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Week of April 9, 2001

[no more shall we part]
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds / No More Shall We Part / Reprise

No More Shall We Part is a beautiful, elegant record, capably fulfilling the promise of The Boatman's Call, but it exacts a harrowing toll from the listener. This is not a record to which you can listen lightly; if used as background music it will gradually darken your mood, like poison seeping slowly into a well. This is Cave's first album since turning forty, and he's showing his age -- in a good way. Bitterness and sarcasm have given way to world-weary acceptance and a sincere desire for understanding...more»
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[old ramon]
Red House Painters / Old Ramon / Sub Pop

Old Ramon was threatening to become a myth on a par with Smile or the original vinyl edition of Dylanís Freewheeliní -- one of those records pulled from beneath black trench coats in dark alleyways and poorly lit record convention bathrooms, and traded for tapes of Brian Wilson doing acid with David Crosby and that crazy guy from Starsky & Hutch. When you really stop to look at it, though, Red House Painters leader Mark Kozelek has kept himself so busy that you might not even have noticed the lack of new RHP material...more»
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[cross addicted]
Shoestring / Cross Addicted / Overture

Unless you were drawn to the gangsta-rap phenomenon back in the early '90s or you grew up in the upper-Midwest, The Dayton Family probably doesn't mean a lot to you. That's too bad, as the rhyme-spree-riddled Dayton Family pumped out some memorable anthems that any prison-ridden fan could appreciate. Taking these roots in stride, Dayton member Shoestring dishes out some hardcore rhymes that'll appease both hardcore Dayton Family followers and anyone looking for a quick rap fix that doesnít go flaccid after a few tracks...more»
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[the night is advancing]
Appendix Out / The Night is Advancing / Drag City

Gentle guitar arpeggios underpin Ali Roberts' tenor. When the lyrics give way to intertwining guitar melodies, the effect is utterly peaceful -- a sense which is heightened as a keyboard's bass comes forward enough to give the track an enveloping dunk into deep water. This delight is followed by the more energetic "The Seven Widows (The Sprigs of Night)", which through Tom Crossley's drums picks up more momentum, propelling the song speedily through its two minutes...more»

[Mulemba Xangola]
Bonga / Mulemba Xangola / Lusafrica

Angolan revolutionary and musical superstar Bonga has a revered place in the realm of Portuguese-language world music. He's been making it for almost 30 years now and Mulemba Xangola shows him to be a musician of maturity, wit and dignity. There are strong Cuban flavors throughout the album, as well as hints of Flamenco and Brazilian music. Bonga's aged, raspy baritone is a highly expressive and nuanced instrument, and he uses it with poignant effect...more»

[progressive mix session 1.0]
D:Fuse / Progressive Mix Session 1.0 / Moonshine

Electronica is an art form of the moment. It's ephemeral, based on the emotions that a DJ picks up from a crowd (and by association, the drugs that were available that night), and it's therefore understandably difficult for DJs to recapture the mood and intensity of the temporal on disc. With Progressive Mix Session 1.0, D:Fuse has managed to set those moods in solid state. Beat-heavy and dance-driven, the disc loops up and down in a pattern that, with luck, will resemble your next EKG...more»

[airline people]
For Stars / Airline People / Acuarela

Made up of outtakes from For Stars and Windows For Stars, the band's first two US albums, Airline People stands as a strong testament to the strength of For Stars' material. Carlos Forster is a master of melody, and he sounds like a softer-spoken version of Jackson Browne. Like Browne, the band's home is California; their instrumentation, though stripped to basics, also bears similarities to Browne's early classics, and the light Caribbean touches make me wonder if David Lindley made a guest appearance...more»

[as performed by...]
The Green & Yellow TV / As Performed By... / 2000

Busting loose from Los Angeles, this foursome crafts songs that aspire to both the polish and complexity of Pet Sounds. Lofty aspirations are those, and the boys fall a little shy. But when your goals are that damn high, falling short can still be pretty damn good. "What's the Message", a micro epic riddled with glorious swells and refreshing instrumentation, starts rolling with simple vocals over piano. And what vocals they are. I'm not usually one to be seduced by a set of pipes...more»

[quiet is the new loud]
Kings of Convenience / Quiet is the New Loud / Astralwerks

Shifting from light and airy to a sort of mild bossa-nova groove on a few tracks, Kings of Convenience throw in just enough variation to keep things interesting, without snapping the listener out of the dreamy daze they've induced. Granted, the songs here are not necessarily uplifting, but they manage to squeeze in enough pop-flavored hope here and there as to not send you tumbling into complete and profound depression...more»

[performances for large saxophone ensemble]
Mass Producers / Performances for Large Saxophone Ensemble / Dark Beloved Cloud

For Caroline Kraabel and her Mass Producers, one saxophone is simply not enough. As the title implies, Performances for Large Saxophone Ensemble features Kraabel heading a twenty-woman assemblage. Think of it as a musical form of large-scale processing -- a Beowulf cluster made up of musical instruments, all hooting and squealing their way through a terrabyte of sonic data. With twenty saxophones going at once, you're right to expect a lot of music...more»

[life instructions enclosed]
Plavu / Life Instructions Enclosed / Chupa

This Berkeley-based quintet calls their music "space fuzz melodika". I call it post-Garbage electrono-rock. Their sound is pretty varied, which makes for good listening, but also makes it hard to describe. As usual, it's really the voices involved that end up tying everything together, and Plavu is fortunate enough to have two enchanting singers at their disposal. Alzara Getz does the girl side of things with the sort of semi-wacky, bad-assed attitude that makes knees of all genders go a little wobbly...more»

[how the cold war began]
Sorry About Dresden / How the Cold War Began / Moment Before Impact

The title and design style might lead you to believe that this six song EP from Chapel Hill four-piece Sorry About Dresden is some kind of Eastern-bloc pinko concept album. Donít let the signage fool you! SAD is a strange blend of moody introspection and deliberate spaz. Songs like "Temporary Felts" and "The Store You Deserve" are quiet and spooky, reminiscent of a heavier Palace Brothers or Slint (perhaps itís a Southern thing?). Thereís even a touch of math-rockiness in "The Cults of the Famous and the Dead"; the guitars start to churn like a swarm of angry bees...more»

[at a glance]
And this week in At A Glance:
Telto, Paul Dutton, Colonel Jeffrey Pumpernickel, Proletarian Art Threat, Robert Scott, Imaginary Bill, The Sound of Rails, Bis, Hotbox, Shearwater, Arlo, Jori Hulkkonen, Kipper Tin, Saso, Calendar Girl, Keoki, dZihan and Kamien, Inches to Flood, Knievel, The Cautions, Luna, David Fesette, December's Children, Dereck
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