BLACK HEART PROCESSION
Black Heart Procession 2
(Touch & Go)
*
**
Finally I get some sleep after a straight 36 up. I wake up refreshed, energetic (yep, morning person, fuck off). I slip in Black Heart Procession's new disc when I get to work. Immediately I'm tuned down by slow, dischordant gothness--it's as if the monks at the church I was forced into as a child had picked up guitars, piano, and some other shit and God had moved their hands. Time moves on and I'm trying to go about my business, but this fucking CD is making my day too languid. I don't need this in the morning. It's pretty, it's haunting, it finishes beautifully. Fuck, another possibly productive day ruined by a nice record. MIKE LAMMZANIE


GARDENER
New Dawning Time
(Sub Pop)
*
**
Put simply, Gardener is a band that writes pretty songs which manage to be both sad and happy at the same time. Never having been a huge fan of Seaweed, I was astonished by how much I liked Gardener. Then again, why can't a person (in this case, Seaweed frontman Aaron Stauffer) branch out from one band to the next, courting new fans in the process? The very first track on New Dawning Time, "Tamed," already has become my favorite song of the year--surprising since it's only May. The rest of the record neatly follows, making Gardener's debut one of the most solid Sub Pop releases in a long while. BRADLEY STEINBACHER



ORQUESTA GITANO

Salsa Gitana
(Discarga)
****

As a native of South Florida, I've seen the problem up close: bad taste and bad politics keep Miami from fostering good salsa and merengue. Amazing Cuban groups like Los Van Van get almost no radio play, out of the ridiculous fear that it would legitimize Castro; besides, most people's bad taste seems to prefer unimaginative rock en Espanol, or vanilla bandleaders like New York's Marc Anthony. If that's the problem, Orquesta Gitano is the answer. Based in Santa Cruz, CA, far from the traditional centers of Latin music, Orquesta Gitano have nonetheless made their second release, Salsa Gitana, an impressive alloy of the finest sounds in salsa, merengue, cumbia, guajira, and Latin jazz. It's all here--seamless compositions, fresh (not canned) horn lines, distinctive vocalists, driving rhythms, plunking piano and thumping choruses. The best part is that, unlike most fusion records in any genre, there isn't a single bad track on this album. ¡Que chévere!


NATHAN THORNBURGH NEATBEATS
Far And Near

(Get Hip)
*
***
Tha's IT!! I'm movin' to Tokyo! Why? I SWEAR 'em Tokyonians must gotta "magical" spring, the way they can RE-invest the ever-elusive IMMEDIACY into the aged pop form "rock"! So, like, WHO push me to sucha... um, movin' REACTION? Simple, the "they HERE 'n' they GEAR" NEATBEATS! Huh...whut GEAR? They BEAT!! Like, I mean, 'em boys play "beat" music, like the BEAT-les--hence the overwhelmin' GEAR-ness! Right. Anyways, they ain't no "tribute" shit--the Neatbeats beat it THEIR way, loadin' up fulla rough hooks, wiffout too much reliance on Merseybeat cliché. Fact, they got some poundin' R&B fills AND even BEAT Nanker Phledge!! MIKE NIPPER


MOUNT McKINLEYS
Stacked Up (And Get It)
(Get Hip)
***

Ought I even BOTHER sayin' AGAIN how I DON'T dig most "garage"--er, rather, "paisley"-effected "garage"--o' the last twentyfuggin'five years? Like, who damn decided clean production 'n' formulaic songwritin' was "bitchin"? Welp, I found a glowin' red-hot exception to 'at rule in the "newer" AND "cleanly" produced Mount McKinleys. Them boys got some nice Anglo-fried early Mod pop-influenced action--wiffout lickin' the ding-a-ling o' Mr. Childish--and even occasionally mixin' an odd "fx" fer seasonin', but NOT psychin' out, then halvin' the total LP tracks with horny "instro a-go-gos." Schweet! MN


VARIOUS ARTISTS

Not So Quiet On The Western Front

(Alternative Tentacles)
*
***
My wife gonna be pissed I got this 'cause, like, this thang fo' sho' gonna get me runnin' about the house doin' the "skank." (Uh, tha's what y'all "kids" today call the "mosh.") Anyways, the long-time-outta-print-impossible-to-find-'r-afford Not So been reissued EXACTLY as it originally come out--yep, it got the book AND all fo'ty-sebun tracks o' brilliant, bitin, 'n' silly, California 'n' Nevada "hardcore," all recorded 'round '82. Which, by the way, was the year 'em kids'd arrived at the pinnacle o' "havin' their say." Oh, this also marked the beginnin' o' the now-embarrassin' Maximum Rock'nRoll mag! MN


VARIOUS ARTISTS

Songs from Dawson's Creek

(Columbia)
*

It's bad enough the star of Dawson's Creek looks like a cross between Jay Leno and the kid from Mask. It's also bad enough the show itself is made up of a bunch of horny high-school smart-asses who are in desperate need of being slapped into next week. But even worse? They don't have the slightest idea how to RAWK. Take this feeble soundtrack, for example: there's not even ONE song that even remotely resembles the genre of RAWK--and if it did, I can only imagine the panic it would strike in the hearts of these namby-pamby bottle-sucking teeny-boppers. Instead it features such asthmatic noodling nobodies as Shawn Mullins, Sophie B. Hawkins, and (possibly the stoopidest band name ever) Sixpence None the Richer, all of whom make Dan Fogelberg look like Motörhead. You know, maybe high-school bullies aren't such a bad idea. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

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