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
Chhom Nimol, a former Khmer pop star detained for three weeks by the INS last winter, has some of what the Shocking Blue's mountaintop goddess, Mariska Vero, had; all the psychedelia here comes from her voice. Her indie-twerp L.A. band mostly just connects exotic dots learned from Cambodian reissue CDs, as dispassionately as Malibu studio pros. But some tracks approach the schlock beauty of Kyu Sakamoto's 1963 Asian novelty "Sukiyaki"; others surf "Baker Street" sax and "Green Onions" organ into space. On Mars, "I'm Sixteen" might be "Louie Louie."
Quagmire country rocka cassette-only 1987 film soundtrack, now finally on disc in Baghdad's wake. Mixed-media Texan Allen links up with Communist Clapton fans from Laos to lament 'Nam's aftermath by playing "Swan Lake" and "Silent Night" on bamboo flutes, elephant-skin drums, Singha beer bottles, and distorted guitars. Chopsticks meet Thai sticks; displaced men meet display women; lonely soldiers eat Christmas turkey to the whorehouse piano at Lucy's Tiger Den. Then Surachai Jantimatorn outsings Allen in the eeriest "My Country 'Tis of Thee" ever.
(Cooking Vinyl import)
Opening with Terry Allen's eternal anti-avant-garde yodel "Truckload of Art," California indie-twerp-turned-studio-pro David Lowery gets borderline conceptual about crossing over and getting the fuck out of the U.S.A. and artists in trucker hats swilling Wild Turkey as the economy turns them blue-collar for real. His Hank Jr. and Jerry Jeff covers both blame adult fuckups on childhood raising. And he ends with a layoff-revenge screed where, since the Virgin Records mailroom has no swag left to steal, Sticky Fingers masters from the tape vault will have to do.