featuring the aforementioned children's choir, is hilarious, whether it's intentional or not. Singer Hugh Dillon not only saw Hard Core Logo, he was Hard Core Logo - and apparently he and his band ain't goin' out like that. (Universal)