The Siket Disc
While Phish’s first online-only offering (available through Phish Dry Goods at www.phish.com/bin/catalog.cgi) may do nothing to gain them commercial success, it gives phans exactly what they’ve been in a frenzy for—tasty acid-splashed jazz jams devoid of rambling nonsensical lyrics. For a while now, elders in the Phish community have noticed a dip in the quartet’s ability to hold together many of their live extended jams, which occasionally crumble into pointless elementary noodling. But cheer up. Siket finds the band in the studio in late ’97, tighter than it has been recently. From Jon Fishman’s hyper-spaced drumming on the bass-driven “My Left Toe,” to Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon and Page McConnell’s rhythmic guitar-bass-keys dialogue on “The Name Is Slick” and “Albert,” the album shows why Phish’s unparalleled ability to lock in to each other’s playing makes them the most explosive and inventive purveyors of the jam-band ethos. — Ian D’Giff.
Handsome Boy Modeling School
So…How’s Your Girl?
Taking its name from an episode of the long-gone Chris Elliott sitcom Get A Life, Handsome Boy Modeling School is Long Island’s Prince Paul and West Coast DJ Dan the Automator—sort of. A slew of known and not-so-known vocalists lend their talents, all held together by Paul and the Automators’ sample-driven beats. Any questions concerning what this group is about are answered by “Look at This Face.” A two-minute flurry of dialogue samples from the Elliott comedy, the song probably provided these two audio manipulators the concept, and possibly the excuse, needed to sell an all-star hip-hop album to the record company suits. God bless them for it. Skip straight to “Sunshine” and hear Sean Lennon and Money Mark sound better than they ever did on their own albums. Avoid big-name Beastie Boy Mike D’s useless spelling lessons on “Metaphysical.” Because it has such a consistently pleasing sound, one can forgive the Modeling School for the inclusion of Alec Empire, whose sound manipulations on “Megatron B-Boy 2000” are as pathetic as anything else he’s ever done. — Greg Hoy
Talk about transformations. Julia Darling is no longer the innocent young girl who spent her days writing poetry and busking in the streets of her hometown in New Zealand. If you haven’t heard of her yet, expect to soon. On her debut effort, Darling takes the Lilith songcraft to another level by imbuing it with purpose and maturity, without the sappy sweetness and heartbroken tragedy. “I’ve a voice now, deeper than you,” she sings on “Grace,” one of many tension-filled tracks that get you thinking about your place and take on the world today. Darling is an old soul transposed in a beautiful mind and young body. Like Dylan, she writes with a powerful sense of self-worth, demanding better treatment from so-called friends while tossing venomous daggers at arrogant backstabbers. She rails against organized religion throughout the album, yet holds steadfastly to the savior ideal. A change is a-comin’—it’s palpable when Darling opens that mouth and spews poetic. — ID
Ol Dirty Bastard
Even if hip hop ain’t your bag and you have never heard his drunken lyrics, you know the man who hijacked the ’98 Grammys and his highly publicized brushes with the law. As the millennium approaches the “Dirt Dog” is here to take us into the Nu Wu Order with this release. First, a warning: If you have a weak heart, no sense of humor or make way too much of lyrical content, you might want to skip this selection. The album starts off with a hilarious introduction, “Recognize” from Chris Rock. The first single is “Got Your Money,” with its video set in the ’70s—looks like ODB stepped right into a Dolemite flick. Even when the Ol’ Dirty attempts to sing the Rick James classic “Cold Blooded” and grunts along while Lil Mo sings the Billie Holiday classic “Good Morning Heartache,” you can’t help but bug out. Nigga Please is a collection of madness and musical mayhem at its best. — A. J. Woodson
After one brush with singer/guitarist Ed Ryan and the tunes of Levittown-based Rhino Caravan, it becomes indisputably clear that these three hombres are driven. Pieced together from the ashes of his alt-rock project Wide Awake, they’re now a caravan of organic tones and two-chord, acoustic emotion. Christian rock ethos, gallant ballads and pop-painted shingles define Ryan and Co., but ingesting, processing and holding down their melodic imagery will jolt the spine. “Walking in Circles” invigorates, saturated with epic hooks and backed by the somber backing strings of bassist Tom Cavanagh, who weaves a gentle rhythmic blanket around the well-timed percussion of Dave Hermantin. “Nesmith’s Folly” offers more straightforward, linear riffs. “No Explanations” is a progressive soul-search through layered guitar harmonies and simple, beautiful in-key choruses. “Out” writhes with ferocious radio-rock wit. Top to bottom, this debut is a washcloth of beatific songwriting, cleansing the grime of the asphalt jungle away. For more info call 516-520-0677 ext. 960. — Ron Strauss