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Excerpts From A Love Circus

JUST AS LISA Germano's childlike voice threatens to wear thin, she whispers something irresistible. Abusive lovers, self-deception and compulsive honesty create a droll litany over exquisite music. Hooked on creeps and cowards, Germano knows that the real love and trust issue is with herself. The vain lover who tells her "you're not my Yoko Ono" in "Forget it..." and diminishes her in "I Love a Snot" builds up his ego at her expense but she complies. "We are so selfish together," she sighs in "Small Heads," Germano's music is dreamy, with her haunting violin and keyboards coloring the drifty, mercurial arrangements. The small voice proves the perfect ruse for her deceptively wispy lyrics. With a killer left jab, she doesn't need to thrash or howl.

--Jessie Piper


Boot Party
K Records

CALVIN JOHNSON (ex-Beat Happening) & Co. turn conventional wisdom on its head and suggest that if you free your ass, then your mind will follow. To that end: low, slinky bass lines spiced with chicken-pickin' riffs, hi-hat huggin' drums, and infectious/repetitious chant-singing. With the impossible deep growl of Johnson ticking off a grocery store list that includes "monkey hips and rice" while the band plays lo-fi James Brown, "Monkey Hips And Rice" is an obvious dance-floor pleaser. "Ship To Shore" is femme soul for fratkids, bringing to mind a cross between Everything But The Girl and Portishead, while "Super Dub Narcotic" borrows Agustus Pablo's melodica and spirals into an hypnotic dub groove that lives up to its title. Pass the spliff, mon.

Word has it the band is compelling as hell in person. This disc serves as a convincing calling card. (By the way: Dub Narcotic 45s are classic, each having a "hit" side and a "version" side, just like the old Jamaican platters.)

-- Fred Mills


Black Dots

THE BAD BRAINS are the greatest hardcore band to bulldoze a path across a mosh pit of dopey skinheads. Their ferocious, lightening-quick sound influenced countless imitators. Everyone from Living Color to Biohazard owes a nod to the Brains. On Black Dots, rehearsal quality studio recordings from 1979, the embryonic stages of the fast 'and' furious D.C. hardcore scene was exploding, as the crash and burn of the Sex Pistols loomed precariously in the background. The Pistols influential do-it-yourself punk ethic is clearly evident on "Redbone in the City," a spastic dub-core re-working of the Pistol's record label blow-off "EMI." Singer H.R. even incorporates the same snarling vocal inflections as his mentor, Johnny Rotten, sneering and hiccuping his rage throughout. Though the original Bad Brains re-formed line-up exists today, their lethargic metal pop-core posturing of 1996 could use a strong dose of the unbridled passion and raw energy inherent in these primitive recordings of classics like "Pay to Cum," "Banned In D.C.," and "Attitude."

-- Ron Bally

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