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Week of February 12, 2001

[crooked autumn sun]
Rick Bain and the Genius Position / Crooked Autumn Sun / Official

Taking cues from psychedelic outfits like Pink Floyd, but putting a wholly American twist on the oeuvre, they bear a distant resemblance to The Doors or maybe The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. There's a vastness to Crooked Autumn Sun, a certain pervasive penchant for things big, wide or spacious. Take a song like "Bye Bye Blue Eye". The gentle western twang, the moseying gait, the distant vocals and transcendent rock organ underpinnings all point toward something bigger than life...more»
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[introducing]
The Denver Gentlemen / Introducing...The Denver Gentlemen / Absalom Recordings

I don't know how Absalom Recordings came across Introducing..., but we should all thank them. This is one very special, very skewed recording. Nominally a country record -- it sounds slightly more like country than it does like anything else -- Introducing... is a profoundly eccentric mixture of Eastern European folk music, marching band, cabaret and Elvis-style gospel, with a hint of eighties pop thrown in for...well, good measure, I guess...more»
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[ghetto theater]
Ghetto E / Ghetto Theater / Overcore

Musically, this album is closest in feel to Ice Cube's work on War and Peace, with its dense mood, eerie synths and female vocals. Unlike Cube's bass bellow, Ghetto E has a more sensitive baritone that dances around the rhythm rather than stomping on top of it. This doesn't mean that Ghetto E can't throw a party. On the contrary, "Still Going Through A Thang" has more life in it than anything Dre has produced in the past five years...more»
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[funny cry happy gift]
Tiffany Anders / Funny Cry Happy Gift / UP

Funny Cry Happy Gift convinces me once again that I really need stop reading press releases before listening to the CDs they accompany. This is a terrific disc. It was produced by P.J. Harvey, who also contributes some vocal, guitar, bass and organ tracks. J. Mascis lays down mellow drums on some tunes. Anders has a rich, vulnerable, slightly twangy voice that switches smoothly from young and innocent to bad-assed to worn and wary...more»

[always say please and thank you]
Slim Cessna's Auto Club / Always Say Please and Thank You / Alternative Tentacles

Equal parts traveling medicine show and creepily sexual revival meeting, Always Say Please and Thank You is the country music of drunken brawls, carnival freakshows and shotgun weddings -- as seen through the camera lens of David Lynch. Whether you're swaying along to the gospel-tinged goodness of "Water into Wine", downing a shot of whiskey to the mournful "Jesus Christ" or shuddering your way through the country-goth of "Cheyenne", you're always aware that the proceedings could head in a much darker direction at the drop of a ten-gallon hat...more»

[the swiss army romance]
Dashboard Confessional / The Swiss Army Romance / Drive-Thru

Dashboard Confessional is Christopher Carrabba, known to some readers as the former vocalist of Further Seems Forever. A few months ago Chris decided to leave FSF for personal reasons. I certainly hope those reasons include pursuing Dashboard Confessional full-time. The Swiss Army Romance was initially released by Fiddler Records, quickly went out of print and was quickly picked up by Drive-Thru. Its recent re-release turned out to be a blessing in disguise...more»

[Free Activation Series Vol. 2]
DJ Nasir / Free Activation Series Vol. 2 / Sweet Mother

DJ Nasir's trancey remix compilation of electronica, lounge, trip-hop and acid jazz delivers a slow-mo punch to your cerebral cortex. It's sure to blow away any cobwebs in your interior attic. If trance were ships, this CD would be the Queen Mary -- it's that bloody stately in its pacing. The sound envelops you and sort of sinks you deep down into your chair, leaving you absolutely unable to move. Doubtless there are times everyone needs to feel boneless...more»

[king of the river canoe]
Gerald Hawk / King of the River Canoe / Abduction

Hawk is the first artist I've heard who has gorged more heavily on Tom Waits' music than the Gants did with the Beatles' catalogue. Such blatant and thorough homages don't typically suggest great things, but Gerald Hawk is very good. King of the River Canoe, while obviously the product of fervent imitation, is not at all irritating (as when Kenneth Branagh played "Woody" in Celebrity). And though it's hard to explain why, it even comes across as startlingly unique...more»

[trumpet]
Greg Kelley / Trumpet / Meniscus

Quite frankly, even invoking classic jazz musicians' names in this review does injustice to Kelley's work, as it's so far removed from anything contemporary that referencing other artists is a weak attempt at attempting to classify Trumpet. It's even a difficult task to attempt to describe the droning, squawking and screeching that's emitted from Kelley's instrument, as it's done in such an improvisational and atypical way that the only thing you can do is sit back and digest it all...more»

[a portrait of shelves]
Williwaw / A Portrait of Shelves / Self-Released

Experimental ukulele music? Fuhgeddaboutit. Or at least that's what I thought until an unassuming firecracker of a CD out of Champaign, Illinois found its way to me. Hell, if John Cage could make music by plucking the pricks of a cactus, who's to say the ukulele can't steal the spotlight from guitars and keyboards now and then -- especially when it comes to batshit-crazy tunes like those dished out by Williwaw...more»

[at a glance]
And this week in At A Glance:
Sheryl's Magnetic Aura, Stephen Malkmus, Echoboy, Sam Densmore's Silverhawk, Bad Astronaut, satanstompingcaterpillars, Dear Nora, Wir, Liam Singer and the Fantastic Space Crystal, Today, The Firebird Band, Burn Guitars, American Holidays, Sound Transmission, Peaches, Fire in the Radio, Forever Goldrush, Chestnut Station, Gone Again, Matt Turner, Stolie, The Renovators, Diane Lum, Julio Cuomo and the Word on the Street
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