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Major Acts Highlight Radio Festival

Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

For the three headliners, this year's 89X 15th Birthday Bash is a super-sized album release party.

All three groups -- AFI, Guster and Dashboard Confessional -- have albums either just out or about to be released, all of which come three years after their predecessors. AFI's "Decemberunderground," the group's first release in three years, rolled into stores on June 6. Guster's "Ganging Up on the Sun" comes out Tuesday, two days after the festival in Detroit's Foxtown area, while Dashboard Confessional will be previewing songs from its "Dusk and Summer," which is due on June 27.

Not surprisingly, all of the bands are happy to be working in some new material again after long breaks between albums.

"We didn't take time off," says AFI guitarist Jade Puget. "We were just working on this album intensely since we got off the road on the last one (the gold-certified major label debut 'Sing the Sorrow')." Puget says the California quartet wrote more than 100 songs -- including the first single, "Miss Murder" -- but didn't have too much trouble knocking them down to a 12-track final product.

"I'm pretty critical of myself, Puget says. "It's easy, to me, to discard a song if I feel it's not up to par, if it's good but not great. That's probably why I wrote so many songs, 'cause I was getting rid of them right and left."

And the effort, according to frontman Davey Havok, was worth it.

"We spent a lot of time on the last record," and what resulted was our best release to date," he says. "So we're spent a lot of time on this, too. "It's a matter of us getting what we want to be the perfect album."

Dashboard Underground's Chris Carrabba can relate. He started working on "Dusk and Summer" in late 2004 in his Florida apartment before heading to Jamaica in March of 2005 to spend two months with producer Daniel Lanois before finishing the album in Los Angeles with producer Don Gilmore.

"It took a long time to really fulfill it, but absolutely, what you hear is what I envisioned," says Carrabba, who estimates he wrote nearly 50 songs for the album. "The process wasn't laborious, but it was long. It was, 'I'm gonna keep at this until I find what I know is there.' "

He says that despite the rigors, it was "the best year ever" -- but adds with laugh that "I can't get away with pulling that move again -- although I wish I could do it every time."

Guster's "Ganging Up on the Sun," meanwhile, continues the sonic expansion that began with 2003's "Keep it Together." The group has expanded to a quartet with the full-time addition of multi-instrumentalist Joe Pisapia, and singer-guitarist Adam Gardner says the new input has helped the band, formed in 1992 at Tufts University, get even more adventurous.

"The last record was about not being limited instrumentally," says Gardner. "This one is about not being limited musically or genre-wise. It definitely stretches in a lot of different directions, yet it still holds together as a collection. I don't think we were entirely sure we could do that until this record, and it felt really good to do."

The 89x 15th Birthday Bash takes place Sunday the Fox and State theaters on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Featured acts include AFI, Dashboard Confessional, Guster, Hawthorne Heights, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ameberlin, Mindless Self Indulgence, We Are Scientis

Web Site: www.89xradio.com.

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