THE 6THSWasps' Nests
THE TRIBUTE ALBUM fad takes another step: Stephen Merritt (Magnetic Fields) has produced a tribute album of his own material with indie-pop vocalists Georgia Hubley (Yo La Tengo), Chris Knox (Tall Dwarfs), Lou Barlow (Sebadoah) and others taking turns on 15 lush pop melodies with uncommonly clever lyrics.
The album works because Merritt's in control, making sure the supple pop symmetry is in place--melancholy here, bubbling there, elegance everywhere.
TOM SCOTTReed My Lips
THERE IS VARIETY in texture, instrumentation and stylistic touches in this example of jazz-based "adult contemporary." Unlike some that slide thinly into the already narrow confines of hip-flavored background music in this age of overdone electronics, Tom Scott still has an affinity for a rich melody and a varied rhythmic palette. He also has all the reed technique you could want--in spite of the cutesy title. His talent is bigger than this CD, but it's a nice one to have around.
TANITA TIKARAMLovers In The City
THIS EXPRESSIVELY THROATY performer always sounds to me like the love-child of Tom Waits and Tracy Chapman. That combination isn't as bizarre as one might think--and actually scores big on the best tracks "Bloodlines" and the wonderfully titled "Feeding The Witches." When Tikaram isn't muddying the picture with needless drum machines and pointless horns, some beautiful string arrangements and exotic percussion balance perfectly against her slightly gravel-choked voice. At her best Takaram's voice rises to dramatic, almost cinematic heights--as on the chillingly lovely "My Love Tonight," which is aided by a sparse accompaniment of cello, viola and acoustic guitar.
CHRIS MORRISONBargain Town
ORIGINALLY I WROTE a negative review of this album. After repeated listenings I've upgraded it to a skeptical one.
Like a traffic jam of dream fragments, these 30 tracks are bumper-to-bumper guitar blur, lyric particles, a fingerprint of Euro-drone, punk divergence and ennui crashing into haphazard folk. They coalesce into something commercial radio and MTV addicts will either scorn or dig to death.
"But I've got lots of potential and I'm so damn capable," Morrison sings, tongue thrust resolutely through his cheek. Hear this and you'll either sigh, laugh or want to bonk the CD up against his head.
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