Squirt You

August precedents, timely details, and timeless novelties you will find nowhere else

Pick Hits

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SONIC YOUTH
Sonic Nurse
(DGC)

They'd rather be Coleman Hawkins, but their long-term consistency recalls less august precedents—say the Shoes, fashioning perfect pop album after perfect pop album in Zion, Illinois. Difference is, the Shoes kept it up for what seemed an ungodly long time and still got bitter and old in the span it took these citizens of world bohemia to absorb Jim O'Rourke and continue the mature phase that began with Experimental Jet Set in 1994, just after they were a fixture and somewhat after they realized they'd never be stars. This unusually songful set is well up among their late good ones, its dissonances a lingua franca deployed less atmospherically than has been their recent practice. I like the lyric about the New Hampshire boys who live for Johnny Winter even if he's a no-show. Our heroes are so much more reliable than that. They can be Coleman Hawkins if they want. A MINUS


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PETER STAMPFEL & THE BOTTLE CAPS
The Jig Is Up
(Blue Navigator)

Two wondrous songs: "You Stupid Jerk," as in "You are the kind of guy who hates support groups/But you're the kind of guy who needs support groups/That is so typical of those who need support groups/You cliché-monger stupid jerk," and "Squid Jiggin' Ground," a Hank Snow oldie set against a countermelody of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" about the jolly time to be had stabbing squid to death and then they squirt you. Estimable also-rans include "the first song ever about a repo man" (it's traditional), the misanthropic "Song of Man" (it's not), an unsentimental adieu to William McKinley, and Stephen Foster's rarely heard "Old Dog Trey," to which Stampfel provides a follow-up. There are also some lousy songs by various of the artiste's wasted '60s posse, perhaps to demonstrate (or celebrate) the limits of what his notes dub "Psychedelic Drug Wisdom." Recorded 1989–1999, sung with Stampfel's signature lust for life, and released by conniving alt-folk mogul Michael Hurley, whom Stampfel bribes with a cover of "Werewolf." A MINUS


BOBBY BARE JR'S YOUNG CRIMINALS' STARVATION LEAGUE
From the End of Your Leash
(Bloodshot)

Mostly Bare obsesses over a mythical "wild girl" who has him hogtied until he either kills her on Valentine's Day or doesn't tell her all those "things [he] didn't say." Personally, I wish he began by depicting the mythical Nashville where cops carry capos to help you change keys. But in this postmodern age I can make him do just that, and there are enough winners here that it might be worth the trouble. Definitely we end with "Let's Rock & Roll," where there's vomit on the floor, and the vomit came from someone, and someone else has to clean it up. A MINUS


DNA
DNA on DNA
(No More)

Arto Lindsay, Ikue Mori, Robin Crutchfield, and/or Tim Wright recorded 12 songs lasting 23 minutes in four years of boho mayhem, and these songs justify a CD. As Byron Coley and Glenn O'Brien outdo themselves explaining, this was art-noise like no other, more anarchic yet more structured than anything else called no wave: dense little aural paint-bombs im/exploding painfully and sportively all over the world-music avant-garde (whatever that means, which with them was everything). But 23 minutes don't a major reissue make, and so Jason Gross has unearthed 20 more tracks in 40 more minutes. Some of those that feature Lindsay's strangled vocals, especially from the "Fiorucci tape" but also the live "Nearing" and "Brand New," are up to the standard of the official oeuvre. Others reduce to avant-vamps with bassist Wright in the lead, especially the program music—"Police Chase" is quite onomatopoeic—that accompanied a Squat Theatre play. As Wright replaced Crutchfield, Lindsay's groovier tendencies began to surface, the way God intended. But closet prog Crutchfield kept the focus on form. You'll know what that form is when you hear it. If you find you don't, listen again. A MINUS


ARTO LINDSAY
Salt
(Righteous Babe)

Use it atmospherically, always a temptation with Lindsay's mutant samba, and the textures remain textures. Crank it up, and out of the trad percussion and futuristic programming leap Hiroshi Sunairi's performance-art vocal, Vernon Reid's acoustic guitar, Sandra Park's viola da gamba. Lyrics come clearer, too—especially in the translated Portuguese. A MINUS


THE PONYS
Laced With Romance
(In the Red)

The romance of postpunk, they mean. Not that they can play like Ivan Julian or sing like Peter Perrett (or even Richard Hell). But they can dream, decorating off-key celebrations of their confusion and ineptness with hooks from wherever. "Little Friends" is about their cats, who won't even pee in the box and get much love anyway. Which doesn't make the Ponys pussys—just messed-up young sweetie-pies. A MINUS


THE STREETS
A Grand Don't Come for Free
(Vice/Atlantic)

Timely details—cellphone cutouts and charging problems, TV sex tips. Eternal truths—he's sure she's done bad stuff, but in the heat of argument can't remember just when. Dodgy plotting—obscure bit with Simone's coat leads to sad ending with a twist. A hook marks each chapter—right, chapter. This makes engrossing listening if the effort suits you, but it's useless as background music—behind Alan Sillitoe, Roddy Doyle, Dick Hebdige, the box scores, anything. B PLUS

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