Shri Durga
(Six Degrees Recordings)

Shri Durga is where East meets West. East being India and its traditional form of music, raga, and West being reggae or dub science. Though reggae is usually categorized as Third World music, here its familiarity makes it Western, and raga's strange strings, talking drums, and throaty vocals make it Eastern. To enjoy this CD properly, you must imagine the slow and deep reggae groove as a kind of long street in a Western city and that on either side of it markets, temples, cafes, and community centers have been settled and decorated by a foreign culture. The architect and designer of this particular experiment in urban globalization is dj CHEB i SABBAH, whose Western musicians (Bill Laswell and Kevin "Broun Fellini" Carnes on bass and drums) pave the way for the ornamental vocals of Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Mala Ganguly, and Scheherazade Stone. This is not the first such experiment; we have heard many attempts to electrify or update some old, traditional art with electronica or dub, but Shri Durga is one of the most rewarding and seamless efforts yet. It is as if dub and raga were born and elaborated upon in the same brain for thousands of years, thousands of nights. CHARLES MUDEDE

(Lost Highway)

While the strength of his 2000 solo outing made it clear no one has to worry about Ryan Adams' potential as a heartbreaking Westerberg-souled savant, this release of Whiskeytown's last call is going to leave a lot of folks feeling mournful for what might have come next. In the manner that Wilco's Being There foreshadowed Summerteeth's purposeful pop transgression, Whiskeytown's swan song alludes to an impending departure down an erratically pop-marked road. Whether the uncharacteristically jubilant traveling companion could have been Randy Newman ("Mirror, Mirror") or oddball Elephant Six-er Jeff Mangum ("What the Devil Wanted"), the itinerary for this 1998 session was still being negotiated on Adams' terms: There are inevitable detours through dusty pool halls full of seductively debauched good times, infused with enough optimistic spontaneity to hop a plane to Barbados. There's also a string section swelling and castanets sparking in your ears (really). Cohesive it ain't, but achingly beautiful it invariably is. HANNAH LEVIN


Trance was experiencing one of its cyclical "sub-genre of the moment" phases last year, so it's not especially surprising that Keoki jumped on the bandwagon for 2000's But that set of trance remixes lacked the DJ/producer's trademark spunk and wit. Fortunately, he's back to form on Jealousy, his first full-length disc of original compositions since 1997's stellar Ego Trip. As he did on that album, Keoki opts for an eclectic mix of styles here. The dreamy title track, featuring backing vocals by Daniel Ash (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets), begins with a spooky gothic intro that gives way to a bounding trance tune. Subsonic bass and new-wave keyboards inform the breakbeat workout "Rush," while "Veronica" opens as a moody, ambient track before ramping up into a techno grinder. House cuts "This Ain't No Disco" and "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" provide more dance-floor fodder. The disc's lone cover, a techno-rock reworking of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax," finds Keoki layering testosterone guitar heroics over laser-beam synth runs. He also does a fine job on vocals. It's one of the album's best songs, but it's also one of the shortest. If you want the extended version, you'll have to hunt down the Jealousy special edition, which features remixes of several album tracks by DJ Micro, Dave Aude, and Joshua Ryan. JOHN FERRI

You Should Know by Now

For 15 years, underground darling Barbara Manning has been crafting small gems of folk-pop wonder. Solo or with the San Francisco Seals, Manning has shown impeccable, transformative taste in covers and a capacity for great songwriting. Along the way she has established a plain-spoken voice struggling for hard-won decency and respect in the face of romantic disappointments and frustrations. With twin brothers Fabrizio and Flavio Steinbach on bass and drums respectively, Manning has found her strongest band dynamic to date. She first recorded with the Steinbach brothers on 1999's excellent Homeless Where the Heart Is EP. It crackled with power-trio vibrancy. Her latest album continues in the same vein, with an urgent bounce and Manning's hallmark lyrical acuity and gentle insights. Opening with the fierce jangle of "Don't Neglect Yourself," the album flies by with a shifting blend of confessions, homilies, and second thoughts. NATE LIPPENS n