Craft and Lies

From Senegal to Austin T-X clear evidence of cooperation between or among principals

CANTANKEROUS
(Tommy Boy, 120 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor, NYC 10011)

Like the Lords of Acid after the cops broke up the party, these masked dancehall-industrial Brits sing about sex and money as if they'd as soon kill a rich guy as hear him squeal. I say "guy" because "Shove my nigger-loving pussy in your inbred mouth" doesn't sound like a lesbian domination fantasy to me. And this is only the EP, with an album due in January. Can they keep up the pace? Depends on how angry they are—in a world where there's always more to be mad about. A MINUS

THE ROLLING STONES
A Bigger Bang
(Virgin)

I'm obviously not to be trusted, since when I finally pulled out my vinyl on Dirty Work, which nobody else likes, I still loved its booming Steve Lillywhite Charlie, its studious chicken-scratch Keith, its bitterness and cynicism and spiritual desperation. On this one desperation is in remission. But despite its lack of an anthem to replace "Start Me Up," it certainly beats Tattoo You or anything else going back to Exile except Some Girls. Long the weak link, Mick—come on: Keith and Charlie are gods, Ron is for sound effects, and Darryl Jones is an improvement—once again proves capable of relating on what we humans pathetically call a human scale. Not that I credit his "vulnerability," but I'm touched that he cares enough to lie about it. Together with clear evidence of prolonged cooperation between or among the principals (meaning two-man songwriting and a living groove, respectively), the effort suffices to provide or simulate the mattering considered so crucial in veteran bands. It also helps that the opener really rocks. As for the anti-Bush song, duh. Next time they should vet their corporate sponsor instead. A MINUS


Dud of the Month

COLDPLAY
X&Y
(Capitol)

Tunewise, this is the craftiest of their well-crafted albums. Conceived as a boy group, showing girls who long to believe it that not every guy is a jock, a thug, a lothario, or a male-bonded mook, they might even have their uses. Conceived as a pop alternative to U2 and Radiohead, however, they're an argument for death metal. Precise, bland, and banal, their sensitivity emotionless and their musicality never surprising, they're the definition of a pleasant bore—easy to tune out, impossible to care for. B


Additional Consumer News
Honorable Mention

HUSTLE AND FLOW
(Atlantic)

What the fools who claim Djay's crunk success isn't credible don't mention is the reason—he's too smart and too nice (Djay feat. Shug, "It's Hard Out There for a Pimp"; Juvenile feat. Skip & Wacko, "Body Language"; Djay, "Whomp That Trick").

BETTY LAVETTE
I've Got My Own Hell to Raise
(Anti-, c/o Epitaph, 2798 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood CA 90026)

Well-culled material sung harder than necessary, which was probably the idea ("Sleep to Dream," "How Am I Different").

BABYFACE
Grown & Sexy
(Arista)

Pretty smart for a love man, less so for a deposed record exec who worships Curtis Mayfield and toured with Vote for Change ("Sorry for the Stupid Things," "Good 2 Be in Love").

BANTU FEAT. AYUBA
Fuji Satisfaction
(Piranha, Carmerstr 11, 10623 Berlin, Germany)

Europeanized Islamo-Yoruba Afrobeat strives to please ("Fuji Satisfaction," "Oya").

NYBOMA
Nyboma & Kamalé Dynamique
(Stern's Africa, 71 Warren Street, NYC 10007)

Early-'80s soukous by one of Quatre count-'em Quatre étoiles ("Doublé Doublé," "Amba").

TRANSPLANTS
Haunted Cities
(La Salle/Atlantic)

Gangsta punk revisited, broader musically and narrower lyrically ("Gangsters and Thugs," "Crash and Burn").

MIKE DOUGHTY
Haughty Melodic
(ATO, 157 Chambers St., 12th floor, New York, NY 10007)

A clever solo artist who once led a great band ("Busting Up a Starbucks," "American Car").

THE WITNESSES
Tunnel Vision
(Howler, 31 Union Square West Suite 9A, NYC 10003)

It's only rock 'n' roll and they execute it ("I Should Not Have to Ask," "Panic Attack").

GO BETTY GO
Nothing Is More
(Side One Dummy, Box 2350, LA CA 90078)

Chicana punks rise above the tough act ("Laugh Again," "Unread").

DOVES
Some Cities
(Capitol)

Battling banal balefulness, they cop from "Heat Wave" and warm up ("Black and White Town," "Some Cities").

THE DANDY WARHOLS
Odditorium, or Warlords of Mars
(Capitol)

What they get for assuming psychedelia, futurism, and the drone are the same thing ("Down Like Disco," "All the Money or the Simple Life Honey").

HORACE X
Strategy
(Omnium, P.O. Box 7367, Minneapolis MN 55407)

Comfier in its ska-polka pan-everythingism, and less galvanizing ("She Want," "Strategy").


Choice Cuts

R. KELLY
"Trapped in the Closet Chapter 2," "Trapped in the Closet Chapter 4," "Trapped in the Closet Chapter 3," "Trapped in the Closet Chapter 1," "Trapped in the Closet Chapter 5"
(TP.3 Reloaded, Jive)

NIKKA COSTA
"Till I Get to You"
(Can'tneverdidnothin', Virgin)

THE INCREDIBLE CASUALS
"I'll Do Anything"
(Nature Calls, Iddy Biddy)

CHRISTINE LAVIN
"One of the Boys"
(Folk Zinger, Appleseed)


Duds

CRIME MOB
(Crunk Incorporated/BME/Reprise)

MIKE DOUGHTY
Skittish/Rockity Roll
(ATO)

EMBRACE
Out of Nothing
(Lava)

KHALED & FRIENDS
Ya-Rayi
(Wrasse)

PAUL MCCARTNEY
Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard
(Capitol)

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