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Miracle Of Science
Razor & Tie

CRENSHAW IS ONE of many artists doomed to compete with The Unbeatable First Album--in his case, one which came out nearly 17 years ago. This one's certainly no redheaded stepchild, and better than some preceding his equally great ... My Truck Is My Home from 1994. On hearing the album for only the second time, every song sounded far more familiar than a single previous listening should merit. That's a sign of solid writing, a trait Crenshaw has never been given as much credit as he's due. "Starless Summer Sky" is as good as anything he's ever written, and the lengthy instrumental "Theme From 'Flaregun' " reminds us he's no slacker as a guitarist either.

--Dave McElfresh


Crash the Party

PUNK ERA TORCH bearer's of '60s dominant frat rock, the sadly defunct A-Bones amalgamated the garage nutzoid intensity of the Pacific Northwest groups: Sonics/Wailers/Kingsmen with the swank frenzied rhythms of '50s rockers like Bobby Fuller and Charlie Feathers, and added the catchy, albeit goofy, hijinx of Paul Revere and the Raiders to the mix. On "Crash the Party,"--an affectionate tribute to rockabilly wildman and Elvis wanna-be, Joy--the A-Bones combine all these primitive and raucous elements to give Joy's 17-penned cuts the full-blown high-school hop overhaul. From the Peter Gunn-ish squawker "Button Nose" to "Jailhouse Rock" rip-off "Rollin' to the Juke Box Rock," the A-Bones make psychotic pill-popper Jerry Lewis sound utterly tame by comparison. Fire up the '63 Impala and slip on your go-go boots, 'cause this platter will surely ignite your next toga bash.

--Ron Bally


Hollywood Records

COOKIE-CUTTER alterna-gal pop kneaded betwixt Veruca Salt's Siamese thighs and stamped out by the Breeders elves. Guitarists Paige Weber and Jane Woodman harmonize in honey-and-cigarettes fashion, and they back up the vox with classic powerpop ("withahintofgrunge") song structures, bringing to mind a calculated Bangles/Pearl Jam blend. But spiking the sugar with vinegar, and layering distortion over melody, is the Alternative Formula nowadays. Equally predictable are the song topics, which spin around bad men, bad jobs, bad memories, and everybody's favorite, bad junkies. Is it irony or Memorex when someone hollers, "I wanna get wasted!" (in "Slag")? Who knows, and who cares. The fact that one of these ladies used to be in Frightwig, one of the great confrontational/fucked-up female punk bands, only makes the disc more depressing. Van Gogh's Daughter is like a bag of those faux-Oreos you find at convenience stores: attractively packaged, sweet and filling, but a cheap imitation nevertheless.

--Fred Mills

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