Inter-Century Freundschaft

Where the fuck is for example the Z100, gangsta-rock, and Merina-Senegalese fusion?

THE ROGERS SISTERS
Three Fingers
(Troubleman Unlimited)

Especially when the guy is singing, the art-funk forebears this trio recalls are ones the mind's ear can no longer retrieve—Medium Medium if their finest moment had been less fine, say. But friendlier echoes tone up their EP—Devo, Gang of Four, B-52's—and groove and lyrics pack serious wallop. Finest by far is Jennifer's cute, wise, dippy "Fantasies Are Nice," which deserves to rule dancefloors like the "Hungry So Angry" of yore. B PLUS

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO GYPSY SWING
(World Music Network import)

Django Reinhardt towers so high over this style that he takes four of 21 tracks on a multi-artist comp with no other repeats, and wrote two others. Maybe "Gypsy swing" isn't a style at all—just a bunch of tribute bands. Yet its master proves far easier to emulate than Jimi Hendrix or Jerry Garcia, in part because his followers bypass his excitable youth for the sophisticated background music of his post–WW II decline. Reinhardt was one of the first to welcome bebop's harmonic challenge while finessing its cultural threat—which makes him the kind of artist whose imitators segue smoothly from cut to cut on a collection like this one. B PLUS

TARIKA
10: Beasts, Ghosts & Dancing With History
(Triloka/Artemis)

Like so many folkies, Hanitra Rasoanaivo and her sister Noro Raharimalala are too damn nice and too damn sophisticated. But because they're so damn talented, they're also idealists sitting on a gold mine—Madagascar's rich, isolated, heterogeneous Afro-Asian music culture, which they absorbed entertaining their 90-strong Merina family well before they made it into college. They have plenty of intellectual ambition—their Son Egal and Soul Makassartackle Madagascar's defeat by French-led Senegalese troops and its strong Indonesian strain, respectively. But this decade-marking retrospective of tuneful hits and apt remixes is just easy to like, a gratifying achievement for a band that's often too ingratiating. A MINUS


Dud of the Month

TV ON THE RADIO
Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
(Touch and Go)

Intelligent, honest, and original ought to be enough. But in fact there are acres, tons, and years of bad art that share these virtues, especially if "original" is interpreted generously, which it better be with the world's hundredth or thousandth guitars-and-loops outfit. Really. Take-him-or-leave-him singer. No great shakes melodically or rhythmically. Approximately as insightful in re the exigencies of male-and-female as 50 years of male chauvinists before them. Always humorless, sometimes sententious. All told, pretty dull—unless you're so desperate that you'll sing hosanna for every piece of intelligent-honest-original that comes down the circuit. B


Additional Consumer News

Honorable Mention

THE LIBERTINES
"I Get Along"
Rough Trade

Debut-album "single" plus four affectionately unfinished collectibles, the best an actual single ("Don't Look Back Into the Sun," "Mayday").

THE COMAS
Conductor
Yep Roc

Chasing drugs under the stars, staring at the ground through the hole in his shoe ("Tonight on the WB," "Invisible Drugs").

THE NAYSAYER
Kitten Time
Red Panda

Sixteen brief, quiet, sardonic meditations that require your full attention ("Silent Night," "New Jersey Baby").

TERRI CLARK
Greatest Hits 1994–2004
Mercury

Nashville's feisty female ideal, which is one reason she's not a bigger star ("I Wanna Do It All," "If I Were You").

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF VENEZUELA
World Music
Network import

Folkier than necessary, which hurts the beats, though it probably helps the tunes (Simón Díaz, "Caballo Viejo"; Guaco, "Deshonestidad").

STEVE EARLE
The Revolution Starts Now
E-Squared/Artemis

The title's poetic license, the artist half a poet at best ("Condi, Condi," "The Gringo's Tale").

THE MEAT PURVEYORS
Pain by Numbers
Bloodshot

The dark side of bluegrass revivalism ("TMP Smackdown," "How Can I Be So Thirsty Today?").

SONDRE LERCHE
Two Way Monologue
Astralwerks

Norwegian aims for classic-pop wit in English, with precisely analogous music ("Wet Ground," "It's Over").

ANTIBALAS
Who Is This America?
Ropeadope

Mostly instrumentals, and no longer do they fade into nothingness up against Fela ("Indictment," "Obanla'e").

VAKOKA
Introducing Vakoka
World Music
Network import

Madagascar supersession with Hanitra co-chairing—long on process, interactions their own reward ("Era," "Manigne").

THE HUNCHES
Hobo Sunrise
In the Red

Madder and uglier than your father's punk noise ("Where Am I," "Nosedive").


Choice Cuts

DAN BERN
"Bush Must Be Defeated"
(My Country II, Messenger)

BAD RELIGION
"Los Angeles Is Burning," "Let Them Eat War"
(The Empire Strikes First, Epitaph)

BEN KWELLER
"On My Way"
(On My Way, ATO/RCA)


Duds

THE ELECTED
Me First
(Sub Pop)

THE FIERY FURNACES
Blueberry Boat
(Rough Trade)

LIARS
They Were Wrong, So We Drowned
(Mute)

LOS LOBOS
Ride This
(Mammoth/Hollywood)

CHRISTINE MCVIE
In the Meantime
(Koch)

THE VEILS
The Runaway Found
(Rough Trade)


Honorable Mention and Choice Cuts in order of preference.


ADDRESSES:

Astralwerks, 109 West 29 Street, NYC 10001, astralwerks.com; Bloodshot, 3039 West Irving Road, Chicago IL 60618, bloodshotrecords.com; Concord, 100 North Crescent Drive, Suite 275, Beverly Hills CA 90210, concordrecords.com; Diesel Only, PO Box 720508, Jackson Heights NY 11372, dieselonly.com; Emergent, 1101 17th Avenue South, Nashville TN 37212, americanrootspublishing.org; E-Squared, 1815 Division Street, Suite 101, Nashville TN 37203, e2records.com; In the Red, 1118 West Magnolia Boulevard, PO Box 208, Burbank CA 91506, intheredrecords.com; New West, LLC PO Box 33156, Austin TX 78674-0156, newwestrecords.com; Ropeadope, PO Box 1021, Village Station, NYC 10014-1021, ropeadope.com; Rough Trade, Chelsea Hotel, Room 103, 222 West 23 Street, NYC 10011, roughtrade.com; Stinky, 511 Avenue of the Americas PMB #153, NYC 10011-8436, stinkyrecords.com; Troubleman Unlimited, 16 Willow Street, Bayonne NJ 07002, troublemanunlimited.com; World Music Network, 6 Abbeville Mews, 88 Clapham Park Road, London SW4 7BX, England, post@worldmusic.net; Yep Roc, PO Box 4821, Chapel Hill NC 27515, yeproc.com.

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