Early Mourning
(Scientific Records)

Here is the most audible link to the evolution of modern rock music I have heard all year. A debut EP composed of what were once simple indie folk songs--delivered honestly, at full voice--which have been subsequently washed in experimental studio noise (voices on answering machines, offbeat synth-organ melodies, warbley layers of vocal harmony, handclaps, abrupt volume changes, etc.), effectively fucking them up without distorting their happy listenability. Listening to Burakumin is like going into a cave and not wanting to come out. The opening track, "Angles of Decision" (which will either end up the most underrated song of the year or a Beck's "Loser" for Burakumin), sets the tone of the EP in that it's a sexy, tape-loopy, and perfect underground pop song. The rest of the recording makes good upon the opener's promise. Burakumin is John Keytrix (vocals, etc.) and Jens Fleming (drums and guitar), but I hear Early Mourning as the studio re-recording/remixing of several off-the-cuff experimental strokes of genius by a strange, big-hearted man in a basement somewhere. Sexy night-driving music for the more cinematically inclined of the indie set. "We're the best kept secret, yeah...," Burakumin explains on "Blackout Nights." Yeah. Buy it. JEFF DeROCHE

The Damage Manual
(Invisible Records)

In light of their contributions to such legendary bands as Ministry, Killing Joke, and PiL, you might think a project made up of Martin Atkins, Jah Wobble, Geordie Walker, and Chris Connelly could be considered a "supergroup." Well, you'd be wrong, pal! No such anachronistic label applies to these progenitors of post-millennial rock. Atkins' drum assault and Walker's blazing riff on "Sunset Gun" sets up Connelly's urgent vocal paranoia and gives notice that these guys are not interested in reminiscing. Wobble's rolling bass lines are hypnotic, especially on "Stateless," where good friend and fellow avant-garde bassist Bill Laswell contributes to the remix. This 13-track album is a confluence of punk, industrial, and world music that proves that all it takes to reinvent yourself in this ephemeral pop culture is to have a massive load of talent. DAVID SLATTON

Under One Roof: Singles and Rarities
(Innerstate Records)

Barbara Manning is a modest genius. She has spent the better part of her musical career sharing the spotlight in various bands: 28th Day, World of Pooh, and as bandleader of the SF Seals. But it's as a solo artist, like on the miniaturist masterpiece One Perfect Green Blanket and also on 1212, where she has shown the full extent of her gifts. This compilation of singles and one-offs gives diehard fans an opportunity to have all of Manning's far-flung work on one album. For the uninitiated, it gives an overview of an eccentric indie internationalist with a penchant for New Zealand jangle-pop, British punk, and neopsychedelia. With her plainspoken delivery and skillful guitar playing, Manning brings a rough-hewn beauty to the 18 songs on Under One Roof. The six self-penned tunes are the nuggets here, with "Haze Is Free" and "Being Cheated" being standouts. The 12 covers include songs by the Verlaines, Robert Scott of the Bats, Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, and Stuart Moxham of Young Marble Giants. The Celtic-tinged version of Paul McCartney's "Don't Let It Get You Down" and Jackson Brown's "Baby We're in Love" are the only two stumbles. This collection ends with Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew, Manning, and friends on the shambling "I Can't Watch You Play Drums," a celebration of camaraderie by and for music geeks everywhere. NATE LIPPENS

San Antonio Rock
(Norton) CD/LP

Damn, after I got done diggin' these tunes I lied face up on my floor repeatin', with vigor, my mantra (rhythm'n'blues-rhythm'n'blues-rhythm'n'blues) over again till I slipped into sleep! Uh... odd thing to do, SURE, but most figger me a freak.... Whatever, enuffa 'bout ME.... I understand most alla ya'll might know 'bout Sahm 'n' the Sir Douglas Quintet, but before the Quintet and just barely into his teens, Sahm'd began pluggin' away at serious, not "urban" per se but easy on yer ears, "bigger"-arranged, combo-played, Texas-flavored type rock/R&B. Whoo-whee... and it's them sweet sounds that comprise this ace collection of selections, all recorded 'twix '57-'61! Oh, for what it's worth, if you want, double-check them above dates, 'cause it looks to ME like Doug was another instance of a WHITE kid bashin' out sophisticated boom boom well before any Stones'd started a-Rollin'! MIKE NIPPER

by Kris Adams

Christina Aguilera, Mi Reflejo (RCA) The Grammy winner gets more mileage out of her hits by recording them in Spanish.

Boyz II Men, Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya (Universal) The Boyz hope to tap into the success of the current wave of boy bands, whose success is based on the sound that Boyz II Men used in the first place.

The Presidents, Freaked Out and Small (MusicBlitz/Koch) Hail to the chiefs.

Joan Osborne, Righteous Love (Interscope) She of the nose ring and lengthy curls is back after half a decade of "where are they now?" status.

Harvey Danger, King James Version (London/Sire) Willst thou have this album for thine own?

Jimi Hendrix, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (MCA) Mostly unreleased versions of Hendrix staples plus four previously unreleased songs.

At the Drive In, Relationship to Command (G.A.S./Grand Royal/Virgin) The Texas quintet has a pair of enormous Afros and would be warming up crowds at the Beastie Boys/ Rage Against the Machine tour were it not postponed.

Peach, Giving Birth to a Stone (Beatville) Peach's bassist is in Tool.

Voodoo Glow Skulls, Symbolic (Epitaph) It's a bad idea to wear brand new Vans in the mosh pit.