SOMETIMES A BAND should simply admit they aspire to be a pop band. The Caulfields try to make us believe they can deliver grunge-pop, but they only have a grasp on the second half of that genre. Take away the forced bombast and The Caulfields' debut disc is a pleasant surprise of catchy toe-tapping pop-punk without the punk. The words are merely filler for melody, but songs worth humming are a pretty rare commodity in our perfect, shopping-mall lives.
BOB DYLANMTV Unplugged
THE IRONY CANNOT be lost on longtime Dylan fans: Bob is unplugged after starting a ruckus among folkies over three decades ago at the Newport Folk Festival by plugging in.
Here he's back on the steeple of his considerable powers: The voice is a nasally dagger digging deep into "Desolation Row," "Dignity," "Shooting Star," "With God On Our Side," "John Brown," "Tombstone Blues," "The Times They Are A-Changin' " and five others.
People have long since made up their minds about that voice. If you're one of the legions who hear fingernails on a chalkboard, this album is another argument to listen again. He's in full control of its piercing qualities, using it to illuminate lyrics that changed folk music and rock and roll forever.
MONSTER MAGNETDopes To Infinity
I WAS READY to dismiss this latest sludge-fest as merely average until the swirling, pulsating tones of "All Friends And Kingdom Come" oozed out of the speaker. This sly 5:37 fuzz raga epic is one of the most vibrant regurgitations of Syd Barret-era Pink Floyd and English Freakbeat sounds ever realized. And when they moan "I've got mushroom clouds in my hands" they aren't talking about the A-bomb --this is a blatant lysergic trip mixed with a Motorhead- banger ambience. The more elegant psych moments here rise far above the pedestrian metal posings, but you gotta sell those records somehow, I guess.
LET'S SAY YOU'VE planned your suicide for tonight. But, before you bid this cruel world adieu, you have great sex and share your scariest secrets with someone who understands. You decide to live on. You wake up tomorrow only to relive the pitiful pattern.
I want to save Isabel Monteiro from going through the cycle over and over again, but I don't know how. She's in England singing glam-begotten diseased pop songs with the fumes of numbing sex and devotional despair rising from them like gas from cotton candy corpses and I'm here listening to them.
Hopefully, she and the rest of Drugstore will score some Prozac and follow their debut with something occasionally allowing respite from the relentless gloom.
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