By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
LAPTOP User's Guide
Just like Causey Way, they put a computer on the cover of the record (a year-old teaser for an album that never came outironic, since one song mocks some fellow striver's second record being dead); their EP title, though, is oddly congruent with effete Brit-wavers Appliance's Manual album from last year. So: more buggle-pop, a few BPMs slower than necessary. Jesse Hartman is a mannered, self-absorbed jerkno wonder he gets your voice mail every time he callsbut there's something likable about how he knows it. Revolving his angst around a cover of nasal-wave legend Wreckless Eric's most lovelorn song, he actually pulls off that catchy-for-all-its-clumsiness 1979 caddish-young-sadsack-who-never-gets-the-girl aura: looking sharp, squeezing out sparks, getting stiff. "You can't take me anywhere," he warns. "I might run into an ex-affair."
MYA "Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)"
This Swizz Beatz extravaganza is what that one old Aaliyah single everybody loved so much might've sounded like if its singing and lyrics had had as much life in them as Timbaland's bumptious bottom. Mya's afraid you might surrender to the midnight-phoning ex who started turning tricks when you broke up with her back in '96, and she's for sure acting in the obsessive tradition of all the great "whatcha gonna do" landmarks: Heart's "Crazy on You," Teena Marie's "Lips to Find You," Ellen Foley's part in "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," Inner Circle's theme from Cops. Not to mention all the great ex landmarksexcept maybe "War Is Over (Weapons for El Salvador)," by the Ex.
TRINITY HI-FI "TV Dinner for One"/"Turn the Lights Down"/"Hey Joe"
Kay Dee-Kay, in the first song, just split up with somebody, who took all his CDs and the "hi-fi" (who calls it that anymore?) and left her microwaving blue chicken like ZZ Top. She wants revenge, but it's still no "Hey Joe." And neither is her "Hey Joe," the second "Hey Joe" this year (see Parisian indie-pop combo Tahiti 80) that's not the "Hey Joe": This one's aimed at a soccer player and remixed by Dee Jay Punk-Roc, who sounds more punk rock on his own album. Curious, too, that Kay would reference one of the best songs ever about being married while wishing you weren't on a single complaining about being single: "Close your eyes and think back to when young hearts run free/Sister Sledge on the radio, singing I got all my sisters with me." Who her noirishly passive-aggressive Brit-soul really sounds nostalgic for is Lisa Stansfield, who was soaked in formaldehyde from the git-go. Smart songsbut if caged tiger Candi Staton was a victim (sometimes) of the very songs she sang, Kay Dee-Kay's a victim of the repressed way she sings 'em.
DEANN MACOMSON "Hillary"
In which Bill pulls out, Tipper gets unzipped, and the senator-elect stands by her man and looks repressed in a dress. "Janet Reno's too butch for me/A real woman's what I need." Lipstick-lesbian love song of the next six years. Or four, at least.
Causey Way play the Bowery Ballroom November 17 and Maxwell's November 21.