The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of

(SeeThru Broadcasting) Not only does Allan Vest sing in a Brit-pseud whine that crosses Sparks with the guy in Rain Parade, his lyrics are as arch as he is and his cello-violin duo does "Eleanor Rigby" homages. Red-blooded rock and rollers will grab the barf bag. But if those whose immune systems can always use a little toning hang in there, they'll soon notice, not without some healthy unease, that melodically, harmonically, and even rhythmically this Oklahoman getsya every track. Except the slow ones. B PLUS

The Modern Age (Rough Trade import)

Lou Reed's too easy, Television just wrong—this New York five-piece's three-song preview reminds me of the Vibrators. Who were songfully nonstop Britpunks-of-convenience, slightly trad and not too deep, hence the necessity of IDing them. Their 1978 debut is cherished by many. A MINUS

Pick Hit

The Moldy Peaches
(Rough Trade import)

They are your parents' nice children and they are not decadent, they're still nice. They don't so much risk cute as sit on its face—they're cute fatties who need a 40 before declaring their fear of skinny girls who talk about bands, cute folkies who break without warning into punk noise and sing a deeply catchy song called "Who's Got the Crack," cute floozies who'll fuck anybody with anything when that's their mood or stage of life. Ambitious teen Adam Green writes about hiring whores older than his mom, bunny-suited twentysomething Kimya Dawson about Josie and the Pussycats. Only Kimya is so lovesick, malleable, or deep-down bad that she'll sing anything Adam tells her to, like the rhyme line on (note st—k consonances) "Who mistook this steak for chicken?/Who'm I gonna stick my dick in?" She's going to be fine, though—in fact, she's fine now. If she wasn't, she wouldn't be cute. Would she? A MINUS

Nils Petter Molvaer
Solid Ether (ECM)

The son of a (savor this phrase) local jazz musician from an island off the northwest coast of Norway, Molvaer cut his teeth on electric Miles the way other kids cut theirs on Black Sabbath. On 1998's Khmer, he joined or anticipated Jon Hassell, Tim Hagans, and Graham Haynes (with Bill Laswell the only nontrumpeter) in the growing cadre of syncretic visionaries who set themselves to building something from that idea a quarter century after it was hauled off the jazzsite in black plastic bags. And on this follow-up, he sounds like the best of them. Not alone in connecting Agartha to the turmoil of drum and bass, he has the guts to let the beat take over, and when he goes ambient he looks to Gil Evans for structural reinforcement. He references Don Cherry as well as Jack Johnson.He mixes in dub, vocoder, a borrowed piccolo trumpet, even two discreet poetry readings. He immerses in chaos and comes out beautiful. A

Dud of the Month

Smile (Columbia)

The Jayhawks without Mark Olson don't resemble the Flying Burrito Brothers without Gram Parsons so much as Poco without Richie Furay. Not that they were ever as fluffy as Poco (or as chewy as the Burritos). But now they're as vapid as late Poco and then some. Although specifics do assert themselves, like when the drummer sings or the inspirational title cut references some northern clime, Greg Louris's boys and girl aspire to the generalization level of transcendentalist parlor ballads, Hallmark cards, and, increasingly, Music Row. Alt- and any other kind of country behind them, they praise the Bob Ezrin who produced Alice Cooper and hire the one who produced Air Supply. C

Additional Consumer News

HONORABLE MENTION: Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, Furnace Room Lullaby (Bloodshot): Country music as saying what you mean—or trying to, which is just as good, right? ("Thrice All American," "South Tacoma Way"); Istanbul Oriental Ensemble, Caravanserai (Network import): Roma finger drum as musical Dardanelles ("Askin Sarabi," "Katar"); Heavy D and the Boyz, Heavy Hitz (MCA): One track is the "b-side of 'Don't Curse,' " everything else the A side, and more seductive for it ("The Overweight Lover's in the House," "Black Coffee"); Giant Sand, Chore of Enchantment (Thrill Jockey): one of them newfangled song-cycle sounding sorta things ("[well] Dusted [for the millennium]," "Temptation of Egg"); the Embarrassment, Blister Pop (My Pal God): live leavings of a helluva bar band ("Faith Healer," "Time Has Come Today"); Idlewild, 100 Broken Windows (Odeon): anthems of the New Sincerity ("Roseability," "Those Wooden Ideas"); Jeb Loy Nichols, Just What Time It Is (Rykodisc): too subtle for too long, although the tunes do pick up drastically four tracks in, when he takes on a collaborator ("Room 522," "Kissing Gate"); the Naysayer, Deathwhisker (Carrot Top): exile in grrrlville ("Currency," "Plans"); Cursive, Cursive's Domestica (Saddle Creek): guitar rageboy marries too young, gets concept album out of it ("The Game of Who Needs Who the Worst," "The Night I Lost the Will to Fight"); Capleton, More Fire (VP): prophets of slackness beware ("Danger Zone," "Bun Dung Dreddie"); the Corn Sisters, The Other Women (Mint import): Neko Case and friend sing country songs—authentic and simulated, live and acoustic, 1998 ("Too Many Pills," "Corn on the Cob"); Drive-By Truckers, Alabama Ass Whuppin' ( loads of stories, not much music ("The Living Bubba," "Don't Be in Love Around Me"); Cracker, Garage d'Or (Virgin): all any nonsophomore need know of a minor popster, major wiseass, and great lost indie-rocker ("Teen Angst [What the World Needs Now]," "Mr. Wrong").

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