Were these Tempe-based punkabilly legends simply whisked off the planet in 2005? Visit their flatheadaz.com Web site and you find nothing but dead links to six-year-old newspaper stories and a heartfelt plea from the band to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. (Coldly, they overlook that tragic business in Chicago with Mrs. O'Leary's cow.) Flathead's MySpace page isn't much less zombie-like. Tellingly, there's a mention of a "much-anticipated third album" slated for early '06 that never, in fact, came out. The one disc that frontman Greg Swanholm and company did release in the '00s (New Old Stock, 2005) was merely a compilation of their first two well-regarded albums: Flathead (1996) and Play the Good One (1999). Give either of those records even a cursory listen, and the secret behind the band's lasting appeal becomes thrillingly obvious. It's just flat-out catchy roots music, with a penumbra of punk experimentation that variously makes you think of X, Johnny Cash, and The Blasters. So, yay that Flathead is back from outer space. The question is: Who's gonna break the news about Haiti?

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