HAPPY MONDAYS Greatest Hits (London) ***

Happy Mondays always were a disturbing hybrid of bad drugs, club culture, football hooliganism, Clinton riffs, opportunistic fervor, and a smattering of genius. That their latest cash-in "Greatest Hits" compilation is so patchy -- all the singles, some B-sides, a couple of crap cover versions including last year's desultory Thin Lizzy rip "The Boys Are Back in Town" -- should come as no surprise, then. What made Shaun Ryder's tanked-up men so compelling was that you never knew quite what was coming next -- drug busts, street fights, a genius psychedelic funk riff like "Step On" or "Kinky Afro." Harder and nastier than the Stone Roses, more wired and psychotic than Primal Scream, funkier and more furious than the Prodigy -- without the Mondays the whole of the '90s U.K. music scene would've been radically different. The Mondays were (possibly unintentionally) cross-pollinating dance and rock a good decade before Underworld had even been invented. This one is a must for anyone digging the new Chemical Brothers nostalgia-fest. EVERETT TRUE

KID LOCO Kid Loco Presents Jesus Life for Children Under 12 Inches (East West) ***

Producers have it easy nowadays. Time was when the true geniuses behind the records -- George Martin, Quincy Jones, Shadow Morton -- never quite got the kudos they deserved. Nowadays, with the advent of the dance remix, producers are all the rage -- Fatboy Slim, Andrew Weatherall, Nick Warren. This is as it should be: Usually the producers supply the wit, imagination, and ideas, while the musicians plug in and turn up their instruments. Which brings us to the new compilation of Kid Loco remixes: 12 tracks from alternative luminaries like Pulp, Saint Etienne, and the Pastels, seamlessly given the once-over by France's master of laid-back drum 'n' bass. Impassioned scratchy female vocals (the Pastels) merge flawlessly into gorgeous tabla-roasted vistas (Talvin Singh's "Traveller"), then give over breathlessly to quieted noise overload (Mogwai's "Tracy"). And through it all, Kid Loco stamps his own, distinctively French (think Dimitri from Paris, Air's take on the '70s) seal of production. The end result is a gently magical, wonderfully shaggable album. ET

G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE Philadelphonic (Sony 550) **

There will always be those bushelfuls of bands that people praise without really considering whether they're worthy or not, simply because of the "indie buzz" that accompanied their debut album. G. Love & Special Sauce is certainly one of those bands -- a group of Philadelphians creating a fair-to-middling approximation of Dylan-influenced folk, blues, and funk (with some hiphop thrown in), whose previous two albums, 1994's G. Love & Special Sauce and 1995's Coast to Coast Motel, received much fanfare from folks who should really know better. Philadelphonic's press kit namechecks Martin Scorsese, Charlie Parker, Baird T. Spalding -- and Bob Dylan up the wazoo -- and uses adjectives like "anthemic" and "innovative" to describe a disc that fans of Hootie and Dave Matthews might find stimulating, but those with less pedestrian tastes should not. G. Love & Special Sauce will appear Aug 11 at Pier 62/63. KATHLEEN WILSON

THE EVIL TAMBOURINES Library Nation (Sub Pop) ****

The best thing about the Evil Tambourines is their feel. Unlike most hiphop records, Library Nation eases its way into your senses, never invading your space, never trying to grope your swimsuit area. Like the best jazz, it has an improvisational feel to it -- nothing sounds pre-recorded or heavily sampled; it doesn't reek of heavy production; the record just spins and the tracks drift lazily to your ears. This is exactly what you would expect from a Seattle hiphop group -- laid back, sometimes beautiful and brilliant, but always original. In a city that has basically banned the genre, the Evil Tambourines are forging a path toward a Seattle hiphop revolution. BRADLEY STEINBACHER

SPAIN She Haunts My Dreams (Restless) ****

You've gotta wonder what's gotten into Josh Haden, the man behind Blue Moods of Spain. Maybe someone slipped him a turbo-charged Americano, because She Haunts My Dreams is downright spirited in comparison to its predecessor. Oh, fear not, all ye lovers of slo-core -- Haden's still navigating pretty downbeat territory. (Look no further than titles like "It's All Over" and "Before It All Went Wrong" for proof.) This time out, however, the songs are fleshed out by additional instrumentation -- the effect is just as gorgeous and haunting as the minimalistic numbers on Blue Moods, but more engaging and memorable. Haden's voice has an air of gentle sadness and resignation that brings to mind artists like Nick Drake; She Haunts My Dreams proves he has the songwriting ability to extend that comparison even further. BARBARA MITCHELL

EAST RIVER PIPE The Gasoline Age (Merge) ***

East River Pipe is the story of a recovered bum's beautiful relationship with his Tascam 388 mini-studio. Things are going well and they both seem quite fulfilled. It's inspiring to witness such fruitful unity between a musician and his partner. This is F. M. Corndog's fourth album with his Tascam, and you can really hear the work that's been put into it -- every song seems blissfully, benevolently under control.

Though Corndog is from New Jersey, East River Pipe's songs reflect a Japanese sensibility. Structure is valued above content, and economy above all, and his best lyrics are haiku-like stanzas about driving. The Tascam 388 (a product of the Tokyo-based conglomerate TEAC) lovingly provides V.U. echo and inscrutable beatbox rhythms, severe in their use of negative space. Corndog's songs would sound more luxurious, yet likely less perfect, if recorded along with an orchestra or band. Alone together, he and the Tascam both achieve their maximum potential, and the effect is akin to that of a '72 Cadillac clocking 45 miles per gallon. ADAM HEIMLICH

APPENDIX OUT Daylight Saving (Drag City)****

A gorgeous piece of music from Scotland. Led by a man named Ali Roberts, Appendix Out has crafted nine plaintive and elegant folk songs that will very quietly warble their way into your consciousness and linger there for a good long time. Daylight Saving is a record founded in straightforward, deliberate, seemingly effortless musicianship. Always calm and methodical, the songs build slowly and climax gently, so restrained that you consistently find yourself wanting more. And the fact is, what you actually get is damned perfect. Roberts' tender voice is clear, intimately recorded, and honest enough to interpret his lyrics, which will turn from festering to festive in a single phrase. Add the finely placed vocal harmonies of Kate Wright, a couple cellos and flutes, and you have yourself the loveliest album I've heard all year. Buy it or die. JEFF DEROCHE

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