three-piece, who might have been formed as a special gift just for him. Droney vocals tell of bus stops and Silk Cut Ultras, while guitars chime mournfully. There‘s a whiff of Joy Division, and the sneeze-and-you’ll- miss-it spoken duet ‘Voices Outside' is a sweet yet abrasive cousin of the Tindersticks’ ’My Sister’. The lyrical

focus on the trifling mundanities of life '

becomes tedious after a while, but the gloomy music lurches into beautiful life occasionally, and on the whole such eccentric little projects ought to be encouraged. (HM)

Rage Against The


The Battle Of LA (Columbia) *

Still angry after all these years, the Machine are back to shake us out of our bloated complacency, with their customary formula of head-grating metal guitars and shouty nonsense. ‘Who got the power, that be my question!’ roars Zack, ignoring not only the laws of grammar, but also the fact that the answer is Sony, to whom oops! he appears to be signed. (HM)


Jungle Brothers

V.l.P (V2) ***‘k‘k

Hip hop and don‘t you stop. It’s ten years since a new generation of New York artists proclaimed the daisy age, but with De La Soul returning with an LP early next year and this superlative offering from the Brothers, you could say a second age is upon us. Produced by Alex ‘Propellerheads‘ Gifford, V./.P is an irresistible record that barges in with the title track (cheekin built around a sample of ’I Dream Of Jeannie'), throws about lascivious funk and breakneck big beat, and refuses to leave the building ‘til you‘re grinning like a Roger Hargreaves character on poppers. JBeez throw one helluva party. (RE)


Eargasms: Crucialpoetics Vol. 1 (Ozone Music) *‘k‘k

In a world a mile away from Puffy, his silver Bentleys and his champagne bottles, producer Native Sun has been crafting a real artefact, an album where the lines between poetry and hip hop are not so much blurred as wiped out. Teaming up the likes of Mos Def, The Last Poets and Saul Williams with a football-team-sized supporting cast and getting them rhyming over crisp, sparse beats and haunting strings, there’s plenty of aural pleasure on offer, even if it occasionally slips into worthy state-of-the-nation preaching. A curio, definitely, but one worth lending you ears to. (LM)

Handsome Boy Modelling School

50 . . . How's Your Girl? (Tommy Boy)

*** Check out the guest list for this party.

The Beasties are in the corner giggling. De La Soul are sharing a herbal milkshake in the garden. DJ Shadow is in the bath. Roisin from Moloko is having a scariness competition with Alec Empire in the kitchen. This ice- cool A-list bumps up against kooky samples and raps glorifying the

Handsome Boy Modelling School, a fictional institution of learning teaming the talents of Dan The Automator and Prince Paul. Glossily spanning the spectrum from Daisy Agey hip hop (‘The Projects’, ’Metaphysical‘) to furious industrial pisstake (‘Megaton 8- Boy 2000'), this nonetheless ends up a little too derivative and pleased with itself. (HM)

JAZZ Mike Stern

Play (Atlantic) **** Mike Stern continues to prove that

music lumbered with the dreaded ’fusion’ tag need not sound as if it was recorded 30 years ago. His latest opus is actually a triple treat for guitar fans, featuring the leader’s inventive high~octane licks alongside John Scofield’s funky, blues-rooted electric guitar on three tracks, and Bill Frisell’s uniquely spacey take on both electric and acoustic guitars on four others. The remaining three tracks feature Stern's current band with tenor saxophonist Bob Malach, and all three levels of the album work together to make up a fascinatingly varied but coherent and contemporary collection. (KM)



Positiva Classics (Positiva) *tink

It does exactly what it says on the tin: a compilation of the back catalogue of Positiva classics, the label that has been releasing both quasi-credible chart fodder (Buckethead’s ’The Bomb’, Natural Born Grooves ’Groovebird’) and clubfloor anthems (DJ Scot Project ‘U‘, Judy Cheeks ‘So In Love‘ (Sasha remix), Disco Evangelists ’De Niro’) since the start of 1993. The 24 tracks over 6 CD‘s/EP's represent a worthwhile retrospective of one of the most well- known dancefloor labels in Britain, whether you’re discovering the tunes for the first time or just want to relive (and try to remember) those days again. (SB)


Ian Brown Love Like A Fountain (Polydor) ii

Heavily doctored vocals, relentlessly funkee bassline, trendy distorted FX and lyrics about the similarities between ornamental water features and the love of a fine woman. The boys in the expensive sportswear will love it. (HM)

Gomez We Haven't Turned Around (Hut) ink

The same boys may need to weep along to this when their fine women tire of their oafish ways and dump them; especially if their copies of ’Wondervvall’ have worn through. This is a tiresome and repetitive low-key strum, with unattractive anguished vocals. (HM)


