Laptop for Desktoppers

Music so unlikely it could be written and performed rather than researched and found

CHEB I SABBAH
La Kahena
(Six Degrees, 602 20th Street, San Francisco CA 94107)

Although Bill Laswell is only a bass player on this conceptual compilation, which adds beats to female singers in a panoply of Maghreb traditions, it partakes of Laswell's long-established commitment to celebrating Islamic difference as a strength us guys should respect and draw on. Algerian-born, San Francisco-based dance DJ Sabbah is so skillful, so imbued with rhythm in general and these rhythms in particular, that exotic-in-the-Maghreb underlays from jazz, reggae, and the clubs sound chosen and organic. Well before 9/11, Laswell understood better than most of us that such fusions were a pleasure and a necessity. Now they're also a solace. A MINUS

THE WHITE STRIPES
Get Behind Me Satan
(V2)

From Lil Jon to Thom Yorke, pop supports many cooler celebrities than Jack White, and though returning primitivism to the hit parade was a neat trick, his aesthetic ideas are as limited as Meg's drum technique. So rather than carp about his failure to lead us to salvation, perhaps we should content ourselves with the hit parade. White's commercial success has nothing to do with de Stijl or da blooze—just a strong, emotive voice delivering simple yet distinctive songs, which are fairly numerous here. "My Doorbell," for instance, finds a fresh route to the abandonment theme and adds a little twist when his friends stop buzzing too. "Take, Take, Take" is that difficult thing, a smart song about what a drag fans are. You may prefer others, that's part of the charm. And when he sticks to electric guitar he still rocks plenty. A MINUS


Dud of the Month

RÖYKSOPP
The Understanding
(Astralwerks)

Just as jungle tended toward soundtrack music for B thrillers in exotic locales, chill-out tends toward waiting-room music for plastic surgeons who really want you to order that butt implant. Where once these Norwegians were extolled for their subtle melodicism, here their schlock candidly attacks the jugular. If they're Air, Goldie was Tricky. C PLUS


Additional Consumer News

Honorable Mention

CAITLIN CARY & THAD COCKRELL
Begonias
(Yep Roc, PO Box 4821, Chapel Hill NC 27515)

One difference from Gram & Emmylou is they both write the songs ("Two Different Things," "Please Break My Heart").

AKON
Trouble
(Universal)

Ex-con, not gangsta ("Trouble Nobody," "Locked Up").

BAR BHANGRA
(Escondida, 150 Lafayette Street Suite 11R, NYC 10013)

Just like one of those dancehall comps named after a beat, which in this case goes surprisingly far but no further (Panjabi MC, "Jogi"; DJ Gem, "Kank Di Rakhi").

THE BRUNETTES
Mars Loves Venus
(Lil' Chief, Box 68-290, Newton, Auckland 1032, New Zealand)

That's New Zealander Jonathan Bree, not Jonathan Richman, and his sweetie pie Heather-not-Katherine Mansfield ("Mars Love Venus," "Beautiful Militant").

THE BLACK EYED PEAS
Monkey Business
(A&M)

What all pop might be—so much brighter and kinder than it is ("Pump It," "Don't Phunk With My Heart").

JAGUAR WRIGHT
Divorcing Neo to Marry Soul
(Song/Artemis)

The intelligent black woman, from helpmate to party girl ("Woman to Woman," "One More Drink").

DEAN MARTIN
Live From Las Vegas
(Capitol)

"You wanna hear me sing straight, buy an ablium" ("Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes/Pennies From Heaven [Bourbon]/Hello, Dolly [Vegas]," "Monologue").

THE CHRIS STAMEY EXPERIENCE
A Question of Temperature
(Yep Roc, PO Box 4821, Chapel Hill NC 27515)

With Yo La Tengo and wide-ranging covers, and loosened by both inputs ("Venus," "Compared to What").

THE ADOLESCENTS
O.C. Confidential
(Finger, 18092 Sky Park Circle South Unit A, Irvine CA 92614)

If only Green Day were this mad (they wouldn't have gotten near a Grammy) ("Lockdown America," "Monsanto Hayride").

JOHNNY HICKMAN
Palmhenge
(Campstove)

Lapsed Cracker after "before the great decline" ("Friends," "Beauregarde's Retreat").

ANNIE
Anniemal
(Big Beat)

She can't be saying "greatest tits"—she's just too thin ("Chewing Gum," "Greatest Hit").

RYAN ADAMS & THE CARDINALS
Cold Roses
(Lost Highway)

Nine songs per disc, evenly divided good-dull-OK, only the first disc—he's full of surprises—is stronger ("Easy Plateau," "Beautiful Sorta").

THE KNITTERS
The Modern Sounds of the Knitters
(Zoë)

These days folk-country is exactly their speed ("The New Call of the Wreckin' Ball," "Skin Deep Town").

ENCRE
Live at Nantes: Oblique Lu Nights
(Clapping Music)

Concert EP with humanly interactive groove, hubba hubba, and less twee than Tortoise it certainly is ("Nocturnes," "Une Nuit à Ciel Ouvert").


Choice Cuts

Sinéad O'CONNOR WITH THE BLOCKHEADS
"Wake Up and Make Love With Me"

BOMB THE BASS FEATURING Sinéad O'CONNOR & BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH
"Empire"

Sinéad O'Connor,
Collaborations
(Capitol)

CHRIS STAMEY
"Spanish Harlem"
(Travels in the South, Yep Roc)


Duds

THE BRAVERY
(Island)

COWBOY TROY
Loco Motive
(Warner Bros./Raybaw)

BRIAN ENO
Another Day on Earth
(Hannibal/Ryko)

IVY
In the Clear
(Nettwerk)

JUNIOR BOYS
Last Exit
(Domino)

M83
Before the Dawn Heals Us
(Mute)

OF MONTREAL
The Sunlandic Twins
(Polyvinyl)

TRASHCAN SINATRAS
Weightlifting
(SpinArt)

THE WANNADIES
Before and After
(Hidden Agenda)

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