By Dan McQuade
By Brian McManus
By Hilary Hughes
By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
Stuffed-up flow. Championship scratching. A lid on the C-movie dialogue. "Titty fat"/"kitty cat"/"pretty hat"/"pitty-pat"/"kiddies, brats"/"shitty gats"/"where they at"/ "city rats"/"gritty stats"/"chicks be at"/ "chitty-chat"/"pity that." "Instincts"/"pink drinks." Any questions? A MINUS
The Tao of Yo
Where the debut emulated drum'n'bass, this time their avant-funk puts its sonics across by spacing out four compelling vocals: Chuck D stand-in Traz's "More From Life" ("economic equality"), Flavor Flav stand-in Bos Omega's "TV" ("and a big old chair"), Rubén Blades stand-in Ricky Quinones's "No Pistolas" ("Si tu quieres bailar/Si tu quieres gozar/Es bien, pero . . . "), and Bobby McFerrin stand-in Taylor McFerrin's "Words They Choose" (he's worried, unhappy). In the new millennium, you see, we use liberal politics to sell music. It has that aura of the forbidden. A MINUS
ZAMBUSH VOL. 1
"Zambian Hits from the 80s"hence, geographically and musically midway between Congolese rhumba and Zimbabwean chimurenga, which contained rhumba to begin with. Population under 6 million then, close to 10 million nowthough the great preponderance of these musicians died in between, AIDS and the local kachasu homebrew having taken their occupational toll and then some. Cheerful in affect, moralistic in contentthe brightest warns against kachasu itself. But though I'm glad its creator survived, I wish there was more evidence that these musical homilies made a difference in the lives of those who created or heard themafter the musical moment itself, when they clearly did what they were supposed to. B PLUS
Dud of the Month
If you're wondering what this concept album means, don't labor over the lyric booklet. As Billie Joe knows even if he doesn't come out and say ithe doesn't come out and say lots of obvious stuffthis is a visual culture. So examine the cover. That red grenade in the upraised fist? It's also a hearta bleeding heart. Which he heaves as if it'll explode, only it won't, because he doesn't have what it takes to pull the pin. The emotional travails of two clueless punksone passive, one aggressive, both projections of the auteurstand in for the sociopolitical content that the vague references to Bush, Schwarzenegger, and war (not any special war, just war) are thought to indicate. There's no economics, no race, hardly any compassion. Joe name-checks America as if his hometown of Berkeley was in the middle of it, then name-checks Jesus as if he's never met anyone who's attended church. And to lend his maunderings rock grandeur, he ties them together with devices that sunk under their own weight back when the Who invented them. Sole rhetorical coup: makes being called a "faggot" something to aspire to, which in this terrible time it is. C PLUS
Additional Consumer News
Shtick fights funk to the death, yielding both a circus spiel with some laughs in it and a battlefield habanera worthy of Motörhead ("Hoist That Rag," "Top of the Hill").
THIS MOMENT IN BLACK HISTORY
Seventeen songs in 33 minutes by Cleveland Voidoids/Fugazi fans who still read the newspaper ("Beans and Rice," "Art Project," "Paint Me a Picture").
THE ROUGH GUIDE TO MEDITERRANEAN CAFÉ MUSIC
(World Music Network import)
Mm . . Food?
Eat the theme up with your mouth Doom ("Hoecakes," "Kon Queso").
TRIBAL BAHIA: THE BEST OF TIMBALADA
Carlinhos Brown and associates do their drum-and-chant thing (Carlinhos Brown, "Canto Pro Mar"; Carlinhos Brown/Cicero Menenez, "Margarida Perfumada").
In a noisy way ("Mystero," "The Golden Age").
RIO BAILE FUNK: FAVELA BOOTY BEATS
In Brazil as anywhere else, the sound of poverty can be a stark thing (Bonde do Tiagro, "O Baile Todo"; Furacao 2000, "Mengao 2000").Bonde Do Tiagro's "O Baile Todo" (MP3) Furacao 2000's "Mengao 2000" (MP3)
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Pop music as spiritual balmthere are worse ideas ("Miracle Drug," "Vertigo").
"From Mexico to China/All I want is vagina" ("Not Tonight," "We Fresh").
Has good enough values as long as he doesn't apply them too far from home ("I Love Her, She Hates Me," "Work and Worry").
If only A Flock of Seagulls could do their hair ("Jenny Was a Friend of Mine," "Somebody Told Me").