Hooligan (Hut) ***

Same ballpark, bit better, with a nicely perky vocal and what sounds like a paper/comb solo part-way through. Ignore the daft lyrics and unnecessary background tootlings, and this has

plenty of chin-up-sunshine positivity. Buskers will claim it as their own. (HM)

Jennifer Lopez

Waiting For Tonight (Columbia) 9: Hi-energy Latina jiggle from celebrated fit bird. Cheesy. Cheerful. Pointless. To be yowled along to when feeling particularly drunk and/or camp. (HM)

Ricky Martin

Shake Your Bon-Bon (Columbia) ~k See above, with subtle gender change. (HM)


Carnival Star (Bikini) *

Russell Senior resembles one of those infuriating boys who collect 60s knitting patterns and obsess about Audrey Hepburn and form bands called things like The Mary Quant Moog Explosion. Or Menswear. Which is what this track recalls that whole Camden ooh-l’m-a-Mod-look-at-my- special-shoes thing. Arch, polished, more irritating than nettle rash. (HM)

My Life Story

Empire Line (It) 1H:

A poignant tribute to glamorously wasted model ‘chicks’. Appealing enough, MLS having replaced much of their finicky orchestration with straightforward guitar rock; but Jake Shillingford sings like he has someting big obstructing his throat, and his lyrics should stay in the margins of his diary. (HM)

Orange Can

The Engine House (Regal) *ahk Fragmented Charlatans guitar hook twists into a mutli-layered Spiritualised vocal, which in turn empties out into a beautifully distorted piece of cavernous psychedelia. Not unlike the Stone Roses after a heavy night on the White Album; - including, sadly, the half- arsed Madchester vocal. (HM)

Foo Fighters

Learning To Fly (RCA) **

Aha! A cleansing burst of classic American rawk! Actually, though,there’s a very Brit kind of post- Oasis reach-fer-the-skieeees shtick going on here. Mr Grohl has perhaps been perusing self-help books. He intends to ’tell the angels everything‘s all right‘. Bless him. The dullard. (HM)

Beck Sexxlaws (Geffen) *****

Eew! Beck has sex! We thought he just sat around wearing a cowboy hat and- eating candy and listening to archaic art-jazz records; but no, he is a crotch- pounding falsetto sex dwarf, and The Artist had better cling hard to his purple crown of love. This is a big, brassy belter with barroom piano trills and a quick hoedown to finish things off. Yee-hah. (HM)


Cold Blooded Old limes (Domino) *‘k'k'k‘k

lf this doesn‘t twist your heart and scare you senseless, you‘re made of stone. Bill Callahan ponders the horror of families to a decepitvely cheery acoustic backing. His perfect pop songs have ice crystals at their hearts; his words have a tragic precision worthy of Raymond Carver. (HM)

record reviews MUS


Way to go: Paul v

Snowhill Tired Of Asking (Quest) **

Are tom-toms cool? When did this happen? This is a catchy, hoarse, heartfelt funk-rock thing, like Merz if he was less eccentric, or Reef if they liked loud beats. And tom-toms. May well soundtrack snowboarding programmes in the future. (HM)

Urusei Yatsura

Yon Kyuku Iri EP (Che) *1“:

The last four years were a dream and howlsome Glasgow guitar monkeys are still tearing up their parents' garages at the age of 3S. Urusei, as ever, deliver slow-buzzing lurches, Kerrang! guitars and wussy vocals. Nothing to grip like ‘Siamese‘ did, but still, good to have ‘em back. (HM)

Mystery Juice

Pigwit (Human Condition) and: Gleeful countrified twangery from Edinburgh‘s bequiffed hillbilly types. Rather appealing despite its graceless title, it has you longing for a climate that would allow you to sit in the back of a pick-up truck strumming an acoustic guitar and chewing straw. (HM)

Paul van Dyk

Another Way/Avenue (Deviant) ****

Mr van Dyk sidesteps the irritating nonsense currently giving trance a bad name (though thousands seem to adore it - shame on you all). ‘Another Way‘ is made for the dancefloor and has found a permanent home with the like of Tong and Jules, while ‘Avenue’ is a slickly produced gem of bassline and warbling acid. (SB)

Scott MacDonald

Burn Baby Burn (Catacol) *er Local boy MacDonald makes good with a lush nouveau country swingalong. Swoony choral harmonies and a gentle, swaying rhythm back a slight but melodic ditty about, well, sunburn. (HM)


Simone Baird, Sarah Dempster, Brian Donaldson, Doug Johnstone, Kenny Mathieson, Hannah McGill, Leon McDermott, Jack Mottram

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