We Got A Lot

Kvelling over damn near a dozen meanings of life, their average length close to an hour


THELONIOUS MONSTER
California Clam Chowder
Lakeshore

Not as peaky as beautiful fuckup Bob Forrest's Bicycle Thiefcomeback five years ago. If the brief "The Germs Song" is ugly and chaotic and the briefer "The Beck Song" disses the post-folkie and his haircut, titles like "The Bob Dylan Song" and "The Iggy Stooge Song" are less evocative than implied. As for "The Elton John Song"—well, Elton should cover it, because Forrest needs the money. Throughout this out-of-nowhere record, he and his relaxed band ride an emotional openness and tuneful ease that some pop schemer should convert into accounts receivable. Forrest is glad to be alive because staying that way has been kind of hard. The loveliest of his many lovely moments reaches out in near-tears solidarity to a sad, sexy, solitary salesclerk who wasn't so lucky. Why it's called "The Big Star Song" I don't know or care. A MINUS


Dud of the Month

DAVID BYRNE
Grown Backwards
Nonesuch

The two opera selections signify one thing, and it's not that those voice lessons have finally paid off. It's that more even than Randy Newman or Tom Waits (or Sting), this likable Manhattan progressive conceives himself as a performer of artsongs. As a writer of same he has his moments. Somebody somewhere could do justice to the absurdly abject "Glad" or the smarmily rationalized "Empire" or "She Only Sleeps," the love tribute of a sex worker's boyfriend. Byrne cannot. His voice devoid of Newman-Waits grit, his eclecticism even and controlled where theirs bristles with jokes, oddity, and gusto, how does he expect to connect with anyone but other likable progressives, and rather detached and inscrutable ones at that? The guy's been championing the ordinary since More Songs About Buildings and Food. But he makes such a point of approaching it from the outside you have to wonder whether as far as he's concerned that isn't just more exoticism, which for him is the only thing that comes naturally. C PLUS


Additional Consumer News

Honorable Mention

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO AFRICAN RAP
(World Music
Circuit import)

There are beats and then there are beats, and these are most exciting at their most recent and most American (Kala-mashaka, "Ni Wakati"; Pee Froiss, "Djalgaty").

BUTCHIES
Make Yr Life
(Yep Roc)

They love pussy and all it implies ("Send Me You," "Make Yr Life").

ANDY BEY
American Song
(Savoy Jazz)

Billy Eckstine masterminds an all-star combo and nobody shows off, especially Billy ("Speak Low," "Satin Doll").

LOU REED
Animal Serenade
(Sire/Reprise)

A career's worth of demotic artsong bedecked with occasional guitar-piano and a whole lotta Antony falsetto ("Smalltown," "Street Hassle")

LOCAL H
Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?
(Studio E)

Formerly high on triumph, now determined to prevail ("Everyone Alive," "California Songs")

BLONDIE
The Curse of Blondie
(Sanctuary)

Believes in reincarnation, wishes the pope had a bigger dick ("Shakedown," "End to End")

ROSWELL RUDD'S
MALICOOL WITH
TOUMANI DIABATE
(Soundscape)

Trombone learns Sahel ("Bamako," "Johanna").

CALEXICO
Convict Pool
(Quarterstick)

Songs by Love and the Minutemen, atmospheres by the band ("Corona," "Alone Again Or")

CALEXICO
Feast of Wire
(Quarterstick)

Latin Playboys as conceived by an Anglo—too artistic, genuinely literary, lyrical enough to haunt you some ("Sunken Waltz," "Black Heart")

THE HOLD STEADY
Almost Killed Me
(Frenchkiss)

Craig Finn lifts and pulls more cruddy details from his intimacy with crystal meth and his consuming desire to rhyme Nina Simone with Neil Schon ("Killer Parties," "Sweet Payne").

CARINA ROUND
The Disconnection
(Interscope)

The Kate Bush of PJ Harvey ("Into My Blood," "Lacuna")

ANTHONY
HAMILTON
Comin' From Where I'm From
(Arista)

The devil is in the details—also the angel ("Lucille," "Charlene").

BOTNLEDJA
Iceland National Park
(Trust Me import)

Naked islanders sing their savage songs ("I'll Make You Come," "Broko").


Choice Cuts

HENRY BUTLER
"Henry's Boogie," "Jump" to the Rhythm"
Homeland
(Basin Street)

IGGY POP
"Little Electric Chair"
Skull Ring
(Virgin)

T.I.
"Be Better Than Me"
Trap Muzik
(Grand Hustle/ Atlantic)

MARY MCBRIDE
"Big Old Oak Table"
Everything Seemed Alright
(Bogan)

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
"Au Contraire"
Indestructible Object(Barsuk)

VORTIS
"God Won't Bless America Again," "Fight the War Again"
God Won't Bless America
(Thick)


Duds

COMPILASIAN: THE WORLD OF INDIPOP
(Narada World)

FLAMING LIPS
Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
(Warner Bros.)

THE FLATLANDERS
Wheel of Fortune
(New West)

G UNIT
Beg for Mercy
(G Unit/Interscope)

JOSH KLEIN
Everyone Loves a Winner
(One Little Indian)

LEAVES
Breathe
(DreamWorks)

PHILLIPS & DRIVER
Together
(Bar/None)

DAMIEN RICE
O
(Vector)

SMASH MOUTH
Get the Picture?
(Interscope)

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS
Phantom Power
(XL/Beggars)

WAYNE WONDER
No Holding Back
(VP/Atlantic)

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