THE NEWER SONGS that fill the first half of this debut CD from Tucson's Drakes are what made me a fan when I heard them performed live. "I Did That" erupts out of Gene Ruley's guitar and Tom Stauffer's Sting-ing vocals and bright word play. Drummer Chris Martin hammers out rolls and deft fills while bassist Jeff Kazanow plows a steady bass line. Brett Klay's sigh of violin in the bridge makes the rest of this hard ride of dance pop bounce even more powerfully.
The song is followed by the wound-out rockabilly by way of West African juju guitar powering "On Plenty," and the sardonic seduction of "Bunny"--a great song in which Stauffer playfully examines God's and his own shortcomings ("And in his image, so am I").
The second half of the 11-song album is generally more somber. You're taken a little further into Stauffer's psyche in the pensive "Out Of It," the folk- and blues-colored "Muck" and the existentialist ode "That I Know." It's all worth hearing and having in your collection.
LONG FIN KILLIEHoudini
THERE'S A COMMUNITY, mostly British (Bark Psychosis, Talk Talk, Laika, Disco Inferno) with some Americans (Tortoise, Bardo Pond) making "vertical music." Elements of dub, ambient, prog-psych and jazz collide with hypnotic elegance, the shifting of layers conjuring tension as well as some genuine surprises.
Scotland's LFK adds its own twist or two: a serpentine violin slithering over exotic percussion in the title cut; a freakout guitar break in the middle of the robotic dance "The Heads Of Dead Surfers"; a Pere Ubu vocal tic to accompany the 13-minute musical improv of "Unconscious Gangs Of Men."
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERSOne Hot Minute
Warner Bros. Records
IT'S DIFFICULT TO realize the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been kicking around for more than a dozen years. It seems like yesterday, 1987 actually, that I saw their mostly naked funk-metal for the first time. There wasn't much more than staged energy working for them then, but by 1993's Blood Sex Magik they had matured artistically, even surprising with some emotional ballad work. Now they've added former Porno For Pyro Dave Navarro, and that funk is still in there somewhere--more of a feel than simply a style. Once in a rare while a band can actually be deserving of their popularity. This is one of those times.
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