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
THE WHITE STRIPES "Jolene"
(Sympathy for the Record Industry, sympathyrecords.com)
A Detroit big-brother/little-sister duo (white signifying both their last name and their pigmentation) with an auto-industry ode called "The Big Three Killed My Baby" on another 45, they cover "John the Revelator" live. But at their best, they're entirely deferential: "You could have your choice of men, but I could never love again, he's the only one for me Jolene." The drum gets knocked every 20 seconds or so, then enters a half-minute Zep thump-and-thud midway through; the voice is a high lonesome squeal, the guitar an intense Tom Verlaine/Richard Thompson tapestry. The overall genre, though, is leaden elephant-stomp punk blues, making this male-sung Dolly Parton remake a de facto answer to their Midwestern predecessors Killdozer's cloddish take on Jessi Colter's "I'm Not Lisa." Except it's more sincere, and the gender switcheroo means more, since "Jolene" has always been a rip-her-to-shreds catfight.
CANDY ASS Orgy
The two killer cuts are both catfights: one where "Brenda's boyfriend likes 'em tough, but Brenda's just a piece of fluff," one where "I have dumped girls better than you." A black-eyed boy drummer and three girls and/or drag queens, all with'80s haircuts and one with an iguana tattoo, shout and handclap and nyah-nyah-nyah out a bisexually Burundied bubblemetal oddly obsessed with making the'80s ditz-wave of Moon Unit Zappa or Tony Basil or the Suburban Lawns rock as hard as Poison or Ratt. Very, very L.A. One of the popular girls they hate even has bulimia (insert vomiting sound effect). And other problems: "Ohmigod! You are so totally natural platinum blond!"
AARON CARTER "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)"
Twelve-year-old Aaron, totally natural platinum blond little brother of Backstreet Nick and coverer of not just "I Want Candy" but "Iko Iko," could as easily turn into Mark Wahlberg as Jimmy Osmond. And Marky never made a record this good. A.C.'s vocal chords squeak oddly like the even shorter Joe C's, and as insufferable as his dancing is on Nickelodeon, he raps pretty fast over Flea's still-unstoppable "Bust a Move" bassline. The title could've come off Enjoy Records in 1980. And the scenario's not far from "Parents Just Don't Understand": Kid sends Mommy and Daddy to a movie, gets booted off his family tree when guests crash into his Ikea-furnished rec-room uninvited and spill juice all over the brand-new cushions.
PORN THEATRE USHERS "Me &Him"/"My Imagination"/"Cat Nip"
"I went to your house and fucked up the place. . . on your couch I ate an apple fritter. "Shameful! Told your sister to change the kitty litter, banged the babysitter, had your girl on the tilt-a-whirl. A rare-groove fusion-cheese bassline jitters under jubilant verbosity interrupted by old TV commercials and one naggingly repeated sample from who knows where: "Play me in the wintah, play me in the summah, play me in the wawtah, any wawtah." Late for his date with Bo Derek, rhyming "leprechauns" with "Decepticons," raised by a pack of retarded donkeys drinking pale ale, Nabo Rawk brags (and proves) that he's "not an average honky," à la wild-and-crazy original rapper Steve Martin in "King Tut" in 1978. He's obsessed with cats, tooone, he even makes "disappear, just like Cheshire." Go ask Alice, I think she'll know.