History Lessons

Brazil, Beliz, San Antonio, Soho, Mother Africa—all journeys into paradise

Sir Douglas Quintet
Live From Austin TX
New West

Although Doug Sahm's cult has never assembled a best-of consistent enough to convert listeners who think Tex-Mex equals burritos, he defines a style as purely rock 'n' roll as doo-wop or grunge. Buoyed by Augie Meyers's organ and borrowing tunes from the polka conjuntosof his San Antonio raising, the best of his simple songs riff as infectiously as Allen Toussaint's. This 1981 Austin City Limits show, consumer-available as one of a fans-only series that also includes an unnecessary Texas Tornados set, catches him just right at 40. Hard living hasn't wrecked his voice, the musicianship is more disciplined than anything Huey Meaux imposed, new guy Alvin Crow is breaking out, and Sahm is flogging a strong late album. Even beats that Bottle Rockets tribute, I swear. Add tortillas, homemade salsa, and "96 Tears," and you're all set. A MINUS

Tokyo Police Club
A Lesson in Crime
Paper Bag

For 16 minutes and seven songs, four Toronto DIYs make it seem easy—not their talent, their spirit. Articulated guitar cycles don't occur to every indie wannabe, which is why so many pretend they have bigger plans; the trick of skirting meaning without risking the full monty leaves most bands with their panties in a bunch. But so often those who have the talent don't believe, or convince us, that such feats are beautiful, engaging, worth doing. These kids know the gift is for sharing. A MINUS


DUD OF THE MONTH

Nelly Furtado
Loose
Mosley Music/Geffen

Although the Toronto hopeful remains an Intriguing Meld who identifies Latina and loves hip-hop, her Timbaland album has the paradoxical effect of bringing out the Canadian in her. Running the show for the attempted sex symbol is an undistinguished singer-songwriter hawking her Intriguing Meld. "Maneater," "No Hay Igual," and the Arab-Indian "Wait for Me" might accomplish God's great plan on the dance-floor. But as songs they're not much. Which doesn't stop the artist from pointing out that "Maneater" isn't solely about one of those mythical creatures—it "speaks to the consumerist world we live in." Oh really? B


Additional Consumer News

HONORABLE MENTION

Mr. Lif
Mo' Mega
(Def Jux)
When world death threatens, don't expect El-P's beats to lift anyone's spirits for the struggle ahead ("Brothaz," "Murs Iz My Manager").

Gilberto Gil
The Early Years
(Wrasse)
I've tried to find translations, really I have ("Chuckberry Fields Forever," "Volk, Volkswagen Blues").

Sinéad O'Connor
Throw Down Your Arms
(That's Why There's Chocolate and Vanilla)
The words of the prophets are clear, people—so clear ("Curly Locks," "Throw Down Your Arms").

Johnny Cash
American V: A Hundred Highways
(Lost Highway/American)
Dead man singing ("Like the 309," "God's Gonna Cut You Down").

Pet Shop Boys
Fundamental
(Rhino)
Slowly receding into alienated resignation ("The Sodom and Gomorrah Show," "Casanova in Hell").

Atmosphere
You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having
(Rhymesayers Entertainment)
"Let's watch a rapper get bitter like the city winter"—and he makes something of it ("Watch Out," "Pour Me Another").

The Rough Guide to the Music of Central America
(World Music Network)
Travelogue that makes the subcontinent seem more Creole than it actually is (Philip Montalvan, "Bilwi Luhpia Mairen"; Lincoln Lewis, "Wabouga").

Willie Nelson
Live From Austin TX
(New West)
September 1990—making hash of tight versus loose with the same band as 15 years before and after ("Stay All Night," "Help Me Make It Through the Night").

The Bottle Rockets
Zoysia
(Bloodshot)
"If I could be a little bit younger/If I could be a little bit older/If I could be a little bit friendlier/If I could be a little bit colder/ Then I could be a little bit better" ("Zoysia," "Middle Man").

The Pussycat Dolls
PCD
(A&M)
Sexier than your average prefab sexpots, but no fabber ("Wait a Minute," "Beep").

Rockdownbaby
Love & Sex & Rock & Roll
(Life Force)
Deena Shoshekes throws Cucumbers fans a curveball ("I Feel My Sex," "Test Drive").

The Meat Purveyors Someday Soon
Things Will Be Much Worse!
(Bloodshot)
Members of bluegrass band by default "need some help to make sense of it all," including 666 packs and Foreigner covers ("Hot Blooded," "Look on Your Face").

The Magic Numbers
(Capitol)
So winsome you want to cuddle 'em, so cutesy you want to smack 'em ("Forever Lost," "Mornings Eleven").


CHOICE CUTS

Matisyahu "Time of Your Song," "Youth" Youth(Epic/Or/JDub)

Dixie Chicks "The Long Way Around," "Not Ready to Make Nice" Taking the Long Way (Open Wide/Columbia)

Las Rubias del Norte "Baby" Panamericana (Barbés)


DUDS

Big City Rock (Atlantic)

Ray Charles Genius & Friends (Rhino/Atlantic)

A Hawk and a Hacksaw Darkness at Noon(Leaf)

Matisyahu Live at Stubb's (Sony)

Rock Kills Kid Are You Nervous? (Reprise)

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