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STANDOUT TRACK: No. 2, “These Clouds Will Never Catch Us,” which features rhythm programmer Philippe Grenade’s digital blast beats, low-bit-rate house grind, and a Wagnerian Casio-chorus finale. Vocalist Jeff Scott growls in his best Reznor impression, “three-fourths of a mile turns into 30 miles of God,” before screaming out, “We’re under attack—oh my God!”

MUSICAL MOTIVATION: “Everything we do is an accident that ends up being awesome,” says Scott of the Cowboys’ MO. In this example, while surfing the Net for instrumental samples, the Northern Virginia duo stumbled upon a sound clip of a panicked news anchor describing the flaming Twin Towers. Moved, Scott finished the lyrics in less than 10 minutes.

“I wanted to write a song from the perspective of a person who had to decide to jump…instead of catching on fire,” says Scott, 23. “It’s also kind of a metaphor for everyday life. You know, to take that last rush and make it less painful—to enjoy the last three thrilling seconds of flying before you die.”

DON’T TAKE THIS PERSONALLY: Although Scott says that fans are generally into the song, reviewers tend to be a little antsy about the content. “It’s definitely the most controversial song I’ve written,” he says. “It’s like people think we have an agenda against 9/11, but it’s really more of a tribute….Nobody ever really thinks about the (individual) people who lost their lives when they write about 9/11. They always make it about themselves and their feelings; they make it too personal.” —Aaron Leitko