March 2 - March 8, 1995

[Quick Scans]


United States Of Ambience 2
Moonshine Music Records
4 Stars
THE AMBIENT EMPHASIS here is on richly melodic, subtly groove-oriented "beautiful music," as opposed to compositions that focus on more drifting, inner-space modes. These 10 tracks not only showcase major electronic talent, they flow seamlessly to boot.

California's Electric Skychurch opens the disc with "Deus," a kind of marimbas-and-synth bit of Eno/Byrne tribalism. Florida's Synthetix turns in a hypnotic, and appropriately titled, "The Tao Of Dub." Britain's Salt Tank goes for the panoramic neo-anthem ("Sargasso Sea") with deep mix diva murmuring from across a lonely beach. And One Dove offers a shuddery/echoey psychedelic pastiche while singer Dot Allison breathes and coos more erotically than the women in Fem 2 Fem.
--Fred Mills


The Hard Stuff
Epitaph Records
3 Stars
PUT SIMPLY, THE MC5 was one of the initial hard-rock monsters that later spawned punk and metal. Kramer was that band's infamous guitarist, described aptly by Henry Rollins as "making revolution when Mick Jagger was practicing his pout in the mirror." Epitaph seems the rightful home for such an influential guitarist, and Kramer doesn't tarnish his MC5 heritage or disappoint his current admirers with this solo effort. Throw back the scrawny fake wankers and dial up the man who taught a generation how to "Kick Out The Jams."
--Timothy Gassen


Black Orpheus
Kokopelli Records
3 Stars
IF THE IDEA of re-recording a soundtrack seems strange, remember that the 1959 Oscar-winning Brazilian film Black Orpheus was as responsible for the '60s bossa nova craze, along with Stan Getz's "Girl From Ipanema."

Black Orpheus, the Sgt. Pepper of Brazilian music, remains influential, as evidenced by the music of Sade and Everything But The Girl. Here, the jazz trio's guitar, drums and bass stretch out familiar themes, many by the recently deceased Antonio Carlos Jobim, who would have liked the balanced creativity and respect for the compositions.
--Dave McElfresh


2 Stars
SINCE Green Day'S been flogged to death in the Punk/Not Punk debate, these fellow Bay Area post-hardcore kidz'll do for now. They play big, brash, loud songs, and they also whine about their lousy generational cul-de-sac until you want to yank their backwards caps down hard and make 'em listen to a Denis Leary record.

To wit: "Capsized" and "Stepson" sport stunning, pop-metal riffs that owe equal debts to Cheap Trick and Bad Religion. Effectiveness is undercut by the lyrical content. The former uses the "adrift in life" metaphor ad nauseum, while the latter's answer to dealing with parental abuse is--get this--to "burn the house down." Now that's punk, dude!
--Fred Mills

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March 2 - March 8, 1995

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