Beguilement and Rage

So many unpretentious young bands with a geniune knack, so many others without a clue

THE PONYS
Celebration Castle
(In the Red)

Like so many unpretentious young bands-with-a-knack, the Ponys are assumed by their contemporaries to bring nothing new to the party even though their sound is theirs alone—an object lesson in the primacy of timbre. Their second album isn't quite as good as their first album because its hooks are slightly less inescapable, which you can blame on Steve Albini if you want. But the difference is slight, and other differences are positive: more momentum, the girls get to sing one, and the Richard Hell guy sounds as weedy as the Peter Perrett guy, hence more like himself. A MINUS
Download "Glass Conversation" (MP3)


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Dud of the Month

DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979
You're a Woman, I'm a Machine
(Vice)

Idon't get this. We listen to a Snoop or Lil Jon record—I do, anyway—and say, Yeah, the music is pretty good, but it's really no fun hearing women degraded that way, so the hell with those guys. Maybe if the funk is terrific (Cam'ron, or the new improved—and somewhat more mild-mannered—50) or the rhymes acute (Jay-Z, Ghostface), we let down our guard and try to hear how the other half feels. Otherwise no. So why is this tight, intense, recidivist screech-and-crunch exempted from such complex responses? Preferring funk to crunch as I do, maybe I'm merely insensible to the guitars' siren call. Or maybe its slaves are insensible to misogyny that stops at cut-and-run man's-gotta-do you-hurt-me-too, rather than claiming to control that 'ho. B MINUS


Additional Consumer News
Honorable Mention

JOHN PRINE
Fair and Square
(Oh Boy)

"Old Faithful's just a fountain/Compared to the glory of true love" ("She Is My Everything," "Some Humans Ain't Human").
Stream "She Is My Everything" (Real Audio)
Stream "Some Humans Ain't Human" (Real Audio)

POP-O-PIES
Pop-O-Anthology 1984-1993
(www.pop-o-pie.com)

Sans their famed debut EP, San Francisco weirdos prove it's not so hard to make entertaining straight-ahead guitar rock—only now try and imitate it ("Truckin'Stream "In Frisco" (MP3)

AMY RAY
Prom
(Daemon)

Indigo Girl's solo sober Southern identity ("Rural Faggot," "Let It Ring").
Download "Put It Out For Good" (MP3)
Download "Driver Education" (MP3)

MOBY
Hotel
(V2)

Prefer him to Julian Cope, not to mention Phil Oakey, and she holds up fine against Sarah Cracknell, never mind Martha Wash ("I Like It," "Where You End").
Sample Album (Windows Media)

BRAIN FAILURE
American Dreamer
(Thorp)

Four-billionths of the vastest nation on earth nail pro-American Clash imitation ("That's What I Know," "New York City").
Download "That's What I Know" (MP3)

WILL SMITH
Lost and Found
(Interscope/Overbrook)

Raps better than Rodney Dangerfield (even when he was alive), and funnier to boot ("If You Can't Dance [Slide]," "Ms. Holy Roller").
Stream "If You Can't Dance (Slide)" (Windows Media)
Stream "Ms. Holy Roller" (Windows Media)

ULTRA LOUNGE: COCKTAILS WITH COLE PORTER
(Capitol)

He's hard to ruin, which doesn't stop Steve Lawrence and Sammy Davis Jr. from trying (Ella Fitzgerald With the Duke Ellington Orchestra, "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)"; Sarah Vaughan, "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye"; Louis Prima and Keely Smith, "I've Got You Under My Skin").
Stream "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" (Windows Media)
Stream "Night and Day" (Windows Media)
Stream "I've Got You Under My Skin" (Windows Media)

JOHN LENNON
Acoustic
(Capitol)

Nirvana unplugged it ain't, and a precious resource he remains ("God," "What You Got").
Stream "God" (Windows Media)
Stream "What You Got" (Windows Media)

BLOC PARTY
Silent Alarm
(Vice)

Benetton boys adrift on Tony Blair's morass of neoliberal compromise ("Helicopter," "Pioneer").
Download "Banquet" (MP3)

NOUVELLE VAGUE
(Luaka Bop)

At long last bossa newwavo ("Guns of Brixton," "Too Drunk to Fuck").
Stream "Teenage Kicks
Sample Album

LITTLE CHARLIE AND THE NIGHTCATS
Nine Lives
(Alligator)

Cool cats confront or deny their own inevitable decreptitude ("Circling the Drain," "Quittin' Time").

MAROONS
Ambush
(Quannum Projects)

Latyrx-Blackalicious alliance plots next move ("If," "Best of Me").
Stream "If" (Windows Media)
Stream "Best Of Me" (Windows Media)

TEGAN AND SARA
So Jealous
(Vapor)

Believe your old dad
Download "I Bet It Stung" (MP3)
Download "I Know I Know I Know" (MP3)

KAISER CHIEFS
Employment
(Universal)

Provincial lads make a go of Tony Blair's morass of neoliberal compromise ("Saturday Night," "Born to Be a Dancer").
Stream "Saturday Night" (Windows Media)
Stream "Born to Be a Dancer" (Windows Media)

THE MOANERS
Dark Snack
(Yep Roc)

Melissa Swingle's slide attack carries lyrics that deserve better, sometimes ("Talk About It," "Hard Times").
Stream "Terrier" (Windows Media)


Choice Cuts

JOHN LENNON
"My Baby Left Me," "Angel Baby"
(Rock 'n' Roll, Capitol)


LIVING THINGS
"A.D.D."
(Resight Your Rights EP, DreamWorks)


MY SO-CALLED BAND
"Patriot Act," "Message Board"
(Weapons of Mass Distortion, SW)


GARBAGE
"Bleed Like Me," "Why Don't You Come Over"
(Bleed Like Me, Geffen)


FATBOY SLIM
"The Joker"
(Palooka-ville, Astralwerks)


Duds

BRITISH SEA POWER
Open Season
(Rough Trade)


DAFT PUNK
Human After All
(Virgin)


SNOOP DOGG
R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece
(Doggy Style/Geffen/Star Trak)


THE USED
In Love and Death(Reprise)


THE WALKMEN
Bows and Arrows
(Record Collection)

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