Without getting into the nasty green, yellow, and brown details, let’s just say I’m well enough to be writing and well enough to be working, but still operating at less than peak performance due to that nasty upper respiratory infection that won’t go away. In the coming days you should see the year’s last installment of The Rockometer — there’s six or seven reviews in various states of completion dying to get published, a Holiday Gift Guide, and 2008’s Year End Extravaganza Bonanza. As in the past we’ll count down the year’s top albums, top tunes, top local releases, and we’ll also be giving away some very special “awards.” In the meantime, enjoy these three mp3s. In between all my napping and staring blankly at the walls, I did manage to get my ears around some new sounds…

From the album “Ghost,” due out this coming February on Dirtnap Records, comes “Ditch,” by Austin’s Marked Men. Fans of Gentleman Jesse and His Men, and The Exploding Hearts before them, will get a kick from their honest, untrendy approach to punk and power pop.

MP3: The Marked Men – Ditch

There’s a Cleveland connection to the ’90s power pop/indie rock sound of Friendly Foes, a new band led by Thunderbirds Are Now! vocalist/guitarist Ryan Allen: Liz Wittman, who plays bass and lends a vocal or two, also plays in the Detroit/Cleveland pop band, Kiddo.

MP3: Friendly Foes – Get Yr Sh*t Together

Also coming out this February, is Trippin’ with The Howlies, the aptly named debut full length from the Atlanta based garage rock band, The Howlies. With the rising popularity of Atlanta’s kings of juvenile, garage rock, The Black Lips, it would be easy, no natural, to start making comparisons between these two bands, but the breakdown that hits “Chimera” around the two minute mark, suggests they’ve been listening to another one of the South’s Pitchfork approved artists: Deerhunter.

MP3: The Howlies – Chimera