Technology

Beguilement and Rage

by

Pick Hits

THE GO-BETWEENS

Oceans Apart

(Yep Roc)

Robert’s songs more tuneful in their maturity, Grant’s more atmospheric,
they punch ’em all up to make a stronger impression than on their comeback
album, thus proving that it was one. Settled down in real life, Robert
recaptures his peripatetic past with a clear conscience and a sharp eye;
still questing, Grant couches his romanticism in instrumental subtleties
that soften his detachment. Robert so fond, Grant so elusive, both so
beguiling, they’re deeply civilized for the leaders of a working rock band.
And for just that reason they can follow the calling until that distant day
when strumming itself is too much for them. A

Stream “Here Comes a City” (Windows Media)

LIVING THINGS

Black Skies in Broad Daylight

(Loog/DreamWorks)
Lillian Berlin is Johnny Rotten with politics. His art would be nothing
without his rage; he’s so possessed by the need to get his point across that
he grabs his brothers’ music by the throat and makes it bellow his tune. But
his rage wouldn’t be much without his analysis, which however simplistic—and
it is, though at this perilous moment no more so than apolitical cynicism or
liberal equivocation—gives shape, purpose, and a referent outside his
tortured psyche to feelings that emanate from who knows where. A more
balanced person would have gotten this cleansing full-length released in the
U.S. last fall, when we needed it so much, but a more balanced person
wouldn’t have recorded it. The Berlins have bought it back from UniMoth, and
maybe some patient U.S. bizzer will put it out eventually. Meanwhile, my
advance is identical to the U.K. version, while the Japanese boasts two
bonus cuts that’ll cost you 12 bucks apiece. Like it says inside their EP:
“Just one enemy—The Exploiters.” A MINUS

View “Bombs Below” (Windows Media)

BETTIE SERVEERT

Attagirl

(Palomine/Minty Fresh)

Down on my luck in Amsterdam, I’d want Carol van Dyk for an aunt, or a
second cousin, or a friend’s ex-wife, or something more. Back on my feet,
I’d remember her fondly for the rest of my life. But we’d lose touch. And
before too long I’d find it impossible to recall the details of the album we
used to play at breakfast. B PLUS

Download “Attagirl” (MP3)

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS

Push the Button

(Astralwerks)

Their genre incontrovertibly passé, they can put futurist games
behind them. So, free to do their thing without looking over their
shoulders, they turn in their best album since 1996 even though some schmuck
from the Charlatans ruins track two. “Believe” and “The Big Jump” rock the
block. The Arabian strings of “Galvanize” are augmented-not-improved by the
tyrant-bashing rhetoric of “Left Right.” And the three abstractions that
complete the project clatter, tweetle, shudder, chime, whoosh, and phase.
A MINUS

View “Believe” (Flash)

FANNYPACK

See You Next Tuesday

(Tommy Boy)

The attitude is tougher and the material thinner, but you have to love it
for not falling flat on its heightened expectations. Two albums in, these
three young things still aren’t rich—not with their “dresser drawer full of
broken cellphones” and their homeboy who’ll “rob Mickey D’s for
condiments”—and that still hasn’t taken them down. With electroclash a dead
delusion, what sells their handlers’ beats is the girls’ faith in the sacred
mission of growing up and having fun at the same time, which in case you’ve
been away is no gimme these days. A MINUS

Sample Album

THE HOLD STEADY

Separation Sunday

(Frenchkiss)

Confession booths are for rosary twiddlers, but Bible lore is as American
as Sunday school, so I take the scriptural references as tokens of Craig
Finn’s quality education. And since in my Sunday school, papists like my
grandpa were going to burn forever because they never got “born again,” I’m
glad Finn’s guys and gals get “born again” too. At bottom, his people are my
people, and I wish them the same shot at heaven my adolescent Billy Graham
experience guarantees my reprobate ass. Which is to say that this literature
with power chords addresses not only the crucial matter of vanishing
bohemias as cultural myth but also the crucial matter of re-emerging
spiritualities as cultural fact. From “Lord to be 17 forever” to “Lord to be
33 forever” is a long road, and Finn is old enough now to know it keeps
getting longer—and to spread the living gospel that 33 is too good to throw
away on myths. A MINUS

Download “Stevie Nix” (MP3)

KINGS OF LEON

Aha Shake Heartbreak

(RCA)

There’s an early-Stones feel here it would be perverse to deny: 12 songs
in 36 minutes, each with an indelible identiriff and its own seductive
rhythmic shape. Caleb Hollowill’s slippery wiles recall Jagger’s without
grasping Jagger’s gift for the pungent phrase. That Hollowill avoids
cock-rock clichés hardly means he’s come to terms with the jezebels
who were driving backsliding Southern boys past their intellectual limits
long before Elvis paid Mr. Phillips to record his love song to Gladys. B
PLUS

View “The Bucket” (Windows Media)

LYRICS BORN

Same !@#$ Different Day

(Quannum Projects)

Unlike most remix albums, not a fanbase-only ripoff. None of the eight
remakes is inferior to the Later That Day . . . version; Evidence and
KRS-One’s “Pack It Up” and a funked-up “Hello” constitute clear
improvements, “Do That There” piles on ridiculous rhyme, and the standout “I
Changed My Mind” was a 12-inch. Nor is that all—the five new titles include
a Bay Area praisesong, a motormouth “capping” dis, and just one too many
showcases for LB’s quasi-operatic helpmate Joyo Velarde. In short, had
Later That Day . . . come second, you might well prefer this
reinterpretation. A MINUS

Stream “Pack Up (Remix)” feat. Evidence and KRS-One

Stream “I’m Just Raw

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)


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’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 dadI 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)